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Politics chat: How the Supreme Court's decisions will impact voters in the 2024 election

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

The past week saw some major decisions coming out of the Supreme Court, and they are bound to have political implications for the 2024 elections. We have NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson on the line now. Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Ayesha.

RASCOE: OK, so let's take a second to look at the big picture when it comes to the political implications of some of these decisions.

LIASSON: Right. Well, it's unclear exactly how the politics of last week's decisions will play out in the next election cycle. The court ended President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan. It ended affirmative actions in colleges. It decided that a would-be website designer to refuse to work with a same-sex couple. And she could, in theory, refuse to do the same for an interracial couple. We know that the last time the Supreme Court rolled back a right that had been previously granted, the constitutional right to abortion, the backlash was powerful and partisan. It helped Democrats in the midterms and in state elections and referendums. The question is whether these new decisions, all of them affecting groups of voters - young people, gay people, minorities - that are very important for Democrats - will these new decisions energize these voters to turn out next year? Or will they demoralize them, and they'll stay home? We don't know yet.

RASCOE: OK, Mara, so that was looking at the political effect of the sum total of the decisions. But let's look at some specifics. So that decision killing President Biden's student loan forgiveness plan was certainly not the news that millions of Americans struggling with college debt wanted to hear. But the president says he's got an alternative plan. Like, how is that going to work?

LIASSON: The president says he's going to try a different route to get student loan relief through what's called the rule-making process. And this might take a very long time to get done. Initially, activists who wanted student loan forgiveness were happy that Biden has a Plan B ready to go. But in general, polls show that student loan forgiveness was not popular with a majority of Americans. People say, well, I worked my way through college, or I paid off my loan. Why should I subsidize somebody else's loan to be forgiven? So it's unclear how the politics of this will cut. Young people - millions of young people are very angry about this decision, but the majority of Americans not so much.

RASCOE: Another major rollback, of course, was the decision to end affirmative action, and it prompted a strong response from President Biden. Here's what he said on Thursday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Today, I'm directing the Department of Education to analyze what practices help build a more inclusive and diverse student bodies and what practices hold that back, practice like legacy admissions and other systems that expand privilege instead of opportunity.

RASCOE: Mara, the president is also pushing back on this decision.

LIASSON: Right. He is pointing out all of the affirmative action, all the preferences that still remain - for rich people, for children of donors or children of alumni. I think you are going to hear Democrats talk more about these kinds of preferences as they attack the court's decision. We know from polling that people don't like racial preferences. They like the idea of colorblindness. And maybe the political impact of these decisions will be their sum total, in other words, the sense that this is a partisan conservative court that is taking away rights. Democrats are going to say this is a court that's hostile to young people, to racial minorities, to gay people. Add that to the court's ethical problems, and this could be something that helps Democrats make the argument in 2024 that you need a Democratic president or a Democratic Congress to be a check on a conservative partisan court.

RASCOE: That's NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Thank you so much, Mara.

LIASSON: You're welcome. 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.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.
Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.