THE SALUTE YOUR SHORTS ISSUE

Understand the History of Supreme Court Ideology Ahead of This Month's Rulings

Since it was established in 1789, the Supreme Court's decisions have had significant impact on the lives of Americans.

by Haisam Hussein
Jun 29 2017, 12:45pm

This story appears in the June issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

If Republicans hadn't stubbornly blocked then president Barack Obama's 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, justices appointed by Democrats would have composed a majority on the nation's highest court for the first time since 1970. Instead, the April confirmation of Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch kept the scale tipped toward Republican appointees and their ideology. The fight over nominees was expected. Since it was established in 1789, the Supreme Court's decisions have had significant impact on the lives of Americans. Both Bush v. Gore and Obergefell v. Hodges were decided by a 5–4 margin. Had things gone differently, we may have had a President Gore, or gay marriage may not have been legalized in the US.

One case recently argued in front of the court was Hernandez v. Mesa, in which a 15-year-old Mexican boy was shot and killed on Mexican soil by a US Border Patrol agent standing on US soil. The case will consider what rights a Mexican citizen has (if any) in such a cross-border killing. And recently, the court passed down a unanimous decision in the case of TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods, which centered on where patent infringement suits can be filed. The Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision and ruled that infringement suits are to be filed in the state where the patent infringer is incorporated. This may not seem all that interesting, but this could have a huge impact on "patent trolls," who file multiple, often frivolous suits all across the US, often in favorable courts.