Supreme Court

THE VOICE OF THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

 

Richard Posner, by William Domnarski (Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2016, 289 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 10, 2017 (San Diego) - Judge Richard Posner is one of the great legal minds of our age, on par with such generation-defining judges as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Learned Hand, and Henry Friendly. A judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the principal champion of the enormously influential law and economics movement, Posner is also an archetypal public intellectual: he writes provocative, best-selling books, receives frequent media attention, and often engages in high-profile policy debates. He is also a member of an increasingly rare breed – judges who write their own opinions rather than delegating the work to clerks. We therefore have unusually direct access to the workings of his mind and his judicial philosophy.

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AT PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 27, 2016 (Washington D.C. ) — By a slim 4-3 margin, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that affirmative action is legal and that it is constitutional for public colleges and universities to consider race as a factor for admission. But the court also cautioned that educators must also show that other means of addressing diversity have failed.

SUPREME COURT: POLICE MUST HAVE WARRANTS FOR BLOOD ALCOHOL TESTS ON SUSPECTED DUI DRIVERS

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 27, 2016 (Washington D.C.) — Suspected drunk drivers can refuse to take a blood test without a warrant, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. But the Court also held that drivers must submit to a less invasive breath test when ordered, or face arrest.

SUPREME COURT: DOMESTIC ABUSERS CAN BE BARRED FOR LIFE FROM OWNING GUNS

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 27, 2016 (Washington D.C.) – By a 6-2 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld a federal law that allows a person to be banned for life from owning a gun if they commit domestic abuse “recklessly,” even if the actions were not premeditated.

SOUNDING OFF ABOUT THE MONEY IN POLITICS!

Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections, by Richard L. Hasen (Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2016, 241 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

May 28, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) - Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections, this scholarly and insightful book by Richard L. Hasen, a leading expert on election law, gives a compelling answer to the dilemmas of money in politics, and comes at a time when presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders has as his mantra campaign finance and reform. Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of California, Irvine, has written this book in the midst of one of the most unusual presidential campaigns in memory, where the character and personas of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders seem to shape our political history and agendas.

TRUMP WOULD NAME CONSERVATIVE SUPREME COURT NOMINEES

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 19, 2016 (Washington D.C.) - The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has left the high court split 4-4 among conservative and liberal to moderate justices.  The Republican-controlled Senate has refused to hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, a judicial moderate—or any other Obama nominee during the president’s remaining time in office.

SUPREME COURT PROTECTS POLITICAL FREE SPEECH FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

 

East County News Service

Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons

April 26, 2016 (Washington D.C.) – If you’re a public employee, you can’t be fired or demoted for supporting a political candidate that your boss doesn’t like.  By a 6-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision strengthening free speech protections for 22 million public employees nationwide. 

VOTERS’ WATCHDOG: SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS KEY PROVISION OF VOTING RIGHTS ACT

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by David Sachs, SEIU on FlickR

April 5, 2016 (Washington D.C.) — The U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to civil rights activists and a loss to conservative challengers, upholding a key provision of the U.S. Voting Rights Act by a unanimous 8 to 0 vote.

JUSTICE SCALIA’S DEATH PROMPTS BATTLE OVER SUPREME COURT VACANCY

 

By Miriam Raftery

February 13, 2016 (Washington D.C.) – The sudden death of prominent conservative Justice Antonin Scalia today leaves a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court and the prospect of numerous high-profile cases deadlocking 4-4.  President Barack Obama has announced he intends to appoint a replacement, but  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested any nomination would be blocked by Senate Republicans and stated that in this election year,  Obama should leave nominating a Supreme Court justice for the next administration.

McConnell’s remark may be viewed as hypocritical, since he voted for Republican President Ronald Reagan’s appointment of Justice Anthony Kennedy in an election year.  Kennedy was confirmed by the Senate, which was controlled by Democrats.

In fact, since 1900 there has not been a single case of the Senate refusing to confirm a presidential appointment to the Supreme Court in an election year due to the pending election. The stakes are high for both sides in filling the void left by Scalia, but so are the consequences of leaving a seat vacant for nearly a year.

DUMANIS CELEBRATES SUPREME COURT RULING ON GAY MARRIAGE--AT WHITE HOUSE

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2015 (San Diego) --  San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in Washington D.C. for a talk on police body cameras, was also present with her spouse in the Supreme Court when the  historic decision legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states was announced.

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS OBAMACARE SUBSIDIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2015 (Washington D.C.) –The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a landmark ruling to uphold nationwide federal subsidies in all 50 states to help people buy healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. 

Opponents had argued that the subsidies should be available only to people in states that set up healthcare exchanges .  Currently 8.7 million Americans receive the subsidies, but the vast majority of those – 6.4 million—are in states that did not set up exchanges. Those 6.4 million people would have lost their subsidies if plaintiffs had prevailed in the case, King v. Burrell.

Chief Justice John Roberts voted with liberal justices to support the law.  Writing the majority decision, Roberts concluded, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not destroy them.”

SUPREME COURT HEARS ARGUMENTS IN CASE THAT COULD LEGALIZE GAY MARRIAGE

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 27, 2015 (Washington D.C.)  - The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a landmark case this week, Obergefell v. Hodges, that is expected to decide whether same-sex couples should have a constitutional right to marriage in all 50 states.

HIGH COURT: TRAFFIC STOPS CAN'T BE DELAYED FOR DRUG DOG SEARCH

 

East County News Service

Photo by Michael Pereckas

April 22, 2015 (Washington D.C.) – A divided Supreme Court has ruled that police cannot detain a motorist pulled over for a traffic stop any longer than required to issue a ticket or warning for the driving infraction.  An officer cannot delay a motorist to allow for inspection of the vehicle, such as by a drug-sniffing dog when the cause for the stop was a traffic violation.

SUPREME COURT TO DECIDE WORKPLACE PREGNANCY CASE

 

 

“Biggest test of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in a generation” – attorney Tom Spiggle, author of You’re Pregnant, You’re Fired!

East County News Service

December 1, 2014 (Arlington, VA) On December 3 the Supreme Court will decide on the biggest test of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act in a generation when it determines the outcome of the Young vs. United Parcel Services case. The case centers around a pregnant employee, Peggy Young, who was denied a request for light duty despite a letter from a medical provider requesting that she not be required to lift heavy packages.

SUPREME COURT ALLOWS GAY MARRIAGES TO COMMENCE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

October 7, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – Wedding bells will soon be ringing for same-sex couples in many more states, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied hearings on all appeals pending.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney James Esseks called the decision “a watershed moment for the entire country.”

The high court refused to hear appeals of same-sex marriage rulings in five states where appellate courts ruled that bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional.  However,the decision is expected to expand same-sex marriage rights to a total of 11 states that are all under jurisdiction of the federal appeals courts that ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.  Add those to the number of states where same-sex marriage already is legal, including California, and the U.S. will likely soon have 30 states—a majority--where same-sex marriage is protected.

SUPREME IRONY IN HIGH COURT’S RULING ON ABORTION PROTESTS

 

East County News Service

Photo: Anti-abortion protestors at a Mississippi abortion clinic

June 26, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – Today the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in Massachusetts violate the free speech rights of protesters.  But ironically, the high court has its own, far wider 100-foot-wide buffer zone to keep protesters away from the Supreme Court.

Massachusetts passed its law to protect abortion workers and patients after a gunman killed two abortion clinic receptionists and wounded five others at two area clinics in 1994.    Violence against abortion providers has occurred elsewhere, notably the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who provided abortions in Wichita, Kansas.

Similar laws are on the books in other states, including California. But abortion opponents argued that such restrictions violated their First Amendment free speech rights.

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: HOBBY LOBBY-- THE CORPORATION AS PROPHET

 

By Mark Gabrish Conlan • for East County Magazine, www.eastcountymagazine.org

April 2, 2014 (Washington D.C.)--The U.S. Supreme Court sure picked a weird way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act this year. On March 24, they heard arguments in a case called Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, in which a chain of art supply stores claimed that the mandate under the Affordable Care Act (so-called “Obamacare”) that employer-provided health insurance cover birth control is an infringement on their freedom of religion. Stated that boldly, Hobby Lobby’s claim that its for-profit business has the capability of worshiping God in its own way and the government can’t dictate the terms under which it can provide employees health insurance because that would violate its freedom of religion is preposterous.

SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION LIMITS

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 2, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down limits on how much money an individual can donate overall during elections.  By a 5-4 vote in the case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the court’s majority tossed out restrictions on how much a person can donate to political parties, political action committees or PACs, and candidates in any two-year period, though limits on how much one can give to any single candidate remain in place.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, finding that the limits intruded on what he called a “citizen’s ability to exercise the most fundamental First Amendment activities.”

But Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to transparency in government and helping ordinary Americans have their voices heard, denounced the high court’s ruling as a “decision against democracy.”

READER’S EDITORIAL: SHOULD EMPLOYERS BE ABLE TO EXCLUDE BIRTH CONTROL FROM HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE?

 

By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

December 11, 2013 (San Diego)--The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to decide whether for-profit companies can be forced to provide full contraceptive coverage for their employees despite religious objections from their owners. Many people believe that health insurance is something offered by employers, a sort of bonus.  In fact, it is part of what I have known as one’s “wage package.”

SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN DENIAL OF FEDERAL BENEFITS UNDER DOMA, DISMISSES PROP 8 CASE

 

 

Governor Brown orders county clerks to begin same-sex marriages as soon as 9th Circuit Court lifts stay

By Miriam Raftery

June 26, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Supreme court, in closely divided 5-4 rulings, handed down decisions today in two landmark same –sex marriage cases. The rulings are being hailed as victories for supporters of same-sex marriage, while opponents vow to continue the battle at the state level. In California, however, the high court's dismissal of the Proposition 8 case opens the door for weddings between same-sex couples to resume soon.

For Dayna Dunbar of Spring Valley, the news sparked an emotional chord.  She and her partner, Brenda, have been together since 2001 and have an adopted son, Jesse (photo, left). 

“We were just holding each other, in tears,” she told ECM today.  When their son heard news of the court decision, Dunbar added, “He was so excited, he hugged us about three times each.”

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: HIGH COURT ON RIGHTS: 1 WIN, 1 LOSS, 2 DRAWS

 

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

Columnist's elation over marriage equality rulings is tempered by dismay over high court's ruling on Voting Rights Act

June 26, 2013 (San Diego)--The sun is shining this Wednesday, June 26 and it’s a beautiful, if rather hot, day in San Diego. I sent my husband Charles off to work this morning after we both got up early to watch MS-NBC broadcast news of the United States Supreme Court’s rulings on two cases involving the rights of same-sex couples to marry each other. It was a personal story to us because Charles and I are legally married.

SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN HEART OF VOTING RIGHTS ACT, SPARKING NATIONAL OUTCRY

 

 

"Discrimination at the ballot box is intolerable, and we must ensure that minorities don’t have their votes purged, packed, gerrymandered, and redistricted away.” -- Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, commenting on the decision

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 25, 2013 (Washington D.C.) – By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a requirement for states and communities with a history of discrimination against minority voters to obtain federal approval before changing their voting laws.  The Court did not find the Voting Rights requirement of preapproval itself unconstitutional, but ruled that Congress must act to assess which areas still have evidence of discrimination.

The action in the Shelby v. Holder case has triggered outraged reactions from civil rights leaders across the nation. 

“Communities of color, and young, women, elderly, and disables voters are at risk,” the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) warns.  The NAACP has launched a petition asking Congress to act to protect voting rights . (Petition: http://www.naacp.org/page/s/vra-no-voting-rights?subsource=strucklb)

POLITICAL REFLECTIONS COLUMN: MARRYING YOUR GAY FIRST COUSIN?

By Mark Gabrish Conlan

April 7, 2013 (San Diego)--On March 26 and 27, the U.S. Supreme Court heard two major cases over whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

On March 26 they heard arguments on whether Proposition 8, which California voters passed in November 2008 to short-circuit the ruling of the California Supreme Court that the state’s constitution did not allow it to deny marriage to same-sex couples, is unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The next day they heard the case of Edith Windsor, who legally married her long-term partner, Thea Spyer, in Canada in 2007, then got socked with a federal estate tax bill of $367,000 because the federal government didn’t recognize her marriage under the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DoMA) passed by Congress in 1996.

The two cases rest on somewhat different legal issues, and it’s quite possible the court could throw out Proposition 8 and uphold DoMA — or vice versa — but the underlying issues are the same.

U.S. SUPREME COURT RELEASES AUDIO AND TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL ARGUMENT IN PROPOSITION 8 CASE

 

Audio and Transcript of the Historic Argument Available HERE

March 26, 2013 (Washington D.C.)-- Today, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the federal constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8.  The Court is considering whether Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.   

The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), sole sponsor of the Perry case, has posted the full audio and transcript of the historic argument at: www.afer.org/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-marriage-equality-at-the-supreme-court/

Califiornian voters legalized same-sex marriage, but later overturned the rights of gay and lesbian couples to wed with Prop 8's passage in November 2008.  A federal district court ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, a ruling later upheld by the federal court of appeals.  On December 7, 2012, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Perry to review the case. The appeal was filed by Dennis Hollingsworth, former State Senator from San Diego and Riverside counties.

SAN DIEGO COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY BACKS AMENDMENT TO OVERTURN “CITIZENS UNITED” DECISION

December 7, 2012 (San Diego)--In a stunning unanimous vote Tuesday, the San Diego City Council supported a Constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed virtually unlimited corporate donations to political campaigns. The vote was 8-0 to limit the power of money in politics, with one absent councilmember not voting.

The resolution asks Congress to begin the process to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission “so that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech.”

ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

November 28, 2012 -- (San Diego’s East County) – ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflecti all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

WORLD

HEALTH

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

ROADLESS RULE WITHSTANDS A “SUPREME” TEST

By Chris Thomas, Public News Service

October 7, 2012 (Washington D.C.)-- After a decade of legal challenges, the "roadless rule" landed on the U.S. Supreme Court's doorstep, and on Monday, the court opted to leave it in place rather than hear the latest appeal.

The rule doesn't allow new road-building on millions of acres of national forest land in three dozen states, including California.

HISTORIC LAWSUIT FOR VETERANS HEADED TO SUPREME COURT?

By Jamie Reno

The Reno Dispatch

September 24, 2012 (San Diego)--My trusted veteran sources tell me that we may soon know if Veterans for Common Sense v. Eric K. Shinseki, the historic lawsuit filed by veterans advocates against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) way back in 2007, will be heard by the Supreme Court.

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