Morgan Griffith: A Supreme Court Update

The Supreme Court

Throughout June, the Supreme Court released a series of decisions in cases they have been considering since last October. In event that you missed them, I will discuss five decisions below that are of particular interest.

Working on the Sabbath

In Groff v. DeJoy, the Supreme Court was tasked with considering religious liberty and employment accommodations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Gerald E. Groff sued his employer, the U.S. Postal Service, after he was disciplined for refusing to work on Sunday, based on his evangelical beliefs. In a 9-0 decision, the Court ruled in Groff’s favor, stating that an employer must accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs unless it can show that doing so would “result in substantial increased costs in relation to the conduct of” the employer’s business.

The ruling in this case is a win for the First Amendment. Our country was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and it is important we uphold this belief. Particularly as Virginians, where the first statute of religious freedom anywhere in the world was passed. Written by Thomas Jefferson, it set forth the principle that people of all faiths should be protected in practicing their religion.

Religious Freedom in Web Designing

In 303 Creative LLC v. Ellis, the Supreme Court was tasked with considering if a state’s anti-discrimination laws can require designers to create works that recognize same-sex marriages, when doing so would come into conflict with the designers’ religious beliefs. In this case, a website designer in Colorado argued that the state’s anti-discrimination law violated her rights. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that Colorado cannot “force an individual to speak in ways that align with its [the state] views but defy her conscience about a matter of major significance.”

Another win for the First Amendment and religious liberty! The government cannot, and should not, force Americans to speak in ways that misalign with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Affirmative Action

In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the Supreme Court was tasked with deciding if race-based affirmative action programs in college and universities violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The petitioners argued that Harvard University’s admission process discriminated against Asian Americans. In a 6-2 decision, the Court ruled that affirmative action did indeed violate the Equal Protection Clause, stating that colleges and universities could no longer consider race as a factor when determining admission of an applicant.

In this case, I think the Court came to the correct conclusion as affirmative action, judging a student on the basis of their race, is contrary to our Constitutional principles. While an argument might have been plausible in past decades, the Supreme Court itself acknowledged years ago, the time would come when affirmative action, to correct past wrongs, would no longer be appropriate.

Biden v. Nebraska

In Biden v. Nebraska, the Supreme Court took up a case filed by multiple states challenging President Biden’s move to cancel $10,000 in student loans for borrowers earning less than $125,000 individually, or $250,000 if married. President Biden claimed his Administration had authority under the HEROES Act to cancel the loans. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled the HEROES Act did not authorize the debt-relief program.

The Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan would cost American taxpayers more than $400 billion. Constitutionally, a decision to spend money on a new program needs to be made in the Halls of Congress, not by the President acting on his own.

Moore v. Harper

In Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court assessed whether state legislatures have sole authority to establish laws related to implementing federal elections.

The case stemmed from the redistricting of North Carolina’s congressional districts following the 2020 U.S. Census, in which the North Carolina courts struck down the new districts, finding them too partisan under North Carolina’s Constitution. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that the Elections Clause does not give state legislatures sole power over federal elections.

I disagree with the ruling as it takes power away from the state legislature, which I believe is contrary to the plain reading of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court will meet again in the fall to begin their next term, where they will resume hearing new cases.

  • Congressman Morgan Griffith

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