Supreme Court

Supreme Court rejects challenge to limits on church services; Roberts sides with liberals

A divided Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency appeal by a California church that challenged state limits on attendance at worship services that have been imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Over the dissent of the four more conservative justices, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberals in turning away a request from the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, California, in the San Diego area. The church argued that limits on how many people can attend their services violate constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and had been seeking an order in time for services on Sunday. The church said it has crowds of 200 to 300 people for its services. Roberts wrote in brief opinion that the restriction allowing churches to reopen at 25% of their capacity, with no more than 100 worshipers at a time, “appear consistent” with the First Amendment. Roberts said similar or more severe limits apply to concerts, movies and sporting events “where large groups of people gather in close proximity for extended periods of time.” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in dissent that the restriction “discriminates against places of worship and in favor of comparable secular businesses. Such discrimination violates the First Amendment.” Kavanaugh pointed to supermarkets, restaurants, hair salons, cannabis dispensaries and other businesses that are not subject to the same restrictions. Lower courts in California had previously turned down the churches’ requests. The court also rejected an appeal from two churches in the Chicago area that objected to Gov. Jay Pritzker’s limit of 10 worshipers at religious services. Before the court acted, Pritzker modified the restrictions to allow for up to 100 people at a time. There were no recorded dissents.

Supreme Court orders states to respond to churches’ appeals to reopen

The Supreme Court is ordering the governors of Illinois and California to respond to two separate appeals filed by churches seeking to block enforcement of stay-at-home orders. Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Elena Kagan, who respond to circuit court appeals from the Midwest and the West Coast, respectively, say the responses are due by Thursday evening. In Illinois, two Chicago-area churches also requested that the justices allow them to hold services on Pentecost. Two Romanian-American Christian churches said Illinois’ reopening plan violates the U.S. Constitution by imposing a 10-person limit on worship services, while allowing other “essential” services — such as hardware and liquor stores — to continue without such restrictions. Meanwhile, the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Southern California appealed to the Supreme Court over the weekend after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected its request to hold services. Attorneys for the church say orders from California Gov. Gavin Newsom and San Diego County authorities are unconstitutional because they discriminate against places of worship.

Supreme Court blocks House Dems’ efforts to get Mueller grand-jury info released

The Supreme Court temporarily denied a motion Wednesday from House Democrats to obtain grand-jury testimony and other documents from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as they conduct what they’ve referred to as an “ongoing presidential impeachment investigation” into President Trump. The court’s order kept undisclosed details from the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election out of the Democrats’ hands until at least early summer. Democrats have until June 1 to brief the court about whether the full case should be heard. The Democrats had told the court Monday they were in an “ongoing presidential impeachment investigation” while arguing that Mueller’s now-completed Russia probe needed to be turned over as a result. “The [House Judiciary] Committee’s investigation did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial,” the Democrats told the nine justices. “If this material reveals new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the articles adopted by the House, the committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.” They were seeking testimony, transcripts and exhibits to look into the possible influence over decisions made in the prosecutions of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Stone was sentenced to three years in prison for obstructing Congress and other charges. The Justice Department moved to drop its case against Flynn after serious questions were raised about the nature of the investigation that led to his guilty plea of lying to the FBI. The Trump administration has been reluctant to turn over further documents related to Mueller’s probe to House Democrats. DOJ officials said they turned over all relevant information, citing grand-jury rules for not providing unredacted material. The agency argued that federal guidelines protected the secrecy of grand-jury materials and that the exception allowing the disclosure “preliminarily to or in connection with a judicial proceeding” didn’t apply, especially given Trump’s acquittal by the Senate in an impeachment trial earlier this year. Democrats said the preliminary impeachment hearings in the House constituted a pending judicial proceeding. The DOJ has been conducting a separate internal review of the Russia investigation origins, which is expected to be completed sometime during the summer. John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, was appointed last year by Attorney General Bill Barr to review the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election and through President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Durham has since expanded his investigation to cover a post-election timeline spanning the spring of 2017 — when Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel. On Monday, Barr said he didn’t expect the probe to lead to any criminal charges against either former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden. “As for President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement based on what I know, I don’t expect Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern of potential criminality is focused on others.”

Kudos to the Supremes for this decision, albeit a temporary one.  The Dems are wanting confidential grand jury testimony, they know they can’t have, so they can do Impeachment 2.0..in a never-ending witch hunt to undo the 2016 election, or in hopes of having another hoax read should President Trump get re-elected in November.  This is a win not just for team Trump, but for the rule of law…which affects all of us.

Ginsburg eviscerates 9th Circuit’s handling of immigration consultant’s case

Authoring a unanimous Supreme Court opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg tore into the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for “drastically” straying from judicial norms when hearing a case involving a California immigration consultant. After Evelyn Sineneng-Smith had been convicted of violating a federal law related to encouraging illegal immigration, the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision, not based on arguments presented by Sineneng-Smith, but by third parties the court brought in to submit arguments that the panel of judges themselves had suggested. “[T]he appeals panel departed so drastically from the principle of party presentation as to constitute an abuse of discretion,” Ginsburg wrote, later stating that “a court is not hidebound by the precise arguments of counsel, but the Ninth Circuit’s radical transformation of this case goes well beyond the pale.” The Supreme Court sent the case back down the Ninth Circuit “for reconsideration … bearing a fair resemblance to the case shaped by the parties.” Sineneng-Smith had been convicted of violating a federal law against someone who “encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States” if they know they would be in the country illegally. That was after she charged clients who sought to apply for labor certifications to obtain legal status, prosecutors said, even though she knew they could not meet the application deadlines. She argued that her conduct was not covered by the statute, and if it was it would be a violation of her First Amendment rights. After both sides submitted briefs and held oral arguments, the Ninth Circuit panel — instead of deciding the case at that point — invited the Federal Defender Organizations of the Ninth Circuit, the Immigrant Defense Project, and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild to file briefs. The Ninth Circuit specifically outlined issues for them to discuss, including whether the law in question was unconstitutionally overbroad under the First Amendment — an issue separate from any of Sineneng-Smith’s arguments. They also gave the organizations 20 minutes to present oral arguments, compared to just 10 for Sineneng-Smith’s lawyers. The Ninth Circuit ended up overturning Sineneng-Smith’s conviction based on the idea that the law was overbroad under the First Amendment. Ginsburg wrote that the Ninth Circuit’s actions undermined the principle that parties and their counsels are responsible for presenting their own case. “There are no doubt circumstances in which a modest initiating role for a court is appropriate,” Ginsburg wrote. “But this case scarcely fits that bill.”

You know its bad when the Supremes issue a unanimous decision.  That, in and of itself, is a smackdown.  We very rarely agree with Justice Ginsburg.  But, ya gotta give credit where credit is due…and it is here.  The lunatics at the 9th CIRCUS Court of Appeals in San Francisco (go figure) are the most overturned federal appeals circuit court.  President Trump is desperately trying to get a few quality judges on that bench before he leaves office.

Supreme Court: Trump Administration’s Self-Sufficient Immigrants Policy Can Stand in Coronavirus Era

The United States Supreme Court ruled on Friday against pausing the Trump administration’s policy that requires would-be immigrants to be self-sufficient so they do not become a “public charge.” Pro-migration media outlets, including Law360, regularly refer to the policy as “a wealth test for immigrants:” In a one-sentence decision, the high court denied a request by New York state, New York City, Vermont and Connecticut that would temporarily lift or modify a stay of a nationwide injunction that would block the public charge rule from going into effect. The order does not preclude a filing in the district court “as counsel considers appropriate,” the high court said. In a separate appeal before the Supreme Court on Friday, the high court also refused to issue a stay that would lift a similar injunction blocking the public charge rule in Illinois. Again, the Supreme Court clarified that the order does not bar the state from filing a request in the district court. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced in August that an application for a green card to allow migrants to live legally in the United States would include information about said migrants economic independence. The high court gave the DHS a green light earlier this year to carry out the new immigration rule, even though five federal court orders claimed the rule could be “illegal.”

This is GREAT news!!  Kudos to the Supremes for this, however temporary, decision.  Its a HUGE win for American citizens at a time when we cannot afford to be the world’s welfare state.  We’re TRILLIONS in debt, and getting worse by the day.  AND, we have over 20 MILLION Americans out of work due to this Wuhan virus crisis.  So, when we lift the current immigration moratorium, we need to have some sort of screening of potential immigrants who want to come to America to see if they have any skills that can benefit America’s economy…OR, if they’ll be just another welfare drain who we-the-actual-taxpayers will have to support indefinitely.  It is perfectly reasonable to ask such questions and insist that those who come are able to be self-sufficient, and not just enter and start collecting freebies that the rest of us are forced to pay for.  Coming to America is a privilege; NOT a right, as many so-called “immigration activists” would have you believe.

Supreme Court rules government must pay insurers enrolled in ObamaCare program

The Supreme Court ruled in an 8-1 decision Monday that the federal government must pay out $12 billion to insurers who had enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s “risk corridor” program, reversing a lower court’s decision that had left Washington off the hook. The program limited both profits and losses for insurance companies that offered plans through the online exchange created by the Affordable Care Act – commonly known as ObamaCare – by having certain profits go to the Department of Health and Human Services, which in turn would give money to plans that did not bring in profits. The result was the government owing over $12 billion more than was brought in. “We conclude that §1342 of the Affordable Care Act established a money-mandating obligation, that Congress did not repeal this obligation, and that petitioners may sue the Government for damages in the Court of Federal Claims,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the court’s opinion. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had ruled that Congress had “repealed or suspended” the obligation by implication through appropriations riders. The Supreme Court noted that according to court precedent, “repeals by implication are not favored,” and because Congress never directly repealed the obligation to pay the insurance companies, they are still bound by the program. Justice Samuel Alito, the lone dissenter in the case, argued that there was no basis for a cause of action. The majority held that this case falls under the Tucker Act, under which the government waives normal immunity from lawsuits based on “the Constitution, or any Act of Congress or any regulation of an executive department, or upon any express or implied contract with the United States, or for liquidated or unliquidated damages in cases not sounding in tort.” Alito argued that ObamaCare’s provision that the government “shall pay” for insurance companies’ losses is not enough to create a cause of action under the Tucker Act. He claimed that allowing the companies to sue has significant repercussions and allows private insurers to collect money to which they should not be entitled. “Today,” Alito wrote, “the Court infers a private right of action that has the effect of providing a massive bailout for insurance companies that took a calculated risk and lost.”

Divided Supreme Court rules for Trump administration in requiring immigrant’s removal

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s decision that an immigrant with lawful permanent resident status cannot fight deportation due to a previous offense, even though that crime was not grounds for his removal. In a 5-4 ruling with conservative justices on one side and liberals on the other, the court ruled for the Trump administration in holding that the statute in question, as drafted by Congress, requires deportation in the case of Andre Barton, even though the assault offenses that prevent him from appealing were not enough to deport him in the first place. “Removal of a lawful permanent resident from the United States is a wrenching process, especially in light of the consequences for family members,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the court’s opinion. “Removal is particularly difficult when it involves someone such as Barton who has spent most of his life in the United States. Congress made a choice, however, to authorize removal of noncitizens— even lawful permanent residents—who have committed certain serious crimes. And Congress also made a choice to categorically preclude cancellation of removal for noncitizens who have substantial criminal records. Congress may of course amend the law at any time. In the meantime, the Court is constrained to apply the law as enacted by Congress.” The controversy deals with an immigration law that allows defendants to apply for cancelation of deportation, but only if they satisfy certain requirements, including not having committed a particular offense within their first seven years of continuous residence in the U.S. This limitation, known as the “stop-time rule,” refers to offenses that render individuals inadmissible or deportable. Barton, who is being deported for drug and firearms offenses, had committed aggravated assault offenses during that seven-year period, but those offenses did not qualify for deportation. The court’s majority saw no problem with this, claiming that the assaults triggered the stop-time rule because they qualify as crimes that would render someone inadmissible. Kavanaugh noted said that just because the assaults were not the initial grounds for deportation, they can still come into play, just as outside factors can be considered in criminal matters. “It is entirely ordinary to look beyond the offense of conviction at criminal sentencing, and it is likewise entirely ordinary to look beyond the offense of removal at the cancellation-of-removal stage in immigration cases,” Kavanaugh wrote. The particular dispute between the two sides of the court dealt with the language of the statute, which says a defendant cannot have their deportation canceled if they had committed “an offense referred to in section 1182(a)(2) of this title that renders the alien inadmissible to the United States under section 1182(a)(2) of this title or removable from the United States under section 1227(a)(2) or 1227(a)(4) of this title.” The conservative majority took this to mean that Congress was including both offenses that would render someone inadmissible as well as those that would make them removable, meaning that because aggravated assault would leave a person inadmissible, it triggers the provision keeping Barton from having his deportation canceled. Kavanaugh noted that the Second, Third, Fifth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeal all hold the same view, with only the Ninth Circuit holding otherwise.

This really isn’t that earth-shattering.  But, it DOES reinforce the rule of law, and puts immigrants, both legal and illegal, on notice should they commit a crime when they come to America.  This is a big win for the rule of law, and for the Trump Administration.  We, of course, agree with the majority opinion.  Kudos to the Supremes for this decision.  For more, click on the text above.