four symbolic reversals for a conservative turn

Ten days, four reversals, a historic turn. In just ten days, the Supreme Court of the United States has made a complete right turn, sometimes bringing the country back years.

These decisions, adopted by the six conservative judges of the Court (including three appointed by Donald Trump), to the chagrin of its three wise progressives, are the first illustration of a powerful return of the judicial pendulum after more temperate years, sometimes marked landmark progressive rulings, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.

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After 50 years of waiting, the Conservatives “have the opportunity to give a radically different direction” in the country, judges the professor of constitutional law at American University, Stephen Wermiel. “They are not going to let this chance pass. »

Sylvie Laurent: “The United States is experiencing a feudal drift”

Right to abortion: the most resounding decision

It is the most symbolic decision, having repercussions all over the world. In a historic about-face, the very conservative Supreme Court of the United States buried the right to abortion on Friday June 24. In the process, a handful of states took the opportunity to immediately ban terminations of pregnancy on their soil.

This revolution was sparked by the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn its landmark judgment “Roe v. Wade »which since 1973 guaranteed the right of American women to have an abortion, the majority of its judges considering it today “completely unfounded”.

“The Constitution makes no reference to abortion and none of its articles implicitly protects this right”writes Judge Samuel Alito to argue the decision of the conservatives. “It is time to return the issue of abortion to the elected representatives of the people”in local parliaments.

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The right to abortion, the first battle in a war that is breaking out between two Americas Right to abortion revoked in the United States: the Supreme Court dared!

President Joe Biden has denounced a “tragic error” who “puts the health and lives of women at risk” and called on Americans to stand up for abortion rights in November’s midterm elections.

The decision sparked backlash and pro-abortion protests around the world. Internationally, several voices, including those of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have also deplored the “rewind” American. In France, President Emmanuel Macron regretted the “questioning” women’s freedoms. The presidential majority and the Nupes have proposed to include the right to abortion in the Constitution, in order to make it more difficult to abolish this right in France.

Our fight for the right to abortion

Port d’armes: eternal American debate

The day before, it was in a very “American” debate that the Supreme Court took a stand, clearly affirming that Americans had the right to carry arms outside their homes.

The six conservative judges thus, against the advice of their three progressive colleagues, invalidated a law of the State of New York which, for more than a century, had strongly limited the licenses to carry weapons. A judgment that risks complicating efforts to combat an already alarming violence, but hailed as a “huge victory”, by the powerful arms lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has been campaigning for years for a literal reading of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Ratified in 1791, it states that“A well-organized militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms will not be infringed”.

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In 1939, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protected the right to use weapons as part of a law enforcement force, such as the military or police, but was not an individual right. to self-defense. She had changed her position during a historic judgment in 2008 and established for the first time an individual right to possess a weapon in her home to defend herself. At the time, however, it left it to cities and states to regulate transport outside the home. “Nothing in the Second Amendment makes a distinction between the home or public places with respect to the carrying of weapons”explained conservative judge Clarence Thomas on behalf of the majority.

This decision comes as the United States is still reeling from a series of deadly shootings, one of which, on May 24, killed 21 people in a Texas elementary school, pushing Republican senators hitherto hostile to any regulation on arms to support modest reforms.

“Deeply disappointed”Democratic President Joe Biden regretted a stoppage “contrary to common sense” who “should all be worried”. New York State Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul denounced a decision “shameful in full national awareness of gun violence. » The three progressive judges of the Court dissociated themselves from this judgment, the magistrate Stephen Breyer recalling that“in 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms”.

Global warming: a “devastating” decision

Proof of the possibly harmful influence of conservative judges for decades: the Supreme Court of the United States limited Thursday, June 30 the federal means to fight against global warming.

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The high court found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not enact general rules to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants, which produce nearly 20% of electricity in the United States. United.

“Putting a limit on carbon dioxide emissions at a level that would force the country to forego coal to produce electricity could be a relevant solution to today’s crisis”wrote Judge John Roberts on their behalf. “But it is not credible that Congress gave the EPA the authority to pass such a measure. »

The Supreme Court of the United States limits the means of the federal State to fight against global warming

Their three progressive colleagues have once again dissociated themselves from a decision judged “frightening”. “The Court stripped the EPA of the power Congress gave it to address ‘the most pressing problem of our time’”writes Judge Elena Kagan, recalling that the six hottest years have been recorded in the last decade.

President Joe Biden denounced a decision “devastating” and pledged to continue “to use the powers attributed to him to protect public health and fight the climate crisis”. “We can say that this is a setback in our fight against climate change, when we are already very behind in achieving the objectives of the Paris agreement” adopted in 2015, for his part reacted the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.

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Religion in the public sphere: a very symbolic file

Public money for denominational schools? Valid. A coach who prays on the grounds of a public high school? It is his right. A Christian flag on a town hall? Always good.

Public money for denominational schools? Valid. A coach who prays on the grounds of a public high school? It is his right. A Christian flag on a town hall? Always good. The ultra-conservative Supreme Court of the United States finally upset, during its session, the delicate balance between the defense of religious freedoms and the neutrality of the State.

“It is no longer content to invite religion more and more inexorably into the public sphere, but it wants to impose it”notes Steven Schwinn, professor of law at the University of Illinois.

The case was brought by Joseph Kennedy, a former marine who, for seven years, supervised the American football teams at the public high school in Bremerton, near Seattle. After each game, he used to kneel down to ” thanks God “ in the middle of the field, sometimes joined by players. He also sometimes led prayers in the locker room.

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In 2015, school officials asked him to abstain, citing a section of the Constitution’s First Amendment that prohibits the state, and its employees, from encouraging “the establishment” of a religion, that is to say, to finance it or encourage its practice.

After losing at first instance and on appeal, Joseph Kennedy won on Monday before the Supreme Court. “A government entity wanted to punish an individual for a brief, quiet and personal religious practice”, “The Constitution neither imposes nor tolerates this kind of discrimination”wrote Judge Neil Gorsuch on behalf of the conservative majority.

“Justice has been served”welcomed the interested party on the Fox News channel, considering that, from now on “teachers, housekeepers, canteen staff” can follow his example. “Nobody should have to worry because they want to thank God!” »

In a bitter argument, the three progressive high court judges blamed their colleagues for having “distorted the facts” folder. According to them, the coach’s prayers were not “personal and discreet”but “demonstrative”. Rare fact, they attached a photo of the coach, surrounded like a messiah by his students, to support their point.

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And now ?

Has the storm now passed? Nothing is less sure. These four decisions, eminently symbolic, could only be a first attack on social issues. The judges have thus agreed to examine a series of potentially crucial cases at the start of the school year, relating in particular to positive discrimination and the way in which elections are regulated.

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The institution’s most conservative judge, Clarence Thomas, appointed for life by George Bush senior, would like to go further. The magistrate rekindled the fears of the progressive camp in the United States, after having indicated that he wanted to reconsider other historic decisions in a personal argument accompanying one of his arbitrations.

In his viewfinder: the Griswold vs. Connecticut judgment of 1965, which enshrines access to contraception for married couples; the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision, which outlawed laws against sexual relations between two people of the same sex; and the 2015 Oberfell v. Hodges decision, which authorized same-sex marriage, the number one target of the religious right. American…

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