WSPNs Reva Datar discusses the effects of the Supreme Courts recent decisions.
WSPN’s Reva Datar discusses the effects of the Supreme Court’s recent decisions.
Credit: Alyssa Ao

Opinion: SCOTUS, don’t get carried away

If you want to talk about the polarized politics of America today, it’s hard to overlook the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Last term, several big-ticket issues that went to the Supreme Court were decided along partisan lines, with the six conservative justices in the majority and the three liberals in the dissent.

Near the end of former President Barack Obama’s second term, Republicans played it smart and stalled proceedings to appoint judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme court. Instead, former President Donald Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch, and later on in his term, he appointed two more conservative judges, creating a six to three supermajority. As a result, Chief Justice John Roberts and his fellow conservative justices have gunned us out of this century and taken us decades into the past, reversing decisions made in the mid 20th century.

It makes sense that a conservative court would make more politically right decisions, but it seems this bunch has gotten a bit too excited. They’re in a big rush, and they’re not even trying to hide it. Despite their eagerness to do their job, the hyper-conservative decisions coming out of SCOTUS do more harm than good, and I’m worried they’ve barely gotten started.

In 2022, Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that was the law of the land for half a century, was overturned by the court. The effects were felt almost immediately across the country. Abortion restrictions and bans have been passed in 22 states, effectively disposing of women’s bodily autonomy when it comes to reproductive health and putting women in danger. In fact, a 13 year old in Mississippi is starting the school year as a mother. She was raped and impregnated by man outside of her home, and as abortions are not legal in Mississippi, she was forced to give birth. She, like many women, did not have resources to travel out of state to receive an abortion. In some states, there are even penalties for receiving an out-of-state abortion.

The justices knew that overturning Roe v. Wade would directly impact rape victims living in states that ban abortions and endanger women with pregnancy complications, yet they still made their decision. If their morals say a 13-year-old rape victim should give birth, then what is their decision based on? Religion.

The idea that a human person comes into existence at conception is a belief that the conservative judges have based on their Christian faith. They have the right to hold their religious beliefs, as do all other Christians and all other persons who practice or do not practice a religion. One, however, should not be able to project their religious beliefs onto another person. It infringes on the first amendment right given to Americans to freely practice their religion, because now, they must live under Christian doctrine, or doctrine of any other religion.

Simply put, if you are against abortion, don’t get one. If you don’t want others to get an abortion, you’re out of luck because it’s not your business.

Abortion wasn’t the only issue SCOTUS upended along religious lines. They struck down anti-discrimination protections when they decided a Christian web designer could deny services to a gay couple. The vote was six to three, with justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissenting.

But perhaps the most substantial decision SCOTUS put out since overturning Roe v. Wade was striking down affirmative action, meaning schools can no longer consider race when admitting students. After 40 years of higher education institutions, both public and private, considering race in their admissions process, they are now unable to do so, which will lead to a decrease of diversity on campuses. Student for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard College and SFFA v. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill were the cases which led to the court ending affirmative action. SFFA is a group of white and Asian students. The founder of the group, Edward Blum has been trying to get rid of affirmative action for years. For his first attempt to end affirmative action, he used a white plaintiff, however the case was dismissed. It was only then he tried to seek out Asians who might be able to back up his efforts. So really, he didn’t care about Asians being denied spots at schools because of their race.

And you guessed it. The Supreme court voted six to three to strike it down. The decision will lower the amount of Black and Latino students admitted into top schools, while the amount of legacy students admitted will stay the same or increase.

There are several other instances of SCOTUS making bold decisions you wouldn’t see coming, like when they struck down President Joe Biden’s student loan debt relief plan, or when they sided with a Christian football coach who held public prayers during games.

These instances that include religion make me wonder if the Supreme Court would make the same decision had there been a different faith involved. If people were refusing services or holding public prayers as Muslims, Hindus or another religious minority, how would SCOTUS respond then? Something tells me their definition of religious freedom wouldn’t be the same.

So far, their decisions have hurt women, particularly women of color, Black and Latino communities, the LGBTQ+ community and religious minorities. Seriously, who are these people helping? Not the American people.

However, there are some changes that can be made to the Supreme Court that limit their overbearing power. Enforced term limits can add more political variation to the court over shorter periods of time. The political beliefs and dynamic of the country may shift, but if the same judges have been in power for more than 20 or 30 years, what good is that for the general public? Additionally, the number of lower courts can grow, representing the growing population of America while also serving different demographics of people. Finally, the President, who is a partisan, political figure, should not be able to pick justices. The judges should be impartial in terms of their political beliefs, and should make their decisions for the American people, not for a conservative or liberal agenda. These changes are not easy to enact, but seeing how the Supreme Court has gone off the rails, they are long overdue.

The amount of decisions coming out of the Supreme Court has been alarming. Not only this, but decisions with six to three votes, when liberal justices are always in the dissent. There’s barely any unanimity in court, and the situation probably won’t get better anytime soon. All of the justices, except for Clarence Thomas, were appointed to the court in 2005 or after. Since SCOTUS justices can serve for life, it’s unlikely there will be a change in the near future as to how the court votes.

The Supreme Court keeps wielding their sword, and everytime they do, the scales become more and more unbalanced, and the justices can see it.

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