A New Sense of Urgency Within The Supreme Court

Generation Z has had the luxury of seeing the Supreme Court as a far off judicial deity whose actions seem to merely trickle down to them. They have believed that the decisions of the Court appear to have no real effect on their day to day lives. Those days are over. It’s time to take a look at the Supreme Court’s role in the future of young people's lives due to the threat of an unprecedented bias. Especially in the next few years, the Court will control the fate of multiple landmark decisions. The next president will have the power to elect another Supreme Court Justice. If this power falls into the wrong hands, the Court might have a nearly full bias. This means that a clear majority of the judges on the Court will share the same political leaning. The Court currently houses nine Supreme Court Justices; five tend to swing conservative and four lean towards the progressive side. It has been anticipated by numerous sources that Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be stepping out of the Court within the next four years. She’s a fighter and an American hero, but all good things must come to an end. This leaves the next President of the United States with the ability to nominate a Supreme Court Justice.

2019 Members of The Supreme Court courtesy  Supreme Court

2019 Members of The Supreme Court courtesy Supreme Court

If Donald Trump is reelected for the presidency in 2020, there is no doubt that he will nominate another conservative justice. This would follow his previous two appointments to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and the infamous Brett Kavanaugh. If you’ve been doing the mental math so far; this would leave the Supreme Court with six conservative judges to three progressive judges. Sound the alarm—this is an emergency. There has certainly been presiding bias in the Supreme Court before in history. However, with the amount of landmark cases, cases which will set a precedent for new policy changes or social shifts, coming up in the near future, this has the chance of endangering the rights and opportunities for millions of Americans. To further explain, let’s take a detailed look into an upcoming case that highlights the urgency of this presented issue. 

On October 8, the Supreme Court will be voting on if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends its protections to members of the LGBTQ community. Justices will be looking at whether anti-LGBT discrimination counts as a form of “sex discrimination,” and if it would then be prohibited under Title VII, which bars discrimination based on sex in the American workforce.

This is based off of the case of Zarda v. Altitude Express as well as Bostock v. Clayton County. Both of those cases are centered around companies firing employees based off of their sexuality. Meanwhile, Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC will determine whether anti-transgender discrimination would fall in between the parameter of “sex discrimination.” This case was centered around a worker being fired for taking a vacation from work to physically transition her gender appearance.

Donald Zarda courtesy  NBC News

Donald Zarda courtesy NBC News

The litigation runs deep through American law and morals, and it applies to cases of anti-LGBTQ discrimination in all federal laws barring discrimination on the basis of sex, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Fair Housing Act. Representing Donald Zarda will be The American Civil Liberties Union, who are suing the company Altitude Express after Donald Zarda, a skydiving instructor, was terminated from his job based off of his sexuality. They will also be covering the highly publicized Aimee Stephens case, who is the funeral worker who was fired from Harris Funeral Homes after coming out as transgender. This case has made a lot of people feel uncertain about their future. In metropolitan areas such as New York City and Los Angeles, instances of mistreatment based off of sexual orientation seem to have lessened in frequency over the past few years. However, in areas like the Midwest and the South, bigotry is still alive and well. This is why it is so important for young generations in metropolitan or progressive areas to remain educated on the Supreme Court and their upcoming decisions.

This is not the only case that could have immediate consequences for millions of Americans. There is a lot of talk around issues like Roe V. Wade, partisan gerrymandering, online retail tax, police brutality, and religious bans. All of these can end up on the steps of the Supreme Court, and the fate of these issues is in the hands of the Justices. Our judicial system is complex and well mapped-out, and the Supreme Court has protections in place to prevent bias. A key factor of the Supreme Court is the idea of a swing vote. The Court is supposed to be a completely apolitical system of judgement, with no one strictly leaning to one side of the political spectrum. That being said, there is always going to be bias in decision making. It is simply human nature. To try and level this out, the Supreme Court has a swing voter. Currently this position is held by Justice John Roberts, who tends to flip on how he sides on decision making politically. There are nine members on the Court for a reason, there can not be a tie on a decision, and often the tie breaker falls to Roberts. While this is a good sentiment, there are still flaws in the Supreme Court’s functionality. There are constant arguments on how the Court should be bettered, but the general consensus is that the Supreme Court does more good than harm, despite its flaws. 

So what now? What can you do to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court, and sequentially support people whose rights are jeopardized by the imbalance of the Supreme Court justice’s bias? Vote. I won’t sit here and tell you who to vote for, or how to side on the issues The United States of America is facing, but I can ask you to educate yourself on what's going on at the top level of our judicial and executive branches. If you see something that you don't like, or that makes you uncomfortable, use your power as a citizen of America and vote people out, and vote people in that you feel comfortable putting your trust in. The power of appointing a Supreme Court justice is unfortunately not up to the American people, but instead up to the President and the Senate. But you know who elects The President and The Senate? Us.

Thumbnail Image courtesy of AP Alex Brandon