Supreme Monday ReadsPosted: June 26, 2017
So, the good news is that the rumors of Justice Kennedy’s looming retirement are just rumors. But, the Supremes are taking up a few worrisome cases including the Malignant Mango Mussolini’s travel ban on Muslims. They’re also reviewing a few of those cases where people hide behind religion to prop up their bigotry.
Okay, one at a time now. Kennedy is most likely staying put on the bench.
Look, I love legal gossip as much as — actually, way more than — the next guy. I entered the world of legal media through the back door of judicial gossip, writing a blog called Underneath Their Robes under the pseudonym of “Article III Groupie” (because gossiping about judges by night while appearing before them by day, as a federal prosecutor, is not a good look).
But to be a good gossip, you can’t just spread random rumors. You need to exercise discretion and discernment in what you disseminate — which brings me to the rampant rumors about Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s supposedly imminent retirement, to be announced possibly as early as tomorrow.
I won’t bury the lede, so here it is: based on reports I’ve received from former AMK clerks who attended his law clerk reunion dinner last night, it is highly unlikely that Justice Kennedy will announce his retirement tomorrow.
The Travel Ban is getting a bit of life. Some of it can go into effect. It will officially be reviewed come fall.
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to allow a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect and will consider in the fall the president’s broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raises fundamental issues of national security and religious discrimination.
The court made an important exception: nt.It said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
In the unsigned opinion, the court said that a foreign national who wants to visit or live with a family member would have such a relationship, and so would students from the designated countries — Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — who were admitted to a U.S. university.
So, what about the case of the baker that refused to bake a cake for gay grooms? Is it religious freedom from the conservative side to enable bigots?
The Supreme Court on Monday said it will consider next term whether a Denver baker unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to sell them a wedding cake.
Lower courts had ruled that Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had violated Colorado’s public accommodations law, which prohibits refusing service to customers based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
There are similar lawsuits from florists, calligraphers and others who say their religious beliefs won’t allow them to provide services for same-sex weddings. But they have found little success in the courts, which have ruled that public businesses must comply with state anti-discrimination laws.
The court granted the case after weeks of considering it. In 2014, the justices declined to revisit a New Mexico Supreme Court decision that found that a photographer violated a state civil rights law when she declined to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony.
Since then, the high court has found that marriage is a fundamental right that states may not prohibit to gay couples.
The justices also reversed the Arkansas Supreme Court and said the state must list same-sex parents on birth certificates in the state. To refuse, the court said, is to deny married same-sex couples the full “constellation of benefits” that government has linked to marriage.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s dissent, which said the law regarding such issues is not yet settled and stable.
However, there was also this:
The Supreme Court declined to review a case about the right to carry firearms outside the home, but two justices publicly dissented from their colleagues’ decision not to take up the issue.
The high court said Monday it would not hear a National Rifle Association-supported legal challenge by California resident Edward Peruta, who challenged a state law limiting gun-carrying permits to those showing “good cause” and a San Diego County policy that says concern about personal safety is not sufficient to fulfill the requirement.
Gun rights advocates say the limits violate the constitutional right to bear arms.
However, the case could not muster the votes of four justices, which is the threshold to add it to the court’s docket.
The most notable aspect of the action announced Monday was that President Donald Trump’s newest appointee to the court — Justice Neil Gorsuch — joined conservative stalwart Justice Clarence Thomas in lamenting the court’s decision to dodge the issue for now. Gorsuch’s views on gun-rights issues were not well established by his writing or his earlier decisions as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
However, on Monday, Gorsuch joined Thomas’s opinion calling “indefensible” the 9th Circuit’s rationale in ruling against Peruta.
“The Second Amendment’s core purpose further supports the conclusion that the right to bear arms extends to public carry,” Thomas wrote. “Even if other Members of the Court do not agree that the Second Amendment likely protects a right to public carry, the time has come for the Court to answer this important question definitively. ”
“For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it,” Thomas added.
This one was disappointing.
Well, busybody christofascists are thrilled. Yeah! We get to fund religious indoctrination!
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the state of Missouri cannot deny public funds to a church simply because it is a religious organization.
Seven justices affirmed the judgment in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, albeit with some disagreement about the reasoning behind it. The major church-state case could potentially expand the legal understanding of the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is also the first time the Supreme Court has ruled that governments must provide money directly to a house of worship, which could have implications for future policy fights—including funding for private, religious charter schools.
Trinity Lutheran is a big case that hinges on mundane facts. In 2012, when Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri applied for a state grant to resurface its playground, it was ranked as a strong potential candidate for the program. Ultimately, though, Missouri denied the funding under a state constitutional provision that prohibits public money from going to religious organizations and houses of worship. “There is no question that Trinity Lutheran was denied a grant simply because of what it is,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in his decision for the majority. “A church.”
The case focused on whether this decision conflicts with the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and specifically issouri was violating the free-exercise clause by preventing Trinity Lutheran from participating in a secular, neutral aid program. On Monday, the court overwhelmingly agreed that the answer was “yes.”
No good news on the environmental side of things. This is a weird case that hinged more on state v state fighting.
The Supreme Court will not hear arguments in a legal dispute between two states stemming from the 2015 Gold King Mine waste spill, the court announced on Monday.
New Mexico had sued Colorado for its role in the mine spill, which released 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas River. That river feeds into the San Juan River, which flows through New Mexico.
The state was seeking unspecified damages in its lawsuit, which went directly to the Supreme Court, as is typical for legal disputes between states. In May, the federal government urged the court to dismiss the suit.
The court declined Monday to hear arguments in the case and did not issue an opinion explaining the decision, though Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said they would let the suit move forward.
The August 2015 Gold King Mine spill kicked off a flurry of lawsuits over environmental damage and government incompetence.
In New Mexico’s lawsuit against Colorado, New Mexico officials alleged Colorado was “reckless” leading up to the spill, calling it “the coup de grâce of two decades of disastrous environmental decision-making by Colorado, for which New Mexico and its citizens are now paying the price.”
Well, I think that’s about enough for the moment. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?