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President Donald Trump’s financial records can be examined by New York prosecutors, the Supreme Court has ruled on July 9.

In a related case, the court ruled that this information did not have to be shared with Congress.

Donald Trump is the first president since Richard Nixon in the 1970s not to have made his tax returns public.

The president’s lawyers had argued that he enjoyed total immunity while in office and that Congress had no valid justification to seek the records.

Two Democrat-controlled House of Representatives committees and New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance – also a Democrat – had demanded several years’ worth of President Trump’s taxes in order to determine whether current conflict-of-interest laws on a US president were tough enough.

President Trump, a Republican, denies wrongdoing and has called the investigation into his tax affairs a “witch hunt”.

He wrote in a series of tweets following the court rulings: “The Supreme Court sends case back to Lower Court, arguments to continue. This is all a political prosecution.”

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In the case regarding the request from the New York prosecutors, the Supreme Court ruled by a majority of seven to two that President Trump did not have absolute immunity from criminal investigation.

“Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” the court said.

“We reaffirm that principle today.”

However, the two cases regarding Congressional committees were closely watched, as they could have had implications on how far US lawmakers could scrutinize the activities of a sitting president.

The Supreme Court ruled that Congress had significant, but not limitless, power to request the president’s personal information. In this case, the court returned the case to the lower courts.

Two of the cases centered on the ability of the House intelligence, oversight and financial services committees to compel Deutsche Bank and Mazars USA, President Trump’s long-time accounting firm, to turn over his tax and financial documents. The committees argued that they needed this information to determine whether current conflict-of-interest laws on a US president were sufficiently rigorous.

The case of Trump v Vance was based on Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s criminal subpoena – an order to hand over evidence.

Cyrus Vance argued Donald Trump’s documents were needed to determine if financial records had been doctored to cover up hush-money payments to two women in 2016 who say they had affairs with President Trump.

Following the ruling Cyrus Vance said the investigation into President Trump’s financial affairs would resume.

It is not clear whether this will happen. Even if President Trump’s financial records are turned over to prosecutors, they may remain hidden from public view until charges are filed.


Image source Wikimedia

Over 300 protesters against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been arrested in Washington, DC.

Comedian Amy Schumer and model Emily Ratajkowski were among 302 people held for demonstrating against Judge Kavanaugh.

On October 4, Republicans declared an FBI report had exonerated Brett Kavanaugh of assault allegations.

However, Democrats said the five-day inquiry was “incomplete” because it was limited by the White House.

The Senate will hold a procedural vote on Brett Kavanaugh on October 5.

The likelihood of Judge Kavanaugh winning a full Senate vote appeared to increase on October 4 after two Republicans whose backing will be essential gave a positive account of the FBI inquiry.

However, the confirmation is not a certainty, with several senators undecided and one at risk of missing a vote because he is attending his daughter’s wedding.

If confirmed to the lifetime position on America’s highest court, Brett Kavanaugh, 53, is expected to help conservatives dominate the nine-member panel, which has the final say on issues such as abortion, gun control and voting rules.

FBI Releases Brett Kavanaugh Report

Judge Brett Kavanaugh: FBI Approaches Second Assault Accuser Deborah Ramirez

Republicans Pushing to Vote on Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court after Hearing

As the vote neared, Brett Kavanaugh defended his neutrality in a Wall Street Journal editorial, saying he is an “independent, impartial judge”

Addressing his angry testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he branded the allegations against him an “orchestrated political hit”, Brett Kavanaugh wrote: “I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.”

Thousands of mainly female demonstrators marched through Washington DC on October 4, starting at the appeals court where Judge Kavanaugh currently presides.

They converged on Capitol Hill and held a rally outside the Supreme Court, chanting: “Kavanaugh has got to go!”

Police rounded the protesters up in a Senate office building after they sat down and refused to budge.

There was another protest in front of Trump Tower in NYC.

President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans declared the FBI report had cleared their nominee, as they sounded increasingly confident Judge Kavanaugh would win confirmation.

Senators said the FBI had spoken to five witnesses connected to accusations by Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges a drunken Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her in 1982.

Federal agents are also said to have spoken to four other witnesses involving a separate accusation by Deborah Ramirez, who claims Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both were at Yale University. The judge denies both allegations.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said in a statement: “This investigation found no hint of misconduct.”

Senate Republicans plan a procedural “cloture” vote at 10:30 on October 5, which is required to move to a final vote, scheduled on October 6 at around 17:30.

However, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein said the FBI report was “the product of an incomplete investigation”, saying key corroborating witnesses had been snubbed. Another Democratic Senator, Richard Blumenthal, told reporters it was a “whitewash”.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “What critics want is a never-ending fishing expedition into high school drinking.”

Republican Senator John Cornyn raised eyebrows by telling his party this was “our Atticus Finch moment”, a reference to the lawyer in classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird who refutes a false rape allegation.

Given that Republicans have a razor-thin 51-49 margin of control in the Senate, the party can potentially only afford one defection if it wants to confirm Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, assuming Democrats vote the same way.

Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination has been at the mercy of three wavering senators, but two of those – Jeff Flake and Susan Collins – appeared to respond positively to the FBI report.

Another wavering Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, reportedly met assault survivors in her office on October 4.

Complicating matters, the office of Republican Steve Daines said he was planning to attend his daughter’s wedding in Montana on October 6 – meaning he might not be around to vote, or that the vote may be held open until he can return to take part.

Another Republican, Cory Gardner, who previously said he would back Judge Brett Kavanaugh, is yet to decide how he will vote, the Denver Post reported.

A previously undecided Democratic Senator, Heidi Heitkamp, said she would vote against Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, citing “concerns about his past conduct”.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the only Democrat who remains undecided, said he would finish reading the FBI report on October 5.


Image source Wikimedia

Republicans are pushing to vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court on September 28, after hearing dramatic testimony from him and Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, who is accusing him of assault.

President DonaldTrump has urged the Senate – where Republicans have a majority – to vote.

This is expected next week, although the outcome is far from certain with a number of senators on both sides undecided.

The American Bar Association has called for a delay of the vote to allow the FBI to investigate the claims by Christine Blasey Ford and other women.

The Supreme Court plays a vital role in political life – appointed for life, its nine members have the final say on US law.

This includes highly contentious social issues, such as abortion, and challenges to government policy.

Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment would tilt the balance in favor of conservatives for years to come.

For this reason, Republicans accuse the Democrats of seeking to delay the confirmation until after the mid-term elections in November when they hope to win enough seats to stop it altogether.

The hearing, which lasted for nine hours, brought an outpouring of support for Christine Blasey Ford – a university professor – from the #MeToo movement against harassment and assault.

Brett Kavanaugh and His Accuser to Appear at Senate Panel Hearing

President Donald Trump’s nominee, at times emotional and angry, denied assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers.

The 51-year-old, close to tears, described the incident in detail saying it had “drastically” affected her life.

Prior to September 27, no-one had heard from Christine Blasey Ford publicly since the allegations arose.

After addresses by the leading Republican and Democrat senators, she delivered her statement, at times close to tears.

“I am here today not because I want to be,” she said.

“I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”

Christine Blasey Ford alleged Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge had locked her in a bedroom during a small gathering at a house in a Washington DC suburb in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and Brett Kavanaugh was 17.

She said Brett Kavanaugh had tried to remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and groped her. Both men were “drunkenly laughing”, she said.

Prof. Ford added: “Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details.”

Under questioning by a Democratic senator, Christine Blasey Ford said her most vivid memory was “the laughter between the two and their having fun at my expense… They were laughing with each other – two friends having a really good time with one another”.

In an answer to a question from another Democrat about claims of mistaken identity, she said she was “100%” certain that Brett Kavanaugh had assaulted her.

Many of the 10 Democrats in the 21-person committee praised her for coming forward – and supported her call for an FBI investigation into her allegations.

The 11 Republicans, all men, deferred most of their questions to a lawyer, Phoenix prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.

Brett Kavanaugh responded by taking a combative approach but occasionally became emotional.

“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” the 53-year-old federal judge told the committee.

“The constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.

“Since my nomination in July there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation.”

Brett Kavanaugh insisted he would not be “intimidated” into withdrawing from the process.

He said: “You may defeat me in the final vote but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”

Brett Kavanaugh said he did not doubt that Christine Blasey Ford had been assaulted, but insisted: “I’ve never s**ually assaulted Dr Ford – or anyone.”

He admitted he had drunk beer while at high school and under-age, but said he had never got so drunk as to forget events.

The federal judge added that his calendars for 1982 – which he had kept – showed he had not attended a party at the location Christine Blasey Ford had described.

His friend, Mark Judge, has sent two letters to the committee saying he has no recollection of the events described by Christine Blasey Ford and adding that he had never seen Brett Kavanaugh behave in the way alleged.

The Democratic senators on the committee have called on President Trump to “immediately withdraw” Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Moments after the hearing ended, however, President Trump stood by his nominee and said he found Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony “powerful, honest and riveting”.

President Trump has repeatedly defended the judge’s character, saying he is “one of the highest quality people” he has ever met.

Thousands of protesters against the nomination took to the streets on September 27 and 59 people were arrested near the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

President Donald Trump has announced the search for a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will “begin immediately”.

He said at a rally in North Dakota: “We have to pick one that’s going to be there for 40 years, 45 years.”

The retirement of Justice Kennedy, a conservative who sided with liberals on many votes, gives President Trump the chance to shift the top court’s balance more to the right for decades to come.

The 81-year-old judge will retire on July 31.

Justice Anthony Kennedy made the announcement on June 27, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family after 30 years on the top court. President Trump later praised Justice Kennedy – who held the pivotal vote on many key cases – as “a great justice of the Supreme Court”.

Image source Wikimedia

Supreme Court Upholds Trump’s Travel Ban for Muslim Countries

“Hopefully we are going to pick somebody who will be as outstanding,” the president told reporters at the White House. The judge’s retirement gives President Trump his second Supreme Court pick since he became president, and he has said he will choose from a list of 25 conservative candidates.

The Supreme Court plays a key role in American life and is often the final word on highly contentious laws, disputes between states and the federal government, and final appeals to stay executions.

This week the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban which covers people from several Muslim-majority countries, in a 5-4 conservative majority ruling. Earlier this month the court ruled in favor of a baker in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Speaking at the rally in Fargo, North Dakota on June 27, President Trump told supporters that Anthony Kennedy had chosen to retire under his presidency “because he felt confident in me to make the right choice and carry on his great legacy”.

Donald Trump has promised to draw names from the same list from which he picked Neil Gorsuch in February 2017.

Rather than serving fixed terms, the justices serve for life unless they decide to retire. This makes their appointments particularly significant.

Anthony Kennedy, who is the second-oldest justice on the nine-member US Supreme Court, earned a reputation as a swing vote conservative who supported liberal arguments on key decisions, including the 5-4 rulings that decided same-gender marriage and upheld abortion rights.

The Supreme Court is upholding President Donald Trump’s travel ban which covers people from several Muslim-majority countries.

Lower courts had deemed the ban unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision in a 5-4 conservative majority ruling.

At a White House meeting to discuss President Trump’s proposed border wall he lauded the decision as “a tremendous success”.

The Supreme Court’s reversal is viewed as a victory for the Trump administration.

The ban prohibits most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States.

President Trump hailed the Supreme Court’s decision saying that it was a “great victory” for the nation and constitution.

At a meeting with lawmakers, the president said: “We have to be tough and we have to be safe and we have to be secure.”

“The ruling shows that all the attacks from the media and the Democrat politicians were wrong, and they turned out to be very wrong,” he added.

President Trump said: “If you look at the European Union, they’re meeting right now to toughen up their immigration policies because they’ve been over-run, they’ve been over-run.

“And frankly, a lot of those countries are not the same places anymore.”

Image source Wikimedia

Supreme Court Approves Donald Trump’s Full Travel Ban

US Travel Ban: White House Sets New Criteria for Visa Applicants from Six Muslim Countries

The travel ban, which the Supreme Court allowed to take effect in December 2017, has been widely criticized by refugee and human rights groups.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, which said the travel ban was “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority”.

He also rejected arguments that the ban discriminated against Muslims.

He wrote: “The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices.

“The text says nothing about religion.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the dissenting opinion, which argues the court failed to uphold the religious liberty guaranteed by the first amendment of the US constitution.

Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote: “It leaves undisturbed a policy first advertised openly and unequivocally as a ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ because the policy now masquerades behind a facade of national-security concerns.”

The dissent also states that “a reasonable observer would conclude that [the ban] was motivated by anti-Muslim animus”.

The ban prevents most immigrants, refugees and visa holders from five Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – as well as North Korea and Venezuela from entering the US.

However, the restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela were not part of the legal challenge.

President Donald Trump’s travel ban on six mainly Muslim countries can go into full effect, the Supreme Court has ruled on December 4.

The decision is a boost for President Trump’s policy against travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

The Supreme Court’s ruling covers the third version of the directive that the president has issued since taking office.

Seven of the nine justices lifted injunctions on December 4 imposed by lower courts against the policy.

Only liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor would have allowed the president’s order to remain blocked.

Federal appeals courts in San Francisco, California, and Richmond, Virginia, will hear arguments this week on whether the latest iteration of the policy is lawful.

Image source Flickr

US Travel Ban: White House Sets New Criteria for Visa Applicants from Six Muslim Countries

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The Supreme Court noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch”.

The case will eventually end up back in the Supreme Court.

The December 4 decision suggests America’s top judicial body may ultimately rule in favor of the administration, say legal analysts.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the White House was “not surprised” by the Supreme Court’s decision.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the ruling “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”.

However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said President Trump’s re-tweeting of British far-right videos last week showed his discrimination against Islam.

Donald Trump insisted his ban was necessary for national security and pointed to terrorist attacks in Paris, London, Brussels and Berlin as evidence.

However, in striking it down, federal judges have cited President Trump’s campaign description of his policy as a “Muslim ban” and his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”.

Lower courts across the US have said President Trump’s policy violated the first amendment of the US constitution covering freedom of religion.

Colorado federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch is President Donald Trump’s nomination for the Supreme Court.

If confirmed by the Senate, Neil Gorsuch, 49, would restore the court’s conservative majority, lost with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Senate Democratic leader has said he has “very serious doubts” about Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination.

The court has the final legal word on many of the most sensitive issues, from abortion to gender to gun control.

President Trump said Judge Gorsuch had a “superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to text”.

“Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline, and has earned bipartisan support,” he said.

Neil Gorsuch was picked from a shortlist of 21 choices, which Donald Trump made public during the election campaign.

Image source Getty Images

Accepting the nomination, Neil Gorsuch said: “It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.”

Judge Gorsuch is a so-called originalist, meaning he believes the US Constitution should be followed as the Founding Fathers intended.

If successful, Neil Gorsuch’s nomination will restore the 5-4 conservative majority on the nine-seat high court.

Protests against Donald Trump’s choice were held outside the Supreme Court following the announcement.

Neil Gorsuch’s nomination is expected to spark a political showdown in the Senate.

Former President Barack Obama had put forward Judge Merrick Garland after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016.

However, Republicans refused to debate the choice, saying it was too close to an election, which left Democrats embittered.

Even if Judge Neil Gorsuch makes it through the Senate Judiciary Committee, he will still face challenges when the entire chamber convenes for a final vote.

Democrats may seek to prevent that second vote by prolonging or filibustering the debate. In that case, the nomination would need 60 votes rather than a simple majority.

With Republicans only holding 52 Senate seats, they may have to change Senate rules in order to approve Donald Trump’s nominee.

The Supreme Court is often the ultimate arbiter on highly contentious laws, disputes between states and the federal government, and final appeals to stay executions.

The highest court hears fewer than 100 cases a year and the key announcements are made in June.

Each of the nine justices serves a lifetime appointment after being nominated by the president and approved by the Senate.

The Supreme Court already has cases this term on the rights of transgender students, gerrymandered voting districts and on the Texas death penalty determination.

It is also likely the court will hear cases on voter rights, abortion, racial bias in policing and US immigration policy, and possibly on Donald Trump’s controversial executive order banning refugees.

President Barack Obama’s plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants living illegally in the US failed to pass the Supreme Court.

The court has announced it is split on the president’s plan.

The divide comes as a blow to Barack Obama’s 2014 executive action which he enacted without Congress and will now be assessed in a lower court.

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan applauded the news, saying only Congress should write laws.

However, Barack Obama said the deadlock was “heartbreaking” for millions of people.

“They are Americans in every way but on paper,” the president said at the White House, adding that reform will happen, sooner or later.

“Congress is not going to be able to ignore America forever,” Barack Obama added.

Texas led 26 Republican-led states in challenging the program, which would have given the right to work to millions of people.Barack Obama immigration plan at Supreme Court

The deadlock between the eight judges was only possible because of the death of the ninth, Justice Antonin Scalia, leaving a vacancy that is still unfilled.

This is the first tied decision produced by the Supreme Court, as the Senate continues to block Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) initiatives had been on hold since 2015 as the court considered the programs’ legality.

DAPA was considered particularly controversial as it allows the parents of US citizens and permanent residents to remain in the county for up to three years and apply for work permits.

Lawyers for the state of Texas argued that state governments would be overburdened by having to spend more on public services with the addition of the undocumented residents.

The lack of ruling leaves the legal status of about four million undocumented immigrants in limbo.

Barack Obama’s unilateral action would have allowed migrants to obtain work permits and would block them from deportation while their citizenship status was being determined by lawmakers.

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton called the courts deadlocked opinion “unacceptable” and said that immigrants “enrich our communities and contribute to our economy every day”.

She said in a statement: “We should be doing everything possible under the law to provide them relief from the specter of deportation.”

Republican lawmaker Paul Ryan applauded the Supreme Court for making “the president’s executive action on immigration null and void”.

“The Constitution is clear: The president is not permitted to write laws, only Congress is.”

Paul Ryan, the top-ranking elected Republican, is at odds with the party’s presidential nominee-to-be Donald Trump over his plans to build a wall on the southern border paid for by Mexico.


Thousands of mourners have attended a funeral Mass celebrated in Washington for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last weekend at the age of 79.

The service was held in the largest Catholic church in the US.

Antonin Scalia’s coffin had earlier lain in the Supreme Court with President Barack Obama among those paying respects.

The death of Antonin Scalia, who was seen as a hero by the US right, has sparked a political row over his successor.

Thousands of people filled the vast Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on February 20.

One of Antonin Scalia’s nine children, Rev Paul Scalia, led the Mass, ahead of a private burial.

Rev. Paul Scalia, who serves the diocese of Arlington, Virginia, said: “We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more, a man loved by many, scorned by others, a man known for great controversy, and for great compassion.”

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

He then added: “That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.”

It was because of Jesus that “in confidence we commend Antonin Scalia to the mercy of God”.

The country’s eight remaining Supreme Court justices attended the service.

One of them, Clarence Thomas, offered a Bible reading.

The Supreme Court says more than 6,000 visitors viewed the casket in the Great Hall on February 19.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were among those paying their respects at the flag-draped coffin, but were not at the funeral.

VP Joe Biden was at the Mass – he has a close personal relationship with the Scalia family – as was Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Barack Obama’s attendance could have created security issues.

Ted Cruz has been among those demanding there be no nomination of a successor until after the November presidential election.

Barack Obama has insisted he will go through with the nomination.

Antonin Scalia’s death leaves the Supreme Court evenly divided between liberal and conservative justices ahead of crucial cases on abortion, voting rights and immigration.

According to the constitution, the president nominates justices to the court and the Senate uses its “advice and consent” powers to confirm or reject that person.

Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly at his remote Texas ranch on February 13.


Last week saw the death of Antonin Scalia, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Whether he died on the night of February 12th or the morning of February 13th has not yet been determined. Reports claim that Scalia died in his sleep from natural causes while hunting in Texas. As permissible under Texas law, the cause of death was pronounced without autopsy taking place. That Scalia died shortly after hunting will surprise few.

Scalia’s death marks only the second time in sixty years a Justice has died while serving on the court. With the number of Supreme Court Justices now down to eight, a vacancy for the ninth position has opened.

Opinion is split on the legacy Scalia has left. He has famously been viewed as an enemy of liberal thought and a staunch defender of conservatism. His apparent goal in his career was to uphold the Constitution as literally as possible. This often meant disregarding ethics, humanitarianism, or pragmatism. He was an avid opponent of individual rights, particularly abortion and homosexuality. As the Constitution didn’t cover them, he claimed, they were fair game for discriminatory lawmakers.


Image from Flickr

He was also a firm believer in the death penalty, and even pushed for it (unsuccessfully) to be applied to minors. His defence for this appeared to be that the original Constitution did not condemn this. This highlighted his Originalism with regards to the Constitution: the Eighth Amendment, which did condemn such action, was made just four years after the Constitution was set. The Eighth Amendment is now over two hundred years old. It also highlighted his contradictory nature; he defended several other Amendments despite their nature as changes to the original Constitution.

While humanitarians and liberals may have bemoaned his judicial power, many in the criminal defense sector found his policies to be beneficial. His rigid adherence to the Constitution protected many accused criminals and assured their rights were defended. This included an accused’s right to face their accuser and the witnesses against them. Scalia voted to protect American flag-burning protesters from criminal punishment. He also fought against unreasonable and warrantless searches and seizures.

The surviving Justices are split equally in their political party affiliations. Four are Democrats and four, including the Supreme Justice, are Republicans. They are split 4-4 between conservative and liberal ideologies and voting patterns.


Image from Flickr

It is up to Barack Obama to nominate someone to fill the vacancy. Many Republicans are claiming that the Constitution prevents Obama from nominating anyone. This claim is made on the basis that he is nearing the end of his Presidential term. Others have pointed out that Obama has eleven months left of his term, and that a nomination must be made within a shorter period. This exposes the Republican claims as untrue. However, the Supreme Court needs to approve a nomination. This may not take place during Obama’s term.

The actions of an Associate Justice have far-reaching political consequences. Some are going as far to claim that the filling of this vacancy is of more importance to the American people than that of the Presidential race. Because of the possibility that the next President will have to nominate a new Justice, the 2016 Presidential race may be dramatically altered. We recommend you keep an eye on developments regarding this vacancy.


The Supreme Court has blocked President Barack Obama’s plans to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide from US power plants.

The court ruled that Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan could not go forward until all legal challenges were heard.

Designed to cut US emissions by 32% by 2030, the scheme put huge emphasis on a shift to renewable energy.

It formed the key element of the US pledge at UN climate negotiations held in Paris in December 2015.

Introduced by Barack Obama in August 2015, the plan set carbon reduction goals for each state and it was up to the states themselves to come up with proposals to meet those goals.

A group of 27 states, utilities and coal miners sought to block the proposal in the courts. They argued that the plan was an infringement on states’ rights.

An initial attempt to halt the implementation of the plan until legal challenges were heard was thrown out by a US appeals court in Washington in January.

However, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to halt the plan pending the outcome of the litigation.Clean Power Plan 2016

White House spokesman Josh Earnest put out a statement following the decision: “We disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the Clean Power Plan while litigation proceeds.

“The Clean Power Plan is based on a strong legal and technical foundation, gives states the time and flexibility they need to develop tailored, cost-effective plans to reduce their emissions, and will deliver better air quality, improved public health, clean energy investment and jobs across the country, and major progress in our efforts to confront the risks posed by climate change.

“We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling could have significant implications for Barack Obama’s attempt to cut down on carbon.

Under the Clean Power Plan, individual states were due to submit their proposals on how to meet the CO2 restrictions by September 2016. That date will be missed.

It is unlikely that all the legal questions over the future of the Clean Power Plan will be resolved before President Obama leaves office in January 2017.

West Virginia’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called the high court’s action a “great victory”.

“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court realized the rule’s immediate impact and froze its implementation, protecting workers and saving countless dollars as our fight against its legality continues,” he said in a statement.

Supporters of the Clean Power Plan were confident that the courts would ultimately upheld its legality.

“The electricity sector has embarked on an unstoppable shift from its high-pollution, dirty-fuelled past to a safer, cleaner-powered future, and the stay cannot reverse that trend,” said David Doniger, from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Nor can it dampen the overwhelming public support for action on climate change and clean energy.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling will be seen as a major embarrassment for President Barack Obama, who helped craft a new global agreement on climate change at UN sponsored talks in Paris in December.

What will worry the White House more is the division of the court along ideological lines, with conservative justices all supporting the stay while the liberal justices opposed.

If these divisions hold, the Clean Power Plan may suffer further setbacks in the Supreme Court which may ultimately render it useless.

If that was to happen, the ability of the US to live up to its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement would be in serious doubt.


In June of 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional, everybody knew the ruling would make waves in other realms of the law. One such area is child custody.

In 2014, Charlene Ramey separated from her same sex partner, Kimberly Sutton, and filed for parental rights and custody of their son. Shortly after Ramey submitted her petition, Sutton asked district Judge Howard Haralson to dismiss the case. Haralson granted the dismissal but Ramey was persistent and brought her case all the way to the state Supreme Court.

This is the court’s decision: Ramey’s relationship with the child was more than that of a nanny, friend or even a family member like an aunt or cousin. “On the contrary” wrote Justice Joseph Watt, “Ramey has been intimately involved in the conception, birth and parenting of their child, at the request and invitation of Sutton.


He added: “Ramey has stood in the most sacred role as parent to their child and always has been referred to as ‘mom’ by their child. The community, school, medical providers and extended family have all known Ramey as ‘the other parent’ all with the knowledge and mutual agreement of Sutton.”

Andrew J. Stephenson, a child custody lawyer, had this to say on the subject: “With this landmark US Supreme court ruling, the lower courts must take issues regarding same sex parenting more seriously and really focus on what’s best for the child. I believe the Oklahoma Supreme Court definitely made the correct decision, one that no doubt set a precedent for future cases.

In the majority opinion, Watt continues: “In a separate, concurring opinion Justices James Winchester and Steven Taylor said the agreement between Ramey and Sutton to conceive and care for a child must also be considered. The court must first determine standing based on [an] agreement of the parties. Then and only then is best interest considered to determine custody or visitation.

The Supreme Court’s ruling overturned the district court’s decision to dismiss Ramey’s case. She now has legal standing to continue to play a role in parenting her son.

The Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had worked on the case with Ramey’s lawyer, Rhonda Telford Naidu, as they appealed the lower court’s rejection up through the state’s higher courts.

“I’m really proud of the Oklahoma Supreme Court for giving this case its day in court,” says Troy Stevenson, the executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, an LGBT rights organization. “The worst thing I can imagine is for a child to be ripped away from its mother.

As for Ramey, well, she just seems happy to be able to call her son hers. “Today is an overwhelming day of emotion and joy,” she said hours after the ruling. “Today is relief. Today, our great state [of Oklahoma] recognized that I have been nothing but true as a mom to my son and our relationship. Today starts another chapter of hope. I love you, son.


One of President Barack Obama’s key immigration reform plans could be challenged by the Supreme Court.

The plan would lift the threat of deportation from 5 million migrants living illegally in the US.

A coalition of 26 mostly conservative states, led by Texas, has been successful in lower court challenges.

A decision from the Supreme Court is expected in the early summer, just as the election gets into full swing.

“We are confident that the policies will be upheld as lawful,” said White House spokeswoman Brandi Hoffine.

President Barack Obama announced the plan, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), in November 2014.Barack Obama immigration plan at Supreme Court

He justified using his presidential powers, without Congress, by saying it was in response to inaction over the issue of immigration from Congress.

If allowed to go forward, it would allow people who have lived in the US for more than five years and who have children who are living in the country legally to apply for work authorization.

In announcing the plan, Barack Obama said it would allow those who qualify to “come out of the shadows and get right with the law”.

Challenges to the plan began shortly after President Barack Obama’s announcement, with a federal court in Texas effectively putting a pause on it in February.

The Obama administration lost an appeal in November, keeping the injunction in place.

The White House has vowed to kickstart the program if the Supreme Court was to rule in its favor, so that migrants could began enrolling before a new president takes office in January 2017.

One of the largest questions looming over the case is whether the state challengers have the right to do so.

Texas argues it will have to spend millions of dollars to provide driver’s licenses to people who are part of the program.

The issue of immigration has become a controversial and polarizing issue in the 2016 presidential race.

Leading Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said she would maintain and expand President Barack Obama’s reforms, while Republican front runner Donald Trump has said he would reverse the reforms and step up enforcement.

A key portion of ObamaCare has been upheld by the US Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision.

The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care act as a whole made subsidies available for people in all 50 states, not just those who bought insurance through a state exchange.

The high court case was the second major challenge to the healthcare law since its passage.

The decision is major victory for the Obama administration.ObamaCare protests SCOTUS

“Congress passed the Affordable Care act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion.

If the law was overturned, 6.4 million Americans would have been at risk of losing aid.

The 2010 ObamaCare set up a federally run insurance exchange where Americans who were not covered by employers or other governmental could buy health insurance.

Opponents argue that a phrase included in the law, “established by the state,” demonstrated that the healthcare subsidies should have only been available for people in states that set up exchanges.

However, most Americans receiving subsidies purchase healthcare through the federal exchange after many states decided not to set up their own marketplaces.

The Obama administration argued that was a too-narrow reading of the law, which spans near 1,000 pages, and the rest of the legislation makes clear subsidies are intended for those who meet income requirements, regardless of which exchange insurance was purchased from.

Justice John Roberts voted with liberal colleagues in support of the law. He was also the key vote to uphold it in a 2012 case. Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented in 2012, but sided with the majority on June 25.

Justice Anthony Scalia’s wrote in his dissent that the Supreme Court is setting a precedent of favoring some laws over others.

“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare” Justice Anthony Scalia’s wrote.

“Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of.”

The upholding of the Affordable Care Act cements President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative victory.

Outside the Supreme Court on June 25, people were celebratory and joyful, chanting “ACA is here to stay!” and “If you’re covered and you know it clap your hands.”


The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea from Arthur Conan Doyle’s heirs, who are trying to stop the publication of a book based on Sherlock Holmes.

Justice Elena Kagan, who was nominated to the court by President Barack Obama, dismissed the plea without explanation.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s family says Leslie Klinger and Laurie R. King should pay a license fee for using the Scottish author’s characters.

An earlier appeals court decision ruled against Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate.

The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea from Arthur Conan Doyle's heirs, who are trying to stop the publication of a book based on Sherlock Holmes

The Supreme Court has dismissed a plea from Arthur Conan Doyle’s heirs, who are trying to stop the publication of a book based on Sherlock Holmes

The seventh US circuit court of appeals in Chicago said that the character of Sherlock Holmes, along with 46 stories and four novels in which he has appeared, was in the public domain.

However, 10 further stories, published between 1923 and 1927, are still protected by US copyright, which expires in December 2022.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate have argued this copyright protection means that anyone creating original stories based on Sherlock Holmes should pay for the privilege.

Leslie Klinger, a known authority on the cerebral detective, handed over the $5,000 licensing fee when he published A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon, in 2011.

But when it came to publishing a second volume, he decided to withhold the money, leading Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate to threaten legal action.

“If you proceed instead to bring out Study in Sherlock II unlicensed, do not expect to see it offered for sale by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and similar retailers,” they wrote.

“We work with those [companies] routinely to weed out unlicensed uses of Sherlock Holmes from their offerings, and will not hesitate to do so with your book as well.”

However, Leslie Klinger sued the estate first, arguing the characters were in the public domain and no fee was due.

The appeals court sided with him on June 16 and now, it appears, the Supreme Court has agreed.

Arthur Conan Doyle’s heirs told the AFP news agency they would follow up the decision “in the coming months” and looked forward to presenting their arguments in a petition to review the lower court’s decision.

Meanwhile, Leslie Klinger has petitioned the courts to require the estate to pay his legal fees of $70,000.

Hillary Clinton criticized the Supreme Court for ruling that an employer can refuse to provide women with contraception on religious grounds.

Hillary Clinton said when asked about the court’s 5-4 decision during the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado: “Well I obviously disagree.”

“I disagree with the reasoning as well as the conclusion. Just think about this for a minute.”

Hillary Clinton criticized the Supreme Court for ruling that an employer can refuse to provide women with contraception on religious grounds

Hillary Clinton criticized the Supreme Court for ruling that an employer can refuse to provide women with contraception on religious grounds

The former secretary of state noted that the ruling could be broadened out to include other medical procedures that other religions object to.

“So does that mean if you have need for a blood transfusion your insurance doesn’t have to cover it?” she asked.

“So I mean this is a really bad slippery slope.”

Hillary Clinton also guessed that some businesses would lie about religion just to avoid higher costs.

“I think there should be a real outcry against this kind of decision,” she said.

“Many more companies will claim religious beliefs and some will be sincere, but others maybe not. And we’re going to see this one insurable service cut out from many, many women.”

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