The Supreme Court issued three major civil rights-​​​​related rul­ings ear­lier this year. The court dra­mat­i­cally altered the Voting Rights Act; set in place new con­sid­er­a­tions that could end affir­ma­tive action at public col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties; declared uncon­sti­tu­tional the fed­eral Defense of Mar­riage Act; and paved the way for Cal­i­fornia again to rec­og­nize same-​​​​sex marriages.

Early in 2014, the court has turned its atten­tion to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s appoint­ment of three offi­cials to the National Labor Rela­tions Board using recess appoint­ments. These posi­tions usu­ally require con­fir­ma­tion by the Senate, but when sen­a­tors are on recess, the pres­i­dent approves someone for an exec­u­tive branch position.