Unveiling the Threat: How Recent SCOTUS Decisions Jeopardize Latino Futures in the U.S.

Graphic Design symbolizing the impact of Supreme Court decisions on the Latino community's livelihood and rights
Luz Media

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the final arbiter of the law. That means it exists to ensure equal justice under the law and interpret the U.S. Constitution effectively. As such, their decisions have a profound impact on American law and society, shaping it for years to come. The problem is that SCOTUS doesn’t always make the best decisions. Sometimes, SCOTUS decisions are downright harmful, negatively impacting everyone.

To put this into perspective, let’s look at the top 5 most controversial SCOTUS rulings in recent years and the harm they’ve done.

Reproductive Rights: Roe v. Wade Overturned

Graphic depicting the pivotal ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court: Roe v. Wade Overturned, symbolizing a significant shift in reproductive rights legislation.

Image shared by feminist on Instagram

Image shared by feminist on Instagram

In the 70s, Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe, became pregnant for the third time as a single mom in Texas. She decided she didn’t want a third child, but Texas law prohibited abortions, so McCorvey and her lawyers challenged the law’s constitutionality arguing that it violated her right to privacy.

Ultimately, the case reached the Supreme Court, where a 7-2 ruling determined that a woman's decision to have an abortion fell within her constitutional right to privacy. This legalized abortion nationwide and guaranteed women the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

Roe v. Wade divided the nation into those who supported the right to life for unborn children and those who supported women’s right to choose. 50 years later, in 2022, this landmark legislation was overturned by SCOTUS in a 6-3 decision. With this legal protection out of the way, individual states are allowed to restrict or fully ban abortions, and that’s exactly what has been happening since.

This SCOTUS ruling has had catastrophic effects, with maternal mortality rising in states where abortion is either restricted or banned. Moreover, abortion bans and restrictions disproportionately affect Black and Latino women, with many losing their lives. Particularly in states like Texas, where Latinos make up 40.2% of the population and abortions are banned after 6 weeks–before many women even realize they’re pregnant.

Affirmative Action: Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina

Image representing the legal battles over Affirmative Action, reflecting key debates on equal opportunity in education.

Image shared by naleoedfund on Instagram

Image shared by naleoedfund on Instagram

The 2023 rulings in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina sent shockwaves through the space of higher education. In a 6-3 decision, SCOTUS ended affirmative action policies.

That means that federal-funded American public or private universities can’t consider students’ race in their admissions process. Any advantages given to Black and Latino applicants for a variety of reasons, such as increasing diversity and battling discrimination, no longer exist. This disproportionately affects Black and Latino students.

While college applicants can still discuss how race has influenced their lives in personal essays, this doesn’t lessen the broader impact of the ruling. Dismantling affirmative action policies, which existed to level the playing field for historically disadvantaged racial groups, has led to a decline in minority representation in universities.

The implications for Latino students are particularly noticeable, as one of the groups who benefited most from affirmative action. This SCOTUS ruling severely limits Latinos’ ability to access selective colleges and, therefore, their ability to improve their economic status.

Immigration: United States v. Texas

Image representing the legal battles over the landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Immigration: United States v. Texas

Image shared by immigrantsrising on Instagram

Image shared by immigrantsrising on Instagram

In 2023, the Supreme Court determined, with an 8-1 decision, that Texas’ deportation law, Senate Bill 4, would go into effect. SB 4 makes it a state crime to cross the border of Mexico and Texas between entry ports. Essentially, anyone suspected of illegally crossing the border could be stopped, detained, and charged with a Class B misdemeanor, facing up to 6 months in jail.

This SCOTUS ruling revises immigration law and limits immigrants’ ability to cross safely into the United States and request asylum. Moreover, it exposes Latinos, even those who have citizenship or permanent residency, to racial profiling. They may now be more likely to be suspected of and harassed by law enforcement simply because they’re not white or don’t look American.

SB 4 also risks damaging the relationship between law enforcement and local immigrant communities. It blurs the lines between federal immigration authorities and local law enforcement, causing fear among unauthorized immigrants and their families about interacting with law enforcement due to deportation risks. This fear may lead to a reduction in crime reporting, which can affect the safety of the entire community.

Student Loan Forgiveness: Biden v. Nebraska

Image illustrating the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Student Loan Forgiveness: Biden v. Nebraska

Image shared by naacp_ldf on Instagram

Image shared by naacp_ldf on Instagram

2023 was a tough year and it brought another controversial SCOTUS ruling, this time relating to student loan forgiveness. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court overturned the Biden administration’s program to provide student debt relief under the HEROES Act. This represented a major blow to economic and racial justice as the program sought to expand student loan forgiveness.

This SCOTUS ruling specifically affects students who don’t have many resources, particularly Black and Latino students. It makes the unfairness in the American education system even worse. Essentially, the ruling sends the message that only people who can afford a good education are entitled to it, no matter their talents or dreams.

By stopping Biden's plan to help with student debt, the court has said no to lots of people who want to go to school and make their lives better. Essentially, it slows down progress, especially within underprivileged communities. Currently, a new version of Biden’s plan is underway, dubbed Plan B. It’s a broader version of the first one and it’s more focused on specific groups of borrowers to avoid the same fate as the first plan.

Terrorism and Social Media: Gonzalez v. Google LLC

Graphic providing context for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling: Terrorism and Social Media: Gonzalez v. Google LLC

Image shared by daily49er on Instagram

Image shared by daily49er on Instagram

In 2015, Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old American citizen of Mexican descent, was murdered during a terrorist attack in Paris, France, where she was spending a semester abroad. The day after the attack, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack through a written statement and a YouTube video.

Nohemi’s father, Reynaldo Gonzalez, filed an action against Google LLC, claiming they aided and abetted international terrorism by allowing ISIS to use their platform (specifically, YouTube) to issue threats, recruit members, intimidate populations, and plan terrorist attacks. The complaint also alleged that Google’s algorithms helped ISIS spread its message through content suggestions, which are based on viewing history.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the tech giants in a unanimous decision, rejecting the notion that terrorist organizations being allowed to use the platforms makes the companies liable. This is based on Section 230, which provides immunity for tech companies regarding third-party content users create. While many see this ruling as a win for free speech, others criticize the legal liability shield tech platforms have.

an image of a girl in a first communion ceremony

I was inducted into the Catholic faith pretty much straight out of the womb, starting off at this Catholic primary school in Mexico when I was just six years old. I was pure Play-Doh back then, ready to be shaped and molded. There I was, learning the Holy Bible like it was basic arithmetic or the ABCs.

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