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In June 2020, the Supreme Court issued many landmark rulings that surprised ordinary citizens and political commentators alike. Since staunchly conservative 45th President Donald J. Trump has appointed two lifelong justices to the Supreme Court during his time as president, many people have expected the court’s rulings to veer extremely right-wing, but last month, this notion didn’t always prove true. Even Trump-appointed justice Neil Gorsuch took an unusually left-leaning stance in one of June’s most important cases. Learn more below about the Supreme Court’s recent decisions.
1. Expanded LGBTQ+ employment rights
The Trump administration has explicitly cut back on transgender rights in healthcare and the military. Merely days after the administration removed transgender protections from national healthcare regulation (and did so on the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting, in which 49 LGBTQ+ people were killed), the Supreme Court issued a major pro-LGBTQ+ ruling.
In a 6-3 ruling that included Justice Neil Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts, who had never previously signed a ruling in favor of LGBTQ+ rights, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects against job discrimination based on gender or sexuality. Gorsuch penned the decision, writing that “it is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”
2. Pro-abortion Louisiana ruling
Louisiana law states that doctors cannot provide abortions at private clinics unless they have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. Pro-choice activists have argued that this law places an unfair burden on people seeking abortions. On June 29, the Supreme Court agreed with the pro-choice movement and struck down Louisiana’s law in a 5-4 ruling that included Chief Justice John Roberts. The ruling is the Trump Supreme Court’s second to date on abortion.
Both Roberts and Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the court’s liberal judges, wrote statements explaining their decisions. In Breyer’s decision, co-authored by the court’s other Democratic appointees, he argued that the limits that the law places on abortion seekers, combined with the rule’s lack of apparent health benefits, rendered it unconstitutional. Roberts argued that, since the Supreme Court overturned a similar law in 2016 in Texas, doing so again now would only make sense.
3. Expedited deportations
While commentators have generally praised the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, people have been less pleased with the Court’s choice to uphold expedited deportations for people caught illegally entering the U.S. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled that immigrants seeking asylum may be denied the right to a full federal court review. The decision, which only Democratic-appointed Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, reversed an earlier ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and followed another hot-button immigration case just a week earlier.
4. DACA upheld
During his time as President, Donald Trump has sought to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program through which children brought to the U.S. as immigrants may not be deported. In a 5-4 ruling issued June 18, Justice Roberts and the court’s four liberal justices blocked the Trump administration’s recent efforts to end DACA.
Notably, this decision does not prevent Trump from attempting to dismantle DACA using methods different from those he has already tried. The day after the ruling, the Trump administration swore to do exactly this.