SCOTUS to the Rescue

Whether or not you support Obamacare or same-sex marriage, the United States Supreme Court took giant leaps towards the progression of human rights.

What is the Judicial Branch all about?
1) The Constitution of the United States is the highest law of the land.
2) The job of the Supreme Court is to decide if laws enacted by states are constitutional or unconstitutional, that is; if those laws break or do not break the highest law of the land.
3) It is a tough job because much of it is based on interpretation.
4) When the Supreme Court hands down a new ruling, that then becomes the Constitution – the standard law.
5) States can give their residents more rights than the Constitution allows, but not less.

The Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States

Yesterday, a 6-3 decision by the Supreme Court kept Obamacare on life support. This decision prevented millions of Americans from losing their health insurance.

Without a doubt, it was a great day for President Obama and his administration. Obamacare has been widely controversial – met with much criticism from republicans, not to mention the computer glitches and technical problems people were faced with, when trying to sign up for the program. Nonetheless, those issues were resolved and Obamacare became the success that the President promised it would be.

The surprise decision of the court came from Chief Justice John Roberts (typically a conservative view) who voted to save Obamacare. His decision was concurred by the court’s swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy, and the other liberal justices.

No denial of care for pre-existing conditions is one of the Obamacare policies
No denial of care for pre-existing conditions is one of the Obamacare policies

Naturally, this ruling in favor of Obamacare was received with an impassioned dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia, the stark conservative. At one point, he even references the Affordable Care Act as SCOTUS Care (Supreme Court of the United States).

In today’s news, the Supreme Court hands down a 5-4 decision in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states. In the absence of Obamacare and race relations, same-sex marriage is arguably the most debated subject pertaining to civil and human rights.

Again, Justice Kennedy’s swing vote, single-handedly made America the 21st nation to recognize same-sex marriage.

Before this ruling, there had been laws proposed in favor of and against it on the state-level.
Proposition 8 made same-sex marriage illegal in the state of California. However, in addition to recognizing gay marriage, Missouri also honored same-sex marriages from out-of-state.

A gay rights rally
A gay rights rally

The gay marriage argument was brought before the Supreme Court by lead plaintiff, Jim Obergefell, who wanted to be recognized as his dying partner’s spouse, but was denied that right by the Ohio Attorney General, who defended the state’s ban on gay marriage. Obergefell fought for “equal justice under the law” and was at long last, granted marriage equality.

The arguments against gay marriage have remained entwined in politics and religion.

In his dissent, Chief Justice Roberts made it clear that religious organizations still have the right to refuse to officiate LGBT weddings. So Americans who oppose, would not feel as though they were forced to agree or support rights that they did not believe in.

Like so many conservatives, Justice Scalia who also dissented the ruling, believed that the power should be left in the hands of the states in recognizing same-sex marriage.

In recent years, we have seen a more progressive Supreme Court, that has made surprising rulings in favor of rights for people across the nation. This has been much different to the Supreme Court of yesteryear, that had been largely conservative.

My hope is that the victories for Obamacare and same-sex marriage, will prompt the Court to make similar rulings on human rights for African Americans, immigrants, women, and others, who commit to a daily fight for equality.

What are your thoughts on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare and same-sex marriage? Do your believe that the SC has too much or too little power?


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