Category Archives: Supreme Court

How Native American food is tied to important sacred stories

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The First Salmon ceremony being performed. U.S. Department of Agriculture , CC BY-ND

Rosalyn R. LaPier, The University of Montana

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, on June 11, that asked Washington state to remove culverts that block the migration of salmon. The ruling has significant implications for Northwest Coast tribes, whose main source of food and livelihood is salmon.

The legal decision stems from the 1855 Stevens treaties when Northwest Coast tribes retained the “right to take fish” from their traditional homelands. Fighting to protect salmon habitat, however, is more than just upholding tribal rights. Salmon is viewed as sacred. Continue reading

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‘Terrible News for Workers’ as Supreme Court Makes It Harder for Them to Fight Back When ‘Screwed’ by Employer

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says decision allowing forced arbitration clauses is ‘egregiously wrong’

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2018

With forced arbitration agreements, “a worker who is not paid fairly, discriminated against, or sexually harassed, is forced into a process that overwhelmingly favors the employer—and forced to manage this process alone, even though these issues are rarely confined to one single worker,” write EPI’s Celine McNicholas. (Photo: Ron Cogswell/flickr/cc)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a blow to worker rights, saying that employers can bar their employees from banding together to challenge workplace abuses including wage theft and sexual harassment.

MSNBC host and legal analyst Ari Melber summed up the 5-4 decision (pdf) by tweeting: “Supreme Court rules that you have the right to your day in court, unless a corporation effectively makes you give up that right.” Continue reading

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‘Dystopia Intensifies’ as Supreme Court Rules Immigrants Can Be Detained Indefinitely

“The hellish internment camps of ICE and its private contractors have just been given the greenlight by our high court.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-27-2018

In a decision that could be devastating for thousands who have been swept up by President Donald Trump’s deportation dragnet and immensely profitable for the private prison industry, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that immigrants—including those with permanent legal status—do not have the right to bond hearings and can be detained indefinitely.

The 5-3 ruling tosses out a 2015 lower court decision that stated immigrant detainees are entitled to a bond hearing every six months. The Obama administration appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, and the Trump administration continued the case. Continue reading

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Icebreaker Pt 1 – Secret Homeland Security ICE/HSI Manual for Stripping US Citizenship

A confidential manual, which Unicorn Riot has obtained in full, guides the US Department of Homeland Security’s little-known investigative arm, Homeland Security Investigations, in targeting and stripping citizenship from naturalized foreign-born Americans.

This is the first story in Unicorn Riot’s “Icebreaker” series, which aims to promptly release this information in complete form, with your support. An anonymous source provided Unicorn Riot with Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent handbooks covering 22 years of confidential internal federal law enforcement policies.

Published 2-14-2018 by Unicorn Riot

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Striving for ‘Best Plutocracy Money Can Buy,’ Koch Brothers Plan to Dump $400M in 2018 Midterms

“This is why we need to overturn the terrible Citizens United Supreme Court decision and move to public funding of elections.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-28-2018

Photo: YouTube

Fresh off the passage of tax legislation that could net them over a billion dollars a year in additional profits, the oil moguls Charles and David Koch have now set their sights on the 2018 midterms, during which they are reportedly planning to spend around $400 million promoting right-wing candidates and priorities.

The news came as the Kochs and others within their sprawling network of deep-pocketed donors and politicians were preparing to gather for a secretive weekend conference in Indian Wells, California. Continue reading

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Thanks to the North Carolina case, partisan gerrymandering’s day of reckoning may soon be upon us

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The word ‘gerrymandering’ comes from the name of Elbridge Gerry, Massachusetts governor in the 1800s. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Christopher Beem, Pennsylvania State University

Gerrymandering was already shaping up to be an important issue this year, with huge implications for American democracy. But after the ruling this week on the North Carolina congressional map, the stakes have been raised still higher.

For the first time, a federal panel of judges ruled that a state’s map of its congressional districts was unconstitutional. The North Carolina map didn’t just give an advantage to Republicans – it manifested “invidious partisan intent.” The panel directed the state to draw the districts again by Jan. 24. Continue reading

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Future of Free Speech at Risk as Supreme Court Hears Critical Digital Privacy Case

“No constitutional doctrine should presume that consumers assume the risk of warrantless government surveillance simply by using technologies that are increasingly integrated into modern life.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-29-2017

In a Supreme Court case beginning Wednesday, the ACLU is arguing that Americans should not be expected to give up privacy rights every time they use a cell phone that pings phone towers nearby, as analog-era legal arguments would hold. (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr/cc)

The Supreme Court will hear the first arguments in a landmark case regarding digital privacy rights on Wednesday as civil liberties advocates, joined by tech companies and journalists, argue the court must acknowledge that privacy rights and free speech protections should align with the reality of 21st century technology.

The case, known as Carpenter vs. United States centers around Timothy Carpenter, who was convicted in 2011 of several robberies after the police, without a probable cause warrant, gathered data from his cell phone company. Months of records were turned over, showing that he had been near cell towers close to the sites of the robberies when they took place. Continue reading

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Federal Judge Strikes Down Texas Anti-Choice Law That Critics Warned Endangered Women

“The court’s decision once again makes clear that politicians cannot force their way into private medical decisions that should stay between patients and physicians. Access to vital reproductive health services should not depend on a woman’s zip code.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-23-2017

In 2013, protesters gathered outside the Senate Gallery at the Texas State Capitol minutes before midnight to stall a bill that would put strict regulations on abortion facilities from going to a vote. (Photo: Lauren Gerson/Blackbird Film Co./Flickr/cc)

After temporarily halting a Texas abortion law that was slated to take effect earlier this year, and which critics warned would endanger women who seek to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester, a federal judge issued a blow to the state’s notorious anti-choice Republicans on Wednesday and permanently blocked the legislation.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel issued a permanent injunction on Senate Bill 8, which sought to ban dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures after 15 weeks, despite that it’s among the most common types of abortion procedures for women in their second trimester of pregnancy and amid warnings that it would force pregnant women and providers to turn to more costly and risky options. Texas, a hotbed for anti-choice measures, already bars women from having an abortion after 20 weeks. Continue reading

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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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