Law & Disorder: Farewell, Justice. Were you even here to begin with?

The Supreme Court with various protest signs around it and red spikes coming out of the Supreme Court building.
(Lauren Schatzman | Daily Trojan)

I started this column nearly a year ago as an outlet for my rage. After what felt like a millennia of being stuck in my house in San Jose with my vexing family, the rage only condensed and grew exponentially.

It was rage against the mistreatment of healthcare workers during the pandemic, the blatant racism in the world, the imprudent actions of many who did not believe the coronavirus even existed. To put it simply, my hope in the world and in my ability to stay sane was replaced with anger; the world seemed to be crumbling and I couldn’t do anything about it.

But as I look back at that rage (after some therapist-mandated meditation), the core to my anger was my frustration with the law. 

The standard definition for the law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through institutions to regulate behavior. While there is always pushback against the law, as there’s no possible way to control everyone, its existence limits undeserved pain in the world. Yet, the decisions of those in control of the law — from policy makers to the Supreme Court — seem to have their own alternative agenda that disregards the people they are meant to protect. 

The more I wrote, the harder it became to find justice in the world. 

However, as I enter my final undergraduate year at USC, I want to leave this rage behind, because what good would any of it do? While I stand proudly by all the articles I have written and my opinions on various topics, I understand that not everyone thinks like me. If they do, the world is definitely ending. My writing is passionate because these are issues I hold close to my heart. But I only want them to stimulate conversation, not division. 

So, in trying to figure out my final installment and stoke one last conversation about the law through this column, my mind immediately turned to the shocking decisions of the Supreme Court of 2022. I’ve said my piece on abortion and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, so I won’t talk your ear off with my two cents on that issue. But, I do wish to talk your ear off one last time about three more decisions of the Supreme Court that have caused or will cause even more disorder in the world. 

The planet is on fire

Breaking news: Climate change is real and the Supreme Court does not care. Despite the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to try and save our planet, they no longer have the authority to regulate the energy sector after the court’s decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency. If you thought managing climate change was difficult before, it is now nearly impossible as the EPA chokes on the regulatory reins which the Supreme Court has enforced.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S. holds the record as the world’s greatest all-time emitter, and this latest ruling affects not only American efforts but also international efforts to curtail climate change negotiations through organizations such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change because the U.S. certainly is not contributing to the solution. But, the earth will not wait for us to all get along, it will simply continue to burn us all down with it.

School shootings should not be the reality for kids

The neverending debate over gun control has returned yet again. I truly thought that after what occurred in Uvalde, Texas last May, policy makers and the Supreme Court would be shocked into making the right decision and enforce any semblance of effective gun control to prevent situations such as school shootings from happening in the U.S. I should have listened to Zendaya’s character in “Spiderman: No Way Home” when she said “If you expect disappointment, then you can never really get disappointed,” because the court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen did the exact opposite of what I hoped for. When will lives begin to matter more than a weapon that continues to kill innocent Americans?

What happened to the separation of church and state?

Roger William had a point in saying that any government involvement with the church would corrupt the church. But that goes both ways. In the cases of Carson v. Makin and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, it seems as though justice isn’t the only thing that doesn’t exist anymore as the wall between church and state has crumbled. 

MSNBC columnist Anthea Butler said it best, that “[the] court is elevating the free exercise clause over the establishment clause and, thus, deciding that religious belief and practice should overrule the prohibition against the government favoring religion.” Since ​​1833, states have been able to provide protection for the right to religious liberty, but somehow, in 2022, we have regressed even further.

I only briefly covered these decisions with the intention of provoking you just enough to do your own research and get more involved with the world around you. I know I said anger will not solve anything, but it is a starting point. In the end, those in control of the law do not solely reside in the Supreme Court — we each hold a bit of that power. 

As I leave most of my anger and this column behind, I hope you learned something new and enjoyed the disorder that came with it.

Helen Nguyen is a senior writing about law and social issues in her column “Law & Disorder.” She is also the opinion editor at the Daily Trojan.