Category Archives: Supreme Court

Prohibited From Holding Police Officer to Account, Federal Judge Calls on Supreme Court to Overturn ‘Qualified Immunity’

“Those who violate the constitutional rights of our citizens must be held accountable. When that day comes we will be one step closer to that more perfect Union.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-7-2020

Image: change.org

Handing down a ruling to dismiss a civil lawsuit which alleged a police officer violated a Black man’s Fourth Amendment rights during a traffic stop in 2013, a federal judge in Mississippi made clear that he sided with the plaintiff—and demanded the U.S. Supreme Court overturn legal precedent that makes it nearly impossible for the judicial system to hold officers accountable for rights violations. 

Calling for an end to qualified immunity, which dates back to a 1982 ruling and shields police from civil liability in most cases, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves turned his ruling into a plea for justice for plaintiff Clarence Jamison as well as countless other Black Americans who have faced violent abuse and deadly use of force by officers. Continue reading

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As Prisons Across US Report Surge in Covid-19 Cases, Supreme Court Rules Jail Does Not Have to Provide Basic Protections to Inmates

“There is no legal principle justifying this stay. The only ‘principle’ animating it is the belief of the Republican appointees to the Court that prisoners are subhuman.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-6-2020

Orange County Central Jail Complex. Photo by D Ramey Logan / CC BY-SA

As prisons and jails across the country continue to report Covid-19 outbreaks among inmates and staff, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that a county jail in California does not have to provide its population with basic sanitary and protective equipment or test symptomatic inmates.

Responding to an emergency application by officials at Orange County Jail, the court handed down a 5-4 ruling along partisan lines and issued a temporary stay on an earlier ruling by federal Judge Jesus Bernal. Continue reading

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‘Flagrantly Unconstitutional’: Trump Issues Order to Block Undocumented Immigrants From Being Counted in Census

“This is another attempt by Trump to use scaremongering against immigrants and rig the system,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-21-2020

Screenshot: CNN

President Donald Trump issued a memorandum on Tuesday seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census—a move being criticized as “flagrantly unconstitutional” and as another effort “to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities.”

“After losing the battle to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, the Trump administration seeks to resurrect this fight through a memorandum that runs contrary to the Constitution, Supreme Court precedent, and historical practice,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Continue reading

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US Supreme Court Upholds ‘Pay-to-Vote Scheme,’ Allowing Florida to Impose Poll Tax on Those With Felony Convictions

“This Court’s order prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-16-2020

Screenshot: MSNBC

The voting rights of hundreds of thousands of former felons in Florida were called into question Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a lower court ruling to stand, permitting the state to bar former inmates from voting if they owe court fees or fines.

The decision relates to Amendment 4, a law that overwhelmingly passed in November 2018 via a referendum. Sixty-five percent of Florida voters approved of the amendment, which said former felons can vote in the state after they have completed “all terms of [their] sentence.” Continue reading

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Federal Court Strikes Down Trump’s ACA Rule Amounting to ‘Intentional, Targeted Attack on Abortion Access’

“It would have created a logistical nightmare for health insurers and individual enrollees and pushed abortion even further out of reach in the midst of a global pandemic that has upended our economy.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-11-2020

Photo: Charlotte Cooper/flickr/CC

A federal court late Friday struck down the Trump administration’s attempt to erect new barriers to abortion care, this time using the for-profit insurance industry.

US District Judge Catherine Blake in Maryland blocked the administration from implementing the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Exchange Program Integrity rule, after Planned Parenthood of Maryland joined several individual plaintiffs in suing the Department of Health and Human Services over the regulation. Continue reading

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Should the president pick the attorney general?

William Barr walks through Lafayette Park before demonstrators were cleared by federal police on June 1, 2020. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Joshua Holzer, Westminster College

Attorney General William Barr recently announced, late on a Friday, that Geoffrey Berman was “stepping down after two-and-a-half years of service as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”

This announcement was news to Berman, who later contradicted Barr by declaring that he had not resigned and indeed had no intention of resigning. Barr then contradicted himself by informing Berman that since he had refused to resign, he had instead been fired. Continue reading

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‘Deeply Disappointing’: Supreme Court Slammed for Refusing to Examine Doctrine That Bolsters Police Immunity

“Recent events demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to stand up for the rule of law and abolish qualified immunity.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-15-2020

George Floyd protests in Washington DC. Photo: Rosa Pineda/CC

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear several cases involving a longstanding legal doctrine giving police officers and other government officials sweeping immunity from civil lawsuits, a decision that comes in the midst of a nationwide uprising against police brutality and racial injustice.

The doctrine of “qualified immunity” has come under growing criticism from lawmakers and rights groups since the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. As CNBC explained, “the burden imposed by qualified immunity on victims of police violence is exacerbated by the fact that prosecutors rarely charge officers for excessive force violations, often leaving civil lawsuits as the only remaining avenue.” Continue reading

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Court Requests Probe Into Whether McConnell Unethically Pressured Judge to Retire to Pave Way for His Unqualified Protégé

“Justin Walker’s nomination was already controversial, but this emerging investigation means an even darker cloud is hanging over his appointment. The hearing on Walker’s nomination should not go forward until we know the truth.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-5-2020

Justin Walker. Screenshot: Fox News

A federal court has requested an investigation into whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unethically pressured a judge on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to retire to pave the way for the Kentucky Republican’s 38-year-old protégé Justin Walker, who is set for a confirmation hearing for the vacancy on Wednesday.

The New York Times reported late Monday that on May 1, Judge Sri Srinivasan—chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—”asked Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to assign another circuit to look into a complaint filed by the progressive advocacy group Demand Justice, which questioned the timing and circumstances of Judge Thomas B. Griffith’s retirement announcement in early March.” Continue reading

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‘We Should All Be Alarmed’: McConnell to Bring Senate Back Not to Fight Covid-19 But to Confirm More Trump Judges

“McConnell cares more about ushering his unqualified 38-year-old crony onto one of the country’s highest courts than about ensuring Americans’ health in the middle of a pandemic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-30-2020

Justin Walker. Photo: PFAW

Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups are accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of endangering the health of members of Congress and Capitol Hill employees for political gain as the Kentucky Republican presses forward with plans to reconvene the chamber next week for the sole purpose of confirming more right-wing judges—including his unqualified 38-year-old protégé.

“McConnell is calling the Senate back in, ignoring D.C.’s stay at home order, and putting thousands of Capitol employees at risk,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “Not to do oversight of Trump’s pandemic response. Not to pass a new relief bill. But to ram through more conservative judges.” Continue reading

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ACLU Files Historic Lawsuit to Stop Surveillance Planes Above Baltimore

“If this wide-area aerial surveillance program is allowed to move forward, we can expect mass surveillance to spread in cities across the country.”

By Derrick Broze. Published 4-15-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the city of Baltimore from rolling out a disturbing aerial surveillance program.

The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of a group of Baltimore community activists who have raised concerns about the introduction of a controversial technology known as wide-area aerial surveillance which involves stationing an aircraft equipped with ultra-high-resolution cameras over a city to track all visible pedestrians and vehicles within that city. Continue reading

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