Supreme Court ends historical term

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In the shadow of a global pandemic, civil rights movement, and brutal election season, the Supreme Court has ended its term and will resume the first week of October. 

Here are three highlights from the term: 

Retirement

In his July 9 statement, Chief Justice Roberts addressed six court employees who are retiring. But the question of whether or not the Supreme Court bench will see a justice retire is still all speculation. Rumors milled in May about what Justice Clarence Thomas’ future looks like. Thomas, 71, has outright said he will not retire, but his recent PBS documentary started churning the rumor mill, as the documentary is typical for retiring justices. 

President Trump may have only a few months left to add another conservative to the bench. If Joe Biden wins in November, America might possibly see the two eldest justices, Ginsburg and Breyer, retire and allow Biden to replace them with progressive justices. 

Birth control

As many as 126,000 women may lose their access to birth control through their employer due to the Supreme Court’s 2020 decision to allow religious or moral objections to block employees from the Affordable Care Act’s right to contraceptive coverage. 

“We hold that the [Trump administration] had the authority to provide exemptions from the regulatory contraceptive requirements for employers with religious and conscientious objections,” Justice Clarence Thomas said.

The majority decision sent the issue back down to a lower court to work out the problems. 

The Supreme Court’s decision to undercut access to birth control is not pointed at churches or mosques or synagogues, but at nonprofits and charities. This battle for proper healthcare has been debated since the Affordable Care Act was created by President Obama, and since the Supreme Court knocked it down to a lower court, it will not be disappearing anytime soon. 

Trump immunity

In a landmark and historic decision, the Supreme Court decided that President Trump, his organization, family and affiliates are not immune or above the powers of the law. 

In Trump v. Vance, where the Manhattan DA is trying to track down Trump’s tax records, the court decided that the president needs to hand over evidence and refused immunity to the president. 

“This is a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one — not even a president — is above the law,” said Cyrus Vance Jr. in a statement

The question of whether or not a president is immune from the powers of the law has been an issue in American politics since the formation of the country. With the court providing more detail, Americans can start to see a clearer picture of what is expected from their Commander in Chief. 

LGBT+ RIGHTS

This term, the Supreme Court decided that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBT+ and transgender employees from workplace harassment and discrimination. 

Within the majority was Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointed justice. Trump and his administration have been outspokenly against the idea of the Civil Rights Act being open to the LGBT+ and transgender community. Gorsuch’s split from Conservatives did not go unnoticed. 

“Today,” Gorsuch said, “we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear … It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating … based on sex,” Gorsuch wrote.