Why You Need to Care About the Supreme Court


Illustrator: Meghan Tiggard

People living in the United States are constantly bombarded with news, especially concerning politics. Understandably, many wish to drown out the seemingly constant stream of political commentary and presidential tweets in the media. However, all Americans, including teenagers, should tune in to a trusted source to keep updated on news of the Supreme Court. For example, the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as the latest Supreme Court Justice of the United States will have a huge impact on this country for generations to come.

President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to become an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on July 9, 2018, in order to take the place of Anthony Kennedy, a former Justice who retired earlier in the year. In order to become a Supreme Court Justice, Kavanaugh, like Supreme Court nominees in recent years, had to go through a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he was questioned on his stances on various legal and political matters, such as gun control and abortion. In addition to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Professor Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testified in front of the Committee following Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school. Following testimony and a brief FBI investigation, Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on October 6th, 2018.

Why should anyone care? First, the decisions of the Supreme Court shape the laws of this country. Supreme Court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregation in U.S. public schools unconstitutional, have completely changed the course of U.S. history. Clearly, the views of the Supreme Court Justices greatly influence both the Supreme Court and U.S. law in general. Kavanaugh is a strongly conservative judge, and his confirmation solidifies a 5-4 conservative majority among the Supreme Court Justices. His stances on issues such as gun control, abortion, and healthcare matter because those perspectives will be present during every Supreme Court decision during his tenure as a Justice. Additionally, Supreme Court nominations are important because Justices are appointed for life. Within the next ten years, the face of the White House and the faces of Congress will have changed, but many of the faces of the Supreme Court will remain the same.

Not only do Kavanaugh’s opinions matter, but his alleged past conduct should also be acknowledged. On September 16th, notes were released from Christine Blasey Ford, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s, accusing the Justice of sexually assaulting her in high school. Two other women also accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct. Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as did Kavanaugh. She alleged that Kavanaugh sexual assaulted her at a party when they were both in high school, an accusation which Kavanaugh strongly denied. Ultimately, Ford’s testimony, though passionate, was not proven by any physical evidence or corroborated by others present at the party. Nonetheless, her testimony provides an important reminder that the Supreme Court should be held to the same standards as other Americans both because of its critical position as the highest level of the Judicial branch of our government and its vital role in continuing to shape American policy.

No matter where one falls on the political spectrum, everyone living in the United States should educate themselves on the current state of the Supreme Court. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh changes the face of the Court, presumably for decades to come. The decisions he makes during his tenure as Justice will shape the laws of the nation and affect the lives of all those living in this country. Though it may be easy ignore, everyone needs to stay up to date on what happens within the Supreme Court. The United States will feel the effects of its decisions for decades into the future.

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