More than Marriage: Civil Cases in the Supreme Court's 2012-2013 Term

Todd Edward Pettys


The Supreme Court’s 2012-2013 Term likely will be remembered best for the Justices’ landmark ruling in United States v. Windsor, striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, and for the jurisdictional ruling in Hollingsworth v. Perry that helped to reopen the door for same-sex marriages in California. Many will also long remember Shelby County v. Holder, invalidating Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and thereby freeing a number of states and localities from the pre-clearance requirements under which they had operated for decades. Crowded behind those headline-dominating decisions are a host of other broadly consequential rulings, on issues ranging from racial preferences in higher education, to ratcheting up the requirements for voter registration, to seeking standing in federal court on the basis of anticipated injuries. Commissioned by the American Judges Association for an audience of state and federal judges and for readers with an interest in the work those judges do, this paper briefly reviews the Court’s most noteworthy civil decisions of the Term.