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Supreme Court Rulings

Front of the US Supreme Court Building
Photo by Claire Anderson

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has convened several times in the last few weeks to reach decisions on several topics that impact the lives of millions of people in America. For this article, The Herald has researched five of the most recent cases.

June 30: West Virginia v. EPA

On Thursday, June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the state of West Virginia by not granting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act “the authority to devise emissions caps based on the generation shifting approach the Agency took in the Clean Power Plan,” thus drastically reducing the ability of the EPA to curb climate change-causing emissions. The 6-3 vote declared “that any time an agency does something big and new – in this case addressing climate change – the regulation is presumptively invalid, unless Congress has specifically authorized regulating in this sphere.”

June 29: Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta

After over 200 years of precedent, a 5-4 decision from the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the authority of Indigenouss people to prosecute non-Indigenous people on their land.This case came to the court after a man named Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta (non-Indigenous) was charged with child abuse of his stepdaughter (Indigenous). The State of Oklahoma criminally charged both Castro-Huerta and his wife for child neglect. According to the U.S. Supreme Court's official document on the case, “The question is whether the Federal Government’s jurisdiction is exclusive, or whether the State also has concurrent jurisdiction with the Federal Government.” The court decided that the federal government did have the right to prosecute non-Indigenous people on Indigenous lands.

June 27: Kennedy v. Bremerton School Dist. (21-418)

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a high school football coach who lost his job after making players feel uncomfortable for not praying with him at the 50 yard line. According to the official SCOTUS website, “The Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from government reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression.”

June 24: Dobbs v. Jackson

Dobbs v. Jackson was a case presented to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Constitution did not uphold the right to an abortion. This 6-3 decision overruled Roe v. Wade as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, two of the landmark cases that set the precedent for abortion access in the United States. In the official opinion of the court delivered by Justice Samuel Alito, they stated, “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.” Since the ruling, 13 states have enacted trigger laws and several others are expected to ban abortion entirely by the next election cycle.

June 23: New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association argued that “New York’s proper-cause requirement for obtaining an unrestricted license to carry a concealed firearm violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

For more detailed information on each of the cases listed and others, please visit the U.S. Supreme Court’s official website.

By Rachel Van Horne, Associate Editor



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