Harry's Gang: Supremely suspicious rulings
July 7, 2023
I’m disappointed in the recent Supreme Court rulings, but not for the reasons you probably think I am.
Sure, I would like to have seen President Biden carry out his plan to reduce student loan debt, for example. While the government spends way, way too much money and is involved in way, way too much of our everyday lives, the facts are that the government does, already, spend all that money and is, already, very involved in our everyday lives. If the government is already so omnipotent, rejecting student loan payoffs won’t help that issue. The government is going to spend this money anyway. I’d prefer it be spent on something that will help everyday people who have gotten caught up in the rising college tuition crisis and the drumbeat of a college education for all mantra, and now are hindered by the crushing debt repayment obligations.
But the Supreme Court didn’t address that issue. Instead, they substituted their own beliefs that the president can’t enforce a law they don’t like that is already on the books, the HEROES Act, which allows the administration to give relief to student loan borrowers, including discharging their debts. This is an example of a political court substituting its policy interpretations over Congress’s actual law, as written. The court didn’t say the law was unconstitutional (they know the law isn’t). They said that the administration’s ability to waive or modify student loan debt discharge would be transformed if the administration eliminated all student loan debt. Determining if a law passed by Congress is constitutional is the Supreme Court’s job. Deciding the law doesn’t fit their political agenda is not. That’s why I’m disappointed.
The solution to laws that some don’t like is not to pack the Supreme Court. It’s to elect more representatives to Congress who follow that political persuasion. If they can’t win elections, they shouldn’t be able to push their agenda through the courts.
Then there was the case involving a website designer who didn’t want to design sites for those in same-sex marriages. It turns out the plaintiff didn’t have an actual wedding website company and was never asked to design a website for a same-sex marriage. The plaintiff merely felt she would be compromised, if she was asked to do so. The Supreme Court took the opportunity to expand religious exemptions to our Constitutional freedoms. I don’t agree with them on this issue, but that’s not my main concern. I’m more worried that the court allowed a plaintiff to sue who had no real case. The courts are supposed to decide cases and controversies. If a plaintiff doesn’t have standing to sue, the case should be tossed out. This means, for example, that you can’t sue your neighbor because you don’t like the color of her house. In this case, the Supreme Court had no business chiming in on this issue.
The Court decided on affirmative action, too. I understand where they are coming from. Our Constitution is supposed to be colorblind. But when the laws are not applied that way and we have already decided to protect traditionally disadvantaged groups, a simple cry that color doesn’t matter is naïve and just plain wrong. I had hoped that affirmative action would no longer be necessary by now, but I’m disappointed the court relied on a technicality that favors a political agenda when they don’t rely on such technicalities when it doesn’t.
It’s similar to my disappointment in the Hobbs decision of last year, where the Supreme Court ruled that Roe v. Wade is no longer good law. No matter how you feel about reproductive rights, the danger in the Hobbs decision is that all three new members of the court swore, under oath, during their Senate confirmation hearings that Roe v Wade was settled law, when in fact they didn’t really intend to honor that. That’s a dangerous precedent, which this court doesn’t seem to follow anyway.
You can cheer or jeer the end results of these Supreme Court decisions if your first concern is your political beliefs. I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has allowed political forces to dictate how its decisions are being made. Because once the courts succumb to politics, our freedoms are doomed.
Pete Radosevich is the publisher of the Pine Knot News community newspaper and an attorney in Esko who hosts the cable access talk show Harry’s Gang on CAT-7. His opinions are his own. Contact him at [email protected].