The conservative majority in the US Supreme Court struck down several social liberal laws that had been in place for years this week. This once again highlights the deep divide between progressive and conservative America. Both factions seek to implement their ideal vision of America through the judicial system, and the Supreme Court is their primary battleground.
The court ruled, among other things, that universities and colleges can no longer give preferential treatment to people of color, making it more difficult for black Americans, in particular, to be admitted. Additionally, the court sided with a Christian web designer, stating that she has the right, based on freedom of speech, to refuse services to same-sex couples. Lastly, the conservative justices rejected a plan by the Biden administration to forgive student loan debts.
These rulings follow a similarly controversial decision last year when the same conservative court overturned nationwide abortion rights. President Biden strongly criticized the highest judicial body this week, calling it “not normal” and asserting that the court does not interpret the Constitution correctly.
After decades of relative balance, the current Supreme Court has become the most conservative in ninety years, following the appointment of three conservative justices by Donald Trump. NPR, the public radio broadcaster, found that 62 percent of the court’s decisions align with a conservative-Christian worldview.
Conservative justices on the Court, such as Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, adhere to “originalism” and “textualism,” concepts that advocate for a literal interpretation of the US Constitution. This interpretation is particularly popular among conservatives and asserts that according to the text of the Constitution, everyone is equal, and thus no exceptions should be made based on race or social circumstances.
This directly contradicts what can be considered the heart of Democratic politics, namely that the government should use its power to rectify social inequalities and uplift those in disadvantaged positions. Civil rights advocates view the recent Supreme Court rulings as erecting barriers based on race, which their ancestors fought against for decades. In contrast, influential conservative organizations applaud the reversal of affirmative action in higher education, stating that “the decision is a triumphant return to the restoration of our beleaguered Constitution,” according to the chairman of the influential conservative political organization CPAC.
For conservative Americans, the years under President Obama and his right-hand man, Biden, were a horror. Same-sex marriage was legalized, and the first steps were taken towards shared restrooms for transgender individuals. From a Christian perspective and in conservative media, an increasingly prevalent narrative depicted America as on the verge of collapse if liberal Democrats continued to have the upper hand.
Therefore, conservative organizations have been attempting to exert their influence through political appointments of judges for years, and thanks to Trump, they succeeded with the appointment of three conservative justices to the Supreme Court. Even though Trump may have served only one term as president, his influence will be felt through the court’s rulings for at least a quarter of a century.
The recent rulings will likely reignite the debate over restructuring the Court. There has been ongoing discussion about expanding the court by adding more justices. Democratic Senator Tina Smith from Minnesota tweeted yesterday, “People shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of the Supreme Court. We can’t sit idly by as these justices carry out the wishes of far-right organizations. Expand the court.”
Currently, the Supreme Court consists of nine justices, but this has not always been the case, as the number is not specified in the US Constitution. The Biden administration could propose appointing more justices, but at this time, Biden has not shown any indication of doing so.
About the author: Wesley C Waldo
Wesley C Waldo, a promising writer who is preparing to publish his first novel in 2023. Travels a lot and collects the clues for a new book. He writes on social topics, sometimes describes an event or two.