Thursday, June 27, 2019

Last Call For A Supreme Split

The final day of the 2018-2019 SCOTUS term landed with three massive decisions, and it was largely a wash.  First, Chief Justice Roberts ruled in a 5-4 split that the federal courts have no business whatsoever dealing with state gerrymandering issues, giving a massive, permanent structural win to Republicans.

In a 5-4 decision along traditional conservative-liberal ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled that partisan redistricting is a political question — not reviewable by federal courts — and that those courts can't judge if extreme gerrymandering violates the Constitution.

The ruling puts the onus on the legislative branch, and on individual states, to police redistricting efforts.

"We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts," Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the conservative majority. "Federal judges have no license to reallocate political power between the two major political parties, with no plausible grant of authority in the Constitution, and no legal standards to limit and direct their decisions."

Roberts noted that excessive partisanship in the drawing of districts does lead to results that "reasonably seem unjust," but he said that does not mean it is the court's responsibility to find a solution.

Now just two years away from the redrawing of new districts at the start of the next decade, legislators in states that have control of all levels of governments after the 2020 election may feel emboldened by the ruling, said Justin Levitt, an election law professor at Loyola Law School.

"We are in Mad Max territory now; there are no rules," Levitt said. "I think you'll see more legislators in more states [where there is unilateral control] taking up the mantle of extreme partisan aggression against people who disagree with them."

Republicans now have unlimited authority to redraw districts as they see fit.  Expect states like NC, Florida, Texas, Ohio and Wisconsin to redraw districts concentrating black voters into one or two districts, and leaving all other districts majority white and Republican. 

The prime result of this ruling, combined with demographics, could very well mean a permanent GOP Congress as state legislatures will simply keep themselves in power.

Democrats will try to keep up in states like Florida and Illinois, but I would suspect that entire states could become one-party affairs.

The good news:  Republicans won't be able to use the 2020 Census to force citizenship questions on everyone.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's liberal justices, saying the administration did not provide adequate justification for the question.

The reason provided by the White House seem "contrived", the justices wrote in a 5-4 ruling.

The White House argued the question would help protect minority voters.

But the Census Bureau's own experts say it would lead to a major undercount.

Though the ruling deals a blow to the Trump administration, the complicated decision does not bar the question for either its language or the underlying premise.

Instead, by sending the case back to a lower court, Justice Roberts left open the possibility that the Trump administration could provide the necessary justification to add a question on citizenship to the census.

This battle will be back again before the court next June.  Count on it.

But don't get pulled over by cops though.  Not even your blood is safe from police search and seizure.

The Supreme Court has ruled that police may, without a warrant, order blood drawn from an unconscious person suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Fourth Amendment generally requires police to obtain a warrant for a blood draw. But in a 5-4 vote on Thursday, the court upheld a Wisconsin law that says people driving on a public road have impliedly consented to having their blood drawn if police suspect them of driving under the influence. It also said that "exigent circumstances" permit police to obtain a blood sample without a warrant.

Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh joined Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority vote.

The decision conflicts with previous court rulings in which the justices ruled that a blood draw is a significant bodily intrusion into a person's privacy and that there are less intrusive ways of enforcing drunken driving laws against unconscious motorists — getting a warrant, for instance, which in these tech-savvy days can be done relatively easily and quickly.

In 2013, for instance, the high court ruled that police violated the Constitution when they ordered a nonconsensual blood draw without a warrant in a routine DUI case. The vote then was 5-4, but two of the justices in that majority, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy, are no longer on the court.

A court that can rule the state has a right to your bodily fluids can rob you of consent for a lot of things, guys.

It's not a good day for America.

Not at all.

The Road To Gilead, Con't

Her name is Marshae Jones.

In 2018 she was five months pregnant in Birmingham, Alabama and was shot in the stomach with another woman during a fight over the child's father.  The fetus died as a result.  A grand jury refused to indict the shooter because of the state's castle laws concerning self-defense, but now Jones is being charged with manslaughter in the death of her own unborn baby.

A woman whose unborn baby was killed in a 2018 Pleasant Grove shooting has now been indicted in the death. 
Marshae Jones, a 27-year-old Birmingham woman, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on a manslaughter charge. She was taken into custody on Wednesday. 
Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her
The shooting happened about noon on Dec. 4, 2018, outside Dollar General on Park Road. Officers were dispatched to the scene on a report of someone shot but arrived to find the shooting victim – later identified as Jones - had been picked up and driven to Fairfield. Police and paramedics then found the Jones at a Fairfield convenience store.
From Fairfield Jones was taken to UAB Hospital. She was five months pregnant and was shot in the stomach. The unborn baby did not survive the shooting. 
“The investigation showed that the only true victim in this was the unborn baby,’’ Pleasant Grove police Lt. Danny Reid said at the time of the shooting. “It was the mother of the child who initiated and continued the fight which resulted in the death of her own unborn baby.”

For the crime of being shot, Masrhae Jones is looking at up to 20 years in prison.  Not the person who actually shot her, but the woman who was shot.  Even without Alabama's awful abortion law, the legal notion that a woman can be charged with felony manslaughter for the death of a fetus is utterly insane, and the only possible societal reason to do that is to selectively use the law to incarcerate women of color and black women in particular.

This is repugnant.  It's precisely what people said would happen with this stupid notion that fetuses have the same rights as people, that miscarriages and injuries would become reasons to lock women up for decades for the crime of getting pregnant and failing to deliver a child.

This is what these ghouls want, women scared and pliant and existing only to reproduce or go to prison, non-citizens who fear their own goddamn wombs.

I hate this nonsense.

The Silence Of The Gun Nuts

In the end, the malevolent evil that came to silence right-wing NRA gun nut Dana Loesch and her stochastic terrorism broadcasts at NRATV were not the Democrats or the media or the Clintons or the gun safety advocates, but her own employers pulling the plug because of all the legal trouble they are drowning in.

The National Rifle Association has shut down production at NRATV. 
The N.R.A. on Tuesday also severed all business with its estranged advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen, which operates NRATV, the N.R.A.’s live broadcasting media arm, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times. 
While NRATV may continue to air past content, its live broadcasting will end and its on-air personalities — Ackerman employees who included Dana Loesch — will no longer be the public faces of the N.R.A. It remained unclear whether the N.R.A. might try to hire some of those employees, but there was no indication it was negotiating to do so. 
The move comes amid a flurry of lawsuits between the N.R.A. and Ackerman, and increasing acrimony that surfaced after two prominent N.R.A. board members first criticized NRATV in an article in The Times in March. The separation had become inevitable: The two sides said last month that they were ending their three-decade-plus partnership. 
“Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,” Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s longtime chief executive, wrote in a message to members that was expected to be sent out by Wednesday. “So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming.” 
In a notice to Ackerman’s chief executive, Revan McQueen, sent Tuesday night, the N.R.A. said it “regrets that a longstanding, formerly productive relationship comes to an end in this fashion.” 
Ackerman, in its own statement, said it was “not surprised that the N.R.A. is unwilling to honor its agreement to end our contract and our long-standing relationship in an orderly and amicable manner.”

I think when the full story of the NRA's collapse comes out, it's going to be a key moment for the dismantling of the Trump regime.  I think they're going to talk, they're going to absolutely say they tok Russian money to help Donald Trump, and that they did it with Trump's blessing.

Dana Loesch and her hateful little band of gun-toting terrorists will land on their feet somewhere, but God I'd love for her to be indicted.


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