After annulling the ruling that allowed access to abortion in the United States, the very conservative Supreme Court begins a new session on Monday that could end with other strong decisions, especially regarding the rights of African-Americans and couples. homosexuals.
Discrimination, electoral rights, immigration. There are several explosive cases on the agenda of the high US jurisdiction that has, for the first time in its history, a black woman among its magistrates.
The arrival of Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated by Democratic President Joe Biden, does not change the balance within the temple of United States law, which retains a solid majority of six conservative judges out of a total of nine, three of them nominated by former Republican President Donald Trump.
Between 2021 and 2022, “the court leaned on this conservative bloc to revert to long-established case law” and “appears willing to continue … without restraint,” according to David Cole, legal director of the influential court organization. defense of civic rights ACLU.
In June, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling that had guaranteed the right to abortion in the United States for nearly 50 years, expanded the right to bear arms, reinforced the place of religion in the public sphere and limited the powers of the agency. in charge of environmental protection.
His decisions have plunged the left into confusion and delighted conservatives, who for years have denounced “judicial activism” by the Court, which has become the arbiter of great social debates.
Ilya Shapiro, an expert at the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank, estimates that the Court is in the process of correcting “the excesses” of the 1970s.
– Criteria of race in universities –
For Shapiro, the ruling that in 1978 defined the legal framework for positive discrimination programs in university admissions is the next in sight.
On October 31, the high court will dedicate a hearing to the selection mechanisms of the prestigious Harvard University and the public University of North Carolina.
These establishments, like many others, take into account criteria of race to ensure the diversity of students and correct the lower presence of black or Hispanic youth due to the segregated past of the United States.
These policies, considered by some to be “reverse racism,” have always been the subject of legal opposition, but so far these initiatives have failed.
The same Supreme Court twice considered that universities could take into account certain racial criteria with the condition that these are used only to ensure the diversity of the student population, but now it seems ready to back down.
– Democracy –
In another case, related to the electoral map in the state of Alabama and on the agenda as of Tuesday, the Court could dismantle a part of the emblematic 1965 law that ended the segregationist rules that limited the right to vote of African-Americans. from the south.
This “civic rights” law allows the creation of black electoral districts to ensure that they have representatives in Congress. But it is illegal to concentrate them in a single district or distribute them in several of them in order to reduce the weight of their votes.
The issue is of great importance in a country where black voters overwhelmingly vote Democrat, and white voters are more likely to support Republicans.
Another case, coming from North Carolina, could “have strong consequences for democracy,” according to Sophia Lin Lakin, who follows election affairs for the ACLU.
Republican legislators in this state defend a new interpretation of the Constitution that, if taken up by the Supreme Court, would give “uncontrolled power to local legislators over the organization of federal elections,” says the expert.
– Cakes and Websites –
Five years after agreeing with a Christian baker who did not want to sell a wedding cake to a male couple, the Supreme Court will return to this sensitive issue, brought this time by a website creator.
In 2018, the Court had given a ruling of limited scope. But this time it could more broadly authorize merchants whose products are “creative” in nature to circumvent anti-discrimination laws in the name of their religious convictions.
Following this logic, “architects could refuse to design houses for black families, pastry chefs to make anniversary cakes for Muslim children (…)”, fears David Cole.
Between now and June 30, when the sessions end, the high court is also expected to decide on the policies of expulsion of immigrants without documents, the death penalty or the policies of adoption of native indigenous children.