People For the American Way

A Deep Dive into the First SCOTUS Term of the Trump Era

News and Analysis

This month’s member telebriefing was focused on the new Supreme Court term—the first of the Trump era, with Neil Gorsuch in a stolen seat—which is taking on some major cases that will have a huge impact on the lives of Americans across the country. “The big picture environment here is, of course, Donald Trump and the erosion of democratic norms that we’ve been seeing,” PFAW Senior Fellow Paul Gordon said at the beginning of the call. Listing off the various rollbacks of civil rights that have occurred over the course of Trump’s presidency, Gordon noted, “When the fundamentals of our democracy are threatened, we turn to the courts.”

However, the highest court in the land has not been immune to this erosion of our democratic values. Gordon pointed to the decision to block any Obama nominee to the Supreme Court when there were 11 months left in his term as absolutely unprecedented. This has cast a pall over the new term because, according to Gordon, Gorsuch’s “presence there is the evidence of the erosion of democratic norms.”

The telebriefing also included a discussion of cases that the Court has taken on or may take on in this term, including the complicated situation with Trump’s Muslim ban, partisan gerrymandering, and a big First Amendment case that will impact LGBTQ individuals across the nation. PFAW’s experts dissected these cases so that we know exactly what to pay attention to throughout the term.

This packed telebriefing covered major cases that have the ability to upend civil rights for many groups of Americans, in a context where those civil rights are already being eroded at the executive and legislative levels.

Listen to the full call below: