Two weeks ago, we released an editorial directed toward the Supreme Court’s impending decision regarding the constitutionality of affirmative action. As we predicted, the high court disqualified the practice by citing the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The day after the affirmative action decision was handed down, the court also ruled in one case that President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan was unconstitutional and in another that businesses could legally discriminate against same-sex couples.
These three decisions have rightfully sparked anger across the country, forcing many to reckon with the possibility that the Supreme Court may no longer be the vestibule of reason its marble walls inscribed with “Equal Justice Under Law” claim it to be.
By entrusting nine justices to rule on opinions affecting the livelihood of every American, it is reasonable to accept the reality that the government has few abilities to check and balance the court in its current state. Why would one feel the need to act responsibly with a lifetime appointment and the assurance that they can never be fired?
Last month, reports surfaced that Justice Samuel Alito failed to disclose a 2008 luxury trip he took with Paul Singer, a billionaire who repeatedly petitioned the Supreme Court to rule in favor of his hedge fund.
Without recusing himself from the case, Alito joined the 7-1 ruling in favor of Singer in Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital, Ltd. in 2014.
Flash forward to 2023, when Singer filed an amicus curiae brief against Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. Once again, Alito failed to recuse himself and supported the 6-3 majority in striking down the proposal.
Although Alito may be the most obvious example of corruption occurring at the high court, Justice Clarence Thomas was accused of similar wrongdoings. Around the same time Alito’s scandal broke, critics were quick to point out Thomas’ undisclosed gifts from Harlan Crow, a prominent Republican donor to many of the causes petitioned in front of the Supreme Court.
If justices can be swayed by gifts from the docket’s stakeholders, the legitimacy and honor of the court is undoubtedly compromised.
While UC Berkeley as an institution was not directly involved in last week’s events, the effects of the Supreme Court’s corruption reverberate across the nation and erode the liberties of college students on our campus, particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds.
What is often overlooked in politics is the importance of ethical decision-making and maintaining jurisprudence amid intense partisan divides. As UC Berkeley students, we have a responsibility to uphold integrity and become an embodiment of the society we wish to see.
It may seem almost futile to try fighting back against a body that is impenetrable to the average American citizen. However, we end this editorial by encouraging all students to exercise their civic duties and continue to be present in American politics.
Elections have influence, and with the 2024 presidential race looming on the horizon, there is no time like the present to begin reckoning with the world we live in.