Thursday marked the beginning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s summer break after ending a term marked by significant decisions and the swearing-in of its first African American female justice.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to control carbon emissions from power plants was limited on Thursday by the Supreme Court, where conservatives have a 6-3 edge over the liberal bloc. This dealt a serious blow to the White House’s attempts to combat climate change.
In response, U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement that the decision “risks undermining our nation’s ability to keep our air clean and tackle climate change” and that it is “another sad decision that seeks to move our country backwards.”
The climate crisis poses an existential peril, which we must and will not ignore, according to Biden. The evidence supports what we can all see with our own eyes: that our lives and way of life are under peril due to wildfires, droughts, high heat, and intense storms.
In the past, more greenhouse gas emissions have come from the US than from any other nation.
The Supreme Court ruled with the Biden administration in its efforts to end the so-called “Remain in Mexico” policy, which mandates that Americans seeking asylum at the southern border remain in Mexico while their requests are processed. This decision was made on Thursday as well.
According to the 5-4 judgment, the Biden administration did not break federal immigration law when it sought to reverse the previous administration’s strategy, which reportedly resulted in the deportation of more than 70,000 asylum claimants to Mexico from the United States.
Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first African American woman to hold that position in the nation, was sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court shortly after the two decisions were made public.
Late in February, Biden proposed 51-year-old Jackson as the Associate Justice Stephen Breyer’s replacement. One of Biden’s key campaign pledges was to nominate an African American woman to the Supreme Court in the event of a vacancy. The Senate approved Jackson’s nomination in April.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the U.S. legal system and has the authority to review and reverse decisions made by lesser courts. It also serves as the last arbiter of federal law, including the constitution of the nation.
116 justices have been confirmed to the bench since the United States Supreme Court was founded in 1789. Only six of them, including Jackson, were women, and 108 of them were white men. The judges have a lifetime appointment and can continue in their positions until they pass away, retire, resign, or are impeached and dismissed.
Legal observers predict that Jackson would vote similarly to her predecessor, Stephen Breyer, and that while her appointment won’t alter the ideological slant of the Supreme Court, it will probably alter the court’s dynamic.
In a shocking decision that further polarized the country last week, the US Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade and removed a constitutional guarantee for abortion rights.
In order to enshrine abortion rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Biden suggested that the U.S. Senate create an exemption to the 60-vote filibuster on Thursday while in Spain for a NATO conference.
At a press conference, Biden said, “The most important thing to be clear about is that I believe we need to codify Roe v. Wade in the law, and the way to accomplish that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that.” And if the filibuster comes in the way, just like with voting rights, we should make an exception for this, calling for a filibuster exception for this action to address the Supreme Court ruling.
The filibuster, described by the chamber as “a loosely defined word for conduct meant to prolong debate and delay or prevent a vote on a bill, resolution, amendment, or other contentious matter,” has been made possible by the history of unlimited debate in the Senate.
Prior to 1917, there was no means to end a Senate debate and compel a vote on a measure. In that same year, the Senate passed a rule that established the “cloture” process, which allows a two-thirds majority to break a filibuster.
In 1975, the Senate changed the threshold for cloture from two-thirds of senators present and voting to three-fifths of senators present and voting, or 60 of the 100 senators. There are just 50 Democrats in the Senate right now, and most decisions are made along partisan lines.
In a statement in response to Biden’s idea, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell claimed that “attacking a key American institution like the Supreme Court from the world stage is below the dignity of the President.”
When questioned whether or not the nation is headed in the right direction, the president “launched this unacceptable attack,” McConnell said. “The President should examine himself in the mirror. The Supreme Court is not to blame for things like inflation, sky-high gas costs, street crime, or anarchy at the border. He is. No amount of shifting responsibility on a global scale will alter that.