SCOTUS Guts Affirmative Action, Limits LGBT Protections, Throws Out Student Loan Forgiveness

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With the October session due to end this afternoon, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has delivered a slate of major decisions in recent days. Here we’ll cover the three most recent.

This is a developing story and may be updated.

Affirmative Action Ruling: Colleges Can’t Consider Race During Admissions Process

On Thursday, SCOTUS issued a landmark ruling that effectively puts an end to race-based affirmative action in the college admissions process, a policy focused on improving minorities and women who have been historically discriminated against in the US. Thursday’s decision reverses part of the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case, in which SCOTUS previously ruled that race could be considered as a factor during the college admissions process. Since that process, affirmative action has been challenged over and over again – a short history is available here.

“Affirmative action, it its current form, has granted fair access to high quality education for people of color and women in our country for six decades,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said. “The Supreme Court decision today will have consequences far outside the halls of higher education institutions. Our minority youth, especially women and those from a lower socioeconomic class, deserve the opportunity to receive a higher education from an esteemed university or college in order to set themselves on a path to success.”

Businesses may refuse service to LGBTQ people/couples

On Friday, SCOTUS ruled in favor of a Colorado web designer who refuses to create wedding websites for same-sex couples, saying to do so violates his religious principles. In the 6-3 decision Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that “All manner of speech – from ‘pictures, films, paintings, drawings, and engravings,’ to ‘oral utterance and the printed word’ – qualify for the First Amendment’s protections: no less can hold true when it comes to speech like Ms. Smith’s conveyed over the Internet.”

“Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “By issuing this new license to discriminate in a case brought by a company that seeks to deny same-sex couples the full and equal enjoyment of its services, the immediate, symbolic effect of the decision is to mark gays and lesbians for second-class status.”

No Student Loan Forgiveness

The Court issued a stinging defeat to President Joe Biden on Friday, in a 6-3 decision blocking his plan to offer $20,000 of debt relief to millions of struggling student loan borrowers.

“The Secretary’s comprehensive debt cancellation plan cannot fairly be called a waiver – it not only nullifies existing provisions, but augments and expands them dramatically,” said Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority opinion. “However broad the meaning of ‘waive or modify,’ that language cannot authorize the kind of exhaustive rewriting of the statue that has taken place here.”

Instead, the White House must obtain direct authorization from Congress before it can cancel student loan debt.

As expected, Republicans are hailing the decision, even as they try to place the blame on the White House.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling confirmed what we have known all along: the Biden administration’s student loan plan is an overreach of executive power,” Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy said. “President Biden’s student loan scheme does not ‘forgive’ debt, but unfairly transfers the burden from those who willingly took out loans onto those who chose not to attend college or already fulfilled their commitment to pay off their loans.”

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