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message 1: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) This thread is about Associate Justice Samuel Alito and all related topics.

On January 31, 2006, after serving for more than 15 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. joined the U.S. Supreme Court as its 110th member. Alito's confirmation process was a contentious one, and came only after President George W. Bush's first nominee, White House Counsel Harriet Miers, withdrew herself from consideration because of criticism that she was unqualified. The Senate confirmed Alito by a vote of 58 to 42, the closest confirmation vote in more than a decade, after a failed attempt by Senate Democrats to filibuster the nomination.

Unlike Miers, Alito was almost universally recognized as intellectually qualified. A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School (where he served as editor of the Yale Law Journal), he received a unanimous "well qualified" rating from the American Bar Association (the rating measures judicial temperament, not ideology). Moreover, Alito's nomination to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1990 was approved by unanimous consent in a Democratic Senate. Historically, the confirmation process for appeals court judges has centered around their intellectual qualifications rather than their judicial ideology, because they are bound by the rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court and therefore have less flexibility in their decision-making.

The controversy over Alito centered instead on his judicial beliefs about such hot-button issues as abortion, Presidential powers, and electoral reapportionment. Based on his work in the Justice Department during the Reagan Administration and his rulings as an appellate judge, critics claimed that his views were "outside the mainstream." They pointed, for example, to Alito's dissent as a Circuit Court judge in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which dealt with Pennsylvania's restrictions about when a woman could receive an abortion and who needed to be notified of it. Alito voted to uphold a portion of the law that required that a husband be notified when his wife sought an abortion; when the case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court rejected Alito's reasoning.

Critics also pointed to a 1985 application for a promotion in the Justice Department, in which Alito stated that he had been motivated to go to law school by conservative writings criticizing the Warren Court's decisions in the areas of criminal procedure, the Establishment Clause, and reapportionment. Moreover, he wrote that he was proud to represent the administration's legal view that "racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." During his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Alito explained that, while the statements were accurate at the time, they were written as part of an application for a political appointment in the conservative Reagan administration and did not necessarily reflect his views as a judge.

On a less contentious note, Alito also attributed much of his approach to the law to what he learned from his father while growing up. His father, a long- time employee of the New Jersey state legislature, was a first-generation Italian American. During his confirmation hearings, Alito stated that the stories his father told him about being discriminated against for his nationality and Catholic religion and about having to build a comfortable life from humble beginnings had made him more disposed to treat everyone who came before him with respect. These statements were made in response to criticism that, as a Circuit Court judge, Alito had consistently ruled against the poor and minority litigants who came before him.

His wife, Martha-Ann, whom he married in 1985, joined Alito at the confirmation hearings. He also has two children, Philip and Laura.

Personal Information
Saturday, April 1, 1950

Associate Justice


Nominated By
Bush (43)

Commissioned on
Monday, January 30, 2006

Sworn In
Monday, January 30, 2006

New Jersey


message 2: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Books about:

21 Supreme Court Issues Facing America The Scalia Model for a Conservative Court, Includes Samuel Alito on the Issues by Steve Elliott by Steve Elliott
Why is the Left so frightened of Judge Alito? Steve Elliot and has the answer. In fact, Elliot has identified 21 key issues that are threatening the Left, and we've put them all in our exclusive 200+ page book 21 Supreme Court Issues Facing America. Inside you'll quickly discover why the Left is so afraid of judicial conservatives like Judge Alito.

Elliot has identified 21 vital issues that the Left has been using to undermine our nation, including judicial tyranny, the secular mandate, abortion, the welfare state, the homosexual agenda and much more. Using what we call the "Scalia model," 21 Issues provides a profile of how judicial conservatives can restore order to our courts.

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Very interesting - nice Kathy - too bad there are not these top ten for the other justices - I like it.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 12, 2015 01:55PM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Justice Alito Interviews for the Job

Associate Justice Samuel Alito talks about first being interviewed for court in 2001.

Source C-Span Supreme Court Week - Justices in their Own Words

message 5: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice The Vicar of Christ

The Vicar of Christ by Walter F. Murphy by Walter F. Murphy Walter F. Murphy


This book is an unusual, fascinating and well-written observation of the life of a man who was first a war hero and Medal f honor winner from the Krean War, then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, thirdly a monk, and finally, elected Pope. His overly exciting life is described by three men who 'knew him well.' The first narrator is a Marine, telling of their time together in Korea. The second, a Constitional scholar and Supreme Court Justice appalled at the new Chief Justice, narrates the second phase. The third is a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church; fat, kind but distracted. The Marine cares for him the most, the Supreme Court Justice condescends and despises him, and the Cardinal is much more interested in food than his subject. But Declan Walsh was a man who earned the Medal of Honor while ordering the death of his best friend, ruled pragmatically and energetically on the Court but lost his wife to death and neglect, and became a miraculous healer assasinated for challenging the powers that rule the secular world. A good read!

message 6: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice Justice Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court, recent Court decisions, and his education

Conversations with Bill Kristol

Very interesting interview.

message 7: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice Alito Dissents: The U.S. Supreme Court Dissenting Opinions of Justice Samuel Alito

(no image) Alito Dissents: The U.S. Supreme Court Dissenting Opinions of Justice Samuel Alito by Joshua Warren (no photo)


This book is a collection of the dissents written by Justice Samuel Alito as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court between 2006 and 2015 (October terms 2005-2014). Reading these decisions can reveal a portrait of the jurisprudential thought of Justice Alito and of the aesthetics of modern American law. These writings are amongst the master works of the highest American legal function. Enjoy the beauty of these modern dissents.

message 8: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Samuel A. Alito, Jr.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States January 31, 2006 - Present

Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. currently holds a position on the Supreme Court bench as one of the court’s conservative justices. He is known for his right wing leanings that sometimes encompass libertarian ideals. Alito was born in Trenton, New Jersey on April 1, 1950. Both of his parents were teachers, and his father was an Italian immigrant. That identity would later inform the way Alito viewed discrimination. He attended Steinart High School, the local public school, where he immersed himself in extracurricular activities with a focus on student politics and debate. He graduated at the top of his class and continued his education at Princeton University. During his time at Princeton, Alito participated in the campus’ ROTC program. When he graduated from Princeton, Alito voiced his future aspirations in the yearbook, stating that he hoped to be a Supreme Court justice one day, a dream that Alito would see realized some thirty years later.

After graduating from Princeton in 1972, Alito continued his Ivy League education at Yale Law School. While he attended, he was the editor of the Yale Law Journal. Alito graduated in 1975 and began clerking in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit under Judge Leonard Garth. In 1977, Alito accepted a position as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. Alito became an Assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General four years later. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed Alito as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. After a little over a decade of steady promotions in the government sector of law, Alito settled into a position on the bench. President George H. W. Bush nominated Alito to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in 1990, a position that was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

For sixteen years, Alito served as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals. It was here that he proved to be difficult to predict in his rulings. While he was a conservative judge, he approached rulings on a case-by-case basis, rather than perceiving and assigning a farther-reaching ideology to the case at hand with the hope of that ideology extending to cases beyond the present one. Alito’s heritage as the child of an immigrant made him sensitive to the plights of those he viewed to be like him, as shown in his alignment with the majority in Fatin v. INS. The case, regarding an Iranian woman seeking asylum, was heard in 1993, and the court stated that she was eligible for asylum based on her membership in a feminist organization. This bleeding-heart style of conservatism ended when he did not identify with the litigant. In 1991, Alito dissented in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case where the majority struck down a law that forced women to alert their husbands before getting an abortion.

In 2005, President George W. Bush nominated Alito to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. His appointment was confirmed by a 58-42 vote in the Senate in early 2006. As a justice of the highest court, Alito continues to rule based solely on the case in front of him, unlike his conservative colleagues’ style of ruling based on an overarching theory. Even so, Alito tends to reach the same conclusions as his conservative colleagues. This was not the case in Snyder v. Phelps, a case concerning the Westboro Baptist Church and their practice of picketing military funerals.  While the other eight justices upheld Phelps’ protections of free speech, Alito argued in his dissent that the emotional distress the picketing caused the family outweighed the church’s right to that particular brand of speech. Scholars have noted that this reaction was driven mostly by Alito’s empathy toward the grieving father. In this case, and many others, Alito’s opinion came from putting himself in the litigant’s shoes and imagining his own family in that situation, which was a topic Alito addressed during his confirmation hearings. As in the lower court, Alito’s sympathy for the litigants had its limits. In 2014, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby came before the Supreme Court, and Alito authored the majority decision that stated family-owned corporations can be exempt from laws requiring corporations to provide their female employees access to contraception coverage for no cost because those laws infringed upon the religious freedom of the owners.

Samuel Alito Supreme Court Nomination by Jesse Russell by Jesse Russell (no photo)

The Vicar of Christ by Walter F. Murphy by Walter F. Murphy Walter F. Murphy

Source(s): Oyez

message 9: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
No Bail Hearings for Detained Immigrants, Supreme Court Rules

By ADAM LIPTAK February 27, 2018

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., left, joined all of the majority opinion in the immigration ruling, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer dissented from the bench. Credit Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that people held in immigration detention, sometimes for years, are not entitled to periodic hearings to decide whether they may be released on bail.

The vote was 5 to 3, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority. Justice Stephen G. Breyer summarized his dissent from the bench, a rare move signaling intense disagreement.

The two sides exchanged unusually caustic barbs, mirroring the sharp divisions on immigration policy among lawmakers and members of the public.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the majority, said the detention of people seeking asylum or fighting deportation was needed to give immigration officials time “to determine an alien’s status without running the risk of the alien’s either absconding or engaging in criminal activity.”

Justice Breyer responded that the decision was most likely “the first time ever” that the Supreme Court had interpreted a federal law to allow the long-term confinement of people held in the United States and accused of misconduct without an opportunity to obtain bail. “An ‘opportunity,’ I might add, does not necessarily mean release, for there may be a risk of flight or harm that would justify denying bail,” he said from the bench.

The decision came a day after the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal over whether the Trump administration may shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation, complicating legislative efforts to address the issue.

Ahilan Arulanantham, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who represented the immigrants seeking hearings in Tuesday’s case, said he was disappointed by the decision.

“The Trump administration is trying to expand immigration detention to record-breaking levels as part of its crackdown on immigrant communities,” he said. “We have shown through this case that when immigrants get a fair hearing, judges often release them based on their individual circumstances.”

Richard A. Samp, a lawyer with the Washington Legal Foundation, which filed a brief for 29 members of Congress supporting a strict interpretation of the immigration laws, said the decision was a victory for public safety.

“When Congress determines that the best way to prevent aliens convicted of felonies from repeating their crimes is to lock them up until they can be deported,” he said, “lower courts don’t have the authority to second-guess that determination by attempting to rewrite the law.”

The majority in Tuesday’s case ruled on narrow grounds, saying that the immigration laws do not by their terms authorize the hearings. It sent the case back to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, instructing it to consider whether the Constitution requires the hearings — but only if various procedural roadblocks could be overcome.

The Ninth Circuit had ruled that bond hearings are required after six months to determine whether detainees who do not pose flight risks or a danger to public safety may be released while their cases proceed. The court based its ruling on an interpretation of the federal immigration laws, not the Constitution, though it said its reading was required to avoid constitutional difficulties.

Justice Alito, in the majority opinion on Tuesday, said that this interpretive approach, called “constitutional avoidance,” was unavailable here, as the words of the immigration laws were plain. “The meaning of the relevant statutory provisions is clear — and clearly contrary to the decision of the court of appeals,” Justice Alito wrote.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined all of the majority opinion, and Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch most of it, though those two justices also wrote that the Supreme Court was powerless to hear the case at all.

In dissent, Justice Breyer wrote that “we can, and should, read the relevant statutory provisions to require bail proceedings in instances of prolonged detention without doing violence to the statutory language or to the provisions’ basic purposes.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor joined Justice Breyer’s dissent.

In response, Justice Alito accused his colleagues of taking extreme liberties with the English language. “The dissent evidently has a strong stomach when it comes to inflicting linguistic trauma,” Justice Alito wrote. “The contortions needed to reach these remarkable conclusions are a sight to behold.”

The case itself had gone through contortions at the Supreme Court. It was first argued in 2016 before an eight-member court left short-handed by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The justices deadlocked 4 to 4, and the case was reargued in October after Justice Gorsuch joined the court.

After the second argument, Justice Elena Kagan announced her recusal from the case, presumably after discovering that she had worked on an aspect of it as United States solicitor general. She had participated in both arguments, and her questioning suggested that she would have voted with the court’s liberal wing.

Read the remainder of the article at:


21 Supreme Court Issues Facing America by Steve Elliott by Steve Elliott (no photo)
Justice Stephen Breyer Dissents by Robert Dittmer by Robert Dittmer (no photo)

Source: The New York Times

message 10: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (last edited Jan 23, 2019 05:56PM) (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
This justice began the Supreme Court's conservative transformation

By JOAN BISCUPIC December 8, 2018

Washington (CNN) - When Chief Justice John Roberts rebuked President Donald Trump over judicial independence in November, some critics countered with a 2010 moment between President Barack Obama and Justice Samuel Alito.

Chicago Tribune

That instantly viral episode, with Alito mouthing "not true," as Obama disparaged the Citizens United campaign finance decision during a State of the Union address, was not quite comparable.

But it did again put a rare spotlight on one of the Supreme Court's least known but most important justices -- as did his pungent questioning in oral arguments this week.

As a lawyer faltered in the face of one of Alito's distinctive hypothetical questions on Thursday, Alito insisted, against his reputation as a tough interlocutor on the bench: "I don't think this is a surprise question, or a particularly difficult one."

Through his opinions, Alito, who succeeded centrist Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in 2006, has moved the court to the right on reproductive rights, religious freedom, job discrimination and campaign finance regulations.

Since the February 2016 death Justice Antonin Scalia, Alito has anchored the right wing of the nation's high court with Justice Clarence Thomas. The addition of Trump appointees Justice Neil Gorsuch, in 2017, and Brett Kavanaugh in October, could bolster in upcoming years Alito's unflinching conservatism -- to further restrict abortion rights, for example, and to continue last session's support of the Trump administration legal agenda.

The New Jersey native with a caustic wit who still draws attention for his grimaces, rolled eyes and other expressions, stands out as a quirky, somewhat awkward figure among his colleagues on the right and the left. President George W. Bush, who appointed him, wrote in his 2010 memoir about loosening up Alito, a lifelong Phillies fan, with talk of baseball. At a welcome dinner at the court, the other justices even arranged for an appearance by the Phillie Phanatic mascot.

More critically for the law, Alito has written some of the court's most substantial and controversial, opinions, from the 2007 Lilly Ledbetter pay-discrimination case to last term's labor union dispute. The latter reversed a 40-year-old precedent that had permitted public employee unions to charge non-members fees for collective bargaining activities.

Alito's approach to the law has put him on the rightward flank of the court, alongside justices Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. The threesome, for example, recently sought to block a US district court trial over the Department of Commerce's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. (The court majority let the trial continue, and the court later said it would hear an appeal on a related evidentiary question in February.)

Thirteen years ago, when President George W. Bush nominated Alito for the O'Connor seat, law professors and legal experts speculated about how far the court might turn to the right -- not unlike the current situation as Kavanaugh has succeeded the moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy.

With Alito, those predictions immediately turned to reality. One year after his appointment, for example, the justices reversed course on an abortion controversy, upholding by a 5-4 vote a federal ban on a late-term procedure that critics called "partial birth." In an earlier case, while O'Connor was still on the bench, the justices had struck down a similar state ban as interfering with a woman's right to end a pregnancy. (Some medical experts said the procedure, known medically as intact dilation and extraction, was the safest for women in certain circumstances.)

Alito has similarly made a difference in religion cases with votes and opinions that would allow more religious expression in public. In a 2014 case, he was in the five-justice majority to uphold Christian prayers before council meetings in Greece, New York, and then wrote a separate concurring statement further defending legislative opening prayers and rejecting a key objection of the four dissenters as "really quite niggling."

In a separate 5-4 case in 2014, combining religious interests and reproductive rights, Alito wrote the court's opinion to allow the Hobby Lobby craft chain and other Christian-run for-profit corporations to escape an Obama administration rule that their insurance cover contraceptives. The regulation arose from the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Based on his past record, he could play a key role this term in dispute over a World War I Memorial cross on public land in Maryland, challenged as a breach of the constitutional separation of church and state.

The Trump administration has been urging judges to rein in federal regulations, for example on the environment, and Alito has long joined in some conservative skepticism for agency regulations. Yet, he has also chastised his colleagues for chipping away at -- but not directly confronting -- a 1984 court precedent, Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, that says judges should defer to agency interpretation of their legal power.

"In recent years, several members of this court have questioned Chevron's foundations," he wrote in a June dissent. "But unless the court has overruled Chevron in a secret decision that has somehow escaped my attention, it remains good law."

Link to remainder of the article:


Samuel Alito Supreme Court Nomination by Jesse Russell by Jesse Russell (no photo)

Source: CNN

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Jan 23, 2019 11:09PM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
He almost looks warm and friendly in that top photo - good find. Well - if you use your imagination.

message 12: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1864 comments Mod
Justice Alito’s jurisprudence of white racial innocence
Alito gets very upset if you suggest that racism exists.

By IAN MILLHISER April 23, 2020

Justice Samuel Alito Jr. Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi / ALM

On Monday, the Supreme Court held, 6-3, in Ramos v. Louisiana that criminal defendants in state court may be convicted only by a unanimous jury.

The practical impact of Ramos is small — until recently, only two states, Louisiana and Oregon, permitted a non-unanimous jury to convict a defendant. And Louisiana recently amended its constitution to eliminate this practice. But advocates saw in the ruling a big symbolic change in favor of racial justice. As the Court’s lead opinion pointed out, non-unanimous juries are a practice rooted in white supremacy.

One justice took umbrage with that invocation of racism: Justice Samuel Alito. His dissent was the latest in a string of opinions bristling at the idea that racism still shapes many policymakers’ decisions today, and that the legacy of past racism still affects people of color. In the most noteworthy of those opinions, 2018’s Abbott v. Perez, Alito convinced a majority of his colleagues to write such a strong presumption of white racial innocence into the law governing racial voter discrimination that it is now virtually impossible for voting rights plaintiffs to prove that state lawmakers acted with racist intent.

Alito does not appear driven by broad skepticism of racial issues. While he has repeatedly lashed out at the mere suggestion that white policymakers may have been motivated by racism, he took a drastically different tone in Ricci v. DeStefano (2009). In that case, Alito wrote a lengthy concurring opinion suggesting that a cohort of mostly white firefighters were denied promotions due to a conspiracy between New Haven Mayor John DeStefano and a local black preacher.

In other words, when black or brown people have been on the receiving end of allegedly racist treatment, Alito preaches that we shouldn’t jump to such conclusions; yet in a case where white people were allegedly harmed, he wasn’t so cautious.

With his Ramos opinion, Alito continues to build a distinctive profile as a jurist: He has emerged as the Court’s foremost defender of white racial innocence.

Alito scolded his fellow Republican justices for pointing to the legacy of racism

Alito sometimes scolds liberals for attributing modern-day policy outcomes to racism. But in Ramos, much of his vitriol was directed at two of his fellow Republican justices. Indeed, the racist origins of non-unanimous juries were discussed prominently in the Court’s lead opinion in Ramos, which was authored by conservative Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch.

In his opinion, Gorsuch offered a brief history of how the practice of allowing non-unanimous juries to decide a defendant’s fate is rooted in white supremacy. The delegates who drafted Louisiana’s 1898 constitution, Gorsuch argues, “sought to undermine African-American participation on juries” by allowing juries to resolve cases in a 10 to 2 verdict (the idea was that only a small number of black jurors were likely to serve on the jury in the first place).

Gorsuch also argues that Oregon’s use of non-unanimous juries “can be similarly traced to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and efforts to dilute ‘the influence of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities on Oregon juries.’”

Gorsuch’s decision to invoke this dark history produced a livid response from Alito. “To add insult to injury, the Court tars Louisiana and Oregon with the charge of racism for permitting nonunanimous verdicts,” Alito writes in the introduction to his dissent. He adds that “too much public discourse today is sullied by ad hominem rhetoric, that is, attempts to discredit an argument not by proving that it is unsound but by attacking the character or motives of the argument’s proponents,” and accuses the majority of his colleagues of engaging in such rhetoric.

Alito goes on to make a fair point. Though Louisiana and Oregon may have originally permitted non-unanimous jury verdicts to advance white supremacy, “both States readopted their rules under different circumstances in later years.” Louisiana, for example, originally provided for non-unanimous juries at an 1898 constitutional convention dominated by white supremacists. But the state “adopted a new, narrower rule” at a new constitutional convention in 1974.

Alito suggests that it is unfair to attribute the results of the 1974 convention to racism, if the delegates to that particular convention were not actually motivated by racism. It will be interesting to see whether he applies a similarly forgiving rule in a pending case alleging that provision of Montana’s 1972 constitution is tainted by 19th-century anti-Catholic bias. (It’s also worth noting that liberal Justice Elena Kagan joined most of Alito’s opinion, most likely because Kagan is the Court’s most stalwart defender of the idea that the justices should be reluctant to overrule precedents, and Ramos overruled a 1972 decision.)

But Alito’s Ramos dissent also fits into a broader pattern. In multiple cases, including cases where there is clear evidence that modern-day lawmakers acted with invidious racial intentions, Alito treats the mere suggestion that anti-black or anti-brown racism may still play a role in policymaking with contempt.

Read remainder of article:


Samuel Alito Supreme Court Nomination by Jesse Russell by Jesse Russell (no photo)

Source: Vox

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
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

message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Supreme Court says federal law protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination - Devan Cole byline - By Ariane de Vogue and Devan Cole, CNN - Updated 12:22 PM ET, Mon June 15, 2020

Washington (CNN)Federal civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender workers, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The landmark ruling will extend protections to millions of workers nationwide and is a defeat for the Trump administration, which argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that bars discrimination based on sex did not extend to claims of gender identity and sexual orientation.

The 6-3 opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's four liberal justices.

"An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids," Gorsuch wrote.

"There is simply no escaping the role intent plays here: Just as sex is necessarily a but-for cause when an employer discriminates against homosexual or transgender employees, an employer who discriminates on these grounds inescapably intends to rely on sex in its decisionmaking," the opinion read.

"Today's decision is one of the court's most significant rulings ever with respect to the civil rights of gay and transgender individuals," said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

"On its terms, the decision is only about discrimination in the workplace," Vladeck added. "But it inevitably opens the door to a host of other challenges to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status on the ground that it, too, is impermissibly based upon sex. In that respect, only the court's 2015 ruling recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage may be equally as significant."

The LGBTQ community is made of up of approximately 1 million workers who identify as transgender and 7.1 million lesbian, gay and bisexual workers, according to UCLA's Williams Institute.

Twenty-two states, plus the District of Columbia have statutes protecting workers based on sexual orientation, according to the Williams Institute. Twenty-one states plus DC have statutes protecting workers from discrimination based on gender identity.

Justice Samuel Alito, one of the court's conservatives, wrote in his dissent that "even if discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity could be squeezed into some arcane understanding of sex discrimination, the context in which Title VII was enacted would tell us that this is not what the statute's terms were understood to mean at that time."

Meanwhile, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, another conservative on the bench, acknowledged the social and political progress achieved by members of the LGBTQ community, but nonetheless dissented.

"They have advanced powerful policy arguments and can take pride in today's result. Under the Constitution's separation of powers, however, I believe that it was Congress's role, not this Court's, to amend Title VII. I therefore must respectfully dissent from the Court's judgment," Kavanaugh wrote.

A number of LGBTQ groups celebrated the court's ruling on Monday, including the Human Rights Campaign, whose president, Alphonso David, said in a tweet that the decision is a "landmark victory for #LGBTQ equality."

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president of the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, said in a statement that the decision "is a step towards affirming the dignity of transgender people, and all LGBTQ people."
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called the ruling "a momentous step forward for our country."

Remainder of article and video:

Source: CNN

message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
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 Expands Religious-School Exemption From Civil-Rights Laws

Ruling is latest in a series of decisions elevating the role of religious exercise and sectarian institutions in American society

Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

By JESS BRAVIN July 8, 2020

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Wednesday expanded religious schools’ exemption from civil-rights laws, the latest in a series of decisions elevating the role of religious exercise and sectarian institutions in American society.

The court, by a 7-2 vote, ruled that the First Amendment’s religion clauses immunize the schools from discrimination claims filed by teachers alleging they were fired because of age or disability. As religious institutions, the court found, the schools cannot be second-guessed by judges or juries regarding dismissal of teachers who help propagate the church’s beliefs.

“The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court. “Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh joined the opinion.

The court’s two most liberal members dissented.

“Two employers fired their employees allegedly because one had breast cancer and the other was elderly,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She challenged the majority’s view that “because the employees taught short religion modules at Catholic elementary schools, they were ‘ministers’ of the Catholic faith and thus could be fired for any reason, whether religious or nonreligious, benign or bigoted, without legal recourse.”

Federal courts long have recognized a “ministerial exception” to antidiscrimination laws, reasoning that religious-freedom rights bar the government from a role in selecting members of the clergy, even indirectly by allowing private lawsuits over practices that are illegal in other workplaces.

In 2012, the Supreme Court itself recognized the ministerial exception, and found that it applied to a teacher at a Lutheran school who had received religious training and been granted the title “Minister of Religion, Commissioned.” The unanimous decision meant the teacher couldn’t file a discrimination claim.

The new ruling expands that principle to lay teachers who perform “important religious functions,” such as parochial-school teachers who provide instruction in the Catholic religion alongside other subjects.

This 2009 photo provided by the Biel family, shows the late Kristen Biel, at her graduation party, with her husband Darryl Biel and their two children, Dylan and Delaney.

“What matters, at bottom, is what an employee does,” Justice Alito wrote, not the formal title she carries. “In a country with the religious diversity of the United States, judges cannot be expected to have a complete understanding and appreciation of the role played by every person who performs a particular role in every religious tradition. A religious institution’s explanation of the role of such employees in the life of the religion in question is important.”

The decision involves separate lawsuits by teachers alleging disability or age discrimination by parochial schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In one case, St. James School in Torrance, Calif., declined to renew teacher Kristen Biel’s contract after she told superiors she had contracted breast cancer and required time off for treatment. She died in 2019 and her widower continued the lawsuit.

The other case was filed by Agnes Morrissey-Berru, whose contract wasn’t renewed by Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Hermosa Beach, Calif., after she entered her 60s.

“Both their schools expressly saw them as playing a vital part in carrying out the mission of the church, and the schools’ definition and explanation of their roles is important,” Justice Alito wrote.

The decision is the second victory for religious schools as the high court’s term winds down. Last week, the court, voting 5-4 along conservative-liberal lines, held that a state tax-credit program for private schools must be opened to religious schools, despite a state constitution provision barring public support for church schools.

Link to article:


Uncertain Justice The Roberts Court and the Constitution by Laurence H. Tribe by Laurence H. Tribe (no photo)

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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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

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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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