By Annie Hayes
Among the many different governmental agencies and the three branches of the federal government that makeup D.C., accompanied by a laundry list of acronyms (USDA, CDC, EPA, DOJ, DOD, FDA, etc.), none of them compare to the Supreme Court of the United States, or SCOTUS. Not just in regard to the grandeur of the building alone, but more by its role as the judicial branch of our government! We had the opportunity on Friday morning to visit the Supreme Court building, where we explored the history of the court and all of the beautiful marble that makes up the site.While I was walking around the courthouse, it made me take a step back and think about a lot of the significant cases that have been decided here in our nation’s history. Many different issues have come before the court and have had a large impact on topics that are still relevant today, including cases such as Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), Roe v. Wade(1973), Bush v. Gore(2000), Citizens United v. FEC(2010), and Obergefell v. Hodges(2014) to name a few.
One thing that fascinates me about the Supreme Court is that still to this day, cameras are not allowed inside the courtroom. Given today’s 24-hour news cycle and the prominence of social media, now is the best time in my opinion, this norm is more important now than ever before. Supreme Court Justice’s should not have to worry about what perception they are going to give off on televisions or twitter, or having their words twisted into a sound bite that will be used to fit a certain narrative given off by different outlets in the media. They are there to rule on cases based on whether or not they are constitutional, not based on what will make them look good to the public. This is also something very unique to this branch of the government, given that they are rarely involved in the partisan polarization that is growing in this country, compared to the executive and legislative branches.With an exception to the current issue of filling the vacant seat on the bench due to the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia almost a year ago.
I think it will be interesting to see who will be chosen to the fill this spot by the incoming administration, and how the decision will be made. Whoever it may be, it is clear that they have very large shoes to fill. Not just in filling Scalia’a seat, but by becoming a member of an institution that holds a lot of power in how we live in our society today and in years to come.