SCOTUStalk Heads To The Ballot Box: The Supreme Court And The 2020 Election

from SCOTUSblog Ever since Bush v. Gore, the case that effectively decided the 2000 presidential race, the Supreme Court increasingly has been asked to intervene in fraught disputes over election procedures. Add in a pandemic, and the 2020 election season promises to be unprecedented. This week on SCOTUStalk, SCOTUSblog’s social media editor, Katie Barlow, joins Amy Howe to break down the court’s influence on the election. They survey major election-related rulings the justices have already handed down this summer and preview what role the court might play in the run-up to Election Day – and, potentially, the weeks afterward. Katie […]

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Supreme Court Rules Georgia Can’t Put The Law Behind A Paywall

from ars technica A narrowly divided US Supreme Court on Monday upheld the right to freely share the official law code of Georgia. The state claimed to own the copyright for the Official Code of Georgia Annotated and sued a nonprofit called Public.Resource.Org for publishing it online. Monday’s ruling is not only a victory for the open-government group, it’s an important precedent that will help secure the right to publish other legally significant public documents. “Officials empowered to speak with the force of law cannot be the authors of—and therefore cannot copyright—the works they create in the course of their official […]

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Justices To Consider Constitutionality Of CFPB Structure

from SCOTUSblog The congressional commission that investigated the 2008 financial crisis concluded that the United States’ consumer-protection system was “too fragmented to be effective.” In response to that finding, in 2010 Congress created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as part of the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB – whose website describes the bureau as a “U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly” – is led by one director appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate to serve a five-year term; once the director has been confirmed, the president can only remove […]

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Can the Members of the Electoral College Choose Who They Vote For?

from The Brennan Center Every presidential election brings renewed debate about the Electoral College. The discussion resonates even more this year, since Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016 despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million. Most of the Democratic presidential candidates want to abolish the Electoral College to ensure the person with the most votes always wins. Changing to direct election of the president could be accomplished through a constitutional amendment or, less permanently, a method such as the National Popular Vote Compact, an agreement among states to award their electoral votes to the candidate who wins […]

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Mapping Metaphors To Fight Surveillance

from PEN America How do we use language to describe surveillance? As an organization that promotes literature and defends freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, PEN is especially concerned about the effect of mass surveillance on creative freedom. We fought U.S. government surveillance all the way to the Supreme Court in the case Amnesty v. Clapper, and our report Chilling Effects documented that U.S. government surveillance is causing one out of six writers to self-censor their research and writing. We may never know how many ideas are being lost every day because of these programs. Judges and legislators are increasingly […]

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Why R.B.G. Matters

from NYTs For the judicial icon otherwise known as R.B.G., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s past few roller-coaster months have included being lionized by Hollywood, laid low by cancer surgery, and most recently issuing one of the Supreme Court term’s more important decisions, placing limits on civil forfeiture, within a day of returning to the bench. People who know almost nothing about the court and can’t name another justice know her name. In a celebrity-saturated age, she is one of the culture’s most unlikely rock stars. Yet for all the accolades that have come her way, I’m willing to bet that […]

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Awarding Punitive Damages Against Foreign States Is Dangerous and Counterproductive

from Lawfare The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held recently that Syria is liable for the death of American war correspondent Marie Colvin and awarded Colvin’s family $302.5 million—$2.5 million in compensatory damages and $300 million in punitive damages. Colvin was killed in Syria when President Bashar Assad’s forces bombed the Baba Amr Media Center in Homs while she was in the facility. Judge Amy Berman Jackson found that the bombardment amounted to Syria’s engaging in extrajudicial killing and, therefore, the Syrian regime could and should be liable under the terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities […]

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Majority Appears Ready To Uphold “Separate Sovereigns” Doctrine

from SCOTUSblog When Terance Gamble was pulled over by police in Alabama three years ago for having a faulty headlight, he probably didn’t think that prosecutors would make a federal case out of it. And he certainly wouldn’t have imagined that his case would make national headlines – not so much for its own sake, but because of what a win for Gamble might mean for prosecutions arising from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. Both of these things did happen, but after nearly 80 minutes of oral argument this morning, Gamble seemed […]

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Justices Add Three New Cases To This Term’s Docket

from SCOTUSblog This afternoon the justices announced that they had granted review in three new cases, involving issues ranging from patent and bankruptcy law to the federal law governing sex offenders. The justices did not act on several high-profile petitions for review, including a dispute over a cross on public land in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and a challenge to mandatory bar dues for lawyers. More orders from the justices’ private conference today are expected on Monday morning at 9:30 a.m., although the justices are unlikely to add any new cases to their docket with those orders. More here.

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In Carpenter Case, Justice Sotomayor Tries to Picture the Smartphone Future

from The New Yorker “I am not beyond the belief that someday a provider could turn on my cell phone and listen to my conversations,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said on Wednesday, in the oral arguments in the case of Timothy Ivory Carpenter v. United States. She is correct; indeed, there have been indications that that day may have already arrived. And yet the government argued that when prosecutors—without a warrant—looked at some of the most intimate information that a cell-phone company can collect about its customers, they were not doing anything distinctly intrusive. The Carpenter case began with a string of […]

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Supreme Court Will Decide The Fate Of Your Digital Privacy

from Axios The future of digital privacy is up for grabs today at the Supreme Court, as the justices hear arguments in a landmark case about whether police can track the location of a cell phone without a warrant. Why it matters: The tech industry’s most powerful companies argue that if police can access this information without a warrant, hardly anything will ever be private again. The justices clearly share some of those concerns — but their personal understanding of modern technology is on a collision course with the court’s past rulings.  The big picture: The Supreme Court has ruled […]

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The Supreme Court Is Allergic To Math

from FiveThirtyEight The Supreme Court does not compute. Or at least some of its members would rather not. The justices, the most powerful jurists in the land, seem to have a reluctance — even an allergy — to taking math and statistics seriously. For decades, the court has struggled with quantitative evidence of all kinds in a wide variety of cases. Sometimes justices ignore this evidence. Sometimes they misinterpret it. And sometimes they cast it aside in order to hold on to more traditional legal arguments. (And, yes, sometimes they also listen to the numbers.) Yet the world itself is […]

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Justices Weigh Immunity for Corporations in Human Rights Cases Abroad

from NYTs The Supreme Court, which has already placed strict limits on lawsuits brought in federal court based on human rights abuses abroad, seemed open on Wednesday to barring such suits entirely when the defendants are corporations. The case concerned Arab Bank, which is based in Jordan and operates in about 30 countries. It has been accused of processing financial transactions through a branch in New York for groups linked to terrorism. The plaintiffs in the case seek to hold the bank liable for attacks by Hamas and other groups in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. Jeffrey L. Fisher, […]

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How Computers Turned Gerrymandering Into a Science

from NYTs About as many Democrats live in Wisconsin as Republicans do. But you wouldn’t know it from the Wisconsin State Assembly, where Republicans hold 65 percent of the seats, a bigger majority than Republican legislators enjoy in conservative states like Texas and Kentucky. The United States Supreme Court is trying to understand how that happened. On Tuesday, the justices heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, reviewing a three-judge panel’s determination that Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn district map is so flagrantly gerrymandered that it denies Wisconsinites their full right to vote. A long list of elected officials, representing both parties, have […]

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The Supreme Court’s New Term

from The Economist A YEAR ago the Supreme Court returned to work one judge down, as Senate Republicans refused to consider Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia. On October 2nd, when all nine seats are once again filled for opening day with Neil Gorsuch, Mr Trump’s choice, perched in the right-most chair, the court will begin a term promising bigger cases, sharper splits and higher hopes for conservatives. How far those hopes are realised will turn on Anthony Kennedy, the longest-serving justice, who sits at the court’s ideological centre. Retirement rumours in June proved premature, but Justice […]

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Gill v. Whitford: Gerrymandering at the Supreme Court

from Brennan Center With Gill v. Whitford, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken the most important case in decades dealing with how Americans are represented in Congress and state legislatures. The case focuses on a Wisconsin legislative map drawn in 2011 by the state’s Republican leadership to give their party a significant, enduring partisan advantage ? essentially, to keep their party in power regardless of the will of the voters. By striking down the state’s map, the Court could finally draw a clear line indicating that some partisan gerrymanders are so extreme and harmful to American democracy as to be unconstitutional. With […]

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Gender Inequality And The Supreme Court

from kottke Tonja Jacobi and Dylan Schweers have published the results of a study they’ve done related to the role of gender in the workings of the Supreme Court. They found that female justices are interrupted much more often by male justices and advocates than male justices are. Our empirical study examines interruptions among justices, and between the justices and the advocates, during Supreme Court oral arguments. It shows that women still do not have an equal opportunity to be heard on the highest court in the land. In fact, as more women join the court, the reaction of the […]

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The Government Gorsuch Wants to Undo

from NYTs At recent Senate hearings to fill the Supreme Court’s open seat, Judge Neil Gorsuch came across as a thoroughly bland and nonthreatening nominee. The idea was to give as little ammunition as possible to opponents when his nomination comes up this week for a vote, one that Senate Democrats may try to upend with a filibuster. But the reality is that Judge Gorsuch embraces a judicial philosophy that would do nothing less than undermine the structure of modern government — including the rules that keep our water clean, regulate the financial markets and protect workers and consumers. In […]

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Supreme Court Presses Apple And Samsung On The Value Of Design

from BuzzFeed Several Supreme Court justices challenged Samsung’s argument on Tuesday that the company should owe Apple less than $399 million for infringing on the design of the iPhone. Other justices, though, pressed Apple to show why its damages in the case should be connected to Samsung’s profits made from the entire phone — rather than just the part of its exterior that Samsung was found to have copied. The dispute between the warring phone companies revolves around the $399 million penalty Samsung was ordered to pay Apple, stemming from a lawsuit that began in 2011. A lower court found […]

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