SCOTUS & the US courts January 2024-

Written by  //  May 16, 2024  //  Justice & Law, U.S.  //  No comments

A very long and detailed list
Major Supreme Court cases we’re watching in 2024
Rulings are coming in cases involving former president Donald Trump, abortion pills, social media, guns and more
(WaPo) In a Supreme Court term that coincides with the 2024 presidential primary season, the justices are at the center of many of the nation’s most politically sensitive debates. At the top of the list is former president Donald Trump’s eligibility to return to the White House and a challenge to a key element of the criminal charges against him related to his efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Also this term, abortion is back at the court, with one case involving access to the medication mifepristone, widely used to terminate pregnancies, and another focused on emergency abortion care at hospitals. Gun rights and state laws restricting social media companies from removing certain political posts or accounts are in the mix as well.
A trio of cases challenge the power of federal agencies, long a target of conservatives concerned about what they consider unaccountable government bureaucrats.

16 May
Supreme Court sides with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, spurning a conservative attack
(AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a conservative-led attack that could have undermined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The justices ruled 7-2 that the way the CFPB is funded does not violate the Constitution, reversing a lower court and drawing praises from consumers. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion, splitting with his frequent allies, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who dissented.
The CFPB was created after the 2008 financial crisis to regulate mortgages, car loans and other consumer finance. The case was brought by payday lenders who object to a bureau rule that limits their ability to withdraw funds directly from borrowers’ bank accounts. It’s among several major challenges to federal regulatory agencies on the docket this term for a court that has for more than a decade been open to limits on their operations.

9 May
The US Supreme Court, less trusted than ever, votes on major cases in June: Emily Bazelon on what to expect (podcast)
(GZERO) In June, the US Supreme Court will begin issuing decisions on cases involving everything from reproductive rights to gun ownership to homeless encampments to former president Donald Trump’s criminal cases. Yale Law School Lecturer and staff writer at The New York Times Magazine Emily Bazelon joins me on GZERO World to unpack some of the biggest cases on the docket this year and what’s at stake in some of the major decisions expected to come down next month.
4 May
This year’s SCOTUS term comes at a time when approval for the Court is at an all-time low. As of September of 2023, a record 58% of Americans disapproved of how the Court handles its job. That follows multiple ethics scandals involving Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and a string of conservative decisions, including the 2022 Dobbs decision striking down the right to abortion, increasingly out of step with public opinion. With the Court wading into the 2024 election and former President Trump’s immunity claims, it risks being seen by the public as even more partisan and politicized.
“As an American, I want to have a good faith belief in the justices’ approach,” Bazelon says, “After a certain number of cases come out in particular ways, you start to feel like cynicism is realism about the Court.”

22-26 April
Trump’s immunity arguments and the experiences of the justices who might support it
Nina Totenberg, Correspondent, Legal Affairs
(NPR) In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s nearly three-hour oral argument Thursday, it seems apparent that at minimum, there will be no Trump trial on charges of obstructing the 2020 election until after the election this November.
Perhaps it’s Trump Derangement Syndrome that led lots of legal eagles, from liberal to conservative, to believe that former President Donald Trump’s claim of immunity from criminal prosecution was preposterous. But it’s more likely that court observers didn’t properly account for the personal experiences of the conservative justices.
Supreme Court seems skeptical of Trump’s claim of absolute immunity but decision’s timing is unclear
(AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday appeared likely to reject former President Donald Trump’s claim of absolute immunity from prosecution over election interference, but several justices signaled reservations about the charges that could cause a lengthy delay, possibly beyond November’s election.
A majority of the justices did not appear to embrace the claim of absolute immunity that would stop special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution of Trump on charges he conspired to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. But in arguments lasting more than 2 1/2 hours in the court’s first consideration of criminal charges against a former president, several conservative justices indicated they could limit when former presidents might be prosecuted, suggesting that the case might have to be sent back to lower courts before any trial could begin.
Supreme Court to take up Biden crackdown on ‘ghost guns’: The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the Biden administration acted legally when it implemented a crackdown on the sale of do-it-yourself “ghost gun” kits. The justices announced today that they will take up a regulation Attorney General Merrick Garland issued in 2022 that sought to consider such kits as firearms so they can’t be used to make untraceable weapons sold without background checks and frequently used in crimes.

16 April
Supreme Court Appears Skeptical of Using Obstruction Law to Charge Jan. 6 Rioters
The justices considered the gravity of the assault and whether prosecutors have been stretching the law to reach members of the mob responsible for the attack.
(NYT) The Supreme Court seemed wary on Tuesday of letting prosecutors use a federal obstruction law to charge hundreds of rioters involved in the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
A decision rejecting the government’s interpretation of the law could not only disrupt those prosecutions but also eliminate half of the charges against former President Donald J. Trump in the federal case accusing him of plotting to subvert the 2020 election.
Mr. Trump’s case did not come up at the argument, which was largely focused on trying to make sense of a statute, enacted to address white-collar crime, that all concerned agreed was not a model of clarity. But the justices’ questions also considered the gravity of the assault and whether prosecutors have been stretching the law to reach members of the mob responsible for the attack, which interrupted certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s electoral victory.
Supreme Court questions obstruction charges brought against Jan. 6 rioters and Trump
(AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned whether federal prosecutors went too far in bringing obstruction charges against hundreds of participants in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. But it wasn’t clear how the justices would rule in a case that also could affect the prosecution of former President Donald Trump, who faces the same charge for his efforts to overturn his election loss in 2020.
Justice Thomas misses Supreme Court session Monday with no explanation

4 March
States can’t kick Trump off ballot, Supreme Court says
the high court ruled in an unsigned opinion that only Congress, not the states, can disqualify a presidential candidate under the Constitution’s “insurrection clause.”
(Politico) States have no authority to remove Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday, short-circuiting efforts by his detractors to declare him disqualified over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
The justices did not weigh in on the fraught question of whether Trump engaged in an insurrection by attempting to subvert the 2020 election results or stoking the violence on Jan. 6.
The high court’s decision overturns a Colorado ruling that would have removed Trump from the ballot there. And it spells doom for a slew of other state-level challenges to Trump’s eligibility under an interpretation of the 14th Amendment provision that says that people who engaged in an insurrection after taking an oath to support the Constitution are disqualified from holding office again.
The result — which came one day before the Super Tuesday primaries — was expected. During oral arguments on Feb. 8, justices across the ideological spectrum signaled that they were uncomfortable with allowing individual states to assess the eligibility of presidential candidates accused of insurrection.
Monday’s 13-page opinion echoed that concern. Allowing states to make that judgment could result in an inconsistent and dangerous patchwork of conflicting rulings, with a candidate appearing on some states’ ballots but not on others, the court wrote. …
In December, Colorado’s Supreme Court became the first court in the nation to find Trump ineligible to run for the presidency, with a split, 4-3 ruling finding that the former president should be kept off the ballot there. Trump “did not merely incite the insurrection,” the Colorado court wrote; he “continued to support it” while rioters attacked the Capitol.
Shortly after the Colorado decision, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, made the same determination on similar grounds. And last week, a state judge in Illinois ordered him removed from the GOP primary ballot there for the same reasons.
All three state-level decisions have been on hold while the Supreme Court reviewed the issue on an expedited timeline.

29 February
Trump Should Lose. But the Supreme Court Should Still Clarify Immunity.
By Lee Kovarsky, University of Texas at Austin School of Law.
(NYT) The Supreme Court has never squarely resolved whether a president’s in-term conduct is immune from criminal prosecution because, before Donald Trump, there were no indicted ex-presidents.
But there are four such indictments now, including Special Counsel Jack Smith’s prosecution in Washington, D.C. — a case built around Mr. Trump’s fraudulent attempt to subvert the 2020 election and extend his presidential term. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court decided to review a decision from a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which rejected Mr. Trump’s claim of presidential immunity in an opinion that was thorough and unanimous.
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case means that Mr. Trump’s trial remains in limbo — and the timing of proceedings will likely impact the 2024 presidential election.

25-26 February
Supreme Court casts doubt on GOP-led states’ efforts to regulate social media platforms
(AP) — The Supreme Court cast doubt Monday on state laws that could affect how Facebook, TikTok, X, YouTube and other social media platforms regulate content posted by their users. The cases are among several this term in which the justices could set standards for free speech in the digital age.
In nearly four hours of arguments, several justices questioned aspects of laws adopted by Republican-dominated legislatures and signed by Republican governors in Florida and Texas in 2021. But they seemed wary of a broad ruling, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett warning of “land mines” she and her colleagues need to avoid in resolving the two cases.
Supreme Court to decide if states can control fate of social media
(WaPo) As a “splinternet” emerges in the United States, the high court will decide if the First Amendment blocks a pair of laws that tackle conservatives’ allegations of Big Tech censorship
The cases will determine whether state governments or tech companies have the power to set the rules for what posts can appear on popular social networks.

11 February
Right-wing judges flaunting their bias and conflicts threaten democracy
(WaPo) The mere presence of Justice Clarence Thomas — never mind his chutzpah in asking the first question — at the oral argument in four-times indicted former president Donald Trump’s appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling disqualifying him from the ballot represented a new low for the Supreme Court. It constituted one more assault on the rule of law and the credibility of the court, already at low ebb in public support. After all, Thomas’s wife worked to overturn the 2020 election (sending multiple messages to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, egging on fake electors, using her relationships with former Thomas clerks).

8 February
Five key takeaways from US supreme court’s hearing on removing Trump from the ballot
Both conservative and liberal justices aggressively questioned argument that Colorado was right in barring Trump
(The Guardian) The US supreme court heard oral arguments on whether former president Donald Trump should be removed from the ballot on Thursday – and most justices sounded deeply skeptical of the effort.
Even the liberal justices seemed skeptical of Colorado’s arguments
Liberal justice Elena Kagan told Jason Murray, the attorney representing the Coloradans who had sued to remove Trump from their state’s ballot, that disqualifying a president for insurrection “sounds awfully national to me”, and said that the idea that one state could disqualify a candidate and possibly tip a national election was “extraordinary”.
Supreme Court arguments begin in landmark case seeking to kick Trump off ballot over Capitol attack
The Supreme Court weighs arguments over whether former President Donald Trump is disqualified from reclaiming the White House because of his efforts to undo his loss in the 2020 election, ending with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

6 February
Trump is not immune from prosecution in his 2020 election interference case, US appeals court says
(AP) — A federal appeals panel ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump can face trial on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, sharply rejecting the former president’s claims that he is immune from prosecution while setting the stage for additional challenges that could further delay the case.
The ruling is significant not only for its stark repudiation of Trump’s novel immunity claims but also because it breathes life back into a landmark prosecution that had been effectively frozen for weeks as the court considered the appeal. Yet the one-month gap between when the court heard arguments and issued its ruling has already created uncertainty about the timing of a trial in a calendar-jammed election year, with the judge overseeing the case last week canceling the initial March 4 date.
Trump’s team vowed to appeal, which could postpone the case by weeks or months — particularly if the Supreme Court agrees to take it up. The appeals panel, which included two appointees by President Joe Biden and one Republican-appointed judge, gave Trump a week to ask the Supreme Court to get involved.

All eyes are on the Supreme Court ahead of [Thursday’s] hearing on whether Colorado is justified in banning former President DONALD TRUMP from the 2024 ballot over his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — which, the plaintiffs argue, disqualifies him from the presidency under the 14th Amendment.
Legal experts have “implored the justices to definitively decide the key question of whether Trump is disqualified,” and settle the issue for other states where similar 14th amendment cases are making their way through the courts, WaPo’s Ann Marimow reports. But “[w]hatever the court decides is likely to polarize voters just as the court’s decision in Bush v. Gore split the country 24 years ago. … [R]eaching a decision that avoids the court’s 6-3 ideological split may be difficult.”
Will Trump stay on the ballot? What to expect at the Supreme Court Thursday
In a deeply polarized America, a divided Supreme Court weighs whether to disqualify Donald Trump from office because he participated in insurrection.

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