While our nonprofit partners bring me hope, I know that many of us who are committed to social justice have felt grief and despair as we witness what feels like the roll back of civil rights across the country, particularly from recent rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). As these feelings creep up, I remind myself of this phrase popularized by organizer Mariame Kaba, “Hope is a discipline.”
This past session SCOTUS ruled on important cases that have implications on social and racial justice issues. In the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, SCOTUS reversed a five-decade-long judicial precedent set by Roe V. Wade that affirmed the right to privacy, and thus the right to abortion. The right to privacy allowed the expansion of rights in the areas of marriage, family, reproduction, and contraception. Justice Thomas’s concurrence in Dobbs V. Jackson signals the possibility of limiting the rights of LGBTQ+ communities as well as reducing access to contraception.
Another landmark case with civil rights implications is Vega V. Tekoh where SCOTUS ruled that an officer’s failure to read Miranda warnings to people in custody does not provide a basis for a claim for civil liability. This ruling reduces police accountability in a time when we’ve seen rampant police misconduct.
In the last decade, we’ve seen court decisions that erode the voting rights of marginalized communities of color (Shelby v. Holder) , that impact LGBTQ+ people (Bostock v. Clayton County, GA / Zarda v. Altitude Express / RG & GR Harris Funeral Homes Inc v. EEOC), and that harm immigrant communities (Garland v. Gonzales). If this pattern continues, other rights will be on the chopping block, effectively turning back the clock on the civil rights and progress that many marginalized communities have fought for.
Soon SCOTUS will take on cases around affirmative action, LGBTQ+ discrimination, voting rights, redistricting, immigration enforcement, and more. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is also at risk, leaving 800,000 people like me in limbo. These cases will impact the quality of life of many communities, what rights we are afforded, and who can represent us in our government.
The Weingart Foundation supports nonprofit organizations in the pursuit of social change. Like many of our partners, we are concerned about the direction SCOTUS is taking and the deep implications these rulings have that disproportionally affect BIPOC, LGBTQ+, immigrant, and marginalized communities.
While SCOTUS has the power to drastically impact our lives, the community also has the power to pushback. We can change outcomes through community organizing, civic engagement, and systems change. We must take this time as a call to action to keep investing in power-building strategies, support BIPOC-leadership, and uplift marginalized communities. We must continue to center those most affected by injustice and lift their perspectives and solutions. We must be co-conspirators in the pursuit of equity, social justice, and racial justice, and we must remember that “Hope is a Discipline”.