While President Donald Trump and his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders were encouraging Twitter users to direct their anger at a locally owned restaurant, a few other things happened that might be more deserving of Americans’ ire.
In a series of Supreme Court decisions, shakeups and other Trump victories, the outlook for civil, reproductive and labor rights grew grimmer this week.
It may only be Wednesday, but Trump can already mark this week down as win.
Trump will get to pick a new, more conservative Supreme Court justice.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday that he will step down from the bench on July 31, giving Trump the opportunity to fill his seat with a more reliably conservative justice and swing the nation’s highest court firmly to the right.
In Kennedy’s 30 years on the Supreme Court, he earned a reputation as its swing voter. Once he’s gone, Trump’s base will likely shepherd a challenge to some key rulings upheld by the nine-member court, including the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which recognized the constitutional right to an abortion.
Though Kennedy leans conservative more often than not, he broke with the court’s conservative bloc on some landmark progressive cases, including several gay rights cases.
Trump said Wednesday that his search for a replacement for Kennedy “will begin immediately.”
The Supreme Court upheld Trump’s travel ban.
In a 5-4 decision Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the third iteration of Trump’s travel ban ― a decision civil rights activists say paves the way for more discrimination sanctioned by the Trump administration.
The ban restricts people from mostly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
“Because there is persuasive evidence that the entry suspension has a legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility, we must accept that independent justification,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court’s conservative majority.
This is a major blow to human rights, activists say.
“This decision will embolden [Trump] even more to discriminate against everyone his administration deems undesirable, as we have seen in recent weeks,” Becca Heller, director and co-founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project, told HuffPost.
The Supreme Court also delivered a major blow to labor unions.
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that public sector workers who are represented by unions ― a major pillar of the Democratic Party ― cannot be required to pay any union dues.
Trump celebrated the decision as a “[b]ig loss” for Democrats, tweeting that workers could now “support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the Union deciding for them.”
Trump’s take on the issue echoes the arguments in a lawsuit filed by Illinois state employee Mark Janus, who claimed that having to pay fees to his union amounted to “compelled speech,” even if the money wasn’t going directly to political ends. His lawyers argued that because the salaries and benefits that the unions bargain for impact state budgets and the use of taxpayer dollars, public sector unionism is an inherently political activity.
The decision is expected to threaten many unions. Some workers will likely back out of paying fees, in turn prompting others to opt out when they see non-union members receiving the same union benefits that paying members do.
Unions that have successfully negotiated pay increases in recent months ― teachers unions, for example ― say this decision could affect their ability to negotiate raises for educators, which they’ve done successfully in recent months.
Fake pregnancy centers gained stronger protections than real ones.
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers” ― which often masquerade as medical clinics to lure in pregnant women and counsel them against abortion ― cannot be legally required to tell their clients when they don’t have medical professionals on staff and that there are abortions provided at clinics elsewhere.
The decision comes about a month after the Trump administration began investigating laws mandating such disclosures in California and Hawaii, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
But true pregnancy and abortion clinics do not have those same protections and are still required to tell a woman seeking an abortion about adoption services and other options besides abortion.
The outcome doesn’t bode well for the future of reproductive rights under the Trump administration.
“One vote made all the difference today,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told HuffPost, “and it could also be the only thing between upholding Roe [v. Wade] or outlawing legal abortion in America.”
Immigrant kids still haven’t been reunited with their parents.
While Supreme Court wins for Trump continued to roll in, undocumented families who’ve attempted to cross into the U.S. are still suffering the effects of his zero tolerance immigration policy.
There are still 2,047 immigrant children separated from their parents residing in detention centers, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday. The traumatic experiences these children are undergoing, doctors say, could have long-term health consequences.
Though Trump issued an executive order that would start detaining families together instead of separating them, HHS officials declined to say whether the department is still receiving children as a result of the family separation policy.