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The political implications for last week's Supreme Court rulings

ROB SCHMITZ, HOST:

Coming up, we interview Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education. The Supreme Court just eliminated President Biden's student loan forgiveness program. So what now? We begin with the politics of several Supreme Court decisions. They touch on likely issues in the 2024 election.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's senior political editor and correspondent Domenico Montanaro is here. Domenico, good morning.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey, good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: OK, so the court said President Biden overreached when he forgave more than $400 billion worth of student loans. Biden says he's going to try to forgive them in some other way. But what happens now?

MONTANARO: Yeah. I mean, Biden's going to try another path, you know, through the Education Department and the Higher Education Act. But a lot of legal scholars thought that how Biden went about this originally was not going to hold up in court, especially with this conservative majority court, and it did not. Some are blaming Biden for what they see as overpromising and underdelivering. The White House hopes to blunt that by blaming Republicans and the court. Here was the president speaking about this decision.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: What I did, I thought was appropriate and was able to be done and would get done. I didn't give borrowers false hope, but the Republicans snatched away the hope that they were given. And it's real - real hope.

MONTANARO: You know, how younger voters in particular interpret this is going to be key because they're a critical part of the Democratic base, and they've been skeptical of Biden.

INSKEEP: Yeah, interesting question. Do they blame the president 'cause it didn't happen or blame the court for getting in the way? Two other big decisions I want to ask about - the court sided with a Colorado web designer who wanted clearance in advance to deny wedding services to same-sex couples. The court said fine. The court also struck down using race as a factor for elite university admissions. So how did those rulings compare to public opinion?

MONTANARO: Well, when you look at public opinion on these rulings, it's mixed. I mean, the country is becoming increasingly supportive of LGBTQ rights in general. But for affirmative action, it's a little more complicated. In general, Americans say they're in favor of continuing affirmative action programs. But when pollsters ask specifically about the use of race in college admissions, majority say they're against the practice. That's especially true of whites and Asian Americans. The question here really is whether this decision motivates Black voters to go out and vote in some respects because we're seeing right now that we're in a moment where many Black Americans feel under assault with not just this decision, but policies that have been enacted across the country. And when you add that to the anger that many people feel on the - in the middle and on the left about abortion rights, Democrats certainly hope that these decisions will keep their base engaged ahead of the next presidential election next year.

INSKEEP: There's certainly a partisan difference on views of the Supreme Court. Republican presidential candidates have been praising it.

MONTANARO: Oh, absolutely. You know, the candidates very much lined up behind the court. Former President Trump took credit for appointing these justices. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis actually fired back at Trump pointing out that in 2015, Trump had said he was fine with affirmative action. Former Vice President Pence even went so far as to say that there's no racial inequity in schools any longer and that affirmative action may have been necessary 50 years ago but not any longer. When you just look at test scores, though, I mean, the racial achievement gap is still wide. And, you know, even if it's a bit smaller than the '60s and '70s, you know, Republican candidates are really running to the right on a host of policies, many of which are unpopular with the broader public.

INSKEEP: Domenico, thanks as always for your insights - really appreciate it.

MONTANARO: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.