Tag: Supreme

Virtual meetings of local government bodies in jeopardy after Supreme Court ruling

Local governments across Michigan are in limbo following a state Supreme Court ruling, uncertain whether they’ll be able to keep holding public meetings virtually.

The court last Friday, Oct. 2, struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s authority to continue Michigan’s state of emergency amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s the state of emergency that has empowered Whitmer to unilaterally issue orders like allowing public bodies to hold electronic meetings since March.

After several months of livestreaming meetings using platforms like Zoom, elected officials around the state are now wondering if they’re going to be forced to return to in-person meetings.

“Things got even more interesting in this incredibly strange year,” said Ann Arbor City Council Member Ali Ramlawi as the issue came up during a virtual council meeting Monday night.

While the governor said Friday her orders remain in effect for 21 more days and the Michigan Municipal League has advised cities they can continue to meet virtually during that time, some elected bodies are moving to cancel meetings or return to in-person meetings due to a lack of clarity on the issue.

The Lansing City Council and Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners are among bodies that canceled their meetings this week due to the uncertainty.

“Our goal has been and continues to be that we serve as good stewards, not only of the work of running Washtenaw County government, but also good stewards of the health and safety of our staff and residents,” said Washtenaw County Board Chairman Jason Morgan, D-Ann Arbor.

“We’re postponing our agenda items until our next meeting out of an abundance of caution. We want to ensure we have clarity from the state of Michigan on our legal ability to meet virtually and we are still following the science and abiding by the orders of both our county and state health departments.”

COVID-19 is still a very real threat, added Washtenaw County Administrator Greg Dill.

“Until there is a vaccine or a cure, we will continue to take all the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe as we continue to handle (the) business of running Washtenaw County,” he said.

Police investigating racist, sexist ‘Zoom bomb’ during Washtenaw County meeting

Grand Blanc Township near Flint held its first in-person meeting in months on Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Supervisor Scott Bennett said the township decided to follow direction it received from the Michigan Townships Association and others in making the decision.

“We have business we need to take care of,” Bennett said, adding the township is following Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requirements.

“We’re following the guidelines for the number of people in the room,” he said, noting the township set up an overflow area in case more than 25 people showed up and it still has a livestream for those who don’t want to attend in person.

It went well Tuesday night, Bennett said.

State Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said state lawmakers are scrambling to address the issue of public meetings and he expects a

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Supreme Court Weighs Monetary Damages Under Religious Freedom Law

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court’s recent jurisprudence has made quite clear its views in two seemingly unrelated areas: religious rights, to which a majority of the justices have shown broad deference, and limits on public officials’ personal liability for misconduct, which the court has signaled a deep reluctance to expand.

Arguments Tuesday in a case involving the terrorist no-fly list put those themes in conflict.

Three Muslim men, all American citizens or lawful residents, say they were placed on the no-fly list after refusing counterterrorism agents’ efforts to recruit them as informers against fellow Muslims. They sued the agents under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 law that limits government practices that impede religious exercise—and authorizes “appropriate relief” for violations.

A federal appeals court in New York said last year that relief could include monetary damages from the responsible agents, should the plaintiffs win their case. Arguing the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court Tuesday, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler said the most the plaintiffs could win was an injunction to stop the government’s unlawful activity. That would provide little benefit to the plaintiffs, who were removed from the no-fly list after they filed suit.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned Mr. Kneedler’s position, noting that in considering the legislation Congress had taken testimony from “families whose loved ones were being subjected to autopsies in violation of their religious beliefs,” including “the fact that injunctive relief would not help those families.”

Mr. Kneedler replied that the religious freedom law was aimed at curbing government policies that burdened religious exercise, not individual episodes such as those. He stressed that Congress hadn’t explicitly authorized money damages and that the court shouldn’t imply they were available.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh turned that logic around.

“In thinking about what the text means here, I look at the words but also look at the words that aren’t there,” he said. “When it says ‘appropriate relief,’ it does not, of course, say ‘appropriate injunctive relief.’”

Under Chief Justice John Roberts, the conservative-leaning court has read the religious-freedom law expansively. In 2014, for example, the justices exempted the for-profit Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. from Affordable Care Act regulations requiring that workplace health-insurance plans provide contraceptive coverage, because the company’s owners held religious objections to certain forms of birth control.

Lawyers for the Muslim men cited the Hobby Lobby case extensively in their legal briefs. But while the current court has shown concern for religious belief, it has also expressed skepticism toward lawsuits against government officials.

In the early 1970s, for instance, a more liberal court implied personal liability in some circumstances for federal officials who violated civil rights, akin to the liability that the Reconstruction Congress imposed on state officials after the Civil War. While it hasn’t overturned those precedents, the justices have signaled their disinclination to extend federal officials’ liability beyond what Congress specifically authorizes.

Even when officials can be held personally liable in theory, the court has created doctrines that often allow police officers and others accused of

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Joe Biden says he’ll push new abortion rights law if Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden said Monday he would work to pass legislation codifying the right to obtain an abortion if the Supreme Court takes action to undermine Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court ruling that recognized abortion rights.

At a Miami, Florida town hall held by NBC, a female participant asked Mr. Biden how he would respond if the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade because she was fearful of President Trump appointing Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the high court.

“Considering the new Supreme Court nomination of [Judge] Amy Coney Barrett, what are your plans to protect women’s reproductive rights in the U.S.?” the female questioner asked.

“Number one, we don’t know exactly what she will do, although the expectation is that she may very well move to over, overview, overrule Roe,” Mr. Biden answered. “The only responsible response to that would be to pass legislation making Roe the law of the land. That’s what I would do.”

Mr. Biden has been reluctant to criticize Judge Barrett by name on the campaign trail. At the first presidential debate opposite President Trump last month, Mr. Biden said he was “not opposed” to Judge Barrett personally and added, “She seems like a very fine person.”

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Judge Barrett’s nomination are scheduled to begin next Monday, Oct. 12, at 9 a.m.

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Inside Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination that helped spread the virus across the US government

When guests arrived to the White House last Saturday for a triumphant event unveiling President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, their first stop was a small room in the White House basement.



a group of people in a garden: Judge Amy Coney Barrett walks to the microphone after President Donald Trump, right, announced Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26, 2020. Fr. John Jenkins can be seen seated in the right section, third row.


© Alex Brandon/AP
Judge Amy Coney Barrett walks to the microphone after President Donald Trump, right, announced Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House on Sept. 26, 2020. Fr. John Jenkins can be seen seated in the right section, third row.

After providing their names, phone numbers and dates of birth, each was taken one-by-one by a staff member from the White House Medical Office to a smaller room nearby. The door was shut, and out came the swab.

One swirl in the right nostril, one swirl in the left. As their names were written on a paper sleeve to contain the sample, they were told: “No news is good news.”

So began what is now believed by many White House officials to be a nexus for contagion that resulted Friday in the positive tests of at least seven attendees, including the President himself, who is hospitalized in Maryland.

It is not known how or when Trump caught the infection that resulted in a positive test unveiled after midnight on Friday. But the string of people who attended last Saturday’s event — where few guests wore masks and social distancing was absent — was growing.

On Friday, Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Thom Tillis both said they had tested positive. They sat three seats apart in the second row during the ceremony, separated by other senators.

The President’s former counselor Kellyanne Conway said she, too, had become infected. She was seated directly behind the first lady.

The president of Notre Dame, where Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett teaches, was also diagnosed with coronavirus. He sat three seats away from Conway — right behind the nominees’ young children.

That is in addition to the President, the first lady and senior adviser Hope Hicks, all of whom tested positive last week.

Others who are close to the White House but did not attend Saturday’s event also announced positive tests, including Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who had spent time with the President at the end of last week, and Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien, who participated in mask-less debate preparatory sessions at the White House last weekend. So did former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who also helped Trump prepare for the debate.

On Saturday, Sen. Ron Johnson became the third Republican senator after Lee and Tillis to test positive — but he did not attend the ceremony on Saturday. Three members of the White House press corps also tested positive, according to the White House Correspondents Association.

The ceremony in the Rose Garden — and Trump’s Supreme Court nomination more broadly — were once viewed as the President’s best last chance to supplant coronavirus as this election’s dominant theme. Instead, the tightly packed ceremony became the best illustration

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Supreme Court will review Arizona ballot-harvesting law

The U.S. Supreme Court said Friday it would review a 2016 Arizona law that prohibits anyone but a family member or caregiver from returning another person’s early ballot.

SCHUMER CALLS SUPREME COURT HEARING ‘IRRESPONSIBLE AND DANGEROUS’ AFTER SENATORS TEST POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS

In January, a federal appeals court ruled that Arizona’s law banning so-called “ballot harvesting” violates the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution. Any further action has been stayed until the Supreme Court weighs in on the matter. Its new term begins next week.

The appeals court also found that Arizona’s policy of discarding ballots if a voter went to the wrong precinct violates the law, arguing both measures have a discriminatory impact on minority voters.

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

The harvesting case began with Democrats suing over a law passed by Arizona Republicans that made it a felony to return someone else’s ballot to election officials in most cases.

Both parties had used ballot collection to boost turnout during elections by canvassing – asking voters if they had completed their mail-in ballots.

Democrats, who found success in minority communities, said Republicans introduced the measure because of their accomplishments, while Republicans said the law was aimed at preventing election fraud. It remains in effect until the Supreme Court rules.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, wrote in a statement that he is pleased the high court will hear the case.

The eight justices will not be returning to the courtroom to hear arguments in person due to the coronavirus pandemic but will participate over the telephone.

In recent years, the Supreme Court – closed to the public since March – has weakened the Voting Rights Act, the Associated Press reported. In 2013, the justices invalidated a key part of the law, allowing nine states to change their election laws without federal approval.

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“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”

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Supreme Court to Review Arizona ‘Ballot Harvesting’ Law | Arizona News

By JESSICA GRESKO and MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Friday it will review a 2016 Arizona law that bars anyone but a family member or caregiver from returning another person’s early ballot. The law itself, however, remains in effect through the presidential election and until the justices rule.

The court will begin hearing arguments again next week after a summer break. The Arizona case was one of four cases the court, now eight justices because of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, agreed to hear in its new term that begins Monday. As is usual, the justices did not comment in taking the cases. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the justices will not be returning to the courtroom to hear arguments but instead will continue hearing arguments by telephone. The court has been closed to the public since March.

In the Arizona case, a federal appeals court ruled in January that Arizona’s law banning so-called “ballot harvesting” violates the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution, but the court put its ruling on hold while the Supreme Court was asked to take the case.

The appeals court also found that Arizona’s policy of discarding ballots if a voter went to the wrong precinct violates the law. The court said both have a discriminatory impact on minority voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The high court in recent years has weakened the Voting Rights Act, throwing out the most powerful part of the landmark law in 2013. It could use the current case to go even further.

The case began after Republicans in Arizona passed the law making it a felony to return someone else’s ballot to election officials in most cases and Democrats sued.

Both parties had used ballot collection in Arizona to boost turnout during elections by going door to door and asking voters if they have completed their mail-in ballot. Democrats used the method aggressively in minority communities and argued their success prompted the new GOP-sponsored law. Republicans argued the law was aimed at preventing election fraud.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, said in a statement he is pleased the court will hear the case.

The justices also said Friday they will review a longstanding effort by the Federal Communications Commission to relax restrictions in individual media markets on ownership of different forms of media — TV stations and newspapers — over fears that it would leave fewer outlets controlled by minorities.

The court also will take up cases involving how immigration officials evaluate the claims of asylum seekers and a lawsuit by the city of Baltimore against BP Inc. and other energy companies seeking money for their contribution to climate change, although the issue before the justices is a technical one involving where the case should be heard.

The Supreme Court has already filled its argument calendar through December, so none of the cases will be argued before January 2021.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights

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Supreme Court to review Arizona ‘ballot harvesting’ law | National politics

The high court in recent years has weakened the Voting Rights Act, throwing out the most powerful part of the landmark law in 2013. It could use the current case to go even further.

The case began after Republicans in Arizona passed the law making it a felony to return someone else’s ballot to election officials in most cases and Democrats sued.

Both parties had used ballot collection in Arizona to boost turnout during elections by going door to door and asking voters if they have completed their mail-in ballot. Democrats used the method aggressively in minority communities and argued their success prompted the new GOP-sponsored law. Republicans argued the law was aimed at preventing election fraud.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, said in a statement he is pleased the court will hear the case.

The justices also said Friday they will review a longstanding effort by the Federal Communications Commission to relax restrictions in individual media markets on ownership of different forms of media — TV stations and newspapers — over fears that it would leave fewer outlets controlled by minorities.

The court also will take up cases involving how immigration officials evaluate the claims of asylum seekers and a lawsuit by the city of Baltimore against BP Inc. and other energy companies seeking money for their contribution to climate change, although the issue before the justices is a technical one involving where the case should be heard.

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Supreme Court to review Arizona ‘ballot harvesting’ law

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Friday it will review a 2016 Arizona law that bars anyone but a family member or caregiver from returning another person’s early ballot. The law itself, however, remains in effect through the presidential election and until the justices rule.

A federal appeals court ruled in January that Arizona’s law banning so-called “ballot harvesting” violates the Voting Rights Act and the Constitution, but the court put its ruling on hold while the Supreme Court was asked to take the case.

The appeals court also found that Arizona’s policy of discarding ballots if a voter went to the wrong precinct violates the law. The court said both have a discriminatory impact on minority voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

The high court in recent years has weakened the Voting Rights Act, throwing out the most powerful part of the landmark law in 2013. It could use the current case to go even further.

The current case began when Democrats filed a lawsuit shortly after Republicans in Arizona passed the law making it a felony to return someone else’s ballot to election officials in most cases. Republicans argued the law was aimed at preventing election fraud.

The Supreme Court has already filled its argument calendar through November’s election, so the case won’t be heard until after that.

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The Supreme Male Head Unmasked

Fascism is unique among political systems in that it treats society as a diseased body that needs to be purified. Certainly, the political left thinks that society is in need of reform, often to the point of advocating revolution, but the distinguishing feature of fascism, especially of the Nazi variety, is its organic imagery—the idea that the body politic is not just flawed but diseased. Where the left proposes political and economic solutions to social problems, Nazis propose a cure of the diseased body politic. Unlike a disease of the physical body, which can be treated with biomedical procedures, fascism’s remedy is the removal of foreign bodies and the collective spilling of blood. Sociologist Klaus Theleweit has explored this body imagery in narratives produced by members of the Freikorps (paramilitaries who inspired the Nazis), while a key premise of Nazi ideology was the organic metaphor of Blud und Boden (Blood and Soil), both of which needed to be purified before Germany could become great again.

In Nazi ideology, blood shed in warfare by a male brotherhood is a life-giving substance that confirms the virility of the perpetrators and restores the vitality of the body politic. In the same way, certain populations of people are construed as carriers of inferior Blud, whereas the blood of warriors runs in the veins of the master race. Those people categorized as inferior become Untermenschen (subhumans) who need to be removed from the national Boden in order to ensure a healthy body politic. Although ethnocentrism and genocide are as old as history, the Nazi’s organic metaphor of the diseased body politic imparts to xenophobia a unique biomedical agenda. In Naziism, the ancient symbolic processes of purity and pollution become scientized, such that Blud is equated with the genes of genetics, while ritual purification becomes the responsibility of biomedical professionals employing ostensibly scientific techniques. Fascists seek to purify the body politic through eugenics by eliminating “inferior” genes from the population.

Nazi ideology appeals more to the heart than to the mind, but many educated people in the United States have been inculcated with a scientific materialism that dismisses symbolic thinking as a relic of the past. For this reason, they cannot take seriously any ideological movement judged by scientific standards to be irrational—which means they cannot recognize fascism when they see it. Many of the Republican policies that appear irrational and unscientific to liberal critics are perfectly logical when viewed through the lens of Nazi ideology. For example, Trump has been roundly criticized for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing it to spread among the population due to his unwillingness to enforce masking, quarantines, and social distancing. However, in Naziism, a healthy society requires the elimination of people judged to be weak, so public health measures in a pandemic should be kept to a minimum. In fascism, weak people are equated with those Trump calls losers, while rich people are not only strong but the bearers of superior genes. From Trump’s point of view,

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Brazil Supreme Court justice demands explanation on weakened coastal forest law

FILE PHOTO: Judge Rosa Weber attends a session of the Supreme Court in Brasilia, Brazil October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian Supreme Court justice Rosa Weber has demanded Environment Minister Ricardo Salles explain a decision earlier in the week, which sought to weaken laws around coastal woodlands.

Weber’s request, dated 30 Sept., gave Salles 48 hours to provide information surrounding the decision, citing the “urgency” of the issue.

On Monday, Brazil’s National Environmental Council (Conama) revoked protections for mangroves and a type of coastal forest known as restinga that grows on splits of seaside land.

Conama’s decision was later suspended by a federal judge who cited the risk to the environment that it posed.

Salles has argued that these forest types are already protected by a separate piece of Brazilian legislation, known as the Forest Code. However, there are some crucial differences between the Conama’s protections and the Forest Code that environmentalists said could be exploited to further coastal development.

The previous Conama regulation, for example, protected restingas for a minimum of 300 meters from the sea, a detail missing from the Forest Code. Without it, disputed areas, such as degraded woodland, might no longer be classified as protected – potentially opening the path for real estate development.

For mangroves, although the Forest Code protects them in their entirety, again the revoking of the Conama legislation opens up potential loopholes over what exactly is classified as mangrove.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito, writing by Stephen Eisenhammer

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