The Supreme Court Just Proved it Only Cares About One Thing: Power

By Emily Martin, Chief Program Officer

The Supreme Court term just came to a chilling end, with a Republican-appointed super-majority holding that presidents are largely immune from prosecution for crimes committed under the guise of official action—a devastating ruling, even for this highly politicized Court. 

This decision, Trump v. United States, concluded a term in which the Republican-appointed majority—a third of which has been appointed by Trump—systematically undertook a project of expanding its own power and the power of its political allies, while posing a direct threat to democracy and the rule of law. Make no mistake: this is all a part of Trump and Republicans’ long game they had in mind when Trump appointed three extremist judges to our nation’s highest court.

In addition to inviting a future President Trump to feel even less constrained by legality should he be elected again, this extremist Court also sharply limited the ability of any future progressive administration to pursue policy that the current Court disagrees with. In Loper Bright v. Raimondo, it overturned decades of precedent by holding that courts don’t need to defer to the rules issued by public agencies interpreting and implementing the law, even when those rules are based on the types of scientific or technical expertise that judges lack. 

The Court further held that those rules can be challenged in a courtroom even when they have been in place for decades, inviting deep-pocketed special interest groups to rush to the courthouse to argue against long-standing safeguards that protect consumers, workers, students, patients, and the broader public. The Court’s rulings further put at risk our bodily autonomy, what our kids can learn at school, and our voting rights.

This is a Court that has abandoned any pretense of commitment to equal justice under law.

In Johnson v. Grants Pass, the Court ruled that it is constitutional to fine, arrest, or jail people experiencing homelessness for simple acts of using survival items like a blanket or a pillow in a public space, even when no shelter has been made available. Women and LGBTQIA+ people are at the greatest risk of housing instability, and trans people of color in particular face high rates of housing discrimination and bias, including when seeking emergency shelter, making it harder for them to find safe and secure housing. 

When the Court ruled in Idaho and Moyle, et al. v. United States that emergency abortions could go forward in Idaho while the case challenging Idaho’s abortion ban wends its way through the lower courts, it notably refused to say what should be clear: emergency abortion care is protected by longstanding federal law, which supersedes any state law to the contrary. Instead, the Court specifically left the door open to ruling in the months or years to come that states can ignore federal law’s protections for pregnant people when they criminalize abortion care. 

Such a decision would presumably come after November’s elections, using the age-old tactic of the extremist Right: delay, delay, delay.

Amid growing ethics and conflict of interest concerns, the corrupt Supreme Court majority demonstrated this term that it is a political body intent on grabbing power for itself and for the extremists who share its ideology—very specifically Donald Trump and his dictatorial ambitions.