Another SCOTUS opinion day without decisions in PICS v. Seattle Sch. Dist. and Meredith v. Jefferson County, the big Fourteenth Amendment challenges to officials’ use of race in assigning students to the Seattle and Louisville public schools. Informed speculation identifies Chief Justice Roberts as the likely author of the majority opinion — or at least as having assigned himself the draft majority opinion at conference. It’s been six and a half months now since argument.
Different possible reasons for the wait: (1) someone flipped after the draft was circulated, requiring the 5-4 draft majority to be rewritten as a dissent, and vice-versa; (2) the Court has splintered, yielding a mere plurality opinion plus a crowd of separate writings; (3) one or more Justices is working up an unusually thorough, blockbuster dissent to read from the bench; and/or (4) (the least likely) the Chief Justice is taking extra time to work up an unusually thorough, blockbuster majority opinion that not only strikes down the school programs but reaches out to abrogate the 5-4 opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, the SCOTUS precedent closest to the issues in PICS and Meredith.
Or maybe they’ve just been busy clearing out less high-profile cases, like today’s three.