By Robert A. Vella
When a Republican wave swept the 2010 midterm elections, it gave control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the GOP. This effectively ruined any chance for President Obama to continue his legislative agenda. But, something even worse happened four years later. The Democratic Party became divided over its progressive “economic populism” message and abandoned it before the 2014 midterms. Just three weeks before the election, it had become apparent that this internal party disunity would result in an opportunity lost. The keystone of that opportunity was holding onto the U.S. Senate, for losing control of it would allow Republicans to block Obama’s judicial nominees – particularly for any seats which might open on the U.S. Supreme Court.
In February of 2016, conservative justice Antonin Scalia died leaving the Supreme Court ideologically deadlocked at 4 to 4. With nearly a year left in his second term, President Obama had more than enough time for his nominee – Merrick Garland – to be confirmed by the Senate. But, with Republicans controlling that legislative body, the confirmation process was blocked at every opportunity. After Donald Trump won the presidency on a populist (i.e. nationalist) platform, and with the GOP still in control of Congress, Neil Gorsuch ended up replacing Scalia and the court’s 5-4 conservative majority was restored.
The reason why I reviewed this history is because political power is paramount in America. Conservatives understand this extremely well, while liberals appear to have forgotten. Although the modern presidency is the greatest applicator of power in the U.S., it is the Supreme Court which is the ultimate arbiter of power. When disputes come down to the interpretation of law, it is the Supreme Court which has the final say. Therefore, who decides the ideological makeup of the court can affect the course of the nation in the most profound and long-lasting manner.
Keep this in mind as you read the following two rulings by the Supreme Court which were both decided by its conservative majority.
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Trump’s ban on foreign visitors and immigrants from six nations, ruling that the chief executive, acting on his own, has the power to target foreign nations and block their citizens from entering this country.
By a 5-4 vote, the justices rejected arguments that Trump overstepped his authority under the immigration laws and that his targeting of mostly Muslim-majority countries amounted to unconstitutional religious discrimination.
The ruling is a major victory for Trump and his administration as well as an implicit rebuke to the judges on the East and West coasts who repeatedly issued nationwide orders to block the travel ban.
The Supreme Court said Tuesday that pregnancy centers established to convince women to continue their pregnancies do not have to tell their clients about the availability of state-offered services, including abortion.
The court’s conservatives said a California law likely violates the First Amendment. It required what are called crisis pregnancy centers — they promise prenatal care and help when the child is born — to post notices or tell clients about the state’s service.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the 5 to 4 decision.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the dissent for the court’s liberals, and read parts of it from the bench.
The California legislature said some centers trick women into thinking they provide contraceptive services, including abortion, and sometimes delay a woman until it is too late to schedule an abortion.