The Supreme Court is the United States’ most powerful court of law. The Court’s rulings routinely shape the course of American public policy.
It ended its last term with the conservative justices bending the law sharply rightward in a series of momentous decisions on abortion, gun rights, environmental regulations and religious rights that will reverberate for decades. The Court currently splits 6-3 amongst the conservative-liberal ideological divide.
So, what makes for a controversial Supreme Court decision? A ruling can be controversial for a variety of reasons, including:
- Political implications: Some Supreme Court decisions have significant political implications that can divide the country along ideological lines. For example, a decision on a hot-button issue like abortion or gun control could be highly controversial because it may be seen as favoring one side of the political spectrum over the other.
- Constitutional interpretation: The Supreme Court is tasked with interpreting the Constitution, which can be a highly contentious issue. Different justices may have different views on how to interpret specific clauses or amendments, leading to dissenting opinions and controversy.
- Social impact: Some Supreme Court decisions can have a significant impact on society, particularly for marginalized or underrepresented groups. For example, a decision on affirmative action or LGBTQ rights could be highly controversial because it may be seen as either promoting or limiting social justice.
- Precedent-setting: The Supreme Court sets legal precedent with its decisions, meaning that they can have far-reaching implications beyond the specific case being heard. If a controversial decision sets a precedent that some people disagree with, it can lead to ongoing controversy and debate.
- Public opinion: The Supreme Court’s decisions can have an impact on public opinion and may be viewed as either reflecting or diverging from the views of the majority of Americans. If a decision is seen as out of step with public opinion, it could lead to controversy and calls for reform or judicial reform.
As several of the 2022-2023 term’s most important cases have already been argued, here are some of the major cases in which we’re awaiting decisions.