‘It’s quite easy’: Obama informed who can best explain the politics behind blocking SCOTUS noms

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has vowed not to hold hearings on any Obama SCOTUS nominees.

The president would like an explanation:

Fortunately for Obama, he already knows plenty of people who could help explain:

He sure can. As can a few other Dems Obama knows (including himself):

Read more: http://twitchy.com/2016/02/24/its-quite-easy-obama-informed-who-can-best-explain-the-politics-behind-blocking-scotus-noms/

First-ever video footage of Supreme Court captures protester in action


Undercover video of a protester disrupting the Supreme Court has surfaced on YouTube. Cameras are strictly forbidden in the courtroom, and this is likely the first video ever seen of the Supreme Court in session.


The Wall Street Journal reports that the protester caught on camera is Noah Kai Newkirk, an organizer with the group 99Rise. He was arrested and held overnight for making “a harangue or oration” in the Supreme Court building.


Read more: http://twitchy.com/2014/02/27/first-ever-video-footage-of-supreme-court-captures-protester-in-action/

Why Scalia Saying Affirmative Action Hurts Black Students Is Dead Wrong

The Supreme Court was hearing arguments about affirmative action on Wednesdayonthe Fisher v. University of Texas case, which is coming back for a second round at the Supreme Court.

The case is that Abigail Fisher, a white woman, was denied acceptance at the University of Texas because of her race.

UT argued that if they do not use race as a factor in admissions, a majority of students would be white.

(Full disclosure: I learned about this case in a class fromLee Bollinger, the defendant in the Grutter v. Bollinger case that served as precedent in Fisher v. Texas and found affirmative action to be acceptable for promoting diversity.)

Hearing the arguments, Justice Antonin Scalia said:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.

He later said:

I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.

Essentially, Scalia was making the point that black students who would not have otherwise been accepted into higher tier schools like UT should not be accepted on affirmative action,because it will be too hard for them and they will not do well.

This “mismatch” point has been made before. Richard Sander, a law professor at UCLA, has been arguing it for years.

In 2005 Sanderpublished a paper purporting to show that black students who would not have otherwise been accepted into higher tiered law schools do worse in classes and are thus less likely to pass the bar exam, so affirmative action hurts black students.

Ian Ayres and Richard R.W. Brooks from Yale Law School wrote a paper in response, refuting Sander’s claims.

Their study found that black students with the same entering credentials were actually more likely to become lawyers if they went to a higher ranked law school than a lower ranked law school. This is the opposite of what Sander and Scalia said should happen.

By the way, this was true for white students, too. Ayres and Brooks wrote:

When students are overmatched by their classmates, they appear to be carried along to more success.

While students at higher ranked schools might do worse in class, they’re still more likely to pass the bar and become lawyers.

Ultimately, Ayres and Brooks concluded, the smaller numberof black lawyers and the lower law school grades for black students could not definitively be blamed on affirmative action. Instead, they said, educators need to look at other institutional factors.

Read more: http://elitedaily.com/news/scalia-saying-affirmative-action-hurts-black-students-dead-wrong/1314448/

Progress: The Supreme Court Just Legalized Marriage Between 9 People Who Are Very Much In Love

It looks like love has won again! With its latest ruling, the Supreme Court has cemented its place in history by legalizing marriage between nine people who love each other very much.

Yup. Barely hours into their first day back in session, the court passed the ruling, stating the rights provided to two people seeking marriage are inalienable, and should therefore be extended to groups of six men and three women who love and respect each other personally and professionally.

Wow! Its truly a beautiful day to be alive.

Coming on the heels of the courts ruling on same-sex marriage in June, the decision means that, for the first time, nine people will be able to consummate their love in a legally binding bond! Its an incredible step forward that many assumed theyd never see in their lifetime.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the stirring majority opinion, echoing the feelings of many who have long dreamed of this day:

At last, the time has arrived for a group of people who have waited for years for this right. A group whose members might not always agree, but one that is built on a foundation of mutual respect and admiration. A group that has often deliberated long into the night, developing the kind of understanding and love that can only be forged through the nakedness of impassioned discourse and unbridled physical attraction.


Of course, not everyone was pleased with the ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the only dissent, voicing his concern that the court was overstepping its bounds:

Regardless of the opinions of this court, I urge my colleagues to exercise restraint. If nine people are as deeply in love as I believe they are, there is no need to put a label on it. There is no constitutional basis for recognizing a group of nine partners as something more than that, despite how right it may feel. This is a matter best left up to the states.

Yikes. Well, despite the chief justices protests, its still a day for the rest of America to celebrate love for everyone. Equality win!

Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/progress-supreme-court-just-legalized-marriage-bet-2978

Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Generally Are Protected From Police Searches Without A Warrant

“Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant,” the chief justice says.

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© Gary Cameron / Reuters / Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that cell phones are generally protected from police searches without a warrant, a broad ruling recognizing the changes that smartphones have made to daily life.

“[O]fficers must generally secure a warrant before conducting … a search” of data on cell phones, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” he concluded. “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”

The justices were unanimous in the court’s ultimate resolution of the cases, although Justice Samuel Alito wrote separately to discuss some differences he had with the chief justice’s opinion for the court.

The justices were faced with cases asking how changes in technology should affect the limits on searches of smartphones after arrest — and, when the court heard argument in the cases in April, several justices expressed concerns about the broad range of information and services stored in today’s phones.

“The term ‘cell phone’ is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone,” Roberts wrote for the court. “They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers.”

In finding that the general “search incident to arrest” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement did not apply to data stored on cell phones, Roberts also noted that “the exigent circumstances exception” — when imminent destruction of evidence or similar circumstances apply — means that, even under Wednesday’s ruling, “[T]here is no reason to believe that law enforcement officers will not be able to address some of the more extreme hypotheticals that have been suggested.”

The first case involved David Leon Riley, who was found with photos and notes on his phone that police used to show involvement in gang-related activity. After Riley’s arrest, police found notations in his text messages and contacts, as well as photos and videos stored on the phone, that led California to charge him for attempted murder in a previous shooting.

The second involved Brima Wurie, in whose case drugs were found by obtaining the defendant’s home address through his flip phone. When the phrase “my home” came up in an incoming call made to Wurie after his arrest, police examined the missed call, found the phone number associated with what Wurie had labeled “my home,” searched a reverse directory to find the house, and went to the home in question — where they found drugs.

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/supreme-court-rules-cell-phones-are-protected-from-police-se

A Simple Guide to the Aereo Supreme Court Case


A view of the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Aereo will face off against television broadcasters starting next week in a case that will have ramifications for the technology and media industries.
Image: Evan Vucci/Associated Press

Next week the United States Supreme Court will hear a case pitting Aereo, the startup that streams free-to-air broadcast TV to your home, against the broadcasters that provide this television content.

Mashable will be producing a variety of pieces to help understand the ramifications of a case that will resonate throughout the technology and media industries, regardless of which side wins.

To get started, here is an explainer on the case. If you have any questions after reading this, please put them in the comments.

How does Aereo work?

When you sign up for an Aereo account, what you are actually doing is leasing a small antenna and cloud service.

Each person with an Aereo account is assigned an individual antenna that accesses the broadcasts of free, over-the-air TV. These antennas, which are about the size of a dime, are grouped together and placed in an area to receive good reception.

Aereo antenna

An Aereo antenna vs. a dime.

Aereo then takes the television broadcasts from the antenna and streams them to you. It also stores the television broadcasts that you tell it to, like a DVR.

There’s debate about the legality of the antenna structure. However broadcasters’ brief to the Supreme Court dropped disagreements over whether Aereo’s antennae operated individually or in the aggregate.

The company has posted more info about its system and the legal questions at a new advocacy site — www.protectmyantenna.org.

So far, so good. What’s the issue then?

Broadcast television is the subject of copyrights, which protect the rights of content creators. Television stations pay licensing fees for broadcast content, otherwise they would be in violation of copyright law.

Aereo pays no such retransmission fees

Copyrights? Where is this headed…

Copyright law complicates this debate. We’ll try to make this simple.

The question revolves around public and private performances — how and where something is shown.

If you buy a DVD of a movie, you have the right to watch it in your home; that is considered a private performance. You are not allowed to play that DVD in a theatre and charge for tickets; that is considered a public performance and is a violation of the copyright.

So why can Aereo stream copyrighted material to a bunch of people?

Over-the-air broadcast television is free to air, meaning you are entitled to watch it privately without charge. You are also allowed to record it, say to a VCR, and watch it later.

Aereo’s argument is that it does not transmit to many people at once. It transmits to you, individually, from your antenna, through your cloud service, into your computer for your viewing only.

This, Aereo argues, constitutes a private performance. You are controlling the content privately as you would from your roof antenna. Aereo merely houses it for you.

In other words, Aereo could bill itself as an antennae leasing and cloud storage service. Neither of those things are illegal to operate. Aereo argues there is no difference between its service and having your own antenna to watch free TV.

But Aereo’s entire business plan is to retransmit!

True, but that in and of itself is not illegal. On its side are previous court rulings between Cartoon Network and Cablevision. These cases established that playing individual recordings of television (via DVR or cloud storage) was a private, not a public, performance.

One important difference here: Participants in this case were paying a license fee to transmit content. Aereo pays no such fee.

Who’s buying this argument?

On Aereo’s side is the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit — the second-highest federal court in the country. It ruled 2-1 (a panel of three judges hear cases like this one, which appealed a lower court’s decision) in favor of Aereo, deciding the company’s offerings were essentially an off-site DVR and should not be considered public performance.

Who isn’t buying this argument?

A judge in Utah. He granted a preliminary injunction against Aereo on the grounds that the company had violated copyright law. The ruling disagreed about the interpretation of the relevant copyright law.

Neither is Judge Denny Chin, the dissenting voice Aereo’s 2-1 victory in the Second-Circuit Court decision, who said: “What Aereo is doing is not in any sense ‘private.’”

These judges take a macro approach: Aereo is commercially retransmitting these  performances on a wide scale. Regardless of if it uses thousands of antennae or one antenna, they reason that Aereo is retransmitting copyrighted programs to the public.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/04/18/guide-to-aereo-supreme-court/

Supreme Court Clears The Way For California Ban On Gay Conversion Therapy For Minors

Therapists who engage in the discredited practice appealed a lower court ruling upholding the state law to the Supreme Court, saying it infringes on their right to free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court denied the request on Monday without comment.

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David Pickup, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Dallas, offers conversion or reparative therapy treatment. Mona Reeder/Dallas Morning News / MCT

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to review a challenge to a 2012 California law banning “conversion” or “reparative” therapy on minors — a practice that aims to turn gay people straight.

The justices, without comment, let stand a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals from last August that upheld the law — the first of its kind — which prohibits licensed counselors and therapists from engaging such efforts to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of patients under 18.

Supporters of the law who fought to protect it in court such as Equality California and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) said the high court’s decision now clears the way for enforcing the ban in the state.

“This important legislation will permanently improve the health and well-being of California’s most vulnerable LGBT young people,” said Shannon Minter, legal director at NCLR, in a statement. “We look forward to more states joining California and New Jersey in preventing state-licensed therapists from engaging in discredited practices that offer no health benefits and put LGBT youth at risk of severe harm, including depression and suicide.”

Therapists who engage in the practice and other proponents of the discredited therapy challenged the ban, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September 2012, in two cases, saying it violates the free speech of the practitioners and patients seeking such treatment. They argue a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity can be changed by such treatments because they are not innate.

The Liberty Counsel, a conservative group that challenged the law, said they were disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision, but said the fight over bans on conversion therapy is not over.

“I am deeply saddened for the families we represent and for the thousands of children that our professional clients counsel, many of whom developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, in a statement. “The minors we represent do not want to act on same-sex attractions, nor do they want to engage in such behavior. They are greatly benefiting from this counseling.”

However, many leading health and psychological organizations, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) have concluded that sexual orientation cannot be changed and that efforts and treatments aiming to do so could be harmful. Bans on such efforts, the NCLR said, are “life-saving.”

A similar ban was signed into law by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last year and has also been challenged in court. The New York State Assembly also passed a similar measure this month, but it was blocked by GOP leadership in the state Senate.

The cases, Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown were among the cases denied certiorari by the court Monday.

The cases, Pickup v. Brown and Welch v. Brown were among the cases denied certiorari by the court Monday.

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U.S. Supreme Court / Via supremecourt.gov

Read more: http://buzzfeed.com/tonymerevick/supreme-court-clears-the-way-for-california-ban-on-gay-conve

Alabama Supreme Court Orders Temporary Stop To New Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

“Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman,” the Alabama Supreme Court states, reaching its own conclusion about the constitutionality of the state’s marriage ban.

Angela Channell, right, and Dawn Hicks, left, display their marriage license on Feb. 13, 2015. Robert Sutton / AP

WASHINGTON — The Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges throughout the state to stop issuing marriage licenses temporarily to same-sex couples.

A growing number of probate judges had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples ever since the U.S Supreme Court let a federal district court’s rulings that the state’s bans on such marriages are unconstitutional go into effect.

The Tuesday night order — to which only one justice of the state’s high court dissented — is the result of an emergency request brought to the court by two conservative nonprofit organizations, the Alabama Policy Institute and the Alabama Citizens Action Program.

In addition to ordering all probate judges to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples temporarily, the Alabama Supreme Court directs any probate judges who wish to do so to file a response in the next five business days as to why they should not be bound by the Alabama Supreme Court’s order.

Because there is no ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on whether bans on same-sex couples’ marriages are constitutional, the Alabama Supreme Court stated that it is free to reach its own conclusion about the constitutionality of Alabama’s bans.

The Alabama Supreme Court then decided that the marriage ban in Alabama is constitutional.

Then, because the federal district court injunctions only apply to a couple officials, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered all probate judges who are not specifically covered by those injunctions to stop issuing licenses.

So, how did the Alabama Supreme Court get there?

In the opinion, the court states that the request from the conservative groups claims that “Alabama probate judges are flouting a duty imposed upon them by the [laws and amendment banning same-sex couples’ marriages] and that we should direct the respondent probate judges to perform that duty.”

The court then goes through the process by which same-sex couples began marrying in many counties in Alabama, concluding that “uncertainty has become the order of the day” and that “©onfusion reigns.”

As such, the court held, “There is a need for immediate, uniform relief among all the probate judges of this State” — particularly given the “‘magnitude and importance’ of the issue.”

The court then goes on to decide whether the groups can, in effect, stand in for the state in the action — called “public standing” — and concludes that they can.

“The final procedural issue we consider is whether the federal court’s order prevents this Court from acting with respect to probate judges of this State who … are not bound by the order of the federal district court in [the marriage case],” the court states. “The answer is no.”

The Alabama Supreme Court goes on: “[S]tate courts may interpret the United States Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts.”

Then, it did exactly that. “After careful consideration of the reasoning employed by the federal district court in [the marriage recognition case],” the court ruled, “we find that the provisions of Alabama law contemplating the issuance of marriage licenses only to opposite-sex couples do not violate the United States Constitution and that the Constitution does not alter or override the ministerial duties of the respondents under Alabama law.”

As such, the court concluded: “Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen, originally named as a respondent to the matter, was “realigned” to join the proceeding with the conservative groups because he, essentially, agreed with the groups.

Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis, because he was subject to the federal court’s order, asked to be dismissed from this action. The Alabama Supreme Court asked Davis whether he is bound by the federal court order to grant licenses to all same-sex couples or just the named plaintiffs in the federal case. It was not immediately clear whether he is bound by the Alabama Supreme Court’s temporary halt on same-sex couples’ marriages.

Here is the Alabama Supreme Court’s order:

Read more: http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/alabama-supreme-court-orders-temporary-stop-to-new-same-sex

D’OH! Elizabeth Warren goes on warpath against nuke option, steps on rake she dropped in 2013

Senator Elizabeth Warren, fresh off a failed lecture about Judge Gorsuch and women’s rights, has set her sights on slamming the “nuclear option”:

Read more: http://twitchy.com/dougp-3137/2017/04/06/doh-elizabeth-warren-goes-on-warpath-against-nuke-option-steps-on-rake-she-dropped-in-2013/