Monday, June 22, 2020

Last Call For Another Supreme Day, Con't

The US Supreme Court sided with the SEC that it can punish corporations for fraud by making them forfeit ill-gotten gains, but the 8-1 decision by Justice Sotomayor does impose some limits.

The Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the Securities and Exchange Commission’s ability to force defendants to forfeit money acquired through investor fraud but placed new limits on the practice.

In an 8-to-1 decision written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court said the money must be for the benefit of investors and cannot exceed the actual profits that came from the wrongdoing. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the law does not give authority to the SEC for the practice, which is called disgorgement.

The commission typically wins more than a billion dollars a year in disgorgement orders from federal courts. They are distinct from fines, which the SEC uses to punish wrongdoing.

After blockbuster decisions last week regarding federal protection for LGBTQ workers and the program shielding undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, Liu v. SEC was the only decision announced by the justices Monday, and it is unclear whether more will be released later this week.
It was an indication that the Supreme Court’s term may run longer than its usual conclusion at the end of June.

An extension would be the result of the coronavirus pandemic that disrupted the court’s schedule and the difficulty of resolving the controversial cases that the court accepted this term.

The social distancing required by the pandemic led the court to cancel oral arguments in its grand courtroom in March and April, which typically is the last month for oral arguments. Instead, the justices held arguments via telephone in May. None of the 10 cases heard that month have been decided.

There are still 14 major decisions to be released, and Monday the 29th is the only scheduled day for opinions.  It's very possible that the Court will slide into July in order to get everything released, with major cases on Trump's tax returns and state restrictions on abortion yet to be issued.

As far as new orders for next term, the Court once again refused to take up any new cases, effectively giving the Trump regime a win on tariffs.

The Supreme Court on Monday decided not to hear a case brought by U.S. steel importers against tariffs that President Donald Trump imposed on steel imports in 2018, effectively ending the legal challenge and leaving the steep duties in place on imports from Europe, China and many other countries.
The decision could embolden Trump to take further tariff actions without worrying that the Supreme Court will strike them down. It puts the onus on Congress to decide whether it wants to rein in Trump's tariff powers. So far, neither the Republican-led Senate nor the Democratic-led House has shown much interest in that.

Although the U.S. Constitution gives Congress jurisdiction over trade, Trump imposed the tariffs under the Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which gives the president broad powers to restrict imports to protect national security.

The American Institute for International Steel, which represents importers of foreign-made steel, argued the law is unconstitutional because it imposes no limits on the president’s discretion to take action. As a result, the law is an improper delegation of legislative authority and a violation of the separation of powers, AIIS said.

The import group did not have an immediate comment on the Supreme Court's decision to not to hear its complaint, thus ending a nearly two-year legal battle. Both the U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Appeals also sided with the Trump administration in previous rulings on the case.

The Supreme Court's decision is no surprise, except perhaps to the steel import group's lawyers, said Bill Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"This issue came before the court some years ago in a different case, and the court upheld what Congress did. That is basically what the court did this time — it honored its own precedent," Reinsch said.

More pain ahead for American consumers in the era of the Trump Depression.

Drive Fast, Turn Racist

In the wake of NASCAR banning the Confederate flag earlier this month, the crew of league's only top black driver, Bubba Wallace, found a noose hanging in his garage at Talledega over the weekend.

"Late this afternoon, NASCAR was made aware that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team. We are angry and outraged, and cannot state strongly enough how seriously we take this heinous act," NASCAR said in a statement. "We have launched an immediate investigation, and will do everything we can to identify the person(s) responsible and eliminate them from the sport.

"As we have stated unequivocally, there is no place for racism in NASCAR, and this act only strengthens our resolve to make the sport open and welcoming to all."

Wallace never saw the noose, ESPN's Marty Smith reported. It was first seen by a member of Wallace's team, who immediately brought it to the attention of NASCAR, Smith reported. NASCAR told Fox Sports that it will work with law enforcement.

Wallace, an Alabama native who drives the No. 43 Chevrolet for racing icon Richard Petty, said in a statement that he was "incredibly saddened" by the act.

"Today's despicable act of racism and hatred leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism," Wallace wrote on Twitter. "Over the last several weeks, I have been overwhelmed by the support from people across the NASCAR industry, including other drivers and team members in the garage. Together, our sport has made a commitment to driving real change and championing a community that is accepting and welcoming of everyone.

"Nothing is more important and we will not be deterred by the reprehensible actions of those who seek to spread hate. As my mother told me today, "They are just trying to scare you." This will not break me, I will not give in nor will I back down. I will continue to proudly stand for what I believe in."

NASCAR has spent years trying to distance itself from the Confederate flag, long a part of its moonshine-running roots from its founding more than 70 years ago. Five years ago, former chairman Brian France tried to ban flying the flags at tracks, a proposal that was not enforced and largely ignored.

This year was different, and it was Wallace who led the charge, calling for the sanctioning body to prohibit the flag.

But outside the track on Sunday, vehicles waving and flying Confederate flags lined the boulevard running past the massive speedway, and a plane flew above the track towing a banner of the Confederate flag that read, "Defund NASCAR."

Here's the thing though: given the tight security and COVID-19 protocols at races right now, especially at a facility the size of Talledega Superspeedway, it had to be an inside job, as Deadspin's Eric Barrow surmises.

As to the question of who did it, NASCAR likely won’t need to go very far, as the noose was found in a secure area where access is only made available to race team members, NASCAR officials, track workers, as well as, security, medical and safety personnel, according to a source. Garage stalls are off limits to the public.

“We’re not working under any assumptions just yet,” said the source.

Cameras are stationed throughout the garage, though not in every stall. The source confirmed NASCAR officials are reviewing all videos.

According to the source, NASCAR is working with law enforcement as the placing of a noose would likely be considered a criminal hate crime in Alabama. 

We'll see soon, I suspect.  The suspect, that is. The DoJ is looking into the case as well.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

By the time President Donald Trump was gliding in his helicopter toward Joint Base Andrews on Saturday, destined for what he'd once hoped would be a triumphant packed-to-the-rafters return to the campaign trail, things were already looking bad. 
Scanning cable news coverage earlier in the day, Trump was disappointed to see pictures not of massive lines forming outside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa but of Geoffrey Berman, the federal prosecutor Trump's attorney general had attempted unsuccessfully to dismiss the night before, a person familiar with his response said. 
Hours later, the President was informed six campaign staffers in Tulsa had tested positive for coronavirus ahead of his scheduled arrival -- an unfortunate reminder of an ongoing pandemic Trump's critics say he is ignoring. After initially dismissing the revelation, a source familiar with his reaction said Trump erupted when it was subsequently reported in the media -- overtaking coverage of the rally itself. 
Still, a determined Trump was intent on breathing new life into his staggering campaign. He took off for Tulsa, convinced large swaths of his supporters would be waiting for him there. 
Things did not improve once Air Force One lifted off. The President received a report that only about 25 people were assembled in the overflow space the campaign had reserved for a crowd Trump claimed five days earlier would top 40,000. 
Two hours before the rally was set to begin, people who had signed up for tickets received an urgent text message from the Trump campaign: "The Great American Comeback Celebration's almost here!" it read. "There's still space!" 
When the President landed in Tulsa at 5:51 p.m. local time, the crowds his aides had promised him had failed to materialize. Air Force One flew over the arena, where Trump had been told thousands of supporters would be waiting to hear from him before he went inside, but saw nothing resembling the sea of people he'd been expecting. 
While he was in the air, the campaign had canceled the outside appearance given the apparent lack of enthusiasm. 
Once viewed inside the White House and Trump's campaign as a reset button for a presidency beset by crises and self-inflicted wounds, Saturday evening's campaign rally in Tulsa instead became plagued with pitfalls, a disappointing microcosm of the blindspots, denial and wishful thinking that have come to guide the President as he enters one of the most precarious moments of his first term. 
By the time he strode out to the strains of Lee Greenwood on Saturday evening into a partially-full Bank of Oklahoma Center, the event had devolved from a triumphant return to the campaign trail after a 110-day pandemic-forced absence into something else altogether. The launch of a new assault on former Vice President Joe Biden fizzled, replaced by recycled grievances and race-baiting. The sparse crowd was a reminder that many Americans, even Trump's supporters, remain cautious of a pandemic that continues to rage in places like Oklahoma, where cases are spiking, even if Trump is ready to move on. 

Reports are that fewer than 6,700 people showed up in the 19,200 capacity arena.

If there was ever a sign that the Trump hold on his cult may be starting to break, it's failure to fill seats in deep red Oklahoma at his first rally in months. Things actually seem to be different this time. Impeachment wasn't enough, a pandemic wasn't enough, a Bresurgent Black Lives Matter wasn't enough...

...but the incompetence of Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale to account for the social media generation may finally be the keystone that collapses the Trump circus.

As CNN's Harry Enten points out, there are no "hidden" Trump voters this time around like there were in 2016, people embarrassed to tell polsters that they preferred Trump.  That was a big problem for the Democrats in 2016. There's no evidence that the same thing is happening this time.

A new national Ipsos/Reuters poll finds that former Vice President Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump 48% to 35%.
While Biden has led Trump in almost every Ipsos poll this year, his advantage this week is the largest in 2020. 
What's the point: Even though the national polls were accurate in 2016, one of the complaints I hear most often about the polls is that Trump's supporters are either lying or won't talk to pollsters. Polls like Ipsos get around that argument because they use machines (e.g. they're done online) to conduct the interviews. There's no reason to lie to a machine. If Trump was doing significantly better in these non-live interview polls, then these critics of the polls may have a point.
The evidence indicates these detractors are, at least in this moment, wrong. There's no sign of shy Trump voters. Trump doesn't do any better in polls without a live interviewer.  
The average of national surveys (accounting for the fact that some pollsters survey more often) this week from pollsters who didn't have a live interviewer put Biden up over Trump 50% to 39% (10 points unrounded). That's a huge advantage and very similar to the latest live interview poll average that has Biden up 51% to 41%.

So Biden still has not just a small lead, but a double-digit lead unless every single pollster is wrong.  The cracks are showing.


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