On Monday, November 29, anti-Indigenous Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s futile attempts to undermine and destroy tribal sovereignty through legal avenues ended for good when the US Supreme Court refused his request to reexamine their 2020 McGirt ruling. That decision declared that Oklahoma rightfully remains Indian Territory for criminal jurisdiction, and ever since, Governor Kevin Stitt and his pro-oil “Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty” have fought desperately to overturn it in every legal space available. Chaired by Devon Energy CEO’s Larry Nichols, the commission also includes Continental Resources’ Harold Hamm, pipeline giant Williams Companies’ Alan Armstrong, as well as a litany of fossil fuel industry lobbyists and executives dead set on destroying Oklahoma’s land, air, and water.
A draconian Texas law banning abortions beyond around six weeks of pregnancy took effect at midnight after the conservative U.S. Supreme Court did not act to block it on Tuesday, a decision that could have major implications for reproductive rights across the country. While the Supreme Court could still grant an emergency request to suspend the law in the coming hours, the justices' decision to remain silent Tuesday allows Texas to begin implementing what rights groups have characterized as the most restrictive state-level abortion ban since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Abortion providers estimate that the measure could bar care for "at least 85% of Texas abortion patients."
By Mary Anne Hitt in Sierra Club - Today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to send the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) back to the EPA for further proceedings is a decision that endangers public health, but it won't revive the fortunes of Big Coal. These standards were designed to safeguard local communities against dangerous pollution from power plants. Unfortunately, today millions of Americans won't yet be able to breathe more easily. Practically speaking, today's decision won't revive the fortunes of Big Coal or slow down our nation's transition to clean energy. Most utilities have long since made decisions about how to meet the standard, since the compliance deadline was April 2015. Only a few dozen coal plants are still operating today with no pollution controls for mercury and air toxics and no clear plans to install them.
By John Queally in Common Dreams - Advocates for reproductive rights welcomed the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday which put a block on a Texas law that would have shuttered nearly every abortion clinic in the state. In a 5-4 decision (pdf), the ruling came in the form of a stay that will delay enforcement of the law—originally passed in the Texas legislature as H.B. 2 and signed into law in 2013—until a full challenge is taken up by the court. The stay, in effect, suspends a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit earlier this month which upheld specific provisions of the law that would have likely resulted in the closure of all but nine abortion clinics in the state.
Hundreds of thousands of people on Sunday packed gay pride events from Chicago to New York City, Seattle to San Francisco, with overall attendance expected in the millions for what amounted to a celebration of a freshly endorsed right to marry. In San Francisco, a parade that at times resembled a rainbow-colored dance party snaked through downtown. Cheerleaders, dancers and proud families of lesbians and gays swooped up Market Street as spectators flocked 10 to 15 people deep along both sides. There were "Hooray for Gay" and "Love Won" signs. There were rainbow flags and knee socks, umbrellas and tutus. SF Pride Board President Gary Virginia said the exuberance was amplified given last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples can wed in all 50 states. Still, he said more needs to be done in housing and job discrimination in the United States and for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world.
By Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept - In the 1970s — just 40 years ago — the existence of gay people was all but unmentionable, particularly outside of small enclaves in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. If your first inkling of a gay identity took place in that decade, as mine did, you necessarily assumed that you were alone, that you were plagued with some sort of rare, aberrational disease, since there was no way even to know gayness existed except from the most malicious and casual mockery of it. It simply wasn’t meaningfully discussed: anywhere. It was so unmentionable that Liberace, of all people, long insisted to his fans that he was a “bachelor” due to his inability to recover from his tragic break-up with his fianceé, the Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie.
As I sat quietly in the back corner of the lofty courtroom, attempting to casually observe the ornate sculptures that rimmed the chamber's high ceilings, I fingered the little scrap of yellow paper folded in my pocket. My lifeline. I moved my hand as naturally as possible to rest on my lap. I glanced at the two security personnel stationed in the central aisle, not letting my gaze rest on either for longer than what I hoped would be perceived as benign curiosity. They looked like secret service agents: white, 40ish, dressed in black suits and equipped with transparent coiled ear pieces. I focused on physical sensations, how it felt to breathe and sit and wait. It was just after 10 am when the Supreme Court justices entered the chamber through a door behind the bench and were introduced with various ecclesiastical slogans, ending with "God save the United States and this honorable court!" Our cue.
A Reuters examination of nine years of cases shows that 66 of the 17,000 lawyers who petitioned the Supreme Court succeeded at getting their clients’ appeals heard at a remarkable rate. Their appeals were at least six times more likely to be accepted by the court than were all others filed by private lawyers during that period. They are the elite of the elite: Although they account for far less than 1 percent of lawyers who filed appeals to the Supreme Court, these attorneys were involved in 43 percent of the cases the high court chose to decide from 2004 through 2012. The Reuters examination of the Supreme Court’s docket, the most comprehensive ever, suggests that the justices essentially have added a new criterion to whether the court takes an appeal – one that goes beyond the merits of a case and extends to the merits of the lawyer who is bringing it. The results: a decided advantage for corporate America, and a growing insularity at the court.
By contrast, the Court has been repeatedly guilty itself of being a tyrant of the minority (as in nine unelected judges reversing laws and regulations) and a tyrant for the minority (as in corporations and the super wealthy) by, for example, overturning 170 democratically enacted laws that protected workers, including children, during the early 20th century. More recently, the Court has granted additional power and authority to corporations and the wealthy few. Supreme Court decisions weakened class action lawsuits against corporations, broadened the immunity protections of pharmaceutical corporations from suits over defective medications, heightened the barriers against workers who sue over workplace retaliation and harassment, increased the ability of commercial corporations to collect damages from municipalities that seek to impose conditions for building permits, and prohibited current US residents from suing Shell Oil corporation for human rights violations in Nigeria.
Amazement mixed with anxiety and cautious optimism. That’s how I felt nearly twenty years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert. in Romer v. Evans, a case in which I was co-counsel for Lambda Legal. In that moment, it was hard to be confident that the Justices would strike down Colorado’s ban on antidiscrimination protections for gay people, given Bowers v. Hardwick’s antigay moralizing, which upheld Georgia’s sodomy law in 1986 and remained the law of the land. Even still, gay rights advocates reasonably feared that efforts to strip basic antidiscrimination protections from gay people would escalate if the Court did not step in to review Romer. Indeed, similar measures had been or were actively under consideration in more than a dozen states during that period.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in McCutcheon V. FEC, the court struck down a limit on how much cash an individual could give to all federal candidates during an election cycle. In the 5-4 decision, the majority of justices on the Roberts court ruled that individuals could buy elections. Or, in the words of Chief Justice Roberts, “government regulation may not target the general gratitude a candidate may feel toward those who support him or his allies, or the political access such support may afford.” In the dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Bryer, did not hold back in voicing the disgust felt by an overwhelming majority of Americans (if not by a majority of Supreme Court Justices) in writing that the majority’s “legal analysis is faulty: It misconstrues the nature of the competing constitutional interests at stake. It understates the importance of protecting the political integrity of our governmental institutions. It creates a loophole that will allow a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign.”