SCOTUS as a Policymaking Institution
Recently, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a potentially landmark abortion case with the petitioners asking the Court to revisit Roe v. Wade. Before oral arguments in that case could even be scheduled, the Court rejected to stay a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks.
As a result, the Court’s conservative justices find themselves in damage control mode, with a number of justices taking the time to once more assure the public that the Supreme Court makes only legal decisions and never determines policy based on its merits. Both Justice Alito and Justice Barrett recently gave speeches defending the Court’s recent decisions declining to stay the Texas abortion law against allegations of political motivation. Without a doubt, the Court moved to the right as Justice Barrett replaced liberal Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg. While public attention on the Court remains focused on social issues like abortion, the rightward shift will result in dramatic changes to the regulatory state.
At long last, we’ve finally reached a point in our societal discourse where the question of whether anthropogenic climate change is or isn’t happening is a bygone conclusion. Most major players in the debate can reluctantly acknowledge that, yes, climate change is real and yes, something must be done about it. Within the beltway, the shift on the political right toward accepting the reality of climate change is best exemplified by the recent formation in the House of the 64-member GOP-only Conservative Climate Caucus, which will ostensibly seek to educate members on climate issues (although the sincerity of these members should be taken with a grain of salt). We’re also seeing hints of a sea-change in the private sector, a traditional source of opposition to climate action, as more and more companies realize that green technology is good (and potentially very profitable) business. Even the giants of the fossil fuel industry see the writing on the wall and are beginning to invest in renewable energy, although this isn’t to say that oil companies will stop drilling any time soon.
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