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By Robert A. Vella

SCOTUS rulings

The U.S. Supreme Court issued one surprising ruling today and refused to consider three other important cases which allows accepted legal doctrine (i.e. legal opinions, not actual law) and lower court decisions to prevail for the time being.  In affirming sexual discrimination protections in the workplace under civil rights law, the court indirectly undermined the Trump Administration’s recent move to allow healthcare discrimination against LGBT persons (see:  New Rule Removes Protections Against LGBT Discrimination From Health Care and Insurance Laws During Pride Month).  In rejecting challenges to qualified legal immunity for police, state gun control laws, and California’s immigrant sanctuary cities policies, the court dealt setbacks to police reform measures, the National Rifle Association, and President Trump’s harsh anti-immigration agenda.

From:  Supreme Court rules existing civil rights law protects gay and lesbian workers

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that existing federal law forbids job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, a major victory for advocates of gay rights — and a surprising one from an increasingly conservative court.

The decision said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sex, among other factors, also covers sexual orientation. It upheld rulings from lower courts that said sexual orientation discrimination was a form of sex discrimination.

Across the nation, 21 states have their own laws prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Seven more provide that protection only to public employees. Those laws remain in force, but Monday’s ruling means federal law now provides similar protection for LGBT employees in the rest of the country.

From:  Supreme Court won’t consider limiting police immunity from civil lawsuits

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court refused Monday to reconsider the legal immunity from lawsuits generally given to police and other public officials accused of misconduct.

The justices’ decision not to hear a case on qualified immunity in their next term, which begins in October, follows the death last month of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minneapolis while in police custody. His killing led to days of unrest as well as peaceful protests  across the U.S. and a renewed national debate about racism and police brutality.

The Supreme Court has in recent decades set a high bar for pursuing lawsuits over official misconduct. Officers’ behavior must violate “clearly established” laws or constitutional rights, and courts have found it seldom does, because almost every specific allegation is different.

But some justices, lower court judges and scholars on both the left and right have questioned that legal doctrine for creating a nearly impossible standard for victims to meet and a nearly blanket immunity for those accused of misconduct.

From:  Supreme Court refuses to hear new challenge to gun restrictions

After refusing to rule on a challenge to New York City gun restrictions because they were rescinded while the case was pending, the court turned away all potential replacements that would have given its conservative justices a chance to strengthen the Second Amendment.

The justices had a long list of challenges to choose from, including several testing the threshold issue of whether guns can be carried in public nationwide, as they currently are in some 40 states. Other issues included bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and handgun sales.

By refusing to take a new case so quickly after declaring the New York City case moot, the justices denied gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association what they have been seeking – an opportunity to put state and local limits before an increasingly conservative court.

From:  U.S. Supreme Court snubs Trump on challenge to California ‘sanctuary’ laws

June 15 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed President Donald Trump a defeat in his legal showdown with the most-populous U.S. state, declining to hear his administration’s challenge to “sanctuary” laws in California that protect immigrants from deportation.

The justices left in place a lower court ruling that upheld the bulk of three laws in the Democratic-governed state that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement authorities.

Trouble in Trumpland

President Trump’s aggregate job approval rating (from FiveThirtyEight) is now over 14 points underwater at 54.9% disapprove versus 40.8% approve which is a rather staggering degree of public dissatisfaction.  This fall of public support coincided with his failed response to the coronavirus pandemic and his atrocious behavior during the ongoing racial injustice protests.  At the same time, however, the generic congressional ballot has remained very steady at 48.5% for Democrats versus 40.6% for Republicans.  The GOP deficit is virtually the same as it was before the 2018 midterms which enabled sweeping Democratic victories in the U.S. House of Representatives, state governorships, state legislatures, and other state offices.  Except for a symbolic move by Israel, there’s a lot of trouble in Trumpland these days.  See:

2020 state polls show clear shift toward Democrats since protests began

Voter turnout soared in Georgia despite massive primary day problems

U.S. FDA revokes emergency use status of drug touted by Trump for COVID-19

Israel OKs plan for new Golan settlement named after Trump

From:  Officials familiar with Lafayette Square confrontation challenge Trump administration claim of what drove aggressive expulsion of protesters

During the nearly two weeks since authorities charged at peaceful protesters to push them from D.C. streets — about 30 minutes before President Trump walked through the area for a photo op — his aides, the attorney general and federal law enforcement officials have sought to shield the president from political fallout with a simple defense: One scene, they say, had nothing to do with the other.

The notion that the street-clearing offensive around Lafayette Square was already planned, and separate from Trump’s decision to visit a nearby church, has emerged as the administration’s central explanation for scenes of federal officers shoving protesters with shields and firing pepper balls, chemical grenades and smoke bombs at retreating crowds on June 1.

[…]

However, the accounts of more than a half-dozen officials from federal law enforcement, D.C. public safety agencies and the National Guard who were familiar with planning for protests outside the White House that day challenge that explanation. The officials told The Washington Post they had no warning that U.S. Park Police, the agency that commanded the operation, planned to move the perimeter — and protesters — before a 7 p.m. citywide curfew, or that force would be used.

From:  Revealed: The Family Member Who Turned on Trump

Donald Trump’s niece, his deceased brother’s daughter, is set to publish a tell-all book this summer that will detail “harrowing and salacious” stories about the president, according to people with knowledge of the project.

Mary Trump, 55, the daughter of Fred Trump Jr. and Fred Trump Sr.’s eldest grandchild, is scheduled to release Too Much And Never Enough on August 11th, just weeks before the Republican National Convention.

One of the most explosive revelations Mary will detail in the book, according to people familiar with the matter, is how she played a critical role helping The New York Times print startling revelations about Trump’s taxes, including how he was involved in “fraudulent” tax schemes and had received more than $400 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real-estate empire.

COVID-19’s revenge

In March and April, widespread social lockdowns and other restrictions successfully controlled the spread of COVID-19 and reduced the scale of the contagion.  Then, we stupid humans declared a premature “victory” over the virus and pushed forward with economic reopening plans.  Now, that undefeated foe is counterattacking with a vengeance while our leaders are still patting themselves on the back.  See:

US coronavirus: A return to normalcy after Covid-19 pandemic could take a year, Dr. Fauci says

Beijing carries out mass testing as coronavirus spreads in the Chinese capital

Brazil faces the coronavirus disaster almost everyone saw coming

Criticism mounts as New Delhi hospital beds run out amid COVID-19 surge

Egypt confirms highest daily rise of new COVID-19 cases and deaths

Police kill another black man

Police killed another black man this time in Atlanta.  His “crime” was falling asleep in his car which apparently obstructed a fast food take-out line.  Some say he shouldn’t have resisted arrest.  But, George Floyd didn’t resist arrest in Minneapolis;  and, he was killed anyway.  See:

Police killing of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta ruled a homicide

Rayshard Brooks death: Atlanta police officer fired; police chief steps down

Colorado lawmakers approve police reform bill, governor says he will sign it

3 big California police unions release national reform plan to remove racist officers

Defund the police? Here’s what has worked in other countries.

Dallas Fed president says economy hurt by systemic racism

4 thoughts on “SCOTUS rulings, Trouble in Trumpland, COVID-19’s revenge, and Police kill another black man

    • Yes, but we should temper our joy. If you delve into those rulings, you’ll see that the court generally avoided making definitive decisions about those issues. In other words, they punted. Chief Justice John Roberts seems intent on maintaining the image of an unbiased Supreme Court, and President Trump keeps forcing his hand.

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