US Supreme Court

On Keeping the Faith in 2018 | Dean's Note

Before beginning today’s note, a word about the SPH This Week publishing schedule. As we have in years past, we will pause SPH This Week for the next four weeks, recommencing on August 26. We do this to acknowledge the heart of summer, a time to relax and reflect before the bustle of fall.

In 2018, of course, on many days it is not so easy to relax. Amid the swirling outrages of the last two years, the sheer number of health threats that emerge from the actions of the Trump administration have been truly concerning. From its recent actions against breastfeeding, to its rollback of environmental standards, to its determination to place an opponent of reproductive freedomand progressive change more broadly—on the US Supreme Court, to its assault on the well-being of migrant families, the Trump administration has allowed little peace to those who care about creating a healthier world.

Roe v. Wade and Abortion Rights in the Post-Kennedy Era | Dean's Note

The announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire from the US Supreme Court has created deep uncertainty about a range of issues related to health. Kennedy was regarded as a swing vote on the court—while he generally sided with the court’s conservative wing, he famously joined with progressive opinion on the issues of abortion and LGBT rights. His successor will likely make decisions about these and many other issues, including the economy, voting rightsthe environment, and the basic ground rules of our politics, all of which will have ramifications for health.

Health, Law, and the LGBT Community: An Unfinished Story | Dean's Note

On Monday, the US Supreme Court decided the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The origins of the case lay in a baker’s religion-based objection to serving a same-sex couple wishing to buy a cake for their wedding. The Court’s decision favored the baker, ruling on procedural grounds that he did not receive a fair hearing from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, members of which had used language that Justice Kennedy, writing the Court’s majority opinion, said constituted evidence of “hostility to religion.” In this sense, the ruling was quite narrow, leaving unresolved the larger question of whether or not it is constitutional for businesses to deny services to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Americans. I refer the reader to the Viewpoint in SPH This Week by Professors Raifman and Ulrich, who discuss the legal basis of the court case in more detail.

Denial of services to same-sex couples can harm their health | The Hill

In the Supreme Court hearing for Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, lawyers for the baker argued that he should not have to sell a cake to a same-sex couple because his religion does not support same-sex marriage.

Debates around this case have referenced potential implications for the dignity of sexual minority populations, but in the absence of data to ground the conversation.

In a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, we found that state laws permitting the denial of services to same-sex couples are associated with a 46 percent increase in mental distress among gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults.