Skip to content Skip to navigation

Blog

What we’re reading: Supreme Court edition

Photo: / AFSC

As the 2015-2016 Supreme Court session winds to a close, major decisions on just a few remaining cases are expected before the end of this month. The court has already made some huge decisions this term, including on affirmative action, the fourth amendment, and President Obama’s executive actions on immigration

These decisions will potentially affect millions of people. Here’s what we’re reading to make sense of it all:

The Devastating Aftermath Of The Supreme Court’s Immigration Decision, by Esther Yu-His Lee, via Think Progress

In the case U.S. v Texas, which challenged a Texas court’s injunction on President Obama’s 2014 executive actions on immigration, the Supreme Court was split 4-4. This means the lower court's ruling will remain in place and the programs will continue to be blocked from implementation. "Immigrants and advocates, many of whom stood holding signs in front of the Supreme Court on Thursday, were left feeling disappointed and angry by the decision. Major immigrant advocacy groups released statements saying they are in mourning. If the programs had been allowed to take effect, they believe it could have allowed them to be less afraid of encountering federal immigration authorities who could rip their families apart."

Read Sonia Sotomayor’s atomic bomb of a dissent slamming racial profiling and mass imprisonment, by Mark Joseph Stern, via Slate

In the case Utah v. Strieff, the Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained from an illegal stop can still be used in court if an officer later discovers an unrelated arrest warrant. “Sotomayor’s dissent is not just an effective rebuttal to the Strieff majority (though it surely is that). It is also a brutal and necessary indictment of an increasingly conservative court’s repudiation of the Constitution’s most important safeguards against police misconduct—and a reminder that this weakening of Fourth Amendment freedoms has especially dire consequences for America’s minority and low-income communities. In the history of the United States Supreme Court, no justice has mixed personal empathy, professional wisdom, and legal acumen as brilliantly as Sonia Sotomayor just did. It’s too bad her atomic bomb of an opinion had to come in the form of a dissent to such an awful ruling.”

On Race and Education: What Today's Affirmative Action Decision Really Means, by Victor Goode, via Colorlines

In the case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the Supreme Court ruled that the university's affirmative action program was constitutional. "In most respects, today’s decision holds the line. It doesn’t open any new ground to advance or diminish affirmative action. The Court was clear that affirmative action in higher education could continue, as long as its goals are clear and measurable. The Texas goals were 'ending stereotypes, promoting cross-racial understanding, preparing students for an increasingly diverse workforce and society, and cultivating leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry.'"

The Supreme Court Sides With the Lenders in Puerto Rico's Bankruptcy Case, by AJ Vicens, via Mother Jones

In the case Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust, the Supreme Court ruled that Puerto Rico could not enact its own bankruptcy laws. “The ruling solidifies the island's dependence on the US Congress to work out a plan to deal with a debt that the island's governor has said cannot be repaid. According to Bloomberg Politics, the island faces a $2 billion debt payment on July 1, which comes just two months after it defaulted on $370 million in debts owned by its Government Developmental Bank. … This is the second recent Supreme Court ruling that reinforces Puerto Rico's colonial status. Last Thursday, the court ruled that the island can't separately prosecute defendants in criminal cases as states can because the island's power comes from Congress, not from local authorities.” 

Support human rights

Make a tax-deductible holiday gift to AFSC today!

Give Now →

CLOSE   X