Blurred Lines

Recent Supreme Court decisions and what they mean


Photo Courtesy of Vox

Protestors take to the streets in response to the Uvalde shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The recent Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision that many have been dreading has put many Americans on high alert as their lives have been changed significantly. Many have expressed their dismay about  living through major plot points in American history. While a plethora of people are focused on one decision SCOTUS has made, they may be neglecting the others. 

One of the many rulings the  Supreme Court has made affected  Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta. The  ruling was made on June 29, 2022, which states the Federal Government and the State have the concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by non-Native Americans against Native Americans in Indian country. This basically means that if a non-Native American individual were to commit a crime against a Native American in their territory, the state would have the power to prosecute.  This goes against the previous ruling Worcester v. Georgia, where they barred the state of Georgia from exercising jurisdiction within the Cherokee Nation lands. This new ruling essentially strips Native American lands of their judicial power. Many individuals, like Tik Toker, @paraoxicalfemme, are worried that the Indian Child Welfare Act will now be in the hands of SCOTUS as well. 

Another recent SCOTUS decision includes Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, which took place on Jun. 27. It notes that the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment protect an individual engaging in a personal religious observance from governmental reprisal; the Constitution neither mandates nor permits the government to suppress such religious expression. The case was based on a football coach who lost his job after openly expressing his religious beliefs after football games.  As students began to join the coach in prayer, the district declared that he was not allowed to pray with the students, which led him to begin praying silently on his own time.  However, since he was in view of students and faculty he was let go, as it infringes on the separation of church and state. The Court has now ruled that the school district violated his religious rights and that public school officials have a constitutional right to pray publicly and lead students in prayer during school events. 

Piggy-backing from this trails Carson v. Makin on Jun 21. This requires Maine to give public money or taxes to private religious schools. Virtually declaring the separation of church and state–a principle directly stated within the constitution–unconstitutional. Negating Everson v. Board of Education, where the court declared no tax in any amount can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions. 

“Pays tuition for certain students at private schools–so long as the schools are not religious… is discrimination against religion,” Chief Justice John Roberts claims in regards to Maine’s private religious education. 

The most discussed ruling is the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, decided on Jun 24. This case brought up the topic of abortion and overturned the previous Court ruling, Roe v. Wade. Mississippi Gestational Act states that unless there is a medical emergency or in the case of severe fetal abnormality, a person should not intentionally/knowingly induce or perform an abortion greater than 15 weeks gestation. A doctor at Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an abortion clinic, challenged this stating it was a constitutional right to receive an abortion, i.e. Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. SCOTUS ruled against this. 

“The constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely – the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion that did away with Roe. 

An additional opinion involves one’s Miranda rights, Vega v. Tekoh on Jun. 23. Deputy Vega questioned Tekoh at a medical center where Tekoh worked regarding the reported sexual assault of a patient. Vega did not inform Tekoh of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona. After Tekoh was found not guilty he sued Vega for violating his constitutional rights. Many people are unaware of these rights therefore,  officers are required to make these rights known upon arrest. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that rather than a constitutional right, they are a ‘set of rules’ designed to protect the Fifth Amendment. In other words, it does not violate the constitution to not be read one’s Miranda rights.  

Furthermore there are various firearm related rulings as well. In  the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the State of New York makes it illegal to possess a firearm without a license, in or outside the home. Those who wish  to carry outside of their homes must have an unrestricted license to carry a pistol or revolver; if they can prove a proper cause. Two adults in New York were denied an unrestricted license for lack of a proper cause and they sued the state officials. SCOTUS has sided with the two law-abiding citizens and state that the New York proper-cause agreement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense. 

A decision that not many people are aware of encloses Egbert v. Boule, which was ruled on Jun. 8, 2022. In 1952, the Immigration and Nationality Act gave border security certain additional authorities. Within a ‘reasonable distance’ or 100 miles from the U.S. border – a huge segment of the country predominantly occupied by radicalized and marginalized communities – federal authorities do not need a warrant or even suspicion of wrongdoing to conduct searches at the border to prevent illegal entry into the U.S. However, the law explicitly prohibits Border Patrol agents from entering homes without permission, a warrant or probable cause. In this case, Robert Boule alleged that border agent, Erik Egbert, violated his Fourth Amendment rights by coming onto his property without permission and then attacking him when he protested. Previously those who had been faced with damages would be able to receive compensation for the damages. However, the courts ruled this will no longer be the case, no longer holding officers accountable for the damages done to a home within a 100 miles from the border. 

An additional case that many are oblivious to is the Shinn v. Martinez Ramirez ruling from late May. David Martinez Ramirez and Barry Lee were convicted of capital crimes and sentenced to death. Nonetheless, they found that their trial counsel had been ineffective for failure to conduct adequate investigations. The Supreme Court held that a federal habeas court may not conduct an evidentiary hearing or otherwise consider evidence beyond the state-court record based on the ineffective assistance of state post-conviction counsel. Thus even if one’s legal support is ineffective, they have no right to challenge the decision of the court based on the shoddy legal support. 

There are many SCOTUS cases that have yet to surface on major social media platforms. Nevertheless, as a citizen of the United States, it is our right to know what rights are being taken away and changed at the drop of a dime. A plethora of people are fearful as to what rights they may rule on next and how that will change their lives. Many of the Justices are making decisions that not everyone agrees upon, thus the best thing one can do is to stay educated and know your rights. For more information, visit