By Cecily Myart-Cruz,
President of United Teachers Los Angeles
In less than 24 hours, the Supreme Court handed down three regressive rulings whose impact will have serious implications for working class and marginalized communities across the nation. On Friday, the Supreme Court’s far-right majority has ruled in favor of refusing to provide business services to same-sex couples, a major setback for LGBTQ+ protections. SCOTUS has also denied President Biden’s bid to forgive over $400 billion in student loans, a policy that would relieve the crippling debt of millions of Americans.
Since the right’s packing of the court, our government has regressed on the civil rights wins that have moved toward giving Black, brown, queer, women, gender-diverse, and working class families equal footing in this country. In recent months, there has been a wave of coordinated political attacks against the LGBTQ+ community and the important rights they have won over the last few years.
There is no reading of the constitution that justifies discrimination against members of a protected class. What the Supreme Court has done today is to distort the first amendment as a deliberate attack on the LGBTQ+ community. This decision will open the door to discriminating based on race, disability status, and more. As proof of how far this court will go to undermine fundamental human rights, it was revealed this week that the plaintiffs lacked standing as it appears that they quite literally made up the “harm” that the case rests on.
Furthermore, abandoning a pathway to financial relief for the 40 million Americans struggling to pay off usurious loans, while the majority of this country continues to feel the pressure of inflation, is an affront to American values. Wages have not kept pace with the cost of higher education. The cost to attend college and universities has surpassed the ability to afford quality education and feed your children, without taking on crippling debt.
Educators in particular require multiple advanced degrees to teach, yet are severely underpaid while wrestling with the challenges of inflation. NEA’s Student Debt report found that a quarter of educators are saddled with debt, and this figure is exacerbated for educators of color — especially Black teachers who are much more likely than their white colleagues to have taken on high levels of student loan debt. Being unable to repay these egregious balances will only continue the cycle of poverty, while impairing economic mobility.
The Supreme Court should work for “We the People.” It’s clear that the court has lost its way. SCOTUS is no longer an entity functioning as a check on the legislative branch. Instead they have become a mouthpiece for right wing extremists and billion-dollar corporations.
These draconian rulings are yet another stain on our country, and we must continue to mobilize against the dismantling of our hard fought rights and protections for working class Americans.
Cecily Myart-Cruz is a teacher and activist, and the first woman of color to serve as president of United Teachers Los Angeles.