Within the span of two days at the end of June, the Supreme Court dealt three consecutive blows to working people, decisions that will particularly affect those already most marginalized in our society. The fact that these decisions came almost exactly one year to the day since the overturn of Roe v. Wade demonstrates just how far this court is prepared to go in their attacks on Black Americans, women, and all oppressed people in this country.
Their first decision was to end affirmative action as we know it. Their decision, which involved separate cases at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University, effectively ended the systematic consideration of race as a factor in college admissions. Affirmative action programs were a victory that came out of the Civil Rights Movement, and though the policies tend to most directly benefit students who have aspirations of attending elite universities, therefore not directly benefiting the majority of poor Black students, its overturn is still a real blow. This is part of the right-wing’s much bigger project of undermining the anti-racist policies and school curriculum that have been implemented in the wake of the first Black Lives Matter uprising in 2014.
Their second decision gave legal protection to an Evangelical, Colorado-based graphic designer who did not want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples, despite the state’s anti-discrimination law. After the nationwide legalization of gay marriage in 2015, a slew of Supreme Court cases have emerged seeking to undermine this historic win. This decision, while shrouded in language around allowing people to be “free-thinkers,” is part of a vicious agenda aimed at rolling back the clock of LGBTQ rights. The fact that the legal powerhouse behind this case is the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – the same group behind the slew of anti-trans lawsuits across the country, and the same group behind the repeal of Roe – is a dangerous warning sign about what’s to come.
The final decision was to block Joe Biden’s proposal to cancel student loan debt of up to $20,000 per borrower. This decision is a heavy blow to the 45 million Americans who have student loan debt and will be particularly devastating to Black graduates who owe on average $25,000 more than their white peers. Since the decision, Biden has announced that his administration will attempt to use the Higher Education Act to execute some student debt relief – however, it’s unlikely that this will be anywhere near a comprehensive measure. Biden and the Democratic Party are not reliable stewards of the fight for student debt relief. Their primary priority is to “make whole” the financial institutions who have made their millions on signing up teenagers for high-interest loans.
The position of the Supreme Court is clear: it’s not the responsibility of capitalism, or the US Constitution, to relieve any of the enormous burdens this system places on working-class and marginalized people. The system is only concerned with maintaining the rights of capitalists to do business however they please to make the most profit possible – everyone else is on their own.