The American History Podcast

A Program Of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


History Behind the Headlines: Recent Partisan SCOTUS Decisions

The Supreme Court made two very important rulings today. The first decision upholds President Trump’s travel ban on several mostly-Muslim nations. The second is the Court’s decision to strike down a California Law requiring nonprofit centers that perform abortion to inform clients of alternative options.

The decision to uphold the President’s travel ban after months of deliberation resulted in a 5-4 ruling. One of the major issues in this decision was whether or not several of the controversial statements made by the President point to prejudicial intentions in signing the executive order. The conservative faction of the Supreme Court decided that it was not and, in doing so, legitimized executive control over the flow of immigration.  

The second ruling today centers around free speech. The opposition to the California law holds that, by forcing abortion clinics to inform patients about alternative options, the California government is violating the First Amendment. The 5-4 ruling states that the First Amendment is not only violated by the stifling of free speech but also by forcing citizens to speak on behalf of the government.

Both decisions are heavily partisan – an issue that has plagued the Supreme Court since its founding. BackStory discusses the issues of Justices being used for political purposes, as well as other partisan issues in the Court’s history, in the episode Above The Fray.

About History Behind The Headlines: When breaking news and history collide, BackStory brings the context. This new blog feature takes trending news items and, whenever possible, offers BackStory host commentary or segments from previous episodes that provide a historical viewpoint.


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