We don't want a time machine

We don't want a time machine

by Joyce Makuei

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court accomplished the physically impossible: traveling back in time. Within two days, guns gained new rights, and women lost old rights. It feels like traveling 100 years in the past. That being said, many people don’t seem to be nostalgic. Today, change in the USA sparks protests all over the world. Several European countries are considering making abortion a constitutional right. Women need more rights than guns do. 

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court instigated political and societal uproar following its decision on some of the most polarizing issues in America – Gun control and abortion rights. These issues have been the subject matter of political and national debate for a long time in American history. Decided less than 2 days apart, these contrasting decisions have left everyone astonished, some outraged and others overjoyed. For those outraged, these rulings are disappointing, and they both undermine the progress the country has made towards these matters. And for those overjoyed, these rulings have allegedly righted previous legislative mistakes and have restored the values and the traditions of the country. Amid the mixed reactions, it is apparent that the Supreme Court is in discourse with the current Joe Biden administration and a lot is at stake for the United States. What does this mean for the U.S., and is positive change a possibility?

Guns gain rights

In the NYSRPA v. Bruen case, the Court struck down the New York gun law which required its residents to obtain a special permit to carry a concealed weapon in public for self-defense. In that ruling, the Court held that an individual has the right to carry a handgun in public, with exception of sensitive places under the 2nd and the 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution, rendering the New York gun law unconstitutional and jeopardizing similar laws in other states. In the lead of the critics, the New York State Governor, Kathy Hochul, found the ruling ‘reprehensible’ and argued that shutting down the over a century-old law, will aggravate the looming gun violence menace. She, among other critics, expected the Supreme Court to allow for stricter measures on gun laws owing to recent tragedies. In retrospect, this ruling is likely to inhibit the states’ ability to control gun violence. In the same spirit, President Biden also expressed his dismay on the matter by saying that the outcry of the victims of gun violence is a call to action.

Women lose rights

Adding salt to the injury, the Supreme Court also overturned Roe vs Wade and Planned Parenthood vs Casey in a 6-3 decision in the Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. Implemented in 1973 and 1992 respectively, these legislations constitutionally protected women’s rights to abortion in the U.S. With Roe gone, abortion automatically becomes illegal or restricted in several states. As a matter of fact, the reversal triggered the immediate ban of abortion in the state of Arkansas with the GA Rutledge enthusiastically enacting the prohibition of abortion in the state, amid tears of joy. In his tweet, Governor Asa Hutchinson also expressed his excitement about the ruling saying, “I am proud to announce, as a chief legal officer for the state of Arkansas, that the United States Supreme Court has in fact overruled Roe versus Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey, thereby restoring the state of Arkansas the authority to prohibit abortions.” This tweet sums up the rhetoric of the anti-abortion activists on the matter. Pro-choice activists on the other hand are furious and disappointed that the Supreme Court has left this divisive matter, in the hands of states.

What lies ahead?

These landmark rulings portend some major events in the U.S. Already, the rulings have led to political turmoil and uncertainty. They have also jeopardized America’s standing on the global front on liberalism, democracy, and the freedom of its people. Even though President Joe Biden denounced both rulings and maintained that these issues can only be dealt with on the ballot in the upcoming midterm elections, a lot may change in unimaginable ways. 

The rising risk of data and privacy intrusion is an instance of change. With Roe gone, privacy advocates are concerned that digital data could place women seeking abortions at risk. Now that the constitutional right to an abortion is off the table for many states, prosecuted women could have digital breadcrumbs evidence waged against them. 

That being said, only hours after the Supreme Court struck down the New York gun law, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Bill on gun control to mitigate the incessant gun violence, breaking a decade-long impasse. Such an occurrence is a testament that despite alarming circumstances, positive change is still underway. 

How can we make progress, as a society? Since change is our profession, we thought it would be good to map as many changes as possible. Because if you know what changes are ahead, you can do something about it. We just completed an extensive research project, and dedicated about 30 pages to socio-cultural change. You can find the results at change.ftrprf.com, and if you want the freshly-printed book, just email info@ftrprf.com. Let’s look at what lies ahead. Shall we?