Abortion, guns, police immunity and religion in schools: the dramatic series of Supreme Court rulings

The US Supreme Court’s new conservative majority revoked a constitutional right to abortion within a week, dealt a devastating blow to the government’s efforts to fight the climate crisis, strengthened protections for the Second Amendment and ruled in two cases that liberalized liberals. court judges had warned that the church-state firewall had been blown up.

Donald Trump’s three nominations — Amy Comey Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch — join conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, moving the Supreme Court significantly further to the right, and, like Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, wielding that power by “substituting a rule of judges for the rule of law.”

In their joint disagreement in a landmark case that destroyed half a century of abortion rights, the three liberal court judges said the conservatives voted against precedent cases only “for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the vote to reject them”.

President Joe Biden has mocked what he calls an “extremist” court “determined to move America backward, with fewer rights and less autonomy.”

Following the ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organizationsetting the precedent Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood Against CaseyAbortion rights advocates, providers and civil rights groups have taken legal action in at least 11 states to block “trigger” laws and anti-abortion statutes that must take effect without Roe.

Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who argued that dobbs Supreme Court case, told reporters on July 1 that abortion rights advocates have been preparing for this moment, “the beginning of a public health emergency.”

State courts in five states — Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas and Utah — have issued temporary restraining orders to block such laws as their legal challenges arise in courts.

At least eight states — Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee — have banned abortion completely or severely restricted access in nearly all cases, and more legal challenges are expected as more laws go into effect . As many as 26 states could ban abortion without roe deer, with state legislators poised to enact more restrictive laws that are unfettered by constitutional obligations to protect access to care.

A day earlier, Planned Parenthood providers in Montana — a state that doesn’t ban abortions — announced they would no longer offer drug abortions to patients from Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, and would provide proof of residency for the treatment. need, following widespread confusion over a “rapidly changing” legal landscape that may now open providers to criminal prosecution.

“We need to understand that we are dealing here with a public health crisis where people operate in a state of extraordinary chaos,” Jennifer Sandman, Planned Parenthood senior process director, said on July 1.

The court has ruled this term in 58 cases, an increase in the past two years during the Covid-19 pandemic, but still the third lowest number of cases in more than 80 years.

Of those cases, 19 were decided by a vote of 6 to 3, along the court’s widening ideological divide.

“Overall, what the Supreme Court has done in recent weeks is deeply concerning and a rollback of civil rights and civil liberties,” said Arthur Ago, director of the Criminal Justice Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

“What the Supreme Court has done is an essentially conservative term,” he told the independentnoting expanding the protections of the Second Amendment and protecting law enforcement officers from liability.

In some cases, the court’s opinions could give rise to further legal challenges that could dismantle 14th Amendment protections – from marriage equality to gay sex – and dismantle state-level laws to curb the proliferation of weapons, or the administrative role of could dismantle the federal government.

Professor Lee Epstein, a law professor at the University of Southern California who heads the Supreme Court’s database, said: The New York Times that the court — which the chief justice has sought to steer toward an increasing “middle ground” — has instead “turned into the divided, partisan, maximalist, activist” court he has opposed for nearly two decades.

“At least for now he’s lost the fight,” she said.

In the dobbs For example, Judge Roberts was unable to convince any conservative judge — after seven months of deliberation — against overturning a 50-year-old precedent. The chief justice ultimately ruled alone to leave Mississippi’s anti-abortion law at the center of the case, while the five conservatives declined roe and Casey whole.

“Obviously this was a rough term, but here’s the culmination of evidence of how little this is still the Roberts court,” said University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck. Politics† “This is a court fighting each other past the chief. The bitterness, the intensity, the hostility is a reflection of the chief’s powerlessness, as he has neither bloc under control.”

In case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc v BruenThe court — by a vote of 6 to 3 — overturned a century-old law in New York that requires small arms owners to show “the proper reason” to get a license to carry a concealed weapon, which is a wreaks havoc on state-level efforts to combat the proliferation of firearms and potentially expand the scope of Second Amendment protections.

The decision could raise legal challenges in at least six other states with similar laws, leading them to explore and potentially expand how and where guns can be carried in public.

“Allowing widespread availability will only increase that violence,” said Mr Ago.

With the decision in Vega in TekohoThe court ruled that people who have not been warned of their right to remain silent cannot sue a police officer for damages under the federal civil rights law, even if that evidence was used against them in their criminal trial.

Jon M Greenbaum, chief adviser to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the ruling strictly limits the ways in which police can be held accountable.

“Along with Congress’s failure to pass the Justice in Policing Act, this case has further diminished people’s ability to deal with police misconduct,” he said.

a decision in West Virginia v Environmental Protection Agencyissued on the last day of this term, hinders the agency’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and, ominously, endorses a legal theory in the “key questions doctrine” that would prohibit federal agencies from exercising much of their authority. exercise without explicit direction from Congress

Jason Rylander, senior attorney for the Nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, said: the independent that the doctrine “has the potential to revolutionize federal environmental, health and safety law, forcing Congress to inject itself into the details of standard-setting that it has traditionally left to expert bodies.”

Two matters related to religion and schools – Carson vs Makin andKennedy v Bremerton School District – drew uncompromising dissent from Judge Sotomayor, who in the latter case joined Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan to warn that the majority “will take us further down a dangerous path by forcing states to entangle themselves with religion, while sacrificing all our rights to are at stake.”

During this term, the court also revived two Republican-signed congressional cards that lower courts quashed for suspected Voting Rights Act violations, and sent a warning to voting rights groups following the country’s anti-democratic plunge.

This fall, the court will consider a case in North Carolina that could disrupt election laws across the country — with a ruling likely just in time for the 2024 election — with the possible approval of a fringe legal theory debunked. by legal analysts, which allows state lawmakers broad authority over election decisions and could curb legal efforts to block racial gerrymandering.

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, told reporters on June 30 that legitimizing the theory “would cut that to its knees.”

“This would prevent states from enforcing voting rights and prohibitions and partisan and other forms of gerrymandering when that kind of protection is needed more than ever,” he said. “The stakes are quite high.”

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