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Justice Kennedy Announces Retirement

Just yesterday I wrote about how important it is to consider that whoever is elected president will decide who serves on the Supreme and other federal courts. Today Justice Kennedy announced his retirement. Unfortunately, since voters in some important states that should have gone blue in 2016 voted for Donald Trump, we are in for a dismal few years of replacement judges.

Hypocritical Republicans of course want the Senate to swiftly confirm whoever Trump picks. Not so fast. Remember when Republicans wouldn't vote on Obama's choice for a Supreme Court justice because it was too close to the election and they wanted the victor in the election to choose? Well, what's good for the goose may be good for the gander. Sen. Schumer is promising there will be no vote on a Trump-selected replacement for Kennedy before the elections.

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Supreme Court Rules Warrant Needed for Cell Site Location Data

Huge, ground-breaking decision from the Supreme Court today! In a 7 to 2 ruling, the Court said a search warrant is needed for cops to obtain cell site location information from phone companies.

The opinion is here.

The case before us involves the Government’s acquisition of wireless carrier cell-site records revealing the location of Carpenter’s cell phone whenever it made orreceived calls. This sort of digital data—personal location information maintained by a third party—does not fit neatly under existing precedents.

More....

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Supreme Court Upholds Grandparent Exemption to Travel Ban

The Supreme Court has dispensed with Trump's appeal of the Hawaii court order on his travel ban in a very short Order, available here.

The Court upheld the 'Grandparent' Exemption To Trump Travel Ban'. It also stayed the Hawaii Court's exemption of refugees, pending resolution by the full 9th Circuit.

The justices, in a brief order, rejected the administration’s request that it clarify the scope of their decision last month temporarily reinstating the ban but allowing people with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” to enter the country. The court said the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, should address the question.

And no surprise here: The judges who would have blocked implementation of the Hawaii Court's order, even on grandparents, as the case winds through the 9th Circuit Appeals Court: Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch.

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Supreme Court Approves Part of Trump's Travel Ban

I knew I should have stayed away from the news entirely today. I just saw this: Supreme Court Okays Part of Trump's Travel Ban:

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to allow a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect and will consider in the fall the president’s broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raises fundamental issues of national security and religious discrimination.

The court made an important exception: It said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

[More...]

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Supreme Court Strikes Down TX Abortion Restrictions

The Supreme Court ruled today that a Texas law limiting access to abortions was unconstitutional:

The Supreme Court’s 5 to 3 decision ruled unconstitutional a 2013 Texas law that required all abortion providers to meet ambulatory surgical standards and physicians to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Supporters of the regulations under House Bill 2 said they aimed to protect women’s health. Abortion advocates called the mandates unnecessary, expensive and an “undue burden” on women’s rights.

...In the court opinion, the justices said lawmakers couldn’t prove the rules actually protected women’s health. The move suggested restrictive abortion measures won’t stand unless policy designers prove they keep women from harm.

The opinion is here. [More...]

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Obama's Supreme Court Pick

I read the other contenders withdrew from the race.

I couldn't disagree more with Obama's announcement that he's tapped Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.

We don't need another Alito on the Court. It's got enough conservative law and order type former prosecutors.

Republicans will love this choice. It seems to me Obama just wants to appease them and get them to back off their position that the next president should get to choose Scalia's replacement.

So disappointed.

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Obama's Supreme Court Choices

A new name has emerged as a finalist in the Supreme Court sweeps to replace Justice Scalia. Meet Paul Watford.

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Justice Thomas Asks Questions

Justice Clarence Thomas asked questions of a government lawyer during oral arguments yesterday. It was the first time in 10 years he's asked a question. What was the case? A gun rights case.

"Ms. Eisenstein, one question," Thomas said. "This is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?"

What misdemeanor is that? The federal law that prohibits someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in state court from owning a firearm.The case is Voisine v. United States.

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On Scalia and Naming His Replacement

On Scalia and his legacy, I wrote this.

The issue of replacing Scalia, Kagro and I did this. Starting at the 40 minute mark, I think David and I discuss this in a manner that, imnsho, you won't find anywhere else. Take a listen.

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Justice Antonin Scalia Dead at 79

You'll have heard this by now.

The big issues - President Obama will nominate a replacement. The GOP Senate will not vote or confirm the nominee. What will this mean?

Discuss.

[Update TL below]}

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Supreme Court Upholds Execution Drug

In a 5-4 opinion written by Justice Alito, the Supreme Court has upheld Oklahoma's use of midazolam in executions. The reasoning:

Alito said the prisoners failed to identify a “known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain,” which he said was required under the court’s previous ruling upholding lethal injection. And he said plaintiffs had failed to establish that a massive dose of midazolam “entails a substantial risk of severe pain.”

Some background is here. The opinion is here.

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SCOTUS Rules Constitution Requires Marriage Equality

Decision here.

Discuss.

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Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Health Care Act

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Choices Act. The opinion in King v. Burwell is here.

The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017, and will give it a greater chance of becoming an enduring part of America’s social safety net

Dissenters: Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The Court upheld the Act's tax subsidies intended to assist the ability of the poor and middle-class to buy health insurance. [More...]

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Would a public option have eliminated incentive for King v. Burwell?

There is no public option in the Affordable Care Act. On its own merits, as Wendell Potter explains, that's a shame. But there is another reason why no public option in ACA is a bad thing - if ACA included a public option, the challenge to tax credits and subsidies on the exchange, now before the the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell, would never have existed.

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Supreme Court Upholds Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

In a 6-2 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld Michigan's ban on affirmative action in college admissions. The full opinion in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action is here.

The opinion holds that Michigan voters had the right to amend their constitution to prohibit public universities from considering race in admissions decisions.

Justices Sotomayor wrote the 58 page dissent, joined in by Justice Ginsburg. The Chicago Tribune discusses the dissent here. [More...]

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