Alarming recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, pushed through by the court’s conservative majority, have many folks on edge about the future of civil rights in the United States. The latest instance of that truth came Tuesday in a 5-4 ruling that saw justices uphold President Donald Trump’s immigration travel ban against predominantly Muslim countries.
That raised a red flag for civil rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision marks another outrageous step backwards for religious and racial justice around the world,” said civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton. “The Supreme Court’s decision to the anti-Muslim bias clearly apparent in this policy is unfathomable – the ban is rooted in islamophobia and has been phonily sold to the American public for the sake of ‘security.’”
Trump vowed during his 2016 presidential campaign to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. He later came up with a list of specific countries that lower courts rejected. Tuesday’s ruling today reversed those lower court decisions, establishing that the president’s policy is a legitimate exercise of presidential powers and does not discriminate based on religion.
The ruling came one day after the Supreme Court decisions for gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Texas which voting rights advocates said were intended to suppress the minority vote in those states.
Also earlier this month, the high court ruled in favor of a bakery that refused to serve a gay couple because of the owner’s religious beliefs. Civil rights activists were concerned that decision could become a slippery slope. Shortly after the ruling, some racists, including a South Dakota lawmaker, began thinking about ways to use the religion exception to discriminate against other groups, including African-Americans.
Conservative lawmakers praised U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump appointed last year to replace a vacancy on the bench after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. Indeed, Trump has appointed conservative judges to benches at every level of federal courts that will likely impact civil rights issues for at least a generation.
The office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blocked the confirmation of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland in 2016 to prevent the high court from having a liberal majority, posted this photograph to Twitter shortly after the decision showing him shaking hands with Gorsuch.
Many argued McConnell’s stonewalling of Garland was unconstitutional.
The move also underscored the inability of the Democratic Party to prevent Republicans from having their way. As such, the underlying fear among liberals was that Trump will make more Supreme Court appointments before leaving office, with Democrats once again being ineffective in stopping them.