What might 2023 bring from the Supreme Court?
This past summer brought a bounty for lovers of the Constitution . Supreme Court justices gave us the strengthening of religious liberty , a renewed commitment to Second Amendment rights, and, most of all, the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Early indications suggest that 2023 will be equally bountiful for those of us who believe the Constitution should truly be interpreted and applied according to its original public meaning.
In two cases pertaining to affirmative action , a majority seems poised to end racial preferences in government employers and those institutions receiving governmental funding. Such a decision would move America closer to its founding purpose of equal justice under the law, for which our statutes and practices recognize common humanity rather than making special accommodations based on the color of one’s skin.
The Supreme Court also seems poised to continue its commitment to religious liberty. The oral arguments in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis showed this possibility. The case concerns whether the state of Colorado can force a Christian to design websites for same-sex weddings, which would contradict her deeply held beliefs.
We should love, guard, and seek to perpetuate all true claims to liberty — indeed, it stands alongside equality as two of our most fundamental American principles. And religious liberty deserves special attention. It receives particular notice in the First Amendment. The founders understood that religion had an important role to play in political and social life and that such a role stemmed from the fact that God alone is Lord of the conscience. Therefore, in relation to the state, persons should have significant freedom of worship according to their conscience. Today, aspects of American culture are increasing in animosity toward organized religion and those who practice it. The court would bestow a great gift to many believers, as well as to the country, in expanding Constitutional protections for religious expression.
One more case to highlight comes in the realm of immigration .
In United States v. Texas, the latter challenged the Biden administration’s new guidelines regarding the enforcement of border security against illegal immigration. This case involves yet another essential component of our republic — the rule of law. Whatever you might think immigration policy should be, it must adhere to the laws as written and procedures as set out. Otherwise, we don’t have laws in control but persons manipulating them for their own preferences. For too long, the occupant of the Oval Office has made law as much as he has enforced it. The bureaucracy has exercised legislative, executive, and judicial power altogether, also for too long and against our constitutional structure. The court seems willing here to strike a blow to rein in both the presidency and the bureaucracy, hopefully in ways that bring future gifts for Constitutional self-rule.
We also might see important decisions on the extent of the commerce clause, the power state legislatures have over elections, and other cases that set the stage for further reining in of the administrative state. These cases could bring plenty of joy for those who wish to see a country more equal, freer, and more self-governing according to the rule of law.
We won’t know this Christmas whether these gifts are in the making. But we should act as citizens worthy of the Constitution we have been given and the freedoms it bequeathed to us. That, in the end, is a gift better than any Supreme Court decision.