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Friday, December 8, 2023
OpinionThe U.S. Supreme Court & its deranged ideas about America

The U.S. Supreme Court & its deranged ideas about America

The long tendrils of popular vote loser Donald Trump’s presidency continued reaching into and ripping out the guts of the American experiment last week, as his Supreme Court’s radical conservative majority struck down affirmative action in college admissions, crushed President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan, and poured ice cold water all over LGBTQ rights. (I don’t have the emotional energy right now to get into how they also scaled back federal powers to help allay water pollution…) 

The court, which bears 6 conservative and 3 liberal judges, has been hankering to dismantle college affirmative action for years, seeing the increased number of Black, Hispanic, and other minority college admittees as an insult to the systemically advantaged white applicants who’ve had a statistically far greater chance of success since the dawn of the republic. In last week’s ruling, the court ironically evoked the U.S. Constitution’s 14th amendment, which promises equal protection under the law. But Black and brown students will of course, as a result of the 14th amendment being upheld, be and remain less equal than their white counterparts.

On the LGBTQ rights front, at issue was a case involving an evangelical Christian web designer from Colorado who didn’t want to provide services to same-sex couples due to her religious biases — uh, preferences. Colorado state law prohibited such discrimination, but the Supreme Court of the United States ruled to uphold it, citing, of all things, the First Amendment. 

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “The First Amendment envisions the United States as a rich and complex place where all persons are free to think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands…All manner of speech – from ‘pictures, films, paintings, drawings, and engravings,’ to ‘oral utterance and the printed word’ – qualify for the First Amendment’s protections; no less can hold true when it comes to speech like Ms. Smith’s conveyed over the Internet.”

But what about, as when one hires a web designer to help one express oneself, the free speech of the consumer? If speech is free, how then can a given group be subject to silence based on its identity?

By way of a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “Today, the Court, for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class.”

Regarding student loan debt, President Biden had moved last year to cancel some $430 billion of it, but the Supreme Court’s conservative majority dug up something called the “major questions” doctrine, leveraging their judicial right to intervene in matters of “vast economic and political significance.”

Which is fitting, since the conservative justices on that bench are really and finally just a bunch of politicians. 

What haunts me the most, though, is what Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the course of railroading affirmative action. He took aim at his fellow Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson directly: “Rather than focusing on individuals as individuals, her dissent focuses on the historical subjugation of black Americans, invoking statistical racial gaps to argue in favor of defining and categorizing individuals by their race. As she sees things, we are all inexorably trapped in a fundamentally racist society, with the original sin of slavery and the historical subjugation of black Americans still determining our lives today.

“Worse still,” Thomas continued, “Justice Jackson uses her broad observations about statistical relationships between race and select measures of health, wealth, and well-being to label all blacks as victims. Her desire to do so is unfathomable to me.”

Thomas didn’t write the words “systemic racism,” but that’s exactly what he, by way of Jackson, was referring to. It is, by way of a sane and grounded interpretation, systemic racism which leads to the subjugation, gaps, and statistics of which Thomas wrote. In other words, because of the way America is devised systemically, outcomes for Black, Hispanic, and other minority Americans are continuously held down across income, health, education, homeownership, assets, accrued wealth, racial profiling, incarceration, and more. But Thomas couldn’t write the word “systemic.” Why? Because he is the system.

This goes to a broader blind spot among conservatives, one which The Court now proudly embodies with numbing repetitiveness. Conservatives are simultaneously (1) never in the fight for progress themselves but (2) always the placid and comfortable inheritors of progressive action. For example, I’ll bet that evangelical web designer in Colorado has no problem servicing Black customers. Why? Because to refuse them service would be discriminatory. But she would only feel that way because she is the passive inheritor of the work of countless progressives who marched and fought over the centuries to drive home the idea that racism is bad. As for homophobia, however (in addition to transphobia or any other form of anti-LGBTQ hatred), since that is historically a newer thing for the collective to grapple with, she sleeps easily at night (as do her protectors on The Court) while refusing service to LGBTQ customers. Her grandchildren won’t, though — or will be less likely to — because progressives and liberals will continue to fight for equality. 

Alas, by fighting for the individual while he himself is the beneficiary of collective effort, Justice Thomas disgraces himself and his Court while ignoring and/or denying American history. 

Meanwhile, in recent weeks, less headline-grabbing cases showed less conservative kool-aid being chugged: the justices ruled in favor of Black Alabama voters in a Congressional redistricting case; they upheld the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law that keeps indigenous children within their own tribes; they also allowed the abortion drug mifepristone to stay on the market despite having brutalized abortion rights a year ago. 

These rulings might not stick, however. Future rulings shall decide their ultimate outcomes. In the meantime, know this: America is just an idea. An idea of equality, an idea of justice. 

And our Supreme Court’s got other ideas running through its head.


Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro is a writer and filmmaker. He has won awards for journalism (CA Journalism Award) and screenwriting (Fade In Award), and has served as a ghostwriter, speechwriter, or script doctor for over 3,000 clients. His first novel is a dark political thriller called "Red Dennis" (2020). His first nonfiction book is a guide for helping writers be more productive called "Ass Plus Seat" (2020). He co-hosts the "House of Mystery Radio Show" on NBC News Radio. In 2023, Eric founded the Psychic Arts Center, dedicated to exploring psychic phenomena and assisting people through psychic readings.


  1. Excellent! We’re finally color blind! They finally got smart and eliminated systemic racism. Now everyone will have to compete on their accomplishments and not their melatonin content.

  2. As a Mexican living in California & UCSB alum, I’m glad they struck down affirmative action in college admissions. As the great Dr. King famously said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Thanks to the Supreme Court, we are one step close to achieving Dr. King’s dream.

  3. I appreciated the honest straightforward article. In a society where systemic racism didn’t exist, the decision and above comments would be appropriate. That is not the world we currently live in. The supreme court decision will result in Martin Luther King’s dream being further away due to this step backwards.

    • King wanted us to be color blind and affirmative action is just the opposite: makin color a specific point of benefit for the purpose of admissions. This is not equal for non-melinated people, it is racist, pure and simple. And the fact that it’s codified makes it systemic racism. As I said, now admissions people are colorblind bec it can’t be considered. It’s also nice to see that freedom of speech trumps diversity. The student bribe (paying off student loans) was a nonstarter.

      • These people live in a pseudo-clown-Marxist bubble Don where everyone is a victim. And anyone to the right of far left is an enemy. There’s no convincing them otherwise. The supreme court made very wise decisions on the affirmative action and the free speech issue of the website designer based on sound principle in both cases. The dissenting opinions were very weak.

    • Stephen Balsbaugh

      Wrong. MLK would have very likely been disgusted by what’s been done in is name. It’s not an honest straightforward article in any sense. It’s a hit piece from a far Left progressive that refuses to see anything other than Leftism. And like this Means character, never faced anything to the right of far Left that he finds agreement with. Even lifelong democrats. “Fiercely Independent” is codespeak for “Fiercely Leftist”

  4. If the Supreme Court “conservatives” really were the strict constructionists they claim to be, they would not be ruling on the constitutionality of laws because the Constitution does not give them that power! In the 1803 Marbury v. Madison case, SCOTUS made up the rules of judicial review and judicial supremacy. SCOTUS also made up the rules of money as speech and corporations entitled to Constitutional rights. The Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate SCOTUS. When enough Democrats are elected in 2024 to overcome the stone-walling by the Republicans in Congress (aka the Party of NO), perhaps it will finally do something about the corruption on the Court. Get the full story of “The Hidden History of The Supreme Court and The Betrayal of America” at https://www.amazon.com/Hartmann-History-Supreme-Betrayal-America/dp/B07YQR8XDK
    As for the comments by Mr. Mercado and Maier, their view of the world is closely aligned with that corrupt grifter and ex-president Trump, the one who lied over 30,000 times while in office and sold national security secrets to hostile governments and anyone else willing to put big money into his pocket. In short, their opinion/world view is more likely a delusion/distraction rather than the actual truth.

  5. The Supreme Court’s recent decisions on affirmative action, the student loan forgiveness grift n’ grab, and 303 Creative are MAJOR WINS for MERITOCRACY and FAIRNESS, EQUALITY NOT EQUITY, the SMACKDOWN of a $500 billion Democrat vote grab shifted to taxpayers, and FREE SPEECH. The leftists on the court offered nothing constructive in their dissents, in point of fact did nothing but embarrass themselves. Thomas’ smackdown of Ketanji Jackson was brilliantly spot on, and she deserved it. Wise decisions all around. A great day it was for the USA.

  6. Paul, like Justice Thomas, you make a lot of unfounded assertions. Here is what Judge Jackson said about him and his opinion:

    “Justice Thomas’s opinion also demonstrates an obsession with race consciousness that far outstrips my or UNC’s holistic understanding that race can be a factor that affects applicants’ unique life experiences,” Jackson continued. She accused Thomas of mischaracterizing her opinion in various ways, including by claiming that America is “fundamentally racist” and that she is advocating for racial “silos,” but she declined to delineate every alleged distortion of her views. “Justice Thomas ignites too many more straw men to list, or fully extinguish, here,” wrote Jackson, 52, an appointee of President Joe Biden. “The takeaway is that those who demand that no one think about race (a classic pink-elephant paradox) refuse to see, much less solve for, the elephant in the room — the race-linked disparities that continue to impede achievement of our great Nation’s full potential. Worse still, by insisting that obvious truths be ignored, they prevent our problem-solving institutions from directly addressing the real import and impact of ‘social racism’ and ‘government-imposed racism,’ thereby deterring our collective progression toward becoming a society where race no longer matters.” https://www.politico.com/news/2023/06/29/clarence-thomas-ketanji-brown-jackson-affirmative-action-00104271

    Like so many high-level Republicans, Justice Thomas is corrupt. According to Vanity Fair, “Clarence Thomas Is On a Quest to Be the Most Corrupt Justice In the Court”. Clearly, Trump is our most corrupt President ever. Why are you defending these crooks? Is it their bigotry or authoritarian fascism that appeals to you?

  7. “This is The Best Supreme Court in Living Memory”

    For certain, the best Supreme Court in my memory. They rolled up Leftist totalitarian orgasmic dreams of control and fascism, and threw them to curb hard.

    “This is the best Supreme Court in living memory, rolling back activist decisions like Roe v. Wade, enforcing Second Amendment rights, and striking down unconstitutional racial preferences,” Carrie Severino said. “That’s thanks to a President who made it a priority to nominate principled originalists with the courage of their convictions, and a Senate that was willing to fight for the confirmations of those nominees.”​


  8. Jonathan Turley: Biden’s student debt forgiveness stood little chance before SCOTUS: ‘Bordered on obscene’


    Jonathan Turley: SCOTUS siding with Christian web designer ‘an amazing moment’ for free speech


    Jonathan Turley: Affirmative Action A “Capstone Case” For John Roberts, He Is Saying ‘You Can’t Just Check A Box’

    “This case is really the capstone opinion for Chief Justice Roberts. He has maintained for years consistently that the only way to end racial discrimination is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. He has finally achieved the decision that he has long called for.

    This is an important moment for the Court. Remember, this opinion could have been issued in 2003 in a case called Grutter. The Court split 5-4. The only reason it didn’t go the way it went today is because Sandra Day O’Connor said I will vote to allow you to consider race, but I don’t think in 25 years this Court will ever let you do that and you have about 25 years. And that is was almost up this year… and the Court said enough.

    It is also important to note that with all of this hyperbole that Chief Justice Roberts said you can still have a student that talks about in their essay how they have dealt with racial discrimination. If they have got history on that. You have to base decisions on the individual. What he is really saying is you have to ban the box. You cannot have a box that checks off people according to their race. You have to look more carefully at them as individuals”.


  9. Speaking as a gay man who grew up gay in America during the times that I did, I’m nearly on the brink of forgiving you, Eric Shapiro. 😉

  10. I have had a change of heart and wholeheartedly agree 100% with the recent Supreme Court rulings. I’ve come to have this change of heart as I realize I am no lt a constitutional law expert.


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