As America’s affordable housing crisis grows, especially for those of retirement age, Black folks continue to be pushed into homelessness at a disproportionate rate. Advocates argue that an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling may make it even more dire. Earlier this month, the court announced that it would hear a case that will essentially decide if people experiencing homelessness can be issued jail time, tickets, and fines for sleeping on the streets — even if there are no shelter alternatives available for them. The case will be heard either this spring or in the fall.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a lawsuit challenging Washington state's ban on the harmful practice of so-called "conversion therapy" for minors, a move welcomed by LGBTQ+ rights advocates. The nation's highest court rejected an appeal from Washington, where the 2018 law prohibiting therapists from attempting to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity has been upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Although right-wing Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas dissented, their votes fell one shy of the four needed to get the case on the court's shortlist for full review.
On June 1, the Supreme Court issued a significant decision against the labor movement in Glacier Northwest v. Teamsters Local Union No. 174. In an 8–1 split, the Court found that the National Labor Relations Act does not protect striking cement truck drivers from being sued by their employer, who alleges damages for lost cement caused by their work stoppage. The decision, perhaps by design, has received little public outcry. Some in labor, who had anticipated a worse outcome, even expressed relief. On June 1, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry tweeted, “We are pleased that today’s decision . . . doesn’t change labor law and leaves the right to strike intact.”
The 2023-2024 Supreme Court term will begin on Monday, October 2. Dominated by six right-wingers, the court has agreed to review cases in which voting rights, consumer protection, and the regulation of health and safety, workers’ rights and the environment are in jeopardy. The cases present the issues of gerrymandering and the power of administrative agencies. In light of its recent conservative rulings, we should be wary about how the court will rule on these critical matters. Besides the cases already on the Supreme Court’s docket, the court will add more cases by mid-January. Their decisions will be issued by the end of June or beginning of July 2024.
Jose Ageo Luna Vanegas first worked for Signet Builders in the early 2000s. Hired on a temporary labor visa, he traveled from Mexico to U.S. job sites. The hours were long, but he was paid overtime. Years later, around 2017, Signet hired him again. This time, he received no overtime pay. That’s when he “started asking questions,” his attorney, Jennifer Zimmermann, said. The work was largely the same. His visa was different. Originally, Luna Vanegas was hired on an H-2B visa. Various industries use the visas to fill labor shortages. A hotel facing a busy summer might hire foreign maids, for instance. But, when Signet hired him for his second stint with the company, he was on an H-2A visa. It’s reserved for agriculture work.
On Wednesday, September 6, Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) unanimously ruled to decriminalize abortion at the national level. The SCJN resolved that the legal system that criminalizes abortion in the Federal Penal Code is unconstitutional as it violates the human rights of women and people with capacity for pregnancy. The ruling came two years after the SCJN first declared criminal penalties for abortion as unconstitutional and ordered the northern State of Coahuila to remove sanctions for abortion from its criminal code in September 2021. The ruling was in response to a case filed in 2018 challenging a criminal law in the Coahuila State legislation that punished women and pregnant individuals for terminating their pregnancy.
“The United States is the only country in the world that permits youth to be sentenced to life without parole,” the Juvenile Law Center notes. “Sentencing children to die in prison is condemned by international law. For children or adults, a sentence of life without parole is cruel, inhumane, and denies the individual’s humanity. For children, the sentence also defies law and research confirming that youth are different than adults and must be treated differently by our legal system.” While many individual states have banned the practice of sentencing juvenile offenders to life without parole, 22 states still permit it, and the conservative majority of the US Supreme Court has shown a troubling openness to overturning past precedents regarding juvenile sentencing.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, the landmark 5-4 Supreme Court decision that held that education is not a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution. The decision dashed hopes that the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling that ended legal segregation in 1954 would be followed by a sustained federal commitment to making education equality a reality. Demetrio Rodriguez was a sheet metal worker and a member of the Edgewood Concerned Parent Association when he became the lead plaintiff in the case. He thought his three children were being shortchanged by wide disparities in schooling across the sprawling San Antonio school district and the state of Texas.
The student loan pause offered a safety raft to millions of Americans who are drowning in debt. The Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 decision to block student debt relief will devastate these borrowers, many of whom finally experienced what it was like to have money to set aside for the chance to purchase homes, start families and live without constantly worrying about debt. After having this taste of freedom, Americans are ready to organize to protect what the Biden administration promised them. Among the groups leading the charge — and continuing to push the Biden administration to exercise all options for bringing about the promised debt relief — is the Debt Collective.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling last month effectively ending affirmative action in higher education, lawmakers and organizations on both sides of the ideological divide strategized next steps ranging from challenging legacy admissions to barring minority scholarships. In a consolidated decision in two cases — Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College — the Supreme Court decided that affirmative action is unconstitutional. Harvard is now under fire for admissions policies that activist groups say disadvantage students of color
Vested interests create “checks and balances” primarily to make political systems non-responsive to demands for social reform. Historically, therefore, the checks are politically unbalanced in practice. Instead of producing a happy medium, their effect often has been to check the power of the people to assert their interests at the expense of the more powerful. Real reform requires a revolution – often repeated attempts. The Roman Republic suffered five centuries of fighting to redistribute land and cancel debts, all of which failed as the oligarchy’s “checks” imposed deepening economic dependency and imbalance.
“Affirmative action” is, at this point, a loaded phrase. Strictly speaking, affirmative action typically refers to sets of policies/procedures that attempt to “even the playing field,” most commonly in education or employment decisions, by stopping present and future discrimination against marginalized or underrepresented groups while making up for past discrimination and injustices. For some in the U.S., affirmative action that considers race is representative of ‘reverse racism’ and political ‘wokeness’ run amok, and for others, it is a major victory that our elders and ancestors struggled for for years.
The Supreme Court of the United States is enshrined in the Constitution as one of three branches of government, the other two being the Executive branch, the presidency, and the Legislative branch, the Senate and House of Representatives. In other words the Court is a lawmaking body. The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was a landmark, a case that most Black people commit to memory. The Court declared that public accommodations could not be considered equal if they were separate, and thus began the long road to ending segregation in the law.
Chief Justice John Roberts has historically not decided cases in a way that protects voting rights. In 2013, he authored Shelby v. Holder, which drove a stake through the heart of the Voting Rights Act. And in 2021, he voted to further weaken the Act in Brnovich v. DNC. But this past month, Roberts surprisingly authored two new Supreme Court opinions that support the right to vote. On June 8, the high court struck down a racist congressional district map in Allen v. Milligan, and on June 27, the court preserved judicial review of state legislative enactments in Moore v. Harper.
On June 30, the US Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program, which had been held up in the courts for several months due to right-wing legal challenges. The six ultra-conservative justices which make up the majority of the court ruled against the program, while the three centrist justices voted to uphold it. The Court ruled that Biden had overstepped his authority when he announced a sweeping student debt relief program on August 24, 2022. The program would have zeroed out the debts of 20 million people. Biden issued an executive action in August to forgive the debts of student loan borrowers by up to USD 20,000.