Last year, defenders of discriminatory marriage laws urged the Supreme Court to defer to the judgment of state legislatures that had denied marriage equality to same-sex couples. This year, defenders of restrictive anti-abortion laws designed to shutter abortion clinics are making the same argument, insisting that courts have no warrant to decide whether a state’s abortion law actually serves health-related purposes. This argument works no better a second time around. When the Supreme Court hands down its ruling in this Term’s blockbuster abortion case, the Justices should make clear that courts should not rubberstamp laws that deny women liberty, equality, and dignity.
You are here
It was big news when the National Registry of Exonerations recently released a new report, which showed that more people who had been convicted of crimes were exonerated in 2015 than in any prior year. The study reveals what many prominent public figures, including Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, have correctly recognized for some time: there are serious problems in our criminal justice system. Although this report wasn’t directly about the Constitution, the light it casts on the need for criminal justice reform is a good reminder that there are important criminal procedure protections already enshrined in our national Constitution. While those provisions don’t address all of the problems in our criminal justice system, it’s nonetheless vital that these constitutional protections be fully enforced.
Imagine the Supreme Court deciding more than 100 cases without its full complement of nine Justices. Imagine this closely divided Court splitting 4-4 in many of those cases, meaning that it cannot issue a decision that provides binding law for the whole country. And imagine that, as a result, different people in different parts of the country are subjected to different laws. This is exactly the harmful and chaotic scenario some Republican leaders are advocating in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death. They should not be allowed to make that happen.