Category Archives: Supreme Court

Ordering Search for Sponsor, Appeals Court Further Delays Jane Doe’s Fight to Have An Abortion

While the government acknowledges the girl’s constitutional right to an abortion, it’s barring her from the procedure simply because it refuses to “facilitate” an abortion for the 17-year-old

Written by Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 10-22-2017.

A 17-year-old undocumented immigrant being held in a shelter in Texas is desperately hoping to have an abortion. The government further delayed her in its latest decision. (Photo: Victoria Pickering/Flickr/cc)

The American Civil Liberties Union pushed back against a Washington, D.C. appeals court decision announced Friday in the case of Jane Doe, an undocumented immigrant who is currently in need of abortion care.

In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court gave the government 11 days to find a sponsor for the 17-year-old, such as a family member living in the United States, instead of upholding a lower court’s earlier order to simply allow the girl to have an abortion.

Jane Doe, as she is called in court documents, is 15 weeks pregnant and currently in a shelter in Texas under supervision of the Health and Human Services Department. Texas bans most abortions after 20 weeks.

“She’s already suffered weeks of delays, which the government has no business doing,” said Jennifer Dalven, one of the ACLU lawyers representing the young woman, in an interview with the Washington Post.

The dissenting opinion of Judge Patricia A. Millett did not mince words, calling the majority’s decision “wrong” and “unconstitutional.”

“Forcing her to continue an unwanted pregnancy just in the hopes of finding a sponsor that has not been found in the past six weeks sacrifices J.D.’s constitutional liberty, autonomy, and personal dignity for no justifiable governmental reason,” wrote Judge Millett.

She added that the government has fully acknowledged that Jane Doe does in fact have the constitutional right to an abortion, and is barring access to the procedure for purely ideological reasons:

The government does not dispute—in fact, it has knowingly and deliberately chosen not to challenge—J.D.’s constitutional right to an abortion. The government instead says that it can have its contractor keep J.D. in what the government calls “close” custody—that is, more restrictive conditions than the contractor imposes on the non-pregnant minors in its care—because of the agency’s own supervening judgment that it would be in J.D.’s best interests to carry the pregnancy to term.

The HHS Department amended its mission statement earlier this month to reflect the Trump administration’s official belief that life begins at conception. Lawyers for the department argued in from of the appeals court on Friday that, “We’re not putting an obstacle in her path. We’re declining to facilitate an abortion.”

“Justice is delayed yet again for this courageous and persistent young woman. She continues to be held hostage and prevented from getting an abortion because the Trump administration disagrees with her personal decision,” said Brigitte Amiri, another ACLU attorney, in a statement. “Our client and women across this country should be able to access a safe, legal abortion without federal officials stepping in to interfere.”

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#FairMaps: Pro-Democracy Rally as Supreme Court Hears ‘Most Significant’ Voting Rights Case in Decades

“Make no mistake about it: Extreme partisan gerrymandering is corruption. It’s a cancer on democracy. End it now!”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-3-2017

“Gerrymandering has no value in our democracy,” said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil and Human Rights. (Photo: Janai Nelson/Twitter)

Wielding signs that read “hands off our districts” and “you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your voters,” hundreds of civil rights advocates, lawyers, and lawmakers rallied in the nation’s capital Tuesday as the Supreme Court heard arguments in a landmark redistricting case that poses “the most serious challenge to gerrymandering in modern times.”

The case under consideration—Gill v. Whitford—is the result of a lawsuit filed by Wisconsin voters and the Campaign Legal Center in 2015 alleging that Republican-drawn state district lines violated the rights of Democratic voters. In 2016, a federal court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, arguing that the GOP’s district maps amounted to “an aggressive partisan gerrymander” and ordered the lines redrawn.  Continue reading

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Protests and Outrage as Gorsuch Headlines Event at Trump Hotel

Luncheon speech at president-owned luxury hotel decried as “inconsistent with judicial independence and integrity.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-28-2017

“Neil Gorsuch knows where his bread is buttered,” notes Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress. (Photo: Cleanup Carl/Twitter)

Protestors gathered outside Trump International Hotel in Washington Thursday as Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the keynote speech at an event hosted by a right-wing advocacy group—a move critics argued crosses fundamental ethical boundaries, given that the venue is currently the subject of numerous emoluments lawsuits that could soon reach the Trump-appointed judge’s desk.

“By headlining this event, Gorsuch will personally enrich the very man who appointed him to his lofty position,” notes Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress. “And he will enable the very mechanism that allows Trump to profit off the presidency.” Continue reading

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‘Downright Unconstitutional’: Gorsuch Slammed for Headlining Event at Trump Hotel

Especially as many Trump decisions are likely soon to reach the court’s docket, a healthy respect for public confidence in the court should have led Justice Gorsuch to demur.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-20-2017

Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, swears in Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch on Monday, April 10, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo: Public domain

In what critics are calling a blatant violation of “basic ethical principles about conflicts of interest,” Trump-appointed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has reportedly agreed to headline the “Defending Freedom Luncheon” next month at the Trump International Hotel, which is the subject of numerous lawsuits that could eventually reach the nation’s highest court.

Legal experts immediately sounded alarm upon learning that Gorsuch is set to be the featured speaker at the event, which is hosted by the conservative group The Fund for American Studies. Continue reading

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Protests in Poland as Right-Wing Ruling Party Dismantles Democracy

‘This is a blatant attack by Poland’s government on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law’

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-2017

Protesters across Poland have flooded the streets for the past week, condemning judicial reforms that will give the right-wing ruling party control over judge selections. (Grzegorz Żukowski/Flickr/cc)

Tens of thousands poured into the streets in Poland Thursday night, condemning proposed laws that would dramatically weaken the nation’s judicial system, just two weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump visited the country and praised its commitment to freedom and democracy, speaking to “an audience of close to 15,000 enthusiastic, flag-waving Poles—many of them bused in by Poland’s ruling right-wing” party.

The pending judicial reform is just the latest in a series of anti-democratic measures adopted in Poland since the far-right Law and Justice Party (PiS) came to power in 2015. As the New York Times noted, the party has “increased government control over the news media, cracked down on public gatherings, and restricted the activities of nongovernmental organizations.” It has also limited female reproductive rights. Continue reading

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Texas Study Shows How Defunding Planned Parenthood Actually Increased Abortion Rates

State’s teen abortion rate and teen birth rate both spiked after lawmakers cut funding and closed more than 80 family planning clinics

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-14-2017

Texas lawmakers’ attacks on reproductive rights have closed more than 80 of the states family planning clinics, including 11 Planned Parenthood clinics. Photo: The Trott Line

Illustrating the potential consequences if Republicans fulfill their threat to defund Planned Parenthood nationwide, a new study shows that when Texas slashed state funding for family planning clinics in 2011, the abortion rate among teenagers in the state actually increased.

The Texas state legislature launched a series of attacks on reproductive rights, beginning in 2011, when it cut funding for family planning services by 67 percent and restructured the way it allocates the remaining funds. These measures closed more than 80 clinics, including 11 Planned Parenthood clinics. One of the purported goals, said Republican backers, was to decrease abortion rates. As then-governor Rick Perry said: “We will continue to pass laws to ensure abortions are as rare as possible under existing law.” Continue reading

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The Supreme Court, religion and the future of school choice

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The Supreme Court’s decision in the Trinity Lutheran case is blurring the lines between church and state. aradaphotography/Shutterstock.com

John E. Taylor, West Virginia University

The Supreme Court recently decided that Trinity Lutheran Church should be eligible for a Missouri state grant covering the cost of recycled playground surfaces. Though the state originally rejected the church’s application on grounds of separation of church and state, the Supreme Court ruled that this rejection was, in fact, religious discrimination.

The case’s impact will probably reach well beyond playgrounds.

As a scholar of education law, I’ve been following the Trinity Lutheran case and what it could mean for the hottest issue in education: school choice. Where in the past states have decided for themselves whether religious schools are eligible for school vouchers and scholarship tax credits, the Trinity Lutheran decision likely signals that the Supreme Court will soon require states to include religious private schools in their programs. Continue reading

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With Nation’s Attention Elsewhere, Trump Quietly Intensifies War on Workers

Trump has nominated two corporate lawyers to the NLRB as Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch gears up to rule on a key labor case

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-28-2017

If Trump’s nominees are confirmed by the Senate, Republicans will control the NLRB for the first time in nearly a decade. (Photo: AFSCME/Twitter)

In a little-discussed move that could spell disaster for unions and workers in the near future and over the long-term, President Donald Trump on Tuesday night announced the nomination of William Emanuel—a lawyer for a firm that represents large corporations—to fill a vacant seat on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Emanuel, as Reuters noted, is a member of the Federalist Society, an ultra-right-wing group of lawyers and donors that has been credited with producing the list of possible Supreme Court nominees the Trump administration flaunted during his presidential campaign.

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Rev. William Barber Says GOP Voter Suppression the ‘Real Hacking’ of US Democracy

“We would not be having this healthcare deconstruction if we had the Voting Rights Act!”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-23-2017

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber. Photo: YouTube

In an effort to bring national attention to “homegrown voter suppression” and to launch a campaign of “moral resistance” against Republican attempts to strip healthcare from millions, Rev. William J. Barber and other faith leaders marched in Washington on Friday just ahead of the anniversary of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Writing for NBC News prior to the march, Barber—a member of the NAACP national board of directors and a key figure in the successful effort to overturn North Carolina’s racially gerrymandered districts—argued that absent deliberate efforts by Republican lawmakers to prevent minorities from voting, a Donald Trump victory “would have never been possible.” Continue reading

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Amid Trump Chaos, Republicans Keep Their Eyes on the Big Prize: The Courts

“Control the Supreme Court, stack the judiciary, and you can stop the progressive movement… for decades,” Corey Robin wrote

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-15-2017

Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, swears in Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. Photo: Public domain

While the Trump administration remains embroiled in scandals of its own making and continues to blunder forward seemingly without direction, Republicans have their collective gaze fixed on a prize they have coveted for years: complete domination of the judiciary.

This goal, thanks to years of obstructionism, may be just on the horizon.

As Esquire‘s Charles Pierce notes, President Trump has effectively “subcontracted the job of picking judges to the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, and various other wingnut intellectual chop shops.” Three of the finalists—Kevin Newsom, Damien Schiff, and John Bush—sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for their confirmation hearings, which were scarcely mentioned by the press. Continue reading

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