Category Archives: Supreme Court

This year at the Supreme Court: Gay rights, gun rights and Native rights

The Supreme Court begins its newest session on the first Monday in October. AP/J. Scott Applewhite

Morgan Marietta, University of Massachusetts Lowell

The Supreme Court begins its annual session on Oct. 7 and will take up a series of cases likely to have political reverberations in the 2020 elections.

Major cases this year address the immigration program for young people (“Dreamers”) known as DACA, the Affordable Care Act (again), and public money for religious schools.

Justices will also consider cases that involve several aspects of defendants’ rights: whether criminal convictions require a unanimous jury, minors can be given a life sentence and a state can abolish the insanity defense. Continue reading

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After Supreme Court Agrees to Hear First Abortion Case With Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, Warnings Right-Wingers Could ‘Decimate’ Access in Louisiana

“We are counting on the court to follow its precedent; otherwise, clinics will needlessly close.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-4-2019

A contested Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals resembles a Texas law the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2016. (Photo: Jordan Uhl/Flickr/cc)

Reproductive rights groups on Friday emphasized the importance of legal precedent after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging an anti-choice Louisiana law—the court’s first abortion rights case since President Donald Trump’s appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the bench and shifted the court to the right.

Act 620, a 2014 Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, is similar to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. Such measures—which critics call “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws—have become popular among right-wing legislatures trying to circumvent Roe v. Wade and restrict access to abortion care. Continue reading

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‘Chilling’: Mississippi City Claims Undocumented Man Killed by Police Had No Constitutional Rights

“We’re stunned that someone put this in writing,” a lawyer for Ismael Lopez’s family said.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-30-2019

A city in Mississippi is arguing that 41-year-old Ismael Lopez, who was killed by police who apparently mistook him for a domestic violence suspect, had no constitutional rights because he was an undocumented immigrant. (Photo: Kurman Communications/Flickr/cc)

A court filing publicized late last week drew outrage on Monday over the case of Ismael Lopez, a 41-year-old man who was killed by police two years ago in Southaven, Mississippi.

To avoid responsibility for the man’s death, attorneys for the city are arguing that Lopez had no constitutional rights due to his status as an undocumented immigrant—blatantly contradicting U.S. law and numerous rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was among the immigrant rights defenders who drew attention to the case on social media. Continue reading

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Trump Condemned for ‘Morally Reprehensible’ Plan That Rights Groups Warn Means Death for Asylum-Seekers

“Instead of offering protection to people fleeing these conditions, the United States is instead pursuing a disastrous plan that could carry deadly consequences.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-26-2019

Undocumented immigrant children at a U.S. Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas. Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Human rights advocates on Thursday warned that a “suspect” asylum deal negotiated between the White House and the president of Honduras—along with similar agreements with Guatemala and El Salvador—could endanger thousands of refugees and could even prove deadly for many people in search of safety.

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday it struck a deal with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, allowing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to send asylum-seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border to Honduras if they have not already sought asylum there en route to the United States. Continue reading

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Warnings of ‘Taxpayer-Funded Discrimination’ Against LGBTQ Workers as Trump Pushes Religious Exemption Rule for Contractors

“This rule seeks to undermine our civil rights protections and encourages discrimination in the workplace—and we will work to stop it,” said the ACLU

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-14-2019

Photo from We Won’t Be Erased – Rally for Trans Rights, Washington, DC. Photo: Ted Eytan/flickr

Rights groups on Wednesday accused the Trump administration of attempting to permit workplace discrimination against LGBTQ employees and other vulnerable people after the Labor Department unveiled a rule that would allow federal contractors to cite religious beliefs to protect themselves from bias claims.

On Twitter, the ACLU said the proposal “aims to let government contractors fire workers who are LGBTQ, or who are pregnant and unmarried, based on the employers’ religious views.” Continue reading

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Appeals Court Delivers ‘Tremendous Blow to Federal Workers’ With Decision to Uphold Trump’s Anti-Union Executive Orders

“There must be a check on the president’s power to destroy federal employees’ union rights.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-16-2019

AFGE members protested President Donald Trump’s anti-union executive orders last year as their union filed a lawsuit against the president. (Photo: @AFGENational)

Unions representing hundreds of thousands of federal employees on Tuesday vowed to fight a federal appeals court ruling in which a three-judge panel unanimously upheld President Donald Trump’s executive orders attacking workers’ rights.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit said that it lacked jurisdiction to block Trump’s orders, which made it easier to fire federal employees, limited the amount of time workers can spend on union business, and compelled federal agencies to devise unfavorable contracts with unions. Continue reading

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‘I Can’t Overstate What a Farce This Is’: Trump DOJ Says It Is Still Reviewing ‘All Available Options’ to Revive Census Citizenship Question

The court filing came after Trump said he was considering an executive order and suggested—despite his own DOJ attorneys claiming otherwise—that the aim of the question is to redraw congressional districts

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-5-2019

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in last week claiming the administration’s rationale for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census seemed “contrived.” (Photo: @CensusCounts/Twitter)

In what one expert described as “an absurd filing,” the Trump administration told a federal judge on Friday that the Justice and Commerce departments “have been asked to reevaluate all available options” for including a citizenship question on the 2020 census, an effort which was effectively blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

The Supreme Court temporarily prevented the inclusion of the question on the grounds that the alleged rationale for doing so appeared “contrived,” a ruling which was cautiously welcomed by civil liberties and immigrant rights groups who accused the administration of attempting to rig the next national survey to create an electoral advantage for “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” Continue reading

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After Supreme Court decision, gerrymandering fix is up to voters

The Supreme Court is empty days before the justices vote to on the U.S. gerrymandering case. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

 

John Rennie Short, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court has ruled that partisan gerrymandering is not unconstitutional.

The majority ruled that gerrymandering is outside the scope and power of the federal courts to adjudicate. The issue is a political one, according to the court, not a legal one.

“Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority decision. “But the fact that such gerrymandering is incompatible with democratic principles does not mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary.” Continue reading

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No African American has won statewide office in Mississippi in 129 years – here’s why

People waited outside the Supreme Court in 2013 to listen to the Shelby County, Ala. v. Holder voting rights case. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

John A. Tures, Lagrange College

Mississippi is home to the highest percentage of African Americans of any state in the country.

And yet, Mississippi hasn’t elected an African American candidate to statewide office since 1890.

That’s 129 years. Continue reading

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‘Explosive’ New Evidence Shows GOP ‘Weaponizing’ the 2020 Census With Citizenship Question to Rig Elections

A Republican redistricting strategist who died last year left behind documents that critics call a “smoking gun” in the right-wing effort to exploit the census for electoral advantage

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-30-2019

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in June about the legality of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. (Photo: @CensusCounts/Twitter)

Just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the Trump administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, previously undisclosed documents found on the hard drives of a deceased Republican operative offer “explosive” new evidence that the GOP fought for the question to create an electoral advantage for “Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.”

Federal district judges in New York and California ruled earlier this year that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the next census violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The Supreme Court heard arguments in April and is expected to issue a ruling in June. Continue reading

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