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Thread: Notable & Ignoble Supreme Court rulings

  1. #31
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    Supreme Court leaves asylum status intact...

    U.S. top court leaves intact ruling against Central America asylum seekers
    Mon Apr 17, 2017 | The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped a turbulent debate over illegal immigration on Monday, turning away an appeal by a group of asylum-seeking Central American women and their children who aimed to clarify the constitutional rights of people who the government has prioritized for deportation.
    The families, 28 women and 33 children ages 2 to 17 from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, had hoped the justices would overturn a lower court's ruling preventing them from having their expedited removal orders reviewed by a federal judge. That Philadelphia-based court said the status of the families, all apprehended in Texas and later held in Pennsylvania, was akin to non-citizens who are denied entry at the border and they were not entitled to a court hearing to challenge that decision.

    Immigration has become an even hotter topic than usual in the United States since President Donald Trump took office in January. His administration has ordered construction of a border wall with Mexico intended to curb illegal immigration, and plans to expand the number of people targeted for expedited removal, a process that applies to non-citizens lacking valid entry documents. The families have said they were escaping threats, violence and police authorities unable or unwilling to help in their home countries.


    A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S.

    Lead plaintiff Rosa Castro fled El Salvador to escape years of rape, beatings and emotional abuse by the father of her son, who was 6 years old when they arrived in the United States in 2015, according to court papers. Lesly Cruz, who also arrived in 2015, fled Honduras to protect her daughter from sexual assault by members of the Mara Salvatrucha armed gang, the court papers said. The families were apprehended in Texas within hours of illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. After claiming asylum, they were determined by immigration judges to lack "credible fear" of persecution, and placed in expedited removal proceedings.

    The families were detained at Berks County Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania, where 12 women and their children remain. The others have been released under orders of supervision, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing them. The women challenged in federal court the rejection of their asylum claims, alleging a violation of their right to due process under the U.S. Constitution.

    In August, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said they may be treated the same way as non-citizens seeking initial admission to the United States, who do not have any constitutional rights of review if denied entry. The women appealed to the Supreme Court. There has been a 93 percent drop since December of parents and children caught trying to cross the Mexican border illegally into the United States, which U.S. officials attribute to the Trump administration's tough policies.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-us...-idUSKBN17J11W

  2. #32
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    Red face

    SCOTUS scuppers NC voter ID law...
    U.S. Supreme Court Effectively Kills N.C.’s Voter ID Law
    May 15, 2017 | Liberal activists are celebrating the end of North Carolina's 2013 election law, which required photo ID at the polls; eliminated same-day voter registration; and reduced the state’s early-voting period by one week.
    On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a federal appeals court decision that found North Carolina’s election law discriminated against African-Americans. The Supreme Court refusal means North Carolina has exhausted all its appeals, and the 2016 ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stands. “This law, enacted with what the appeals court called discriminatory intent and ‘almost surgical precision’ targeting African-American voters, is meeting its much-deserved demise,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “An ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing.” “We are grateful that the Supreme Court has decided to allow the Fourth Circuit’s ruling to stand, confirming that discrimination has no place in our democracy and elections,” said Allison Riggs, senior staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “This ruling sends a strong message that lawmakers in North Carolina should stop enacting laws that discriminate based on race.”

    The Democrat National Committee cheered the end of what it called a “racist” law. “That’s why we’re creating a voter protection and empowerment unit at the DNC to stand up and resist the ongoing assault on the right to vote from Trump and the GOP,” Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement on Monday. “We can’t trust Trump, Jeff Sessions, or anyone in this administration to protect access to the ballot box. Today, democracy triumphed over discrimination.” Last year, when a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the election law, Republican leaders of the North Carolina Legislature wrote: “Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina's law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election.”

    Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) also said the voter ID law would have ensured that any North Carolina citizen who wants to vote would have that opportunity. The law would have established a list of valid government-issued photo IDs that voters could present at their polling places; allowed anyone without a photo ID to obtain one at no cost through the Department of Motor Vehicles; and allowed anyone who still had difficulty obtaining a valid ID to fill out a reasonable impediment affidavit and still have their vote counted. It also would have aligned North Carolina with other states on matters of same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting. “More than 30 other states have voter ID requirements, and a similar law was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 2008,” Berger and Moore noted last July.

    They also said opponents of the law “failed to produce a single witness who would be unable to vote under the law in court.” President Trump carried North Carolina in the November election, getting around 50 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 46 percent.

    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/...s-voter-id-law

  3. #33
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    Means ya can refill yer own inkjet cartridges...

    Opinion analysis: Federal Circuit loses again, as justices categorically reject enforcement of post-sale patent restrictions
    Tue, May 30th, 2017 » Looking for a landmark ruling on patent exhaustion, the patent community got just that in the Supreme Court’s decision this morning in Impression Products, Inc. v Lexmark International, Inc.
    The court has been deciding a steady diet of patent cases for much of the last decade and has been rejecting the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s rulings in those cases almost routinely; the Federal Circuit is now 0 for 5 in the current term, by far the worst record of any of the federal courts of appeals. Most of those decisions reflect a cautious reluctance on the part of the court to say more than is necessary to decide the case before it, founded on an evident reluctance to wreak far-reaching and destabilizing consequences on the innovative markets for which patent doctrine is so important. In this case, by contrast, the opinion of Chief Justice John Roberts displays a confident and assertive verve, full of quotable maxims certain to populate the U.S. Reports for decades to come. More surprisingly, the opinion attracted the votes of all the eight active justices except for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (who dissented only from the court’s resolution of the cross-border question discussed at the end of the post).

    The case involves the doctrine of “exhaustion,” under which a patentholder’s rights to enforce its patent ordinarily are “exhausted” with regard to any particular object at the moment the patentholder sells the object. As applied to this case, for example, Lexmark’s rights to control the use of its patented refillable print cartridges would be “exhausted” when it sells those cartridges to retail buyers, even if Lexmark conditions the sale on the promise that the buyer will not refill the cartridge. That, at any rate, is the argument of Impression Products, which makes a business out of refilling Lexmark cartridges in violation of those agreements. Lexmark’s argument, by contrast, supported by a quarter-century of Federal Circuit precedent, is that modern commerce requires that innovators have the flexibility to devise contracting structures that segment the market into separate sectors, each of which gets a different price commensurate with the uses to which products will be put in that sector.


    The Supreme Court bench, with Justice Breyer absent, as opinions are announced in four cases

    The court could hardly have been more unequivocal in its broad embrace of a mandatory doctrine of exhaustion. For the court, the doctrine seemed to devolve ineluctably from the first principles of the law of patents: When a patentee chooses to sell an item, that product is no longer within the limits of the monopoly and instead becomes the private, individual property of the purchaser, with the rights and benefits that come along with ownership. A patentee is free to set the price and negotiate contracts with purchasers, but may not, by virtue of his patent, control the use or disposition of the product after ownership passes to the purchaser. The sale terminates all patent rights to that item. The court praised the “impeccable historic pedigree” of the exhaustion doctrine, tracing its lineage back to the common law’s refusal to permit restraints on the alienation of chattels.” With a flourish of rhetorical excess, the court suggested that post-sale conditions on alienation “have been hateful to the law from Lord Coke’s day to ours and are obnoxious to the public interest. The inconvenience and annoyance to the public that an opposite conclusion would occasion are too obvious to require illustration.”

    Dialing down the tone a bit, the court went on to add wryly that “an illustration never hurts,” following up with a folksy anecdote about “a shop that restores and sells used cars.” For the justices, that “business works because the shop can rest assured that, so long as those bringing in the cars own them, the shop is free to repair and resell those vehicles.” Uninfluenced by the claims in the briefing that more reticulated contracting structures are integral to modern technology industries, the court concluded that “extending the patent rights beyond the first sale would clog the channels of commerce, with little benefit from the extra control that the patentees retain.” The court pointedly noted that “increasingly complex supply chains [well might] magnify the problem,” offering a citation to an amicus brief suggesting that a “generic smartphone … could practice an estimated 250,000 patents.”

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    Uncle Ferd says, "Yeah - but dey protect Muslims' faith like Hasan of Ft. Hood...

    Supreme Court Rejects Appeal From Marine Over Religious Liberty
    5 Jun 2017 - At issue was the extent a federal law on religious freedom protects members of the armed forces.
    The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a former Marine who was court-martialed in part for expressing her Christian faith in the workplace. Lower courts had concluded orders from her military superiors did not constitute a "substantial burden" on her First Amendment rights. The justices on Monday upheld her court-martial without comment. At issue was the extent a federal law on religious freedom protects members of the armed forces like Monifa Sterling, who continued posting biblical verses at her desk, despite orders from a superior that she remove them. The intersection of free speech on government property, especially within a military context, made this appeal closely watched by a number of advocates on both sides of the debate.

    The First Liberty Institute, which represented Sterling, lamented the Supreme Court's call on Monday. "Because the Supreme Court did not decide to review the case, the travesty below by the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces will now stand," Kelly Shackelford, CEO and chief counsel for First Liberty, said in a statement. "The military court's outrageous decision means federal judges and military officials can strip our service members of their constitutional rights just because they don't think someone's religious beliefs are important enough to be protected. Our service members deserve better."


    Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling

    Sterling, who was a lance corporal stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., originally was court-martialed for various offenses relating to separate incidents -- including disrespecting a superior officer, disobeying lawful orders, and failing to report to an assigned duty. But the part of the case that fueled her court challenge involved orders to remove a personalized version of the biblical phrase from Isiah 54:17: "No weapon formed against thee shall prosper." Sterling taped the verses in three spots on her workspace. Court testimony said Sterling's superior repeatedly ordered her to remove the signs -- and when she refused, trashed them.

    In its original 4-1 opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces turned away Sterling's case. "We reject the argument that every interference with a religiously motivated act constitutes a substantial burden on the exercise of religion," the court said. Sterling was ultimately reduced in rank and given a bad-conduct discharge -- and later left the service. Her legal team acknowledged Sterling did not ask for permission to post or repost the verses but called the earlier ruling against her "shameful" and "wrong."

    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2...s-liberty.html

  5. #35
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    Question

    Hate speech doesn't violate the 1st amendment, but disparaging others does...

    Supreme Court: Rejecting trademarks that ‘disparage’ others violates the First Amendment
    June 19,`17 - The federal government has violated the First Amendment by refusing to register trademarks that officials consider disparaging, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday in a decision that provides a boost to the Washington Redskins’ efforts to hang on to the team’s controversial name.
    The ruling came in a case that involved an Asian American rock group called the Slants, which tried to register the band’s name in 2011. The band was turned down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because of a law against registering trademarks that are likely to disparage people or groups. In a ruling against the government, the court said the “disparagement clause” of the federal trademark law was not constitutional, even though it was written evenhandedly, prohibiting trademarks that insult any group. “This provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote in a section of the opinion supported by all participating justices. “It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”

    The ruling — and a second one Monday that struck down a North Carolina law restricting registered sex offenders from social-media sites — bolsters the reputation of the Supreme Court as protector of First Amendment rights. “At a time when some have claimed that speech may and should be regulated or censored if it is offensive, hurtful, or dangerous, the justices’ firm insistence that governments may not silence messages they dislike is noteworthy and important,” Notre Dame law professor Richard W. Garnett said in a statement. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder was more succinct in a statement: “I am THRILLED. Hail to the Redskins.” The team was not involved in the case at hand, although the court several times mentioned an amicus brief filed by the Redskins.


    The case centered on the 1946 Lanham Act, which in part prohibits registration of a trademark that “may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” But the founder of the Slants, Simon Tam, said the point of the band’s name is just the opposite — an attempt to reclaim a slur and use it as “a badge of pride.” In a Facebook post after the decision, Tam wrote: “After an excruciating legal battle that has spanned nearly eight years, we’re beyond humbled and thrilled to have won this case at the Supreme Court. This journey has always been much bigger than our band: it’s been about the rights of all marginalized communities to determine what’s best for ourselves.”

    Tam lost in the first legal rounds. But then a majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the law violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. The government may not “penalize private speech merely because it disapproves of the message it conveys,” a majority of that court found. Free-speech advocates had supported the Slants, and the court’s decision seemed likely from the oral arguments. But some ethnic and minority groups worried about what kinds of trademarks the government would now be forced to register. “It seems this decision will indeed open the floodgates to applications for all sorts of potentially offensive and hateful marks,” said Lisa Simpson, an intellectual-property lawyer in New York. While unified on the bottom line, the two groups of justices wrote separate opinions in support of the ruling.

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    Will Asian American band’s First Amendment argument resonate with Supreme Court?
    January 15,`17 — The government doesn’t know what to make of the Slants, the all Asian American, Chinatown dance-rock band at the center of this term’s most vexing Supreme Court free-speech case.
    One branch of the federal government has for years fought the band’s effort to register a trademark for its cheeky name. In a case going before the justices this week, the Patent and Trademark Office argues that a *decades-old law forbids official recognition of trademarks that “may disparage” members of a particular ethnic group — in the Slants’ case, fellow Asians. But other parts of the government love the Slants. The Defense Department sent the group to Bosnia and Kosovo to entertain troops; MPs were called when the party went on too long.

    The White House is into them, too: The Slants were included in a compilation of Asian American artists that is part of an anti-bullying initiative — “deeply ironic,” says band founder Simon Tam, because the song chosen is “an open letter to the trademark office.” Which must be a first for a Supreme Court plaintiff. At Track Town Records in this college town, where the Slants were putting finishing touches on their new EP, “The Band Who Must Not Be Named,” Tam reflected on the mixed reaction. “One branch of government is celebrating us for our work in the Asian American community, and the other area of government is calling us racist,” he said. “But I’m kind of used to it at this point.”


    Simon Tam says he decided to name his band the Slants because “it would be this play on words — because we could talk about our slant on life, what it’s like to be people of color, to be Asian American.”

    Contradictions abound in the case, Lee v. Tam. For one, a victory for the Slants would be a godsend for the Washington Redskins, whose legal battle to hold on to its revoked trademark has been put on hold pending the outcome. The band members abhor the Washington nickname and wince when the team’s fate is linked to their own. “I don’t want to be associated with Dan Snyder,” Tam said, referring to the team’s owner. Another oddity, at least to the band: The trademark office has registered several versions of the word “slant,” but turned down Tam’s application specifically because of the band’s Asian American connection.

    Some Asian American groups support Tam’s attempt to reappropriate a slur and make it a point of pride, as other artists of color have done. Tam’s cause has united the American Civil Liberties Union and the conservative religious law organization Alliance Defending Freedom. But groups of minority lawyers oppose them, and a coalition of liberal, minority members of Congress say that the First Amendment shouldn’t force the federal government to give a stamp of approval to hateful speech. Today the Slants, the worry goes, tomorrow the n-word.

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    The Donald gets most of what he wanted on travel ban...

    U.S. Supreme Court breathes new life into Trump's travel ban
    Mon Jun 26, 2017 | The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to President Donald Trump by reviving parts of a travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries that he said is needed for national security but that opponents decry as discriminatory.
    The justices narrowed the scope of lower court rulings that had completely blocked key parts of a March 6 executive order that Trump had said was needed to prevent terrorism in the United States, allowing his temporary ban to go into effect for people with no strong ties such as family or business to the United States. [tmsnrt.rs/2seb3bb] The court issued its order on the last day of its current term and agreed to hear oral arguments during its next term starting in October so it can decide finally whether the ban is lawful in a major test of presidential powers.


    U.S. President Donald Trump takes the stage for a rally at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

    In a statement, Trump called the high court's action "a clear victory for our national security," saying the justices allowed the travel suspension to become largely effective. "As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm. I want people who can love the United States and all of its citizens, and who will be hardworking and productive," Trump added. Trump's March 6 order called for a blanket 90-day ban on people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day ban on all refugees while the government implemented stronger vetting procedures. The court allowed a limited version of the refugee ban, which had also been blocked by courts, to go into effect.

    Trump issued the order amid rising international concern about attacks carried out by Islamist militants like those in Paris, London, Brussels, Berlin and other cities. But challengers said no one from the affected countries had carried out attacks in the United States. Federal courts said the travel ban violated federal immigration law and was discriminatory against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Critics called it a discriminatory "Muslim ban." Ahmed al-Nasi, an official in Yemen’s Ministry of Expatriate Affairs, voiced disappointment. "We believe it will not help in confronting terrorism and extremism, but rather will increase the feeling among the nationals of these countries that they are all being targeted, especially given that Yemen is an active partner of the United States in the war on terrorism and that there are joint operations against terrorist elements in Yemen," he said.


    A family embraces each other as members arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport after the U.S. Supreme Court granted parts of the Trump administration's emergency request to put its travel ban into effect later in the week pending judicial review in the autumn, in Dulles, Virginia

    Groups that challenged the ban, including the American Civil Liberties Union, said that most people from the affected countries seeking entry to the United States would have the required connections. But they voiced concern the administration would interpret the ban as broadly as it could. "It's going to be very important for us over this intervening period to make sure the government abides by the terms of the order and does not try to use it as a back door into implementing the full-scale Muslim ban that it's been seeking to implement," said Omar Jadwat, an ACLU lawyer. During the 2016 presidential race, Trump campaigned for "a total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the United States. The travel ban was a signature policy of Trump's first few months as president.

    'BONA FIDE RELATIONSHIP'




    U.S. top court backs church in major religious rights case
    Mon Jun 26, 2017 | Churches and other religious entities cannot be flatly denied public money even in states where constitutions explicitly ban such funding, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a major religious rights case that narrows the separation of church and state.
    The justices, in a 7-2 ruling, sided with Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, which sued after being denied access to a state grant program that helps nonprofit groups buy rubber playground surfaces made from recycled tires. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court's majority, said that "the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, solely because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution" and "cannot stand." Missouri's constitution prohibits "any church, sect or denomination of religion" or clergy member from receiving state money, language that goes further than the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state.


    Activists rally outside U.S. Supreme Court after the Court sided with Trinity Lutheran Church, which objected to being denied public money in Missouri, in Washington

    Three-quarters of the U.S. states have provisions similar to Missouri's barring funding for religious entities. Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion saying the court had swept away legal precedents that allow for limits on state funding of churches. Fellow liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg also dissented. "This case is about nothing less than the relationship between religious institutions and the civil government - that is between church and state. The court today profoundly changes that relationship by holding for the first time that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church," Sotomayor wrote.

    The ruling could help religious organizations nationwide win public dollars at least for certain purposes, such as health and safety. It also could buttress the case for using publicly funded vouchers to send children to religious schools rather than public schools. A challenge to a 2015 court decision invalidating a Colorado voucher program is pending before the justices, awaiting the Trinity Lutheran case's outcome. The court could act on that case as soon as Tuesday. Republican President Donald Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is a prominent supporter of such "school choice" plans. Roberts, in a footnote in the ruling, said, "This case involves express discrimination based on religious identity with respect to playground resurfacing. We do not address religious uses of funding or other forms of discrimination."


    A police officer stands outside the U.S. Supreme Court building after the Court sided with Trinity Lutheran Church, which objected to being denied public money in Missouri, in Washington

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer called the ruling a "significant victory for religious liberty and an affirmation of the First Amendment rights of all Americans." "This ruling reaffirms that the government cannot discriminate against individuals or organizations simply because they or their members hold religious beliefs," Spicer added. The dispute pitted two provisions of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment against each other: the guarantee of the free exercise of religion and the Establishment Clause, which requires the separation of church and state. The discrimination against religious exercise in this case was Missouri's refusal to allow Trinity Lutheran "solely because it is a church" to compete with secular organizations for a grant, Roberts wrote. Trinity Lutheran, which runs a preschool and daycare center, had wanted a safer surface for its playground.

    'COMMONSENSE PRINCIPLE'

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