The Supreme Court and the need to lead with empathy | The Thing About Hope

I’m afraid what the new conservative court will mean for members of the LGBTQ community.

Daisy Devine, “The Thing About Hope”

Daisy Devine, “The Thing About Hope”

To be truthful, I had other plans for this month’s piece- but life seems to have gotten in the way.

I spent the entirety of Monday, Oct. 26th, in front of the television. For six straight hours I watched, listened, and felt every bit of the live Senate hearing over the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Debates continued on for hours, the room filling with the noises of speeches that would fall upon the deaf ears of the other side.

Ultimately, the partisan vote of 52 – 48 confirmed the new ninth judge to our court only 38 days after the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Some would say the other side wouldn’t have played fair if the positions were switched. Alas, we cannot know for that is not what happened, and I am not sure it much matters. It is undeniably outrageous that we spent 38 days on a Supreme Court confirmation in the midst of a historic election when Americans are dying each and every day. There should be immediate consequences, not an attempt at justification.

But I am writing this column not to argue that; I’m writing to tell you I am scared to my core, because this new justice — just one person — will affect the rights of many minorities of this country, groups that have never had the luxury of their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness promised to always remain.

Real people’s lives are on the line.

For example, look at marriage equality. Although SCOTUS only ruled that states couldn’t ban same-sex marraige just five years ago, the ruling is now being challenged with Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Alito claiming they wish to overturn Obergefell v Hodges. With Barrett now on the court, the majority lies in their conservative hands, and if a case to overturn marriage equality was put in front of them, their decision would likely be devastating for the countless families who have built their lives on their new-found freedoms.

This isn’t the only important human right’s case making its way to the Supreme Court, either. From the Mississippi case directly challenging Roe v. Wade to cases that will decide the legality of discrimination against LGBTQ+ couples on the basis of religious liberty, there has never been a better time to make clear that human rights should never be a debatable subject.

And there has never been more of a need to lead with empathy.

Empathy has allowed us to make the greatest, most needed, changes to our world. It would be crazy to stop believing in it now, or to only fight for the things that benefit us, as individuals. We constantly and desperately need each other’s grace in times of hardship – and these are exactly those times.

In the past few days, I have turned to my closest friend, Vanessa Henshaw, who has also been deeply hurt by Barrett’s nomination and the threats it poses to so many. She made a beautiful point one night as she said, “We shouldn’t have to wonder if we were included when the Constitution claimed a right was given to everyone.” And she is right.

I do not hate that Judge Barrett has been placed on the Supreme Court because she holds conservative views, or because others are telling me to. I hate it because I feel that I, and everyone else in this country, should have the chance to dream of their futures without fear; because I feel our Supreme Court is no longer a reflection of the people it serves.

Expecting the highest court in the land to reflect everyone should not feel like an act of defiance, or like an impossible dream – it should be a guarantee. Every American should be able to trust they will be fought for, not against.

And if you think holding those beliefs automatically places a person into a set political box, I kindly disagree. We do not exist in a society with harsh lines and rough edges. The world we live in is not so easy to break down or understand. We are complicated; so are the lives we lead.

And, yes, it is a scary thing to want something with your whole being, hoping that enough people will stand together for what is just. To place your courage in something you cannot know for sure will happen. But I have placed mine in love’s shaking hands for the past few years, and despite my better judgment I do not regret it.

So to close, I leave you with the comforting words of Senator Cory Booker: “Hope is the active conviction that despair will never have the last word. We are not powerless. We cannot allow our inability to do everything undermine our determination to do something. No action, no matter how small, in the cause of justice is ever wasted.”

Our sadness is not misplaced, but it is also not too great to stop us.

I believe that good will prevail.

So keep going, dear friends.

Love wins in the end-

and we are love.

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