This segment originally aired Oct. 13, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
The Supreme Court returned for its current term on Oct. 2 with a docket full of potentially groundbreaking cases.
One of the cases addresses the constitutionality of funding for religious institutions. Another high-profile case examines regulation for insider trading. The court will also look at whether Texas can execute a convicted man who is disabled, as well as examine the legality of detaining immigrants for longer than six months without a bail hearing.
Yet all of the decisions in these important cases will likely be hobbled by the empty seat on the Supreme Court bench, vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February. Until the Senate approves a hearing for a ninth justice, which likely won’t be until after the presidential election, all of these cases could end up in a 4-4 tie vote. In the case of a tie, the lower court’s ruling is upheld and the deadlock continues.