Supreme Court makes historic rulings

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

Obama happy
President Barack Obama was very happy when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).

The Supreme Court of the United States, or SCOTUS, is the highest court in the nation, and they’ve been making major decisions this month before breaking for summer recess.

See, the USA’s government is a system of checks and balances between three branches – the law evaluating “judicial branch” headed by SCOTUS, the lawmaking “legislative” branch led by Congress, and the law enforcing “executive” branch under the President. Once a lower court case concludes, the losing side can “appeal” the decision for a higher court to review potential errors in the final outcome

Then, if that new decision gets appealed again, SCOTUS can consider whether or not they’ll review it. Cases that make it all the way to the “court of last resort” can affect the entire nation. SCOTUS is made up of nine judges called justices, with one Chief Justice, and they serve for life after being nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

SCOTUS recently considered whether millions of people would receive healthcare coverage or not under President Barack Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act, which is nicknamed “Obamacare”. Their 6 to 3 decision focused on whether or not states would receive funding help from federal tax credits. If they had ruled against Obamacare, then states would have been making a mad dash for money to prevent millions of people from losing their coverage. Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates expressed disappointment, since many of them don’t support the healthcare law.

As June came to a close, SCOTUS expanded the definition of marriage so that it’s not restricted to a man and a woman, and they also reduced the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to limit air pollution from coal-fired plants. Earlier in the month, SCOTUS made a religious freedom ruling against Abercrombie & Fitch, for not hiring 17-year-old Muslim Samantha Elauf, because the company has a no-headwear policy for employees and they were concerned she’d wear a Muslim headscarf. SCOTUS also ruled in favor of a Facebook “rapper” who got busted for making online threats, because they consider his words protected free speech.

Featured image courtesy of Patrick McKay on Flickr. Image of Obama courtesy of White House.