The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every level of the legal system all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Since last year, the Court has been conducting oral arguments via telephone. One byproduct of this change is that Justice Clarence Thomas has been a more active questioner than he has ever been since joining the Court. The New York Times reports:
Justice Clarence Thomas, who once went a decade without asking a question from the Supreme Court bench, is about to complete a term in which he was an active participant in every single argument.Read more
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Federal Courts, Oversight, Agency Action and Federal Rights held a hearing entitled, "Supreme Court Fact-Finding and the Distortion of American Democracy." The two witnesses called by the Republican members of the Committee were Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher and the Cato Institute's Ilya Shapiro. As Shapiro pointed out during the hearing and in his prepared remarks, the title of the hearing itself is overblown:
I actually think that the hearing title is a bit loaded: first, because the Supreme Court doesn’t generally engage in fact-finding in the way trial courts do, but rather applies the law to novel facts, as any appellate court is supposed to; and second, because however much one thinks American democracy is “distorted,” the Supreme Court, a reactive institution, is hardly at fault. Indeed, the court is the most respected government institution other than police and the military, so hand-wringing over its role in governance—or broader questioning of its legitimacy—principally arises when the justices rule in ways that disagree with progressive orthodoxy or, more broadly, when progressives are frustrated that there’s a major institution they don’t control. The chairman himself filed a brief in last year’s Second Amendment case admonishing the Court to “heal itself before the public demands it be restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.”Read more
Earlier today, the White House announced that it will be forming the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. The move fulfills a promise that then-presidential candidate Joe Biden made last October during an interview with "60 Minutes" in the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. The press release announcing the Commission explains:
President Biden will today issue an executive order forming the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, comprised of a bipartisan group of experts on the Court and the Court reform debate. In addition to legal and other scholars, the Commissioners includes former federal judges and practitioners who have appeared before the Court, as well as advocates for the reform of democratic institutions and of the administration of justice. The expertise represented on the Commission includes constitutional law, history and political science.Read more
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer warned Americans to think "long and hard" about structural changes to the nation's highest court, such as adding justices through "court-packing," in a wide-ranging address Tuesday.Read more
Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company are California growers that produce fruit for millions of Americans. Collectively, they employ around 3,000 Californians. In 2015, the United Farm Workers (UFW) viewed the workers as ripe for the picking and sent union organizers to storm the workplaces during harvest time to encourage them to unionize. Even though property owners have a right to exclude trespassers, the state’s Union Access Regulation takes an easement that allows these union organizers to enter a business’s private property three hours a day, 120 days a year. The businesses are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate California’s unlawful regulation and affirm that government can’t allow unions to invade private property and disrupt commercial operations without paying compensation for a property taking.Read more
The true colors of President Biden, who refused to say where he stood on court-packing during campaign season, are beginning to shine through with the rollout of the administration's new Commission of Supreme Court Reform. What exactly will the commission do? While the answer isn't entirely clear, it's another signal that Democrats are setting the stage to expand the Supreme Court by all means necessary.Read more
Clean voter rolls are an important safeguard that protects the integrity of the electoral process. However, one federal judge in Georgia has ruled that several thousand voters who were scheduled to be removed from 2 counties' voter rolls should remain on the rolls ahead of Georgia's Senate runoffs. The catch — the ruling was handed down by U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, the sister of one-time gubernatorial candidate and liberal activist Stacey Abrams.Read more
The victories of Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue on January 5th in the Georgia Senate runoffs are crucial for preserving President Donald Trump's legacy in one of the most critical areas — the federal judiciary. If their Democratic opponents win, Republicans will lose their majority in the U.S. Senate:
As the two Senate races loom, party control of the Senate hangs in the balance, with the upper chamber currently made up of 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. If Democrats win both runoff elections, raising the total to 50-50, the Democrats will take control of the Senate, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.
Without a Republican majority in the Senate, there would be no safeguard in place to block President Joe Biden from appointing radical jurists to the federal bench.Read more
After the Shelby County decision in 2012 by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the coverage formula in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, critics argued that discriminatory election policies would suddenly become rampant and voter participation would plummet. However, as Hans von Spakovsky explained in Newsweek earlier this month, their predictions were wrong.Read more
In a victory for religious liberty, the United States Supreme Court granted an injunction last Wednesday, protecting two New York religious organizations from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's executive order that imposed "very severe restrictions on attendance at religious services in areas classified as 'red' or 'orange' zones" pending a decision on the merits of the case by the Second Circuit.
The Court's unsigned per curiam opinion was joined by Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Both Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh wrote concurring opinions. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a dissenting opinion. Justice Breyer also authored a dissenting opinion that Justices Sotomayor and Kagan joined. Justice Sotomayor wrote her own dissenting opinion joined by Justice Kagan.Read more