College athletics College sports Collegiate sports Intelwars NCAA Ncaa antitrust Paid compensation for student athletes Student athletics Supreme Court

Justice Kavanaugh nukes NCAA in concurring opinion to landmark decision ruling student athletes should get benefits

In an unanimous decision handed down Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA is violating U.S. antitrust law by restricting the benefits colleges can make available to student athletes.

Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the court’s opinion, which said the NCAA unlawfully harmed college athletes by limiting schools from competing for top talent by offering education-related benefits — like school supplies or paid internships. Gorsuch wrote that the NCAA sought “immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws,” which the court refused to give.

The decision does not immediately open the doors for paid compensation for college athletes, as that issue was not before the court. Instead, it will permit schools to offer a wide range of educational benefits including tutoring, study abroad programs, and graduate scholarships, according to the Associated Press.

Current NCAA rules stipulate that student athletes cannot be paid and cap the scholarship money schools can offer at the cost of attending the school. The NCAA claims these rules are necessary because college athletes do not play at a professional level, and compensating them financially would detract from the amateur nature of collegiate sports.

But several former athletes who sued the NCAA, including former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston, disagreed. They argued in their lawsuit that the NCAA’s rules on education-related compensation were unlawful and unfair, and the Supreme Court agreed with their argument.

In a concurring opinion that will turn heads, Justice Brett Kavanaugh signaled that he at least is willing to go further and declare the NCAA’s refusal to allow college athletes to be paid a violation of antitrust law.

“The NCAA has long restricted the compensation and benefits that student athletes may receive,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “And with surprising success, the NCAA has long shielded its compensation rules from ordinary antitrust scrutiny. Today, however, the Court holds that the NCAA has violated the antitrust laws. The Court’s decision marks an important and overdue course correction, and I join the Court’s excellent opinion in full.”

Continuing, the justice said that “the NCAA’s remaining compensation rules also raise serious questions under the antitrust laws.”

“The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels,” he wrote. “But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America. All of the restaurants in a region cannot come together to cut cooks’ wages on the theory that ‘customers prefer’ to eat food from low-paid cooks. Law firms cannot conspire to cabin lawyers’ salaries in the name of providing legal services out of a ‘love of the law.’ Hospitals cannot agree to cap nurses’ income in order to create a ‘purer’ form of helping the sick. News organizations cannot join forces to curtail pay to reporters to preserve a ‘tradition’ of public-minded journalism. Movie studios cannot collude to slash benefits to camera crews to kindle a ‘spirit of amateurism’ in Hollywood.”

He went on to accuse the NCAA of “price-fixing labor,” which he called a “textbook antitrust problem.”

“The bottom line is that the NCAA and its member colleges are suppressing the pay of student athletes who collectively generate billions of dollars in revenues for colleges every year. Those enormous sums of money flow to seemingly everyone except the student athletes. College presidents, athletic directors, coaches, conference commissioners, and NCAA executives take in six- and seven-figure salaries. Colleges build lavish new facilities. But the student athletes who generate the revenues, many of whom are African American and from lower-income backgrounds, end up with little or nothing,” he charged.

Kavanaugh torched the NCAA’s justifications for refusing to let student athletes be paid based on the tradition of amateur sports.

“Those traditions alone cannot justify the NCAA’s decision to build a massive money-raising enterprise on the backs of student athletes who are not fairly compensated,” he wrote. “Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate. And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law.”

First Amendment Intelwars Judicial supremacism religious liberty Supreme Court Supreme court philadelphia decision Supreme court religious liberty

Horowitz: ‘Religious liberty’ in the Supreme Court: If this is a victory, what would a loss look like?

Three years ago, conservatives celebrated the 7-2 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop as a victory for religious liberty. Yet, as I predicted at the time, its extremely narrow ruling mixed with implicit anti-liberty inuendo on behalf of protected groups paved the way for Jack Phillips to continue to be targeted, as he is to this very day. Well, history has repeated itself again in the Philadelphia adoption case, except this time it’s after the appointment of two supposedly more conservative justices.

In Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the lower court’s opinion allowing the city of Philadelphia to discriminate against Catholic Social Services by denying the organization contracts for foster care placement based on their refusal to place kids into homes without a mother and father. A 9-0 victory in favor of religious liberty might sound too good to be true. And in fact, it actually is too good to be true, because this is not much of a victory as it relates to most other cases or likely even for the party in this case. It should have been a much broader 5-4 ruling with all the non-Roberts GOP appointees joining the concurrence written by Justice Alito.

This case presented an opportunity for a supposed originalist majority to overturn a bad ruling from 1990 and finally subject any government burden on religious practice to the strict scrutiny that the court applies to abortion and other contrived rights, but not so much to unambiguous enumerated rights. In a case called Employment Division v. Smith (1990), two members of the Native American Church in Oregon were fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote as part of a traditional religious ceremony. The problem in that case was that the state treated them unequally by denying them unemployment benefits, asserting that their own “misconduct” led to the terminations.

The central flaw in the ruling that sided with the state in that case is that it established a principle in the court system that a religious expression or practice is not protected from a state rule, even if the rule serves no vital state interest, so long as that practice is banned for all people. As Justice Alito points out, this bad precedent potentially allows a state to make a rule against the sacramental wine used in Catholic Mass everywhere. The same applies to a state law banning kosher slaughtering of animals or circumcision.

The case of Fulton set up a perfect challenge to Smith, because we have a city policy that directly targets a long-standing religious practice/belief without providing any evidence that it furthers a vital state interest. After all, anyone who wants a kid placed in the hands of a same-sex couple can go elsewhere and indeed is unlikely to seek out Catholic Social Services in the first place. This would have been the perfect time to affirm that governments cannot ban or discriminate against long-standing religious beliefs and practices – you know, the bedrock of our settlement on this continent.

Instead, the majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett as well as the four Democrat appointees, focuses on an extremely narrow point: namely, that Philadelphia didn’t abide by the rule prescribed under Smith. The Smith opinion states that a government can interfere with religious practice so long as it’s done categorically and without exception. In this case, they claim that the city of Philadelphia officially offers individual exceptions to its rules. The problem is that no such exception was ever granted, and the city can now officially erase that provision from the books and then fully operate within the confines of the Constitution based on six justices unwilling to overturn Smith.

As Alito warned, “This decision might as well be written on the dissolving paper sold in magic shops. The City has been adamant about pressuring CSS to give in, and if the City wants to get around today’s decision, it can simply eliminate the never-used exemption power.”

Given that Alito’s concurrence, which is basically a dissent, is 77 pages long, Mike Sacks, a lawyer who covers the courts for WNYW-TV, speculates that Alito originally wrote the majority opinion, which likely included Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. However, the theory is that Roberts once again worked with Justice Breyer to peel off Barrett and Kavanaugh. In a rare outcome, Barrett wrote a concurrence, joined by Kavanaugh, to explain why she opposed overturning Smith. Bizarrely, it was joined by Breyer — and only Breyer — from among the liberals.

What is so disturbing about this ruling on religious liberty is that it follows the trend of what we are seeing in the courts with all constitutional liberties – that governments can violate sacred rights so long as they do so equally. We’ve certainly witnessed this during COVID fascism with many courts ruling that restricting one’s breathing or shutting down churches and businesses was OK so long as it was applied equally. Obviously, in the context of the war on religious liberty by the “Rainbow Jihad,” governments most certainly will apply their agenda across the board, essentially banning our founding Judeo-Christian values, which according to the Court somehow does not run afoul of the First Amendment.

In reality, the First Amendment was never about equality; it was about protecting one’s ability to worship in whatever manner you so choose, so long as it doesn’t disturb the peace. In the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, written just before the First Amendment of the Constitution, the Continental Congress provided that “no person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship, or religious sentiments, in the said territory.”

Sec. 3 of the Pennsylvania Declaration of Rights states emphatically, “No human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” The notion that Philadelphia can essentially bar adoption licenses to those who believe in the clear definition of marriage and pass constitutional muster – no matter how it’s applied – is insane.

In fact, most of the state constitutions at the time of the formation of the nation would likely have forbidden the very homosexual agenda that is being used as a cudgel against religious institutions. For example, the South Carolina constitution permits all religious practice “provided that the liberty of conscience thereby declared shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this state.” Thus, they almost assuredly would have banned today’s paganism, which is a religion in all but name, from promoting gay marriage, not those who refuse to provide services. If one feels that times have changed, that is fine, but orienting the law in that direction would require changes to the state and federal constitutions.

Barrett’s concurrence, joined by Kavanaugh and Breyer, painstakingly explains how overruling Smith would create problems with other bad prior court decisions and would engender a new rule of judicial construct to replace it. Sadly, this is the excuse the justices will likely give to perpetuate terrible rulings on other issues that are moored in faulty constitutional interpretation in the future. The proper rule is to apply strict scrutiny to any religious liberty challenge, as we do in abortion cases. This is really quite simple.

The specific application of not overruling Smith is right in front of our noses. Under the current ruling, were the case of Jack Phillips to come back before the Supreme Court, the justices would say that Colorado has the right to force him to bake a transgender celebration cake because they apply that rule strictly to everyone. Following the Constitution would net a different result.

This case is also an ominous sign for the growing assault on religious exemptions from coerced vaccination. States could easily point to a categorical rule without any exceptions as solid footing for ignoring religious exemptions.

If this is what a victory looks like, I’d hate to see what a loss would be at the Supreme Court. If this is a conservative Supreme Court, we can only imagine a liberal one.

2024 Biden Block Intelwars Mitch McConnell Nominee Supreme Court

Mitch McConnell says he will block any Biden Supreme Court nominee in 2024 if GOP takes back Senate

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) drew fury from Democrats when he blocked a U.S. Supreme Court nominee from going forward under former President Barack Obama during the 2016 election year — and says he will do it all over again in 2024 if the GOP takes back control of the Senate in 2022.

He says Democrats would do the same thing.

What are the details?

McConnell, who was Senate majority leader from 2015 until early 2021, famously refused to allow Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland for consideration in 2016, arguing that it was an election year and that the next president should make the pick.

Then in 2020, McConnell triggered Democrats when he pushed through the nomination of now-Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett just a few weeks before Election Day. Democrats accused him of hypocrisy, but he pointed out at the time that the difference was Republicans controlled both the Senate and the White House — while that was not the case in 2016.

“I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled,” McConnell said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday. “So I think it’s highly unlikely — in fact, no, I don’t think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election.”

Hewitt then asked McConnell about whether he would block a Biden nominee if he is running the Senate again in 2023, a non-election year. The Kentucky Republican responded, “we’d have to see what happens.”

McConnell was able to confirm three U.S. Supreme Court justices selected by former President Donald Trump, making the court a 6-3 conservative majority and igniting far-left calls for court-packing as some Democrats seek to expand the size of the court in order to add more liberal justices in what they see as an imbalance.

There is currently a movement on the left calling for 82-year-old Justice Stephen Breyer to retire soon so that President Joe Biden can select his replacement, just as there was a movement under President Obama for liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire. Ginsburg passed away in 2020, and Trump chose Barrett as her replacement on the high court.

Green card Illegal Immigration Intelwars Supreme Court Supreme court immigration Temporary Protected Status

Unanimous Supreme Court ruling: Illegal immigrants with temporary status can’t pursue permanent residency

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday that immigrants permitted to stay in the country temporarily are ineligible to pursue “green cards” for permanent residency if they entered the country illegally.

The ruling in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, authored by Justice Elena Kagan, could affect tens of thousands of immigrants currently living in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status, the Associated Press reported.

The case was brought by Jose Sanchez and Sonia Gonzalez, a married couple from of El Salvador who entered the United States illegally in the late 1990s. Later, in 2001, the two were granted Temporary Protected Status in the U.S. after El Salvador was rocked by devastating earthquakes.

TPS is a status granted to foreign nationals from certain designated countries ravaged by armed conflict or natural disaster that allows them to live and work in the U.S. without being subject to deportation.

Then in 2014, Sanchez and Gonzalez applied for “green cards,” or lawful permanent resident status, but were denied, and subsequently sued.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, however, ruled against them, arguing that they were ineligible under federal immigration law, which requires applicants to have been “inspected and admitted” into the U.S, the New York Times reported.

In Monday’s unanimous ruling, the nation’s top court agreed with that decision.

“The question here is whether the conferral of TPS enables him to obtain LPR status despite his unlawful entry. We hold that it does not,” wrote Kagan.

Kagan held that two parts of the immigration laws operate on separate tracks — one track allows some immigrants who entered the country legally to apply for green cards, and the other track allows immigrants, whether they entered legally or not, to pursue TPS.

Though the two tracks can sometimes merge, she noted, individuals who enter the country illegally do not become eligible for green cards because of their temporary status.

“Lawful status and admission, as the court below recognized are distinct concepts in immigration law: Establishing one does not necessarily establish the other,” she wrote.

“The TPS program gives foreign nationals nonimmigrant status, but it does not admit them. So the conferral of TPS does not make an unlawful entrant … eligible [for a green card],” she added.

There are an estimated 400,000 people with TPS in the country currently, and 85,000 of them have managed to adjust status, CNN reported.

Abortion Intelwars Pro-Life Supreme Court Supreme court abortion

CBS and Hallmark Channel reject pro-life ad, call it ‘unacceptable’ and not a ‘positive experience’

Following the announcement last month the U.S. Supreme Court would be taking up the first significant abortion case in many years, the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life advocacy group, announced it was launching a $2 million television ad campaign.

But the ad the group produced, which features zero graphic footage, has been rejected by multiple TV networks as too “controversial” and “unacceptable” — with at least one channel claiming that the ad is just not the “positive experience” it wants to give its viewers, according to the Daily Wire.

What is the ad?

SBA List’s new ad praises medical breakthroughs and health care technology but laments that the unborn are victims of our laws that have not caught up with scientific progress .

“Five decades of medical breakthroughs,” the ad begins, “every age group has more opportunity to live — except one. The unborn still fall victim to outdated laws.

“Science tells us that at 15 weeks these babies have fully formed faces. They smile. They yawn. They feel pain,” the ad says. “It’s why European countries ban late-term abortions.

“In five decades, we’ve learned they are just like us. Isn’t it time the law reflects the science?” the ad concludes.

Ad: Isn’t it Time the Law Reflects the Science?

Who rejected it, and why?

CBS told the SBA List that it would not be running the group’s “unacceptable” ad because it would violate the network’s rules on issue advocacy.

“Issue-oriented advertisements that are designed for the purpose of presenting views or influencing legislation on issues that are controversial by general public consensus are unacceptable,” CBS said in an email provided to the Daily Wire.

CMT, which is owned by ViacomCBS, responded similarly, telling the group that, though it sometimes takes “issue-based ads,” this one was just too controversial.

“While we do accept political and issue-based ads on a case-by-case basis, issue-oriented ads that are designed for the purpose of presenting views or influencing legislation on issues that are controversial by general public consensus are unacceptable,” CMT said, according to the Daily Wire.

And for the Hallmark Channel, apparently the ad just gave the network too much of a case of the sads.

Crown Media, which owns Hallmark, told the SBA List it rejected the ad “because it does not meet the Hallmark Channel’s criteria for the positive experience Hallmark aims to offer viewers,” the Daily Wire said.

SBA List has repeatedly pointed out that the ad is not a call to action or an attack on any politician. It is “a response to news that the U.S. Supreme Court will review a Mississippi law limiting abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy” and a celebration of the miracles of modern medicine.

More from the SBA List:

“The science is simple: unborn children are human beings and deserve protection,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “By 15 weeks, children in the womb have fully formed noses and lips, eyelids and eyebrows; they can suck their thumb, and even feel pain. Across the country, state lawmakers acting on the will of the people have introduced nearly 550 pro-life bills – 70 already enacted so far this year – aimed at recognizing these facts and humanizing our laws. We are eager to further educate the nation about these realities and are hopeful that the law will soon catch up to the science.”

A growing body of scientific literature continually affirms the humanity of unborn children.

The Supreme Court announced it will consider the question of whether all “pre-viability” bans on abortion are unconstitutional. In 1973, unborn children were considered viable at around 28 weeks. Since that time, the concept of viability has shifted. Premature babies can survive at 22 weeks, if not earlier, with active care and surgeons treat children in-utero as a separate patient as they treat a growing list of conditions directly in the womb.

Intelwars Pack the court SCOTUS Stephen Breyer Supreme Court

Backfire: Liberals pressuring Stephen Breyer to retire from Supreme Court not working on elder justice

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is, at 82 years old, the oldest serving justice on the Supreme Court. His age, however, and the fact that a Democrat is president, is not persuading him to retire.

In fact, pressure from Democrats eager for President Joe Biden to fill Breyer’s spot with another ideologically liberal justice is doing exactly the opposite.

What are the details?

When Biden ascended to the presidency, Democrats immediately began calling on Breyer to retire to give Biden his first opportunity to etch a judicial legacy. After all, his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, appointed three Supreme Court justices, and had the opportunity to generationally shape federal district and appeals courts.

  • NPR: “Liberals Admire Justice Breyer. Now They Want Him To Retire”
  • Washington Post: “Justice Breyer should learn from Justice Ginsburg’s mistake — and retire now”
  • CNN: “Democratic congressman calls on Justice Stephen Breyer to retire”
  • MSNBC: “Justice Stephen Breyer should retire from the Supreme Court”
  • Forbes: “Progressives Demand ‘Breyer Retire’ So Biden Can Appoint Supreme Court Justice”

But, according to the New York Times, Breyer does not plan to acquiesce to pressure from progressives, retiring simply because his successor could be appointed by a Democratic White House.

The pressure, according to Artemus Ward, a political scientist at Northern Illinois University, is likely having the opposite intended effect on Breyer, who Ward said wants to preserve the institutional integrity of the Supreme Court.

“Breyer is a justice who is with the chief justice in trying to protect the institution,” Ward told the Times. “Justices care about the court, and the court is arguably very vulnerable right now.

“This is a guy who I believe is not going to retire,” Ward predicted.

What has Breyer said?

While delivering a lecture at Harvard Law School last month, Breyer seemingly spoke out against appearances of judicial partisanship.

“My experience of more than 30 years as a judge has shown me that once men and women take the judicial oath, they take the oath to heart,” Breyer said. “They are loyal to the rule of law, not to the political party that helped to secure their appointment.”

Indeed, the senior justice has a forthcoming book that repudiates the movement to politicize the Supreme Court, and the push from Democrats to expand and pack the court with ideologically liberal justices.

The book — titled, “The Authority of the Court and the Peril of Politics” — is described by its publisher as, “A sitting justice reflects upon the authority of the Supreme Court—how that authority was gained and how measures to restructure the Court could undermine both the Court and the constitutional system of checks and balances that depends on it.”

“Justice Stephen Breyer sounds a cautionary note. Mindful of the Court’s history, he suggests that the judiciary’s hard-won authority would be marred by reforms premised on the assumption of ideological bias,” the description adds. “Breyer warns that public trust would be eroded by political intervention, dashing the authority of the Court. Without the public’s trust, the Court would no longer be able to act as a check on the other branches of government and a guarantor of the rule of law, threatening the foundations of our constitutional system.”

Biden administration Caniglia v. strom Clarence Thomas Constitution Fourth Amendment Intelwars Supreme Court

Supreme Court unanimously sides against Biden admin, further protects Fourth Amendment rights

The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that a so-called exception to the Fourth Amendment called “community caretaking” does not permit police officers to enter and search your home without first obtaining a search warrant, even if doing so may be in the public’s interest.

What is the background?

The Supreme Court heard the case — Caniglia v. Strom — upon appeal by Edward Caniglia, a Rhode Island man whose house was searched by warrantless police officers in 2015. During that search, police seized two firearms, which Caniglia recovered only after jumping through numerous bureaucratic hoops.

Caniglia later sued law enforcement, arguing their actions violated his Fourth Amendment right against a warrantless search and seizure.

However, police claimed they acted lawfully under the “community caretaking” exception, which originated from Cady v. Dombrowski, a 1973 Supreme Court case that said police officers can conduct certain “community caretaking functions” if done in a “reasonable” manner. In that case, police officers had seized a gun located in an impounded car without a warrant.

The ruling overturned rulings by the federal district court and First Circuit Court of Appeals.

What did the high court say?

In a 9-0 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled the “community caretaking” exception does not apply to private residences.

“What is reasonable for vehicles is different from what is reasonable for homes. Cady acknowledged as much, and this Court has repeatedly ‘declined to expand the scope of … exceptions to the warrant requirement to permit warrantless entry into the home,'” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion.

In fact, Thomas specifically rebuked the First Circuit Court of Appeals for extending the exception.

The First Circuit’s “community caretaking” rule, however, goes beyond anything this Court has recognized. The
decision below assumed that respondents lacked a warrant
or consent, and it expressly disclaimed the possibility that
they were reacting to a crime. The court also declined to
consider whether any recognized exigent circumstances
were present because respondents had forfeited the point.

Nor did it find that respondents’ actions were akin to what
a private citizen might have had authority to do if petitioner’s wife had approached a neighbor for assistance instead of the police.
Neither the holding nor logic of Cady justified that approach. True, Cady also involved a warrantless search for
a firearm. But the location of that search was an impounded vehicle—not a home—”‘a constitutional difference'” that the opinion repeatedly stressed. In fact, Cady expressly contrasted its treatment of a vehicle already under police control with a search of a car “parked adjacent to the dwelling place of the owner.”

“But this recognition that police officers perform many civic tasks in modern society was just that—a recognition that these tasks exist, and not an open-ended license to perform them anywhere,” Thomas added.

Anything else?

In rejecting the extension of the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court rejected an argument from the Biden administration, which had urged the court to uphold as legal the violation of Caniglia’s constitutional rights.

An amicus brief filed by Justice Department lawyers said:

The touchstone of the Fourth Amendment is reasonableness. For criminal investigations, this Court has generally incorporated the Warrant Clause into the Fourth Amendment’s overarching reasonableness requirement, but it has not generally done so for searches or seizures objectively premised on justifications other than the investigation of wrongdoing. The ultimate question in this case is therefore not whether the respondent officers’ actions fit within some narrow warrant exception, but instead whether those actions were reasonable. And under all of the circumstances here, they were.

The brief further argued that warrants should not be “presumptively required when a government official’s action is objectively grounded in a non-investigatory public interest, such as health or safety.”

The Justice Department, in fact, was so keen on the Supreme Court not ruling in Caniglia’s favor that they urged the court to uphold the officers’ actions “by concluding that the officers are entitled to qualified immunity” if they rejected the Fourth Amendment argument.

Abortion Intelwars Pro-Life roe v wade Supreme Court Supreme court abortion

Showdown over abortion rights heading to the Supreme Court this fall

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in an abortion case out of Mississippi that pro-life proponents hope could result in a major rollback of abortion rights established nearly 50 years ago in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade.

What are the details?

The high court announced in an order issued Monday that it would take up the dispute, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case concerns an abortion law passed in Mississippi in 2018 that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions.

The law had been blocked by lower courts, including the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which cited Supreme Court precedent preventing states from banning abortions before a fetus is able survive outside the womb, CNBC reported. Fetal viability is generally considered to occur at 22 weeks or later.

The court’s decision to hear the case sets up a pivotal showdown over abortion and is the first case to make it to the court from a wave of state laws meant to challenge the court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion.

Many perceive the court — which now has a 6-3 conservative majority due to former President Donald Trump’s three appointments — is prepped to undo legal precedents surrounding the court’s controversial enshrinement of a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

The court will likely hear the case this fall during its term beginning in October, and a ruling can be expected by summer of 2022.

What else?

In the case, the state of Mississippi is essentially requesting that the Supreme Court re-evaluate the constitutionality of the fetal viability standard, specifically as to whether it “protects women’s health, the dignity of unborn children, and the integrity of the medical profession,” according to a petition filed with the justices.

“It is well past time for the Court to revisit the wisdom of the viability bright-line rule,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch wrote in the petition.

The legal challenge is separate from a litany of other state laws passed in recent years, including one in Mississippi, that seek to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, often within the first six weeks of a pregnancy.

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, had urged the court not to take up the case.

Hillary Schneller, an attorney representing the clinic, reportedly wrote in a filing that “in an unbroken line of decisions over the last fifty years, this Court has held that the Constitution guarantees each person the right to decide whether to continue a pre-viability pregnancy.”

She added, “While the State has interests throughout pregnancy, ‘[b]efore viability, the State’s interests are not strong enough to support a prohibition of abortion.'”

Court packing Expand the court Intelwars SCOTUS Supreme Court Ted Cruz us supreme court

Law student confronts Sen. Ted Cruz on Republican ‘court packing’ and gets taken to school

A Georgetown law student confronted Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Thursday about “court packing,” redefining the term to demand why Cruz was opposed to efforts by Democrats to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court by four.

Cruz was speaking at a news conference with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in front of the Supreme Court about a Democratic bill to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court from nine to 13. The senator from Texas accused Democrats of making a “power grab.”

“You didn’t see Republicans, when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court,” he said.

After his remarks, a self-identified “law student” approached the senators and demanded to know what the difference was between “packing the courts” and the Republican Senate majority’s actions in 2016 to prevent a Democratic president from filling vacancies on the court and in 2020 to install a Republican-nominated justice.

“Senators, how is court packing any different than what the Republicans did in 2016 and 2020?” the law student asked.

“We filled vacancies, that’s not packing the court,” Cruz responded.

“They’re doing something that’s allowed under the Constitution,” the student pressed. “It’s not an obstruction to the rule of law if it’s in the law.”

“Sure it is,” Cruz replied. “It’s politicizing the court.”

“You politicized the court in 2016!” the student charged, echoing talking points from Democrats who were outraged by the GOP’s actions after the deaths of Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In 2016, when Scalia died, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to hold a hearing to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the Court vacancy, Merrick Garland. The vacancy was not filled until several months later, after President Donald Trump was sworn into office. After Ginsburg’s death in 2020, Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill that vacancy and Republicans swiftly acted to confirm her to the Court before the presidential election, leading to Democratic accusations of hypocrisy.

The law student insisted there is no difference between what Republicans did and what Democrats are now trying to do by expanding the court.

“We didn’t pack the court, we didn’t add a single justice,” Cruz shot back. “We could’ve done this same garbage, but we didn’t because it would’ve been wrong.”

Traditionally, “packing the court” has been understood to refer to efforts by a political party to expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court in order to achieve more favorable rulings. Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt infamously threatened to add up to six justices to the Supreme Court in 1937 after the Court had struck down several of his New Deal programs.

But last October, after facing repeated questions on whether he would support an effort to pack the courts as president, then-candidate Biden said, “the fact is that the only packing going on is this court is being packed now by the Republicans after the vote is already begun.” Overnight the Democratic Party, the media, and liberal legal scholars redefined the term “court packing” to include any perceived effort to manipulate the Supreme Court’s membership for partisan ends.

Cruz contested this new definition, insisting that a threat to expand the number of justices on the court to achieve partisan-favored rulings is fundamentally different from filling a vacancy.

“Look,” he said. “If there’s a judicial vacancy Joe Biden and the Democrats in the Senate are entitled to act to try to fill it and if they nominate someone bad, we’ll oppose that justice. That’s the political process, that’s how it operates.”

The law student then tried to argue “packing the court” is also part of the normal political process because it’s a power Congress has in the Constitution. But Cruz wasn’t having it.

“We’ve had nine justices for 150 years, Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it’d be a mistake to change from nine. Stephen Breyer said it would be a mistake to change from nine,” Cruz said, citing two of the most liberal Supreme Court justices to ever serve on the bench. “This is an abuse of power.”

When the law student said he was sure Ginsburg or Breyer wouldn’t approve of the Republicans filling court vacancies in 2016 and 2020, Cruz tried to explain the difference one more time, as if speaking to an idiot.

“Filling a vacancy is fundamentally different from packing the court and tearing it down — and listen, if the Democrats add four new justices it also starts a ridiculous escalation. What does that mean? It means the next time Republicans take over, we add four new justices. That is a terrible thing. We don’t need a Supreme Court with 35 judges on it. We’ve had nine for 150 years and we need to respect the rule of law.”

After the student posted the exchange on social media, his professor Josh Chafetz shared the video, praising his student.

“One of my students came across Ted Cruz’s anti-Court-packing press conference and naturally gave him hell,” Chafetz wrote.

But Cruz responded, calling the episode “embarrassing” for both the student and the professor.

“I assumed he was a Dem tracker reciting talking points,” Cruz tweeted. “Not sure what’s more embarrassing: that he’s an actual law student who doesn’t know the difference [between] filling vacancies & packing the Court. Or that his law prof is proud of his ignorance & thinks it’s ‘giving me hell.'”

Abortion Cruel and unusual punishment Eighth Amendment Intelwars justice clarence thomas Juvenile homicide Supreme Court

Justice Clarence Thomas calls out SCOTUS for inconsistency on abortion and homicide for minors

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently called attention to the Court’s apparent double standard on the maturity of minors, questioning why the court believes teenagers are not fully culpable for homicide but should have an adult’s full right to abortion.

In a footnote of his concurring opinion in Jones v. Mississippi, a juvenile sentencing case, Thomas observed, “When addressing juvenile murderers, this Court has stated that ‘children are different’ and that courts must consider ‘a child’s lesser culpability.'”

“And yet, when assessing the Court-created right of an individual of the same age to seek an abortion, Members of this Court take pains to emphasize a ‘young woman’s right to choose,'” Thomas wrote.

“It is curious how this Court’s view of the maturity of minors ebbs and flows depending on the issue,” he observed.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Jones v. Mississippi Thursday upheld a life without parole sentence for a Mississippi man, Brett Jones, who was convicted of stabbing his grandfather to death in 2004 when he was just 15 years old. Jones had challenged his sentence, arguing that recent Supreme Court opinions in Miller v. Alabama (2012) and Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016) required the judge who sentenced him to find that he was “permanently incorrigible” — incapable of rehabilitation — before sentencing him to life in prison.

In Miller v. Alabama, the court held that the Eighth Amendment’s protection against “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibited mandatory minimum sentencing laws from requiring children convicted of homicide to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. In Montgomery v. Louisiana, the court held that the Miller ruling applied retroactively.

In a 6-3 decision, the court disagreed with Jones’ argument, holding that a judge is only required to consider “an offender’s youth and attendant characteristics” before handing down a life sentence without parole.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh authored the majority opinion, writing the “argument that the sentencer must make a finding of permanent incorrigibility is inconsistent with the Court’s precedents.” He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Justice Thomas wrote a concurring opinion in which he said he agreed with the court’s decision but would have gone farther and outright overturned Montgomery v. Louisiana.

The liberal justices on the court dissented, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the minority, accused the Court of an “abrupt break” and an “abandonment” of the earlier precedents in Miller and Montgomery.

“The question is whether the state, at some point, must consider whether a juvenile offender has demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation sufficient to merit a chance at life beyond the prison in which he has grown up. For most, the answer is yes,” Sotomayor wrote.

She said the Court’s opinion “twists precedent,” adding that “any doubts the Court may harbor about the merits of these decisions do not justify overruling them.” She accused the majority of offering no justification for departing from the precedents in Miller and Montgomery.

“How low this Court’s respect for stare decisis has sunk,” she concluded.

Al Sharpton Alan Dershowitz Derek chauvin Derek chauvin trial Intelwars Maxine Waters Peter cahill Supreme Court

Dershowitz predicts Derek Chauvin’s conviction will be overturned, citing Maxine Waters, Al Sharpton

Legal scholar Alan Dershowitz predicted Monday that Derek Chauvin’s conviction would be overturned on appeal because of the unusual number of “outside influences” that potentially tainted the jury, which was unsequestered for the majority of the trial.

Chauvin was convicted Tuesday of murdering George Floyd last May. The jury reached a verdict more quickly than expected, declaring Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

What did Dershowitz say?

Speaking on Newmax TV, Dershowitz declared that Chauvin’s actions were “inexcusable morally,” but called the verdict “very questionable,” citing outside influences.

In fact, Dershowitz said the verdict “should be” overturned on appeal.

“The verdict is very questionable because of the outside influences from people like Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters. Their threats and intimidation and hanging the ‘Sword of Damocles’ over the jury — basically saying that if you don’t convict on the murder charge, or all the charges, the cities will burn, the country will be destroyed — seeped into the jury room because the judge made a terrible mistake by not sequestering a jury,” Dershowitz explained.

“I think it should be reversed on appeal,” he predicted.

Despite the amount of attention Chauvin’s trial received, the jury was only fully sequestered on Monday when closing arguments took place.

Because the jurors were not sequestered for the duration of the trial and were open to outside voices threatening protest violence, Dershowitz said it would be inconceivable to think the jurors were not consciously or subconsciously weighing the impact their decision would have on society.

“That should never, ever be allowed to seep into a jury room,” Dershowitz said, adding that he has no confidence the verdict was “produced by due process and the rule of law.”

What about an appeal?

Dershowitz predicted Chauvin’s case will ultimately be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, which he said would be Chauvin’s best hope for a conviction reversal.

Citing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Al Sharpton, Dershowitz said, “These folks took what they did right out of the playbook of the Deep South in the 1920s when prominent public officials would whoop up the crowds in front of the courthouse, demanding conviction of black people and acquittal of white people.”

“The Supreme Court and other courts reversed convictions based on that because jurors should not be intimidated or influenced by what goes on outside the courtroom,” he added.

Specifically, Dershowitz cited the infamous Sam Sheppard murder trial in the 1950s. Sheppard was convicted of murdering his wife, but was exonerated a decade later. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately determined Sheppard was deprived of a fair trial because the jury was tainted by media attention that engulfed the case.

Dershowitz also said Judge Peter Cahill, the judge who presided over Chauvin’s trial, supports his hypothesis.

On Monday, Cahill castigated Waters for urging protesters to “get more confrontational” if Chauvin was not found guilty. “You got to make sure that they know we mean business,” Waters said.

Cahill said Waters’ comments could be used by the defense in an appeal to argue for a mistrial.

“I will give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned,” Cahill said after denying the defense’s motion for a mistrial over Waters’ remarks.

“This goes back to what I’ve been saying from the beginning. I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law, and to the judicial branch and our function,” the judge added. “I think if they want to give their opinions they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution to respect a coequal branch of government.”

“Their failure to do so is abhorrent!” he said.

Court packing Fox News Intelwars Supreme Court Tom Cotton Us house us senate

Sen. Cotton slams Dem court-packing plan: ‘Illegitimate attack on the foundational principles of this country’

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) condemned as “illegitimate” a Democratic bill to pack the U.S. Supreme Court by expanding the number of justices who sit on the court from nine to 13.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.J.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) earlier this week introduced legislation to increase the number of justices who sit on the nation’s high court. At a press conference announcing the bill, Nadler said Democrats were “unpacking” the Supreme Court — invoking an accusation from progressive activists that President Donald Trump somehow packed the court by exercising his constitutional power to appoint Justice Amy Coney Barrett to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Democrats claimed Republicans had “no right” to fill the Supreme Court vacancy before the 2020 U.S. elections and accused Republicans of stealing the Supreme Court majority. Presumably, permitting Biden to fill four new Supreme Court vacancies would tilt the current 6-3 Republican appointee majority (on a body that’s supposed to be nonpartisan) back toward the Democrats.

During an interview on Fox News Friday, Cotton told host Harris Faulkner that Democrats are making a “power grab.”

“The whole point is a Democratic power grab. The Democrats are angry they don’t have a liberal majority on the Supreme Court and they want to add four justices — shockingly, the exact number they would need to get Democratic-appointed justices into a majority on the court,” Cotton said.

“Now, they may not be able to pass this in the Congress right now in part because the Senate is evenly divided,” he acknowledged. “But part of this is the Democrats trying to push the boundaries of what is possible so if they win larger majorities at some point in the future, they’ll put more pressure on their colleagues to vote for this and ultimately to pack the court.”

Cotton cited Obama-era promises that illegal immigrants would not receive health care under the Affordable Care Act as an example of how the Overton window has shifted, pointing out how years later when Biden campaigned for president, most Democratic candidates supported government health care for illegal aliens.

“That’s why it’s so essential that we denounce it today as an illegitimate attack on the foundational principles of this country, the rule of law, and constitutional government,” Cotton said of the effort to pack the court.

For now, the White House has declined to give its support to the congressional bill to expand the Supreme Court. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday that President Biden will wait for the report from the commission he established to study judiciary reform before coming to a decision about the size of the court or other reforms.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said earlier this week that she does not intend to bring Nadler’s bill to a vote in the House.

Court packing house democrats Intelwars Nancy Pelosi Supreme Court Us house us senate

Nancy Pelosi says court-packing bill won’t get a vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is opposed to an effort by some congressional Democrats to expand the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court from nine to 13 and will not permit such a bill to come to the House floor for a vote, at least not for now.

During her weekly press briefing on Thursday, Pelosi said that she’s not necessarily opposed to expanding the court but for now will wait for findings from the commission President Joe Biden established to study the issue.

“I support the president’s commission to study a such a proposal,” Pelosi said, telling reporters that the House’s focus for the time being is on infrastructure.

“I don’t know that that’s a good idea or bad idea. I think it’s an idea that to be considered. And I think the president’s taking the right approach to, to have a commission to study such a thing,” the Speaker said, according to the New York Post.

She continued: “It’s not out of the question, it has been done before,” noting that “the history of our country a long time ago, and the growth of our country, the size of our country, the growth of our challenges in terms of the economy, etc. might necessitate such a thing.”

Earlier that day, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.J.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) proposed legislation that would expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court to 13.

“We are not packing the Supreme Court, we are unpacking it,” Nadler said at a news conference about the bill on the steps of the Supreme Court.

“Republicans stole the Court’s majority, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation completing their crime spree,” said Senator Markey in a statement. “Of all the damage Donald Trump did to our Constitution, this stands as one of his greatest travesties. Senate Republicans have politicized the Supreme Court, undermined its legitimacy, and threatened the rights of millions of Americans, especially people of color, women, and our immigrant communities. This legislation will restore the Court’s balance and public standing and begin to repair the damage done to our judiciary and democracy, and we should abolish the filibuster to ensure we can pass it.”

Pelosi, however, told reporters she has no intention to bring the bill to the House floor.

Even if it were to come up for a vote, it’s unclear if the bill would have enough support to pass. Democrats hold 218 seats and cannot afford to lose more than two votes from their party on any bill because tie votes fail in the House. In the Senate there is no chance a bill to pack the Supreme Court would be introduced without an immediate filibuster attempt from Senate Republicans, pushing the number of Senate votes Democrats need to advance the bill to 60.

And there’s no guarantee President Joe Biden would even sign the legislation. On the campaign trail in 2020, Biden said he is “not a fan” of court packing, though last week he created a commission to study proposed reforms to the judiciary to placate progressive activists.

CNN Court packing Harry Reid Intelwars Supreme Court

Harry Reid warns Democrats against packing Supreme Court with liberal justices: ‘Be very, very careful’

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has a warning for Democrats eager to pack the Supreme Court with ideologically liberal justices.

Reid’s comments came one day after President Joe Biden signed an executive order forming a commission to study expanding the Supreme Court.

What did Reid say?

Reid, who served two decades in the Senate before retiring in 2017, told CNN on Saturday that packing the Supreme Court, which Democrats want to do, could ultimately backfire.

In fact, Reid said Democrats need to be “very, very careful” making such threats.

“I have no problem with the commission, but I think that the commission is going to come back and disappoint a lot of people because I think they’re going to come back and say, ‘We should just kind of leave it alone,'” Reid said.

“I think it would be inappropriate at this time after that long history we’ve had in the country to have term limits for judges,” Reid continued.

“I think that we better be very, very careful in saying that we need to expand the Supreme Court. I think we better be very, very, careful,” he added.

Reid, who was speaking with CNN host Jim Acosta about the Senate filibuster, went on to predict “the filibuster is on its way out. It’s not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when.'”

What is the background?

Following Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last fall, and then-President Donald Trump’s promise to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with yet another conservative jurist, Democrats began openly advocating for court packing under the guise of “reform” and “balance.”

At the time, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden dodged the issue, but finally promised to establish a commission of legal experts to consider the implications of expanding the court. Biden made good on that promise last week.

The White House said in a statement:

The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals.

The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.

However, Supreme Court justices themselves are vocally against court packing.

Justice Stephen Breyer, who has refused to buckle under pressure from progressives to retire, denounced court packing while speaking at Harvard Law School last week.

“Structural alteration motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that latter perception, further eroding that trust,” Breyer said.

Ginsburg also rejected court packing in an interview several years prior to her passing.

“[I]f anything would make the court appear partisan then it would be [court packing], one side saying, ‘When we’re in power we’re going to enlarge the number of judges so we’ll have more people who will vote the way we want them to,'” Ginsburg said.

California Covid restrictions First Amendment Gavin Newsom Intelwars religious freedom Supreme Court

Supreme Court once again rules for religious freedom in California, but Roberts sides with liberal justices

The Supreme Court has once again ruled against pandemic-related restrictions enacted by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) that impacted in-home religious gatherings, like prayer meetings and Bible studies.

What are the details?

In a split 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said a California restriction prohibiting more than three households from gathering indoors is likely unconstitutional because the state seemingly favors secular activities with fewer restrictions.

“California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts, and indoor restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time,” the majority opinion stated.

The opinion explained, “Applicants are likely to succeed on the merits of their free exercise claim; they are irreparably harmed by the loss of free exercise rights ‘for even minimal periods of time’; and the State has not shown that ‘public health would be imperiled’ by employing less restrictive measures.”

In fact, the majority opinion declared that public health measures demand scrutiny “whenever they treat any comparable secular activity more favorably than religious exercise.”

“[G]overnment regulations are not neutral and generally applicable, and therefore trigger strict scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause,” the opinion said. “It is no answer that a State treats some comparable secular businesses or other activities as poorly as or even less favorably than the religious exercise at issue.”

What did the minority say?

Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the minority opinion, explained she disagreed with the majority because, in her estimation, California is treating at-home activities, religious and secular, the same.

California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households. If the State also limits all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment. And the State does exactly that: It has adopted a blanket restriction on at home gatherings of all kinds, religious and secular alike. California need not, as the per curiam insists, treat at-home religious gatherings the same as hardware stores and hair salons—and thus unlike at-home secular gatherings, the obvious comparator here. As the per curiam’s reliance on separate opinions and unreasoned orders signals, the law does not require that the State equally treat apples and watermelons.

Notably, Chief Justice John Roberts did not sign the minority opinion, but joined his liberal colleagues by saying he would have allowed the lower court’s ruling to stand.

What is the background?

The ruling overturned a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the restriction on grounds that California was treating at-home religious and secular activities the same, NPR noted.

As the majority opinion noted, Friday’s ruling “is the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise.”

Ben Sasse Brett kavanaugh FBI Intelwars SCOTUS sheldon whitehouse Supreme Court

Sen. Sasse rips Democrat’s ‘sinister … paranoid obsession’ that the FBI conducted a ‘fake’ investigation of Justice Kavanaugh

Left-wing progressive Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) made headlines this week with his letter to U.S Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding the Department of Justice look into the FBI’s “perhaps fake” investigation of allegations of misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh that were brought up during his 2018 Supreme Court nomination hearings.

Whitehouse has made a bit of a name for himself with his rabid rants against and conspiracy theories about Republican-nominated Supreme Court justices.

For example, the far-left New England Democrat garnered a lot of attention for a long-winded diatribe about a conspiracy connecting “dark money” to federal courts that he believed he had uncovered and then “exposed” during the nomination hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Now GOP Sen. Ben Sasse (Neb.) is standing up to Whitehouse and telling him to knock it off, warning that his most recent nonsense is a threat to the republic.

What happened?

Whitehouse sent a letter to Garland on Monday accusing the FBI of conducting “a politically-constrained and perhaps fake FBI investigation into alleged misconduct by now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.”

The senator was upset that the law enforcement agency did not find corroboration of the allegations against Kavanaugh — corroboration that the justice’s accusers failed to provide themselves.

Whitehouse claimed that the FBI ignored multiple witnesses and sent “tips” down a virtual “garbage chute.” He went on to accuse FBI Director Christopher Wray of “stonewalling” congressional inquiries about the investigation.

Following publication of Whitehouse’s allegations, Sen. Sasse decided it was time to punch back against the Democratic senator’s ongoing “sinister” bloviation that, according to the Nebraska senator, is actually a threat to the nation.

“If senators want to join conspiracy theory book clubs, wear tinfoil hats, and talk about Roswell, that’s their prerogative, but this is something more sinister,” Sasse, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee with Whitehouse, told National Review.

Whitehouse’s rhetoric goes beyond political differences over SCOTUS nominees, Sasse said. Now, the Rhode Island senator is actually attempting to use the Justice Department to take down a member of the nation’s highest court.

“A United States Senator who once peddled lies about a Supreme Court nominee is now trying to weaponize the DOJ against a sitting Supreme Court Justice,” Sasse added. “This kind of paranoid obsession is Nixonian poison to public trust.”

Not the first Sasse-vs.-Whitehouse conspiracy kerfuffle

This isn’t the first time Sasse has taken Whitehouse to task for his conspiracy twaddle.

In July, the Committee on Codes of Conduct of the Judicial Conference of the United States, a government panel that creates binding conduct guidelines for federal judges, was considering changing its rules in order to ban judges from being members of the Federalist Society, at least in part at the urging of Sen. Whitehouse, who has repeatedly attempted to connect the organization with “dark money” plots and underhanded conservative movements.

The committee ultimately decided against the Federalist Society membership ban, to which Sasse responded with thanks and a dig at Whitehouse’s penchant for perpetuating conspiracy theories.

“I’m glad the Judicial Conference decided not to participate in a vicious liberal smear campaign against the Federalist Society,” Sasse said. “Senator Whitehouse can hyperventilate about the Illuminati all he wants, but the Federalist Society is a group of law students and lawyers with diverse opinions who formed a debate society. Because they take the Constitution and the rule of law seriously, they’ve been the target of a ruthless blitz that will ultimately erode confidence in an independent and fair Judiciary. The Judicial Conference made the right call.”

Amy coney barrett EPA Intelwars Respect Sierra club Stephen Breyer Supreme Court

Liberal SCOTUS justice omits ‘respect’ in dissent after Amy Coney Barrett pens majority opinion

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the high court’s liberal justices, was forced to revise a recent dissenting court opinion that he wrote because he omitted “respect.”

What is the background?

The Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club on Thursday, determining that the Environmental Protection Agency can prevent Sierra Club, a left-wing climate advocacy group, from obtaining certain internal government documents.

The case was the first that Justice Amy Coney Barrett heard as a Supreme Court justice, with oral arguments taking place on Nov. 2. Barrett also authored her first Supreme Court majority opinion in the case.

Only Breyer and Justice Sonya Sotomayer dissented in the case.

What happened with Breyer?

According to Law & Crime, there were unusual circumstances surrounding the court’s opinions unrelated to the outcome of the case.

From Law & Crime:

First, the opinion was not unanimous. Traditionally, a new justice authors their first majority opinion with the full backing from the court. Thursday’s 7-2 decision in favor of the government upends that unspoken agreement—perhaps auguring tense relations ahead.

Second, the dissent by Justice Stephen Breyer (which was joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor), foregoes the staid closing salutation of “I respectfully dissent” in favor of the terse “I dissent,” which is decidedly a sign that the disagreement here is exceptionally sharp.

The details of the case aside, reporters quickly noticed that Breyer had omitted “respect” from his opinion.

“I didn’t think this ESA/FOIA case was particularly contentious, but Breyer signed his dissent with the aggressive ‘I dissent’ rather than the standard, cordial ‘I respectfully dissent,'” Politico reporter Alex Guillén noted.

In fact, Breyer issued two dissenting opinions on Thursday, and only the one dissenting Barrett’s majority opinion omitted “respect.”

What happened next?

Breyer issued an updated opinion on Friday that included “respect.”

“For these reasons, with respect, I dissent,” Breyer’s opinion now reads.

As Law & Crime noted, the Supreme Court’s “slip opinions” are subject to corrections, and are not the final, official court opinion.

The Supreme Court’s own website makes clear that slip opinions — which are issued immediately upon the adjudication of a case — are not the official, final version of the court’s say on a matter. For instance, page numbers and other ancillary matters are altered so as to insert the case into into the broader volume of the United States Reports where it will reside for the ages.

Indeed, the Supreme Court’s website states, “Only the bound volumes of the United States Reports contain the final, official text of the opinions of the Supreme Court.”

Clemente pereida immigration law Intelwars Pereida v wilkinson Scotus immigration Supreme Court

SCOTUS rules illegal immigrants bear the burden of proof when challenging deportation, not the US government

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Department of Justice on Thursday, ruling that illegal immigrants who are subject to deportation bear the burden of proof in challenging their removal.

In a 5-3 opinion in Pereida v. Wilkinson, the court’s conservative justices determined that Clemente Pereida, an immigrant from Mexico who has resided in the U.S. illegally for the past 25 years, bears the full burden of proving he is eligible to have his deportation canceled under the longstanding immigration law.

It seems like a simple enough concept: As it relates to immigration benefits, noncitizens aren’t entitled to the same array of due process rights that citizens are. But evidently it wasn’t that simple for the three liberal justices on the court, and for a time it looked like it wouldn’t be the case for two of President Trump’s appointees, either.

TheBlaze’s Daniel Horowitz reported last year that Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh showed signs of wavering in regard to Pereida’s fate. But in the end, both sided with the court’s majority.

Gorsuch, authoring the majority opinion, wrote, “The Immigration and Nationality Act expressly requires individuals seeking relief from lawful removal orders to prove all aspects of their eligibility. That includes proving they do not stand convicted of a disqualifying criminal offense.”

The INA allows for immigrants with past criminal convictions to seek the cancelation of their deportation order as long as their offenses didn’t amount to a serious crime involving “moral turpitude,” which is defined by the Justice Department as “a nebulous concept, which refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience.”

In this case, while his deportation proceedings were already underway, Pereida was convicted in Nebraska of using a fake Social Security card in order to obtain employment, a crime involving moral turpitude, and so the immigration judge ruled he was ineligible to seek cancelation. However, the specific Nebraska statute that Pereida violated listed several offenses, one of which — operating a business without a license — did not involve moral turpitude.

Because there existed some ambiguity as to which offense Pereida stood convicted of, the Board of Immigration Appeals and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals countered that Pereida may in fact still be eligible, and so the case went to the Supreme Court. And on Thursday, the court sided with the Justice Department.

“Individuals seeking relief from a lawful removal order shoulder a heavy burden,” Gorsuch concluded. “Mr. Pereida failed to carry that burden.”

Justice Stephen Breyer, along Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, dissented. Justice Amy Coney Barrett was not involved in deciding the case since it was argued before she was appointed.

Clarence Thomas Constitution Ginni Thomas Intelwars Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Opponents attack wife of Clarence Thomas over his dissent bashing decision to not hear critical election case

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a searing dissenting opinion after the Supreme Court refused to hear a pivotal case involving a controversial Pennsylvania electoral directive that allowed the counting of ballots received up to three days after Election Day.

Now, Thomas’ opponents are using his opinion to attack his wife.

What did Thomas say?

Thomas believes the court’s refusal to hear the case opens the door for more election controversies in the future.

The central concern, according to Thomas, is whether state executives have the power to usurp their state legislatures in determining election laws, despite the U.S. Constitution explicitly assigning that power to legislators.

“[Pennsylvania’s] decision to rewrite the rules seems to have affected too few ballots to change the outcome of any federal election. But that may not be the case in the future,” Thomas wrote. “These cases provide us with an ideal opportunity to address just what authority nonlegislative officials have to set election rules, and to do so well before the next election cycle. The refusal to do so is inexplicable.”

Thomas later added:

One wonders what this Court waits for. We failed to settle this dispute before the election, and thus provide clear
rules. Now we again fail to provide clear rules for future
elections. The decision to leave election law hidden beneath
a shroud of doubt is baffling. By doing nothing, we invite
further confusion and erosion of voter confidence. Our fellow citizens deserve better and expect more of us. I respectfully dissent.

Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito joined Thomas in dissent.

Why did opponents attack his wife?

Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas, has been outspoken about her political beliefs and support for Donald Trump.

Despite the fact that Thomas raised serious constitutional concerns with the Pennsylvania case, Democrats implied his wife’s politics drove his dissent — and even demanded that she be investigated to determine what role, if any, she played in the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “I’m concerned that #SCOTUS Justice Thomas dissented—we will have to learn more about the role his wife Gini Thomas played in raising money for Trump’s deadly #Jan6 ‘Insurrection Day.'”

Duty to Warn, an “association of mental health professionals warning Trump is psychologically unfit,” attacked Thomas for not disavowing his wife’s politics.

“Today, SCOTUS refused to hear an appeal from the PA GOP about extending mail-in voting deadlines. Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent. His wife Ginni endorsed the 1/6 protest, demanded an overturn of the election, and sent ‘LOVE’ to demonstrators. He’s not dissented to any of that,” the organization tweeted.

“Justice Thomas by the very fact that Ginni Thomas participated in 1/6 attack needs to recuse himself,” another critic said.

“For the sake of the integrity of the highest court in the United States of America, Justice Thomas must resign. Ginni Thomas must be investigated for her role in the January 6 insurrection. He and his wife are clearly radicalized,” another person said.

There is no evidence that Ginni Thomas played any role in the deadly violence at the Capitol.

Anything else?

Ginni Thomas apologized to Thomas’ staff earlier this month in emails obtained by the Washington Post.

“I owe you all an apology. I have likely imposed on you my lifetime passions,” Ginni Thomas wrote. “My passions and beliefs are likely shared with the bulk of you, but certainly not all. And sometimes the smallest matters can divide loved ones for too long. Let’s pledge to not let politics divide THIS family, and learn to speak more gently and knowingly across the divide.”

Cyrus vance Donald Trump Intelwars Manhattan district attorney office Supreme Court Trump financial records Trump tax returns

Supreme Court orders Trump to turn over tax records to NY prosecutors

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered former President Donald Trump to have his accountants release his financial records to prosecutors in New York, ending a prolonged legal battle in which Trump sought to shield his tax documents from investigators.

Trump’s lawyers, on Oct. 7, requested that the high court block a lower court decision ordering Mazars USA, the accounting firm employed by the former president, to answer a subpoena from Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance’s office and turn over Trump’s tax documents. The Supreme Court’s order, which was unsigned and issued without comment, rejected that request.

Trump’s tax returns will be turned over under grand jury secrecy rules and will not be released publicly.

Vance, a Democrat, sought eight years of Trump’s financial records as part of an inquiry into allegations that Trump made hush-money payments to two women who say they had affairs with him before he became president. Court filings reported by the New York Times last December suggested Trump is also under investigation for potential tax fraud.

Vance issued a three-word statement in response to the court’s order: “The work continues.”

The decision marks the end of a lengthy legal battle in which Trump sought to keep his tax records confidential. Trump was the only recent U.S. president to refuse to release his tax returns to the public. He repeatedly asserted that he was under “audit” by the Internal Revenue Service and has long promised to release his financial records once the audit was complete.

In August 2019, Vance issued a subpoena for Trump’s personal and corporate tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump claimed that as the sitting president, he was immune to state criminal investigations, but the Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision rejected that argument and knocked the case back to lower courts.

Trump’s lawyers then argued that the subpoena was politically motivated and amounted to harassment of the president, calling it a “fishing expedition” and demanding that the subpoena request be rejected. But the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan denied Trump’s request.

“We hold that none of the President’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued ‘out of malice or an intent to harass,'” the appeals court said.

In a separate court filing, House Democrats sought to obtain Trump’s tax records, but the Supreme Court last July refused to grant their request and sent the case back to the lower courts for review. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last August that if Joe Biden won the 2020 election, “the world will see what the president has been hiding all of this time.”

Neither President Joe Biden or his newly confirmed Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen have yet indicated whether they will release Trump’s taxes publicly.

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The Supreme Court Used to Consider the Minimum Wage Unconstitutional

I wonder how many Americans realize that the U.S. Supreme Court once declared the minimum wage to be in violation of U.S. Constitution. This occurred in 1923 in a case entitled Adkins v. Children’s Hospital. 

In a 5-3 decision in that case, the Supreme Court held that a minimum wage law enacted by the District of Columbia violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

D.C.’s minimum-wage law applied only to women and children. The law said that both women and children, by virtue of their supposedly weaker position in society, needed governmental assistance to ensure that they were paid what today would be referred to as a “living wage.”

The law established a governmental board to study the situation and to determine what the minimum wage should be for women in different occupations. Once the board made its wage determinations for each occupation, employers were required to comply, on pain of a misdemeanor criminal conviction on failing to do so.

The case involved two plaintiffs who sought injunctive relief against the enforcement of the board’s minimum wage edicts. One plaintiff was Children’s Hospital, which employed a large number of women. The other plaintiff was a 21-year-old woman who was employed by the Congress Hall Hotel Company as an elevator operator. She was very happy with the terms of her employment. The reason she was suing was that the mandated increase in her salary was causing her employer to lay her off.

The Fifth Amendment prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of liberty without due process of law. As the Court pointed out, the term “liberty” necessarily encompasses “liberty of contract” — that is, the right of people to voluntarily enter into mutual beneficial agreements with each other, including labor agreements.

In fact, a basic principle of economic exchanges is that whenever two parties enter into an exchange, they both benefit from their own individual, subjective perspectives. That’s because by entering into the agreement, they are both giving up something they value less for something they value more.

The Court rejected the notion that women, as a class, need the assistance of government in wage negotiations. It also rejected the notion that there was a correlation between higher wages and higher morals for women, which was one of the justifications for enacting the law. Moreover, the Court pointed out that each person’s situation is different, making it impossible for a governmental board to make a wage determination that is going to be beneficial for every woman.

The Court stated:

The statute now under consideration is attacked upon the ground that it authorizes an unconstitutional interference with the freedom of contract included within the guaranties of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. That the right to contract about one’s affairs is a part of the liberty of the individual protected by this clause, is settled by the decisions of this Court and is no longer open to question…. Within this liberty are contracts of employment of labor. In making such contracts, generally speaking, the parties have an equal right to obtain from each other the best terms they can as the result of private bargaining.

The Court also quoted its opinion in Adair v. United States:

The right of a person to sell his labor upon such terms as he deems proper is, in its essence, the same as the right of the purchaser of labor to prescribe the conditions upon which he will accept such labor from the person offering to sell…. In all such particulars, the employer and employee have equality of right, and any legislation that disturbs that equality is an arbitrary interference with the liberty of contract which no government can legally justify in a free land.”

And Coppage v. Kansas:

Included in the right of personal liberty and the right of private property — partaking of the nature of each — is the right to make contracts for the acquisition of property. Chief among such contracts is that of personal employment, by which labor and other services are exchanged for money or other forms of property. If this right be struck down or arbitrarily interfered with, there is a substantial impairment of liberty in the long-established constitutional sense. The right is as essential to the laborer as to the capitalist, to the poor as to the rich; for the vast majority of persons have no other honest way to begin to acquire property, save by working for money.

So, how is it that today America is saddled with a federal minimum-wage law that has destroyed the liberty of contract of the American people?

In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt was outraged that the Supreme Court was declaring some of his socialist and fascist New Deal programs unconstitutional. To circumvent the Court, FDR came up with a scheme that would enable him to pack the Court with his cronies. Although the scheme failed, the Court shifted directions anyway. In the 1937 case of West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, the Supreme Court overruled its decision in Adkins and effectively held that liberty of contract would never be protected again. It was a classic example of how the Court began adjusting and shifting its positions in accordance with how the political winds were blowing, just like the legislative branch of the federal government.

The post The Supreme Court Used to Consider the Minimum Wage Unconstitutional first appeared on Tenth Amendment Center.

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Supreme Court set to consider high-profile election lawsuits this week

The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider a handful of high-profile election challenges at its mid-February conference taking place this week. If the court chooses to accept any of the lawsuits, they will likely be heard and decided in October.

The cases include lawsuits filed by pro-Trump attorneys Lin Wood and Sidney Powell in Georgia and Michigan, a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Republican state Rep. Mike Kelly, and two lawsuits filed in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by former President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The lawsuits collectively allege that unlawful conduct took place in several battleground states during the 2020 presidential election, such as the unconstitutional expansion of mail-in voting by state election officials, the failure to enforce security measures for mail-in ballots, the denial of meaningful access for Republican poll watchers, and technical issues involving voting machines.

After the lawsuits were rejected by lower courts in the weeks following the election, attorneys representing plaintiffs in the lawsuits made their appeals to the Supreme Court in short order, but the court opted not to consider the cases during a turbulent transition period.

Now, all of the cases mentioned above are scheduled for a conference taking place this Friday, February 19, according to records on the Supreme Court’s website.

In nearly every plea, attorneys backing Trump’s election challenges insisted their cases be heard prior to President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, or else their success would be unlikely, the Washington Examiner reported. However, even now that Biden’s inauguration has come and gone, the lawsuits have not been withdrawn.

“Our legal issue remains important and in need of the court’s review,” Trump lawyer John Eastman told the Examiner in reference to Pennsylvania’s handling of the 2020 election. Kelly’s lawyer Greg Teufel added that he has no plans to drop the lawsuit.

The attorneys likely believe their lawsuits can set in motion the advance of election security legislation even if they did not affect the 2020 presidential election, as originally intended.

Even now, Republican lawmakers across the country are pushing for legislation to reform elections, especially reining in widespread mail-in voting.

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Supreme Court gives churches huge victory over California’s COVID-related ban targeting worship gatherings

The Supreme Court ruled late Friday that California cannot prohibit churches and other religious organizations from conducting services indoors because of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was a massive victory for First Amendment rights.

However, the high court did not roll back all COVID-related restrictions enacted on religious gatherings in California.

What are the details?

Voting along ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that California cannot totally bar indoor worship gatherings.

However, the court’s majority of conservative-leaning justices were unable to agree on other restrictions enacted on religious gatherings, such as capacity limits and a ban on singing, which California argued are necessary for the public health.

From the Associated Press:

The justices said the state can cap indoor services at 25% of a building’s capacity. The justices also declined to stop California from enforcing a ban put in place last summer on indoor singing and chanting. California had put the restrictions in place because the virus is more easily transmitted indoors and singing releases tiny droplets that can carry the disease.

The justices were acting on emergency requests to halt the restrictions from South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista and Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, which has more than 160 churches across the state.

What did the justices say?

In his opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts reaffirmed that “federal courts owe significant deference to politically accountable officials with the ‘background, competence, and expertise to assess public health.'”

“The State has concluded, for example, that singing indoors poses a heightened risk of transmitting COVID–19. I see no basis in this record for overriding that aspect of the state public health framework,” Roberts added. “At the same time, the State’s present determination—that the maximum number of adherents who can safely worship in the most cavernous cathedral is zero—appears to reflect not expertise or discretion, but instead insufficient appreciation or consideration of the interests at stake.”

Meanwhile, Justice Neil Gorsuch, joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, blasted California for having “openly imposed more stringent regulations on religious institutions than on many businesses.”

Gorsuch wrote that “California singles out religion for worse treatment than many secular activities” despite the fact that the Supreme Court recently made “it abundantly clear that edicts like California’s fail strict scrutiny and violate the Constitution.”

Gorsuch further accused California officials of “playing favorites during a pandemic, expending considerable effort to protect lucrative industries … while denying similar largesse to its faithful.”

Gorsuch concluded, “As this crisis enters its second year— and hovers over a second Lent, a second Passover, and a second Ramadan—it is too late for the State to defend extreme measures with claims of temporary exigency, if it ever could. Drafting narrowly tailored regulations can be difficult. But if Hollywood may host a studio audience or film a singing competition while not a single soul may enter California’s churches, synagogues, and mosques, something has gone seriously awry.”

The court’s three liberal justices — Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer — sided with California in full.

Writing the dissenting opinion, Kagan claimed the court’s decision “orders California to weaken its restrictions on public gatherings by making a special exception for worship services.”

“Justices of this Court are not scientists. Nor do we know much about public health policy. Yet today the Court displaces the judgments of experts about how to respond to a raging pandemic,” Kagan wrote. “Under the Court’s injunction, the State must instead treat worship services like secular activities that pose a much lesser danger. That mandate defies our caselaw, exceeds our judicial role, and risks worsening the pandemic.”

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Biden begins launch of promised commission to ‘reform’ the Supreme Court

President Joe Biden has begun staffing his promised commission to “reform” the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary, an undertaking he vowed in October would go on to address court packing as well as “a number of other things.”

What are the details?

The commission — which is to be housed under the purview of the White House Counsel’s office and chaired by Biden campaign lawyer Bob Bauer — “is indeed moving ahead [with] some members have already been selected,” Politico reported Wednesday.

Those reportedly added to the commission so far include Cristina Rodríguez, a Yale Law School professor and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama Justice Department; Caroline Fredrickson, the former president of the American Constitution Society; and Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and a former assistant attorney general in the Bush Department of Justice.

Politico noted that while Rodríguez’s opinions on court reforms are “less clear,” Fredrickson, on the other hand, has been rather vocal about her support for ideas like court packing.

“I often point out to people who aren’t lawyers that the Supreme Court is not defined as ‘nine person body’ in the Constitution, and it has changed size many times,” she reportedly told Eric Lesh, the executive director of the LGBT Bar Association, in 2019.

Goldsmith, for what it’s worth, may serve as a check on any radical progressive agenda. According to Politico, though he was not a Trump supporter, he did back Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

What’s the background?

Back in October when Biden announced his intentions to launch the commission, he was embroiled in controversy due to his refusal to answer whether or not he would pack the Supreme Court in response to Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination.

“It’s not about court packing,” Biden claimed regarding the forthcoming commission during a “60 Minutes” interview. “There’s a number of other things that our constitutional scholars have debated and I’ve looked to see what recommendations that commission might make.’

“There’s a number of alternatives that go well beyond packing,” he added. “The last thing we need to do is turn the Supreme Court into just a political football — whoever has the most votes gets whatever they want. Presidents come and go. Supreme Court justices stay for generations.”

Whether or not adding seats to the Supreme Court will come as a result of the commission remains to be seen, but conservatives may still be concerned over its formulation in the first place.

As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey aptly points out, despite Biden’s insistence that the commission will be bipartisan, “there’s only party demanding changes to the top court’s structure” — and it’s not the Republican Party.