Following last week’s victory by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in NLRB v. Noel Canning and today’s devastating rulings in Harris v. Quinn and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, two things are absolutely clear about this Supreme Court Term. One, it’s once again been a very good Term for the Chamber. And, two, it’s been an even better one for the business community writ large.
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The Roberts Court’s decision on June 26 in NLRB v. Noel Canning capped off yet another winning Supreme Court Term for the U.S.
The past week has been a busy one for Supreme Court watchers, and there are going to be more explosive decisions coming before the Court completes its Term just in time for the Fourth of July. (Monday’s Hobby Lobby decision is sure to provide some fireworks.)
A month ago, as I marveled at the recent, unbroken string of judicial rulings striking down marriage discrimination against same-sex couples, I also wondered what judge (if any) would be the first, post-Windsor, to misread the Constitution and opine that our Nation’s charter allows states to deny marriage equality to gay men and lesbians.
Co-written by Mei-Wah Lee
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to discuss a proposed constitutional amendment that would effectively overturn the Supreme Court’s infamous ruling in Citizens United v. FEC. To provide some dispatches from the front lines, committee Democrats invited State Senator Floyd McKissick to testify about the state of play in North Carolina, a state that has experienced a sharp right turn since the Citizens United decision, driven in significant part, according to McKissick’s testimony, by one extremely powerful individual donor.
McKissick’s testimony didn’t make headlines after the hearing. But it does make for a good opportunity to revisit a largely overlooked but bold assertion about donors and democracy that was made by the Supreme Court majority in the recent campaign finance decision, McCutcheon v. FEC.
In his testimony, Sen. McKissick gave his view of the real-world impact of North Carolina’s mega-donor Art Pope, a variety store mogul of enormous family wealth, a former state representative, and the founder of several large conservative organizations in the state. According to Sen. McKissick:...
In an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts issued on June 2, the Supreme Court ruled in Bond v. United States that the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, enacted by Congress to implement the 1997 Chemical Weapons Treaty, does not apply to a Pennsylvania woman’s use of a toxic concoction against her husband’s paramour, and thus could not be used to prosecute her in federal court. Because the Court held that the statute did not apply to Carol Anne Bond’s conduct, it did not need to address Bond’s challenge to the constitutionality of the law itself.
Many issues in the courts these days break down on partisan lines. But one that doesn’t relates to the proper interpretation of the so-called “three strikes” provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a provision that implicates the Constitution’s guarantee of meaningful access to the courts.
First, a bit of background: people often say that everyone’s entitled to his day in court. But that day in court generally requires paying a filing fee, sometimes hundreds of dollars. Pursuant to a federal statute, indigent litigants (including prisoners) are allowed to file claims without paying these fees if they submit an affidavit stating that they are unable to pay. This is known as proceeding in forma pauperis (IFP), and it’s the only way to ensure that no one is denied his day in court simply because he is too poor to pay the filing fee. For prisoners, it is often the only way of ensuring that they can challenge the conditions of their confinement. But the Prison Litigation Reform Act contains a “three strikes” provision that denies IFP status to any indigent prisoner who, on three or more prior occasions while incarcerated, has brought an action or appeal that was dismissed on the grounds that it was frivolous, malicious, or failed to state a claim upon which a court could have granted relief. Put simply, three strikes, and as a practical matter, you’re out of the court system. (The sole exception is if the prisoner alleges that he is in “imminent danger of serious physical injury.”)