The October 12, 2015 issue of The Nation has a very interesting series of articles reviewing decisions of the Roberts court. I am very glad that they did this because I have been wanting to see a list of some of the more outrageous decisions of the court all discussed in one place. The list helps to point out how undeserving the Court is of its relatively favorable public approval ratings. Although some of the decisions discussed (see also below) are those in which honest people can honestly disagree, others are so obviously slanted toward corporate rights at the expense of labor and consumer rights as to be totally infuriating in their nature. This from a court that secured its new conservative recruits through an obviously biased ruling in favor of Bush in the 2000 election.
In Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared that voluntary efforts of Seattle and Louisville to desegregate their public schools violated the equal-protection clause of the constitution.[i] June 2007 A.D.
In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court declared for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. Justice Scalia treated the “well regulated Militia” clause as merely “prefatory” and having no real operational effect.[ii] 2008 A.D.
In Ashcroft v. Iqbal the Supreme Court insisted that Iqbal’s pleading had to state facts showing that his claim was “plausible,” a significantly more demanding standard for plaintiffs than what was previously in place. This created an unfair burden of proof on those who simply want to initiate a suit to go through the discovery process in which such plaintiffs can subpoena corporation for records that might be useful to prove their cases. This established a stricter standard than the standard in place prior to the Iqbal ruling [iii] 2009 A.D.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission conferred the rights of person-hood upon corporations and equated political donations with free speech. [iv] January 10, 2010 A.D.
In Wal-Mart v. Dukes and AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion the Supreme Court made it more difficult to satisfy the rules of a class action or forced plaintiffs into individual arbitration. 2011 A.D.
In Knox v. SEIU the Supreme Court casts doubt on fair-share representation fees. Such fees were collected from public sector employees to pay for the costs incurred by unions where such unions act as the duly selected bargaining agent for such employees.[v] 2012 A.D.
In Shelby County v. Holder the Supreme Court struck down a key enforcement provision of the voting rights act. Under Section 5, jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination had to clear any changes in voting practices and procedures with either the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington D.C.[vi] 2013 A.D.
In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby the Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate violated the religious-freedom rights of a corporation.[vii] 2014 A.D.
Now, obviously a great deal will depend upon the outcome of the 2016 election. What I wonder is: to what extreme will the court go if a Republican wins that election and reinforces the court with further conservative appointees. What will happen if Anthony Kennedy, who at least stood up for gay civil rights, is replaced by a more conservative justice?
[i] The Nation, “Erasing Brown” October 12, 2015
[ii] The Nation, “Wrong on Gun Rights” October 12, 2015
[iii] The Nation, “Closing the Door” October 12, 2015
[iv] The Nation, “Super-PAC Tsunami” October 12, 2015.
[v] The Nation, “Unions in Jeopardy” October 12, 2015
[vi] The Nation, “Voting Rights Axed” October 12, 2015
[vii] The Nation, “For-Profit Faith” October 12, 2015