Staff Editorial: Keep an eye on the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court began hearing cases for the term on Oct. 7. This is the second term since the controversial appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which secured a conservative majority in the highest court of the U.S. Many of the cases the Supreme Court will be hearing this term are significant because they touch on many key issues like LGBTQ+ employment, women’s reproductive rights, immigration and climate preservation.

On Oct. 8, the court heard arguments for a civil rights case involving LGBTQ+ workplace discrimination. These cases argued over whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against LGBTQ+ workers. One of these cases involved a Michigan funeral home that fired a transgender worker over a dress code compliance. A lower court ruled that the employer violated federal anti-discrimination laws, but a conservative group appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The court’s decision on this case could have a significant impact on LGBTQ+ rights, especially with their 5-4 conservative majority.

The Supreme Court will also hear a case involving a Louisiana law that would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the law in February, despite Trump’s two appointees, Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who were among the four justices that would have allowed the law to take effect. The court is not expected to hear arguments until the winter, but this matter could have a profound impact on reproductive rights on a federal level. 

Other major cases involve a set of lawsuits challenging President Trump’s 2017 initiative to end the DACA program, which protects roughly 700,000 children from deportation. The court also agreed to hear an appeal by energy companies to reinstate a permit to allow construction of a natural gas pipeline through the George Washington and Monongahela National Forests. An appeals court initially struck down the permit for the construction of the 605-mile pipeline, which would also travel through parts of the Appalachian Trail. It can be seen that the Supreme Court has a great deal of power over many key issues in the U.S., and they may not be the most competent court to be making such weighty decisions. 

The newest and most controversial justice is Brett Kavanaugh. His Senate confirmation in October of last year was amid several sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, the most prominent being the bold tesimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. With this type of criminal activity, Kavanaugh should have never been confirmed in the first place. His confirmation was an act of conservative partisanship that should never be involved when it comes to the “impartial” Supreme Court. It is the same partisanship that also got Gorsuch confirmed over President Obama’s initial moderate pick Merrick Garland, after Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016. Senate Republicans refused to vote on Garland’s appointment until Obama was out of office.

The highest court in the U.S. has many major decisions that will affect the political climate of America for generations. The Supreme Court has the ability to do a terrible amount of harm to several minorities and disadvantaged people, as well as establish that type of harm as the precedent in the U.S. With such radical partisanship, it is difficult to trust that our civil rights will continue to be protected in the United States.