SCOTUS: Where Are We Now? – Elias Hakim

OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci

Masterpiece Cake shop. Pregnancy Centers.  Muslim Ban. Anthony Kennedy stepping down from the Court. This past week was taxing, emotionally and also physically.  Being an American citizen is hard enough in these trying times; being a Capitol Hill intern, with a constant slew of constituents calling, people crying about the separation of families, or bigots spilling out their racist vitriol, is a whole new level of difficult. Seeing our country descend into moments reminiscent of our worst points in history and sinking to new lows seems unreal in 2018. But it is real. And it’s devastating.  And it’s why I’m here.

There is a culture on Capitol Hill where individuals seem to survive by separating themselves from the issues. I personally don’t know if I can react like that. The reason why I’m on the Hill is because I do care about the issues, because the issues are about real people.  I think that a governing culture that separates itself from feeling is toxic, but then again I’ve already felt the brunt of letting issues affect me though I’ve only been here for weeks. After years, detachment might be the only way to produce change without burning out.

When I heard the Muslim ban decision, my mind fixated on a close friend of mine who is from Syria. Her mom was in Syria only a few months ago, what would happen to her if she were there now? What obstacles would get in her way coming home? What confusion and heartbreak would stem from this decision? Even though my friend’s mom was home, this pain existed and exists for so many people. From Americans who don’t know if they will see their family again to refugees who had believed in an American dream that no longer exists, there is real harm in our government’s actions. And this was with Anthony Kennedy on the Court.

“What comes next?” is the question that everybody wants an answer to, but I can’t fathom one. So much is at risk; women’s bodily freedom, affirmative action, gay marriage, and for all we know Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Justice pick could make a final decision about the investigations into the president. All of these outcomes paint a future for America that terrifies me, and most likely anybody reading this. It’s important to realize that Donald Trump alone did not get us into this situation. It was Senate Republicans who blocked the nomination of Merrick Garland, Democratic Senators who did not try hard enough to rally around him, and Democratic voters who didn’t turn out in the 2014 midterms. Things are not likely to get better soon, and I don’t think that the Democrats will be able to pull off a miracle to prevent another Trump Supreme Court Justice. All I can offer is a call to action- Democrats need to take back the Senate in 2018 to prevent any more extremist federal judges. Voters need to take the fight for civil liberties to Congress and to their State Legislatures and Governor’s Mansions, because the courts won’t care about us for at least another generation.