Federal appeals court blasts North Carolina's unconstitutional, Republican gerrymandering, orders new districts by Jan 24

North Carolina is one of several Republican-held states whose legislatures have created bizarre, misshapen and fundamentally, provably unfair electoral maps that ensure that the votes of Democrats in their states almost never result in representation by Democratic lawmakers. Read the rest

"The efficiency gap": understanding the math behind a crucial Supreme Court gerrymandering case

Last October, the Supreme Court heard argument in Gill v. Whitford, a Wisconsin gerrymandering case that has far-reaching implications for the November midterms in 2018; the court is expected to rule next June. Read the rest

Religious fanatics go to the Supreme Court for the First Amendment right to trick women into bearing unwanted children

"Crisis Pregnancy Centers" are fake abortion clinics run by religious fanatics who use online fraud to get them to the top of the search results in order to lure women seeking abortions to visiting a place they believe to be an abortion clinic, but which is really a religious mission where the people pretending to be medical professionals dispense misinformation about the medical risks of abortion, then apply high-pressure sales tactics to bully and trick women into carrying unwanted pregnancies to term. Read the rest

Supreme Court will rule on whether immigrants have constitutional rights

Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard the re-argument of Sessions v. Dimaya, a case that asks whether the administration can treat lawful immigrants to the USA (including Green Card holders like me) as though we have no Constitutional rights. Read the rest

Supreme Court to Lexmark: when you sell something, the buyer then owns it

Lexmark has spent nearly 20 years fighting the war on carbon, trying to stop you from refilling your laser printer cartridges. In 2003, they attempted to use the DMCA and DRM to argue that it was an act of piracy (the courts didn't buy it) and then in 2015, they went all the way to the Supreme Court with the idea that you were violating their patent license terms if you treated the cartridges you purchased as though you owned them. Read the rest

US government tells Supremes it could strip citizenship from virtually all naturalized Americans if it wanted to

The Supreme Court heard arguments in Maslenjak v. United States, a case about whether minor omissions or falsehoods in an immigration application can cost a naturalized American their citizenship, decades after the fact. Read the rest

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

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