Under the Gold Dome- Rep. Noel Williams
Published 11:25 am Wednesday, August 10, 2022
During the 2016 election cycle, many were vocal that they would cast their vote solely on Supreme Court nominations to ensure that the Justices upheld our Constitutional foundation. It is also important to note that Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life or until they choose to retire. There is no doubt that this insight has come full circle as we have watched history playout with some of the most controversial issues our nation has faced.
While the Supreme Court does not hold official “trials,” it is tasked is to interpret the meaning of a law and its relevance to a particular set of facts, or to rule on how a law should be applied. This group of justices have deferred many decisions back to the states, and further highlights how critical it is to have strong state leadership who represent the voice and values of our citizens. Below I have given you a quick highlight of Supreme Court rulings over the first 6 months of a very interesting 2022.
Roe v Wade
June marked a historic month as the Supreme Court made the landmark decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in a 5-4 ruling which ends the constitutional right to abortion through the first two trimesters. This does not mean that abortion has been made illegal. It does mean that individual states now have the power to set their own laws regarding this controversial practice. Justice Alito notes in his majority opinion that, “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Alito further notes, “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Shortly after the high court’s ruling, a Georgia federal appeals court rejected a challenge from abortion providers, in a unanimous decision that the state had a “rational basis” for the law, given its interest in “providing full legal recognition to an unborn child,” meaning our Heartbeat Bill, passed in 2019 would immediately take effect.
Soon after many states passed legislation for the allowance “Due Date Abortions,” we passed the Heartbeat Bill to ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected in the fetus. The bill does make exceptions for rape, incest, and medical emergencies as follows:
- Removal of an ectopic pregnancy
- Prevention of death or permanent physical impairment of the mother
- The pregnancy is the result of rape or incest (permitted prior to 20 weeks)
- The unborn child has a terminal birth defect
- Requires physician performing an abortion to report to the state the circumstances of abortions provided consistent with the law.
- The father of an unborn child can be required to pay child support, up to the direct medical and pregnancy related expenses faced by the mother
- Amends the state definition of “natural person” to include an unborn child.
- Generally, includes unborn children with detectable heartbeats in population counts.
- Women are not subject to criminal culpability for getting an abortion under longstanding statutory and judicial interpretation in Georgia, and HB 481 did not change those provisions.
- A woman upon whom an illegal abortion was performed has a civil cause of action against the person who performed the abortion.
First Amendment Rulings
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the high court ruled that a football coach at a public high school had a constitutional right to pray at the 50-yard line after his team’s games.
Separation of Church and State
In Carson v. Makin, the court ruled that a Maine program that excludes religious schools from a state tuition program is a violation of the free exercise of religion.
First Amendment and Public Forums
Shurtleff v. Boston ruled that the City of Boston had violated the First Amendment when it refused to let a private group raise a Christian flag in front of its City Hall, although it had allowed many other organizations to use the flagpole to celebrate various causes.
In Houston Community College System v. Wilson, the court ruled that elected bodies do not violate the First Amendment when they censure their members.
Religion and the Death Penalty
In Ramirez v. Collier, the court ruled that Texas would violate a federal law protecting religious freedom if it executed a death row inmate without allowing his pastor to touch him and pray aloud in the execution chamber.
Second Amendment Rulings
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Right to Bear Arms
In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the court ruled that states with strict limits on carrying guns in public violate the Second Amendment.
Government Overreach – Regulatory Rulings
Covid in the Workplace
In National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, the court found that the Biden administration’s vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers was not lawful.
Covid in Health Care Facilities
Biden v. Missouri finds that the Biden administration’s mandate to require health care workers at facilities receiving federal money to be vaccinated was lawful.
The ruling in Biden v. Texas cleared the way for the Biden administration to end a Trump-era immigration program that requires asylum seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico.
The court’s ruling in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, curtailed the E.P.A.’s ability to regulate the energy sector, limiting it to measures like emission controls at individual power plants. The implications of the ruling could extend well beyond environmental policy.
As we make our way towards our November Gubernatorial election, please keep in mind that elections impact our everyday lives much more than many realize. State leaders have the authority to hire and appoint those in charge of overseeing our regulatory agencies and governing boards. As illustrated above, the appointments are important and can drastically change the landscape of our nation and state. Whether you agree or disagree with a candidate, we ask that you look at the bigger picture.
As a conservative, I am grateful for those in 2016 who were wise enough to cast their vote in favor of the “bigger picture,” ensuring our Constitution and the rights within, are most certainly upheld, even amid these uncertain times. I am also grateful to those in 2018 who voted for conservative leadership, ultimately saving our small business owners and economy during the pandemic which wreaked havoc on many of our sister states. No doubt, we have much to be thankful for in the great state of Georgia.