This week the Supreme Court has made a strong buzz in the media with some landmark decisions. In two different days the Supreme Court ruled on a number of cases however four cases stood out this week. The Supreme Court ruled on Fisher v. University Of Texas At Austin, The Voting Rights Act of 1965, California’s Proposition 8, and on the Defense of Marriage Act or (DOMA). After reading about their rulings on these four cases I have to give the Supreme Court an overall grade of a B. However, their first two cases involving affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act showed poor leadership from the justices. What helped them in receiving a B was the striking down of DOMA and California’s Proposition 8.
First off, when the court ruled that they would not rule on the affirmative action case and pass it back down to the 5th District Court I was taken back. The highest court of the land would have been able to keep the precedent when it comes to a law that has given minorities the ability to attend Universities that would have been unattainable in the first place with out the law. Opponents of affirmative action say that the law it self violates the equal protection law of the constitution. This argument from a technical aspect is legitimate because by selecting students to attend their university based on their race is a violation of ones equal rights. However, people tend to forget the history that America created for itself in the past years.
Race has also been the judge to deny people their ability to attain work and even an education. Now universities such as the one in Texas maintain a strong selection process when considering race and it only accounts for a small percentage of admission. The reason why schools use affirmative action is because it brings a diverse atmosphere to the classroom and to the campus. Giving students the ability to break the stereotypes that they are exposed to. Instead of assuming that Hispanic males are gang bangers or drug lords they can see that the Hispanic student in their class is pursuing the same goal. However, even though the courts punted the case one of justice used strong language that may have opened the door for opponents of affirmative to continue their battle.
Justice Kennedy wrote in his notes the following “The University must prove that the means chosen by the University to attain diversity are narrowly tailored to that goal. On this point, the University receives no deference, strict scrutiny must not be strict in theory but feeble in fact.” Universities already run a tight rope program when using race. However, the language by Kennedy can only open the door for advocates against the usage of race by saying that students who have lower grades compared to their white classmate is a violation of the equal rights because they are not being selected for grades but just race and that the minority student should have either equal grades or better than their white counter part.
The second decision that was a disappointment was the courts decision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act designed to protect citizens located mostly from southern states from passage of laws that would hamper voting for minority voters. The court has stated that section 4 was unconstitutional. The section stated that before any state makes changes to their voting laws that they had to go to the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington. The courts believe that we as a nation have grown from the times where voters’ rights were being violated. I guess they missed the countless times that states in the run up to the 2012 election attempted to pass laws that would require ids to be presented and the denial of early voting in some states. Most of those attempted laws were in southern states that were required to follow the act.
However, the Supreme Court stated that the Congress is allowed to pass legislation with a new coverage formula in regards to protecting the rights of voters. The idea of congress being in charge of voters’ rights is like placing the burden of the economy oh wait they are and look how that’s going for us.
The next two decisions by the Supreme Court affected millions of same sex couples in America. The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision stated that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to regulate the marriages of Americans. This view made DOMA illegal based the equal protection clause of the constitution in the 4th Amendment. By denying same sex couples to marry based on their sexuality the federal government is using discriminatory practices on its own citizens. The following case that the court struck down involved California’s Proposition 8. The court was reversed in this decision, as the majority who voted to strike down DOMA was the minority in the Prop 8 case. The court ruled, “The court effectively struck down Prop. 8, vacating a ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the proponents of the bill did not have the right to defend its constitutionality if state officials refused to do so.” After the two major rulings same sex couples were now allowed to marry and receive the same federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive.
With the week ending in the major decisions that the courts made one can only say that race is now heading to the back burner as the court failed to rule on two cases that dealt with race. They scaled back on the voting rights act and placed it in the hands of a Congress. A legislative body that cannot pass a budget that consistently goes and back and forth, one member who have stated ignorant statements that makes one think how they won their seat in congress. I applaud the court for recognizing that the federal government has no right to regulate marriage. For years the government has been using discrimination on a group of people because of their sexuality. No one should be looked down upon based on their sexual orientation just as how African Americans were not allowed to Caucasian partners. This will not change the structure of family and nor will it affect society. Same sex couples have been around for years and have been oppressed by a government that states that it is democratic. However, we must place a close eye on states that have pushed for change in voter laws. After the courts ruling on the Voting Rights Act, Texas has brought up legislation that will require voters to have ids when voting. It will be a matter of time as states begin to find ways to create laws that would hamper the laws of its citizens. We witnessed it in the 2012 election with countless states attempting to infringe on the rights of American citizens and allowing them to vote. I can be wrong but history is our lesson in the mistakes that we make and yet we continue to make them. However, with a major shift in the support of gay rights I can only be truthful in giving the Supreme Court a B for their decision to strike down DOMA and Prop 8.