Things That Matter

The Supreme Court’s Term Is Starting Off With Major Cases That Will Impact The Lives Of Many Americans

The nine justices of the Supreme Court will return to the chambers to an explosive docket. The court is set to hear cases covering an array of social issues from abortion to DACA to LGBTQ+ discrimination to the Second Amendment. It is shaping up to be a major term for the highest court in the land.

The Supreme Court is getting ready to hear a series of cases that could impact some of the biggest social issues in American culture.

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All eyes are on the Supreme Court as major cases are being presented. Some of the cases included in the docket for this term of the Supreme Court are the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the definition of “sex” as it pertains to Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act and the LGBTQ community’s right to work without discrimination, an abortion case from Louisiana seeking to limit abortion rights, and a gun regulation from New York City.

On Oct. 8, the Supreme Court heard arguments about discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.

In almost half of the country, there are no laws protecting people in the LGBTQ+ community from being discriminated against in the workplace. The Supreme Court heard arguments from two gay men and one trans woman claiming that they were fired from their places of work because of their identity.

During oral arguments, when the employers being sued in the case argued that sex is different than same-sex attraction, Justice Elena Kagan suggested that the law does favor the employees.

“If he were a woman, he wouldn’t have been fired,” Justice Kagan told General Solicitor Noel Francisco, who is representing the employers. “This is the usual kind of way in which we interpret statutes now. We look to laws. We don’t look to predictions. We don’t look to desires. We don’t look to wishes. We look to laws.”

The Trump administration is aiming to get rid of DACA protections from almost 700,000 young people.

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DACA is a program that was first created by President Obama. It gave almost 700,000 young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children the chance to go to college, get work permits, and protected them from deportation. The Trump administration ended the program in 2017 and immediately threw the lives of all DACA recipients in limbo.

United We Dream, a DACA-led media company filed its own brief with the Supreme Court. The brief is a first-of-its-kind video brief with DACA recipients arguing their case for preserving DACA. The organization also included an official written brief.

“DACA has accomplished far more than affording deferred prosecutorial action. It has created lifechanging opportunities for hundreds of thousands of promising young people. DACA has allowed them to lead fuller and more vibrant lives, including by seizing opportunities to advance their education, furthering their careers, providing critical help to their families, and giving back to their communities,” reads the United We Dream brief. “Able to make use of the basic building blocks of a productive life—a Social Security number, work authorization, or driver’s license, for example—DACA recipients have thrived. They are students, teachers, health care workers, first responders, community leaders, and small business owners. They are also spouses, neighbors, classmates, friends, and coworkers. Collectively, they are parents of over a quarter-million U.S. citizens, and 70% of DACA recipients have an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen. They pay taxes, contribute to their local economies in myriad ways, and spur a virtuous cycle of further opportunity for many Americans.”

Another case people are watching is an abortion case coming out of Louisiana.

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The case, June Medical Services v. Gee, isn’t aiming to overturn Roe v. Wade but it is hoping to limit the abortion rights of women starting in Louisiana. The law being challenged requires all abortion providers to get privileges are a hospital 30 miles from where the abortions take place.

The case is very similar to a Texas case that the Supreme Court rejected three terms ago. As such, the Louisiana case is asking the Supreme Court to distinguish between the two cases and to determine that the restriction is legitimate if a legislator vouches that the restriction is valid rather than it being valid in practice. As it stands, the law would leave just one doctor in the state of Louisiana allowed to perform abortions.

Another case getting some attention as it sits on the Supreme Court docket deals with the Second Amendment.

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New York City’s original rule made it so handguns could only be transported to seven gun ranges throughout the city. While the case was originally contested because of the rule. New York City changed the rule and asked the court to dismiss the case as moot, but the court rejected the motion. This will be the first time the Supreme Court has heard a case about the Second Amendment’s reach in over a decade and is being hailed as a victory for gun rights advocates.

READ: DACA Advocates Shut Down Joe Biden At Last Night’s Democratic Debate, Here’s The Message They Delivered Loud And Clear

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The Supreme Court Issued A Landmark Decision Confirming That Almost Half Of Oklahoma Is Native American Land

Things That Matter

The Supreme Court Issued A Landmark Decision Confirming That Almost Half Of Oklahoma Is Native American Land

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / Getty Images

The 2020 Supreme Court season will be one for the record books, as the court handed down several major decisions that impacted the lives of millions of Americans.

From outlawing discrimination in the workplace against LGBTQ people to allowing religious employers to deny insurance coverage of contraceptives, it’s been a very consequential Supreme Court season. Now, the court has handed down one of the most important decisions affecting Native American tribes in generations.

The Supreme Court says that the eastern half of Oklahoma is Native American land.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a major ruling that declared a huge swath of Oklahoma as Native American land for certain legal purposes. The ruling affects about half the state and will have major consequences for both past and future criminal and civil cases.

The court’s decision hinged on the question of whether the Creek reservation continued to exist after Oklahoma became a state.

“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of fed­eral criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision was 5-4, with Justices Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer in the majority, while Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented

The decision means that only federal authorities, no longer state prosecutors, can lodge charges against Native Americans who commit serious alleged crimes on that land, which is home to 1.8 million people. Of those people, 15% or fewer are Native Americans.

Ruling that these lands are in fact reservations doesn’t mean the tribe owns all the land within the reservation, just like the county doesn’t own all the land within the county. In fact, it probably doesn’t own very much of that land, according to several legal experts.

The ruling will have significant legal implications for eastern Oklahoma.

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There will be several implications based on the Supreme Court’s decision. First of all, certain major crimes committed within the boundaries of reservations must be prosecuted in federal courts rather than by state courts, if a Native American tribe member is involved.

For example, if a Native American is accused of a major crime in downtown Tulsa, the federal government rather than the state government will prosecute it. Less serious crimes involving Native Americans on American Indian land will be handled in tribal courts. This arrangement is already common in Western states like Arizona, New Mexico and Montana.

The ruling will also affect past decisions – many of which are now considered wrongful conditions because the state lacked jurisdiction. A number of criminal defendants who have been convicted in the past will now have grounds to challenge their convictions, arguing that the state never had jurisdiction to try them.

The decision is a major win for Native Americans, but so much more work needs to be done.

“The Supreme Court today kept the United States’ sacred promise to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of a protected reservation,” the tribe said in a statement. “Today’s decision will allow the Nation to honor our ancestors by maintaining our established sovereignty and territorial boundaries.”

The same day that the court issued its landmark Oklahoma decision, a federal judge also ordered that oil must stop flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs from North Dakota to Illinois. The deadline is August 5.

Of course, these are major legal victories. But taken together, they only highlight the ongoing legal issues and discrimination that Native American tribes face. To realize a complete vision of Indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice takes people power — the kind that energized the 2016 Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline but that in fact goes back much further.

In 2007, the International Indian Treaty Council, alongside other international Indigenous organizations, helped draft the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Although imperfect — declarations are, after all, aspirational and nonbinding — the declaration provides a universal mechanism for free, prior and informed consent with Indigenous nations over the decision-making process of development projects.

A major win for Native American tribes in the United States would hinge on Indigenous authority over lands that they control and landscapes that they have historic and cultural ties to.

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Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

Entertainment

Queer People Are Shouting Their Gratitude For Naya Rivera’s Trailblazing Character Santana Lopez

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There are few queer characters the people can point to in the past as being someone that changed their lives. Santana Lopez, Naya Rivera’s character on “Glee,” is one of them. Even if you’ve never watched “Glee,” Rivera’s character touched you because of how that representation is so important and empowering.

Naya Rivera’s place in LGBTQ+ media representation will be her long-lasting legacy.

Rivera brought us Santana Lopez, a queer Latina navigating the world of high school in a small town. For many, this kind of representation was so rare and often poorly done that Rivera’s command of the role was impactful. You didn’t have to be an avid viewer of the show to understand and appreciate the magnitude of Santana Lopez.

Rivera brought our experience directly to the mainstream and forced our own classmates to think about the way they saw queer people.

Rivera’s ability to capture the awkwardness and terror of being a closeted queer student in high school still resonates. It is a piece of nostalgia that is so deeply ingrained in queer people that it’s hard not to be emotional about Rivera’s sudden and tragic death.

Who can forget the moment Santana used “Landslide” to tell Brittany that she loved her.

The emotion of a love that is not easy to confess and live authentically is real. Ask any queer person you know about coming to terms with her sexuality in high school and you will hear about the fear and excitement. You will hear about the strategic allyships that epitomize the constant battle between being open and staying safe.

Rivera was more than an actress, she was an ally and advocate during her time on “Glee.”

Season 2, when Rivera’s feelings for Brittany (played by Heather Morris) grew, aired from 2010 to 2011. It was a time when marriage equality was not nationwide. Some states still barred same-sex couples from adopting children. Yet, queer high school and college students had a chance to see their experience mirrored because of Rivera’s insistence.

Rivera’s death is a major loss for the queer community that got our strength and courage from her.

Knowing that all of the “Glee” fans were rooting for and falling in love with Santana Lopez gave us a chance to breathe and feel accepted. Adding her Latina heritage was so important. Queer people of color, who have faced increased scrutiny from their own families, had someone representing them completely and sincerely.

Demi Lovato paid tribute by remembering the time she played Santana Lopez’s girlfriend.

The queer Latina love was not lost on fellow queer Latinos. Lovato herself was not out about her sexuality at the time and she admits in her post that Rivera inspired her. Rivera’s efforts to give the character an accurate and respectful storyline will forever be praised and admired as a fully realized manifestation of our experience.

Thank you for being someone we didn’t know we needed, Naya.

Our hearts are broken and our eyes are wet. We send love and hope to your loved ones. Rest in power, mija. We love you and will never forget what you did for our community.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Body Found In Lake Piru After Going Missing During Outing With Son

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