Here’s the thing: We’re too mad to be pithy about the Supreme Court right now.
Because let’s level with each other here: there aren’t a lot of nice things you can say about the Supreme Court right now.
In the last two years, the far-right extremists on the Court have ripped away our constitutional right to abortion care, saddled millions of us with crushing student debt, and paved the way for prejudiced business owners to discriminate against LGBTQ people. They’ve struck down affirmative action in universities, rolled back environmental protections, and undermined our ability to organize as workers.
And we haven’t even talked about the ethics issues. We can’t go a single week lately without a new story about a Supreme Court justice secretly yachting around with billionaires, fundraising for far-right extremists, or making shady real estate deals.
So yeah, it’s kinda hard not to feel like we’re living in the worst timeline.
But the only way this gets better is if we make it better. There’s a lot we can do right now to protect our rights and take back our courts from far-right extremists.
We’re going to walk you through the cases you need to know for this upcoming term, what they could mean for all of us (and our democracy), and what we can do about it.
Here’s the takeaway
The last couple of Supreme Court terms were rough for most of us – and showed us why we need to take back our courts. Click the button below to contact your senators and tell them to confirm good judges to our lower courts!
Three cases you need to know for the 2023-2024 Supreme Court term
From keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, to combating illegal racial gerrymandering, to protecting disability rights and access to public spaces, this term is going to be a busy one.
If you’re currently under a domestic violence restraining order, should you be allowed to have a gun? The Supreme Court thinks we should argue about it.
“Domestic abusers shouldn’t have guns” seems like something we should all be able to get behind. But apparently, it isn’t. And that’s why the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in United States v. Rahimi.
In 2022, the Supreme Court severely weakened the ability of states to put reasonable restrictions on firearms by stating that judges can only uphold a firearms regulation if a comparable law existed when the Second or Fourteenth Amendments were adopted. Considering we were still lighting rooms with candles and refusing to give full rights to the majority of the population when the Second and Fourteenth Amendments were adopted, we wouldn’t call this a great barometer.
But you know who did love this decision? Domestic abuser Zackey Rahimi, who was involved in five shootings in two years and was eventually convicted for possessing firearms while under a restraining order. Rahimi argued that this violated his Second Amendment rights.
Given the Court’s ruling in 2022, the Fifth Circuit decided Rahimi was right. They decided there was no historical analog to the federal law at issue in his case, so the law must be unconstitutional.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, we’re all in danger.
People who assault or threaten vulnerable members of their families would have a constitutional right to guns, adding to the deadly threat that those family members already live with. Siding with Rahimi and the Fifth Circuit would also send a signal to lower court judges to interpret similar cases broadly and make it even harder to uphold reasonable gun safety protections.
Can states intentionally make Black voters’ votes count for less than white voters’ if they pretend they’re only doing it for political reasons?
Gerrymandering: we know her, we hate her. It’s a legislature’s favorite way to pick their voters, instead of the other way around. And in South Carolina, Republican mapmakers “ultimately exiled over 30,000 African American citizens from their previous district” in order to ensure the district was no more than 17 percent Black—and therefore in Republican control.
Three judges already held an eight-day trial and heard from 42 witnesses before concluding that this was, in fact, an illegal racial gerrymander of the districts. Now it’s before the Supreme Court in Alexander v. South Carolina Conference of the NAACP.
If the Supreme Court upholds South Carolina’s map, we’re opening the floodgates for more gerrymandering designed to weaken Black votes.
And this won’t just impact South Carolina; we’ll see it in every state with significant numbers of Black voters.
Do big corporations get to destroy our planet and wreck our health and rights, or can government agencies step in to protect us?
You’ve probably heard of the “administrative state.” It’s the Far Right’s favorite boogeyman. They love to talk about how terrible it is, how much it slows everything down, and how much we need to get rid of it.
But here’s what it actually is: It’s the government agencies and experts that take the laws Congress passes and turns them into actual enforceable laws and regulations. It’s the difference between Ted Cruz or a wildlife expert deciding whether drilling in a certain area will cause the extinction of an endangered species.
We need agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect all of us from powerful corporations and industries who care more about profit than people. That’s what the Far Right is trying to get rid of with this suite of cases.
The Far Right has brought three cases–Loper Bright Enterprise v. Raimondo, Securities and Exchange Commission v. Jarkesy, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America–that are designed to gut the ability of these agencies to do their jobs and fight back against big corporations.
If the Supreme Court sides with the Far Right in these cases, they’ll be putting our environment, our health, our safety, and our financial futures in the hands of Big Business.
But wait, there’s more.
Get the details on other cases the Supreme Court will hear in our 2023-2024 term preview.
It’s time to take back our courts.
The Supreme Court gets A LOT of public attention, and for obvious reasons. But the lower courts, and the judges who sit on them, have arguably a bigger impact on our lives than the Supreme Court.
For one, the Supreme Court only hears between 1-2% of the cases that are appealed to it every year. That means thousands of cases are left in the hands of federal appeals court judges across the country. And when the Supreme Court does rule on a case, it’s left to those same lower court judges to interpret and apply those rulings.
So, if we really want to make a difference in our justice system, we don’t just need more great Supreme Court justices like Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. We need more great lower court judges like Dale Ho, Nancy Abudu, and Julie Rikelman.
Here’s what you can do.
There are still dozens of vacancies across the country waiting to be filled with fair-minded judges who will work for all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful. And we can’t forget that we have a voice in this process. Our senators and the White House need to hear from us now.
2024 is just around the corner
If we want to make big changes—like reforming the Supreme Court, protecting our rights at the local level, and continuing to put good judges on the federal bench—we need to pay attention to elections at every level of government.