The Supreme Court: Mood of Uncertainty

As the nine Justices of the Supreme Court reassemble in Washington this week to begin a new session, all the panoply will be familiar. The robed Justices will file behind the long Honduras mahogany bench as usual and take their seats in the high-backed black leather chairs set against red velvet draperies. The bronze clock will strike 10 o'clock, and the court clerk will intone the traditional "Oyez! Oyez!"

But though the symbols of constitutional majesty are still in place, the court faces as much uncertainty as it has ever known in its 178-year history. Justice Abe Fortas will sit to...

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