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Welcome, Justice Jackson

The Senate today confirmed the nomination of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court.

Hopefully, we will see that even one additional progressive voice on our nation's highest Court can make a difference -- on social and criminal justice and privacy issues.

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Democrats to Unite Behind Jackson Confirmation

What did the Republicans accomplish in their disgraceful public display of aggression during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson? They ensured that Democrats, to include Sen. Joe Manchin, will unite in support of her.

I only watched a smidgen of the testimony -- when Ted Cruz was leading the charge with his chart of sentencing statistics on her child p*rn cases, but wow, did he make an as* of himself.

The other thing I noticed was the superb coaching Jackson got for the hearings (as do all nominees these days). It must be really hard to sit there poker-faced when some horse's as* is trying to bait you with one absurdly worded question after another.

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Sen. Leahy Won't Vote for Kavenaugh

Sen. Patrick Leahy has an op-ed in the Washington Post today explaining why he won't vote for Brett Kavenaugh.

Time and again, Kavanaugh appears to have misled the Senate under oath.


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Kavenaugh's Rough Week

Democrats gave Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavenaugh a tough time during his confirmation hearings this week.

I have not seen much discussion of where he stands on criminal justice issues: the rights of the accused, sentencing policy, drug law, immigrants and refugees, or the death penalty. I am more interested in his positions on those issues than on whether he would potentially give Trump a legal pass by upholding a refusal by Trump to comply with a subpoena from Mueller. The Federal Defender for the District of Columbia, A.J. Kramer, will be testifying today in support of Kavenaugh (personally, not on behalf of his office). His written remarks are here.

So long as Trump gets to pick the nominee, one will just be worse than the next. That's why elections matter so much. At Vox today, a presidential historian explains Donald Trump in one sentence:

“The fish rots from the head,” he told me, “and the stench of this administration starts at the very top.”

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Justice Kennedy Announces Retirement

Just yesterday I wrote about how important it is to consider that whoever is elected president will decide who serves on the Supreme and other federal courts. Today Justice Kennedy announced his retirement. Unfortunately, since voters in some important states that should have gone blue in 2016 voted for Donald Trump, we are in for a dismal few years of replacement judges.

Hypocritical Republicans of course want the Senate to swiftly confirm whoever Trump picks. Not so fast. Remember when Republicans wouldn't vote on Obama's choice for a Supreme Court justice because it was too close to the election and they wanted the victor in the election to choose? Well, what's good for the goose may be good for the gander. Sen. Schumer is promising there will be no vote on a Trump-selected replacement for Kennedy before the elections.

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Supreme Court Rules Warrant Needed for Cell Site Location Data

Huge, ground-breaking decision from the Supreme Court today! In a 7 to 2 ruling, the Court said a search warrant is needed for cops to obtain cell site location information from phone companies.

The opinion is here.

The case before us involves the Government’s acquisition of wireless carrier cell-site records revealing the location of Carpenter’s cell phone whenever it made orreceived calls. This sort of digital data—personal location information maintained by a third party—does not fit neatly under existing precedents.


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Supreme Court Upholds Grandparent Exemption to Travel Ban

The Supreme Court has dispensed with Trump's appeal of the Hawaii court order on his travel ban in a very short Order, available here.

The Court upheld the 'Grandparent' Exemption To Trump Travel Ban'. It also stayed the Hawaii Court's exemption of refugees, pending resolution by the full 9th Circuit.

The justices, in a brief order, rejected the administration’s request that it clarify the scope of their decision last month temporarily reinstating the ban but allowing people with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” to enter the country. The court said the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, should address the question.

And no surprise here: The judges who would have blocked implementation of the Hawaii Court's order, even on grandparents, as the case winds through the 9th Circuit Appeals Court: Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch.

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Supreme Court Approves Part of Trump's Travel Ban

I knew I should have stayed away from the news entirely today. I just saw this: Supreme Court Okays Part of Trump's Travel Ban:

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to allow a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect and will consider in the fall the president’s broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raises fundamental issues of national security and religious discrimination.

The court made an important exception: It said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”


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Supreme Court Strikes Down TX Abortion Restrictions

The Supreme Court ruled today that a Texas law limiting access to abortions was unconstitutional:

The Supreme Court’s 5 to 3 decision ruled unconstitutional a 2013 Texas law that required all abortion providers to meet ambulatory surgical standards and physicians to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Supporters of the regulations under House Bill 2 said they aimed to protect women’s health. Abortion advocates called the mandates unnecessary, expensive and an “undue burden” on women’s rights.

...In the court opinion, the justices said lawmakers couldn’t prove the rules actually protected women’s health. The move suggested restrictive abortion measures won’t stand unless policy designers prove they keep women from harm.

The opinion is here. [More...]

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Obama's Supreme Court Pick

I read the other contenders withdrew from the race.

I couldn't disagree more with Obama's announcement that he's tapped Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court.

We don't need another Alito on the Court. It's got enough conservative law and order type former prosecutors.

Republicans will love this choice. It seems to me Obama just wants to appease them and get them to back off their position that the next president should get to choose Scalia's replacement.

So disappointed.

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Obama's Supreme Court Choices

A new name has emerged as a finalist in the Supreme Court sweeps to replace Justice Scalia. Meet Paul Watford.

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Justice Thomas Asks Questions

Justice Clarence Thomas asked questions of a government lawyer during oral arguments yesterday. It was the first time in 10 years he's asked a question. What was the case? A gun rights case.

"Ms. Eisenstein, one question," Thomas said. "This is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?"

What misdemeanor is that? The federal law that prohibits someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in state court from owning a firearm.The case is Voisine v. United States.

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