Today should have been a day for celebration. It’s the third anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the ruling that gave the United States marriage equality. But instead, it’s a day of rage — the U.S. Supreme Court released two of today’s four expected decisions, and it hasn’t gone well. In one case the Court sided with anti-abortion “Crisis Pregnancy Centers.” And it also released its Muslim ban decision in Trump v. Hawaii — choosing to uphold Trump’s Islamophobia.
The fact that the Muslim ban decision came on the same day as the Obergefell v. Hodges anniversary feels symbolic. Three years ago, the Supreme Court granted an oppressed community well-deserved human rights. Today, the Court stripped a different oppressed community of theirs. If there’s a more apt description of the difference between the Trump Administration and the Obama Administration, we don’t know what it could be.
In today’s Muslim ban decision, the ruling broke 5-4 along partisan lines. Justice John Roberts wrote the decision, claiming that the travel ban was completely in the President’s authority.
Roberts punted on the moral question of whether the travel ban fulfills one of Trump’s racist campaign promises to instate a widespread Muslim ban, advocating an unconstitutional violation on the freedom of religion.
He wrote, “Plaintiffs argue that this President’s words strike at fundamental standards of respect and tolerance, in violation of our constitutional tradition. But the issue before us is not whether to denounce the statements. It is instead the significance of those statements in reviewing a Presidential directive, neutral on its face, addressing a matter within the core of executive responsibility. In doing so, we must consider not only the statements of a particular President, but also the authority of the Presidency itself.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the dissent, arguing it was foolish to ignore Trump’s many, many Islamophobic comments. Justice Sotomayor wrote, “The majority here completely sets aside the President’s charged statements about Muslims as irrelevant. That holding erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance that the court elsewhere has so emphatically protected, and it tells members of minority religions in our country ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.'”
Sotomayor also cited Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 Supreme Court decision that endorsed the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Roberts responded by saying Korematsu was wrongly decided, marking the first time a sitting Justice has denounced the ruling.
The Supreme Court also ruled in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra that regulations requiring “crisis pregnancy centers” to disclose their purpose violate the First Amendment.
Crisis pregnancy centers look similar to real reproductive health clinics like Planned Parenthood, however their intent is to dissuade women from getting abortions, even to the point of giving false information about abortion regulations.
California lawmakers enacted a law to keep them from misleading women, but the law was struck down in another 5-4 party line decision. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the decision, claiming the law “targets speakers, not speech, and imposes an unduly burdensome disclosure requirement that will chill their protected speech.”