It is no secret that America is a divided nation. Its divisions have increased, thanks to the four years of Donald Trump. But historic factors, such as race, gender and resentment of immigrants, have also caused our politics to become toxic.
On top of all the old grievances, there are now new players contributing to national tensions. Those players include the U.S. Supreme Court, elected members of the U.S. Congress, plus a governor or two. Sadly, the Supreme Court is now the divider-in-chief as a result of its recent decisions on abortion, climate change and guns.
Abortion has caused a national schism for the past 50 years. The court’s 6-to-3 decision in the Mississippi case has sparked an openly bitter battle between the two very entrenched sides. It has encouraged red state governors to push for laws to outlaw abortion, with few exceptions. A handful of red-state governors has also suggested a ban after 15 weeks, but the bulk of the crowd has voiced support for total bans and criminal penalties for doctors and women who travel out of state for an abortion.
Before pouring gasoline on the abortion fire, the court decided that New York’s gun carry law was unconstitutional and that there were few restrictions that would stand up under challenge. This decision has triggered a battle at the state level. New York has passed a new carry law and has designed numerous places as “gun free zones” that is already being challenged. Other blue states are in the process of passing their own versions of a carry permit law, but it’s the Supreme Court that created any new barriers to sanity.
Not to be dissuaded by the outcry from their two June decisions, the court then decided that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the power to regulate greenhouse emissions from the power plants. In simple terms, if the agency created by Congress to keep the air clean isn’t allowed to regulate dirty air, then who is going to do it?
That is an example of another decision that creates more tension over the battle against climate change and its effects. Reasonable people can differ over what is causing the violent changes we are experiencing all over the country, but the ice is melting, the storms are getting more and more vicious and much of our most treasured natural resources are being destroyed.
According to reliable court watchers, there is more damage on the way. The court will soon be considering a case that deals with which body can decide whether an election is conducted properly. At the present time, if there is a questionable election result or ballot issue, the aggrieved party can seek relief in the courts. A new case is on its way which may result in the court deciding that only a state legislature can decide which complaint is valid. That decision will no doubt stir up new rancor and lead to stolen elections.
The various Republican governors around the country are doing their share to stir up as much bitterness as possible between various interest groups. Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis has targeted the LGBT community and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has made all immigrants his No. 1 target. Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley have decided that just about every minority group is the enemy and their pronouncements prove it.
Cruz is so hung up on LGBT people that during his recent questioning of our newest Supreme Court Justice Ketani Brown Jackson, Cruz created a slide show about a book taught at a private school where the justice was a board member. The book was on LBGT subjects and Cruz tried to embarrass the justice with his mocking questions. That was another non-productive way to send signals that anger fair-minded people and capture the attention of the bigots.
There is no question that we do not have a quick fix for any national healing of our bitter divisions. But it is sad that some of our greatest institutions are now a party to further cleaving the nation into bigger and bitter rivalries.