Breaking Down The Past Week Of Supreme Court Rulings
In addition to reversing Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has issued a number of rulings impacting citizens' rights.
June 28, 2022 at 1:12 pm
While the Supreme Court sent the nation into an uproar by overturning Roe v. Wade last week, this decision was one of several important rulings over the past seven days. These rulings by the court, led by its Republican-appointed majority, generally strengthened conservative positions on several major legal and political issues. Below, we break down everything you need to know.
Protecting police who violate citizens' Miranda rights
On Thursday, the six conservative justices of the Supreme Court ruled that cops cannot be sued for civil rights violations if they fail to issue Miranda warnings to suspects. Police are required to deliver such warnings to inform citizens of their right to remain silent and other rights that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Evidence or information obtained from suspects who have not been informed of their rights can be excluded from trials.
Thursday’s ruling still allows defendants to challenge evidence obtained by violating the Miranda warning, but it prevents citizens from filing civil suits against cops who commit these violations. Since officers are rarely punished by prosecutors or police departments, civil rights advocates fear that this ruling will create yet another layer of immunity for cops and embolden police to violate these rights even more than they already do.
Supporting religion in publicly funded school venues
Over the past week, the Supreme Court has issued two rulings relating to religion and publicly funded education. Last Tuesday, the court ruled 6-3 that a Maine program that provides tuition assistance for students to attend private high schools must grant that assistance to religious schools as well. The following Monday, the same six justices sided with Joseph Kennedy, a former Washington state high school football coach who sued after being told he couldn’t kneel and pray on the 50-yard line after games. Together, these rulings support the right to practice religion within the context of state-funded education. Such rulings have been celebrated by proponents of religious freedom, while critics argue that they blur the line that separates church and state.
Expanding gun rights, limiting gun control
On Thursday, the Supreme Court struck down a New York state law that restricted citizens from carrying concealed weapons in public spaces. In doing so, the court held for the first time that individuals have a constitutional right to carry concealed firearms outside of their homes. The ruling broadened the court’s already expansive interpretation of gun rights and presented a blow to gun control advocates.
It may prevent other states, such as Massachusetts and California, from enforcing strict gun laws. Coming during a general surge in gun violence and shortly after a wave of particularly horrific mass shootings, many have criticized this ruling as being both out of touch and dangerous. However, the ruling may benefit Black gun owners, as Black people are disproportionately arrested and convicted for gun crimes in New York and other parts of the country.
Defending discriminatory voter ID laws
In a near-unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court voted 8-1 on Thursday to allow Republican lawmakers to step in and defend North Carolina’s voter ID law from legal challenges. The court’s ruling did not decide whether the voting law was valid but does ensure that the law will be defended against challenges. The underlying case involves a law passed in 2018 that requires North Carolina citizens to present a photo ID to vote.
A lower court ruled in 2021 that the voter ID law violated North Carolina’s constitution and discriminated against Black voters, and the state is now challenging that ruling. Republican lawmakers in the state have accused the current Democratic governor of not properly defending the law, and the Supreme Court ruling allows Republican legislators to step in and directly defend the voter ID law in court. Though this does not guarantee that the voter ID law will survive its court challenge, the Supreme Court is giving the discriminatory law a better shot at being enacted.
Eliminating abortion and privacy rights
On Friday, the Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending a federally recognized right to abortion. As Blavity previously reported, this ruling has led to a patchwork of abortion restrictions across the country. More than a dozen states have already implemented severe restrictions or outright bans on abortion, while several other Republican-controlled state governments may pass or reinstate bans soon. Meanwhile, Justice Clarence Thomas indicated the reasoning used by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe could potentially lead to the elimination of other recognized rights, such as contraception or same-sex marriage.
Overall, these rulings have significantly impacted Americans’ rights across several areas, from religious freedom to reproduction and more. The impact of these rulings will play out for years to come, as the Supreme Court increasingly shapes American laws to match conservative principles.