How to legally cross a US (or other) border without surrendering your data and passwords

The combination of 2014's Supreme Court decision not to hear Cotterman (where the 9th Circuit held that the data on your devices was subject to suspicionless border-searches, and suggested that you simply not bring any data you don't want stored and shared by US government agencies with you when you cross the border) and Trump's announcement that people entering the USA will be required to give border officers their social media passwords means that a wealth of sensitive data on our devices and in the cloud is now liable to search and retention when we cross into the USA. Read the rest

These are the questions the Dems should ask during Gorsuch's nomination

Gorsuch has written extensively on the role of judges' personal beliefs and the law; and on the politicization of the judicial confirmation process. Specifically, he called out Congress for its maltreatment of Merrick Garland when his federal judgeship was before the Senate. Read the rest

Supreme Court: Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch

Neil Gorsuch, currently serving on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, is Donald Trump's pick to fill the seat opened by Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia's death. The youngest nominee in 25 years, 49-year-old Gorsuch could provide decades of reliably conservative opinion from the bench.

"A special thank you to @POTUS," was posted to an as-yet-unverified Twitter account in Gorsuch's name. "As Mr. Trump's Supreme Court nominee I promise to always do what is best for the American People. #SCOTUS"

Though Scalia died a year ago, Congressional Republicans refused to consider any pick from then-president Barack Obama, let alone his nominee, Merrick Garland.

Gorsuch is described by the Washington Post as "a less bombastic version" of Scalia, ruling in favor of allowing corporations religious exemptions from federal regulations. Conservatives hope to see aggressively anti-abortion opinions from Gorsuch, though the opportunity to issue one has apparently not come before him so far in his career.

He's also shown a libertarian bent when it comes to law enforcement, dissenting when two colleagues on the bench sided with a cop who arrested kids who belched at them. Read the rest

Webcomic explains how weakening the Voting Rights Act led to voter suppression in 2016

On The Nib, Andy Warner posts a quick primer on the Voting Rights Act, which was weakened in a 2013 Supreme Court case that struck down the requirement for districts with a history of racist voter suppression to get federal oversight for changes to their voting procedures; of note is the section on Jeff Sessions, whose Attorney General confirmation hearing is underway right now. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Trump is apparently still terrified about financial conflicts so now he's tweeting about flag-burning and CNN

Last weekend, the New York Times published an outstanding, meticulously reported investigative story about Trump's financial conflicts of interest -- the sorts of things that could lead to forced divestiture, impeachment, or worse, triggering a tweetstorm from the president-elect about an imaginary, millions-strong cohort of fraudulent voters. Read the rest

Kansas Attorney General apologizes for citing Dred Scott decision in abortion-ban brief

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is very sorry that his office cited the 1857 Dred Scott case, which established that the descendants of enslaved black people were not US citizens, in response to an ACLU brief in a case challenging a judge's ruling that Kansas's constitution doesn't guarantee the right to have an abortion. Read the rest

Fact-checking Trump's plan for the first 100 days

After a campaign characterized by vagueness and tiny hand-waving, Donald Trump finally released a semi-detailed plan for his first 100 days in office yesterday, including "a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated" and "cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama." Read the rest

"Massive scale" shut-down of polling places in districts known for suppressing black voters

When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, it meant that the 2016 presidential race would be the first one in 50 years without the fundamental protections the act promised, as a check against racist voter suppression. Read the rest

Al Franken and FCC commissioner Clyburn want limits on forced arbitration

Arbitration was conceived of as a way to allow giant corporations to avoid costly court battles by meeting with a mediator and talking things out: but since the Supreme Court ruled (in a series of mid-1980s cases) that companies could force their customers and employees into arbitration by adding "binding arbitration" clauses to the fine print in take-it-or-leave contracts, the US justice system has gone dark, which an ever-larger proportion of legal action disappearing into the opaque bowels of the arbitration system, where the richest participant usually wins. Read the rest

Electronic voting machines suck, the comprehensive 2016 election edition

It's been thirteen years since we started writing here about the shenanigans of the electronic voting machine industry, who were given a gift when, after the contested 2000 elections, Congress and the Supreme Court signaled that elections officials had to go and buy new machines. Read the rest

How America abandoned the only policy that consistently closes the black-white educational gap

After 1954's landmark Brown v Board of Ed ruling, America's (largely racially segregated) cities began racially integrating their schools by busing black kids to white neighborhoods, a project that hit its stride at the start of the 1970s. It worked. Read the rest

Leaked: damning Scott Walker dark money docs that judge ordered destroyed

Again and again, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker flouted election laws to raise millions from some of the richest executives and biggest corporations in America, illegally laundering the money through the nominally independent, nonprofit Wisconsin Club for Growth -- and now we have all the details, thanks to an enormous leak of documents that a Wisconsin judge ordered destroyed. Read the rest

DoJ: Supreme Court ruling means only 5 states will have federal election observers this November

When the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act in 2015, we learned that the 2016 election would be the first in two generations without the basic protections for equal voting rights for all people. Read the rest

More Perfect: Radiolab's genius podcast about the Supreme Court

When I first heard that Radiolab (previously), the wonderful podcast that combines deep dives into technical subjects with masterful storytelling, was going to start a new podcast about the Supreme Court, it sounded like a weird fit. Read the rest

Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion law

The Court ruled in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt that the Texas law placed undue burdens on clinics that performed abortions by requiring them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, use doctors with admitting privileges at local hospitals -- measures that led to the closure of three quarters of the state's abortion-providing facilities since 2013. Read the rest

UPDATED: Clarence Thomas rumored to be considering retirement

The curiously silent conservative Supreme Court justice -- whose term began with the infamour Anita Hill confirmation hearings -- is said to be "mulling retirement" after the election in order to travel America in an RV with his wife.

Update: Clarence Thomas's wife Ginny has angrily denied this in a Facebook post: "For all those contacting me about the possibility of my husband retiring, I say --- unsubscribe from those false news sources and carry on with your busy lives." Read the rest

Supreme Court ruling is a blow to copyright trolling business-model

In 2013, the Supreme Court heard Kirtsaeng, a copyright case brought by the publisher Wiley, who argued that legal books became illegal when brought into America, because their copyright licenses were nation-specific. Read the rest

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