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The United States Supreme Court


The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. federal court cases, and over state court cases that involve a point of federal law. It also has original jurisdiction over a narrow range of cases, specifically "all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party." The court holds the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution. It is also able to strike down presidential directives for violating either the Constitution or statutory law. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The court may decide cases having political overtones but has ruled that it does not have power to decide non-justiciable political questions.

Established by Article Three of the United States Constitution, the composition and procedures of the Supreme Court were initially established by the 1st Congress through the Judiciary Act of 1789. As later set by the Judiciary Act of 1869, the court consists of the chief justice of the United States and eight associate justices. Each justice has lifetime tenure, meaning they remain on the court until they die, retire, resign, or are removed from office. When a vacancy occurs, the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoints a new justice. Each justice has a single vote in deciding the cases argued before the court. When in majority, the chief justice decides who writes the opinion of the court; otherwise, the most senior justice in the majority assigns the task of writing the opinion.

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10/4/2022, 11:18 am Link to this post Email Miz Robbie   PM Miz Robbie Blog
 
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Re: The United States Supreme Court


Moved from the January 6 Committee Hearings thread

CooterBrown44
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10/4/2022, 11:57 am

I mulled about where to put this, so here it is.

The Supreme Court Isn’t Listening, and It’s No Secret Why.

quote:

The Supreme Court’s authority within the American political system is both immense and fragile. Somebody has to provide the last word in interpreting the Constitution, and — this is the key — to do so in a way that is seen as fair and legitimate by the people at large.

What happens when a majority of Americans don’t see it that way?

A common response to this question is to say the justices shouldn’t care. They aren’t there to satisfy the majority or to be swayed by the shifting winds of public opinion. That is partly true: The court’s most important obligations include safeguarding the constitutional rights of vulnerable minorities who can’t always count on protection from the political process and acting independently of political interests.

But in the bigger picture, the court nearly always hews close to where the majority of the American people are. If it does diverge, it should take care to do so in a way that doesn’t appear partisan. That is the basis of the trust given to the court by the public.

That trust, in turn, is crucial to the court’s ability to exercise the vast power Americans have granted it. The nine justices have no control over money, as Congress does, or force, as the executive branch does. All they have is their black robes and the public trust. A court that does not keep that trust cannot perform its critical role in American government.

And yet as the justices prepare to open a new term on Monday, fewer Americans have confidence in the court than ever before recorded. In a Gallup poll taken in June, before the court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, only 25 percent of respondents said they had a high degree of confidence in the institution. That number is down from 50 percent in 2001 — just months after the court’s hugely controversial 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, in which a majority consisting only of Republican appointees effectively decided the result of the 2000 election in favor of the Republicans. This widespread lack of confidence and trust in the nation’s highest court is a crisis, and rebuilding it is more important than the outcome of any single ruling.

Chief Justice John Roberts recently suggested that the court’s low public opinion is nothing more than sour grapes by those on the short end of recent rulings. “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court,” he said in remarks at a judicial conference earlier in September.

This is disingenuous. The court’s biggest decisions have always angered one group of people or another. Conservatives were upset, for instance, by the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education, which barred racial segregation in schools, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, liberals were infuriated by Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates to dark money in politics. But overall public confidence in the court remained high until recently.

The actual cause of its historic unpopularity is no secret. Over the past several years, the court has been transformed into a judicial arm of the Republican Party. This project was taking shape more quietly for decades, but it shifted into high gear in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to let Barack Obama choose his successor, obliterating the practice of deferring to presidents to fill vacancies on the court. Within four years, the court had a 6-to-3 right-wing supermajority, supercharging the Republican appointees’ efforts to discard the traditions and processes that have allowed the court to appear fair and nonpartisan.

As a result, the court’s legitimacy has been squandered in the service of partisan victories. The Dobbs decision in June, which overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminated American women’s constitutional right to control their own bodies and was a priority of the Republican Party for decades, is only the most glaring example. In cases involving money in politics, partisan gerrymandering and multiple suits challenging the Voting Rights Act, the court has ruled in ways that make it easier for Republicans and harder for Democrats to win elections. In 2018, the court ruled that public sector labor unions violated the First Amendment rights of nonmembers by requiring them to pay fees to support the unions’ work bargaining on their behalf, after decades of rulings in which the court had found the opposite to be true. That ruling further weakened organized labor, another Republican goal.

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For most of the court’s history, it was difficult to predict how a case would turn out based on the party of the president who nominated the justices. Even into the 21st century, as the country grew more polarized, the court’s rulings remained largely in line with the views of the average American voter. That is no longer the case. The court’s rulings are now in line with the views of the average Republican voter.

In the process, the court has unmoored itself from both the Constitution it is sworn to protect and the American people it is privileged to serve. This could not be happening at a worse moment. Election deniers in the Republican Party are undermining the integrity of the American electoral system. Right-wing political violence is a present and growing threat.

It is precisely during times like these that the American people need the Supreme Court to play the role Chief Justice Roberts memorably articulated at his own confirmation hearing — that of an umpire calling balls and strikes, ensuring a fair playing field for all. Instead, the court’s right-wingers are calling balls for one team and strikes for the other.

As Justice Elena Kagan said in a talk this month at Northwestern University School of Law, “When courts become extensions of the political process, when people see them as extensions of the political process, when people see them as trying just to impose personal preferences on a society irrespective of the law, that’s when there’s a problem — and that’s when there ought to be a problem.”

The way the court went about eliminating the federal right to abortion is a prime example of this misuse of its power. First, the right-wing justices used the court’s “shadow docket,” which refers to orders issued in response to emergency applications without open hearings or any public explanation, to allow an obviously unconstitutional anti-abortion law in Texas to stand. They also agreed to hear a separate challenge out of Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that didn’t formally ask them to overturn Roe v. Wade. When they chose to do so anyway, the majority opinion, by Justice Samuel Alito, cherry-picked its historical examples and dismissed Roe as “egregiously wrong,” disdaining the work of earlier justices who had weighed the same constitutional questions carefully for decades.

As the dissent in Dobbs noted: “The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason: because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them. The majority thereby substitutes a rule by judges for the rule of law.”

In the coming months, the court will decide cases on affirmative action, the Voting Rights Act (yet again) and the power of state legislatures to ignore their own constitutions and even their voters. The rulings in these cases could dramatically reshape the country’s politics, and Americans should be able to trust that those rulings will be made by an impartial tribunal.

There is no clear solution to this crisis. Legal scholars have put forward many proposals for structural reform — expanding the number of justices, imposing term limits or stripping the court of jurisdiction over certain types of cases — but none are a perfect remedy to the court’s politicization.

In the meantime, it is worth remembering that the court heads only one branch of the federal government. Congress has far more power to counteract bad rulings than it generally uses — by doing its job and passing laws. Codifying the right to an abortion would be the most obvious move, but the court has usurped the role of the legislature on a range of issues, including forced arbitration clauses, campaign finance rules and gun laws.

What would such a response look like? Here’s an example: On the final day of the last term, the right-wing justices hobbled the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to fight climate change by requiring reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Congress responded in August, adding a provision to the Inflation Reduction Act that reinforced the E.P.A.’s authority in this area.

With a few exceptions, the Supreme Court rarely has been at the forefront of making America a more equal place. But we are not consigned to living under the thumb of a reactionary juristocracy. To the contrary, the meaning of the Constitution is far more than what the court decrees; it is the result of an ongoing conversation between the court and the American people. Those who protested the loss of their rights after the Dobbs decision, and those who showed their determination to protect those rights, as voters did in Kansas in August, are speaking directly to the court. When the justices stop listening, as they have at other moments in history, the people’s voices will eventually become too loud for them to ignore.



Source

Word. I could see this coming as I have pilloried the court for decisions where there is no support in the Constitution for their decision or in previous decisions. It has been busy making political decisions in favor of what is now The Trump Party.

I don't see this as changing during my lifetime and maybe the lifetimes of my children. If there isn't a Democratic President in office the members of the court are relatively young and probably not going to retire if there is. There is also Senator Mitch who if he is a member of the Party in power will drop kick a Democratic President nominee out of the building and be able to hold up one if he isn't.

!@#$. Oaths sworn by attorneys and those elected to positions in Congress and state positions seem to have lost any meanings. I have sworn to probably five when sworn into the military, as an attorney, and at least twice in sworn into being able to practice in various courts. They mean a hell of a lot to me.

Last edited by Miz Robbie, 10/4/2022, 9:20 pm


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Re: The United States Supreme Court


Trump tries yet again to block the Mar-a-Lago investigation.

Read here.

The Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sept. 21 repudiated a decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who had temporarily barred the department from examining the seized classified documents until the special master had weeded out any that could be deemed privileged and withheld from investigators.

The 11th Circuit also prevented the special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, from having access to the documents with classified markings, noting the importance of limiting access to classified information.

Trump's lawyers in Tuesday's filing said Dearie should have access to "determine whether documents bearing classification markings are in fact classified, and regardless of classification, whether those records are personal records or presidential records."


This will be a test of the current Supreme Court.
10/4/2022, 5:47 pm Link to this post Email bricklayer   PM bricklayer Blog
 
Kaunisto Profile
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Re: The United States Supreme Court


Looking from Finland, the SCOTUS is a strange beast. Small number of people, appointed for life - with a bit questionable process - wielding great power by interpreting not only what modernly created laws mean but also ones centuries old.

On the other hand, we have a mess understood probably only by the people involved: Finland has separate Supreme Court and Supreme Administrative Court.
And actually neither of those decides whether a new law is "constitutional"; that's done by Constitutional Committee of the Parliament.

Which is something that has been criticized in Finnish system: we don't have a constitutional court, part of the parliament itself decides whether its actions are constitutional.


A quick related explanation about constitutions. 99% of time when I see the word "constitution" in news it's about US.
I don't think any other country takes their constitution as seriously. (Not sure how many, if any, have one as old.)
For me, the American attitude on constitution seems like almost religious patriotism/nationalism.
I mean, it's not quite written in stone. You could make just one amendment that overturns the first dozen, for example. Not realistically, but basically a constitution is still another law that can be changed, it just has greater requirements for that than normal laws.

I don't think 90% of Finns know when their constitution was written. Heck, I don't remember the exact year. But unlike the 90%, I at least know it was around twenty years ago. Finland got a new constitution due joining EU and adopting Euro as currency - and great majority of people didn't even notice, it was barely news. Just a technicality.
That's how different the attitude on constitution (and supreme court) is here.

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Re: The United States Supreme Court


Wow, Kaunisto, what an interesting perspective.

When you say Finland got a new constitution around 20 years ago, does that mean there was an old constitution that was replaced?

And yes, I think you're right that Americans view ours "like almost religious patriotism/nationalism."

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I agree, Kaunisto, that the professed reverence for a document seems to be an American phenomenon.

Does the Parliament in Finland decide whether a law is Constitutional before it becomes a law?
In the current polarized state of our politics I couldn’t see anything at all being agreed upon as Constitutional by our Legislative branch. Little enough takes place without having to decide the Constitutionality of a law before considering it. And, if there were a unified government, the possibility of mischief would be present, with the fox guarding the henhouse. The idea of Checks and Balances, when functional, is a hedge against the authoritarianism that could result from one Party control.

Right now the viability of this Constitution is being tested in a way that I’ve not seen in my 75+ years.

Last edited by bricklayer, 10/6/2022, 12:08 pm
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Re: The United States Supreme Court


quote:

When you say Finland got a new constitution around 20 years ago, does that mean there was an old constitution that was replaced?

I believe the original constitution was made 1919 - although several times slightly edited/amended since, but I'm assuming this was only time it has been completely replaced by new one. There were that many issues about the EU membership and abandoning our own currency that it was probably bureaucratically more sensible to make a whole new one (thus voiding all laws that directly referred to old constitution).

I assume replacing constitution needed 5/6 of parliament (plus president) to approve it.
quote:

Does the Parliament in Finland decide whether a law is Constitutional before it becomes a law?

My educated guess is that when a law is proposed, some number of MPs (maybe 5, 10? out of 200) can demand the committee to give statement on constitutionality before voting for the approval of the law.

Looking at the current constitutional committee, I'm assuming the 17 members come from parliament parties relative to seats.
(This and various other parliament committees are named after elections, every four years.)
Which is kind of questionable in the sense that thus the parties in majority that forms current government will practically always have also majority in the constitutional committee.

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Re: The United States Supreme Court


Nice posts by Kannusto. They are very interesting.
10/6/2022, 10:36 am Link to this post Email CooterBrown44   PM CooterBrown44 Blog
 
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“We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt,” Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a Dec. 31, 2020, email to Trump’s legal team. Chesebro contended that Thomas would be “our only chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress.”
“I think I agree with this,” attorney John Eastman replied later that morning, suggesting that a favorable move by Thomas or other justices would “kick the Georgia legislature into gear” to help overturn the election results.

Link

Do you think the attorneys took that view in light of the fact that Justice Thomas is the spouse of Ginni Thomas, an activist who was at the same time making efforts to have the election results overturned? Would that meet the bar of, “the mere appearance of impropriety”? The fact that this was even being considered demonstrates the tenuous hold we have on Democracy.

Last edited by bricklayer, 11/2/2022, 3:56 pm
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Re: The United States Supreme Court


quote:

bricklayer wrote:

Do you think the attorneys took that view in light of the fact that Justice Thomas is the spouse of Ginni Thomas, an activist who was at the same time making efforts to have the election results overturned? Would that meet the bar of, “the mere appearance of impropriety”? The fact that this was even being considered demonstrates the tenuous hold we have on Democracy.



It's downright frightening.

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Justice Samuel Alito considers it deeply unfair that the Supreme Court is losing legitimacy in the public’s eye. He told The Wall Street Journal recently: “It goes without saying that everyone is free to express disagreement with our decisions and to criticize our reasoning as they see fit. But saying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line.”

Indeed, it does. It crosses the line into reality. The simple fact is that Americans increasingly mistrust the court. According to a recent Gallup poll, fewer than half of the Americans surveyed had “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the judiciary. This is a remarkable 15-point drop over the last two years ago. It’s the poorest showing for the judicial branch in the history of Gallup polling.

Perhaps worse yet, Justice Alito suggests that this is the result of substantive disagreement with the court’s decisions (in particular the abortion decision in Dobbs earlier this year). Chief Justice John Roberts made a similar statement at a conference for judges in Colorado Springs this summer: “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for questioning the legitimacy of the court.”

With great respect to the two jurists, they are misdiagnosing the cause of the problem. The American people are not throwing a petulant tantrum over a single case. There are several deeper, more systemic, reasons for the declining respect for the court.


The arrogance of Alito is disgraceful, but the culture of the Court is no better. The air of superiority and rejection of an ethical code to which they must adhere should give every American a cause to reflect. These people are appointed for life, there must be a standard to which they are held. They are, after all, public servants.

I think this is an interesting read.
11/21/2022, 4:27 pm Link to this post Email bricklayer   PM bricklayer Blog
 
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Re: The United States Supreme Court


Mr Justice Alito should look in the mirror if he wants a hint at the cause of this.

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