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Placing identity politics on the Supreme Court is unproductive

Placing identity politics on the Supreme Court is unproductive

Placing identity politics on the Supreme Court is unproductive
July 26
14:00 2020

In the United States, identifying with a political party has become a gateway to understanding what you value in this country. Not only has this become imperative on an individual level, but it has become a way of life when it comes to how individuals view the government. Every decision, every nomination and every step taken is considered. This appears to be a productive motion when it comes to viewing the president, Congress and the Supreme Court but it is not, especially within the Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court is a unique institution within the United States government because the cases that they decide to take on reflects the agenda of the country versus the court’s own agenda. Evaluating the court and presuming their decision solely based on whether they are left or right-wing is expected. However, it is unproductive in the sense that it takes away from the quality and varied questions posed while the arguments are being presented. 

The purpose of higher courts is to not only evaluate the laws that come before them but it is to also establish the status quos that come to exist. Yes, the U.S. Constitution is considered in some arguments but that is merely one of many references when you consider how much the country has evolved since its writing. The various approaches within the Supreme Court are vitally complex when you try to tie certain issues to one side, it presents a costly disadvantage to those who will be affected by the law or change in question.

There is no doubt that the social issues presented in this country are automatically subject to a polarized position. Subjecting the justices to this delegitimizes the court. Following the Supreme Court decision, Marbury v. Madison, the case that established judicial review in the court itself, the court’s power shifted because it allowed them to review lower court decisions. However, cases like Brown v. Board of Education, the case that integrated schools established the amount of power that the court could have over laws that affect the entire nation 

On June 15, the Supreme Court decided on Bostock v. Clayton County, a case expanded the interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a title that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex “applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity” became public, a lot of reactions on Twitter had to do with which justices seemed to be lean. This is counterproductive from the court’s work because it implies that it is presumed how the justices will think and takes away from the impact of the case itself. 

It makes sense that this thought process could happen because that’s how people make sense of the world around them, they put them in groups. In this case, it enables a system that has already used identity against its own people to further that and taint the process at hand. Presuming anything that has to do with law is always a gamble. The presumptions also contribute to the lack of productivity because it puts a light on the justices that detaches them from the normal processes that they are obligated to possess when they sit on the bench. 

The role political parties play in the country is to distinguish the values of individuals. Over time, that has proven to be somewhat wary because of the way it has divided this country. It has enabled people to dehumanize others for the sake of blindly following political leaders that don’t always have the people’s best interest at heart. This is not to say that the Supreme Court is immune from making decisions that could single-handedly affect a mass majority of people. It raises the stakes and makes those who want to fight for human rights less likely to view their fight as something less.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Jasmine Hicks

Jasmine Hicks

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