When It Comes to the Supreme Court, We Don’t Have to Live Like This

There's nothing democratic about wondering every June what rights the Supreme Court will keep and what they will disregard.

Exterior of the Supreme Court building
As the Supreme Court winds down its current term, they've yet to release its decisions in cases about affirmative action in college admissions and LGBTQ+ rights. Shutterstock/Austen Risvolato/Rewire News Group illustration

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We’re coming to the end of another Supreme Court term where the most significant cases, affecting our rights in the most significant ways, are released with only a sliver of transparency and absolutely no accountability by the justices. It’s an indictment on our democracy that the Court continues to operate this way.

We don’t have to live like this.

If the year following the fall of Roe v. Wade has proven anything, it is that court reform should be a primary policy focus for progressives in 2024 and beyond. Conservative lower court judges, inspired by the lawlessness demonstrated by the Supreme Court, have ushered in a wave of decisions threatening rights well beyond abortion. The federal courts have gone so rogue it appears it is now up to Chief Justice John Roberts to hold the line on our democracy and the rule of law.

The question now is: How long will Roberts last? And at what cost to the rest of our rights?

We got a little lucky this term. The Court didn’t fully upend democracy in Moore v. Harper, and it didn’t end the Indian Child Welfare Act in Haaland v. Brackeen. But as I’m writing this, we still don’t know whether the Court will end affirmative action policies in colleges and universities or if businesses will have the right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ customers all in the name of “free speech.”

So. I will say it again: We don’t have to live like this, wondering every June what rights the justices will keep and what they will disregard. There’s nothing democratic about that.

When the Court returns for business in October, we’ll already be deep into a presidential election news cycle. It will be the first since Roe fell—and the first where the possibility of a nationwide abortion ban is more than a fundraising appeal for conservatives.

Do we really want the status quo, where someone like Roberts is tasked with serving as a moderating force in the conservative movement? Or do we want a functioning federal judiciary instead?