All Things SCOTUS (Part Two): Court Traditions, Historic Decisions on the Second Amendment, and Arguments (Present) on Student Loan Forgiveness and (Future) the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Mar 4, 2023 | 1h 28m |

In this second of the three-arc series focusing special attention on the works and impacts of our Supreme Court—beginning with a brief historical review of some of the long-lasting traditions of it—the promised, extensive examination of two of the most important decisions in contemporary American history: Highlighting, first, the 2008 ruling (breaking with 200 years of precedent) that the Second Amendment to the Constitution establishes a right to possess and use weapons in the home for defensive purposes, and, second, the 2022 opinion extending that landmark ruling to our public venues and places of community congregation, vesting a right to carry weapons in those places without government authorization or legislative limitation. Even so, our discussion affirms the all-important language of both decisions affirming unequivocally that controls, restrictions, and other rational rules on the manufacture, sale, transfer, use, and other behaviors may be enacted and enforced in the paramount interests of safety and security; some of the most significant, experience-tested, constitutionally-permitted regulations to that beneficial end are also identified, explained, and enthusiastically encouraged.

Turning to the no-less-important developments at the High Court this past week, a note about two decisions issued—focusing on financial instruments under the Federal Disposition Act and compliance reports under the Bank Secrecy Act—and the procedural move by the Justices to review a major challenge to the legitimacy and operation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (albeit in the next, 2023-2024 term of its activity). Then, at the core of today’s broadcast, an assessment of the monumental oral arguments of this week before the Court—testing whether the President’s $400 billion student loan forgiveness initiative, announced and pursued under the Congressional authorization of the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (“HEROES”) Act, is a proper exercise of executive authority or one reserved for the legislative branch. That review and evaluation of the Justices’ reactions to the program, much of it skeptical, concentrates on what the Court has described as the “major questions doctrine,” coupled with a possibly initiative-saving invocation of party “standing” principles.

Finally, the decision not to resolve a dispute about the continuation of the Trump-era doctrine prohibiting the entrance into the country of asylum-seekers during the pandemic and an equally under-reported dismissal of a challenge to restrictions on public lands in New Mexico—a huge, precedent-setting win for environmentalists.

[N.B.: Next week, the conclusion of this SCOTUS-focused series, including the Chief Justice’s wrestling with overtly problematic ethics problems for his Court.]