The Supreme Court Just Gave Democrats a New 2024 Rallying Cry

Before last year’s midterms, the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the right to an abortion galvanized Democrats. History may be repeating itself.

(Bloomberg) — Before last year’s midterms, the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the right to an abortion galvanized Democrats. History may be repeating itself.

Democrats are hoping the court’s moves to halt student-debt forgiveness, end affirmative action in college admissions and back a Christian website designer opposed to same-sex marriage will help President Joe Biden once again harness voter anger as he enters a tough reelection battle. 

“The last two days of the Supreme Court have done more to help Democrats mobilize people of color and mobilize young people than any piece of policy or legislation that they say they’re going to be able to move through Congress,” said Cornell Belcher, a pollster and alum of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.

Public support for student-debt forgiveness is split but sharply increases among key constituents for the president — including young, Black and Latino voters. More Gen-Z voters were aware of the debt-cancellation plan than any other major policy under Biden, according to a Generation Lab/Voters of Tomorrow poll. 

Biden spent the week painting the Supreme Court as squarely outside the mainstream — while pointing the finger at the Republicans he’ll run against in 2024.

“The court misinterpreted the Constitution,” Biden told reporters Friday when asked if he had overstepped his powers. He called Republicans hypocrites who “just couldn’t bear the thought of providing relief for working-class and middle-class Americans.”

Read more: Supreme Court Throws Out Biden’s Student-Loan Relief Plan

Biden’s tenor underscored the extent to which Friday’s decision on student-debt forgiveness was personal for the president, knocking down the fulfillment of a signature campaign promise. While Biden moved quickly to announce an alternative effort to forgive loans, aides conceded the plan would take months, if not longer. 

‘Very Unfair’

There’s risk the Supreme Court’s decisions this week may frustrate progressive voters who have already expressed disappointment Biden couldn’t accomplish more during his term.

The unfavorable rulings for the president and his supporters has underscored the limitations of the presidency, leaving Biden with few options beyond small-bore executive actions to blunt the court’s edicts. The White House was criticized by abortion-rights supporters who said it responded too slowly to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

Some Black Americans are unhappy with Biden’s progress on voting rights and police reform. A May ABC News/Washington Post poll found Biden’s approval among Black Americans at 52%, down from 82% when he took office.

Republican presidential candidates, for their part, have sought to capitalize on the court rulings as evidence Biden has pursued an extremist agenda. For leading candidates like former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, painting the president as beholden to “woke” special interests is a central tenet of their platform.

Trump told supporters Biden’s student loan plan was “very unfair” to millions of people who paid their bills through hard work at an event Friday in Philadelphia.

Read more: Student Loan Relief Advocates Pressure Biden to ‘Get It Done’

The reaction to the loan decision among Republicans was notably muted compared to the celebration Thursday over the affirmative action ruling, which polls indicate divides Biden’s electoral coalition. While Black voters support affirmative action programs, White and Asian voters are opposed — and the issue is particularly salient in suburban communities that delivered Biden the White House in 2020.


The defiant tone Biden struck in two hastily planned addresses this week illustrated how he is pivoting toward more direct political engagement over the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, he said the court was not “normal” after it upended decades of precedent to reject race-conscious university admissions policies. A day later, Biden condemned a ruling allowing free-speech exemptions in state anti-bias laws, warning it could lead to more discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. 

Read more: Biden Fears Court Ruling Will Spur Anti-LGBTQ Discrimination

Addressing the loan decision Friday at the White House, Biden said: “I’m never going to stop fighting for you. We’ll use every tool at our disposal.”

“It is becoming increasingly impossible for the Supreme Court not to be a front-and-center voting issue for progressives going into the next election,” Belcher said.

Shaping the Court

Robin Lucas, 33, was one of dozens of protesters in front of the Supreme Court on Friday.

“It’s been a bad 48 hours for pretty much everyone who’s marginalized in this country,” said Lucas, who is queer.

Democrats plan to make a case to voters that by electing them to Congress and state offices they can dilute the power of the high court’s conservative majority — and eventually reverse its decisions.

The court’s makeup leaves Biden with a clear message: reelect him to nominate left-leaning justices when seats open.

“Our country deserves to have a court that can rule in favor of the people,” said Kristin McGuire, head of Young Invincibles, a youth advocacy group.

–With assistance from Stephanie Lai, Elizabeth Kim and Nancy Cook.

More stories like this are available on

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.