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Supreme Court Faces Affirmative Action and Gay Marriage

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For anyone fearing that this Supreme Court term might lack the drama of the last one: fear not.

On Monday, for the first time since delivering the explosive health care decision last spring, the justices will take the bench and officially begin a new term.  On the docket is a major case regarding affirmative action to be argued in early October, and later in the fall the justices could also vote to hear cases on gay marriage and voting rights.

The justices have had the summer to recover from the grueling schedule of last spring, and the biting dissent from four of the conservative justices aimed at Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted to uphold the health care law as a tax the government has a constitutional power to levy.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas did not mince their words, writing that the majority's decision "amounts to vast judicial overreaching."

Over the summer, Scalia and Thomas refuted suggestions that their jurisprudential disagreements would lead to any personal rifts on the court.

"There are legal clashes on legal questions, but not personally," Scalia told CNN.  "The press likes to paint us as, you know, nine scorpions in a bottle we're all in.  That's just not the case at all."

During a talk at the National Archives, Thomas spoke more generally about the court and praised his colleagues.

"I've been there now through a number of members of the court," he said, "and in the years I have been there I honestly come away thinking that every member really wants to make it work."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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