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06/26/2020 | Federal Advocacy: Fighting Back & Fighting Forward

Justice in the Balance: What’s at Stake with This Supreme Court

Every June, the United States Supreme Court issues its final decisions for the term. These decisions have far reaching impacts on people throughout U.S. society.

    The Supreme Court is the highest court in the US, which means that it is the final arbiter of the law. Supreme Court decisions set precedent—or act as the authoritative guide—for law throughout the country. It is the head of the federal judicial branch, whose job is also to act as a check on the executive and legislative branches. Thus, the Court, and the federal court system more generally, plays an incredibly important role in US society and democracy, determining how laws should be interpreted and implemented. Their decisions often have a highly significant impact on communities of color, low-income communities, immigrants, LGBTQ people, and others, as the Court decides important questions regarding civil rights, regulating the economy, immigration, and our election system.

    While in theory the judicial system strives to be “fair and impartial,” Supreme Court justices and their decisions— along with all other federal and state judges and their decisions—are deeply influenced by society, culture, and political ideologies and play a powerful role shaping US social structures, economy, and democracy, while also reflecting—indeed perpetuating—broader power dynamics. Throughout its history, Supreme Court decisionmaking has and continues to perpetuate and legitimize systems of power and oppression, including white supremacy, racial capitalism, ableism, heteropatriarchy, and xenophobia.