The Top 10 Legal Stories of 2012

Health care and voting rights, same-sex marriage and Trayvon Martin -- a look at the cases and issues that dominated the law in 2012.

voter.jpgVoters in Florida wait in line on election day. (Reuters)

It was a big year in the law, a year that historians, and not just legal historians, will surely focus on when they describe the American scene at the start of the century's second decade.

Atlantic writers survey the biggest stories and ideas on their beats. See full coverage

The legal rights -- and pocketbooks -- of hundreds of millions of Americans were impacted by 2012's judicial declarations. The immediate and long term fate of hundreds of thousands of suspects and prisoners was decided. America yet again annoyed many of its allies in the world, even its closet ones, by prosecuting the war on terrorism on its own terms.

But the biggest legal events and developments of 2012 will probably be remembered more as pivot points than as end games, more as commas than as periods. Voting rights? The story of voter suppression revved up in 2012 but will be molded anew in 2013 when the Supreme Court tackles the Voting Rights Act. Gay marriage? The American people moved definitively in its direction in 2012 but, again, we won't know what's what unless and until the justices resolve at least one of the many pending marriage cases before them. Here's my 2012 Top 10 list.

Presented by

Andrew Cohen is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is a legal analyst for 60 Minutes and CBS Radio News, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, and Commentary Editor at The Marshall Project

The Man Who Owns 40,000 Video Games

A short documentary about an Austrian gamer with an uncommon obsession

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in National

Just In