The Supreme Court Is Now Poised to Fall Into Right Wing Control for Decades
The 2016 election will be seen as the biggest disaster for liberal politics in the history of America: Justice Kennedy to retire from Supreme Court.
With Kennedy gone, the Court’s decisions on issues where he’s a down-the-line conservative — like campaign finance and corruption, most business regulation and voting cases, gun rights, religious liberty, etc. — likely won’t change. There’s already a 5-4 conservative majority on those, so conservative rulings like the ones Kennedy wrote or joined in DC v. Heller, Citizens United, or Hobby Lobby will continue apace.
What will change are rulings on issues where Kennedy has helped maintain a shaky 5-4 center-left consensus. Because of the court’s longstanding principle of stare decisis, or obeying past precedent barring a compelling reason not to do so, some liberal Court achievements are likely to stay. But a Court without Kennedy is substantially more likely to:
- Overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states (and maybe the federal government too) to ban most or all abortions.
- Reject challenges to capital punishment and solitary confinement.
- Rule in favor of religious challenges to anti-discrimination law, and perhaps, in an extreme case, reverse some past Supreme Court rulings on gay rights.
- Bar government actors from engaging in explicit race-based affirmative action.
President Trump will push for a swift confirmation of a Supreme Court justice “before the midterm elections,” a senior White House official says. A nomination could come “within weeks,” official says.
The most unfit-for-office president in history now has a chance to hand over control of the Supreme Court to the far right, for decades to come. I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach.