The 2016 election is quickly hitting our beloved high school in many ways. One of these ways, and arguably the most important one, is in the Supreme Court. This brings up the question of whether or not students thought this was important, here’s what we found out.
First off, let’s discuss what’s going on with the Supreme Court. Typically, the Supreme Court has 9 Justices who interpret the most important issues of the American people and whether or not their constitutional rights are violated. The reason for this is so that there isn’t a tie between the justices as they make a final decision on whether or not an issue violates a citizen’s constitutional rights. Recently, Supreme Court Justice Scalia has unfortunately passed away at the age of 80, leaving only 8 justices. This has led to no decisions being made to improve the country, and one of the first issues that the next president will have to solve is who to appoint. Not only that, but there are some other justices that will soon retire, those being Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 83, Anthony Kennedy at 80, and possibly Stephen Breyer who’s 78.
This means more than just giving a judge a raise, though. This means that there will be a huge shift in the Supreme Court, with the largely conservative view points either shifting to a more Democratic setting, or, alternatively, an even more Republican one. Hillary Clinton plans to appoint judges that can overturn Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed corporations to spend as much money as they want on a political campaign. Some of these Justices include Merrick Garland and Paul J. Watford. The former of these two has been known to be a moderate liberal, much similarly to Hillary Clinton herself. The latter has been able to unify Conservatives. On the other side of the coin, Donald Trump has said that his plan is to appoint judges who are pro-life. This means likely a reversal of the court decision made in Roe v. Wade, which allowed for abortion to take place under different circumstances in different scenarios.
With that being said, what do our fellow students at Hills West know about the Supreme Court and how it works and how it would affect the country? We found that Hills West is rather blind to the idea of the Supreme Court being important in this election in the first place. Many had very little knowledge of the Supreme Court and why it’s so important in this election.
To start with, we asked freshmen what they knew about the Supreme Court, and results from all sides ending up having little to no information. One anonymous freshman even asked “Who’s Justice Scalia?” As we increased grade levels, some sophomores and juniors knew the general ideas, such as what the Supreme Court is and who Justice Scalia was. However, a small minority of those knew anything more than that. Sophomore Mike Stone knows the ideas of the Supreme Court and the general direction it should be heading, and when asked about why he thinks certain students might not know as much, he replied with a reasonable response: “These kinds of things aren’t important to younger students. When they look at the election, they see a Democrat [Hillary Clinton] and a Republican [Donald Trump] shouting at each other, and decide who should win off of who’s shouting the loudest.”
Seniors knew a good amount about much of the election, with many seniors knowing the Supreme Court’s rather major role in the government, constitutional rights and more. This was less surprising as of course, they’ve gone through the Judicial Branch of government extensively, as well as the Constitution and United States government in general. One anonymous conservative student said that “The Supreme Court is going to win bigly as long as Trump wins bigly.” As we attempted to explain to him that “bigly” isn’t a word, he then told us to Google it. We did, and found that “bigly” is in fact a word. The more you know.
Anyways, there’s what Hills West knows about the Supreme Court, and how they think it affects them. It’s terrifying how little the majority of our students know about these things, and it really shouldn’t be that way. The more our students know about the government, also the earlier they learn about it, the more they can be fully educated voters. We’ll see the direction the Supreme Court heads, as well as America in the coming days, and let’s hope no matter what happens, it turns out for the better.