In that case, the court will confront an appeals court ruling that effectively would end the president's ability to make such appointments, if it is left standing.
Former Justice Department official Peter Keisler said that justices often ask a lawyer for the best case in support of his argument. "No one is going to ask that question because 't'aint none.' No Supreme Court decisions are material here," said Keisler, a partner at the Sidley, Austin law firm in Washington.
The impasse that led Obama to install members of the National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray in office without Senate confirmation has been resolved. So what remains of the issue is whether Obama and his successors will be constrained in the future.
The topic splits Democrats and Republicans, but their view of the matter is almost entirely dependent on which party controls the White House.
In another area, little drama is expected. Four justices are over the age of 75, but none is expected to retire in the coming year.
Ginsburg, at 80, is the oldest member of the court. Scalia and Kennedy are 77, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 75.
Ginsburg made clear in a series of media interviews this summer that she will stay on the court as long as she is able to do the work. Before the summer, Ginsburg had said she wanted to emulate Justice Louis Brandeis and stay on the bench as long as he did, 22 years. She will reach that mark in 2015, which also coincides with what is widely believed to be Obama's last opportunity to name her replacement because the presidential election year of 2016 is an unlikely time to fill a high court vacancy, especially in the eighth and final year of a presidency.