As Pride Month came to an end this past Friday, June 30, the Supreme Court continued their attack on the rights of LGBT+ Americans. 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis was a Supreme Court case in which the business owner of a Colorado based website design company had sued for the right to refuse services to LGBT+ identifying individuals. The business owner and her legal team argued that her religion prohibited her from providing services to the LGBT+ community, hence allowing her to turn LGBT+ customers away. To no one’s surprise, the case was decided in favor of 303 Creative LLC. The company now has the right to post a website banner stating that they do not offer services to LGBT+ identifying individuals thereby forcing them to seek out services elsewhere. The idea of a banner telling LGBT+ customers to shop elsewhere has been described as similar to the racist signs in the Jim Crow South which told black customers they would not be provided services.
During oral arguments held in December of last year, Justice Sonya Sotomayor recalled a long-ago case brought before the Supreme Court during the Jim Crow era. In it, a restaurant owner stated that his religion prohibited him from serving food to black patrons, and that he should be allowed to serve them from a special take-out window while white customers ate inside.
Religious freedom has been used as an argument to justify discrimination against people for decades. The 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis case was decided on 6-3 vote with Justice Sotomayor joining the other two democratic appointed Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson in the dissent. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who is from Colorado, delivered the majority opinion.
This case is among the first of many that will be brought before the Supreme Court over the next decade. Religious freedom will be used to attack the LGBT+ community, especially the transgender community which has already been targeted by incredibly harsh laws in states like Florida and Texas. Laws will become even more extreme in these states as the Supreme Court allows harsh laws to take effect. The idea of progress is different depending on who you ask. While these laws take away the rights of many, there are still sizable numbers of people in this country who unfortunately see this as a win.
As a nation, the United States is now tasked with the difficult problem of figuring out how to depoliticize the Supreme Court. The most extreme minded conservatives in this country will refuse any change to the current system that benefits them. Meanwhile, moderates, libertarians, liberals and progressives will comprise a majority frustrated with the increased limiting of freedoms. Perhaps the only way the majority of people in the United States will be happy will be after the reform of the Supreme Court.
While it is difficult to say exactly how the Supreme Court should be structured to depoliticize it at this time, the U.S Constitution does allow Congress to make adjustments to the court as needed. The answer to this problem begins by electing representatives at all levels of government who support restructuring the court in a neutral way. Anonymous votes could give Supreme Court justices the freedom to vote without fear of public scrutiny. Ethics reform could also be considered to oversee the personal behavior of the Supreme Court as a means of reducing corruption. Additionally, term limits of ten years could incentivize the nominations of more experienced nominees, as opposed to younger nominees who will sit on the court for decades. These are just a few of several ideas to depoliticize the Supreme Court, and it is time to start exploring those ideas to protect liberties and freedoms for all Americans.