SCOTUS news and opinions

Alito and Thomas are poison.
Why did Thomas vote against it? He's literally a Southern black man!
He sold his soul to the GOP decades ago.
Roberts is having nightmares about the popularity of the court plummeting and all the calls to reform it

Let's hope so. Anyone presiding over a farce should be terrified of what people think of them.
Let's hope so. Anyone presiding over a farce should be terrified of what people think of them. a republic/democracy. Some people actually want an authoritarian state.
Meanwhile, Kagan defends democracy with a unanimous court.
Roberts has always been kinda like that. Kavanaugh was the untested voice people called wrong.

The Medicare thing was 7-2.

Thing about Kavanaugh is that we never got to see what he might be before he was confirmed. He was just placed in the worst light that he could have been, leaving one side drooling and the other side disgusted. Had the confirmation process been handled fairly, he may still have been confirmed, but with more confidence in him. As is, no one knows, and we'll all find out the hard way.

Why did Thomas vote against it? He's literally a Southern black man!

Thomas has been in a growing rage since law school because he's been told his whole life that he's only in his position because of affirmative action. And it turned out to be true, because Republicans would give higher positions to a Black man on their side, just because there were so few of them.

And then, the far right is the only people that he listens to at all.
Thing about Kavanaugh is that we never got to see what he might be before he was confirmed. He was just placed in the worst light that he could have been, leaving one side drooling and the other side disgusted. Had the confirmation process been handled fairly, he may still have been confirmed, but with more confidence in him. As is, no one knows, and we'll all find out the hard way.
Well, it's one call. Give him time, and I'm sure we'll have stuff to talk about!

Justice Samuel Alito Took Luxury Fishing Vacation With GOP Billionaire Who Later Had Cases Before the Court​

by Justin Elliott, Joshua Kaplan, Alex MierjeskiJune 20, 11:49 p.m. EDT

In the years after the undisclosed trip to Alaska, Republican megadonor Paul Singer’s hedge fund has repeatedly had business before the Supreme Court. Alito has never recused himself.

Is there  any legislation to regulate the Supreme Court?

Clarence Thomas’ Latest Criminal Justice Ruling Is an Outright Tragedy​

This is part of Opinionpalooza, Slate’s coverage of the major decisions from the Supreme Court this June. We’re working to change the way the media covers the Supreme Court. Sign up for the pop-up newsletter to receive our latest updates, and support our work when you join Slate Plus.

Many people watching Supreme Court opinions on Thursday may have breathed a sigh of relief as the court did not hand down any of the most-watched remaining cases (like the challenge to the president’s student debt relief program, or the challenge to affirmative action, or the challenge to LGBTQ equality and nondiscrimination protections).

But that’s only because a lot of people may have not been following the slow-motion disaster that has been unfolding in one of the less followed cases, Jones v. Hendrix. Jones involves a highly technical sounding, but practically significant, issue about when federal courts may correct wrongful convictions and wrongful sentences.

Essentially the case involves this scenario: What if it turns out that the federal courts that heard your criminal case made a mistake? And as a result of the courts’ mistake, you were convicted of something that isn’t actually a crime at all (because federal law doesn’t prohibit what you did), or, as a result of the courts’ mistake, you were sentenced to more time in prison than the law says you can be sentenced to? Can a federal court later correct the error in a federal habeas corpus proceeding when you challenge your conviction or sentence?

Today, the court, in a 6–3 opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, answered that question with a no. For people watching this catastrophe happen in real time, the result is not surprising. But it is a catastrophe nonetheless. As Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in her powerful dissent, the opinion “unjustifiably closes off all avenues for certain defendants to secure meaningful consideration of their innocence claims.”

As a result of this opinion, people with illegal convictions and sentences—people who are legally innocent—will be stuck in prison for no good reason because the courts screwed up, not because they did. The law certainly did not require this result. And the Jones debacle carries a few warnings about the nightmare at One First Street.

One is that the Jones majority is part of a larger trend of the Supreme Court believing that the court (and all federal courts) are above reproach and can do no wrong. Take Justice Samuel Alito’s Wall Street Journal op-ed on Tuesday night, the one that insisted he was entitled to take free personal jet trips from hedge fund billionaires with business before the court (and also to not disclose said trips) because otherwise the personal jet seat would have gone empty. Or look at the months of gaslighting about how the influence and access campaign directed at the court’s Republican-appointed justices is all well and good because of course the justices are above reproach.

Jones is part of this trend. The cases affected by Jones are instances where a federal court screwed up. The federal court interpreted a statute incorrectly, and as a result, the court sent someone to prison for something that isn’t a federal crime. Or they sent someone to prison for more time than the law actually imposes on that person. Then, when a court later recognizes the error in some other case, the incarcerated individual asks the court to fix the mistake in their case and to let them out of prison.

Justice Thomas’ six-justice majority basically shrugged its shoulders and said, “Too bad, so sad, we may have messed up, but you’re going to stay in prison.” As Justice Jackson wrote in her must-read dissent (which, as a disclosure, includes a citation to some of my work on this topic), the “implications of the nothing-to-see-here approach that the majority takes with respect to the incarceration of potential legal innocents” are pretty ghastly. “Apparently,” she observed, “legally innocent or not, Jones must just carry on in prison regardless.”

It’s not overstating things to say that this opinion means that there are people who are in prison illegally, but now have no vehicle to seek their release from a federal court. As Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote in a rare joint dissent, “A prisoner who is actually innocent, imprisoned for conduct that Congress did not criminalize, is forever barred … from raising that claim, merely because he previously sought postconviction relief.”

Yikes. And that brings me to my second point, which is that the case is part of a disturbing pattern of Republican appointees overvaluing the finality of criminal convictions rather than the lawfulness of criminal convictions, and the related trend of the Republican appointees narrowing the availability of remedies to enforce people’s rights. Again this issue is super technical, but this is how the relevant body of federal law works. For people who are convicted in federal court, after they finish their appeals, federal law allows them to file a section 2255 motion to challenge their conviction or sentence (perhaps on the basis of newly discovered evidence, perhaps on the basis of a new federal decision, or perhaps on grounds they couldn’t raise during their appeal, such as ineffective assistance of counsel). But under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, federal law severely restricts their ability to file a second or successive 2255 motion; they can only do so on the basis of certain newly discovered evidence, or on the basis of a limited category of decisions about constitutional law.

That leaves out circumstances where a later decision on statutory law indicates that the courts misinterpreted a statute and caused someone to be wrongly convicted or sentenced. And so those individuals—who are legally innocent of a crime or who were given a wrongful sentence—have traditionally relied on another provision of federal law (known as the savings clause) that allows incarcerated persons who are “authorized to apply for relief” under section 2255 to file a federal habeas petition challenging their conviction or sentence if section 2255 “is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of [their] detention.” This is the avenue the court cut off on Thursday.

As Sotomayor and Kagan wrote in their joint dissent, where section 2255 bars a claim that could be raised in a habeas proceeding (like the claim that you’re innocent because the courts screwed up in interpreting a statute), section 2255 is inadequate to test a conviction and sentence because section 2255 doesn’t authorize a person to apply for relief—and so that person should be able to file a habeas petition. And as Jackson painstakingly documented, the legislative context, statutory design, body of case law leading up the enactment of AEDPA, and more than a few principles of constitutional law point toward the same conclusion—that claims of legal innocence (or statutory innocence as she alternatively calls them) should be able to be raised in federal habeas proceedings even if an individual has filed multiple post-conviction motions.

The majority arrived at the opposite conclusion by relying on a weird, negative inference from the federal statute. Essentially, they said, if Congress wanted to authorize people to file a second or successive motion when a federal court messed up on a statutory issue, it would have said so. And to permit individuals to file habeas petitions raising arguments that Congress didn’t allow them to raise in successive 2255 motions would mess up the whole system and allow too many people to file too many claims. The reasoning calls to mind one of Justice William J. Brennan’s famous lines from McCleskey v. Kemp: “Taken on its face, such [reasoning] seems to suggest a fear of too much justice.” Justice Thomas’ majority also relied on some pretty shoddy historical accounts of habeas corpus as well. (I’m sure they’ll get their history right one of these days.)

It’s also important to note the pattern here. Last term, in one of the more ghastly Supreme Court decisions, the same 6–3 majority from Jones ruled for Arizona in a case where the state had loudly and proudly argued that “innocence is not enough” to remedy a conviction for innocent persons convicted in state courts. In that case, incarcerated individuals sought to introduce evidence that they didn’t commit the crime they were convicted of, or were not even eligible for the death sentence they received. One of the individuals, Barry Jones, had successfully persuaded two federal courts (and four judges) that he probably didn’t commit the crime for which he had been sentenced to death. The court said too bad; it’s illegal for a federal court to consider evidence of his innocence, even if that evidence wasn’t ever introduced because the state appointed him an ineffective lawyer. After the 2022 midterm election resulted in a Democratic attorney general, Barry Jones successfully negotiated a plea agreement resulting in his release, though this Supreme Court would have allowed the state to execute him.

Today, the court continued down the same road, and is likely to continue further with no end in sight.

Supreme Court Rejects GOP-Led Challenge To Biden Policy On Deportations​

The states had argued that federal immigration law requires authorities to detain and deport even those who pose little or no risk.


Supreme Court Rejects GOP-Led Challenge To Biden Policy On Deportations​

The states had argued that federal immigration law requires authorities to detain and deport even those who pose little or no risk.

Well, I owe myself some money because I bet that Thomas would be the sole dissent, but it was Alito.

Alito claimed the ruling favored the Presidency over Congress, but isn't it Congress that didn't appropriate nearly enough money to deport everyone?

Also wtf is with Alito's opinions reading like press releases from Marjorie Taylor Greene's office?

U.S. Supreme Court rejects theory that helped underpin Trump attempt to replace electors​

Similar election challenges now made more difficult 'unless something really screwy happens': analyst

The U.S. Supreme Court shot down a controversial legal theory that could have changed the way elections are run across the country, but left the door open to more limited challenges that could increase its role in deciding voting disputes during the 2024 presidential election.

The court's 6-3 ruling Tuesday drove a stake through the most extreme version of the so-called independent state legislature theory, which holds that legislatures have absolute power in setting the rules of federal elections and cannot be second-guessed by state courts.

"We beat back the most serious legal threat our democracy has ever faced today," said Kathay Feng of Common Cause, whose lawsuit challenging congressional districts drawn by North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature triggered the case.

As Republicans have gained more power in state legislatures, the theory has become more popular on the right.

In 2020, the Trump campaign asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowing the tallying of mail ballots received after Election Day in a case that many thought would pivot on the theory. But the high court simply ordered the late mail ballots to be segregated during the vote count and, when they were too few in number to change the outcome, did nothing further.

In the most extreme case, some Trump legal advisers in late 2020 wanted to use the theory to let state legislatures replace electors won by Joe Biden with Trump-voting ones. They argued that state legislatures should have the power to declare the winner of presidential races.

The ruling was praised by former president Barack Obama and his onetime attorney general Eric Holder, among others.

Role of state supreme courts at issue​

The independent state legislature theory stems from the clause in the U.S. Constitution declaring that state legislatures shall set the "time, place and manner" of elections for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Advocates argue that shows the founders wanted to give legislatures ultimate power in federal elections.

The theory was alluded to by conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist in the landmark 2000 case Bush v. Gore, after that contentious, razor-thin election. Rehnquist noted the clause suggested limits on whether the Florida Supreme Court could decide who would win the state's presidential electors.

In the current case, North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature last year argued that the theory meant its state supreme court couldn't overturn the map it drew that awarded a disproportionate share of the state's 14 congressional districts to Republicans. But Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, dismissed that argument as historically and legally inaccurate.

"When legislatures make laws," Roberts wrote, "they are bound by the provisions of the very documents that give them life."

he court on Tuesday found that state courts still must act within "ordinary bounds" when reviewing laws governing federal elections, which could give another set of tools for those who lose election lawsuits in state courts to try to persuade federal judges to overturn those rulings.

"They've rejected a lot of the extreme stuff, but there is still a lot of room for ideological and partisan judging to come into play," said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California Los Angeles who filed an amicus brief in the case urging the court to reject the theory across the board.

Lawyer John Eastman, who espoused the independent state legislature theory in the election aftermath for Trump, told NBC News on Tuesday that the ruling made the situation "murkier than it was previously."

Eastman predicted a "litigation bonanza," with legal challenges to arise based on how states allow eligible citizens to vote, as well as after voting days. Eastman and some other Trump allies have characterized some changes made to 2020 election laws during the pandemic to allow for more mail-in ballots as being illegal, though those arguments were generally unsuccessful in courts.

In recent years, mail-in balloting has been favoured by Democratic voters.

Thomas dissents​

It is believed, based on individuals entering a Washington, D.C., courtroom in recent months, that special counsel Jack Smith is probing people with information on the 2020 alternate electors scheme. Smith has been assigned by the Justice Department to investigate efforts to overturn that election result as well as the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

"We will see [future] cases, but I think almost certainly — unless something really screwy happens — they're going to lose a lot," said Cameron Kistler, a legal counsel at the non-profit group Protect Democracy.

Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general who argued the case for voting rights groups at the Supreme Court, said the ruling is "a signal that this United States Supreme Court, with a solid six justices behind it, will resist attempts by state legislatures to mess with the integrity of the 2024 election."

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who dissented on the case, warned that a signal is not enough. He bemoaned the majority's refusal to spell out exactly when a state court would overreach.

"There are bound to be exceptions," Thomas wrote. "They will arise haphazardly, in the midst of quickly evolving, politically charged controversies, and the winners of federal elections may be decided by a federal court's expedited judgment."
now made more difficult 'unless something really screwy happens'
well, then it's a lock.

On a serious note, this is a positive ruling, that they didn't give this wacky theory any traction.
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Affirmative action: US Supreme Court overturns race-based college admissions​

The US Supreme Court has ruled that race can no longer be considered a factor in university admissions.
The landmark ruling upends decades-old US policies on so-called affirmative action, also known as positive discrimination.
It is one of the most contentious issues in US education.
Affirmative action first made its way into policy in the 1960s, and has been defended as a measure to increase diversity.

The White House said it was reviewing Thursday's seismic decision.
The cases heard by the justices last October concerned admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC).

The justices have ruled in favour of an organisation called Students for Fair Admissions, founded by a conservative activist, Edward Blum.
The group argued that Harvard's race-conscious admissions policy violated Title VI the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race, colour or national origin.
The decision by the court's conservative majority fell largely along ideological lines with a 6-3 ruling against UNC and a 6-2 ruling against Harvard.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote: "Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individual's identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin."
He wrote: "Such [race-based] admission programs must comply with strict scrutiny, may never use race as a stereotype or negative, and must - at some point, end."
Justice Roberts's majority opinion said that while the UNC and Harvard admissions programmes were "well intentioned", they "fail each of these criteria".

"Harvard's admissions process rests on the pernicious stereotype that 'a black student can usually bring something that a white person cannot offer,'" he wrote.
The opinion, the Supreme Court noted, does not mean that universities are prohibited from considering an applicant's "discussion of how race affects his or her life".
Among the liberal judges to dissent was Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote that the decision "rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress".
She added that she believes the ruling means race can no longer achieve "critical benefits" and "cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society".
Another dissenting justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, wrote: "With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces 'colorblindness for all' by legal fiat."
But Justice Roberts wrote that the dissenting justices had ignored parts of the law they did not like.

"Most troubling of all is what the dissent must make these omissions to defend: a judiciary that picks winners and losers based on the color of their skin," he said.
In a statement, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said that while it is not the outcome that the university "hoped for", it will review the decision and "take any necessary steps to comply with the law".
Harvard has so far not commented on the ruling.
Yes, though it is not clear to me how the Supreme Court can interfere with how private institutions that don't take public money handle their admissions.
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