Week in Media: The Human Rights Edition

Week in Media: The Human Rights Edition

What a week in media we’ve had. SCOTUS has single handedly (six hands) rolled back the Clean Air Act, Indigenous sovereignty, a woman’s right to choose (which also affects ANYONE with a uterus regardless of how they identify), slashed Americans’ constitutional right to effective counsel by eviscerating the life-saving accountability mechanism that allows people to appeal unjust rulings, removed limits on carrying guns in public (let’s really work to improve those school shootings)…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. 

We’re in for one hell of a fight. If you care at all about human rights, you’ll take notice and you’ll show up and keep showing up.

It matters. Here’s why.

Clean Air Act

In its 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said that Congress, not the United States Environmental Protection Agency, has the power to create a broad system of cap-and-trade regulations to limit emissions from existing power plants. Like…it’s literally in the EPA’s title. This is all a bid to transition away from coal to renewable energy sources.

Reread that first line. SCOTUS is saying Congress (a bunch of rich, spoiled, ineffective and corrupt politicians) are the deciding factor on environmental issues, not the Environmental Protection Agency, which is designed to, you know, act as an agency to protect the environment. Yes, that’s right, the politicians being paid off by energy and oil companies get to make the rules. Makes perfect sense. 

All those kids now being forced to be born won’t even have clean air to breathe. 

Indigenous Sovereignty

The SCOTUS decision on Wednesday allows state prosecutors to pursue criminal cases for crimes committed by non-Native persons against Native persons on tribal land. It’s like if an American committed a crime in France against a French person but the US got to prosecute the criminal here instead. Like, what even?! 

In other words, we’ve once again failed those who actually settled this land (hint: not a bunch of white dudes with shitty wigs). The dissent didn’t mince words—the court failed to honor this nation’s promises, defied Congress’s statutes, and accepted the ‘lawless disregard of the Cherokees’ sovereignty.’

Roe v. Wade

Where the f*ck do we even start with this one? SCOTUS overturned the nationwide right to abortion in its landmark Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling. This is obviously causing major uncertainty about the future of abortion access in the United States. Will it be legal in some states? Will crossing state lines to get an abortion be a crime? What about plan B and C? Can those be shipped in the mail? And what happens when carrying out the pregnancy puts lives at risk? Or to people who get pregnant after being sexually assaulted? And while we’re at it, where are the childcare support and adoption services to help take care of a sudden boom of unwanted pregnancies? Or do we only care about that fetus until it becomes a baby?

Regardless of your stance on abortion, if you think this is just about the right to choose, you’re not paying attention. The Supreme Court just overturned a human rights law that’s over fifty years old, and already there have been talks about rolling back rights for women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, and way more.

And for those who think this is just the beginning, we’re going to point back to when Trump decided trans people couldn’t serve in the military. A bunch of people forgot about that, didn’t they? What’s that thing Neimöller said? Here, we’ll make a few quick edits: “Then they came for trans soldiers, and I did not speak out—Because I was not trans. Then they came for pregnant people, and I did not speak out—Because I was not pregnant. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Sixth Amendment

The Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling recently on Shinn v. Martinez Ramirez, siding against two Arizonans on death row who sought to challenge their convictions in federal court after receiving shoddy legal support. 

Why does that matter? Because the Sixth Amendment is all Americans’ right to a public trial without unnecessary delays, right to a lawyer, to an impartial jury, to know who’s accusing them and the charges and evidence against them. It’s literally part of the Miranda Rights…and the Supreme Court essentially said, “Yeah, we know that’s part of your rights, but we need to keep the system moving whether you had a fair trial or not.”

Did we mention the Death Penalty Information Center estimates since 1975, 20 of the people who were executed on death row have strong evidence that suggests they were actually innocent? When the Supreme Court won’t bother to make sure you have a fair trial, if you’re wrongfully convicted, that’s it.

The Hill says it best, “The six conservative justices have plainly prioritized the legal system’s power to convict and kill over our human right to live.

What is less clear is why, in a nation where folks will literally risk children’s lives to maintain their Second Amendment rights, Americans seem perfectly happy to hand over their Sixth Amendment rights with hardly a thought.”

All the Damn Guns

In its 6-to-3 ruling, the supermajority of Republican-appointed justices struck down a century-old New York law that placed strict limits on handguns. The New York Times goes on to say, “the decision will also affect similar laws in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Hawaii and California. Many of those are states with some of the lowest rates of gun deaths in the country. Extensive research has shown that strict regulation of guns leads to fewer deaths.” But, of course, research is stupid. Who actually looks at data anyways?

It gets worse. SCOTUS also threw out several lower court rulings that had upheld gun restrictions, including bans on assault-style rifles in Maryland and large-capacity ammunition magazines in New Jersey and California.

We’d like to offer some hope, but right now, we’re not feeling hopeful. What we are is mad, and we’re gonna fight damn hard to protect the communities we care about and to be clear, that’s every single person affected by these rulings. 

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