The Supreme Court Will Rule On These 3 Controversial Issues Very Soon

The Supreme Court declined to consider a constitutional challenge to a Connecticut gun law banning certain semi-automatic assault weapons and large capacity magazines on Monday, but we’re still collectively waiting for SCOTUS decisions on three hugely divisive issues. It’s due to rule on abortion, immigration, and affirmative action by the end of the month as the Supreme Court’s 2015-2016 term approaches its conclusion. All three of these controversial cases emerge from the state of Texas.

Over the past week, the Supreme Court ruled against Puerto Rico restructuring its enormous debt and also ruled that private companies working with the government could be sued for not disclosing significant regulatory violations, according to USA Today. But following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February and the Republican senate’s refusal to do its job and confirm President Obama’s SCOTUS nomination, the eight-member court split evenly between liberal and conservative-leaning justices could struggle to reach decisive rulings on particularly polarizing cases.

However, when it comes to the issue of racial preferences in university admissions (the focal point of Fisher v. University of Texas, which reached the Supreme Court a second time in December back when Scalia was around to make off-handedly racist commentary about the intellectual capacities of black students), SCOTUS will most likely produce a decisive ruling as only seven of its eight justices will be handling it. The case was first introduced in 2013 by Abigail Fisher, a white student who claimed the University of Texas had denied her admission in 2008 because she was white.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the case after previously working on it as U.S. solicitor general and ruling in favor of the University of Texas. With four conservative justices to three remaining liberal justices, the court will likely rule against affirmative action despite a 2003 ruling from Grutter v. Bollinger, which gave public colleges the right to take race into account for the sake of academic diversity for about 25 years.

In December, The New York Times pointed out that it was entirely plausible that the court would avoid making a decision about the case as it previously did, or allow the university to submit more evidence to the court to justify affirmative action.

Affirmative action has long been upheld by white people as proof of the mythical phenomenon of “reverse racism.” Naturally, these white people include presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who claimed in 1989 he would be even more successful as a black man, proving to the world he didn’t just magically become a racist to appeal to conservatives. Of course, reverse racism proponents fail to consider our country’s long and relatively recent history of segregation and outright discrimination, which barred minorities and their children and the children of their children all kinds of opportunities, or the very different experiences of black and white youth, and unfortunately, I don’t doubt the conservative SCOTUS justices will fail to consider this, too.

Another divisive case that SCOTUS will produce a decision on by the end of the month, and one which an evenly conservative and liberal court will probably be deeply divided on, covers President Obama’s unilateral immigration plan that would defer the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants. The case is an attempt to overturn lower court rulings that have prevented Obama from bypassing a Republican Congress and exempting and offering work permits to undocumented immigrants.

Advocates arguing against Obama’s plan since November 2014 claim Texas shouldn’t have to pay for the driver’s licenses of undocumented immigrants allowed to remain in the United States, to which liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor responded by pointing out Texas could avoid incurring additional costs by A) not issuing driver’s licenses or B) not hiring new personnel to issue the licenses.

Immigration has become a particularly polarizing issue since Trump rose to prominence at this time last year for making the unsubstantiated claim that Mexican immigrants were mostly rapists and criminals with the exception of “some good ones,” leading to escalated violence and hateful rhetoric toward an already unfairly maligned demographic. Credible research by Pew Research Center, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Labor, and leading economists indicates without the undocumented population, Texas’ work force would decrease by 6.3 percent and its gross state product would decrease by 2.1 percent.

A 4-4 ruling is likely considering the even split among the eight justices, and this even split would uphold lower court rulings that would deny Obama the right to sweepingly pardon more than 4 million immigrants, so things aren’t looking too optimistic here, either.

supreme court abortion
CREDIT: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

SCOTUS will also be producing a highly anticipated decision on access to abortion clinics in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which will rule on whether or not regulations that force doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and hold clinics to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers place an undue burden on women seeking abortions, following the standards set by Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.

These regulations have been deemed unnecessary by the vast majority of medical professionals who point out that abortion in the first and second trimesters is literally one of the safest medical procedures out there, and are pretty much a thinly veiled attempt by the anti-choice movement to further stigmatize abortion by casting it as dangerous and restricting access to it. The Texas state law in question would leave only nine abortion clinics left in the whole state, which has 5.4 million women of reproductive age.

Lower courts have upheld Texas’ law, although some speculate that conservative-leaning Justice Anthony Kennedy could side with the four liberal justices and offer the pro-choice its most significant victory in recent history. Kennedy suggested in March that the Texas law posed an undue burden, and was one of the authors of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, so there’s room for optimism.

Activists Rally In Front Of U.S. Supreme Court
CREDIT: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

SCOTUS is slated to rule on roughly 10 other cases, including a case challenging the president’s power to temporarily appoint federal officials, as well as whether or not former Republican Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell’s 2014 corruption conviction should be overturned. But let’s be real here: with the crazy dialogues surrounding racial injustice, immigration, and women’s rights throughout the Supreme Court’s wild 2015-2016 term, it’s hard to get too excited about anything other than these three cases.