The Supremes and Congressionally Mandated Precedents

Congressman Steve King (R, IA) is has introduced a bill in the House that would

bar the Supreme Court from citing Obamacare in forthcoming decisions as binding precedent.

By prohibiting the Supreme Court from citing ObamaCare cases, we will be truly eradicating this unconstitutional policy from all three branches of government so that the repeal will be complete. Furthermore, we must work to restore Article I authority and the Rule of Law by ensuring Congress is the only entity of our government making or changing laws.

Obamacare Subsidies

In a case involving Federal government payments to Obamacare insurers to “reimburse” them for health coverage plan discounts the government requires those insurers to provide low-income plan buyers, a Federal district court judge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (which gives the judge’s ruling nationwide jurisdiction) ruled those payments to be unconstitutional—the payments had been being made even though no funds had been appropriated for the purpose by Congress.

Judicial Nominations

In a more extensive piece about the vacancies into which President-Elect Donald Trump can nominate Federal judges, The Washington Post emphasized the nature of President Barack Obama’s (D) appointments—and by extension, the differences in judicial qualification philosophy between the two Presidents, although that wasn’t necessarily intentional.

Trump is likely to appoint judges with a view toward

[s]tate gun control laws, abortion restrictions, voter laws, anti-discrimination measures, and immigrant issues are all matters that are increasingly heard by federal judges and will be influenced by the new composition of the courts. Trump has vowed to choose ideologues in the mold of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon….

A State Court and the Citizens of the State

In last month’s elections, one of the ballot items was a South Dakota measure (apologies: the Argus Leader has a really intrusive set of popup ads) to limit

how much PACs, political parties, and individuals can give to candidates.

The measure passed by a slim 51%-49% margin, but nevertheless, the passage is by the voice of the citizens of that State.  The article at the link gives a summary of those limits.

Now a South Dakota judge has issued an injunction against implementing or enforcing that law.  Circuit Judge Mark Barnett, in issuing the injunction, acknowledged that the matter likely will end up before the South Dakota Supreme Court, and he said

Sexism in a Court

The singer Kesha, in a Manhattan court, is suing Sony and ex-producer “Dr Luke” over allegations of having been drugged and raped.  There are (unsubstantiated) reports that the presiding judge, Shirley Kornreich, should be removed from the case because she’s married to Proskauer Rose law firm partner Edward Kornreich, and Proskauer Rose represents Sony.

Kornreich says the move is sexist.

If it’s an issue at all, it’s an issue because women are now part of the professional work force[.]

Gerrymandering, Politics, and Race

The (eight Justice) Supreme Court is going to take up the question of gerrymandering and Congressional districts in Virginia and North Carolina.  In fact, the case the Court is hearing is narrower than that:

drawing legislative districts based on race.

Never mind that the Democrats’ Voting Rights Act of 1965 mandates race-based districting: the VRA

generally prohibits reducing minority-voting power through redistricting[]

which, of course, explicitly requires race-based districting in order to “protect” that “power.”

The Law Professor Misapprehends

Jacob Gershman has a piece in The Wall Street Journal‘s Law Blog about the increasing use of software algorithms to assess newsworthiness and the implications of that increasing use on legal assessments of the tradeoffs between individual privacy and what’s fit to print.  In it, Gershman quotes Georgetown University Associate Professor of Legal Research and Writing Erin Carroll.

Given the dominance of platforms like Facebook, the related influence of algorithms on how news is made, and specifically how algorithms are beginning to supplant editorial discretion and the editorial process, courts need to rethink their rationales for deference to the press. In the realm of privacy law, courts have long trusted the Fourth Estate to vet the newsworthiness of a subject before publishing, so that the courts themselves did not have to. Today, that trust is becoming misplaced.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Michigan elects its appellate court judges from each of four geographical districts, centered on Detroit, Troy, Grand Rapids, and Lansing.  Now the State’s government is playing games with that process.  Judge Donald Owens, of the Lansing district, intends to resign just before his term expires.

A Michigan appeals court judge is resigning four hours before his term expires on 1 January, allowing Governor Rick Snyder to pick a replacement.

No special election will occur; this will not be a particularly temporary appointment.  The appointed judge will serve until the next general election in the State.

There’s Speculation and There’s Speculation

Kansas has a law that requires voters to prove they’re citizens—and so eligible to vote—before they’re allowed actually to vote.  A Federal trial judge issued an injunction barring enforcement of the law, and the 10th Circuit Appeals Court upheld the injunction.

After Kansas had shown that in a single county,

eleven noncitizens successfully registered to vote; and after it went into effect another fourteen were prevented from registering. These 25 cases are just the tip of the iceberg in Sedgwick County[,]

Judge Jerome Holmes, for the 10th Circuit, wrote

The Courts Get Another One Right

This case involves how much Federal control over land deeded by the Feds to a State the Feds retain when they make the deed.  In the particular case, the Feds, ‘way back in 1949, deeded land to Ohio (in particular, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District) subject to the criteria that the land had to be used for flood control, conservation, and recreation.  Lately, Ohio began allowing fracking under the land.