Courts

Trump Adds 5 Big Names to SCOTUS Pick List

It was a small headline this week that didn’t get much attention amid what we’ll call Gropegate. But it was a massive tell in the Supreme Court poker game.

The White House announced that President Trump has added five big names to his list of potential SCOTUS nominees.

And rest assured they’re all solid conservatives of the same stripe as Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Among them is Amy Barrett, former Notre Dame law professor who was assailed by liberals in the U.S. Senate for being a traditional Catholic in the same vein as former Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch replaced.

But the bigger story here is that Trump likely is preparing for a nomination to replace Justice Kennedy ahead of his expected retirement next year.

Remember: Trump predicted he’d get to nominate as many as four or five during his tenure.

Here’s more from Newsmax…

President Donald Trump has added federal appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh and four other jurists to his list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh recently wrote a dissent when his colleagues on the federal appeals court in Washington allowed an immigrant teen in U.S. custody to have an abortion. The 52-year-old Kavanaugh was once a law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The other judges added to Trump’s list are two more federal appellate judges, Amy Barrett and Kevin Newsom, and two state Supreme Court justices, Britt Grant of Georgia and Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma.

Trump adviser Leonard Leo says there is no indication the 81-year-old Kennedy or any other justice is planning to leave the court.

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Courts

President Trump Quietly Transforming US Judiciary Branch

Democrats famously shot themselves in the political foot in 2013 when they removed the filibuster option for judicial confirmations in Senate.

Four years later, Republicans now in control are using that decision to their advantage to help President Trump — in the words Barack H. Obama — ‘fundamentally transform’ the federal judiciary.

Whilst the Trump administration and Congress are mired in a very public sort of do-nothing reputation after failing to repeal Obamacare and, so far, to pass a tax reform bill, some very significant things are happening in the courts.

Trump has filled vacancies in federal courts faster than any president since Richard Nixon–almost nine appellate judges to be exact.

And he’s done it by creating a not-so-public team whose sole job is to find conservative judges, vet them and get nominated and confirmed.

If this is the only legacy from the Trump era, it’s already huge.

Here’s more from PJ Media…

In the weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, lawyers joining his administration gathered at a law firm near the Capitol, where Donald F. McGahn II, the soon-to-be White House counsel, filled a white board with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.

Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial.

Nearly a year later, that plan is coming to fruition. Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.

Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them.

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Courts

Court Rules War Memorial Shaped Like A Cross Is Unconstitutional

Federal courts are at it again with more judicial tyranny, and the founding fathers are surely turning in their graves.

The 4th Circuit Court ruled this week that a Maryland war memorial is unconstitutional because it’s in the shape of a cross.

Funded and maintained with taxpayer dollars, it apparently constitutes ‘establishment of religion’ because it promotes Christianity exclusively.

The obvious retort is to point to Arlington Cemetery where there are lots and lots of crosses.

What’s the difference?

According to the court, the memorial in Maryland is too big.

Yep, apparently the First Amendment now hinges on size.

So, should the case get appealed to the Supreme Court, constitutional case law may come down to a question of inches.

Unbelievable.

Here’s more from HotAir…

Stupid, but unfortunately this stupidity is baked into the jurisprudential cake due to the intractability of the underlying problem. It’d be nice to set a bright-line rule about religious symbols on state land, where they’re either always okay or never okay. But neither of those positions works. You can’t have a system where they’re always okay or else you’re inviting overt attempts at religious indoctrination by the government. That would violate the Establishment Clause. At the other extreme, you can’t have a system where religious symbols are never permitted. Imagine trying to remove the crosses at Arlington National Cemetery. Necessarily the analysis in cases about monuments is ad hoc, and just as necessarily that sort of analysis depends on the judge’s subjective view.

Courts are left trying to feel their way case by case, essentially taking a “I know it when I see it” approach to unconstitutional government-financed religious symbolism. Normally that involves applying something called the “Lemon test,” drawn from a SCOTUS case of the same name, which tries to standardize judicial reasoning in analyzing cases like these. But it ends up as a hash in practice, with judges essentially using it to wrestle with the concept of de minimis indoctrination. Every religious symbol on government land risks indoctrinating the observer a little bit. Invariably the symbols are tied to virtues like heroism in war, in law enforcement, and so on. If you admire the valor of a soldier and a giant cross stands before you to commemorate that valor, maybe you’ll admire the cross and what it represents a little bit more too. But how much more? How much indoctrination is too much for the Establishment Clause?

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Courts, Politics

Trump: I’ll Appoint 4 Supreme Court Justices in First Term

Axios is reporting a fairly interesting interview with President Trump in which he’s boldly predicting a full four appointments to the Supreme Court…in his first term alone.

Having already appointed Justice Gorsuch to the Court with no small degree of political maneuvering in the Senate, the question concerns the additional three.

The most obvious is Justice Kennedy whose retirement was rumored almost immediately after Trump’s inauguration.

The second is nearly as obvious with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — easily the most liberal on the bench — who has been battling major health issues for at least a decade and, thus, probably would have retired had Hillary won the election.

But the third is a bit of a surprise. One might guess Justice Stephen Breyer who, at 79, is the third oldest member on the Court. And that guess would be wrong.

According to Trump, Sotomayor, though only 63, has been battling diabetes since childhood. Trump apparently believes that will be her undoing.

If he’s right, and if he wins reelection in 2020, he may have an opportunity to appoint a majority of the Court before he’s done.

The last time that happened was under President Eisenhower, more than half a century ago.

Here’s more from Newsmax…

President Donald Trump predicted he would appoint a total of four Supreme Court justices by the end of his first term, Axios reported Sunday.

Sources who had spoken to the president about the possibility told the online news media company it was “all about the numbers for him.”

One source said Trump mentioned he had already replaced the seat left vacant when Antonin Scalia died early last year, nominating Neil Gorsuch to the position. When asked who the second justice he thought would leave, Trump mentioned rumors Justice Anthony Kennedy would retire.

The third justice the president thought would leave was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to the source.

“Ginsburg,” Trump reportedly said. “What does she weigh? Sixty pounds?” And the fourth justice Trump predicted would leave the Supreme Court was Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“Sotomayor,” Trump told the source, referring to the justice appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2009.

“Her health,” Trump explained. “No good. Diabetes.”

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Courts

Upcoming Supreme Court Term May Be the Most Epic

As if the drama this year concerning the pending retirement of Justice Kennedy weren’t enough for SCOTUS aficionados, this fall’s term for the Court could prove to be the most critical in a very long time.

And the decisions coming down will be a bellwether with Justice Gorsuch adding in his two cents.

Two cases in particular will set massive precedents for decades to come.

First is a case on gerrymandering in which liberals are suing the Republican Party in Wisconsin for, essentially, drawing district lines that are too unfair for Democrats.

If the Court agrees, it will force the redrawing of as much as a third of districts across the country.

Second is a case that could overturn Obama’s “Waters of the US” rule which essentially declared every puddle in America property of the EPA.

If the Court invalidates the rule, the EPA’s grip via draconian regulations will come to an end…at least over water.

Here’s more from Daily Signal…

Monday, Oct. 2 marks the start of a new Supreme Court term.

While the arrival of Justice Neil Gorsuch made major headlines, the cases last term did not gain much attention. The Court’s 2017-2018 term, however, promises to be one for the history books.

In their first few weeks back, the justices will tackle several important issues including partisan gerrymandering, the Waters of the U.S. rule, and corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute. Here’s a look at these upcoming cases.

On Oct. 3, the Supreme Court will be pulled into the political thicket of legislative redistricting in Gill v. Whitford. This case out of Wisconsin involves the Republican-controlled legislature’s 2011 redistricting plan.

A three-judge panel invalidated the plan, finding that the Republican legislature intended to “entrench” its power—despite the fact that the plan complied with traditional criteria, such as compactness and contiguity, and that the Supreme Court has previously declined to hear cases involving partisan gerrymandering, as opposed to racial gerrymandering challenges.

In this case, the challengers have come up with a new theory for challenging a plan that otherwise meets the Supreme Court’s criteria.

This new theory—the “efficiency gap”—claims that votes for one party over a certain threshold are “wasted” and shows that a plan has been drawn to pack voters of one party into a small number of districts.

Another explanation is that like-minded voters simply tend to live near one another.

Will the Supreme Court decide to intervene? Or will the justices say that political disputes are better left to the political branches?

Given that the “efficiency gap” theory could spell doom for one in three redistricting plans, the Court may be reluctant to endorse it.

Read more…

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Courts, Issues, States

Round Two: Texas Wins Judgment on Sanctuary Cities

You may recall our report previously on the liberal federal judge in San Antonio who ordered an injunction on Texas’ new law against sanctuary cities.

That order has just been overturned by the 5th Circuit Court which decided in favor of the state’s appeal.

The three-judge panel essentially agreed that Texas has the right to pursue justice on behalf of the people until such time as the law is ruled invalid by the courts.

In other words, the pause button liberal judges have been hitting so much lately on conservative laws isn’t gonna fly in Texas.

Amid the battle against judicial tyranny, we’re well reminded not all judges are derelict.

Here’s more from the Daily Signal…

Texas has just won the second (procedural) round in the fight over the state Legislature’s attempt to punish cities that implement sanctuary policies.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily stayed on Monday key portions of the injunction issued in September by a federal judge in San Antonio that prevented the state from implementing major parts of the law.

As explained here, the 2017 statute applies to illegal aliens arrested or otherwise lawfully detained by local law enforcement.

The core parts of the law ban Texas cities from prohibiting or “materially limit[ing]” local law enforcement from:

  1. Notifying federal immigration officials that an illegal alien has been arrested.
  2. Cooperating with immigration authorities (including honoring detainer warrants on illegal aliens issued by federal authorities).
  3. Allowing federal immigration officers to enter local jails to conduct investigations of criminal illegal aliens.

The lower court federal judge had enjoined Texas from implementing the second and third provisions. However, the 5th Circuit issued a stay of that portion of the injunction.

Holding that Texas was likely to succeed on the merits of those two provisions, the 5th Circuit lifted the injunction until the appeals court has a chance to consider the merits of the case. Otherwise, the “state necessarily suffers the irreparable harms of denying the public interest in the enforcement of its laws.”

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Courts, Politics

Al Franken Obstructs Judicial Nominee for Being Conservative

Liberal Democrats in the U.S. Senate clearly don’t mind airing their nakedly political opposition to President Trump’s judicial nominees.

Earlier this week, Sen. Diane Feinstein attacked a judicial nominee for being Catholic chiding that ‘[your] dogma lives loudly within you.’

Amy Coney Barrett is a respected law professor at Notre Dame and is the mother of seven children.

Apparently that’s just too much to handle for Feinstein.

Then, not to be outdone, Sen. Al Franken anted up in his charge against a nominee for the 8th Circuit Court that, essentially, he’s too conservative.

Commenting on David Stras’ qualifications, Franken quipped, “if confirmed … Justice Stras would be a deeply conservative jurist in the mold of Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.”

No longer is being a qualified, accomplished legal scholar an important criterion for the courts.

Now if you’re conservative it really doesn’t matter.

Here’s more from Daily Signal…

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., seems determined to block a judicial nominee from his home state.

On Tuesday, Franken announced his intent to obstruct Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras, the president’s nominee to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, by refusing to return Stras’ blue slip.

Why jam up the confirmation of a well-respected state jurist to the federal bench?

Franken lamented that “if confirmed … Justice Stras would be a deeply conservative jurist in the mold of Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, justices who the nominee himself has identified as role models.”

That sounds like a ringing endorsement to anyone who cares about the proper role of judges.

With his statement, Franken has clearly signaled that he won’t let through any conservative nominee from Minnesota. This was somewhat surprising since, after a delay, other Democrats have returned their blue slips, letting nominees from Michigan and Indiana proceed.

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Courts, Issues

9th Circuit Finds In Favor of School Over Firing Coach for Prayer

Joe Kennedy is the former football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington state.

He’s the former coach because the school district fired him after he refused to stop praying at mid-field with students, players, parents and others after games.

His constitutional rights infringed, Coach Kennedy appealed to the U.S. judiciary which reportedly is tasked with upholding the Constitution.

But in a very unsurprising decision, Kennedy’s appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit — the most liberal Circuit Court in the nation — was rejected when the court agreed that Kennedy’s insistence on praying in a public venue constituted religious oppression and therefore is not protected by the First Amendment.

He’s vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court where — should President Trump get a solid pick to replace Justice Kennedy — a reversal of the 9th Circuit is likely and will be a judicial atom bomb for the anti-Christian left.

Coach Kennedy served admirably in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years, but this battle may quickly become his greatest.

Here’s more from Daily Signal…

The Supreme Court could be the next stop for a high school football coach after a federal appeals court said a Washington state school district acted properly in firing him for praying in public after games.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Joe Kennedy “took advantage” of his authority as a teacher and assistant coach at Bremerton High School by praying after games, when he sometimes was joined by players and parents from opposing teams as well as his own.

In doing so, the judges decided, Kennedy acted to “press his particular views upon impressionable and captive minds before him,” adding:

By kneeling and praying on the 50-yard line immediately after games while in view of students and parents, Kennedy was sending a message about what he values as a coach, what the [school] district considers appropriate behavior, and what students should believe, or how they ought to behave.

Washington’s Bremerton School District has no legal obligation to return Kennedy to the job he held from 2008 to 2015, the Associated Press reported of the court’s two opinions totaling more than 60 pages.

“According to the 9th Circuit, it is unconstitutional for a coach to make a sign of the cross or bow his head in prayer when a player gets hurt,” said Mike Berry, deputy general counsel to First Liberty Institute, a public interest law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases and represents Kennedy, a former Marine.

“We are deeply disappointed by the decision and will consider all options available to Coach Kennedy as we continue to review the opinion,” Berry said in a prepared statement.

The Daily Signal has followed the Kennedy case since October 2015 and produced video reports on it last year.

“I just want the ability to go back out there and help these young men, and also have my constitutional rights that I fought for in the Marine Corps for 20 years,” Kennedy said in an interview with The Daily Signal’s Kelsey Harkness after filing suit last August.

Read more…

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Courts

Checkmate: Trump Appeals Hawaii Judge’s Travel Ban Ruling to SCOTUS

As we reported earlier this week, liberal Hawaii federal Judge Derrick K. Watson changed his mind on his previous ruling about issuing an extension on the refugee travel ban to include ANY family member, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling.

And just as predicted, the Trump White House promptly responded with an appeal to the Supreme Court in which it plainly is asking the Court to slap down the Hawaii judge’s ruling and to enforce its own original decree.

We expect the administration will prevail in this given that the SCOTUS historically doesn’t take kindly to lower court judges modifying its decisions.

The seesaw court battle over whether refugees from any country can enter the US for any reason is far from over.

Here’s more from Redstate…

Late Friday night, the Trump administration kept its word and appealed the flip flop ruling of U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii, which again disrupts President Trump’s so-called travel ban directly to the Supreme Court.

As we reported previously, Judge Watson flipped flopped on this issue in the course of one week.

On July 6 Judge Watson denied an emergency motionchallenging President Donald J. Trump’s so-called travel ban. Hawaii and a local imam sought to have grandparents and other relatives exempt from the executive order, which the Supreme Court allowed to partially be implemented in June:

This Court will not upset the Supreme Court’s careful balancing and “equitable judgment” brought to bear when “tailor[ing] a stay” in this matter.

[. . .]

This Court declines to usurp the prerogative of the Supreme Court to interpret its own order . . .

Then on  July 13, Judge Watson decided differently and chose to rule on the relationship question instead of deferring to the Supreme Court as he said he should just a week earlier.

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Courts

Lindsey Graham: Trump Could Appoint Four Supreme Court Justices

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made a bold prediction on Fox News this week.

Just before Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the Supreme Court, the average age of the members was 69.

What’s more, the average age that justices retire is 78. And three of them are near that mark or over it.

That means with three and a half more years of a Republican White House, the likelihood of multiple retirements increases exponentially.

And if the Democrats don’t prevail in 2020, Graham’s prediction — that Trump could appoint three or four justices — will almost certainly play out.

Here’s the kicker: all three of the oldest members are liberal.

Here’s more from Breitbart…

Friday on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) elaborated on a claim he made earlier in the week to a group in Washington, DC, which was President Donald Trump could appoint as many as four Supreme Court justices during his presidency.

Graham said the Russia was “standing in the way” of Trump getting some of the things completed on his agenda. However, he said the Supreme Court was still very much in play.

“We’ve got one,” Graham said. “We’ve got a couple of conservatives who may decide to step down and let a younger conservative take their job. All I can say is the Supreme Court vacancies that are to come in the next two or three years — maybe there won’t be any, but there could be three or four. So this is a big deal. I was telling those young Republicans that our party needs to deliver on health care. A better way of doing health care is to let your state do it, not Washington, cut your taxes, rebuild your roads and bridges, and give us a strong military. President Trump has a really good agenda.”

Watch…

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