Three Landmark Supreme Court Decisions Protecting a Free America


Staff member
Three Landmark Supreme Court Decisions Protecting a Free America
The guardians of the Constitution take a noble stand.
By Joseph Klein

President Biden and his left-wing base are furious at the Supreme Court for the three historic decisions that the Court issued on the last two days of its 2022-2023 term. President Biden disparaged the Supreme Court, claiming it was “not a normal court” and accused its conservative majority of misinterpreting the Constitution.

President Biden’s attack on the legitimacy of the Supreme Court was not only a reckless assault on a co-equal branch of the federal government. It evidenced President Biden’s complete misunderstanding of the core constitutional principles of equal protection under the law, freedom of speech, and separation of powers, all of which the Supreme Court majority underscored in its landmark decisions.

With these three decisions, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority firmed up the underpinnings of America’s constitutional republic that the Left seeks to destroy.

On June 29th, the Supreme Court struck down race-based admission practices used by colleges and universities such as the defendants Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the 6-3 conservative majority, rejected the notion that one’s racial group identity should supersede the totality of one’s own individual life experiences, skills, and aspirations as a prime criterion for admission. A diverse class of entrants can be assembled without having to discriminate against one racial or ethnic group in favor of another.

The cases brought against Harvard and the University of North Carolina involved admission practices that pitted one minority group, Asian American students, against another minority group, African American students, for admission purposes.

Affirmative action was meant to be a temporary remedy to help African Americans overcome the severe disadvantages imposed on them by past government-sanctioned injustices. But it was never meant to become a permanent fixture of American life and used as a club against other minority groups that have suffered their own share of grave injustices.

“Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individual’s identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin. This Nation’s constitutional history does not tolerate that choice,” Chief Justice Roberts observed. “The race-based admissions systems…fail to comply with the twin commands of the Equal Protection Clause that race may never be used as a ‘negative’ and that it may not operate as a stereotype.”

The Left wants to divide America into warring identity groups with elitists in charge of picking the winners and losers, regardless of individual talents, aspirations, achievements, and obstacles in the way of success. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority pushed back against this corrosive ideology. It stood up for the idea of equality under the law that has animated America’s exceptionalist experiment in self-government and protection of individual freedoms.

In the second of the three landmark opinions that the Supreme Court delivered at the end of its term, the conservative majority strongly reaffirmed the individual’s constitutional right of free speech. Freedom of speech, the Court held, includes not only the right to express one’s own opinions, regardless of how offensive they might be to others. Freedom of speech also includes a person’s right to refuse to utter speech that the person disagrees with.

On June 30th, the Supreme Court ruled, again by an ideologically split 6-3 vote, that a website designer cannot be forced to create a customized website conveying a message with her own expressive content that violates her fundamental beliefs. The message in this case that the website designer does not want to use her artistic talents to express by creating an original customized website is the celebration of a same-sex wedding. The Court held that Colorado’s anti-discrimination law cannot be used as a justification to compel speech from someone, including a commercial provider of original expressive words or images, that is contrary to that person’s core beliefs.

Contrary to the Left’s demagoguery, which Justice Sonia Sotomayor echoed in her dissenting opinion, the case did not involve a business’s refusal to serve a person because of that person’s sexual orientation. The plaintiff stipulated that she “will gladly create custom graphics and websites for clients of any sexual orientation.” She just does not want to design a custom website containing a message that she believes in good conscience to be morally objectionable.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, who wrote the majority opinion, is no homophobe. To the contrary, it was Justice Gorsuch who wrote the majority opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII protections against employment discrimination extend to gay and transgender persons.

In this case involving Colorado’s attempt to compel speech, Justice Gorsuch did not backtrack in his majority opinion on the constitutional right of gay people to marry. His opinion did not approve of discrimination against gay people because of who they are. Rather, Justice Gorsuch simply upheld the express right of free speech that appears in the First Amendment to the Constitution, which includes an individual’s right not to be compelled to express beliefs contrary to his or her own beliefs.

Eighty years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the right of two Jehovah’s Witness sisters to refuse to salute the flag in their public school class, which was then mandatory. In that case, the majority opinion stated: “To sustain the compulsory flag salute we are required to say that a Bill of Rights which guards the individual’s right to speak his own mind, left it open to public authorities to compel him to utter what is not in his mind…If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Justice Gorsuch hewed closely to this landmark First Amendment precedent in his majority opinion. He wrote that “as this Court has long held, the opportunity to think for ourselves

and to express those thoughts freely is among our most cherished liberties and part of what keeps our Republic strong…The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.”

All believers in the critical importance of the First Amendment in protecting every individual’s freedom of conscience should rejoice.

The final landmark decision handed down by the Supreme Court on June 30th – also by an ideologically divided 6-3 majority vote – dealt with the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers.

President Biden issued an executive order last year cancelling students’ obligations to pay off at least a portion of their higher education student debt. Biden’s maneuver would have cost taxpayers over $400 billion if he had gotten away with his egregious abuse of presidential power. Fortunately, the Supreme Court intervened and struck down President Biden’s unconstitutional trampling upon Congress’s legislative authority to appropriate the taxpayers’ money under Article I of the Constitution.

The Biden administration tried to use as justification for the student debt cancellation executive order a limited authority delegated by Congress to the Education Secretary under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 (HEROES Act). The HEROES Act allows the Education Secretary to “waive or modify” federal student financial assistance program requirements in time of war, other military operation, or a national emergency.

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, delivered a strongly worded rebuke to this power grab by the executive branch. The Court held that the authority to “waive or modify” existing statutory or regulatory provisions applicable to federal financial assistance programs does not mean the authority to rewrite the governing statute “from the ground up.” Chief Justice Roberts added, “However broad the meaning of ‘waive or modify,’ that language cannot authorize the kind of exhaustive rewriting of the statute that has taken place here.”

Releasing 43 million borrowers from their obligations to repay $430 billion in student loans, which would transfer those obligations to the taxpayers, raises policy issues of nationwide economic and political significance. The COVID-19 national emergency, which President Biden declared several months ago was over anyway, did not justify the executive branch stepping into the shoes of the legislative branch when it comes to the power of the purse.

“The question here is not whether something should be done; it is who has the authority to do it,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “The dissent is correct that this is a case about one branch of government arrogating to itself power belonging to another. But it is the Executive seizing the power of the Legislature.”

Chief Justice Roberts noted that “our precedent—old and new—requires that Congress speak clearly before a Department Secretary can unilaterally alter large sections of the American economy.” One such precedent goes back to 1952. That is when the Supreme Court decided that President Harry Truman lacked the constitutional and statutory authority to order governmental seizure of the nation’s steel mills during the Korean War when a labor dispute threatened to disrupt production. The Court held that “The President’s order does not direct that a congressional policy be executed in a manner prescribed by Congress—it directs that a presidential policy be executed in a manner prescribed by the President.”

Past attempts in Congress to pass legislation cancelling higher education student debt have failed. In fact, the opposite is the case. Congress recently passed a resolution, with the support of some Democrats, to reject President Biden’s executive student loan cancellation program. Biden vetoed Congress’s determination that the executive branch had overstepped the limit of its congressionally delegated authority on this major policy question.

Moreover, even then-Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recognized that people were wrong to think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. “He can postpone,” she explained, as noted by Chief Justice Roberts who quoted the former Speaker. “He can delay. But he does not have that power. That has to be an act of Congress.”

Under America’s system of separation of powers and checks and balances, it is ultimately up to the independent judicial branch to interpret the limits imposed by the Constitution on the powers of the other two branches. That is precisely what the Supreme Court did by striking down President Biden’s executive order that unilaterally transferred student debt obligations to American taxpayers, including those who already paid off their loans or did not go to college.

These three landmark cases demonstrate this Supreme Court’s fulfillment of its essential role as the guardian of the Constitution and of individual liberties against abuses by those in power. It is only fitting that these cases were handed down just days before Americans celebrated the nation’s declaration of independence from tyranny.