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Donald Trump Gun Nuts Supreme Court

Trump’s Three Handpicked SCOTUS Justices Just Handed Gun Lovers A Giant Setback

Donald Trump loves to brag about the fact that he managed to appoint three associate justices to the Supreme Court during his failed presidency. It’s literally the only bright spot in his term in office.

But it appears that Trump’s single “accomplishment” will also turn out to be another miserable failure, based on a decision from the high court on Monday, USA Today reports:

“The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up three challenges to a federal ban on gun ownership for people convicted of nonviolent crimes, disappointing Second Amendment advocates who hoped a more conservative court would begin to chip away at the restriction.

“By not taking the appeals, the nation’s highest court let stand a series of lower court rulings that prohibited people convicted of driving under the influence, making false statements on tax returns and selling counterfeit cassette tapes from owning a gun.”

Particularly galling to gun fetishists will be the fact that Amy Coney Barrett didn’t agree to form a majority with four other conservatives, which many believed she would based on her prior rulings while an appellate court judge:

“Several of the court’s conservatives signaled in recent years that they were interested in revisiting the issue, and it’s not clear why they chose not to do so. Four conservative justices have expressed a desire to address outstanding Second Amendment questions – enough to take a case but one vote short of the five needed to corral a majority. Many expected Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, seated last fall, to provide that fifth vote.”

But she didn’t, and that means that Trump’s hot air about how he was going to cement a conservative majority on the court is nothing but rhetoric. If a right-wing judge like Barrett won’t agree to hear a case on who can own a gun, has the court actually swung to the right?

Gun control supporters hailed the the decision, with Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, remarking:

“If nothing else is clear from today’s decision, the court signaled that it’s not making a 180-degree turn where it’s going to take every gun case and rule for the gun lobby in every case.”

Another gun case remains before the justices, but it’s unclear when exactly the court will decide whether or not to take it.

In the other case, a New York law is in question:

“Two New York state residents who sought a license to carry guns outside their home but were denied because they didn’t meet the state’s requirement of having a ‘special need for self protection.'”

Will Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett agree to hear that case? Based on their decision today, it seems unlikely.

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Joe Biden Supreme Court

Joe Biden May Not Have To Wait Long To Appoint His First Supreme Court Justice

Ever since Donald Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court in the closing days of his presidency before losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden, many have wondered whether or not the high court is now tilted to the right for decades.

But based on a report from Politico, Biden may be appointing his first justice very soon, provided that one of the court’s most senior members decides to retire later this year:

“Justice Stephen Breyer is 82 and Democrats are a single Senate seat away from ceding control back to Republicans. It’s a familiar and uncomfortable bind for a party that barely nudged former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire the last time they controlled both the Senate and the White House — then watched the Supreme Court veer to the right.”

No one is actively urging Breyer to step down from the court, but there are some in Congress who wonder if he wants his replacement to be appointed by a Democratic or Republican president, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) remarking:

“He is well familiar with the way judicial appointments work, and I believe strongly he has in mind the best interests of the country and will make the right decision. There are political realities that I hope judges will perceive.”

Another Democratic senator said it would be ideal if Breyer does decide to leave the court now while the Senate has a 50-50 split and Vice President Kamala Harris can make sure a replacement is confirmed:

“It’s self-evident that if you care at all about the balance of power on the Supreme Court then you have to not hang on until the very last moment. He should enjoy his retirement and allow us to put in a talented younger jurist that can serve for decades.”

While debate over whether or not Breyer would be wise to leave the court now continues, President Biden has made it clear that he’s open to the idea of expanding its membership from nine justices to several more, appointing a bipartisan commission to study what changes should be made to the highest court in the land. He has also made it clear that his first nominee will be a black woman, which would be a historic first.

Meanwhile, we’ll all just have to wait and see what Justice Breyer decides.

 

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Justice Department Supreme Court U.S. Senate

Justice Department May Reopen Investigation Into Alleged Misconduct By Brett Kavanaugh

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) is demanding that the Justice Department and FBI reopen their investigation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, The Guardian reports:

“The FBI is facing new scrutiny for its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh, the supreme court justice, after a lawmaker suggested that the investigation may have been ‘fake.’

“Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator and former prosecutor who serves on the judiciary committee, is calling on the newly-confirmed attorney general, Merrick Garland, to help facilitate ‘proper oversight’ by the Senate into questions about how thoroughly the FBI investigated Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

“The supreme court justice was accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford and faced several other allegations of misconduct following Ford’s harrowing testimony of an alleged assault when she and Kavanaugh were in high school.”

Whitehouse’s allegations about the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh drew immediate reaction on social media, where many suggested the justice needs to be examined for all of his prior behavior:

If Kavanaugh truly has nothing to hide, he should welcome Sen. Whitehouse’s call for a real FBI investigation. But he won’t.

 

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Donald Trump Supreme Court

Michael Cohen Says SCOTUS Ruling On Trump’s Taxes Means The Donald Is Going To Prison

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that former President Donald Trump can no longer keep eight years of his tax returns hidden from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., ruling without dissent that Trump does indeed have to hand over his taxes to the grand jury currently considering whether or not the Trump and the Trump Organization committed years of tax and insurance fraud:

The Washington Post noted that the ruling from the justices is the end of the line for Trump when it comes to any further appeals:

“The Supreme Court on Monday rejected former president Donald Trump’s last-chance effort to keep his private financial records from the Manhattan district attorney, ending a long and drawn-out legal battle.

“After a four-month delay, the court denied Trump’s motion in a one-sentence order with no recorded dissents.

“District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has won every stage of the legal fight — including the first round at the Supreme Court — but has yet to receive the records he says are necessary for a grand jury investigation into whether the president’s companies violated state law.”

One person who has indeed seen Trump’s tax returns is his former attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, who was asked about the SCOTUS ruling on MSNBC Monday afternoon. He told host Katy Tur:

 “One thing you will see is that that’s not the only documents that Cyrus Vance is looking for. Recently, he subpoenaed from the New York Department of Taxation for real estate properties that are owned by Trump, and he will compare those, obviously, to the tax returns, you know it is one thing that I can turn around and tell you he should start maybe speaking to someone about getting a custom made jumpsuit, it does not look good for him, that’s my prediction.”

Later in the segment, Tur asked Cohen what she thought the state of Trump’s mind is these days. He replied:

“He is extremely agitated from what I understand, simply because of the Supreme Court, who he thinks that he placed enough members on the Supreme Court, that they should have ruled in his favor. Then again, of course, being disloyal to him, so he is angry about that as well. He has a lot of anger issues going on right now as a result of the Supreme Court decision.”

Donald Trump is now out of appeals and any chance of saving his ass. Prosecutors are moving on him from multiple directions and he no longer has any protection from being charged. And he won’t be getting a custom made jumpsuit, either. That will be provided by the state.

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Donald Trump Elections Supreme Court

A 2009 SCOTUS Ruling Is About To Bite Amy Coney Barrett Right On Her A*s

During her confirmation hearings last week, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett refused to say if she would recuse herself from any potential cases related to the 2020 election, remarking:

“I certainly hope that all members of the committee have more confidence in my integrity to think I would allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide this election for the American people”

But, as Jennifer Rubin notes in an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post, that’s simply not good enough, because there would be a stench of impropriety if she didn’t recuse herself:

“The issue is not an explicit deal between Barrett and Trump, nor even her pureness of heart. It is the inevitable perception that if the election winds up in the court, her vote would be seen as hopelessly compromised. Voters know she was rushed through. Voters know Trump’s and Republicans’ expectations. How could they possibly not conclude that the rush was in case they needed her to determine the election outcome?”

No matter what Barrett may say or believe at the moment, it turns out there’s a 2009 Supreme Court ruling in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co. that would make her recusal mandatory.

According to former federal appeals court judge J. Michael Lutting, the Caperton case could not possibly be clearer when it comes to a judge hearing a case that would benefit the person who appointed them:

“Caperton involved a litigant who spent $3 million to help elect a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justice, who then voted to reverse a $50 million damage award against his benefactor. The U.S. Supreme Court found that the judge should have recused himself. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said that recusal may be constitutionally required even where a judge is not actually biased, if there is a ‘serious risk of actual bias.'”

So where would that leave Barrett? Between the proverbial rock and a hard place, Luttig concludes:

“The question for Barrett, if it arises, will not be whether she personally believes she can be fair in deciding an election case but, rather, whether a reasonable person would conclude that her impartiality would be inescapably overborne by the flood of influences brought to bear on her.”

So if Barrett doesn’t recuse herself from a case involving the election of a man who nominated her to the highest court in the land, it would not only prove that she’s little more than a pawn for Trump, it could even possibly lead to her being impeached. She would then share that dubious honor with Donald Trump himself, and she might even wind up being booted off the Supreme Court, especially if Democrats retake control of the Senate.

Ms. Barrett may think she’s one step from the highest court in the land, but she’d best walk lightly when she gets there or face the consequences of her obstinance.