Why the Supreme Court Should Be on Your Mind for the Election

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5 mins read

With so much else happening, in a news cycle where outrages happen every day, we’re all feeling news exhaustion. But we’re in the critical time where being able to persuade ​one more person to vote and vote Democratic makes the difference. The importance of the Supreme Court and holdings that will affect generations to come falls out of the daily news cycle. However, please keep the danger of Trump-appointed federal courts in mind and remind others not to let this issue go unnoticed.

Supreme Court cases will affect our lives both immediately and well into the future. Donald Trump’s most prominent victory was placing two conservatives on the Supreme Court and many more to federal benches across the country. Trump has appointed 202 Senate-confirmed Article III federal judges (who have lifetime appointments) as of August 1, 2020. These judges are mostly white, male, and young. That means even if Joe Biden wins the presidency and we flip the Senate, jurisdictions like the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (covering districts of LA, MS, and TX), the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, and Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (covering districts of AR, MS, IA, MN, and NE, ND, and SD), all with Trump-appointed judges and conservative agendas, will likely decide cases with impact upon environmental regulation, on LGBTQ rights, on immigration, criminal justice, health care, reproductive rights, and other vital issues. These judges may uphold terrible laws and decide against civil rights. And this is just the beginning. As an attorney, I know how much power federal cases and the Supreme Court have for making the law.

The Supreme Court will be the country’s last bastion of protection for our rights—unless Donald Trump is re-elected and gets the chance to appoint one or two more conservative Supreme Court justices. If Joe Biden is elected and the Senate flips Democratic, Mitch McConnell will no longer be able to rubber-stamp Trump’s appointees. He won’t be able to hold up a Democratic president’s appointments (as he did during Obama’s term, leaving over 100 vacancies after President Obama left office). Keep this in mind—Trump and McConnell managed to appoint more federal judges in Trump’s term than two Obama terms. Trump has been open about his intentions to appoint judges from a hard conservative bent since the beginning of his term in working with the Federalist Society. McConnell has been encouraging current judges to retire so Trump can appoint younger judges. Before her appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that the Federal Courts of Appeal are where policy really happens.

The Supreme Court is where the last bastion of democracy may lay to reverse any Court of Appeal holdings. But John Roberts cannot be counted on to be a swing vote. Roberts has consistently voted for a conservative outcome, and his decisions are cutting away at rights, such as abortion rights, slowly and carefully so as not to be noticeable. This erosion will continue until, in effect, such rights will no longer exist.

One of the most essential ways to act to protect our country, our democracy, and our rights and freedoms is to vote to ensure fair, principled, and professional justices get appointed to the Supreme Court. Rest assured, even if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are elected, and we have the Senate and the House, the right-wing contingent will attempt to tear down any progressive legislation. The Supreme Court needs our attention. The battleground states and the electoral college is where this fight takes place. Every vote counts to close the door to a right-wing court and right-wing agenda. Please plan your vote now to save the Supreme Court, and encourage others to do so as well.


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Alex Fiano (them/their/they) is a writer and humanities college faculty living in New York City. Alex has worked as an attorney in employment discrimination and helping incarcerated persons, in communications for a gender equity nonprofit, and as a freelance writer and editor. Alex has volunteered to help LGBTQ+ youth and on progressive political campaigns. Alex currently studies art and art history, has a thriller/LGBTQ+ series (Gabriel's World, and is developing a second gothic mystery thriller series (Gravfika) with nonbinary and trans protagonists.

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