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The High Court Goes Low

Published by on July 6, 2023

The now clearly consolidated conservative U.S. Supreme Court ended its term in a blaze of catastrophic, far-reaching decisions. The three Democratically appointed women were solid in trying to hold back the right-wing wave but to no avail. Their attempts to uphold their judicial responsibility in the face of a basically male dominated majority were not enough. We’d better brace for impact.

For those watching SCOTUS since it dropped a bomb with the overturn of Roe, it’s been an aggressive, ideological acceleration to turn back the hands of time. The idea of using the constitution to inform fair and inclusive decisions has become laughable. Like most issues championed by the Republican Party – whether it’s in the Congress or the courts – they favor white, wealthy men and disadvantage protected classes such as women, people of color and LGBTQA+. All pretense has disappeared that the U.S. Supreme Court will take seriously its basic roles: to keep the branches of government in check, to recognizes the limits of its own power, and to protect the rights and liberties of all citizens.

The corruption of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas has been thoroughly exposed. There are some who believe the last court decisions many have been distractions to turn the public’s disdain in another direction. (Public opinion of the U.S. Supreme court is the lowest ever.) Others believe the super majority is moving swiftly on matters dear to the right-wing’s agenda while they have the reigns. Both can be true.

The rulings to strike down affirmative action in colleges, LGBTQA+ rights and President Biden’s student loan debt program are omens of what’s to come. Add to this fact, the court gets to choose what cases it wants to hear and decide. We can anticipate a tense judicial atmosphere as the country heads into the 2024 elections.

It’s time to escalate the actions for SCOTUS term limits. Justices are appointed for life unless they retire, resign or are impeached. It is clear that some justices are being unduly influenced by outside forces. It is clear that the super majority will vote along ideological lines. It is clear that it will become more difficult to hold the High Court accountable.

The Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court issued a report a couple of years ago that proposed changes to how the court functions. One of those changes was term limits for the justices. Its proposed staggered, 18-year court has landed in Congress with little traction.

This is the most conservative court in 90 years with rulings that diminish the liberties guaranteed in a democracy. With no term limits, justices feel a sense of invincibility. Without term limits, there is no fear of retribution.

Term limits may be unattainable now because of the imbalance of power by party affiliation. We the People should be making serious efforts to show the justices for whom they work. If justices can be bought by billionaires like Harlan Crowe, the masses of people will always be the losers.

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