The exterior of the Supreme Court building.

Welp, the Supreme Court Is Back for Another Round of Trampling Our Rights

Can it get worse?

If there’s one thing conservatives have done well, it has been to stack the courts in their favor. From the end of Ronald Reagan’s last term until Biden’s election in 2020, Republicans have won two presidential popular votes. Only two. That’s how little public support they have. And yet look at how they have managed to dominate the legal system and how many Supreme Court justices they have appointed.

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A full third of the country’s highest court—including the especially abhorrent Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett—has been forced into our lives by a guy who lost the popular vote by millions. Doesn’t sit right with me, yet here we are. The highest court in the land heavily favors conservative extremists and their determination to trample our rights has been made clear. So what’s next?

Abortion … again

There are a few things we should be watching for as the Supreme Court’s current term opened this past Monday. And yes, we should be concerned about what is on the horizon. Some issues are going to be looked at on appeal from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court which is very Conservative typically in its leanings. One wild decision made by the 5th Circuit Court was overriding some portions of the FDA’s approval of access to mifepristone, the pill used to facilitate more than 50% of abortions nationally.

The Biden administration, along with Danco Laboratories, is hoping that the Supreme Court will overrule the lower court’s decision. They worry that if SCOTUS upholds the current decision, access to this essential abortion medication will be severely cut, regardless of a state’s legal regulations on this issue. It would also mark a shift in how the country goes about regulating pharmaceuticals. This is because the Court would be overruling the FDA, which would cause turmoil because the pharmaceutical industry would have to change its innovation and development and worry about the approval processes.

Gun rights for accused domestic abusers

Another issue that will be on the table is gun regulation. The 5th Circuit is involved again, having invalidated a federal law that bans owning a gun for anyone who has a domestic violence restraining order out against them. Seems pretty fair to me. But not for conservatives! These people made such a hoopla about Hunter Biden owning a gun but it’s extremely clear that they actually do not care about standards or restrictions, they only care about politics.

The Court will have to, in part, determine if gun regulations have to abide by the context and rules on guns at the time the nation was founded or not. The answer to that seems obvious considering there weren’t even court orders protecting wives at that time, let alone things like semi-automatic rifles and bump stocks—other elements the court could potentially rule on.

Voting rights, or the lack thereof

Voting rights will also be up for consideration yet again. The topic of racial gerrymandering vs. partisan gerrymandering is one that has been confusing and controversial nonetheless. Prior decisions have ruled that racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional but partisan gerrymandering isn’t. On paper those differences make sense, but how do they play out in reality? We know the racial demographics of voting …

Social media regulation

One area that I think is going to be hugely impactful for now and heavily in the future, is social media regulation. The notorious 5th Circuit makes another appearance as they recently upheld a Texas law that banned content moderation. Basically, Texas (and Florida) banned social media companies from removing false or misleading content. This could include spreading myths about vaccines. Spreading false info about when and where to vote is also another key example. Conservatives clearly aren’t really worried because they are usually the ones spreading this crap. But the Biden administration appealed the 5th Circuit’s decision. This will have a lot of implications for freedom of speech and how that is continuously defined as our digital world is rapidly changing. 

I do not have high hopes for this Supreme Court. Every now and again they surprise us and hand down rational decisions, but not typically. This is a constant reminder of how important voting is—if for NOTHING ELSE than a president’s ability to appoint justices and judges. I harp on this every election and in a twisted way, maybe horrible rulings will make people realize this, although it really shouldn’t have to come to that.

(featured image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


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