Last Week’s Momentous SCOTUS Rulings

The conservative-majority Supreme Court made decisions on free speech, student loan forgiveness, and more – prompting progressive backlash.

Written by Joanna Button

Big week: The U.S. Supreme Court concluded its term with several pivotal rulings last week, delivering some big wins for U.S. conservatives. Democrats – already long frustrated with the court’s conservative majority – expressed outrage at the rulings, calling the court’s justices “extremist” and “right-wing ideologues” and pushing for SCOTUS reforms.

LGBT vs. free speech rights: A web designer violated a Colorado anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a wedding website for a gay couple due to her Christian beliefs. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in her favor, arguing that forcing someone to create art or write speech contrary to their beliefs would violate their First Amendment rights.

Religious accommodations: The justices unanimously voted in favor of a Christian suing his employer for refusing to give him Sundays off. Employers who deny religious accommodations to employees (like getting Sundays off or wearing religious clothing) must now prove that those accommodations would incur substantial costs.

Student loans: In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, which would have canceled an estimated $430 billion in student loans for over 40 million Americans. The court ruled that the program violated federal law, as decisions with such economic significance must be approved by Congress. Biden immediately announced new debt relief plans, which could be almost as costly as the old plan, according to some estimates.

Federal elections: Three conservatives and three liberal justices also narrowly ruled against the state legislature’s power over state courts in determining federal election rules. This was one of the few rulings celebrated by liberals because this power dynamic was pivotal during the 2020 election — state courts used the pandemic to throw out state election rules, overriding the legislature and sparking legal battles.

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