While most people are gawking at the circus that is the 2016 Presidential race, I have been watching the true throne of power in the United States; the US Supreme Court.
During their last docket, the Court upheld some more progressive cases including upholding unequal impact claims under the Fair Housing Act; recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage; and ensuring the Affordable Care Act is provided to all 50 states.
Some argued the Court was turning into a more liberal body – a court that cares about both the historical and social impacts of their decisions, instead of just listening to a political platform.
With those limited moves towards the middle, the Court’s current docket could limit the ability of unions to collectively bargain; create restrictions on using race in college admissions; dismantle environmental regulations; and the coup d’état – continue to undermine the voting rights of minorities.
Presidential candidates may be able to take stances on each of these issues, but the Supreme Court will actually make the decisions that ensure everyone in this country abides by those decisions for decades to come.
Everyone should pay attention to the Presidential candidates, but we must all place the Supreme Court under a thin microscope. One main reason is their age.
Currently, the average age of the Justices is 75 years old. The four oldest Justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 82; Antonin Scalia, 79; Anthony Kennedy, 78; and Stephen Breyer, 76) are well above 68, the average age of retirement for Supreme Court Justices. Since the Republican Party controls the US Senate, if a Supreme Court opening was to occur within the next year, President Obama would be stopped to nominate anyone for the post. The fear factor also comes into play, because the next two oldest Justices are Clarence Thomas, 67 and Samuel Alito, 66. This means the next President could have the possibility of nominating six new members of the Court.
With the toxic environment, which has seeped into all aspects of politics, the Supreme Court must be the “grown-up” branch of government. The Justices must stay above the fray and interpret the law based on nothing more than the actual intent of the legislation. While politics will interfere in their nomination, Justices cannot allow political agendas to dictate their judicial interpretations. While the President serves up to eight years, and Congress must always be scrutinized through public elections, Supreme Court Justices are the true power. Their lifetime appointments mean that their views are the law of the land for generations to come.
Elections matter, not just because of the people who are elected through general elections, but because of the people who get appointed by these elected officials. There is no way for us to hold Supreme Court Justices accountable for their actions. Therefore, we must elect sensible lawmakers who truly care about the future of this nation. This means we must do our best to ensure moderate Justices are appointed to the Court. This upcoming year, watch how our Supreme Court votes on issues important to our communities. 2016 will be an historic year, but we must watch the throne of the Supreme Court. #ijs