We are all susceptible to being lulled into a false sense of security that makes us think all is right with the world, or at least our little corner of it. But if you needed a reminder that these times are anything but normal, you just got it by way of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent rulings, and Donald Trump’s nominee to the court: Brett Kavanaugh.
The justices delivered an eardrum-splitting, 200-decibel wakeup call in the term that just ended. Their decisions said everything about how central the court is to the lives of everyday Americans. If Kavanaugh is confirmed as the next justice, the court will further advance an agenda that favors the wealthy and powerful.
In case you don’t quite get just how much the justices (who hold lifetime appointments) matter, here is a quick rundown of some of their most pivotal rulings this year.
- Weakened the right of educators and other working people to come together in their unions and through collective bargaining advocate for fair pay, benefits, and working conditions (Janus v. AFSCME, a 5-4 vote)
- Let stand Donald Trump’s executive order banning travelers and refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries (Trump v. Hawaii, a 5-4 vote)
- Decided that Ohio’s practice of purging citizens from its voting rolls because they were infrequent voters did not violate the National Voter Registration Act (Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, a 5-4 vote)
- Made it more difficult for workers to file class action lawsuits against employers’ abuses at work (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, a 5-4 vote)
- Ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, validating a business’s decision to deny goods and services to gay people (Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a 7-2 vote)
- Dismissed a case about whether drawing the lines in statewide election maps specifically for partisan reasons is unconstitutional (Gill v. Whitford)
What’s at stake is our health care system, our right to organize together to advocate for fair pay and benefits for ourselves and resources for our students, reproductive rights for women, sensible gun restrictions, environmental and consumer protections, and whether the president can be held accountable under the law.
Consider the court’s past rulings related to education. Many expanded opportunities for students: Brown v. Board of Education obliterated the idea of “separate but equal.” Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin upheld the use of a race-conscious admissions program to cultivate more-diverse campuses. Plyer v. Doe upheld the right of all students, regardless of their immigration status, to a free public education.
Keep in mind that the Supreme Court is the only institution in our federal government whose primary purpose is to protect the rights of the minority, those who might otherwise not have a voice in our institutions. That means the next justice absolutely must not be beholden to partisan or corporate interests.
But Kavanaugh shows such favoritism toward the wealthy and powerful that one of the best-known corporate-funded organizations, the Heritage Foundation, has given him its seal of approval. That is definitely not good for working people.
We cannot trust Kavanaugh to protect students and educators. In fact, he has praised rulings and legal theories that make it OK to spend public money on religious institutions. He’s even said that a future Supreme Court will uphold vouchers, which take resources away from the public schools that 90 percent of students attend. And now, he is poised to be a member of that “future” court.
Now that you understand how important the next justice will be to our future, tell everyone you know!
Educators in state after state are going #RedForEd and demanding fair pay, benefits, and resources for their students and schools. We must turn that same level of activism to the U.S. Supreme Court.
We cannot let Donald Trump tip the scales by putting Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The stakes in our nation are higher than ever. The next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court should be a fair-minded constitutionalist who is honest, open-minded, appreciates how the law affects all Americans and shares our belief in equality and justice for all. The next justice should protect the rights of all Americans and keep us safe from abuses of power by politicians who behave more like autocratic dictators than elected servant-leaders. Brett Kavanaugh should not be the next justice.
Are you willing to talk to nine people about the U.S. Supreme Court? Our future depends on it.