Supreme Court

Trump picks Gorsuch, Kavanaugh take opposite sides on 2 of 3 Supreme Court rulings Tuesday

President Trump’s two appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — were expected to help bring about a “conservative revolution” on the nation’s highest court. But in two out of three rulings by the court Tuesday, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh found themselves on opposing sides. The two cases in which the justices did not agree involved an Indian tribe and Washington state taxes, and another involving maritime law. Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump in 2017 to fill the seat Senate Republicans held open for more than a year after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, sided with the liberal justices in ruling that the Yakama Nation doesn’t have to pay a Washington state fuel tax. He cited an 1855 treaty that made a “handful of modest promises” to the tribe, including the right to move goods to market freely. Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy praised the ruling. In a statement cited by NW News Network, he wrote: “Today marks a decision that reinforces the Yakama way of life, both in historical context as well as modern interpretation.” Gorsuch’s opinion was joined only by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the court’s liberal wing. The other three liberal justices voted for the same outcome, but for different reasons. Kavanaugh dissented from the Gorsuch and the liberals. He argued that the 1855 treaty merely gave tribal members equal rights to travel. The other case that saw Kavanaugh and Gorsuch at odds addressed a lawsuit brought by two Navy veterans who had been exposed to asbestos. Writing the court’s opinion, Kavanaugh said that the makers of pumps, turbines and blowers that required asbestos insulation to operate properly should have warned about the health dangers of asbestos exposure. This is so, Kavanaugh wrote, even though the companies did not manufacture or sell the asbestos to the Navy. The liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts also were in the majority. Gorsuch, whose dissent was joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, wrote that the manufacturers “are at risk of being held responsible retrospectively for failing to warn about other people’s products.” Tuesday’s third case demonstrated the more common alliance of the conservative justices. The court’s decision, which saw Gorsuch and Kavanaugh in lockstep with the other conservatives, gave the federal government broader power to detain immigrants who are awaiting deportation anytime after they have been released from prison on criminal charges. The four liberal justices dissented.

Bottom line..  These two Trump appointees to the Supreme Court are NOT “rubber stamps” for the Trump agenda…whatever that may be.  Keep that in mind, the next time you hear some Democrat politician or liberal media person say something like that.

Supreme Court upholds ICE detention without bail for serious criminals

Illegal immigrants with serious criminal records can be held without bail while awaiting deportation even if ICE didn’t immediately pick them up when they were released from prison or jail, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The 5-4 decision marked another rejection for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the liberal panel that covers the country’s West Coast, and that has tested a number of legal theories on immigration law. In this case, the 9th Circuit had ruled that under the law, if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately arrested someone released from a federal, state or local prison, they could be held without bond in the immigration detention system. But if ICE didn’t immediately arrest them, the migrants must be given a chance to make bond. The case turned on a phrase in the law that says the no-bail determination applies to someone picked up by ICE “when the alien is released” from prison or jail. The lower court ruled “when” must mean the day of release. But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing the majority opinion, said that could create a new loophole for sanctuary cities, which often refuse to alert ICE officers when releasing people from their local prisons and jails. “Under these circumstances, it is hard to believe that Congress made the secretary’s mandatory-detention authority vanish at the stroke of midnight after an alien’s release,” he wrote. He said it made more sense that “when” means at some point after the release, not at the exact moment of it. While many illegal immigrants are released while they await their immigration court proceedings and possible deportation, Congress has deemed some serious criminals to be such safety risks that they must be held by ICE while their cases proceed. Those are the ones affected by Tuesday’s ruling.

Excellent!!    🙂

Supreme Court rules states may not impose excessive fines

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that state law enforcement is bound by the same rules against excessive fines as the feds, incorporating a new Eighth Amendment protection against efforts to seize property. The justices, in a 9-0 decision, ruled in a case involving a convicted Indiana drug dealer whose SUV cops wanted to forfeit to pay off his fines — but the vehicle was worth four times what he owed. The high court said seizing the car to pay off his fine was grossly disproportionate. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who delivered the court’s opinion, said protection against excessive economic sanctions was “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty.” “For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” she wrote. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies.” The ruling comes as police forfeiture powers are increasingly under scrutiny. In the case before the court, Tyson Timbs faced a maximum $10,000 fine a drug-dealing conviction involving $400 worth of heroin. He struck a deal agreeing to pay about $1,200 as part of his sentence, which also included a year in home detention and five years on probation. Indiana then filed papers to conduct a civil forfeiture of his 2012 Land Rover, which he purchased for roughly $40,000 after receiving an inheritance from his father, and which was used in his drug-dealing. A trial court ruled for Timbs, saying the value of the vehicle was far more than even his maximum penalty. An appeals court affirmed, but the Indiana Supreme Court ruled against him, saying the U.S. Constitution’s protection against excessive fines only applied to federal authorities. The Supreme Court stepped in Wednesday, ruling for Timbs and establishing that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause does extend to the states, via the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process guarantees. Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas both wrote concurring opinions agreeing with the court’s ultimate ruling, but disagreeing with the legal reasoning. They said the Eighth Amendment’s protection against excessive fines should be incorporated through the 14th Amendment’s privileges and immunity clause rather than through due process. “As a constitutionally enumerated right understood to be a privilege of American citizenship, the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive fines applies in full to the states,” Justice Thomas wrote. Brianne Gorod, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center, said the ruling was a “milestone in the 228 year history of the Bill of Rights.” “Significantly, this case has united progressives and conservatives—both advocates and the justices themselves—in a shared understanding of the original meaning of the Constitution,” she said.

Agreed..  This is a HUGE victory for our personal civil liberties!  Kudos to the Supremes for this 9-0 smackdown of the Indiana Supreme Court.  Outstanding!!   🙂

Supreme Court denies abortion clinic’s appeal for Catholic pro-life deliberations

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Tuesday from an abortion clinic seeking access to records belonging to the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops concerning its pro-life deliberations. Whole Woman’s Health, a pro-choice health facility in Texas, had subpoenaed the bishops’ religious deliberations on abortion and any communications with government officials, after the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops offered to provide burials for aborted remains following a state law requiring hospitals to properly dispose of fetal tissue through cremation or burial rather than in a sewer or landfill. Whole Woman’s Health had challenged the state law in separate litigation and sought the records in conjunction with that case. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the bishops in their motion to halt the subpoena, saying the clinic’s move ran afoul of the First Amendment. In rejecting the appeal Monday, the high court leaves the 5th Circuit ruling in place. “Thank goodness the Supreme Court saw this appeal for what it was: a nasty attempt to intimidate the bishops and force them to withdraw their offer to bury every child aborted in Texas,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president at Becket Religious Liberty for All, which represented the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.

This isn’t about abortion.  It’s about one group trying to bully a religious organization into releasing its private communications.  So, kudos to the 5th Circuit for putting a stop that brazen violation of the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court for upholding that decision.  Again, this ruling has nothing to do with abortion.  It was a victory for the First Amendment.  Excellent!

Supreme Court Takes Major NRA Second Amendment Case from New York

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted review in the first Second Amendment case in almost a decade, a case supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and perhaps signaling what to expect from the new membership of the Supreme Court. New York law forbids residents from owning any handguns without a permit, and that permit allows the holder to possess guns only in their home or en route to or from one of seven shooting ranges in the city. A gun owner cannot transport a firearm outside the home for any other purpose, even if it is unloaded and locked in a case in the trunk of a car. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and several of its members sued in federal court, arguing that this statute is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment secures an individual right, but that 2008 case involved only a law-abiding citizen seeking to have a handgun in his privately owned home for self-defense. The Court further held in McDonald v. Chicago that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is a fundamental right, and thus extends to state and local governments through the Fourteenth Amendment, but again that 2010 involved a law-abiding citizen seeking to keep a handgun in the home. That is essentially all the Supreme Court has done with the Second Amendment thus far. The Court has repeatedly turned down petitions for review (called a petition for a writ of certiorari) in several major cases over the subsequent nine years. Some experts speculated that Justice Anthony Kennedy – who was the fifth and thus decisive vote in Heller and McDonald – was reluctant to take any additional steps on gun rights. Without his vote, neither side of the gun debate could move the needle in either direction. Some legal strategists wondered if Justice Brett Kavanaugh – who has a judicial recording supporting gun rights – now sitting in Kennedy’s seat would break the paralysis over Second Amendment jurisprudence. It appears the answer might be “yes.” Lead counsel in the case is former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who also was one of the lawyers who argued in both Heller and McDonald. Clement is one of the most accomplished Supreme Court advocates in American history, having argued over 90 cases before the justices. Clement argues that New York’s statute violates the Second Amendment, the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to interstate travel. The NRA is centrally involved in the case. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association is the NRA’s official state affiliate in the Empire State. This instantly becomes one of the most significant cases of the year at the Supreme Court. Oral arguments should be held in late April, with a decision by the end of June. The case is New York State Rifle & Pistol Associaiton v. New York, No. 18-280 in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ginsburg to miss next week’s Supreme Court sessions, but recovery ‘on track’

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will miss next week’s court sessions and work from home, but her recovery from early-stage lung cancer surgery remains “on track” and no further treatment is needed, the court announced Friday. “Justice Ginsburg will continue to work from home next week and will participate in the consideration and decision of the cases on the basis of the briefs and the transcripts of oral arguments. Her recovery from surgery is on track,” Supreme Court public information officer Kathy Arberg said in a statement. “Post-surgery evaluation indicates no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required,” she said. The 85-year-old’s absence this week from oral arguments — her first since joining the bench — after her surgery in December sparked speculation about a possible departure, and even led to low-key planning by the White House for that scenario. Sources confirmed to Fox News that the White House has quietly reached out to a small number of GOP lawmakers and conservative legal advocates, reassuring them it would be ready for any court vacancy. The court has not yet offered a timetable on Ginsburg’s return. Oral arguments resume next week, before the court goes on a month-long recess. Two doctors contacted by Fox News with experience in performing pulmonary lobectomies said, given her age and procedure, a home recovery of about six-to-eight weeks is common – and they would expect the justice to be ready to resume normal duties next month. But should she not return for the Feb. 19 public sessions, there will likely be renewed concern for the liberal justice’s future. Ginsburg’s health troubles have been met by significant concern from liberals, who recognize that if she retires and Trump picks a conservative to replace her, it would mark a significant generational shift to the right for the court. But Ginsburg has overcome health scares before. In the last two decades, she has undergone treatment for both colon and pancreatic cancer — returning to work within days and never missing a public session until now.

And that’s the difference..  The “Notorious RBG,” as her liberal cult fans call her, is 85…and she’s had numerous cancer surgeries.  That’s why DC insiders on both sides of the political aisle are keeping a close eye on her status.  Should she decide to retire suddenly, President Trump would most definitely pick a conservative to replace her, and then the Supreme Court would have a solid conservative majority for many years, if not decades, to come.  Of course, we’ll keep an eye on Justice Ginsburg’s status, and let ya know if there is anything worth reporting.

Supreme Court likely to say states can’t levy excessive fines

The Supreme Court left little doubt Wednesday that it would rule that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to the states, an outcome that could help an Indiana man recover the $40,000 Land Rover police seized when they arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin. A decision in favor of 37-year-old Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana, also could buttress efforts to limit the confiscation by local law enforcement of property belonging to someone suspected of a crime. Police and prosecutors often keep the proceeds. Timbs was on hand at the high court for arguments that were largely a one-sided affair in which the main question appeared to be how broadly the state would lose. The court has formally held that most of the Bill of Rights applies to states as well as the federal government, but it has not done so on the Eighth Amendment’s excessive-fines ban. Justice Neil Gorsuch was incredulous that Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher was urging the justices to rule that states should not be held to the same standard. “Here we are in 2018 still litigating incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Really? Come on, general,” Gorsuch said to Fisher, using the term for holding that constitutional provisions apply to the states. Justice Stephen Breyer said under Fisher’s reading police could take the car of a driver caught going 5 mph (8 kph) above the speed limit. “Anyone who speeds has to forfeit the Bugatti, Mercedes or special Ferrari, or even jalopy,” Breyer said. Fisher agreed. It was unclear whether the justices also would rule to give Timbs his Land Rover back or allow Indiana courts to decide that issue. Some justices seemed willing to take that additional step. “If we look at these forfeitures that are occurring today … many of them are grossly disproportionate to the crimes being charged,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. But Chief Justice John Roberts said the question of whether what happened to Timbs was excessive might be a closer call. Timbs drove his car to the place where he twice sold small amounts of heroin to undercover officers, and he carried the drugs in the car, Roberts said. Police have long been allowed to seize property in such situations. “You will lose assets you used in the crime,” Roberts said. “You can see how that makes a lot of sense.” Lawyer Wesley Hottot, representing Timbs, told the justices that in rural areas people drive places. He said the use of the Land Rover was incidental to the sale of the drugs. The case has drawn interest from liberal groups concerned about police abuses and conservative organizations opposed to excessive regulation. A decision in Tyson Timbs and a 2012 Land Rover LR2 v. Indiana, 17-1091, is expected by June.