VIEWS ON THE NEWS: 2019-2020 Controversial Supreme Court Cases
In recent months, the Supreme Court has announced it will take on various court cases that test already festering tensions in American society. These cases will involve issues ranging from abortion rights, to the status of DACA immigrants, to deciding the fate of the Affordable Care Act. The case Gee v. June Medical services will determine the Supreme Court’s stance on certain laws that restrict abortion access. Another case, Barton v. Barr, determines the future of 800,000 immigrants known as Dreamers. On March 2, the Supreme Court decided to take up a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which has survived major attacks under Trump’s presidency. Why do you believe the Supreme Court has chosen to hear these controversial cases now? How will these upcoming rulings deepen the divide amongst an already polarized society? You can answer these questions focusing on one specific case or addressing them as a collective.
Annabella Gualdoni, Esq. (LGLS)
It is not surprising to see a series of controversial cases coming before the Supreme Court when there has been a change in its makeup or during an election year, and now we have both so candidates will attempt to use the Court’s rulings, however they may go, to their political advantage. With the Gee case in particular the divide is already profound and longstanding, and a court decision is unlikely to change that. What I do foresee is that case’s outcome causing an even bigger rift in how individual states restrict rights. Many people do not realize that prior to Roe v. Wade (1973) abortion was already legal in some states. Should Gee overturn Roe, I would expect to see a return to the late 60s and early 70s, where access differs greatly from state to state. Evolving reproductive technologies and medicine (such as abortion “pills”) may arise.
Annabella Gualdoni is a Guberman Teaching Fellow in Legal Studies.
Prof. Daniel Breen (LGLS)
Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Russo v. June Medical Services, LLC, involving the issue of whether Louisiana can constitutionally require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges in a hospital located within 30 miles of the clinics where they work. Since there is no conceivable reason for a law like this other than to make it harder for women to have abortions, the Court has two choices: it can either follow its own precedents by striking down the law as an "undue burden" on a woman's right to reproductive privacy, or it can ignore those precedents and uphold the law — thus pleasing the Republican constituencies that gave us Justices Gorsuch and Kavanugh. Either decision would further deepen our current partisan divisions; but much more importantly, should the Court discard prior case law and rule for Louisiana, the true losers would be the women of the United States, the institutional integrity of the Court and the Rule of Law.
Daniel Breen is a senior lecturer in Legal Studies.
Judah Weinerman ’20
After years of conceited conservative attempts to create the most rabidly right-wing Supreme Court since Roger Taney held the post of Chief Justice, the dual appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have finally given right-wingers the opportunity to take an axe to every single SCOTUS decision that didn't go their way. Some more West Wing-minded liberals might have faith in Chief Justice John Roberts, but I believe we've finally hit the tipping point, where the court sheds any pretense that it is a non-partisan institution. Barring a legal miracle or an especially guilty conscience on the part of Roberts, we may be saying goodbye to Roe v. Wade, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius and any hope for those admitted to the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). I have no doubt as to how Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will swing; the only question is whether Justice Roberts wants to destroy his legacy or merely tarnish it.
Judah Weinerman is an Associate editor for the Justice majoring in History and Sociology.