In the past 10 days, the highest court in the United States has struck down the right of American women to have an abortion, enshrined the right to carry a gun in public, expanded the place of religion in the public sphere and significantly limited the federal means to fight against global warming.
These decisions, adopted by the Court’s six conservative judges to the chagrin of their three progressive colleagues, are the first illustration of a powerful return of the judicial pendulum after more temperate years, sometimes marked by historic progressive judgments, such as the legalization same-sex marriage in 2015.
With their solid conservative majority, strengthened under the presidency of Donald Trump, the judges offer revenge to the Republican right which, since the 1970s, has sought to take real control of the temple of law, in order to have certain key decisions invalidated. she considered excessive.
A “spectacular” turn
During the tumultuous 2021-2022 session that ended on Thursday, the Court took
a dramatic and sudden turn in a much more conservative directionanalyzes Stephen Wermiel, professor of constitutional law at the American University.
It’s about a
of the rare cases where the Supreme Court has radically taken away constitutional rightshe points out.
The last time a Supreme Court was relatively ideologically homogeneous was in the 1960s, when it enacted some of its most progressive reforms, recalls Neal Devins, a law expert at the university. William & Mary.
Under the presidency of Judge Earl Warren (1953-1969), the temple of law radically changed the daily lives of millions of Americans, ending segregation, strengthening the power of the federal state and laying the groundwork for the decision of 1973, Roe v. Wade, who made abortion a right for all American women.
A court guided by political convictions
Earl Warren’s court was vehemently denounced by the Conservatives, in the same way that the left today attacks the work of that chaired by the Conservative John Roberts.
But, unlike today, judges did not necessarily decide the most crucial decisions according to their supposed political affinities.
Five of the seven judges who supported the 1973 decision to extend the right to abortion to all Americans had, for example, been appointed by Republicans.
In today’s Supreme Court, common ground between the two camps is much rarer.
The conservative bloc chaired by John Roberts is also distinguished by its deep conviction that the Supreme Court has, in the past, agreed to examine questions that it should not have had to decide.
This is the argument that these judges used to justify canceling the right to abortion, believing that it was up to the voters of each American state to decide this social question.
Deep social fractures
This court also held that it was up to Congress, not an independent government agency, to set regulatory standards such as limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
His critics accuse him of deliberately ignoring the reality on the ground, with US states so deeply divided, from progressive California to conservative Wyoming.
The Supreme Court also knows that Congress, which is struggling to adopt major reforms on social issues,
does not worksays Richard Lazarus, professor of law at the prestigious Harvard University.
And yet she
threatens the state’s ability to ensure the health and well-being of its people, just as the United States and all nations of the world face the greatest environmental challenge in historyhe regrets.
It seems unlikely that the court’s conservative bloc will stop in its tracks. Its judges have agreed to examine a series of potentially crucial cases at the start of the school year, notably relating to positive discrimination and the way in which elections are regulated.
After 50 years of waiting, the Conservatives
have the opportunity to set a radically different direction in the country, judges Professor Wermiel.
They won’t let this chance pass.