Courts

Supreme Court to Hear Case of Christian Bakers, Gay Wedding Cake

The Supreme Court is in the news yet again but not just because Justice Kennedy’s rumored retirement may be imminent.

On Monday morning the Court announced it would hear an appeal of a lower court’s decision that Colorado-based Christian bakers’ First Amendment rights were not violated when authorities penalized them for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.

With the Court now at full membership with Gorsuch, the decision on this case almost certainly will set a far-reaching precedent given numerous similar cases around the country in which businesses have been forced to set aside their religious convictions in order to accommodate and endorse politically correct, liberal values.

Here’s more from Washington Examiner…

The Supreme Court decided Monday to hear a case involving a Colorado baker’s refusal to design and make a cake for a same-sex marriage.

The baker, Jake Phillips, declined to make the custom cake and said it conflicted with his religious beliefs. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided that Phillips’ actions amounted to sexual orientation discrimination under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

The Colorado Court of Appeals said the commission’s ruling did not violate the First Amendment because Phillips’ speech was “conduct compelled by a neutral and generally applicable law,” as attorneys for Phillips noted in their petition to the high court.

In granting Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court will tackle several hot-button issues including gay rights and First Amendment rights.

The case comes from the home state of Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the high court in April. The Supreme Court relisted the case several times for consideration, as it may have been waiting for a full nine-justice court to hear the case.

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Courts

Supreme Court: Immigrants Who Lie to Feds Can Lose Citizenship

In what would seem an obvious question, a key court case has made its way through the corridors of the judiciary branch finally to the Supreme Court.

It concerns a Serbian refugee who came to the U.S. and was finally granted citizenship, but afterward it was learned she had lied on her application.

Two federal courts and finally the Supreme Court all agreed: if you lie to federal officials about your reason for immigrating, it is perfectly legal to strip you of your citizenship.

So there you have it, folks. Not everything coming out of DC is all bad. Once in a while things go as they should.

Here’s more from Breitbart…

The Supreme Court on Thursday held that federal law authorizes courts to strip immigrant citizens of their U.S. citizenship if they obtained it as a result of making false statements to the federal government.

Federal law found at 18 U.S.C. § 1425(a) makes it a crime to “knowingly procur[e], contrary to law, the naturalization of any person” to become a U.S. citizen. (“Naturalization” is the legal term for becoming a citizen.) Moreover, a second federal statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1451(e) adds that a foreigner who obtains U.S. citizenship through such a violation will lose that newly granted citizenship.

Divna Maslenjak is a Serb who, along with her husband and two children, sought refugee status in 1998 to flee Bosnia. As part of seeking protected status, she swore under oath that the family feared persecution because her husband evaded military service. They were admitted to the United States in 2000 as refugees.

In 2006, she applied for U.S. citizenship. One question on her application asked if she had ever given “false or misleading information” while applying for immigration benefits. Another asked if she had “lied … to gain entry or admission” in this country. She answered “no” to both and became an American citizen in 2007.

Those answers were false. Her husband had served in the Bosnian Serb Army. A third federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1015(a), criminalizes making a false sworn statement during naturalization. The U.S. government argued that her statement violating § 1015(a) also counts as a violation of § 1425(a), which meant she must lose her citizenship under § 1451(e).

A judge on the federal district court accepted that argument and stripped Maslenjak of her citizenship. The Sixth Circuit appeals court affirmed.

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Courts

Rumor Mill: Justice Kennedy Retirement Could Come Next Week

A few weeks ago there was no small amount of speculation about the possibility that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy would announce his retirement this year.

And now that speculation has reached a fevered pitch as the court is near the beginning of its summer recess.

Rumors floating around DC are that he’ll use the break to make an announcement, possibly as early as next week.

If this should happen, virtually all news of scandals, investigations and the like will vanish.

And this could become the biggest fight of them all.

Stay tuned…

Here’s more from the AP…

The Supreme Court enters its final week of work before a long summer hiatus with action expected on the Trump administration’s travel ban and a decision due in a separation of church and state case that arises from a Missouri church playground.

The biggest news of all, though, would be if Justice Anthony Kennedy were to use the court’s last public session on Monday to announce his retirement.

To be sure, Kennedy has given no public sign that he will retire this year and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy’s departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court.

But Kennedy turns 81 next month and has been on the court for nearly 30 years. Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so. Kennedy and his clerks were gathering over the weekend for a reunion that was pushed up a year and helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.

“Soon we’ll know if rumors of Kennedy’s retirement are accurate,” one former Kennedy clerk, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, said on Twitter Friday.

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Courts, Issues

SCOTUS Slams Snowflakes in Rare Unanimous Decision

In an astounding 8-0 unanimous decision (Gorsuch did not participate), the Supreme Court of the United States dropped a bomb on snowflakes across the fruited plain who run around crying to anyone who will listen about how offended they are by this or that utterance.

The case in question concerned an Asian rock band called “The Slants” whose application for trademark was denied by the federal government because it is a ‘racial slur’.

But the high court disagreed arguing that the US Patent Office was violating the band’s First Amendment rights.

The decision sends a message to all snowflakes in the country: even high-minded liberal legal experts agree that being offended doesn’t trump the Constitution.

Go cry a river somewhere else.

Here’s more from the Redstate…

This is good news for… sanity.

And here’s the kicker – it came with unanimous support from the Supreme Court.

In an 8 – 0 decision, SCOTUS ruled that the government doesn’t have the right to censor trademarks, just because someone, somewhere, might be offended.

Commonsense and any sort of social interaction proves that there are people who actually seek out things to be offended by.

During those heady Obama years, the outrage culture saw, what we hope, was the pinnacle of its existence. One victim of that nonsensical movement was the Washington Redskins football team.

In 2014, multiple protests were launched against the team’s name by Native Americans, who felt the name and mascot were “offensive” to their heritage.

Lawsuits were launched to deny trademarks to the Redskins, and in June of 2014 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revoked around six team trademarks. By August, the team had filed their own countersuit in U.S. District Court, claiming the trademark board was penalizing them, in violation of their First Amendment rights.

This SCOTUS decision may give new life to their case.

The case before the high court involved an Asian rock band named “The Slants.” The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office originally denied the band’s name, saying it was a racial slur that violated the agency’s policy against granting disparaging trademarks.

Justices, though, said that violated the First Amendment.

“Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said in his opinion for the court.

Just as the Washington team had asserted in their 2014 case, trademarks constitute free speech.

And this is the way government is supposed to work. They get out of the way and let ideas compete.

If fans (or non-fans) are really that offended by the name, “Washington Redskins,” they have recourse.

They can protest (peacefully). They can boycott games and licensed products. They can try to convince others that they have a valid point, winning them over to their side.

What they can’t do, as this decision determines, is use the courts as enforcers to push their opinions over someone else’s, or deny the rest of the public the opportunity to make up their own mind.

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Courts

Judicial Tyranny: 9th Circuit Rules Against Trump Travel Ban

We’re utterly shocked to report that the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court injunction on President Trump’s travel ban.

Recall that the White House issued a second version of the ban designed to address objections from federal courts against the first ban.

Nevertheless, the second ban was blocked by courts in Maryland and Hawaii.

A three-judge panel from the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit agreed with the Hawaii federal judge.

This leaves the injunction from the Maryland court — which has already been appealed to the Supreme Court — as the final battle over the travel ban.

No news yet on whether Justice Ginsburg will recuse herself after displays of rampant anti-Trumpism.

Here’s more from Fox News…

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled in part against President Trump’s so-called travel ban, upholding an injunction that prevents the administration from enforcing a suspension on travel from six mostly Muslim countries.

“We conclude that the President, in issuing the Executive Order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress,” the opinion said.

The ruling Monday from a unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals deals the administration another legal defeat as the Supreme Court considers a separate case on the issue.

The judges say the president violated U.S. immigration law by discriminating against people based on their nationality and that Trump failed to show their entry into the country would hurt American interests.

They didn’t rule on whether the travel ban violated the Constitution’s ban on the government officially favoring or disfavoring any religion.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia also ruled against the travel ban May 25. The administration has appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court.

Earlier Monday, lawyers for Hawaii also told the Supreme Court that letting the Trump administration enforce the ban would “thrust the country back into the chaos and confusion” that resulted when the policy was first announced in January.

The state urged the justices to deny the administration plea to reinstate the policy after lower courts blocked it. The high court is considering the administration’s request and could act before the justices wind up their work at the end of June.

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Courts

Will Justice Ginsburg Recuse Herself From The Trump Travel Ban Case?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a liberal’s liberal.

In fact, when predicting how the court will decide any given case, Ginsburg is nearly always counted as a guaranteed liberal vote.

But it’s not enough that the 84-year-old justice routinely falls asleep in court proceedings and other official roles, she’s made her bias about Donald Trump very clear.

Prior to the election, she publicly contemplated moving to New Zealand if he were to win.

So now many are asking the obvious question: shouldn’t she recuse herself in the travel ban case over her anti-Trump bias?

Here’s more from Redstate…

The US Department of Justice has appealed the 4th Circuit’s decision on Trump’s executive order restricting travel to the US from a handful of failed states and terror sponsors to the Supreme Court. What, if anything, the Supreme Court will do is unknown. To a lay person–that would be me–it would be incredible if the Supreme Court would not hear a case that invalidates the long-standing ability of the executive in regards to national security, but with the grotesque politicization of the federal judiciary, who knows. We are well past the era in which the courts deferred to either of the political branches on much of anything.

The crux of the decision revolved not around the propriety of the executive order but on the 4th Circuit’s disapproval of President Trump’s personal aesthetic. He was critical of allowing Muslims to immigrate and therefore he acted in bad faith by requiring enhanced screening of a population likely to be terrorists but which happened to be predominately Muslim. They didn’t like him so his order was illegal even though the same order would undoubtedly be legal under a different president.

If statements at some point in the past are considered evidence, then Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has an insurmountable problem. I’m going to borrow heavily from Professor William A. Jacobson a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law School and the proprietor of Legal Insurrection.

. . . . .

Jacobson asks some hard questions about Justice Ginsburg’s suitability to rule on the travel ban when she, herself, has expressed very definitive views on Trump and his presidency.

  • “He is a faker,” she said of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, going point by point, as if presenting a legal brief.
  • Asked what if Trump won the presidency, Ginsburg said: “I don’t want to think about that possibility, but if it should be, then everything is up for grabs.”
  • “I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.
    Referring to something she thought her late husband, tax lawyer Martin Ginsburg, would have said, she said: “Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand.”

All of these show she has ruled out fairly ruling on anything involving Trump and her outspokenness has been sufficient to have newspaper editorials (New York Times, Washington Post) disapprove of her political commentary.

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Courts, Issues

Supreme Court Expedites Trump’s Petition on Executive Order Case

Late in the week news broke that the Trump administration filed a late night request that the Supreme Court move quickly to hear the appeal of a lower court’s decision to uphold the block on the president’s travel ban.

And to much surprise the court agreed to expedite the case for a hearing which means the ACLU — representing the plaintiffs — have just over a week to respond to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ request for a stay on the 4th Circuit Court’s block of the order.

The final battle is building up and the first major test of the Gorsuch court is coming very soon.

Here’s more from Breitbart…

The Supreme Court took the rare step on Friday of expediting consideration of a major case, rapidly accelerating the schedule for reviewing the Fourth Circuit’s blocking of President Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order.

President Trump issued Executive Order 13780 (EO) on March 6, Section 2(c) of which temporarily restricted travel from six Muslim-majority countries associated with terrorism while the United States developed new vetting procedures to keep the nation safe.

Immigration activists sued, along with several immigrants and their families. A liberal federal district judge in Maryland granted a preliminary injunction blocking Section 2(c) of the EO. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit then affirmed the trial court’s injunction in a 10-3 decision, ruling that the EO violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, and taking the almost unheard-of step of all the court’s judges hearing the case, instead of sending it to a three-judge panel.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a petition for review at the Supreme Court on Thursday. Under the Court’s rules, a response from the plaintiffs would be due July 3. By that time the Court would be on recess for the summer, meaning that the justices would vote at the Court’s annual pre-Term conference, which will take place on September 25, on whether to take the case. That would typically mean hearing arguments in December or January, with a final decision coming down in early or mid-2018.

Acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall at DOJ also asked Chief Justice John Roberts (who supervises the Fourth Circuit) to stay the appellate court’s decision until the justices can decide the matter.

On Friday, the Supreme Court rapidly expedited everything. The ACLU—which represents the plaintiffs—have been ordered to file their response by 3:00 p.m. on Monday, June 12. The ACLU lawyers must also respond to DOJ’s application for a stay by that time.

The Court could conceivably then vote immediately on whether to take the case, or anytime shortly thereafter. Under a normal briefing schedule, the Court would then hear arguments in October, and issue a decision by the end of 2017.

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Courts

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal to Reinstate North Carolina Voter ID Law

The fight over whether voters should be required by law to present a photo ID when exercising their most basic democratic right continued this week.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by North Carolina after a lower court ruled a voter ID law unconstitutional — similar to the Texas law — because it allegedly acts as voter suppression for minorities.

Still unanswered by liberals is why it’s acceptable to require IDs for welfare checks, cigarette and beer purchases, and checking out library books but not to vote for President of the United States.

Clearly the fight for conservative dominance — and common sense — in the Supreme Court will require another Trump appointment.

Here’s more from Fox News…

North Carolina’s tough voter identification law was dealt what could be a fatal blow on Monday, as the Supreme Court rejected an appeal to reinstate the policy.

Advocates of the law said it was meant to preserve the integrity of elections and counter voter fraud. But critics said it unfairly singled out black voters.

The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling citing such alleged discrimination. That ruling struck down the law’s photo ID requirement and reduction in early voting.

The decision comes just days after President Trump ordered a a review of voter fraud allegations.

In the North Carolina case, the situation was complicated when Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein tried to withdraw the appeal, which was first filed when Republican Pat McCrory was governor.

Chief Justice John Roberts said the political situation created uncertainty over who is authorized to seek review of the lower court ruling.

The dispute is similar to the court fight over Texas’ voter ID law, also struck down as racially discriminatory.

Republicans in both states moved to enact new voting measures after the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down a provision of the federal Voting Rights Act that had required them to get advance approval before changing laws dealing with elections.

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Courts

Governor of Iowa Signs Abortion Ban then Court Immediately Blocks

Conservative Iowa Governor Terry Branstad made good on his promise to sign a bill from the legislature that would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

And given that medical science can now detect brainwaves and a heartbeat within days, one would think 5 months is a no-brainer.

But not for the pro-death libs at Planned Parenthood (and their friends at the ACLU).

The twin towers of leftist feminism filed a suit and a judge granted a block on the law which also mandates a three-day waiting period before obtaining an abortion.

Apparently the life of the child isn’t worth a second thought.

This one may end up in the Supreme Court.

Here’s more from Redstate…

On Friday, Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa signed a 20 week abortion ban into law.

The legislation was a huge step for a state which has long leaned to the Left on the abortion issue. The measure also included a waiting period for those seeking an abortion, as Live Action News reports.

Senate File 471, which passed the Iowa House and Senate last month, bans abortions at 20 weeks and implements a three-day waiting period before women can undergo abortions. It does not allow exceptions for rape and incest; however, it does permit abortions in cases when a mother’s life or health is at risk.

“After a years-long battle to gain a pro-life Senate, Iowa finally succeeded in passing life-saving legislation that bans painful late-term abortions,” said Jenifer Bowen, president of Life Right Action, in a statement.

However, the victory was short-lived as lawyers from Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, and the ACLU filed to stop the new measure from going into effect. Planned Parenthood operates 12 location in Iowa, and lawyers demanded a halt to the law’s implementation because of the many death appointments already on PP calendars.

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Courts

Trump Payback: ‘Absolutely’ Looking at Breaking Up 9th Circuit Court

President Trump may be close to proposing a strategy to avoid a constitutional crisis between the executive and judicial branches, and quite appropriately it entails exercising a much-neglected power given to the Congress: drawing jurisdictions for federal courts.

Among the powers given to the legislative branch is determining states over which the 13 circuit courts preside.

The 9th Circuit Court is easily the most liberal.

However, Congress can divide its power, then Trump can appoint new, conservative judges.

But he only has two years to pull the trigger before the mid-term elections.

Will he do it?

Here’s more from Washington Examiner…

President Trump said Wednesday that he has “absolutely” considered proposals that would split up the 9th Circuit, where judges have blocked two of his executive actions.

“Absolutely, I have,” Trump said of considering 9th circuit breakup proposals during a far-ranging interview with the Washington Examiner at the White House on Wednesday. “There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It’s outrageous.”

“Everybody immediately runs to the 9th Circuit. And we have a big country. We have lots of other locations. But they immediately run to the 9th Circuit. Because they know that’s like, semi-automatic,” Trump said.

His comments came one day after U.S. District Judge William Orrick temporarily blocked Trump’s efforts to withhold funds from any municipality that refuses to cooperate with immigration enforcement officers. Orrick, based in San Francisco, argued that Trump had overstepped his authority in January when he directed the Justice Department to put immigration-related conditions on grants for so-called “sanctuary cities” that may not be directly related to law enforcement.

Other judges on the court halted two different versions of an executive action aimed at tightening vetting requirements for immigrants from Middle Eastern countries, because both actions called for a temporary suspension of some immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

“The language could not be any clearer. I mean, the language on the ban, it reads so easy that a reasonably good student in the first grade will fully understand it. And they don’t even mention the words in their rejection on the ban,” Trump said of his travel ban. “And the same thing with this [sanctuary city decision]. I mean, when you have people that are being enabled to commit crime. And in San Francisco, when you look at Kate Steinle, being shot and here is the court, you know, right in that same general area. And when you look at a Kate Steinle, when you look at so many other things.”

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