The Supreme Court is ruling the headlines after a series of unpopular decisions this week. Between yesterday’s ruling on gerrymandering and today’s rulings on Trump’s travel ban and anti-abortion pregnancy centers, there’s a lot of bad news to digest. Luckily, we’re here to swallow it for you and regurgitate it back. Get ready, my despondent little baby birds—here’s a rundown of each case and what their decisions mean for national policy moving forward.
On, Monday SCOTUS ruled in favor of a Texas GOP redistricting plan that, according to NPR, will “undoubtedly enable more suppression of minority votes.” This decision came exactly five years after the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, after which many citizens were concerned for the voting rights of racial minorities in the U.S. This 5-4 ruling could make things even more difficult for nonwhite voters, as it upholds Texas voting lines that were drawn, according to critics, in order to suppress minority votes. Such gerrymandering works in favor of conservative candidates, since nonwhite voters often skew more liberal. In the 2016 election, for instance, black, Latino, and Asian voters all overwhelmingly moved to put Hillary Clinton in the White House. By contrast, 58% of white voters filled out ballots for Trump.
This is hardly SCOTUS’s first time upholding gerrymandering. It’s not even their first time doing so in Texas. But it’s certainly still alarming to see the court continue to ignore the realities of the issue. Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the court’s decision, stated that the lower courts should have “presumed the state acted in good faith.” Sonia Sotomayor fired back a 46-page dissent stating that her conservative counterparts’ “disregard for both precedent and fact comes at serious costs to our democracy.”
In NPR’s report, NYU law professor Richard Pildes predicted that this decision did not bode well for SCOTUS’s upcoming ruling on the travel ban. Well, spoiler alert…
Trump’s Travel Ban
SCOTUS voted to uphold Trump’s travel ban in another 5-4 ruling issued Tuesday. After much flip-flopping on the ban’s exact influence and staying power, Trump’s executive order has been ruled “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act.” According to NPR, this ban (version 3.0 of Trump’s original decree) bars “almost all” travelers from five predominantly Muslim countries—Libya, Iran, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen—as well as from North Koria and Venezuela. Those seeking to enter the United States from these countries will face severe restrictions.
While this decision is hardly surprising, it’s still a devastating blow for anybody who doesn’t want to see our government shaped by the racist notion that all Muslims are terrorists, not to mention for anybody who relies on such international travel for work or to see their families. As dissenter Sotomayor pointed out, this decision goes directly against the court’s efforts to prioritize religious neutrality in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.
If you hate seeing Trump gloat, you will be likewise upset by this decision. Naturally, our oligarch-in-chief crowed about his accomplishment on Twitter:
Trump also released an official statement about the ruling, calling it “a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country.” Kill us.
Anti-Abortion Crisis Centers
And just when you thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, the Supreme Court handed down another 5-4 decision in favor of anti-abortion crisis centers. On Tuesday SCOTUS reversed a lower court decision mandating that California anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers (you know, the ones that masquerade as real clinics and then emotionally torture their patients) be more forthright about their true intentions. To put it bluntly, the highest court in the country just ruled that religious centers posing as medical clinics in order to manipulate women at their most vulnerable may continue to do so completely unfettered.
SCOTUS’s conservative majority toted out free speech in order to justify these medieval pseudo-clinics, with Justice Clarence Thomas saying that the lower court ruling “imposes an unduly burdensome disclosure requirement that will chill their protected speech.” We can only assume that Thomas learned about the chilliness by gauging the temperature of his own heart.
There are upwards of 2,700 anti-abortion pregnancy crisis centers across the country, and this decision sets a precedent that could grant them all the freedom to abuse vulnerable women’s minds and bodies as they see fit. With pro-choice advocates growing more and more concerned about the fate of Roe v. Wade, this could be the first in a series of conservative efforts to erode women’s bodily autonomy.
If this barrage of bad news teaches us one thing, it’s that the political divisiveness of our time is no joke. It’s no coincidence that each of these decisions came down to a 5-4 ruling, with liberal judges Sotomayor, Ginsberg, Breyer, and Kagan struggling against each conservative attempt to roll back marginalized citizens’ basic human rights. We knew that Trump’s ability to elect a judge (newbie Neil Gorsuch) could bode ill for future Democratic pursuits, but it’s still devastating to see his impact take root.
The past month has seen the right attempt to strip away the rights of some of the foremost minorities in this nation: LGBT citizens, people of color, women, and Muslims. If you’re looking for ways to fight back, here are some resources from FairVote, the ACLU, and NARAL Pro-Choice America. And if you just need to sit down and scream into a pillow for a little while, well, I’m sure Sonia Sotomayor is right there with you.