The Law: Significant Silence

In some ways, the Supreme Court's most important work is deciding when not to decide. Last year the court accepted only 3% of the 4,202 cases that came before it; this year that rate may decrease partly because Chief Justice Burger feels that he and his colleagues are too overwhelmed to consider anything but the most crucial issues. Even so, many rejected cases also raise significant questions. Although the court almost never explains its reasons, court watchers find that rejections sometimes imply significant answers. Last week, as the court settled into its new term, three such turndowns seemed especially interesting:

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