Tomorrow is the first Monday of October. In the US this year this means that we will be looking at the new Supreme Court session. This time around for the first time in a long time there will be a solid 5 to 4 conservative advantage with little expectation of any swing voting.
The solid conservative block seems to have been picked with two criteria in mind: 1) they are ideologically pure and 2) they are young. The current ages of the conservative justices are:
CJ John Roberts 64
Justice Clarence Thomas 71
Justice Samuel Alito. 69
Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 54
Justice Neil Gorsuch 52
Most justices seem to last until at least 85 these days. Simple math indicates a solid radical right bend to the SCOTUS for at least 15 more years. This was one of the top reasons why getting a right winger into the presidential seat was so important in 2016 that interference by outside countries, voter suppression and black box voting machines were acceptable to the right.
Now, finally with the solid ideological leanings the right has long dreamt of, many on the right are hoping that the SCOTUS will become their great engine of social change to reform the country to their beliefs. It looks like that will be the direction from the get-go Tuesday when the first arguments of the new term are heard in cases that will have major implications for LGBTQ folks and their families.
“The Supreme Court will hear three cases next Tuesday that ask whether it is legal to fireworkers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That alone is enough to make them three of the most important employment discrimination cases in many years. But there are additional layers to these cases, layers that could imperil all workers regardless of whether or not they are LGBTQ.
The defendants’ arguments would reopen long-settled legal arguments, potentially upending much of federal anti-discrimination law in the process.
At the most fundamental level, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Bostock v. Clayton County, and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC are cases about whether the existing federal ban on sex discrimination forbids employment discrimination against LGBTQ workers. Zarda and Bostock involve Donald Zarda and Gerald Bostock, gay men who allege they were fired because of their sexual orientation. Harris Funeral Homes involves Aimee Stephens, a trans woman who was fired by a boss who claims that he would violate “God’s commands” if he allowed Stephens “to deny [her] sex while acting as a representative of [the] organization.”
The text of the law bans only “sex” discrimination, not discrimination based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity. These cases ask whether concepts like sexual orientation and gender identity are so tightly bound to the concept of sex (meaning gender, not sexual intercourse) that a ban on sex discrimination necessarily protects LGBTQ workers.
They are also the first big test of how the Supreme Court’s new majority will treat LGBTQ rights cases. Though retired Justice Anthony Kennedy was a conservative, he also authored the Court’s most important gay rights cases. Zarda, Bostock, and Harris Funeral Homes will tell us a great deal about whether it is possible to assemble a pro-LGBTQ majority on the Supreme Court without Kennedy’s vote.”
There is an in depth discussion of the cases and their potential large implications at the link. It is a fascinating read.
For our purposes, we are using it as an illustration to point out that now that the right has their people in place, they plan on wasting no time in restructuring society from the halls of the Supreme Court. Many of us have been thoroughly scared of what will happen to Roe v. Wade. It now looks like crunch time is here.
Of course Roe v. Wade is not expected to be the only casualty. Certainly workers rights will be on the target list as will a vast expansion of the privileges of businesses. One set of issues that many of us tend to ignore is the separation of church and state. Actually in this case I think we will be looking at a much looser reading of the privileges of religion in our society and a much lesser role for those who wish for a secular society.
Will we see the SCOTUS roll back the ACA? No doubt the right will see this as one of the things they won when the presidency was taken over by their Chosen One. Whether the ACA is declared unconstitutional this year or not, you can surely expect any further expansion of health care to be constantly on the SCOTUS docket as future congresses and presidents try to bring America into line with the rest of the modern world with health care.
Even what seem to be the last two bulwarks of the New Deal – Social Security and Medicare – may be in the sights of this Court. This has been the dreams of the right for 80 years or more. They are finally in position to roll the country back to the 19th century. SS and Medicare must go in their view.
Voting makes a difference.