In just over 20 days, Donald Trump will leave the White House, and the entire country will celebrate the end of what is undoubtedly one of the darkest eras for American democracy.
Yet his legacy will endure — and we are only now beginning to feel its silent consequences.
As the Guardian explained, state officials are making strategic appeals, and lower court judges are adapting arguments in the hope of getting a Supreme Court hearing, most notably in front of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
This is a wave of controversial cases, including same-sex parental rights in Indiana, access to abortion in Mississippi, and gun control in Pennsylvania.
According to the media, it is a push to take advantage of the court’s rightward leaning after the arrival of Judge Amy Coney Barrett who, with only two months in office, has already attracted new controversial cases.
“What the addition of Barrett does is, I imagine you’ll have more of the lower court judges pushing the boundaries, recognizing they likely have a green light for some of their more radical positions,” said Daniel Goldberg, legal director at the progressive Alliance For Justice, to The Guardian.
The best example was the Mississippi attorney general who, just hours after Barrett’s approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee, requested that the Supreme Court review the state’s attempted abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“I’m most concerned about issues that stem from efforts by the Biden administration to issue rules and regulations to protect the health and safety of the American people,” Goldberg said.
“Obviously, those cases aren’t in the pipeline yet, but I think you saw during the Obama years, lower court federal judges being quite aggressive in challenging Obama’s efforts to protect workers and the environment. And I imagine now, with a more radical supreme court, you’ll see even more aggressive challenges.
Meanwhile, the country has enough distractions — between Washington’s tragicomedy, the Christmas holidays, and the impact of a pandemic that only gets worse — and the rights of individuals continue to be curtailed behind the scenes.