The exterior of the Supreme Court building.

A Breakdown of the Supreme Court Rulings and their Impact

One of the most contentious Supreme Court terms ends this summer as the justices clear their docket. They entered the month with more than 30 cases, leaving the biggest decisions last to round off the 2021-22 term. 

The Supreme Court rulings have rippling effects beyond the individual cases they preside on, including gun rights, religious liberty, immigration, the environment, and abortion access. Their decisions will undoubtedly reshape law and life in the United States. On June 24, the court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that made access to abortion a constitutional right. The move follows a trend of decisions aimed at stripping rights and reversing decades of progress.

Earlier this week, we covered the Supreme Court rulings that failed to uphold the separation of church and state and extensive coverage of the attack on abortion access. Today, we break down the remaining key cases and their decisions. 

Vega v. Tekoh: Miranda Rights

Decision: Tekoh reported that Deputy Officer Vega coerced him into a confession by blocking his exit, threatening him with deportation, and putting his hand on his firearm. He also neglected to inform Tekoh of his Miranda rights. The Supreme Court ruled that Tekoh cannot sue Officer Vega for a violation of these rights (SFGate). 

What this means: We can’t sue police officers who fail to read us our Miranda rights: the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the fact that any statement we give to a police officer can be used against us in Court.  It would prevent wrongfully convicted people from any legal recourse if police violated their rights (ACLU). That makes using these rights by refusing to give statements to the police even more important to keep yourself and others safe from state violence (History). 

Support: Have conversations with people in your community about the importance of never talking to the police, even if you’re sure you haven’t committed a crime. The job of the police in the U.S. system isn’t establishing the truth; it’s getting enough evidence to prosecute somebody. The only information you should ever give the police in any circumstance is your name and the sentence “I want a lawyer” (Vice, ACLU).

New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen: Concealed Carry Gun Laws

Decision: The Court struck down a New York law restricting concealed carry permits to those who can prove they have “good moral character” and “proper cause” to do so. With this ruling, states may not require applicants to “demonstrate to government officers some special need” to receive a concealed carry permit (MSN).

What this means: Six states’ laws giving officials similar discretion over who needs a concealed carry permit will likely be overturned, a “major victory for gun rights advocates” (MSN, Reuters, CNBC). This will have significant effects on marginalized communities, which have been discriminatorily targeted by gun control restrictions (History) and particularly harmed by gun violence (WHYY, CFR, Huffington Post).

Support: Share information on gunshot wound first aid. Prepare to take action by immediately applying strong pressure to both entry and exit wounds to stop bleeding until medical help arrives.

Support community initiatives against interpersonal and state violence like the Community Justice Action Fund, GoodKids MadCity, Mothers Against Senseless Killings, or a local grassroots initiative. 

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta: Tribal Sovereignty

Decision: Limiting its 2020 ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma, which expanded tribal authority in the state (Reuters), the court has given states jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Indigenous people against Indigenous people on tribal land. 

What this means: For over 200 years, the Supreme Court held that Native American tribes were afforded sovereignty to govern themselves and their—restricted and stolen—land (Supreme Court). This decision threatens tribal sovereignty by restoring partial state power and governance onto tribal lands, despite the country recognizing them as Native sovereign nations.  

Support: Sign this petition to help get a member of the Cherokee Nation a seat as a congressional delegate, allowing representation for the Cherokee Nation in the U.S. government. 

Support the International Indian Treaty Council, NDN Collective, Changing Woman Initiative, California Native Vote Project, and Indigenous Women Rising, fighting to protect Indigenous people’s rights, land, autonomy, and sovereignty. 

Decenter white reproductive health when discussing this threat to Indigenous sovereignty and other Supreme Court rulings. Given the history of forced sterilization, assimilation, and lack of reproductive rights, Native lands are not “safe harbors” for abortion. Viewing these areas as so follows a settler-colonialism mentality. 

West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency: Environmental Regulations

Decision: In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t have authority to set national standards to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Instead, EPA must get authorization from Congress before taking action. 

What this means: In her dissent, Justice Kagan said, “Today, the Court strips the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the power Congress gave it to respond to ‘the most pressing environmental challenge of our time'”(Supreme Court). The Supreme Court ruling stalls the EPA from effectively fighting the climate change crisis, which is already having devasting effects on marginalized communities globally, by requiring Congress to pass legislation or set clear statutory authorization. There is currently no legislation or authorization to allow the EPA to curb existing power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions, the second-largest source of pollution in the U.S. (CNBC). The move is considered a win for coal companies and red states opposed to transitioning to cleaner, renewable sources. It also sets a precedent that will most likely reduce the power of all federal agencies.  

Support: Hold corporations and governmental bodies accountable for their role in climate change. 
Contribute to APEN, YUCCA Action, California Environmental Justice Alliance, or a local organization in your area confronting governments and industries that are exacerbating the climate crisis.

2400 1600 Dominique Stewart

Dominique Stewart

Dominique is a writer and editor whose interests lie within the intersections of social justice and culture. She has written and edited for several outlets, including Brooklyn Magazine, The Tempest, and the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. Dominique was the managing editor for a women’s health magazine called Sidepiece Magazine.

All stories by : Dominique Stewart
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