Since the jarring overturn of Roe v. Wade this past June, the Supreme Court has not slowed on heavy impactful decisions as the political tension heats up in America. From halting the E.P.A’s ability to aid climate change to accept a largely controversial case on how federal elections are conducted, here are some of the decisions made by the Supreme Court that you may have missed.
On June 24th, one of the most impactful cases was shockingly overturned in Roe v. Wade. After nearly 50 years of the constitutional right to an abortion, the repercussions of the decision are detrimental and long-lasting. The decision will not only affect women’s reproductive rights but the right to gay marriage and the use of contraceptives. For a detailed report on the devastating overturn of Roe v. Wade, read The Untitled Magazine article here.
The Stripping of the E.P.A.’s Authority
On June 30th, the Supreme Court ruled to halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to aid climate change in West Virginia v. E.P.A., cutting all last ties to the Clean Power Plan. The consensus was 6-3, with three liberal justices warning the dangers of this decision in the fight against climate change. The decision specifically constricts the power of the E.P.A. in regulating emissions such as greenhouse gases from energy sources.
While, technically, the ruling does not stop the E.P.A. from regulating carbon dioxide emission, nor does it overturn the ruling of 2007 Massachusetts v. E.P.A., it is still greatly impactful. The conservative court ruling states that the E.P.A. cannot enforce a nationwide decision without approval of Congress. Therefore, while the E.P.A. can still enforce filtration technologies, with the rapid rise of climate change, it is highly unlikely to combat the issue, instead barely grazing over the tip of the almost melted iceberg.
Furthermore, the vague idea of “major” rulings being too radical without Congress approval creates fear that the E.P.A. will have trouble with new regulations for climate change. Without specific details and instruction, many environmentalist groups are daunted by the idea of the E.P.A. being further confined in the future.
The rapid increase of climate change makes the Supreme Court ruling even more haunting, as the political tension and literal world heat up. Scientists state that America is not on track to cut greenhouse gases in half by 2030, and the ruling hinders the ability to achieve the mark even more. According to USA Facts, greenhouse gas emissions are 5.98 billion tons as of 2020, decreasing from the early 2000s. However, with the E.P.A. regulations now halted, it is apparent the progress will slow with little time to spare in the fight against climate change.
The Controversy Continues: Independent Legislature Theory
On June 30th, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Moore v. Harper on the controversial topic of the independent legislature theory. The case has the power to change the operations of federal elections, along with the power of the state legislatures. The theory allows for the state legislatures to have utmost power over federal elections. State supreme courts and constitutions are bypassed by the theory, giving majority power to the legislature.
The independent legislature theory came about in North Carolina, after the state supreme court ruled against the new district lines due to gerrymandering and violation of North Carolina’s constitution. The theory was then brought up, stating the clause in Article 1 of the Constitution, “the times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof,” gave the state the right to bypass the state supreme court decision and state constitution.
In the future, the independent legislature theory could severely impact federal elections, making elections unbalanced and dramatically shifted. The Supreme Court justice, Kavanaugh, states that the court will eventually have to “carefully decide” on the theory to settle unrest. The hearing will most likely take place in October of this year; a decision that will impact the functionality of America’s government immensely.
State Power Gained Over Native American Tribes
On June 29th, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oklahoma authority persecuting non-Native Americans when the victim is Native American and the crime takes place on tribal land. The increase of power to the state replaces the 2020 precedent that protected Native American land from state power, leaving the authority to the federal courts. Now, however, the state will have authority to insert their power, harming the sovereignty of Native American tribes, and threatening other states with large tribal populations, as well.
The case stemmed from the hearing of Victor Castro-Huerta, a non-Native American who was charged with the malnourishment of his disabled step-daughter. His step-daughter is a member of the Cherokee Indians; therefore, his conviction was then thrown out. Since, he has pleaded guilty and awaits his sentence.
While the Republican governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, states he wants unity by the tribe being a part of the state, the Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., does not agree.
“[The court] ruled against legal precedent and the basic principles of congressional authority and Indian law.”
35 other states are home to various Native American tribes, allowing the ruling in Oklahoma to potentially set wildfire in other states. Whereas the state handles cases where no Native Americans are involved on the land, and the tribal courts handle cases directly relating to Native Americans, in 16 states, more power has been granted to the states authority regarding Native American crimes.
The Final End of the “Remain in Mexico” Border Policy
On June 30th, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Biden Administration in Biden v. Texas. The ruling now permits the Biden Administration to end the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy.
The MPP or “Remain in Mexico” border policy requires immigrants who are obtained at the border to return to Mexico, resulting in camp-outs with often extremely harming and degrading conditions. The Biden Administration took to end the policy on June 1, 2021. However, Texas and Missouri both challenged the termination. The District Court ruled in favor of the states, forcing the MPP to remain in act due to the bounds of the INA.
The Biden Administration then appealed. After another failed attempt of termination, as the District Court denied the ability, the Supreme Court began its own decision-making. The main question of the Supreme Court was determining if the Biden Administration by terminating the MPP was violating the IPA.
Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled there was only an assumption of a violation.
“In the case of an alien . . . who is arriving on land . . . from a foreign territory contiguous to the United States, the [Secretary] may return the alien to [a contiguous] territory pending a proceeding under section 1229a.”
While this is a win for the Biden Administration, Title 42 is still in place, a challenge to their future immigration policy plans.