Election 2016 is the probably the most important election we will ever take part in. Why? Because extremely important issues are at the forefront of this election, especially for women and minorities. At this time, there are eight Supreme Court Justices, four are conservative, and four are liberal-ish. Only one is under 60 years old. Three are 78, 80, and 83. The next President will determine the make up of the Court for at least the next generation, and probably longer. Supreme Court Justices serve for life. With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a far right conservative, in 2016, the Court is already short one Justice. Since the Congress refused to act on the nomination of Merrick Garland, a moderate, the next President will very likely be called upon to nominate not just one, but potentially four, Justices. A conservative Court could cost many Americans dearly, and Trump has promised to nominate very conservative justices. The Supreme Court is of paramount importance, and here is why:
1. The right of women to make health decisions regarding their own bodies was established by Roe v. Wade in 1973. The Court ruled 7-2 that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state's two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting women's health and protecting the potentiality of human life. Roe v. Wade has been challenged several times, but as yet, the Supreme Court has upheld the right to privacy for women. The right of a woman to choose is dependent on the Court, and conservative Justices on the Court will almost certainly overturn Roe v. Wade, throwing women back into the days of back alley, illegal abortions. As I have said before, no one in their right mind is "pro abortion", but women deserve the right to choose what is best for their health, and for their consciences.
2. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama on March 23rd, 2010 and upheld in the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012. The ACA has many benefits for women, and if overturned, would result in the loss of several rights, for everyone, not just women. Women can no longer be denied coverage or charged more just because of their gender (yes, we have only had this right since 2010!); between 2010 and 2015, the uninsured rate among women ages 18 to 64 decreased from 19.3 percent to 10.8 percent, a relative reduction of 44%; an estimated 56 million women with private health insurance have access to recommended preventive services like mammograms or flu shots with no co-pay or deductible, a right which women did not have prior to the ACA; 65 million women with pre-existing conditions can no longer be discriminated against or charged higher premiums for their health coverage which was common practice prior to 2010; 9 million American women with individual insurance coverage gained coverage for maternity services because of the health care law. The Democratic Platform, in part created and agreed upon by Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, supports paid parental leave (not just maternity leave, but leave for both parents) and assistance with childcare, as does every nation in the developed world except the United States. Millennials may not remember a time when people suffered from the ability of insurance companies to refuse them coverage. After years of dropped coverage and barriers to healthcare, everyone's coverage has improved because we have new protections. No one can be dropped just because they get sick, and millions of people now have coverage for trips to the emergency room, prescriptions and getting the preventive services they need. Prior to the ACA, or Obamacare, this was not the case. A Conservative Court could overturn the Affordable Care Act and throw people back into the days before health care rights. Because of the ACA, insurance companies must insure children until the age of 26, but that right will be gone if the ACA is destroyed.
3. Marriage Equality has recently been granted to all Americans, but a Conservative Court would most likely overturn it. Donald Trump is against marriage equality. The Democratic Platform and Hillary Clinton want to protect marriage equality for everyone, no matter whom they love.
4. The Supreme Court dealt a blow to President Obama's Immigration Reform by tying four to four on the decision. You can see the details here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/22/us/who-is-affected-by-supreme-court-decision-on-immigration.html?_r=0. For those who want a legal path to citizenship or the right to stay in the country for parents or children, a conservative court will refuse to grant a legal pathway. Donald Trump believes the USA should deport millions and millions of individuals from the country, and additionally, wants to ban immigration based on religion. Banning immigration based on religion is about the most UN-American opinion I can imagine in this nation of immigrants and religious freedom. How can we continue to be the nation of immigrants if we ban immigrants?
So many of our rights and freedoms depend on the makeup of the Supreme Court. As one of our three branches of government, the Judicial decides what laws are constitutional, and which are not. We are at an important tipping point for the Supreme Court, whether the decisions of the next generation will continue the rights of women, patients, and minorities, or whether the Court will overturn these rights.
There are so many issues at stake in this election, but none are more important than the nominations to the Supreme Court. An election is not just about personalities, about who you like and do not like, it is about issues, and the future. Too often our votes are based on emotion, and the GOP candidate has unearthed the worst in the American psyche.The Supreme Court is a powerful, and has the final say on the constitutionality of all issues brought before it, and must be a major consideration when it comes to voting. When the stakes are this high, protest votes are useless. Let's vote the issues, not personalities.