The 2007 term of the U.S. Supreme Court ended today with a 5-4 ruling severely limiting the ability of school districts to achieve racial diversity in public schools. Identical 5-4 majorities in this term also ruled against a woman seeking restitution for unlawful pay discrimination, taxpayers challenging unconstitutional government support of religion, and reproductive freedom. The same five justices in those majorities also voted to curtail the free speech rights of students in public schools.
People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas issued the following statement:
“Under Chief Justice Roberts, the Court has turned sharply to the right, and far out of the mainstream of American thought. Rights and freedoms Americans take for granted stand in peril, and the progress that we have made in social justice over the past 70 years is at risk.
“In just their first full term together, a new right-wing bloc on the Court has signaled that it is willing to roll back reproductive choice for women, curb free expression, favor corporations over workers in discrimination cases, limit access to the courts for ordinary Americans, and start to tear down the wall between church and state that protects religious liberty for all Americans.
“While Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito gave lip service to respect for the established rulings of the Court in their confirmation hearings, they have not hesitated to tear down or undermine long-held rulings. This Court has shown the same respect for precedent that a wrecking ball shows for a plate glass window.
“Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered by many to be the “swing” vote on the Court, has demonstrated in case after case this term that he is more than willing to join his four ultraconservative colleagues—Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia—to undermine Americans’ rights and protections. Justice Kennedy’s increasing willingness to side with the right-wing bloc will produce an ever more reliable five justice majority that will continue to do damage. Future elections will give voters the ability restore balance to the Court. I hope all Americans will take that responsibility seriously.”