Supreme Court Issues at Stake

By Briana Gray

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, passed on Sept. 18 at age 87 from complications from cancer. Her seat will soon be filled. The newly appointed justice will greatly impact issues facing college students.

Ginsburg served 27 years on the High Court.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was only the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Dr. Sondra Cosgrove, history professor at College of Southern Nevada. “As one of the first women on the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg used her privileged position to speak for many groups who are often made silent due to their lack of power. She spoke for people who have often been ignored.”

Some of the pressing issues facing the Court in the next year that will deeply impact our college-aged demographic include the following: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Affordable Healthcare Act, LGBTQ+ rights, women’s issues and affirmative action, to name a few.

DACA is a program that protects against deportation of young undocumented immigrants who were brought to America at a young age. These Dreamers hope to stay in America. President Donald Trump’s administration tried to terminate DACA but on June 18 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 finding it was a violation of law to end it.

Supreme Court also ruled in favor of women’s rights, such as access to birth control and right to choose. It voted in favor of gay rights making it legal for gay couples to wed in June 2015 and for it to be against the law for employers to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in June 2020, according the Court’s official website.

“For the country, the most obvious impact is the potential reversal of constitutionality of the guaranteed right to abortion and constitutionality of affirmative action,” said Dr. Michael Hart, political science instructor at CSN. “It is possible that with Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment two years ago, conservatives already have five votes to do so anyway, but it will be politically easier to do so with a 6-3 majority.”

Same-sex marriage was voted in favor 5-4 by the Supreme Court in 2015, according to Hart. “Two of the five justices who made up that majority, Kennedy and Ginsburg, are no longer on the Court. Thus, there is a very real chance that if the Court were to take a case dealing with a challenge to same-sex marriage, it might reverse Obergefell v. Hodges.”

CSN history Professor Shirley Johnston commented on how the process to fill the seat works.

“First the President nominates a candidate of his choice,” Johnston said. “After the nomination, the candidate appears at hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to make a statement and answer questions. Committee members can also question witnesses to gather information about the prospective justice. Finally, the Senate votes on whether or not to confirm the candidate. Originally a candidate needed at least 60 votes for approval but since 2013 the votes of only a simple majority of Senators (51) are needed to confirm.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding hearings during the week of Oct. 12, 2020 to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, who is President Trump’s nominee.

The country is not in favor of this appointment this close to the election according to several polls.

Hart said, “It appears GOP does have the votes to confirm the appointee Amy Coney Barrett, otherwise the Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell would not have scheduled a hearing. The Judiciary Committee will most likely vote on the nominee on Oct. 15 and very soon thereafter the full Senate would be able to vote.”

“Out of 70 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, nine were confirmed during an election year,” Cosgrove said. “The U.S. Constitution gives the majority in the U.S. Senate the power to decide the rules, so there are no rules that stop a nominee from being appointed in an election year.”

CSN students, along with the country at large, will certainly be affected by this confirmation and will wait to see the outcomes.

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