The US Supreme Court has already detonated the right to abortion. The very conservative body begins a new session on Monday that could end with other reversals, particularly for the rights of African Americans or homosexual couples.
Discrimination, electoral law, immigration… Several explosive dossiers are on the menu of the High Court which returns with, for the first time in its history, a black woman among its judges. The arrival of Ketanji Brown Jackson, appointed by Democratic President Joe Biden, does not change the balance within the temple of American law: it maintains a solid conservative majority of six out of nine judges, including three chosen by Republican Donald Trump. .
Sanctification of the gun license and restriction of women’s rights
In 2021-2022, “the Court relied on this conservative bloc to review established case law” and “appears ready to continue (…) without restraint,” according to David Cole, legal director of the powerful ACLU Civil Rights Advocate organization.
In June, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling that had guaranteed the right to abortion of American women for nearly 50 years, consecrated the right to bear arms, strengthened religion’s place in the public sphere, and limited the powers of the public agency. for the protection of the environment. His decisions threw the left into turmoil but delighted conservative circles, which for years had denounced the “judicial militancy” of the Court, which has become the arbiter of great social debates.
Positive discrimination “in the crosshairs”
Ilya Shapiro, an expert at the Manhattan Conservative Institute, believes the court is in the process of correcting the “excesses” of the 1970s. For him, the ruling that in 1978 defined the legal framework for discrimination in universities as positive is the next “in the sights of the Court”.
On October 31, the High Court will dedicate a hearing to the selection mechanisms in place at the prestigious Harvard University and the public University of North Carolina. These institutions, like many others, take into account ethnic criteria to ensure student diversity and correct the underrepresentation of black and Hispanic youth stemming from the racist and segregationist past of the United States.
The electoral map in question
These policies, sometimes described as “reverse racism”, have always been the subject of protests on the right but so far the appeals have always failed. The Supreme Court itself has twice ruled that universities can take into account certain racial criteria as long as they are aimed exclusively at ensuring the diversity of the student population.
Now she looks ready to back off. In another case, linked to an electoral map of the state of Alabama on Tuesday’s menu, she could unveil part of the emblematic 1965 law that ended segregationist rules that limited the right to vote for African Americans. the South.
“Great consequences for democracy”
This “civil rights law” provides for the possibility of grouping black voters into an constituency to ensure they have few representatives. But it is illegal to concentrate them too much to lessen the weight of their vote. The stakes are high in a country where black voters overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, while white voters are more likely to support Republicans.
Another file, coming from North Carolina, could “have serious consequences for democracy,” according to Sophia Lin Lakin, who follows electoral matters for the ACLU. Republican elected officials in this state are defending a new interpretation of the constitution which, if adopted by the Supreme Court, would give “unchecked power to local lawmakers over the organization of federal elections,” she said.
Five years after ruling in favor of a Christian pastry chef who did not want to sell a wedding cake to a male couple, the Supreme Court will also return to this delicate subject, this time seized by a website creator. In 2018, it issued a limited decision. This time, it could authorize traders, whose products are “creative” in nature, more generally to violate anti-discrimination laws in the name of their religious beliefs.
If we follow this logic, “architects may refuse to design houses for black families, pastry chefs to make birthday cakes for Muslim children …”, fears David Cole. By June 30, the deadline to deliver its sentences, the High Court will also have to rule on the policies of expulsion of undocumented immigrants, the death penalty or the policies of adopting Native American children.