Sexual minority rights, abortion, immigration and guns the Supreme Court convenes Monday to address an incendiary list of cases as the American political scene reaches fever pitch over efforts to impeach President Donald Trump.
The court’s balance has shifted to the right under Trump, who appointed judges Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in his first term, and who is now gearing up to fight for re-election next November. The court kept a low profile during its 2018-2019 session after Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation descended into a mud-slinging battle over sexual assault allegations that he strenuously denies.
In its last term, the court ‘seemed to do everything it could to rise above the partisan rancor, to not be divided along partisan lines,’ David Cole, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said. But Cole warned that ‘this term, it’s going to be harder for the court — they already have cases involving very hot-button, ideologically divided issues.’
With election campaigning ramping up over the coming months, the court’s rulings will be closely watched by rival political camps. Conservatives are now seen in the majority among the nine judges after Kavanaugh’s appointment, and liberals are on the defensive. In the last election, Trump secured victory after wooing voters — including evangelical Christians — with promises to appoint right-wing judges who oppose abortion and defend the right to own guns.
The court will on Tuesday dive into the issue of whether it is legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Trump’s Republican administration argues that lawmakers in the past were not addressing gay rights when employment discrimination over ‘race, color, religion, sex, or national origin’ was banned.
LGBTQ campaigners, who won a major victory in 2015 when the court guaranteed the right to gay marriage, are calling on judges to ensure gay and transgender people are covered by the discrimination ban. What’s the point of gay marriage if ‘you can get married on Saturday and fired on Monday?’ ACLU lawyer Jay Kaplan asked ahead of the new session.—APP