“This is not a normal court”

by A. Altieri D’Angelo

President Biden spoke those words after the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS or the Court) overturned decades of precedent by ruling that race could not be used in assessing a student’s application for admission to colleges.

While many people (liberals and conservatives) expected the ruling, the announcement was shocking.

The 6-3 conservative court again showed its willingness to eliminate past precedents. In 2023, the Court rejected anti-discrimination in favor of religious freedom, scrapped affirmative action in college admissions, and rejected Biden’s student loan relief plan, showing the power of the conservative jurists. The Court’s right-leaning decisions will impact American society and politics for decades.

No one should be surprised by its recent decisions. Chief Justice Roberts controls SCOTUS and has shown that he does not support affirmative action. In the past, he also decided that the government had extended its powers beyond what is allowed under the U.S. Constitution.

No one should have been surprised by his rejection of Biden’s student relief plan. He has also shown a strong tendency to favor religious freedom over other constitutional rights. Hence his decision in Eleni’s case, where a web designer refused to work for a same-sex couple, was also not a surprise.

But it is also true the Court is not so conservative that they refuse to deal with violations of constitutional law. In this last term, SCOTUS surprised court watchers by ruling against Alabama in a voting rights case. The Court found that Alabama had purposely diluted the voting power of Black residents by not creating a voting district that would allow such voters to pick someone of their choice.

SCOTUS also ruled against the Independent State Legislature theory (the Theory) pushed by Trump and his supporters. The Theory states that state legislatures have an absolute right under the U.S. Constitution to amend their state’s voting laws in any manner they deem appropriate; state supreme courts have no power to stop any actions taken by state legislatures regarding how people vote.

Trump had argued that the decisions of various state courts had been unconstitutional and caused him to lose the election. SCOTUS rejected the Theory. It determined that state voters needed a judiciary to keep legislatures from exercising too much power. (SCOTUS intervened in 2023 so that the 2024 elections would be managed fairly.) 

The Court also ruled in favor of Native Americans who sought to have preference in child custody cases over non-Native American custodians. SCOTUS surprised people again with its decision

Democrats and Republicans praised the Court for its decisions.

The overall reaction of the liberal political establishment is ridiculous. They are shocked at a time when they have no right to be. Everyone knew that the appointment of Amy Comey Barrett would shift SCOTUS to the right.

Hillary Clinton had warned voters in 2016 that the next President would likely appoint two or three judges to the Court. But few listened. They did not vote for Hillary and regretted not doing so. (Joe Biden has been working overtime to appoint federal judges. But his efforts will not impact SCOTUS for decades.)

Liberals complain the Court is too powerful and seek to have the Legislative Branch (the House of Representatives and Senate) find ways to curb its growing power. Some have suggested that the Court be expanded, and liberal judges appointed so the conservative majority would lose control. President Biden has (thankfully) rejected such ideas.

It is important to note that this is not the first time that SCOTUS has been accused of exercising too much power. Franklin D. Roosevelt, our 32nd and one of the greatest Presidents, also considered packing the Court with liberal justices. SCOTUS had ruled that his centerpiece legislation for the New Deal, the National Industrial Recovery Act, and the Agricultural Adjustment Act were unconstitutional. These were very popular programs, but the Court refused to budge, and FDR backed down.

There is nothing new in the latest SCOTUS controversy; it is often criticized for its rulings.

What is sad about the liberal position is their unwillingness to work hard to achieve their goals through non-legislative actions. For example, liberals could identify and publicize the names of companies that discriminate and organize boycotts against them. Most businesses will avoid engaging in such activities if it affects their bottom line. Money talks!

Lastly, people must work to get out the vote. Liberals must roll up their sleeves and achieve a majority in both chambers of Congress and the Presidency. Many people are upset over the SCOTUS rulings; there is no better time to rally people to vote in 2024.

Are liberals willing to do the work needed to build an effective economic and political counterforce to offset the impact of the Court’s rulings? Only time will tell.

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