Tuesday, May 27, 2014

SCOTUS decisions today, with more shortly

Ahead of the early results from the Texas primaries today -- here's another summary in advance of all the action across the state -- the Supreme Court released their judgments in a few cases, with more in the offing.

As the Supreme Court heads towards the stretch run in June, two significant cases about President Barack Obama’s policies remain unsettled.

In all, there are 10 major case decisions yet to be announced, and just five announcement days officially on the Court’s calendar. But in past years, the Court has added extra decision days as needed.

On Tuesday morning, the Court announced four new opinions, but missing from the list were two major ones that will affect the Obama administration.

The Court has already announced decisions this term about prayers at public government meetings, affirmative action programs, and financing federal political campaigns. Among the other big decisions remaining are two that relate to White House policy. Here is a rundown of the major cases...

Detail on the cases involving Obama's recess appointments, the Hobby Lobby 'religious freedom' to deny employees birth control, and others pending can be found at that link.  There were two decisions handed down earlier today; one was about whether states can execute the mentally deficient.

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that states must look beyond an intelligence test score in borderline cases of mental disability to determine whether a death row inmate is eligible to be executed.

The justices said in a 5-4 decision that Florida and a handful of other states cannot rely solely on an IQ score above 70 to bar an inmate from claiming mental disability. Justice Anthony Kennedy said for the court that IQ tests have a margin of error, and those inmates whose scores fall within the margin must be allowed to present other evidence of mental disability.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, swingin' again.

Kennedy said states must give inmates the chance to present evidence of mental disability in borderline cases.

"The states are laboratories for experimentation, but those experiments may not deny the basic dignity the Constitution protects," Kennedy said in an opinion that was joined by the court's four more liberal justices.

You might recall the recent Texas death row inmate whose execution was stayed by the Fifth CCA just a couple of weeks ago for this very reason.  Neither Texas nor the Fifth Circuit is renowned for their compassion in this regard, so it seems the laws prohibiting states from killing the retarded is holding firm.  Local attorney Paul Kennedy's blog actively follows the developments around death penalty cases; among them recently, the Missouri death sentence which was postponed in the wake of the botched Oklahoma state execution.

The other decision announced today was a free speech case.  For that, Socratic Gadfly -- under the header 'SCOTUS further guts the First Amendment' -- and those goddamned "free speech zones" that W used to corral protestors at his re-election convention.

This time, all nine justices were involved, ruling that, in 2004, the Secret Service didn't violate the First Amendment when it moved demonstrators rallying against President George W. Bush further away from him than pro-Bush demonstrators.

Here's the full ruling, which describes exactly why the Secret Service violated the most overlooked part of the First Amendment, the right to assembly:
When the President made a last-minute decision to have dinner at the outdoor patio area of the Jacksonville Inn’s restaurant before resuming the drive to the cottage, the protesters moved to an area in front of the Inn, which placed them within weapons range of the President. The supporters remained in their original location, where a two-story building blocked sight of, and weapons access to, the patio. At the direction of two Secret Service agents responsible for the President’s security, petitioners here (the agents), local police cleared the area where the protesters had gathered, eventually moving them two blocks away to a street beyond weapons reach of the President. The agents did not require the guests already inside the Inn to leave, stay clear of the patio, or go through a security screening.
And, that's the discrimination part. It assumes that nobody in the restaurant would be a protestor. It also assumes that protestors, as a group, would be more likely to be disposed to violence than the general population. And said ideas run throughout the ruling.

Gadfly excoriates the liberal wing of the Court for following along down this slippery slope.

He is correct; the First and the Fourth (protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures -- such as your online activity and what's on your smartphone) and other constitutional civil liberties that were trashed by the Bush administration are now being codified by Bush's Supreme Court appointees.  And Obama's.

That is a revolting development.

I sure hope neither he nor I are on that list that Glenn Greenwald is going to make public soon.  Because if we aren't already, we may get added to it in short order.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

And, Ginsburg, supposedly the most liberal of the liberal wing, authored that opinion. God, it's all dreck.