Published: Monday, 02 July 2018 07:00
So here are (to me) the six most important cases to roll out of this Supreme Court session. Five of these were serious dealings in favor of individual liberty and against those who wish for discretionary government control. The last one will severely hurt small businesses, no matter what.
MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, LTD.,ET AL.v.COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSION ET AL.
This was a "punt" by SCOTUS, leaving the decision about the Constitutionality of the law itself undecided. I am okay with this, because I am in favor of the feds keeping their nose out of state business unless it crosses state lines. That being said, when the state government is actively against selected (group or individual) people for whatever reason, then it becomes a SCOTUS issue.
The court found in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop in that the Colorado Civil Right Commission was openly hostile to and prejudiced against the baker. Part of the decision reads:
Held: (a) ...Indeed, while the instant enforcement proceedings were pending, the State Civil Rights Division concluded in at least three cases that a baker acted lawfully in declining to create cakes with decorations that demeaned gay persons or gay marriages. Phillips too was entitled to a neutral and respectful consideration of his claims in all the circumstances of the case.
(b) That consideration was compromised, however, by the Commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case, which showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection. As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the Commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillips’ faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust...
Yeah, I like limiting the power and authority of unelected government bureaucrats who make up their own rules.
JANUS v. AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY, AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, COUNCIL 31, ET AL.
This will hurt the public-sector employee unions very badly. This is actually the second case like this one, however, the first case, FRIEDRICHS, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. CALIFORNIA TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, ET AL. was undecided due to Justice Scalia's unexpected passing, thus making a 4-4 split. In both Janus and Friedrichs, public sector employees resented having to pay dues to a union that they didn't belong to and didn't believe in the political objectives of those unions. The unions and government in both states agreed that the unions would represent both union members and non-union members, even if the non-members didn't want the representation of the union.
The fees confiscated from paid by non-members are "fungible" money, meaning that once it is received into the general fund of the union, you cannot say one way or the other that the money was or was not spent on any actions that the non-members objected to.
I am all for collective bargaining for those who want it and individual bargaining for those who don't want collective bargaining. If the non-union members end up with a worse deal than the union members, They are free to join the union. If the non-union employees get a better package than the union because, you know, they might perform their job better and know they don't have the "protection" of the union, then the better performing teachers might jump the union ship.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF FAMILY AND LIFE ADVOCATES, DBA NIFLA, ET AL. v. BECERRA, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CALIFORNIA, ET AL.
You can tell how overbearing this law is by the first sentience of the decision:
The California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act (FACT Act) was enacted to regulate crisis pregnancy centers—pro-life centers that offer pregnancy-related services. [emphasis mine]
My question is, why weren't the clinics that are pro-abortion pro-choice clinics regulated under the same act? If this law required pro-life centers to advertise free or low cost abortions, why wasn't the pro-choice centers required to advertise the pro-life options? The rabid pro-choicers will undoubtedly say, "they offer adoption or other pro-life options as part of their information package." Of course they do. I'm sure the woman is given a brochure on adoption... that's 2nd from the bottom of 18 brochures about family planning, aftereffects of abortion, etc. while being carried on a whirlwind from waiting room to recovery room. And of course, the staff would never say the words "you could give the baby up for adoption" or let the woman see the ultrasound of the fetus while assessing how best to terminate the fetus.
This is a clear case of the state government restricting the freedom of speech by requiring an organization to say/display/advertise a position and an option that is antithetical to their purpose and mission. I am very glad California was kicked to the curb. To show my ideological consistency, if this was a pro-life state that was forcing Planned Parenthood to post pro-life posters, I would be happy that PP got the nod and the states law knocked down.
TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ET AL. v. HAWAII ET AL.
This was the case of a court actively interfering with the lawful daily business of the President. Trump enacted a 50-day hold on immigration from seven countries, Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. This list was developed by the State Department and Homeland Security under Obama. These countries were selected because either:
- They have no functioning national government so we have no one to confirm the identity of an applicant,
- The records of that government are unable to satisfy our government agencies as to the identity of an applicants information, or
- They are an actively hostile foreign power and thus have reasons to issue false documents to people meant to infiltrate the US for the purposes of spying or sabotage.
Here's what the decision said:
After a 50-day period during which the State Department made diplomatic efforts to encourage foreign governments to improve their practices, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security concluded that eight countries —Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen—remained deficient. She [Acting Secretary of DHS] recommended entry restrictions for certain nationals from all of those countries but Iraq, which had a close cooperative relationship with the U. S. She also recommended including Somalia, which met the information-sharing component of the baseline standards but had other special risk factors, such as a significant terrorist presence.
I'm sorry, I don't think there's a lot of Muslims in either Venezuela or North Korea, so #MuslimBan doesn't seem to fit quite right. Also, those countries with a majority of people who practice the Muslim faith (Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen) make up less than 10% of the worlds Muslim population. Again, #MuslimBan doesn't hold up to the truth.
The lower court took into consideration the campaign statements of Candidate Trump. It looks to me that the lower court didn't adhere to the "Four Corners of the Law" standard that Judges should use for every such case before them. SCOTUS did adhere to the Four Corners principle, meaning they looked at the Presidential Proclamation that started this whole kerfluffle. The read what it said, noted the sections of the US Code in the proclamation, then read those sections of the US code and the majority (IMO, this decisionreally should have been a 9-0) concurred that the law of the land gives the President the discretionary power to enact such requirements and limit or withhold all immigration from those countries for not meeting our baseline documentation requirements.
CARPENTER v. UNITED STATES
Okay, let me make this clear. If you have a cell phone or tablet with you, that device is constantly broadcasting your location. If you're going to do something bad, don't take the cell phone/tablet that has your name on the account to where you're doing the bad thing. Carpenter was an idiot for doing this. Turn it off and leave it somewhere far away from the crime you're going to perform or have someone drive it around away from where you are while you're doing bad things.
I believe the court acted properly here in it's judgement of the location data obtained without a warrant is inadmissible in court, because no business should willingly surrender any of a customers' personal information to the government. To do so violates the trust between the company and the customer. If the police don't want to expend the manpower necessary to follow a suspect, then they should have to get a warrant.
The bad news is there is a device called a Stingray that can imitate a cell phone tower and have phones exchange their data with the Stingray, while the Stingray then passes your data to the real cell phone tower so you don't know you're being monitored. This technology has already been used by hundreds of local law-enforcement agencies thousands of times. Look for the use of these devices to increase.
The one "SCOTUS Screwup" that I saw was SOUTH DAKOTA v. WAYFAIR, INC.
This decision has kicked the whole "internet tax" debate on it's head. Up until this decision, a mail-order transaction has been free of sales taxes unless the seller has a store in the same state as the buyer. Why is that? Think of it this way. The tax structure of the county and state where I reside currently is like this:
- State Sales tax of 7%
- County sales tax of 2.25% on non-grocery items, up to $1,600.
- County sales tax on groceries 0.25%
- Then there are several suburbs who also tack on a 0.5% or 0.75%
That this means that a company with a mail-order component to their sales now has to know all those rules, the addresses of the customers who might or might not be subject to that municipality tax, plus the address of the state, county and municipal tax collection offices entitled to those taxes.
Now multiply that by 3,300, because that's approximately how many counties there are in the United States. In the end, it means that any small business (which is 80% of all businesses in the US) now has an accounting and tax-liability headache the size of Mount Everest.
As a solution, they could either sell their wares through Amazon (which already have the necessary numbers of accountants and lawyers to surmount this Everest of paperwork), they could pay a service to keep track of all of this (both of these options would cut into their already small profit margins) or as a last resort, stop selling on-line entirely.
So there you have it, four cases where the court upheld individuals First and Fourth Amendment Rights, a smack on the nose of those who seek to interfere with the legal and lawful affairs of the President as he properly discharges the duties of his Oath and Office. And last but not least, a stupid decision that will cost thousands of businesses sales and profits.