ILLINOIS - Three major Supreme Court rulings have garnered mixed reactions across the country. Many state and local politicians in Illinois and Missouri have responded with statements.

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All three rulings were divided along partisan lines, with the Court’s six conservative justices voting opposite the three liberal justices. Much of the response seems to reflect this division. Most conservatives support the Supreme Court rulings while liberals are speaking out against them.

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

On June 29, the Court ruled on Students for “Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College” and “Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina.” They voted 6–3 to end affirmative action programs, which means race will no longer be considered for college admissions.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker called this decision “a travesty” and said that Illinois “will continue to uplift our students of color” with the MAP Grant Program and funding to colleges and universities.

“For centuries, students from historically underrepresented and underserved communities were locked out of higher education — preventing upward mobility and stunting economic development for generations to come. Affirmative action admissions practices were a critical step towards creating educational environments that are representative of our diverse nation, while righting the wrongs of our past. This decision only sets us back,” Pritzker said in a press release.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Senate Majority Whip and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also released a statement yesterday. Durbin said he was “disappointed” by the decision.

“The Court’s conservative majority just upended nearly 50 years of established precedent in a move that undermines the progress our country has made advancing racial justice…Tearing down support for historically marginalized populations makes our country less equal, not more,” Durbin said.

Riverbender.com reached out to U.S. Representative Mary Miller (R-IL) and Illinois Representative Amy Elik (R-111th District) for statements. Elik declined to comment. If Miller comments, those will be added.

Locally, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said the affirmative action ruling was “racist.”

“Persistent attacks against diversity, equity, and inclusion — like the reversal of affirmative action — will turn back the clock on progress while denying equal opportunity for all,” Jones said in a press release.

Colleges and universities will likely feel the biggest impact from this decision. The Southern Illinois University (SIU) Board of Trustees, System President Dan Mahony, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane, SIU School of Medicine Dean Jerry Kruse and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Chancellor James T. Minor collaborated on a statement.

They noted that SIU does not consider race for undergraduate admissions, but said campus leaders were “deeply concerned” about the decision. They also reiterated that the university system is anti-racist and developing policies for racial equity.

“It is based on this commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion (ADEI) that the university cautions that decisions like the one just made by the court will have a cooling effect on equity and inclusion efforts as well as lead to widening gaps in college completion,” the statement read.

To read the Supreme Court decision in its entirety, clickhere. Riverbender.com will be following this story as more information about the Supreme Court ruling and its impact on college admissions is released.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, FREE SPEECH AND LGBTQ+ RIGHTS

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6–3 in favor of a graphic designer who argued that a Colorado law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, gender and other characteristics violates her right to free speech.

Graphic designer Lorie Smith argued she should be able to refuse to design a wedding website for a same-sex couple during the case “303 Creative LLC et al. v. Elenis et al.” Smith’s supporters say the June 30 ruling is a win for free speech and religious rights, while opponents argue it could contribute to discrimination against additional protected classes.

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Miller wrote on Twitter that the decision protects religious liberty from “authoritarian leftists.”

“Today, the Supreme Court upheld our Constitutional right to religious liberty and protected Americans from being forced to engage in speech and actions that violate our religious beliefs…The Left is revealing their true agenda of compelled speech and their opposition to religious liberty with their outrage at this decision. I am grateful the Supreme Court defended Christians from the authoritarian leftists who want to punish American citizens for living our lives in accordance with our Christian faith,” Miller wrote.

Durbin released a statement calling the ruling “shameful.” He noted that the decision comes on the final day of LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

“It’s nothing short of a license to discriminate, signed by the highest court in the land. Yet again, the conservative Supreme Court majority is out of touch with the American people’s expectations of its highest court…LGBTQ+ Americans are being subjected to a tidal wave of hateful rhetoric and legislation across the country by Republican lawmakers, particularly targeting transgender youth,” Durbin’s statement reads.

Pritzker said that the decision allows discrimination “under the guise of free speech.” He added that Illinois will fight for the respect and safety of LGBTQ+ people.

“This decision weaponizes religious freedom as a boon for bigotry, and in doing so, puts the burden on the millions of Americans who have fought for their right to love and live as they are. Throughout its 234-year legacy, the court has repeatedly had the opportunity to lead on the right side of history. Sometimes it has embraced that mantle of courage; but in its darkest hours, it has pushed civil rights to the wayside in the name of a retrograde agenda,” Pritzker said in a press release.

Jones said the decision was “punishing” LGBTQ+ people and added that St. Louis will “reject blatant discrimination.”

Riverbender.com reached out to Illinois Representative Amy Elik (R-111th District) for statements. Elik declined to comment.

To read the Supreme Court decision in its entirety, click here. Riverbender.com will be following this story as we learn more information about the Supreme Court ruling and its impact on freedom of speech, freedom of religion and LGBTQ+ rights

STUDENT LOAN DEBT

The Supreme Court ruled 6–3 against President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel or reduce $400 billion of federal student loan debts. The June 30 decision effectively blocks Biden’s plan, which he introduced in August 2022.

Roughly 26 million people applied for student loan relief under this plan. The case “Biden, President of the United States, et al. v. Nebraska et al.” concluded that the government does not have the power to eliminate student debt under federal law.

U.S. Representative Darin LaHood (R-IL) voiced his support for the Supreme Court decision on Twitter.

“President Biden’s student loan bailout scheme was unfair and unconstitutional from the start. The Supreme Court was right to strike this down and reaffirm the separation of powers. This decision is a win for taxpayers, our economy, and the Constitution,” LaHood wrote.

In a press release, Durbin expressed his opposition and said that “nearly ninety percent” of the $400 billion would go to borrowers who earn less than $75,000 a year.

“We had a real opportunity to help these student borrowers reduce their debt and get their lives back on track — an outcome that would have been great for them and this nation…I’m sorely disappointed that this Supreme Court coldly severed this lifeline that the Biden Administration rightfully and lawfully had offered hard-working Americans,” Durbin said.

Pritzker echoed this dissent and added that many Americans are still financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With this latest decision, the court — stacked with some of the most elite college degrees on earth — told millions of low- and middle-income people that higher education should return to being predominantly the province of the wealthiest Americans,” Pritzker’s statement reads.

To read the Supreme Court decision in its entirety, click here. Riverbender.com will be following this story as we learn more information about the Supreme Court ruling and its impact on student loan debt.

More major Supreme Court rulings are expected as the Court reaches the end of their session. The Court will begin a new term on Oct. 1.

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