SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --The U.S. Supreme court opened its new term Monday one justice short, with a vacant seat still unfilled.
The court appears to be shying away from blockbuster cases.
The term opened Monday with only eight justices.
Ultra conservative Antonin Scalia passed away in February while visiting a Texas ranch.
President Barack Obama's nominee to replace him, Merrick Garland, remains in limbo, with Republicans refusing to hold confirmation hearings.
So with a 4-4 split, the court is taking up fewer political cases and more intellectual property and criminal cases.
For example, the court refused to re-consider Obama's proposed overhaul of the immigration system, following a tie vote in June that blocked its implementation.
However, the court will consider Apple versus Samsung.
Cupertino-based Apple is asking the court to make Samsung pay $1 billion as a jury had ordered for infringement design ideas.
There's a case that could be put on the docket, that's more of a political hot potato.
The high court may consider a Virginia case in which a lower court ordered a school to let a trans-gender student use the bathroom matching his gender identity.
The court may be stuck in a holding pattern this entire term.
No one expects confirmation hearings before the election.
And even after it, so it may be until next summer before a new justice is confirmed and seated.