▶ Watch Video: The conservative Supreme Court’s unprecedented week

The Supreme Court ended its term with a bang this past week, delivering a flurry of momentous decisions that underscored the growing influence of its six conservative justices, three of them appointed by former President Donald Trump.

In 6-3 decisions, the court struck down affirmative action in college admissions, saying race cannot be a factor …

It ruled that the Biden administration’s plan to wipe out billions in student debt was not authorized by Congress

And it decided the First Amendment allows certain people who object to same-sex marriage to violate a state law prohibiting discrimination.

The rulings sparked protests, with demonstrators chanting, “We won’t go back!”

The Atlantic’s Adam Harris says the week was historic not only for the court’s sharp right turn, but for the highly-charged opinions that revealed the court’s deep divide on the biggest issues of our time: race, education, and gay rights. “The conservative majority has found their way to flex their muscle,” Harris said. “It’s hard to see how that will change in the foreseeable future.”

The high court’s standoff will reverberate across the country, with sweeping consequences in people’s lives, starting with those college applications and loans.

Harris said, “If you look at Black students in particular, Black students are more likely to take on debt than white students; they’re more likely to take on more debt; and they’re more likely to default on that debt on the back end. And so, you’re pushing them out of well-resourced institutions.

“You’ve effectively got a very bleak picture for higher education going forward,” he said.

The passions evident in the justices’ opinions extend to American politics, where next year’s election looms. President Joe Biden is now contending with a court that infuriates Democratic voters – and him.

“This is not a normal court,” he declared Thursday, following its affirmative action ruling. “Across the board, the vast majority of the American people don’t agree with a lot of the decisions this court is making.”

Many Biden allies believe the court’s decisions this past week could galvanize Democratic voters, much like the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year motivated many supporters of abortion rights to show up at the polls.

But Mr. Biden is not yet ready to push for an expansion of the number of Supreme Court justices, which some progressive Democrats have advocated.

The president said Thursday that be thinks trying to expand the court “is a mistake,” because it risks further politicizing the court in the future.

Republican presidential contenders have echoed the conservatives on the court, embracing the culture war as a battleground they believe could be a political winner in 2024.

In an interview on Fox Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “We’re not gonna try to divvy you up by your skin color. That is the absolute appropriate decision for the country, and we’re gonna be much better off.”

Costa asked Harris, “For Republicans, this has been a week of victory. Are they going just to continue to move forward and try to accumulate more power?”

“It doesn’t seem that this is going to slow or abate any time soon,” Harris replied. “I think that, effectively, conservatives always saw their strategy to sort of claim the courts as one that would be functional in terms of advancing their political goals. And if anything, the last couple of weeks have shown that that thought that they had has really [borne] itself out.”

But even after next year’s elections, the court’s place in the hearts of minds of many Americans – how it’s viewed, how it’s respected (if at all) – is unlikely to be settled anytime soon.

Costa asked, “What does this mean for the integrity and reputation of the Court, to be taking such positions on issues that are coursing through American life, from race to education?”

“It was really interesting in reading the opinions, particularly those from Chief Justice Roberts, that really tried to soften the blow,” said Harris. “I think that he is really concerned.

“You know, over the last several weeks, several months, you’ve seen stories that have come out about the conservative justices, the gifts that they’ve received from billionaires, and effectively a case against some of the ethical concerns … I think that the conservative majority is really concerned about the way that they appear publicly. But that has not, clearly, stopped them from issuing these rulings that, in some cases, kind of go against the public opinion.”

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Story produced by Jon Carras. Editor: Chad Cardin.