By Alexander Lawless | USA
The Supreme Court of the United States, one-third of the federal government in America, often does not get nearly as much news coverage as its two counterparts. The judicial branch of the U.S. government typically only gets its share of attention from the media and the American people a few times a year when a landmark decision is made. However, this year, that hasn’t been completely true. The Supreme Court has gotten a lot of attention so far in 2017 for a number of reasons, and these reasons are not very typical.
Firstly, 2017 saw a large shake-up in all aspects of the American government when Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. With promises of “draining the swamp,” many correctly suspected that a Republican President would surely have much to change following a Democrat like Obama.
President Obama, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, selected Merrick Garland to fill his spot on the Supreme Court. Many Republicans in Congress, however, did not want to appoint a left-leaning Justice so close to an election. They wanted every opportunity they could get to fill up the court with Conservative justices. So, being the majority party, they avoided voting upon Garland’s confirmation until Trump was inaugurated. This was the start of an era of new attention being paid to the Supreme Court.
Soon after being elected, President Trump, satisfying nearly all congressional Conservatives, appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. With the Senate on his side, Trump was able to get Gorsuch confirmed quickly, but not without issue. The usage of the “nuclear option” by the Senate Republicans attracted much attention towards the issue, thus making the Supreme Court even more of a central topic of discussion.
Fast forward to June of 2017, and the newly filled Supreme Court renewed its property of being intriguing in a few ways. At the start of its last working week before the summer recess, the SCOTUS made quite a few headlines.
Firstly, the rumors of a possible upcoming vacancy began to swirl around the media, as Justice Anthony Kennedy was suspected by some to announce his retirement. If true, this would give President Trump yet another opportunity to appoint a conservative Justice to the court, greatly swaying the balance of the judicial branch in his favor. However, many of these rumors were silenced when Justice Kennedy did not, despite suspicion, announce that he was retiring on Monday.
Some other topics that brought the Supreme Court to light in the public eye this week were news regarding some recent decisions as well as some upcoming trials. One major decision of the courts was one regarding the controversial travel bans enacted by President Trump. The court agreed to allow parts of the executive order to be enforced, but they all ultimately hear the case against the ban later this year. Additionally, the court ruled that excluding churches from state funding programs is unconstitutional, and, a famous case, the one regarding a baker refusing to bake a cake for a wedding due to a religious moral code, will now officially be heard by the SCOTUS this fall.
It’s no secret that this year has and will be a big one for the Supreme Court. With such big events happening all the time and much more to come regarding the SCOTUS, it will likely be a refreshing change of pace from the usual partisan happenings of Congress and the Executive branch. The modern political world is one of uncertainty, and an unlikely structure, the Judicial branch, seems to be doing a great job at securing its place in our government’s system of checks and balances.