The Supreme Court Affects Us All

Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the open position in the Supreme Court has been a controversial one. Kavanaugh is currently undergoing much scrutiny, and rightly so, as recent news of a sexual misconduct allegation is currently circulating about him. However, it still seems that none of this negative information about him is impending his appointment to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is meant to be the most bipartisan, balanced part of our governmental system, the highest, most esteemed tier of our judicial system. And yet, we are watching it move farther and farther to the right, becoming more and more imbalanced. For me, in these frustrating political times, I look back to those in power, like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, still fighting for what is right.

My family and I were lucky enough to witness this amazing role of our government in action this past March as we were able to witness an oral argument on gerrymandering. On Wednesday, March 28, my family and I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to leave the warm comfort of our beds and drive through the rain into D.C. Getting there around 6:30 in the morning, my younger sister and I ran out to get a spot in the already long line.

As we watched the cloudy sunrise over Capitol Hill, we excitedly chatted about the case and wondered if we were in line early enough to get a seat. We knew there were only about 100 spots.

This case was going to be an interesting one because it was against the Democrats of Maryland and how their voting districts had been gerrymandered. In keeping with the Supreme Court’s practice of balance and equality, this was the second gerrymandering case that they had accepted. The first one was against the Republicans in Wisconsin.

The line started to slowly move forward at 8:00 a.m. and as we got closer and closer to the enormous white pillars of the front doors we could see a man in the front handing those in line in front of us bright green slips of paper with large black numbers on them. At 9:40, the man handed us four of the very last admission slips he had left.

As we walked up to the building, we were let in via a side door on the left to a locker room, where we were told we needed to deposit all devices that took pictures or videos or could record sound. We walked through metal detectors in a large marble room that led to two giant oak doors. The arguments had just started at 10:00 and as a lady directed us to four empty seats, no one made a sound. All that could be heard was the lawyer for Maryland addressing the eight robed justices. We sat on the left side of the courtroom right next to the section for the press, who were furiously writing away on their pads of paper. The room was so much smaller than I had ever imagined it with only four normal rows of seating behind the gated area where the team arguing their case sat. Right in front of them, on a raised platform, all in large, soft-looking swivel chairs, sat the eight Supreme Court justices.

It was so odd to be in such a formal setting where the respect for these justices could be felt throughout the room. As my mother would later post on Facebook, “Watching the justices in action (or inaction as the case was for Clarence Thomas, who didn’t even look like he was awake) was fascinating, with Justices Kagan and Sotomayor leaning forward asking many questions, Justice Ginsburg taking notes and then asking a poignant question poking a hole in the defendant’s logic and Justice Roberts cracking a joke. Mutual respect was inspiring and sitting in that courtroom thinking about its history was overwhelming.”

This experience thoroughly revitalized my hope for our government and my trust that at least a few of those on the Supreme Court were levelheaded enough to ensure justice could still be served in these crazy political times.

On June 18, the verdict for the Supreme Court’s two separate gerrymandering cases was left for the states’ lower courts to decide. We shall see what the future holds for the Supreme Court and its justices. I have hope that Justice Ginsburg and her like-minded  colleagues will continue to fight for what is fair and right as long as possible.