Access to courts may not grab attention in the same way that issues such as guns, abortion, or affirmative action do, but it forms the foundation of the rule of law. How this law changes after Scalia will determine whether minorities victimized by the government, consumers threatened by corporate power, and others will have the right to go to court to redress violations of their rights. The vitality of the Constitution and federal law depends on ensuring that individuals have their day in court to vindicate their legal rights and prevent the abuse of power.
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By attacking the integrity of judges based on their color or creed, Trump is trying to bully the officials and institutions our Founders envisioned as the bulwark against such intimidation and lawlessness. But we should find equally unacceptable attempts to use the courts—especially the Supreme Court, which our Founders designed to be the “keystone of the arch” of our judicial system—as a political football. So long as Republican Senators insist on holding a vacant seat open on the Supreme Court for no reason other than pure politics, they are threatening real harm to our system of justice.
The Court’s decision in the case may have delayed final resolution of the question presented, but the Justices’ opinions in Spokeo make clear why Robins should ultimately get his day in court. They provide an important affirmation that Congress has the power to give consumers a right to sue when corporations violate their federal legal rights.
From abortion and affirmative action, to immigration and contraceptive coverage, hot button issues have dominated the Court this year. But there are many other incredibly important cases that could be decided before the term ends in June, on issues ranging from access to the courts and racial discrimination in jury selection, to judicial conflicts of interest and the severe financial crisis in Puerto Rico.
If anyone is “playing politics” with the Supreme Court, it is Sen. Lankford and his Republican colleagues, who are blocking Garland from even getting a hearing and a yes-or-no vote. America needs a fully staffed, fully functioning Supreme Court that can decide cases of profound importance to law enforcement and prosecutors who keep our nation safe, while ensuring that the people's constitutional rights are protected. It is time for Lankford to do his job and call for hearings and a vote.
When it comes to Supreme Court oral arguments, sometimes the justices’ questions feel more like answers with a question mark at the end. At oral argument in United States v. Texas, the questions asked by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, the likely key votes in the case, seemed like real questions. Fortunately for proponents of the administration’s immigration executive action—which could prevent, on a temporary basis, millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported—the lawyers for the administration had good answers, and the lawyers on the other side didn’t. When it comes time for the justices to cast their votes in the case, they should do what the law requires and reject this challenge to the administration’s immigration initiatives.
Counsel for House Republicans may be the only one speaking on behalf of members of Congress at oral argument on Monday, but as noted earlier, current House Republicans are not the only members of Congress who have made their voices heard in this case. When the Justices decide what to do in the case, they will consider not only what today’s House Republicans have to say, but also what bipartisan current and former members of Congress who support the Administration have said in their legal filings that are already before the Justices. What all of those briefs make clear is simple: while some current Republican members of the House of Representatives may not like the President’s immigration actions, there is no doubt that those actions are lawful.
In short, not only is Texas’s challenge to DAPA an overtly partisan effort to upend a decades-old bipartisan consensus on immigration policy, but its lawyers’ arguments flout the legal framework codifying that consensus. Given recent decisions by Kennedy and Roberts endorsing that framework and opposing partisan misuse of the courts, good reason exists to expect the Supreme Court to reject this lawsuit and relegate the immigration wars to the political process, where they belong.
When the Supreme Court hears oral argument in United States v. Texas, the challenge to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, later this month, one of the big issues the Court will be considering is whether the federal courts should be considering the challenge at all.