The hyper-partisan Texas redistricting map is coming to the high Court. I think that partisan gerrymandering is one of the great evils of modern American politics, and would love to see the Court take a stand on it. Will it? Tough question.
Again, let's assume that Alito and Roberts vote conservative, giving us our standard 4-4 liberal/conservative split. The wild card, then, is Justice Kennedy. In this TMV post I touched on my sentiment that Kennedy will drift slightly to the left over the next few years and occupy O'Connor's spot as designated swing vote (most people would probably have placed Kennedy slightly to the right of O'Connor previously). I believe that in past cases, Kennedy has signaled severe discomfort with partisan redistricting, but has expressed concern that there is no workable standard for remedying the problem. He's had several years to think of one, and I think he really wants to lay down the law here. I think that Kennedy's normal cautious, centrist mentality can be overcome (and hard) if he's presented with a case that nakedly violates his sense of justice or fairness. That explains how a judge widely considered to be moderate could write such sweeping and uplifting opinions in Lawrence v. Texas, Roper v. Simmons, Lee v. Weisman, and Romer v. Evans (to name a few). This topic, by my reckoning, seems to be elucidating the same sort of visceral reaction in Justice Kennedy that those cases did. Couple that with just how blatant the partisan interest was here, and the Justice Department's political hacks overruling its career appointees, and I think it might push Kennedy over the edge.
Many legal wags named the previous manifestation of the Court "The O'Connor Court," because of her critical role as the pivotal "5th vote" in so many cases. Kennedy seems poised to fill her role. And this case will be highly indicative of what that means for legal doctrine and the nation as a whole.