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message 1: by Alisa (last edited Nov 13, 2011 01:01PM) (new)

Alisa (mstaz) This thread is about Associate Justice Clarence Thomas (106) and all related topics.

From humble beginnings, by dint of hard work and a little luck, Clarence Thomas arrived at the pinnacle of American law. Only the second African- American appointed to the High Court, Thomas sought and achieved distinction as a conservative. And, as luck would have it in 1991, the Republican Party needed him. Thomas proved he was the right person at the right place at the right time.

Clarence Thomas was born on June 23, 1948, in Pin Point, Georgia. The second child and first son of M.C. Thomas and Leola Williams' three children, Thomas spent most of his childhood without his father who abandoned the family early in Thomas's life. Thomas grew up in poverty. The Pin Point community he lived in lacked a sewage system and paved roads. Its inhabitants dwelled in destitution and earned but a few cents each day performing manual labor. Thomas's mother tried hard to take care of Thomas and his brother and sister. She worked as a maid and collected from church charities to support her family. At age seven, Thomas' mother decided to remarry after the family's wooden house burned to the ground. Thomas's mother sent him and his brother to live with their grandfather, Myers Anderson, in Savannah.

Life with his grandfather introduced Thomas to better days which included regular meals and indoor plumbing. Thomas's grandfather also imparted upon his grandsons the importance of a good education. Thomas and his brother worked for their grandfather after school making fuel deliveries. In his spare time, Thomas often went to the local Carnegie library since the Savannah Public Library had not yet allowed blacks to enter.

At his grandfather's urgings to become a priest, Thomas left his black high school after two years to attend St. John Vianney Minor Seminary, an all-white boarding school located just outside of Savannah dedicated to training priests. Thomas suffered minor episodes of racism at his new school. His fellow schoolmates excluded him from social activities and made fun of his color. Still, Thomas persevered and graduated with a good academic record.

Thomas attended the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Missouri as his next step toward attaining priesthood. He left soon after, though, due to the severe racism he encountered in the school. After taking some time off, Thomas enrolled at Holy Cross. He participated actively in the formation of the Black Student Union. Thomas also supported the Black Panthers and once urged a student walkout to protest investments in South Africa.

In 1971, Thomas graduated ninth in his class with an English honors degree. The following day, he married Kathy Ambush, a student at a nearby Catholic woman's college. Thomas pursued his legal education at Yale Law School. While at Yale, Thomas's wife gave birth to his only child, a son named Jamal.

Thomas specialized in tax and anti-trust law. Instead of joining a law firm -- he had ample offers -- Thomas decided to return to Missouri to work in the office of then State Attorney General, John Danforth. The job allowed him to work in the tax division. When Danforth won an election to the U.S. Senate three years later in 1977, Thomas left the attorney general's office and became a corporate lawyer in the pesticide and agriculture division of the Monsanto Company. Thomas left Monsanto after two years and returned to Danforth to work as his legislative aide.

When Thomas attended a conference of black conservatives in 1980, a columnist for the Washington Post wrote an article about him that attracted the attention of the Reagan administration. President Ronald Reagan offered Thomas a job as the assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education. Thomas accepted the job and Reagan soon promoted him to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As the director of EEOC, Thomas supervised the entire federal effort to curb discrimination in the workplace. Thomas changed the practice of the EEOC under his leadership. He abandoned the use of timetables and numeric goals, allowing companies more flexibility in their hiring of minorities. Thomas also ended the use of class action suits that relied on statistical evidence of discriminatory effects. These changes in EEOC practice angered many civil rights groups.

During this time, Thomas experienced some personal difficulties. His grandfather died in 1983 and he and his wife divorced in 1984. He met Virginia Lamp at a conference two years later and they soon married.

President George H. W. Bush appointed Thomas to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1990. When Thurgood Marshall retired from the Supreme Court in 1991, Bush decided to elevate Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Thomas's nomination met strong opposition from minority groups who opposed his conservative views on civil rights. Thomas weathered several days of questioning from the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee. Like all recent successful nominees, Thomas was unwilling to express opinions about policies or approaches to constitutional interpretation. His questioners were unable to shake him.

His nomination seemed assured when a last-minute witness, Professor Anita Hill, came forward with charges of sexual misconduct when she worked for Thomas ten years earlier. The nation seemed transfixed by the ensuing testimony of Hill, then Thomas, and a parade of corroborating witnesses who spoke to a national television audience, preempting afternoon soap operas and competing successfully for viewers against the World Series.

After a marathon hearing to explore the Hill charges, the Committee failed to unearth convincing proof of Hill's allegations. The Committee reported the Thomas nomination to the full Senate without a recommendation. In the end, the Senate voted 52 to 48 to confirm Thomas's nomination to the High Court.

Since becoming a justice, Thomas has voted frequently with other conservatives. When Thomas began his tenure on the Court, many observers falsely predicted that he would simply echo the views of fellow conservative justice Antonin Scalia. From the start, however, Thomas has articulated his own conservative thinking.

Personal Information
Wednesday, June 23, 1948

Childhood Location

Childhood Surroundings

Roman Catholic


M.C. Thomas

Father's Occupation
Farm worker

Leola Anderson

Family Status

Associate Justice


Nominated By

Commissioned on
Tuesday, October 15, 1991

Sworn In
Tuesday, October 22, 1991


source: Clarence Thomas. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 06 November 2011. .

message 2: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Books about:

My Grandfather's Son A Memoir by Clarence Thomas by Clarence Thomas Clarence Thomas
Provocative, inspiring, and unflinchingly honest, My Grandfather's Son is the story of one of America's most remarkable and controversial leaders, Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, told in his own words.

Thomas was born in rural Georgia on June 23, 1948, into a life marked by poverty and hunger. His parents divorced when Thomas was still a baby, and his father moved north to Philadelphia, leaving his young mother to raise him and his brother and sister on the ten dollars a week she earned as a maid. At age seven, Thomas and his six-year-old brother were sent to live with his mother's father, Myers Anderson, and her stepmother in their Savannah home. It was a move that would forever change Thomas's life.

His grandfather, whom he called "Daddy," was a black man with a strict work ethic, trying to raise a family in the years of Jim Crow. Thomas witnessed his grandparents' steadfastness despite injustices, their hopefulness despite bigotry, and their deep love for their country. His own quiet ambition would propel him to Holy Cross and Yale Law School, and eventually "despite a bitter, highly contested public confirmation" to the highest court in the land. In this candid and deeply moving memoir, a quintessential American tale of hardship and grit, Clarence Thomas recounts his astonishing journey for the first time, and pays homage to the man who made it possible.

Intimately and eloquently, Thomas speaks out, revealing the pieces of his life he holds dear, detailing the suffering and injustices he has overcome, including the acrimonious and polarizing Senate hearing involving a former aide, Anita Hill, and the depression and despair it created in his own life and the lives of those closest to him. My Grandfather's Son is the story of a determined man whose faith, courage, and perseverance inspired him to rise up against all odds and achieve his dreams.

Strange Justice The Selling of Clarence Thomas by Jane Mayer by Jane Mayer Jane Mayer
After almost three years of intensive research, two superb journalists shed much light on the explosive issues that arose during the confirmation hearings: Did Thomas indeed harass Hill? How did Hill's allegations leak to the press? Why was the Senate Judiciary Committee unable to solve the mysteries surrounding the case? But as Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson show, the story of Thomas's ascension to the Court goes far beyond what emerged during the hearings. Over the course of their investigation, the authors conducted hundreds of interviews - including the first on-the-record interview with Anita Hill about her role in the controversy - and uncovered many documents that were never shared with the public. For the first time, we learn about Thomas's ten-year campaign for the high court and the doubts about him that haunted the White House from the start. We see the profound cynicism behind the administration's campaign for Thomas: its canny manipulation of the weak and scandal-ridden Senate, its quiet collaboration with the religious right, its calculated creation of "grassroots" black support. In the end, we learn the truth about who Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill really are and how both were treated unfairly by Washington's establishment.

Supreme Discomfort The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas by Kevin Merida by Kevin Merida
SUPREME DISCOMFORT originated from a much-commented-upon profile of Clarence Thomas that appeared in an August 2002 issue of The Washington Post Magazine. In it, Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, both Post staffers, both black, crafted a haunting portrait of an isolated and bitter man, savagely reviled by much of the black community, not entirely comfortable in white society, internally wounded by his passage from a broken family and rural poverty in Georgia to elite educational institutions to the pinnacle of judicial power. He has clearly never recovered from the searing experience of his Senate confirmation hearings and the "he said/she said" drama of the accusations of sexual harassment by Anita Hill.

SUPREME DISCOMFORT tracks the personal odyssey of perhaps the least understood man in Washington, from his poor childhood in Pin Point and Savannah, Georgia, to his educational experiences in a Catholic seminary and Holy Cross, to his law school years at Yale during the black power era, to his rise within the Republican political establishment. It offers a window into a man who straddles two different worlds and is uneasy in both—and whose divided personality and conservative political philosophy will deeply influence American life for years to come.

Clarence Thomas A Biography by Andrew Peyton Thomas by Andrew Peyton Thomas
n this unauthorized biography, the most authoritative ever written about the controversial Supreme Court Justice, Andrew Peyton Thomas (no relation) explores Clarence Thomas' remarkable rise from a childhood of poverty in segregated Georgia to the nation's highest court. In his attempt to understand what drives the elusive and sometimes enigmatic Justice, the author located and conducted the first-ever interview with Clarence Thomas' father, as well as interviews with his mother, sister, and other relatives and friends.

First Principles The Jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas by Scott Douglas Gerber by Scott Douglas Gerber

Clarence Thomas is one of the most vilified public figures of our day. To date, however, his legal philosophy has received only cursory treatment. First Principles provides a portrait of Thomas based not on the justice's caricatured reputation, but on his judicial opinions and votes, his scholarly writings, and his public speeches.

The paperback edition includes a provocative new Afterword by the author bringing the book up to date by assessing Justice Thomas's performance, and the reaction to his decisions, during the last five years.

message 3: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) More books about:

Judging Thomas The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas by Ken Foskett by Ken Foskett
Clarence Thomas, the youngest and most controversial member of the Supreme Court, could become the longest-serving justice in history, influencing American law for decades to come. Who is this enigmatic man? And what does he believe in?
Judging Thomas tells the remarkable story of Clarence Thomas's improbable journey from hardscrabble beginnings in the segregated South to the loftiest court in the land. Driven by his grandfather's relentless demand that he counter racial injustice with hard work and accomplishment, Thomas has waged an often lonely fifty-year campaign to forge his own American identity against others' expectations of who he should be.

With objectivity and balance, author Ken Foskett chronicles Thomas's contempt for upper-crust blacks who snubbed his uneducated, working-class roots; his flirtation with the priesthood and later Black Power; the resentment that fueled his opposition to affirmative action; the conservative beliefs that ultimately led him to the Supreme Court steps; and the inner resilience that propelled him through the doors.

Based on interviews with Thomas himself, fellow justices, family members, and hundreds of friends and associates, Judging Thomas skillfully unravels perhaps the most complex, controversial,and powerful public figure in America today. Foskett reveals that beneath the silent, often brooding exterior is a man of depth, empathy, and wit, but one still deeply scarred by his humiliating Supreme Court confirmation.

Judging Thomas is a seminal biography of the youngest and most recognizable justice, and the man who may succeed William H. Rehnquist to become the nation's first black chief justice.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Great; glad to see these adds.

message 5: by Paula (new)

Paula Froelich | 5 comments clarence thomas i also known for not asking a single question on the Supreme Court bench for over five years. Fun fact. In the most intellectually challenging job in the States - not one question.

message 6: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) That is true Paula, he is not one to question from the bench. Seems very peculiar. Granted, oral argument is short, but still seems very odd.

message 7: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Justice Thomas spoke from the bench this week during oral argument and it was huge news! He uttered four words and it was not a question so his record of not asking a question is still intact. Perhaps in his defense, there is no doubt a lot of competition for the microphone at SCOTUS but still . . . the article from our friends at Above The Law follows:

Quote of the Day: Justice Thomas Speaks!
By David Lat

22 JUSTICE THOMAS: Well -- he did not --
23 (Laughter.)

(Huh? Well, that’s how it appears in the official Supreme Court transcript; obviously something got lost in transcription. We try to make sense of it all, after the jump.)

Despite being gregarious off the bench, Justice Clarence Thomas is famously silent while on the bench. Justice Thomas has not spoken during a Supreme Court oral argument since February 22, 2006. The seven-year anniversary of CT’s silence was just a few short weeks away.

But today Justice Thomas broke his silence, in the case of Boyer v. Louisiana (“[w]hether a state’s failure to fund counsel for an indigent defendant for five years as a direct result of the prosecution’s choice to seek the death penalty should be weighed against the state for speedy trial purposes”). Although the full substance of his remarks didn’t quite make the transcript, perhaps because it was difficult to hear him, apparently he poked fun at his alma mater, Yale Law School.

There’s a detailed blow-by-blow over at Josh Blackman’s site, where he rounds up real-time tweets and reviews the transcript. Here’s how SCOTUSblog characterized Justice Thomas’s comment:

Thomas, J. (Yale, JD), speaks: funny at argument—Yale degree could mean lawyer is incompetent, not competent, capital trial counsel.
You can see a glimmer of that in the official transcript:

JUSTICE SCALIA: She was a graduate of Yale law school, wasn’t she?

MS. SIGLER: She’s a very impressive attorney.

JUSTICE SCALIA: And another of his counsel, Mr. Singer — of the three that he had — he was a graduate of Harvard law school, wasn’t he?

MS. SIGLER: Yes, Your Honor.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Son of a gun.

JUSTICE THOMAS: Well — he did not -­ (Laughter.)

MS. SIGLER: I would refute that, Justice Thomas.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Counsel, do you want to define constitutionally adequate counsel? Is it anybody who’s graduated from Harvard and Yale?


JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR: Or even just passed the Bar?

Geaux Tigers!

For a number of years, Justice Thomas and Yale Law School had a somewhat strained relationship. More recently, however, they achieved détente, culminating in Justice Thomas visiting YLS in December 2011. But old habits die hard; it seems CT couldn’t resist getting in just one more dig at the hyper-theoretical, pointy-headed academic types up in New Haven.

The Twitterverse is exploding with news of Justice Thomas’s utterances. But some, such as my colleague Elie Mystal, think we all need to just calm down.

I fall somewhere in the middle. As an Article III groupie, I was initially thrilled to hear about Justice Thomas breaking his silence. But when I saw the official transcript, which reduced CT’s comments to four little words, my enthusiasm waned a bit. (Of course, when the audio recording in Boyer goes up at the end of this week, I’ll check it out to see what I can glean.)

Let’s also keep in mind: Justice Thomas may have spoken, but he did not ask a question of counsel, the key activity of justices during argument. So it’s still fair to say that CT hasn’t asked a question at oral argument in almost seven years.

How long will we have to wait for that to happen? I bet his wife wouldn’t go seven years without grilling counsel.

UPDATE (4:00 PM): In addition, as noted by Jess Bravin of the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), Justice Thomas has spoken from the bench in the course of reading opinion summaries on hand-down days.


message 8: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig The power of Yale and Harvard Law Schools!

message 9: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Ah yes, the elite perpetuates their own image. Great schools, but sort of humorous it came up in this context.

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Well what did Thomas actually mean to say?

message 11: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice Race-Ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality

Race-Ing Justice, En-Gendering Power Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality by Toni Morrison by Toni Morrison Toni Morrison


It was perhaps the most wretchedly aspersive race and gender scandal of recent times: the dramatic testimony of Anita Hill at the Senate hearings on the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court Justice. Yet even as the televised proceedings shocked and galvanized viewers not only in this country but the world over, they cast a long shadow on essential issues that define America.

In Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power, Toni Morrison contributes an introduction and brings together eighteen provocative essays, all but one written especially for this book, by prominent and distinguished academicians--black and white, male and female. These writings powerfully elucidate not only the racial and sexual but also the historical, political, cultural, legal, psychological, and linguistic aspects of a signal and revelatory moment in American history.

With contributions by: Homi K. Bhabha, Margaret A. Burnham, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Paula Giddings, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Claudia Brodsky Lacour, Wahneema Lubiano, Manning Marable, Nellie Y. McKay, Toni Morrison, Nell Irvin Painter, Gayle Pemberton, Andrew Ross, Christine Stansell, Carol M. Swain, Michael Thelwell, Kendall Thomas, Cornel West, Patricia J. Williams

message 12: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice How Racism and Sexism Killed Traditional Media: Why the Future of Journalism Depends on Women and People of Color

How Racism and Sexism Killed Traditional Media Why the Future of Journalism Depends on Women and People of Color by Joshunda Sanders by Joshunda Sanders Joshunda Sanders


An evaluative examination that challenges the media to rise above the systematic racism and sexism that persists across all channels, despite efforts to integrate.

The Internet and social networks have opened up new avenues of communication for women and people of color, but the mainstream news is still not adequately including minority communities in the conversation. Part of the Racism in America series, How Racism and Sexism Killed the Traditional Media: Why the Future of Journalism Depends on Women and People of Color reveals the lack of diversity that persists in the communication industry. Uncovering and analyzing the racial bias in the media and in many newsrooms, this book reveals the lesser-known side of the media—newsrooms and outlets that are often fraught with underlying racist and sexist tension.

Written by a veteran journalist of color, this title brings an insider's perspective combined with interviews from industry experts. The book analyzes the traditional media's efforts to integrate both women and people of color into legacy newsrooms, highlighting their defeats and minor successes. The author examines the future of women and people of color in the mainstream media.


Gives a thorough background on the history of minority-produced media

Highlights ideas for improving hiring practices and coverage for minorities

Identifies the growing number of news consumers who are people of color

Provides a chronology of diversity efforts in legacy newsrooms

Includes material derived from interviews with experts like Dori J. Maynard with the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education and veteran journalists like Ellis Cose and Danyel Smith.

message 13: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice The Complete Transcripts of the Clarence Thomas - Anita Hill Hearings

The Complete Transcripts of the Clarence Thomas - Anita Hill Hearings October 11, 12, 13, 1991 by Nina Totenberg by Nina Totenberg (no photo) and Anita Miller (no photo)


This volume contains not only the complete verbatim transcript of the testimony given before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 11, 12 and 13, 1991, but, as Nina Totenberg points out in her preface, "the important exhibits that were submitted - affidavits aimed at discrediting Hill, and the sworn testimony of the so-called "other woman," Angela Wright, who had worked for Thomas and, like Hill, claimed he made lewd and inappropriate remarks to her." Wright herself was never called to testify before the cameras. But she did give telephone testimony to the committee staff - as did her friend Rose Jourdain - and that testimony is included here. Although more that two years have passed since these hearings were held, public interest remains high. With their implications for attitudes toward race, gender and sexual harassment, the issues and emotions created by the hearings are still of vital importance to literate, thinking Americans. History, someone said, is what happens before you know it. Thus, many events come clear only in retrospect. This book will at last allow the general interest reader the opportunity to develop a calm and reasoned insight into those explosive and historic three days.

message 14: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1863 comments Mod
Unforgiven: Why is Clarence Thomas so angry?

By JEFFREY TOOBIN November 12, 2007

"Mere confirmation, even to the Supreme Court," Thomas says, "seemed pitifully small compensation for what had been done to me." (Steve Brodner)

 A touchstone of Clarence Thomas's career on the Supreme Court has been his hostility to what he calls élites. When the Court, in 2003, upheld the use of racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan Law School, Thomas dissented, writing, "All the Law School cares about is its own image among know-it-all elites." This past June, Thomas joined a majority of his colleagues in rejecting attempts by Seattle and Louisville to maintain diversity in their public schools, and wrote a separate concurring opinion to reflect his scorn for such plans. "Nothing but an interest in classroom aesthetics and a hypersensitivity to elite sensibilities justifies the school districts' racial balancing programs," he said. "If our history has taught us anything, it has taught us to beware of elites bearing racial theories."

 This theme is expanded upon in Thomas's new memoir, "My Grandfather's Son" (Harper; $26.95). In his book, Thomas is clear about whom he blames for the pain of his confirmation hearings, when he had to defend himself against Anita Hill's accusations. "In one climactic swipe of calumny," Thomas writes, "America's elites were arrogantly wreaking havoc on everything my grandparents had worked for and all I'd accomplished in forty-three years of struggle."

Triumph over the élites, Thomas writes, took faith in God and, especially, courage. This, too, has been a longtime theme for him, and he elaborated upon it in the annual Francis Boyer lecture of the American Enterprise Institute on February 13, 2001. Only two months after Bush v. Gore, the cream of the new Administration, led by Vice-President Dick Cheney, gathered in black-tie to hear the Justice speak at a Washington hotel. Thomas was going to share with them his reflections on "the question of courage in American political life."

 "Too many show timidity today precisely when courage is demanded," Thomas asserted. He told the group that he had suffered the consequences for speaking out on "a number of sacred policies, such as affirmative action, welfare, school busing." Those "who challenge accepted wisdom should expect to be treated badly. Nonetheless, they must stand undaunted," he said, before concluding, "Today, as in the past, we will need a brave 'civic virtue,' not a timid civility, to keep our republic. So, this evening, I leave you with the simple exhortation: 'Be not afraid.' "

On this night, in other words, Thomas, while celebrating the courage to speak unpopular truths, was telling some of the most powerful people in the worlds of government, business, and finance precisely what they wanted to hear-that affirmative action was bad, that black people didn't want or need their help, that government did more harm than good. Be not afraid. Indeed, throughout his judicial career Thomas has, in the name of anti-élitism, shown a distinct solicitude for certain kinds of élites-say, for employers over employees, for government over individuals, for corporations over regulators, and for executioners over the condemned. Thomas's tender concern for the problems of the powerful reveals itself, in the end, as a form of self-pity.

When President George H. W. Bush nominated Thomas to the Supreme Court, in 1991, the future Justice and his handlers relied on what became known as the "Pin Point strategy" to win his confirmation. They would focus on Thomas's hardscrabble upbringing in the small Georgia town of Pin Point in order to deflect questions about his political and judicial philosophy. This, too, is the guiding principle of "My Grandfather's Son."

Thomas vividly portrays the pain and confusion of his early years. He and his younger brother were born in Pin Point, and their father, known as C, quickly disappeared from the family's life. Thomas's mother, who was called Pigeon, struggled to care for her two young sons, first in Pin Point and later in the slums of Savannah, but, ultimately, when Clarence was seven, she took them to live with her father and his wife. All of the two boys' possessions fit into a pair of grocery bags.

Read the remainder of the article at:



My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas by Clarence Thomas Clarence Thomas

Source(s): The New Yorker, Truthout

message 15: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1863 comments Mod
The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked

By IAN MILLHISER March 24, 2015

Today is the official release date for my book, Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comforted and Afflicting the Afflicted. As you might guess from the title, it is not particularly complimentary of the Supreme Court as an institution. As the book’s jacket explains, “the justices of the Supreme Court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. The Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the Confederacy. Nor is the modern Court a vast improvement, with its incursions on voting rights and its willingness to place elections for sale.”

Even amidst this dark history, certain justices stand out as particularly mean-spirited, ideological or unconcerned about their duty to follow the text of the Constitution. Based on my review of over 150 years of Supreme Court history in Injustices, here are the five jurists who stand out as the worst justices in American history:

1) Justice Stephen Johnson Field
As a sitting justice in 1880, Justice Stephen Johnson Field launched a dark horse bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Claiming that “the chilling shadow of the empire” was descending upon the United States, Field fronted an anti-government campaign that would make all but the most strident modern day tea partiers blush. “The old Constitution,” Field’s campaign warned in a pamphlet that traced America’s original sin at least as far back as the John Adams administration, “has been buried under the liberal interpretations of Federalist-Republican Congresses and administrations, grasping doubtful powers and making each step towards centralization the sure precedent of another.” At a time when memories of Reconstruction still burned hot in the minds of Southern white supremacists, Field’s campaign argued that he was “the proper candidate of the party whose life-giving principle is that of local self-government.”

Justice Field never became president, but he worked as a justice to implement the very same policies his campaign promised that he would support if elected to the White House. Field joined the Court’s pro-segregation decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, and he authored another opinion permitting former Confederate officials to practice law in federal court (his presidential campaign would later tout this opinion as proof that he would appeal to Southern whites if he received the Democratic nomination).

Read the remainder of the portion on Justice Field at:

2) Chief Justice Roger Taney
Any list of terrible Supreme Court justices that does not begin with Chief Justice Roger Taney will inherently be controversial. Taney authored what is widely viewed as the worst single decision in the Supreme Court’s history, the pro-slavery decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Though Taney was far more moderate on the issue of slavery as a young man — he once referred to slavery as a “blot on our national character” and he emancipated his own slaves — his views hardened in his old age. In 1857, the same year as Dred Scott, Taney labeled the abolitionist movement “northern aggression.”

Taney ranks second on this list solely due to the egregiousness of Field’s efforts to manipulate the Constitution. The pre-Civil War Constitution was, in the words of Justice Thurgood Marshall, “defective from the start.” It is not hard to imagine how Taney could read a Constitution that contains explicit protections for the slave trade and the owners of escaped slaves and conclude that this document was intended to protect slavery. Field, by contrast, took an amendment that was drafted to end racial apartheid and grant freed slaves all the blessings of citizenship, and he essentially rewrote it into a tool the most fortunate Americans could use to exploit others.

Read the remainder of the portion on Justice Taney at:

3) Justice James Clark McReynolds
I describe Justice James Clark McReynolds’s unique blend of self-centered bigotry in Injustices:

McReynolds was, in Time magazine’s words, “a savagely sarcastic, incredibly reactionary Puritan anti-Semite.” McReynolds was lazy. He often would not even open the briefs lawyers filed to prepare him to hear a case until hours before the case was argued, and he frequently spent just a few hours crafting opinions that would govern all other courts in the country. McReynolds was nasty. He labeled President Franklin Roosevelt “that crippled son-of-a-bitch . . . in the White House,” and shunned his own nephew after the boy woke him up by playing jazz music on the radio. McReynolds was a petty tyrant. He ordered his staff never to smoke tobacco even on their free time, and dictated where they were allowed to live. During his frequent duck hunting trips, Justice McReynolds would bring along his longtime servant Harry Parker, and he would order Parker to wade through ice-cold water to retrieve the fallen animals in lieu of a bird dog. Though the two men often saw eye to eye on the Constitution, [Chief Justice] Taft dismissed McReynolds as “inconsiderate of his colleagues and others, and contemptuous of everyone” after serving on the same bench with him.

And, above all, Justice McReynolds was a bigot. He refused to speak to Justice Louis Brandeis for Brandeis’s first three years on the Court because Brandeis was Jewish, and he forbade contact between his staff and the Jewish Justices Brandeis and Benjamin Cardozo. There is no official photograph of the justices for 1924 because the Court’s seniority-based seating chart required McReynolds to sit next to Brandeis, and McReynolds simply refused to be photographed next to his Jewish colleague. When Brandeis offered his views in conferences, McReynolds would simply stand up and leave.

On the rare occasions when a woman argued a case before McReynolds’s Court, the justice would exclaim “I see the female is here” and walk out of the Courtroom. When Charles Hamilton Houston, the Harvard-educated black attorney who mentored future Justice Thurgood Marshall as Dean of the Howard Law School, argued before the Supreme Court in 1938, McReynolds turned his back on the Courtroom to signal his disapproval. McReynolds once warned one of his law clerks, who had grown close with Harry Parker, that the clerk “seem[ed] to forget that [Parker] is a negro.” He advised the clerk to “think of my wishes in this matter in your future relations with the darkies.”

McReynolds was, sadly, one of many justices who joined opinions striking down child labor laws or a minimum wage, and he was only one of the “Four Horsemen” who resisted the New Deal during President Franklin Roosevelt’s first two terms in office. But no justice carried more vitriol or self-absorbed hatred to the bench than Justice McReynolds.

4) Chief Justice Melville Fuller
If it were up to Melville Fuller, Abraham Lincoln would never have been president. Born into one of Maine’s most prominent Democratic families, Fuller moved to Chicago and became a top campaign surrogate for Lincoln’s two-time opponent Senator Stephen Douglas. Though nominally opposed to slavery, Fuller denounced the “fanatical and hot-headed course of the abolition madmen.” As a delegate to Illinois’s constitutional convention in 1862, he voted to prohibit black men and women from settling in the state or casting a ballot in its elections. As a member of the state legislature, he labeled the Emancipation Proclamation “unconstitutional, contrary to the rules of civilized warfare,” and “calculated to bring shame, disgrace and eternal infamy” upon the nation. He also backed a constitutional amendment preventing congressional interference with slavery.

After the Civil War, Fuller became an outspoken proponent of anti-government views similar to Justice Field’s, attacking Lincoln’s Republican Party for allegedly believing that “government should exercise the functions belonging to Divine Providence, and should regulate the profits of labor and the value of property by direct legislation.” In 1895, two years before the elderly Field left the Court, Fuller presided over a trio of major decisions, two of which he authored. The first hobbled Congress’s ability to tax the wealthy. The second gave a business trust which controlled over 98 percent of the nation’s sugar production constitutional immunity to federal antitrust laws. And the third gave every federal judge in the country sweeping, extra-legal powers to bust unions.

After Field’s death, Chief Justice Fuller presided over the Court’s infamous decision in Lochner v. New Yorki>, which struck down a New York law prohibiting bakeries from overworking their workers. Lawyers and legal historians widely view this decision as symbolic of the entire era in the early twentieth century when Field’s values dominated the Supreme Court — indeed, this age is commonly referred to as the Lochner Era.

5) Justice Clarence Thomas

Justice Clarence Thomas is the only current member of the Supreme Court who has explicitly embraced the reasoning of Lochner Era decisions striking down nationwide child labor laws and making similar attacks on federal power. Indeed, under the logic Thomas first laid out in a concurring opinion in United States v. Lopez, the federal minimum wage, overtime rules, anti-discrimination protections for workers, and even the national ban on whites-only lunch counters are all unconstitutional.

Though Thomas’s views are rare today, they have, sadly, not been the least bit uncommon during the Supreme Court’s history.
He makes this list because, frankly, he should know better than his predecessors. As I explain in Injustices, many of the justices who resisted progressive legislation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were, like Field, motivated by ideology. Many others, however, were motivated by fear of the rapid changes state and federal lawmakers implemented in the wake of the even more rapid changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. It was possible to believe, in a world where factories, railroads, and the laws required to regulate factories and railroads were all very new things, that these laws would, as Herbert Hoover once said about the New Deal, “destroy the very foundations of our American system” by extending “government into our economic and social life.”

But Thomas has the benefit of eighty years of American history that Hoover had not witnessed when he warned of an overreaching government. In that time, the Supreme Court largely abandoned the values embraced by Justice Field, and the United States became the mightiest nation in the history of politics and the wealthiest nation in the history of money.

Link to article:

Injustices The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted by Ian Millhiser by Ian Millhiser (no photo)

Source: Think Progress

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Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Well not a great distinction I am afraid - but a very interesting article

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Lorna | 1863 comments Mod
Bentley, I agree but his point was that Clarence Thomas has had the benefit of eighty years of American history to perhaps temper his views. This is a book that I would like to read.

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A Veteran Supreme Court Justice Cited a Debunked Planned Parenthood Smear in an Opinion

By CHARLES P. PIERCE December 10, 2018

Getty Images/ Mandel Ngan

The Supreme Court on Monday told Kansas and Louisiana to pound sand concerning their attempts to defund Planned Parenthood through Medicaid. This is an altogether good thing, especially for the women of Kansas and Louisiana. But there is a bit in the decision that's worthy of further examination. One of the lasting legacies of the late George H.W. Bush, the great warrior-statesman and famous bipartisan moderate bipartisan, is that he visited upon the generations the presence of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, now in his 28th largely silent year on the bench at the Supreme Court.

As it happens, Thomas disagreed with his brethren on whether or not to hear the Kansas and Louisiana cases, which isn't a surprise. But, in his opinion, he went zooming off into the fever swamp to find a rationale. From the Washington Post:

“What explains the court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood,’” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas...“It is true that these particular cases arose after several States alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates had, among other things, engaged in ‘the illegal sale of fetal organs’ and ‘fraudulent billing practices,’ and thus removed Planned Parenthood as a state Medicaid provider,” Thomas wrote.

While both Chief Justice John Roberts and Newest Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined with the Court's liberals, nevertheless it's quite something that a veteran justice of the Supreme Court, as part of the reasoning for his dissent, has included a debunked smear emanating from the most notorious ratfcking operation in the professional conservative ratfcking apparatus.

It's ratfckers all the way down. Or up. Depending on how you're looking at things.

Link to article:


Strange Justice The Selling of Clarence Thomas by Jane Mayer by Jane Mayer Jane Mayer

Source: Esquire

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Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Lorna wrote: "Bentley, I agree but his point was that Clarence Thomas has had the benefit of eighty years of American history to perhaps temper his views. This is a book that I would like to read."

For sure, and I would believe that I guess if his wife wasn't so outspoken and virulent. Outspoken I guess is fine - as long as you are not virulent. And I wonder sometimes if she is his mouthpiece for what he really thinks but cannot say.

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Maybe we should begin to worry a bit more - here is an article about Associate Justice Thomas and his views about the First Amendment - not a good sign - what are your thoughts? Obviously meant to squelch criticism and rebuke about others including Trump and I guess himself.

US Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas sits for an official photo.

Justice Clarence Thomas calls for reconsideration of landmark libel case

By Tammy Kupperman and Sophie Tatum, CNN
Updated 11:56 AM ET, Tue February 19, 2019

Washington (CNN)Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday called for reconsideration of a landmark First Amendment precedent, criticizing the 1964 decision that the Constitution creates a higher barrier for public figures to claim libel.

Link to remainder of article:

Source: CNN

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Supreme Court won't hear challenge to California sanctuary law

By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
Updated 11:23 AM ET, Mon June 15, 2020

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower court opinion upholding one of California's so-called sanctuary laws that limits cooperation between law enforcement and federal immigration authorities, a measure that the Trump administration says is meant to "undermine" federal immigration enforcement.

The Trump administration had asked the court to step in and review the law and the court declined to do so.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, two of the Court's conservative members, supported taking up the case.

The law -- and others like it -- have ignited a firestorm between the federal government, which has made immigration enforcement a top priority, and some states that say they are within their rights to determine how best to use their own resources.

During his State of the Union speech last January, President Donald Trump lamented California's effort, which he classified as an "outrageous law."

Link to article and video:

Source: CNN

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Supreme Court again declines to take up Second Amendment cases

By Jamie Ehrlich, CNN
Updated 11:45 AM ET, Mon June 15, 2020

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court declined on Monday to take up several cases regarding the scope of the Second Amendment.

Despite a low hurdle for the right-leaning Supreme Court, the justices turned down petitions from 10 challenges to state laws established to limit the availability and accessibility of some firearms and when they can be carried in public.

It's been over a decade since 2008's landmark 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia v Heller that held the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms at home for self-defense.

Except for a follow-up decision two years later, the court has not weighed in on Second Amendment rights significantly again.
In April, the court also declined to weigh in on the issue.

Five of the 10 cases the court declined to look at asked the justices to determine whether the Second Amendment allows the government to restrict the ability of citizens to carry a firearm outside the home to those with "good cause" or "justifiable need" to do so.

Two of the cases were high-profile challenges to state laws involving bans on certain semiautomatic firearms and high capacity magazines, one from Illinois and one from Massachusetts. The remaining three cases had a narrower scope, but none of the 10 will be argued before the justices.

Jacob Charles, the executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School, said the court's decision to deny all of the pending Second Amendment petitions came as a surprise.

"The petitions denied today presented some of the biggest open questions in Second Amendment law, including what types of weapons the Constitution protects and how and whether the right extends outside the home," Charles said.

"For now, it appears that a majority of the Court is content to let these issues be sorted out by the lower courts."

Three of the nine justices have been vocal in recent years about their desire for the court to take up a Second Amendment case.

Last month, Justice Brett Kavanaugh expressed his concern that lower courts have been thumbing their noses at Supreme Court precedent on the Second Amendment, saying the court should "address that issue soon, perhaps in one of the several Second Amendment cases with petitions for certiorari now pending before the Court."

Justice Clarence Thomas in 2018 complained that the lower courts were treating the Second Amendment right "cavalierly."

Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel and vice president of pro-gun safety organization Brady: United Against Gun Violence, said the court's decision not to hear any of the Second Amendment cases is "well-reasoned"

"Today's decision is welcome, but we are vigilant that there remains a concerted effort to reverse it and undermine our nation's hard-earned progress in instituting common-sense gun safety measures and that those arguments have found sympathy with several of the Justices," Lowy said in a statement to CNN.

Link to article and video:

Source: CNN

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Why Trump's Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch just protected LGBTQ rights - By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter - Updated 5:31 PM ET, Mon June 15, 2020

(CNN)Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's first nominee to the Supreme Court, delivered an opinion Monday that will change how more than 7 million LGBTQ individuals will live and work in the United States.

It is a watershed moment from an unlikely author that means gay, lesbian and transgender workers are protected by federal civil rights law.

It is a stunning defeat for judicial conservatives who worked to ensure Gorsuch's nomination and Republicans, including Donald Trump, who stymied President Barack Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, liberal Merrick Garland in 2016.

The ruling puts Gorsuch in the history books.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Gorsuch wrote, which bars discrimination "because of sex," also covers claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But for close observers of his writings and actions on the bench, Gorsuch simply was showcasing his fidelity to rules of statutory interpretation -- relying on the plain text of the law -- that were championed by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

It is the clearest example yet that Gorsuch, who is by any definition a conservative judge and has cast key votes in the past siding with the President, is capable of flexing his independence, charting a distinctive course and disrupting expectations.

At the same time, it will infuriate those who worked on his confirmation, confident that he was the right candidate to fill the shoes of Scalia.

Just after the opinion was released, Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network blasted Gorsuch. She said he had "bungled" the decision and Scalia would be disappointed.

"This was not judging, this was legislating -- a brute force attack on our constitutional system," Severino, who also clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas, said.

That point was not lost on Justice Samuel Alito in his dissent that was joined by Thomas.

"There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation. The document that the Court releases is in the form of a judicial opinion interpreting a statute, but that is deceptive," Alito wrote. Repeatedly, in his dissent, Alito quoted past writings of Scalia.

"The Court's opinion is like a pirate ship," Alito said. "It sails under a textualist flag, but what it actually represents is a theory of statutory interpretation that Justice Scalia excoriated -- the theory that courts should 'update' old statutes so that they better reflect the current values of society."

Joining Gorsuch were Chief Justice John Roberts, and the four liberals on the bench, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer.

The liberals chose not to write concurring opinions, allowing Gorsuch's ringing endorsement of LGBTQ rights and sound rejection of Trump administration arguments, to stand alone.

Remainder of article which also includes a video:

Source: CNN

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Supreme Court decides not to hear big gun-rights cases, dealing blow to Second Amendment activists


Supporters of gun control and firearm safety measures hold a protest rally outside the US Supreme Court as the Court hears oral arguments in State Rifle and Pistol v. City of New York, NY, in Washington, DC, December 2, 2019. Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday said it will not hear appeals of a slew of cases involving gun laws, dealing a blow to Second Amendment activists who seek to expand the rights of gun owners.

In an order released Monday morning, the court denied petitions for appeals of 10 cases.

The cases rejected by the court involved questions of whether laws banning interstate handgun sales in some cases violate the Second Amendment, whether there is a constitutional right to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense, if Illinois and Massachusetts can ban assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines, and whether a state can limit handgun permits to people who demonstrate a specific need for self-defense.

The denials comes just weeks after the justices declined to issue a substantive opinion in its first Second Amendment case in nearly a decade.

In that case, over a since-repealed New York City handgun regulation, the court said the controversy was no longer active because the measure had been amended by the city.

But several of the court’s conservatives, Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, wrote that they would still have sided with the gun owners challenging the law.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who sided with the majority in the case, urged his colleagues to take another Second Amendment case “soon.”

The Supreme Court last weighed the reach of the Second Amendment in a pair of cases in 2008 and 2010 that established the individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense.

Gun rights activists have spent the decade since urging the justices to review whether laws imposing restrictions on carrying guns outside the home and on certain kinds of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are lawful.

Thomas, in a written dissent Monday, took issue with his colleagues on the Supreme Court rejecting the appeal of a New Jersey business owner, Thomas Rogers, who was challenging his state’s requirement that a person show “justifiable need” before being issued a handgun permit.

Rogers services automatic teller machines in “high-crime areas,” Thomas wrote, and wanted permission to carry a handgun for self-defense.

Thomas note that the Second Amendment protected ”‘the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,‘” but “in several jurisdictions throughout the country, law-abiding citizens have been barred from exercising the fundamental right to bear arms because they cannot show that they have a ‘justifiable need’ or ‘good reason’ for doing so.”

“One would think that such an onerous burden on a fundamental right would warrant this Court’s review,” Thomas wrote.

“This Court would almost certainly review the constitutionality of a law requiring citizens to establish a justifiable need before exercising their free speech rights,” he wrote.

“And it seems highly unlikely that the Court would allow a State to enforce a law requiring a woman to provide a justifiable need before seeking an abortion. But today, faced with a petition challenging just such a restriction on citizens’ Second Amendment rights, the Court simply looks the other way,” Thomas wrote.

Link to article:


The Positive Second Amendment Rights, Regulation, and the Future of Heller (Cambridge Studies on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties) by Joseph Blocher by Joseph Blocher (no photo)

Source: CNBC Politics

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Supreme Court Rules Against Trump Administration In DACA Case

By NINA TOTENBURG June 18, 2020

Demonstrators arrive in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during a march in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on Nov. 10. Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

A narrowly divided Supreme Court extended Thursday a life-support line to some 650,000 so-called DREAMers, allowing them to remain safe from deportation for now, while the Trump administration jumps through the administrative hoops that the court said are required before ending the program.

The vote was 5-to-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the decisive fifth vote that sought to bridge the liberal and conservative wings of the court.

Roberts and the court's four liberal justices said the Department of Homeland Security's decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act.

In his opinion, Roberts wrote: "The appropriate recourse is therefore to remand to DHS so that it may reconsider the problem anew."

Begun in 2012, the DACA program gave temporary protection from deportation to qualified individuals brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Under the program, the DREAMers were allowed to work legally and apply for college loans if they met certain requirements and passed a background check.

President Trump sought to end the program shortly after he took office, maintaining that it was illegal and unconstitutional from the start.

But he was blocked by the lower courts and appealed to the Supreme Court, where Thursday the justices divided over both substance and timing.

The muddled state of play likely prevents the administration from enacting any plans to begin deportations immediately, but there is little doubt that should President Trump be reelected, the second-term president almost certainly would seek to end the program.

Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, wrote: "Today's decision must be recognized for what it is: an effort to avoid a politically controversial but legally correct decision."

The court's decision presents a particularly delicate political problem for congressional Republicans just four months before the national election in November.

DACA has been an enormously popular program, with public opinion polls showing widespread support for it among Democrats, independents and Republicans.

DACA recipients have gotten advanced degrees; they have started businesses; they have bought houses, had children who are U.S. citizens; and 90% have jobs. Indeed, 29,000 are health care professionals, working on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.

So popular has the DACA program been that the Senate Republican leadership not once, but twice, worked closely with Democrats to work out a deal to protect the Dreamers, only to have Trump renege at the last moment.

What Trump will do before the November election is anyone's guess. The heart of his political base is opposed to immigration in just about every form. But this is no ordinary time.

Amid pandemic and racial crisis, the court's ruling is likely to focus on yet another issue where the president is at odds with public sentiment, while at the same time putting Republican officeholders between the rock of their president's views, and the hard place of their own reelection bids.

Link to article:
Link to DACA Decision:


Just Like Us The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe by Helen Thorpe Helen Thorpe

Source: NPR News

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Bentley | 44167 comments Mod
Thank you for the adds Lorna - a busy week for the Supreme Court.

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Supreme Court says Trump can weaken Obamacare contraceptive mandate

By ARIANE DE VOGUE July 8, 2020

The Supreme Court in Washington. | Mark Tenally/AP

(CNN) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared the way for the Trump administration to expand exemptions for employers who have religious or moral objections to complying with the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate.

The 7-2 ruling reverses a lower court decision that had blocked Trump's move nationwide.

The ruling is a win for President Donald Trump, who has vowed to act aggressively to protect what he and other conservatives frame as religious liberty, as well as for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic religious order for women who, along with the Trump administration, asked the court to step in.

It came the same day the court also sided with religious schools in a different case, ruling that teachers at religious institutions aren't covered by employment discrimination laws.

The Little Sisters case required the justices to balance concerns for women's health care against claims of religious liberty. The law requires that employer-provided health insurance plans cover birth control as a preventive service at no cost.

Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion, wrote that the justices held that the government "had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption." He was joined in full by Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Thomas commended the Little Sisters of the Poor for their efforts.

"For the past seven years, they -- like many other religious
objectors who have participated in the litigation and rulemakings leading up to today's decision -- have had to fight for the ability to continue in their noble work without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs," he wrote.

Thomas continued, "After two decisions from this Court and multiple failed regulatory attempts, the Federal Government has arrived at a solution that exempts the Little Sisters from the source of their complicity-based concerns -- the administratively imposed contraceptive mandate."

Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan agreed with the court's judgment but under different rationale. They said that the Trump administration had the authority to issue a rule expanding exemptions from the contraceptive mandate, but suggested that a lower court might still find that the government's rule was "arbitrary and capricious."

"That issue remains open for the lower courts to address," Breyer wrote.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented from the Court's opinion, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree," Ginsburg wrote.

"This Court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer's insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets," she said and noted that the government had acknowledged that the rules would cause thousands of women to lose coverage.

The dispute -- the latest concerning the Affordable Care Act to come before the justices -- pit supporters of the contraceptive provision against those who said it violated their religious and moral beliefs.

Churches and some other religious entities could get an exemption and others such as religious universities, hospitals or charities with religious objections get an accommodation. The accommodation means that plan participants could still receive the coverage, but it would be paid for by the insurer or employer's health insurance administrator.

Over 61.4 million women in the US have birth control coverage with zero out-of-pocket costs, according the National Women's Law Center.

After Trump took office, the government moved in 2017 to allow exemptions for more employers.

Under the religious exception rule, any private employer, including publicly traded corporations, could receive exemptions based on a "sincerely held religious belief." A second rule extends the same provision to organizations and small businesses that have objections "on the basis of moral conviction which is not based in any particular religious belief."

By the government's own estimate, between 75,000 to 125,000 women would lose coverage. At oral arguments held over the phone because of the coronavirus, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- participating from a hospital bed because of a gall bladder condition -- lambasted the government's position, arguing it would leave women "to hunt for other government programs that might cover them."

Pennsylvania and other states challenged the federal government move in court, arguing in part that they would have to step in and provide coverage for women seeking coverage.

A federal appeals court blocked the rules nationwide, holding that the states would suffer irreparable harm and "unredressable financial consequences" from subsidizing contraceptive services and "providing funds for medical care associated with unintended pregnancies." The court said that the states' financial injury "outweighs any purported injury to religious exercise."

The Trump administration and the Little Sisters of the Poor asked the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court.

Link to remainder of article:
Link to videotape:


Landmark The Inside Story of America's New Health-Care Law-The Affordable Care Act-and What It Means for Us All by The Washington Post by The Washington Post (no photo)

Source: CNN

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Supreme Court says Manhattan DA can get Trump’s tax records, but rejects bid by House Democrats

By TUCKER HIGGINS July 9, 2020 (10:12 AM EDT)


- The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered split opinions in two cases over whether President Donald Trump can shield his tax records from investigators, handing a win to the Manhattan district attorney but rejecting parallel efforts by Democrats in the House of Representatives.

- Both cases were decided 7-2, with Chief Justice John Roberts authoring the court’s opinion and joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented in both cases.

President Trump shakes hands in 2017 with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. (Jim Lo Scalzo / AFP/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered split opinions in two cases over whether President Donald Trump can shield his tax records from investigators, handing a win to the Manhattan district attorney but rejecting parallel efforts by Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Both cases were decided 7-2, with Chief Justice John Roberts authoring the court’s opinion and joined in the majority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented in both cases.

Both cases are subject to further review by lower courts. The mixed rulings mean the American public is unlikely to learn about Trump’s financial records or tax information before November’s election.

The decisions mark the first time that the nation’s highest court has directly ruled on a matter involving Trump’s personal dealings. Trump has been more secretive with his finances than any president in decades, refusing to release his tax records to the public even as he mounts a bid for reelection.

The cases were decided on the final day of the Supreme Court’s term, which began last October and was extended past its typical end-of-June conclusion as a result of precautions taken against the spreading coronavirus.

“In our judicial system, ‘the public has a right to every man’s evidence.’ Since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the President of the United States,” Roberts wrote in the New York case.

That case stemmed from an investigation being pursued by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. Vance issued a subpoena to Trump’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars, for a wide variety of Trump’s personal and business records, including tax returns, dating back to 2011.

Vance’s office is investigating the hush money payments that Trump allegedly facilitated to two women ahead of the 2016 election, though the purpose for his subpoenas is relatively opaque.

The women have claimed to have had sexual relationships with the president that he has denied. Vance hasn’t said whether Trump is a suspect in his investigation, and he has not indicated any potential charges.

Trump’s attorneys have pushed for an expansive view of presidential immunity in the case.

In one lower court hearing in New York, an attorney for the president said that Trump would theoretically be immune from investigation even if he shot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue. During the 2016 campaign, Trump claimed that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

In a statement, Vance called Thursday’s decision “a tremendous victory for our nation’s system of justice and its founding principle that no one – not even a president – is above the law.”

“Our investigation, which was delayed for almost a year by this lawsuit, will resume, guided as always by the grand jury’s solemn obligation to follow the law and the facts, wherever they may lead,” Vance said.

The congressional cases involved subpoenas issued by Democratic-led committees of the House of Representatives, which sought financial records from Mazars as well as his banks, Capital One and Deutsche Bank.

“This case is different,” Roberts wrote in the opinion handed down Thursday. “Here the President’s information is sought not by prosecutors or private parties in connection with a particular judicial proceeding, but by committees of Congress that have set forth broad legislative objectives.”

“Congress and the President—the two political branches established by the Constitution—have an ongoing relationship that the Framers intended to feature both rivalry and reciprocity,” Roberts wrote.

The House Oversight Committee sought out the information in connection with investigations into claims made by the president’s former lawyer Michael Cohen that Trump inflated and deflated his assets to suit his needs.

The oversight panel is also investigating Trump’s failure to disclose a $130,000 hush money payment that he owed to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels on his 2017 disclosure form. The Office of Government Ethics has said that Trump should have listed the debt — which he owed to Cohen, for facilitating the payment — as a liability.

The financial services and intelligence committees issued two separate subpoenas to Deutsche Bank seeking information on the president and members of his family, including his children Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump. A third subpoena, from the financial services committee, asked Capital One for a wide variety of information on 15 Trump businesses.

The financial services committee is investigating potential foreign money laundering. Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the intelligence committee, has said his committee’s investigation entails uncovering whether “any foreign actor has sought to compromise or holds leverage, financial or otherwise, over Donald Trump, his family, his business, or his associates.”

Lower courts in New York and Washington upheld the subpoenas, but the president asked the justices to reverse those rulings.

The consolidated congressional cases are Trump v. Mazars, No. 19-715 and Trump v. Deutsche Bank, No. 19-760. The New York case is Trump v. Vance, No. 19-635.

Link to article and videotape:

Source: CNBC News

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Supreme Court Allows Rhode Island To Make Voting By Mail Easier Amid Pandemic

By LAUREL WAMSLEY August 13, 2020

A voter places a ballot in a secure box in Providence, R.I., in June for the state's presidential primary. The U.S. Supreme Court says the state can suspend its witness or notary requirement to vote by mail in the fall elections. Steven Senne/AP

An agreement that makes it easier for Rhode Island residents to vote by mail during the pandemic will remain in place after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an effort by Republicans to block it.

The agreement allows Rhode Islanders to vote in two upcoming elections without requiring voters to fill out mail-in ballots before two witnesses or a notary. That requirement was already suspended for the presidential primary that took place June 2.

In its one-page order, the high court said that in this case, state officials were defending what is already the status quo from the last election, "and many Rhode Island voters may well hold that belief."

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

The two-witness or notary requirement was challenged last month by a federal lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause of Rhode Island, and the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island, along with three voters with significant medical vulnerabilities, whose health could be jeopardized if they catch the coronavirus.

The ACLU hailed the Supreme Court order as "a victory for basic principles of democracy."

"We are very pleased that the Republican Party's efforts to turn the fundamental right to vote into an episode of 'Survivor' has failed," ACLU of Rhode Island Executive Director Steven Brown said in a statement. "We are grateful that our vulnerable plaintiffs and others like them will be able to vote securely from the safety and privacy of their homes as they did in June, without needing to risk their health or lives."

The state had agreed to eliminate the witness requirements for vote by mail through the 2020 elections due to the pandemic, but the Republican National Committee and Rhode Island Republican Party sought to block that decree.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Boston, refused to stay the decree last week, writing of the "significant" burden such witness or notary requirements impose in the midst of a pandemic.

"First, many more voters are likely to want to vote without going to the polls and will thus only vote if they can vote by mail," the panel wrote. "Second, many voters may be deterred by the fear of contagion from interacting with witnesses or a notary.

"Could a determined and resourceful voter intent on voting manage to work around these impediments? Certainly. But it is also certain that the burdens are much more unusual and substantial than those that voters are generally expected to bear. Taking an unusual and in fact unnecessary chance with your life is a heavy burden to bear simply to vote," the judges concluded.

The state's Republican Party expressed disappointment at the Supreme Court's decision.

"We fear that this decision will create more, not less confusion this election year," the Rhode Island GOP said in a statement. "The June election was inconsequential, but a chaotic November election will have serious consequences for public confidence in our election system."

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, a Democrat, welcomed the Supreme Court's order and said the state would begin sending out requested mail ballots for the Sept. 8 primary, starting Thursday.

"Your health should never be the price of admission to our democracy," Gorbea tweeted. "Making it easier to vote safely from home by removing the burden of obtaining two witnesses or a notary is a common-sense step that will protect Rhode Islanders during this pandemic."

Link to article:


One Person, No Vote How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy by Carol Anderson by Carol Anderson Carol Anderson

Source: NPR

message 30: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1863 comments Mod
Justices Thomas, Alito Blast Supreme Court Decision On Same-Sex Marriage Rights

By NINA TOTENBERG October 5, 2020

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito issued a broadside against the high court's 2015 same-sex marriage decision on Monday when the court declined to hear a case brought by a former Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue a marriage license for such couples.

The two justices agreed with the decision not to hear the case but used the occasion to take a legal baseball bat to the court's 2015 decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry under the 14th Amendment guarantee to equal protection of the law.

Writing for himself and Alito, Thomas said that the court's decision "enables courts and governments to brand religious adherents who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman as bigots, making their religious liberty concerns that much easier to dismiss."

His words came in a case brought by Kim Davis, a former county clerk in Kentucky, who in the aftermath of the same-sex marriage decision refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and was sued.

"Davis may have been one of the first victims of this court's cavalier treatment of religion in its Obergefell decision," Thomas and Alito wrote. But they agreed that the court properly decided not to take up Davis' case because, they said, it does not "cleanly" present the issues in the court's 5-4 decision five years ago.

Nevertheless, they said, the case "provides a stark reminder" of the consequences of the same-sex marriage decision. By choosing to endorse "a novel constitutional right over the religious liberty interests explicitly protected in the First Amendment, and by doing so undemocratically, the court has created a problem that only it can fix," they said. "Until then, Obergefell will continue to have ruinous consequences for religious liberty."

The fact that Thomas and Alito chose this moment to issue their blast provoked dismay in the LGBT community and elsewhere.

"It is alarming that there are justices on the Supreme Court who want to overrule Obergefell, which is a precedent the court has reaffirmed, and which hundreds of thousands of couples have relied to seal their unions in matrimony," said Yale Law School professor William Eskridge, co-author of Marriage Equality: From Outlaws to In-laws.

Link to article:


Marriage Equality From Outlaws to In-Laws by William N. Eskridge by William N. Eskridge (no photo)

Source: NPR

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