Emily’s Weekly Political Scoop: The Supreme Court and Martin Luther King Jr.


Emily Landolfi, Staff Writer

The Supreme Court: The Justices on the Supreme Court don’t always see eye to eye, especially in 2022. NPR explains the irregular and severe testiness between the justices that is not your typical moment or two when discussing controversial cases. This may be rooted from the court’s newly conservative super majority that may be more conservative than any other since the 1930s, and who have shown less respect for precedent and to Congress when setting policy (Totenberg). 

Consequently, the three liberal justices have demonstrated irritation to the majority, and it is the magnitude of their disdain that is particularly unusual. In November, when Roe v. Wade was at risk of being overturned, Justice Sonia Sotomayor vocalized jabs that questioned the lawful integrity of reversing the abortion-rights established in the case. Justice Elen Kagain and Stephen Breyer, who usually take whatever heat is thrown their way, could not contain themselves any long when in an argument testing the government’s vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers. They called the opposition’s argument “unbelievable” and stressed that “this is the policy that is most geared to stopping all of this [the effects of COVID]” (Totenberg).

Though you would think the six conservative justices would be holding hands and stepping on time with each other, they are tripping and falling amidst disputes over legal reasoning for agreeable case results. Chief Justice John Roberts, for instance, occasionally tries to pull back the court’s most aggressive conservatives and has showcased worry for going too far too fast, whereas many of the conservative justices are eager to become the intellectual leader of the group to secure compliance to their policies (Totenberg). 

However, the tensions are not just based on legal issues. With the rise of omicron, a highly transmissible variant of COVID-19, over the holidays, regulations have been in place and individuals across the country are more weary about following lenient policies, especially the immuno-compromised. When the Supreme Court met on the bench for the first-time after the holidays, diabetic Sotomayor felt unsafe being in close proximity with unmasked people and Roberts requested that all justices to mask up. All listened except the person sitting right next to her, Justice Neil Gorsuch, causing Sotomayor to communicate via telephone. The strain between the justices is evident and is not just due to their varying political ideologies (Totenberg).

Further, there is a clear negative relationship between Associate Justice Samuel Alito and Roberts on the basis of jealousy. In 2005, Chief Justice William Rehnquist was gearing up to retire and it was believed that Alito would be nominated into his position. However, Rehnquiist failed to retire but Justice Sandra Day O’Connor did, opening a slot that President George W. Bush filled with Roberts. Just as he was about to be sworn in, Rehnquist passed away and Roberts was moved by Bush to the position of chief justice. Alito, his expectation ripped out under him, was placed in the newly open justice position. It seems that Alito’s resentment has failed to fade (Totenberg). 

Publicly, the court has promoted the picture of respect and civility amongst the justices but  appears to be unproven from the amount of obvious strain between them, a probable cause relating to the two-year long pandemic and unprecedented conditions (Totenberg). However, that does not mean major moves are not being made.  

Another article by NPR explains that on Thursday, the court struck down Biden’s vaccine-or-test rule, requiring vaccination or weekly testing for individuals working for employers with more than 100 employees, and determined that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has surpassed their authority, the vote being a 6 to 3. The reasoning? In an unsigned opinion, the majority has stated that OSHA has the power to regulate occupational danger but not the power to regulate public health on a broader range (Totenberg. “Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Large Private Companies”). 

The liberals of the court have vocalized their belief that the conservatives misapplied legal standards and are not doing what is necessary to protect workers from the threat of COVID. The regulation would have applied to 84 million private sector employees. Early last week, 1.4 millions new cases were reported in a single day and hospitals across the nation have been bombarded with mainly unvaccinated patients. Some governors have requested help from the National Guards whereas some have made vaccine mandates illegal. (Totenberg. “Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Large Private Companies”).

Despite this declaration, the court has upheld a regulation that mandates vaccines for a majority of employees at hospitals, nursing homes, and federal funds receiving health care, the policy issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The vote was a close 5 to 4 and liberals of the court were supported by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, stating that the vaccine mandate for health care workers was justified as it remains in the bounds of what the CMS is capable of  (Totenberg. “Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Large Private Companies”).

However, the opposing conservatives declared that the case is not about the importance of the vaccine but rather if the CMS is able to “force health care workers, by coercing their employers, to undergo a medical procedure they do not want and cannot undo,” a direct quote from Justice Clarence Thomas. (Totenberg. “Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Large Private Companies”). The question stands as to how the Supreme Court will navigate these upcoming weeks with further cases making their way to the bench, and how it will affect the modern day nation and the future. 

Immerse into the Diverse: There are no words to describe the influence Martin Luther King Jr. has had on African American rights, freedoms, and equality. There is no way to articulate the universal effect of his actions. Though we celebrate his legacy with a day off from school and quick lessons in the classroom, there is so much more to be done to appreciate his critical actions, starting with in-depth education.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta Georgia as a son of a Baptist minister, according to  History.com. The Nobel Peace Prize elaborates that he was born into a family with a longstanding history of being pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, starting with his grandfather.  Dr. King was a student at segregated public schools in Georgia and graduated from high school at the remarkable age of 15, going on to receive his B.A. degree from Morehouse College in 1948. He spent three years at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania to study theological study and was elected president of his predominantly white senior class, earning the B.D. in 1951. 

Dr. King’s education continued as he enrolled at Boston University for graduate studies, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and getting his degree in 1955. While in Boston, he met and married Coretta Scott and had two sons and two daughters. In 1954, he became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Alabama and was an active member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. (“Nobel Prizes 2021”). 

Dr. King’s advocacy and leadership position came to the forefront in 1955 when helped organize the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, the first major protest of the Civil Rights movements. Amidst the 382 day boycott, he was arrested, bombed at his home, and endured personal abuse while also becoming a first rank leader (History.com Editors). 

The boycott was against city bus lines as they segregated and mistreated African Americans, and The King Center details that a strong number of Black citizens were willing to walk miles to work each day as protest to the discrimination. The result, as previously mentioned, was exactly what they were hoping for: the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation in transportation unconstitutional and ended that specific cycle of discrimination. However, that wasn’t the end (“Martin Luther King, Jr. | About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr”).

In 1957, Dr. King became president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, created with the purpose to showcase new leadership for the growing civil rights movement (“Martin Luther King, Jr. | About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr”). Dr. King implemented Christianity into the ideals of the organization and utilized Monhandas Gandhi’s views for its operational techniques (“Nobel Prizes 2021”).  Influenced  by Gandhi, he advocated for civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to segregation, leading peaceful protests throughout the South that quickly gained momentum (History.com Editors). 

In eleven years, starting in 1957, he traveled over six million miles, spoke over 2,500 times  and wrote five books and numerous articles. In 1963 he led numerous civil rights groups in a nonviolent campaign at the most segregated city in America at the time: Birmingham, Alabama. Police brutality against young Black Americans sparked national outrage that turned into civil rights legislation, a time period in which Dr. King drafted the manifesto of his philosophy and tactics called the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” a modern-day required-reading in universities worldwide (“Martin Luther King, Jr. | About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr”).

Later down the line in 1963, he was one of the driving forces behind the March for Jobs and Freedom, otherwise known as the March on Washington, where he delivered his acclaimed speech “I Have a Dream:” in front of 250,000 people. This speech solidified his position as a social change leader and inspired the nation as whole to act on civil rights. He became TIME magazine’s “Man of the Year” and the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, his acceptance speech in Oslo considered the most powerful remark ever to be held at the event (“Martin Luther King, Jr. | About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr”). Further, he announced he would donate the prize money to the Civil Rights movement (“Nobel Prizes 2021”). 

His contributions don’t stop there. Due to the March on Washington, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 that seized legalized racial segregation in the US. The following year, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act that eliminated voting barriers on African-Americans as a direct result from the Dr. King led the AL March for Voting Rights. He also focused on economic justice and international peace by speaking out against the Vietnam War. He created the “Poor People’s Campaign,” making efforts to create multiracial coalition of impoverished Americans to champion economic change (“Martin Luther King, Jr. | About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr”).

Unfortunately, Dr. King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 while on the balcony of his motel room in Tennessee where he was supposed to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers (“Nobel Prizes 2021”). His funeral was held in Atlanta, Georgia and attendees included high-level leaders of all races and political stripes (“Martin Luther King, Jr. | About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr”). His legacy lives on through his children and grandchildren and all of his attributes are modernly felt today. 

It is important to note that we can not do him and his work justice by simply saying we are against racial injustice. Instead, we must be proactive and constantly advocate throughout actions what is right and just.


Works Cited

History.com Editors. “Martin Luther King Jr. Born.” HISTORY, 12 Jan. 2022,


“Martin Luther King, Jr. | About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” The King Center, 29 Mar. 2021,


“Nobel Prizes 2021.” NobelPrize.Org, www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1964/king/biographical. 

Totenberg, Nina. “Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Large Private

Companies.” NPR, 13 Jan. 2022,



Totenberg, Nina. “Gorsuch didn’t mask despite Sotomayor’s COVID worries, leading her to

telework.” NPR, 18 Jan. 2022,