From bans on abortion to easing gun control laws

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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The dynamics and laws of the US domestic policy are unique and different from its foreign policy. The Supreme Court has eliminated the federal constitutional right to abortion, abandoning decades of precedent and stirring up further domestic discord. This step is deemed an embarrassment for the US government, which has been widely critical of the status of women in other countries. Most European countries, as well as many countries of the world, have legalized abortion as part of women’s human rights.

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A week earlier, the Supreme Court struck down New York state’s century-old gun law that restricted carrying weapons in public places. It’s a bitter blow to gun-control pushes by security institutions and politicians – mainly President Joe Biden – following surges in gun violence in American society.

The Supreme Court has also ruled in favor of on-field praying and has given religious schools access to state aid, further eroding restrictions on government money for non-secular schools. Religious Republicans have also filed numerous lawsuits seeking to strike down court rulings preventing schools from teaching creationism that rejects the theory of evolution. They also seek to compel federal governments to fund religious education and demand to allow school segregation by race – a demand unlikely to be approved by the Supreme Court for its dangerous social impact.

“Equal justice under law” is a phrase engraved above the entrance of the US Supreme Court, summarizing the ancient conflict within the American society built by immigrants from different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds and characterized by a cultural diversity that is constantly reflected in the political arena.

The demographic of all nine Supreme Court Justices, dressed in black long-sleeved gowns, encompasses American society’s racial, religious, and intellectual backgrounds: now conservatives have the upper hand. All Justices are nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and hold their offices under life tenure or until retirement.

Supporters of gun control and firearm safety measures hold a protest rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. (File photo: AFP)
Supporters of gun control and firearm safety measures hold a protest rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. (File photo: AFP)

The Justices, aged between 48 and 83, have broad ideological and cultural stances. Justices were almost always Protestants, but the current Supreme Court has six Catholics, two Jews, and only one Protestant. Justices are not affiliated with political parties but are appointed by politicians. Six of them sitting today were appointed by Republican presidents, and Democratic presidents appointed three.

Although the Supreme Court does not engage in politics nor make political comments, the highest tribunal in the US has been increasingly involved in cases affecting politicians and electoral programs. The Court will soon play an even bigger role if the gap between Democrats and Republicans continues to grow.

The Supreme Court showed no intention to intervene in the mail-in voting and other cases filed by former President Donald Trump against his political rival, which resulted in Biden winning the presidential election.

Biden has repeatedly called on Congress to pass major gun-control legislation after more than 225 mass shootings took place this year in the US. However, the Supreme Court’s recent decisions have been devastating for Biden in critical matters such as abortion and gun control.

The Supreme Court relies on the US Constitution instead of popular opinions, which was the case for gun control. For instance, polls show that most Americans favor stricter gun laws and Democrats seek to tap anger over these issues in future elections.

Although a setback for the Democrats, abortion, which was banned by the same Court that had allowed it half a century ago, is an opportunity for them to win back white women’s votes in major cities after they voted Republican in the recent past. Democrats must capitalize on these issues as they are headed for defeat in the midterm elections next November.

Extremists exist in both parties, and they often incite internal disputes. The leftist Democrats have pushed extremist agendas, such as calling for gender abolition – causing public outrage.

The Democratic Party, like the Republican Party, struggles with a shift in supporters’ left-right positions. Democrats promise jobs, welfare, health, and services. At the same time, their rivals criticize Democrats’ campaigns claiming they lead to increasing taxes, draining the economy, and turning the US into a rentier state. In terms of foreign policy, both parties somewhat agree on the issues of peace and war.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, Pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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