Category Archives: Supreme Court

US appeals court upholds Maryland assault weapons ban

debbie ar15

Me shooting a “weapon of war.” Molṑn Labé.

Next stop: SCOTUS.

From Fox News: Maryland’s ban on 45 kinds of assault weapons and its 10-round limit on gun magazines were upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court in a decision that met with a strongly worded dissent.

In a 10-4 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., said the guns banned under Maryland’s law aren’t protected by the Second Amendment.

“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote for the court, adding that the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller explicitly excluded such coverage.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who led the push for the law in 2013 as a state senator, said it’s “unthinkable that these weapons of war, weapons that caused the carnage in Newtown and in other communities across the country, would be protected by the Second Amendment.”

“It’s a very strong opinion, and it has national significance, both because it’s en-banc and for the strength of its decision,” Frosh said, noting that all of the court’s judges participated.

Judge William Traxler issued a dissent. By concluding the Second Amendment doesn’t even apply, Traxler wrote, the majority “has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.” He also wrote that the court did not apply a strict enough review on the constitutionality of the law.

“For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, Maryland’s law clearly imposes a significant burden on the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home, and it should at least be subject to strict scrutiny review before it is allowed to stand,” Traxler wrote.

National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said, “It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected arm' under the Second Amendment."</strong> She added that the majority opinion "clearly ignores the Supreme Court's guidance from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that arein common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense.”‘

The NRA estimates there are 5 million to 10 million AR-15s — one of the weapons banned under Maryland’s law — in circulation in the United States for lawful purposes. Asked about an appeal, Baker said the NRA is exploring all options.

But Elizabeth Banach, executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, said the decision is “overwhelming proof that reasonable measures to prevent gun violence are constitutional.”

“Maryland’s law needs to become a national model of evidence-based policies that will reduce gun violence,” Banach wrote in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake upheld the ban in 2015, but a divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that she didn’t apply the proper legal standard. The panel sent the case back to Blake and ordered her to apply “strict scrutiny,” a more rigorous test of a law’s constitutionality. The state appealed to the full appeals court.

Maryland passed the sweeping gun-control measure after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that killed 20 children and six educators in Connecticut. King mentioned the massacre at the start of the ruling.

“Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there,” King wrote. He listed the 2012 shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; the December 2015 shootings in San Bernardino, California; and the shootings last year at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, where 49 people were killed and 53 injured.

King also noted that enacting the law is “precisely the type of judgment that legislatures are allowed to make without second-guessing by a court.”

“Simply put, the State has shown all that is required: a reasonable, if not perfect, fit between the (Firearms Safety Act) and Maryland’s interest in protecting public safety,” King wrote.

DCG

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Court rules that Florida doctors can ask patients about guns and gun safety

adalberto-jordan

Circuit Court Judge Adalberto Jordan

Guns, what guns?

From Fox News: A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that Florida doctors can talk to patients about gun safety, declaring a law aimed at restricting such discussions a violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the law does not trespass on patients’ Second Amendment rights to own guns and noted a patient who doesn’t want to be questioned about that can easily find another doctor.

“The Second Amendment right to own and possess firearms does not preclude questions about, commentary on, or criticism for the exercise of that right,” wrote Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan (appointed by Obama and born in Cuba) in one of two majority opinions covering 90 pages. “There is no actual conflict between the First Amendment rights of doctors and medical professionals and the Second Amendment rights of patients.”

Circuit Judge William Pryor, who was a finalist in President Donald Trump’s search for a Supreme Court nominee, said in a separate concurring opinion that the First Amendment must protect all points of view.

“The promise of free speech is that even when one holds an unpopular point of view, the state cannot stifle it,” he wrote. “The price Americans pay for this freedom is that the rule remains unchanged regardless of who is in the majority.”

The law was passed in 2011 and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott with strong support from the National Rifle Association. It was the only one of its kind in the nation, although similar laws have been considered in other states.

Supporters in the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature insisted it was necessary because doctors were overstepping their bounds and pushing an anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment agenda.

The law was challenged almost immediately by thousands of physicians, medical organizations and other groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union as a violation of free speech in what became known as the “Docs v. Glocks” case. A legal battle has raged in the courts since then, with several conflicting opinions issued.

“We are thrilled that the court has finally put to bed the nonsensical and dangerous idea that a doctor speaking with a patient about gun safety somehow threatens the right to own a gun,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

The 11th Circuit noted that Florida lawmakers appeared to base the law on “six anecdotes” about physicians’ discussions of guns in their examination rooms and little other concrete evidence that there is an actual problem. And doctors who violated the law could face professional discipline, a fine or possibly loss of their medical licenses.

“There was no evidence whatsoever before the Florida Legislature that any doctors or medical professionals have taken away patients’ firearms or otherwise infringed on patients’ Second Amendment rights,” Jordan wrote for the court.

The NRA and Florida attorneys had argued that under the law doctors could ask about firearms if the questions were relevant to a patient’s health or safety, or someone else’s safety, and that the law was aimed at eliminating harassment of gun owners. But the 11th Circuit said there was no evidence of harassment or improper disclosure of gun ownership in health records, as law supporters also claimed.

“There is nothing in the record suggesting that patients who are bothered or offended by such questions are psychologically unable to choose another medical provider, just as they are permitted to do if their doctor asks too many questions about private matters like sexual activity, alcohol consumption, or drug use,” the court ruled.

The ruling did determine that some parts of the law could remain on the books, such as provisions allowing patients to decline to answer questions about guns and prohibiting health insurance companies from denying coverage or increasing premiums for people who lawfully own guns.

The case will return to U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami for a ruling that follows the 11th Circuit’s direction. The case could, however, also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

DCG

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg favors decriminalizing pedophilia and child sex trafficking

The legal definition of “age of consent” is:

Age of consent refers to the legally defined age at which a person is no longer required to obtain parental consent to get married. It also refers to the age at which a person is held to have the capacity to voluntarily agree to sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse with a person under the age of consent may lead to criminal charges of statutory rape or sexual assault . . . .

Statutory rape is sex between an adult and a minor below the age of consent. Every state has a statutory rape law in some form. The age of consent varies from state to state, but is generally from 16 – 18 years of age. . . . Consent of the victim and belief that the victim is of the age of consent are usually considered immaterial.

A pedophile is an adult with “sexual fondness for and activity” with children, i.e., minors below the age of consent. Pedophilia is legally defined as sexual child abuse, i.e., any sexual activity with a minor below the age of consent, which includes fondling a child’s genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, and commercial exploitation of children through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.

Since the age of consent in the United States which varies from state to state is  from 16 to 18, lowering the age of consent to 12 would legalize pedophilia of children age 12 and above.

That is exactly what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee and daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, recommends in a co-authored book that led to sweeping changes made by the federal government in the name of sex equality.

ruth-bader-ginsburg

In 1977 when Ginsburg was General Counsel of the ACLU, she co-authored (with Brenda Feigen-Fasteau) Sex Bias in the U.S. Code: A Report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which was published by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in April 1977, for which Ginsburg and Feigen-Fasteau were paid with federal funds under Contract No. CR3AK010.

The 230-page Sex Bias in the U.S. Code identifies hundreds of federal laws alleged to discriminate against women and recommends an avalanche of government and social changes, including:

  • Military draft and combat duty for women.
  • Legalization of prostitution (see pages 97, 99, 215-216 of Sex Bias in the U.S. Code)
  • Sex integration of prisons, reformatories, schools and colleges and their activities (including sports), all-girls and all-boys organizations, and fraternities and sororities.
  • Changing the names of the Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and Big Brothers of America to reflect sex integration (see pages 145, 205 of Sex Bias in the U.S. Code).
  • Elimination of the traditional family concept of husband as breadwinner and wife as homemaker.
  • Comprehensive government child-care.
  • Adoption of sex-neutral language, e.g., “artificial” instead of “manmade”; “person, human” instead of “man, woman”; and plural nouns “they” and “them” instead of “singular third person pronouns”. At the same time, however, Ginsburg and Feigen-Fasteau hypocritically insist that the U.S. Department of Labor retains its “Women’s Bureau”.

On p. 102 of Sex Bias in the U.S. Code, under the sub-heading “Recommendations,” Ginsburg and Feigen-Fasteau recommend a revision of 18 U.S.C. §2032 from “carnal knowledge of any female, not his wife who has not attained the age of sixteen years” to “A person is guilty of an offense if he engages in a sexual act with another person, not his spouse, and . . . the other person is, in fact, less than 12 years old“. Below is the pertinent paragraph:

18 U.S.C. §2032 — Eliminate the phrase “carnal knowledge of any female, not his wife who has not attained the age of sixteen years” and substitute a Federal, sex-neutral definition of the offense patterned after S. 1400 §1633: A person is guilty of an offense if he engages in a sexual act with another person, not his spouse, and (1) compels the other person to participate: (A) by force or (B) by threatening or placing the other person in fear that any person will imminently be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping; (2) has substantially impaired the other person’s power to appraise or control the conduct by administering or employing a drug or intoxicant without the knowledge or against the will of such other person, or by other means; or (3) the other person is, in fact, less than 12 years old.

Ginsburg (and her co-author) also recommends that the Mann Act be repealed. The Mann Act is a federal law passed in 1910 which makes it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose”.

From Sex Bias in the U.S. Code, pp. 98-99:

The Mann Act . . . poses the invasion of privacy issue in an acute form. The Mann Act also is offensive because of the image of women it perpetuates . . . . It was meant to protect from ‘the villainous interstate and international traffic in women and girls,’ ‘those women and girls who, if given a fair chance, would, in all human probability, have been good wives and mothers and useful citizens. . . .’

In other words, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg has her way, sexual abuse of children 12-years or older would not be a crime, nor would child sex trafficking.

Ginsburg will be 84 next month. May President Trump be given the opportunity to nominate her replacement on the Supreme Court.

H/t Executive Director of Eagle Forum Susan Hirschmann’s Testimony Re. Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Senate Judiciary Committee, July 23, 1993.

See also:

This post was revised on February 23, 2017.

~Eowyn

Trump prayed after announcing Supreme Court nominee

On January 31, 2017, President Donald John Trump fulfilled another campaign promise when he announced his nomination of federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Trump had said he would nominate someone like the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Indeed, Judge Gorsuch, 49, is pro-life like Scalia, and has taken the pro-life side in important cases as well as written a book excoriating assisted suicide. Like Scalia, Gorsuch is a strong originalist, believing that the Constitution should only be interpreted as the Founding Fathers intended.

judge-neil-gorsuch

Justice Gorsuch is currently a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which includes the districts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, as well as the Eastern, Northern and Western districts of Oklahoma. He has served as a federal judge since August 2006 and was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed unanimously by the Senate. (LifeNews.com)

After announcing Judge Gorsuch as his SCOTUS nominee, this is what President Trump did:

trump-tweet-on-prayer-after-he-announced-scotus-nominee-gorsuch-1-31-2017

Note the presence of Justice Scalia’s wife (Maureen) and son (Fr. Paul Scalia of the Diocese of Arlington, VA) among those who prayed. President Trump has the graciousness and thoughtfulness to invite them to the nomination announcement to show his respect for Justice Scalia.

During the brutal GOP primary campaigns last year, there were expressions of doubt about Donald Trump’s Christian faith.

I, for one, no longer doubt him.

Please continue to pray for President Trump — that he is protected from all evil and harm, and that he continues boldly, fearlessly, and effectively to lead America on the path of right.

jesus-guiding-trump

~Eowyn

U.S. judge blocks transgender, abortion-related Obamacare protections

judge-reed-oconnor

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor

From Yahoo: A federal judge in Texas on Saturday issued a court order barring enforcement of an Obama administration policy seeking to extend anti-discrimination protections under the Affordable Care Act to transgender health and abortion-related services.

The decision sides with Texas, seven other states and three Christian-affiliated healthcare groups challenging a rule that, according to the judge, defines sex bias to include “discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy.”

In granting an injunction one day before the new policy was to take effect, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor held that it violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law governing rule-making practices.

The judge also ruled that plaintiffs were likely to prevail in court on their claim that the new policy infringes on the rights of private healthcare providers under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

As explained in O’Connor’s 46-page opinion, the plaintiffs argued that the new regulation would “require them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions, regardless of their contrary religious beliefs or medical judgment.”

The same judge issued a similar court order in August blocking a separate Obama administration policy that would have required public schools, over the objections of 13 states, to allow transgender students to use restrooms of their choice.

It was not immediately clear whether the Obama administration, which has just 20 days left in office, would seek to appeal the latest injunction.

White House spokeswoman Katie Hill decried the ruling. “Today’s decision is a setback, but hopefully a temporary one, since all Americans – regardless of their sex, gender identity or sexual orientation – should have access to quality, affordable health care free from discrimination,” she said.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was passed in 2010 with an anti-discrimination section designed to prevent insurers from charging customers more or denying coverage based on age, race, national origin, disability or sex.

The rule in dispute on Saturday was adopted by the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department to implement those provisions, including definitions for sex discrimination that encompassed transgender and abortion services.

According to the court opinion, gender identity was defined under that rule as “an individual’s internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual’s sex assigned at birth.”

The state of Texas has led a string of legal cases brought by Republican-controlled states contesting various social policies advanced by President Barack Obama, most notably his 2014 executive action to protect millions of immigrants in the United States illegally and give them work permits.

That plan, challenged by Texas and other states, has been barred by the courts. But the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 and 2015 issued rulings that kept the Affordable Care Act, his top legislative achievement, intact.

DCG

Fear of Trump Triggers Deep Spending Cuts by SEIU

seiu-obama

SEIU: Say goodbye to your best buddy…

Imagine my distress…

From Bloomberg: In a clear sign that labor unions are bracing for lean times under Donald Trump, the massive Service Employees International Union is planning for a 30 percent budget cut over the next year, according to an internal memo reviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek.

“Because the far right will control all three branches of the federal government, we will face serious threats to the ability of working people to join together in unions,” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote in an internal memo dated Dec. 14. “These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.” After citing the need to “dramatically re-think” how to implement the union’s strategy, Henry’s all-staff letter announces that SEIU “must plan for a 30% reduction” in the international union’s budget by Jan. 1, 2018, including a 10 percent cut effective at the start of 2017.

SEIU, which represents nearly 2 million government, health-care, and building-services workers and wields an annual budget of $300 million, is the nation’s second-largest union and arguably the most politically significant. In the past few years, SEIU has mounted organized labor’s most effective political intervention with the “Fight for $15,” a campaign that’s dragged Democrats—from city council members to presidential candidates—further left on the minimum wage. At the same time, it cultivated close ties with President Obama, played a key role in passing Obamacare, and worked hard to elect Hillary Clinton.

Asked about what the memo could mean for its current campaigns, SEIU didn’t offer specifics. “As we prepare to fight-back against the forthcoming attacks on working people and our communities under an extremist-run government, we know we must realign our resources and streamline our investments to buttress and broaden our movement to restore economic and democratic opportunity for all families,” said spokeswoman Sahar Wali. “As part of this process, we are currently looking at possible ways to improve our budgets.”

SEIU, like most of its peers, was already in a state of slow-motion crisis before Trump’s victory. Things will only get worse after inauguration, when organized labor will find itself without a friend in the White House. Unions will instead be up against unified Republican control of the federal government and of half the nation’s state governments, where labor organizers have already suffered some severe blows.

In Michigan, for example, Republicans in 2012 passed a private sector “Right to Work” law that let workers decline to fund the unions representing them, a public sector law doing the same for government employees, and a third law stripping University of Michigan graduate student researchers and home-health aides of their collective-bargaining rights. Afterwards, SEIU’s Michigan health-care local lost most of its membership.

With Republican dominance in Washington, the threats to SEIU will get more grave: Everything from slashing health-care spending to passing a federal law extending “Right to Work” to all private-sector employees could be on the table. One of the most widely expected scenarios is that a Trump appointee will provide the decisive fifth vote on the Supreme Court’s labor cases. The court already ruled in 2014 that making government-funded home health aides pay union fees violated the First Amendment, and a future case could apply the same logic to all government employees, effectively making the whole public sector “Right to Work.” SEIU was bracing for such a ruling earlier this year, in a case called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, but got an unexpected reprieve when Justice Antonin Scalia’s death left the court tied, four to four. With several similar cases brought by union opponents already making their way through lower courts, it may not last for long.

The Dec. 14 internal memo from SEIU’s president doesn’t specify which threats necessitate planning for a 30 percent cut or how particular programs could be affected. It does reference the next congressional and presidential election cycles, saying the union needs to “focus our resources and energy on the fights that position us to retake power in 2018, 2020 and beyond,” as well as position itself “to take on the forthcoming attacks, absorb the short-term losses and strengthen ourselves to win big in the future.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Judge blocks Texas rules requiring burial of fetal remains

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks

From Fox News: A federal judge on Thursday blocked until at least next month hotly debated Texas rules mandating burial or cremation of fetal remains that were set to go into effect within days.

The ruling by Austin-based U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks (appointed by George H.W. Bush) begins the latest legal battle for a state whose tough anti-abortion laws were largely struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and other national advocacy groups sued to prevent Texas from requiring hospitals and clinics to bury or cremate fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages rather than disposing of them in a sanitary landfill, as they often currently do with such remains and other biological medical waste.

The rules had been set to take effect Monday. The lawsuit argues that the rules serve no medical purpose and are meant to shame women who seek abortions and make it harder for doctors to provide them.

Sparks scheduled two days of testimony for early next month, then said he expected to rule by Jan. 6 on whether or not the rules can be allowed to stand going forward. Earlier legal challenges blocked similar measures in Louisiana and in Indiana, where they were signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence, now Donald Trump’s vice president-elect.

Texas’ proposed rules brought more than 35,000 public comments. The state health department wrote that it “believes the methods allowed by the rules will protect the public by preventing the spread of disease while also preserving the dignity of the unborn in a manner consistent with Texas laws.”

Greg Abbott

The new rules were proposed to the health commission at the behest of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in July, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down anti-abortion laws that would have left Texas with 10 abortion clinics, down from more than 40 in 2012.

They require fetal remains, regardless of the state of gestation, to be treated like those of a deceased person by having them buried or cremated. Cremated remains would still have to be buried or scattered.

Republican state lawmakers also have pre-filed bills that would codify similar rules into Texas law. The Texas Legislature convenes Jan. 10.

Remains are currently most often disposed of in sanitary landfills, and that cost is included in the price of getting an abortion or otherwise undergoing treatment for a terminated pregnancy.

Critics say cremation, and especially burial, would cost more and force women to have to cover the additional expenses, while funeral home operators also have worried about the added costs interment and cremation. The Texas Catholic Conference, however, has announced that it is readying plans to allow free burial for fetal remains at Catholic cemeteries.

DCG