The Supreme Court Races Forward

It would take nearly 100 years and a Civil War for the ideals of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," words permanently ensconced in The Declaration of Independence, to even begin to apply to Black people in this country. The work of making sure those words are not applicable to some, yet hollow to others, continues. But recent Supreme Court decisions in health care (King v. Burwell), housing discrimination (Texas Department of Housing v. Inclusive Communities Project), and same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges) mean those who have been marginalized in our nation’s history have a little more life, a little more liberty, and can more fully engage in their pursuit of happiness. Race Forward celebrates these victories, and underscores their impact on people of color, while acknowledging there remains work to be done.

Today, there is a little more "Life" because subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, subsidies crucial for the poor and people of color, have been upheld. Fewer people will struggle with the consequences of not having health insurance.

Today, there is a little more "Liberty" because disparate impact claims are still permissible under the Fair Housing Act, a cornerstone of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. People of color can challenge the subtle, yet equally harmful discrimination in housing where the "intent" to discriminate isn’t clearly stated.

Today, more people can continue their "Pursuit of Happiness." Same-sex couples can be married and have those marriages recognized in all 50 states. This ruling is important to the lives of many members of this community, a community as diverse and colorful as the flag that symbolizes it.

Efforts to dismantle injustice and systemic racism will continue — they must, and we remain committed to that work. We join with other organizations to make sure disparate impact is not impossible to prove given the limits of this ruling. We join with other organizations in thwarting legislative challenges to affordable health care. We join with other organizations in addressing the many remaining issues that impact people of color within the LBGTQ community.

So we pause, we celebrate, and we continue the work until we have created a vibrant world in which people of all races create, share and enjoy resources equitably.

Rinku Sen
Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation