The Supreme Court is arguably the most powerful government entity in the U.S.. They can change the laws under which our country operates with a 5-4 majority vote and, depending on who sits on the bench, a number of issues could be up for debate.
The duty of the Supreme Court is to uphold the Constitution and ensure that the freedom this country was founded on is being pursued. Often, its duty has been questioned by politicians because they want their political agendas met by the court’s decisions.
For example, when President Donald Trump was running for office, he said he would appoint justices that could overturn the Roe v. Wade decision which gave women the right to seek abortions. In his tenure as president, Trump has appointed two justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. While there’s been no recent indication of Roe v. Wade being overturned or nullified, it’s still a fear of many Democrats and many women that it could be overturned.
The Constitution should be used as a lens to look at the present era rather than using the contemporary political situation and environment to interpret at the Constitution.
The Supreme Court has been accused of establishing rulings based on public opinion and the tumultuous political climate of the country instead of sticking with the laws of the land.
On Jan. 22, the court revived the ban on openly transgender citizens serving in the military. The ban had originally been lifted by the Department of Defense under the Obama administration back in 2016, but after an appeal by the Department of Justice to combat a district court ruling to keep the ban lifted, Trump’s administration reversed that decision this year.
Trump’s reasoning for the ban was to cut down on spending. According to the RAND Corporation, a policy think tank working with the military, transition-related healthcare costs range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million per year. The Supreme Court backed his reasoning with its 5-4 vote.
The ban forbids most transgender people from serving in the military but makes an exception for those already serving openly and those that are willing to serve in their biological sex. The ban was brought back into national attention in July 2017 when Trump said he wanted to ban transgender people from serving in the military. It wasn’t until January of this year that the ban was allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court.
The revival of the ban is reflective of the current political agenda on the bench. There was a 5-4 ruling on the reinstatement, with all five right-leaning justices voting yes and all four left-leaning justices voting no. Both sides voted to their beliefs, but Republicans took advantage of their majority to revive the ban.
The Supreme Court is about the Constitution, not political factions. The Constitution provides equal rights under the law, and this decision to revive the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military does not honor that core stipulation in the founding document of this nation.
The history of America has been written by many controversial Supreme Court decisions. They need to reflect a consistent trajectory of the country’s progression and the intentions of the country’s founders through the Constitution, not the political whims of the day. Putting more emphasis on political views rather than interpretation of the Constitution puts restraints on the potential progress of our country.