Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court declined Tuesday to take up two gun-related cases out of California, maintaining its reluctance to dive back into the debate concerning the scope of the 2nd Amendment.
In an unsigned order, the court let stand a ruling upholding California’s law mandating a 10-day waiting period and another imposing fees on firearm transactions to fund background checks.
The court’s order comes at a sensitive time as the country is reeling from the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The denials also signal the court remains unwilling to take another look at several lower court rulings 10 years after its landmark opinion that found for the first time that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual has a right to own a firearm in the house, drawing a scathing dissent from conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, who accused the court of sidestepping the issue.
The California law requiring a 10-day waiting period was challenged by a firearm owner and the gun-rights group Second Amendment Foundation, who argued it was unfair for people who already owned firearms to have to wait the same amount of time as first-time purchasers who were undergoing background checks during that time.
While a lower court sided against the firearm owners, the 9th US Circuit of Appeals upheld the state law, and Tuesday’s Supreme Court action means it will remain in effect.
The second case involves gun owners and the National Rifle Association challenging a California law that imposes fees on all firearms transactions in order to pay for background checks. When there is a surplus of funds, the money is diverted to fund law enforcement programs dedicated to tracking down individuals who unlawfully possess firearms.
Lawyers for the challengers argued in court papers, “while constitutionally protected conduct may be subject to generally applicable taxes and fees, it may not be singled out for special monetary extractions designed to profit from, or worse still, discourage the exercise of the constitutional right.”
The 9th Circuit upheld the fees, and the Supreme Court allows them to remain in place.
Will court address Heller?
The NRA conservatives have been urging justices in recent years to expand upon the 2008 decision in Heller v. United States and a second ruling two years later.
Thomas issued a lengthy dissent in the 10-day waiting period case to criticize some lower courts for treating 2nd Amendment rights “cavalierly.”
“The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this court’s constitutional orphan,” Thomas wrote. “And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message.”
It’s been “nearly eight years” since the court issued an opinion declaring that the Second Amendment is not a “second class right,” Thomas wrote, saying that by refusing to take up the issue the justices “undermine that declaration.”
As a result, he said, lower courts are “failing to protect the Second Amendment to the same extent that they protect other constitutional rights.”
Moreover, Thomas said he suspected that four members of the court would vote to review a 10 day waiting period for abortions, or a 10-day waiting period on the publication of racist speech, or a 10 minute delay of a traffic stop because “abortion, speech and the Fourth Amendment are three of its favored rights.”
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Folks there is one main reason that President Trump refuses to accept that Russia messed with the Presidential election in 2016. This reason is simple, if he did except that his good buddy Vlad and his KGB (FSB) operatives did interfere with the election he, ‘Mr. Trump’, would have to concede that not only did Mr. Trump lose the popular vote but that he did also lost the Electoral College vote as well, meaning, he ‘Mr. Trump’ is not legally really our President. He would have to except that he is ‘a loser’.
I know that I am not a genius, unlike Mr. Trump, who just can’t admit that he is a dumb as a box of Donkey dung. Yet I, unlike Mr. Trump do have the ability to be honest with reality. Sometimes I am able to look at an issue with an open mind as to the concept of what is or would be logical. Concerning the 2016 elections, before they ever happened I looked at them and thought about how could a group of very smart hackers mess with the election results to get Mr. Trump elected or, to make sure that Hillary wasn’t elected. My thoughts then and now were/are that if someone like Mr. Putin wanted to help make sure that Hillary whom he hates did not win the Presidency, how could he do it? How could you throw the election for a major underdog? To me the answer is and was simple, you attack the U.S. system through the States, not through a National computer system. Our Intelligence Agencies say that Russian hackers infiltrated the computer systems of 21 States in the last election. All that they had to do was flip the votes in a few of the States where they thought that Mr. Trump was going to be close, say 2, 3 or 4% points less than Hillary, which would be within the ‘margin of error’ and flip the vote totals.
Folks if Mr. Putin was able to help ‘flip’ just 3 or 4 of those States to Mr. Trump, he would have been able to win the Electoral College vote, giving the election to Mr. Trump. Now, simply what happened in that election? Mr. Trump pulled out a few States that he wasn’t expected to win in very close vote totals, he won the Electoral College vote while losing the popular vote by about five million. I said before, during and after the election that this is how they would do it if they were able to infiltrate the system. All of our Nation’s Security Agencies say that Russia did interfere. As I said, Mr. Trump can not say there was interference unless he admits that he indeed lost and that he is not our Nations legally elected President.
Now, if Mr. Trump was/is removed from Office, as he should be, what then, who would, should, be put into Office? For those of you who don’t know me, I detest Hillary Clinton as much as I detest Donald Trump, I am not a Democrat nor a Republican, I am a non-partisan Independent. I looked at both Hillary and Donald as being as crooked as two human beings could possibly be, I still feel this way. During the last elections the way I was seeing it was the fact that Hillary is very intelligent and dog leg crooked and Donald was a total dumb-a–. So we the people were going to end up with a crook as President no matter what, it just depended on whether we wanted one that was worldly smart, or one that was a total idiot.
Now to be honest with you I don’t know how things would be handled if Mr. Trump was evicted from Our White House, so here is just some guesses. Obviously something like this has never happened since we became a Country, so what would the Washington D.C. politicians decide, or would it, should it be decided by the Supreme Court? But to go through the Court Mr. Gorsuch would also have to be removed from the Bench thus leaving the Court with 8 members, pretty much 4 Republican and 4 Democrats. Mr. Pence would have to be removed with Mr. Trump because he was also not really elected to the Post of V.P.. So here is my guess, if the Supreme Court was not able to decide then I would guess that Congressman Paul Ryan would have to take the Podium, at least for a while. Do you let Mr. Ryan be President until new elections this November? At that time do you let Hillary become a one term 6 year President? Do you hold all new Presidential Elections in 2018 then again in 2020? Lots of questions friends, lots of questions. If we think that there is gridlock and bought and paid for politicians in D.C. now, what would it be like for the Country if this current ‘Coward-in-Chief’ is impeached and the current V.P. isn’t allowed to ascend to the Presidency? Lots of questions friends, but what would the real and final answer be?
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The day has arrived for Colorado Christian baker Jack Phillips, whose case will finally be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday after he was punished by the state for refusing to serve the wedding of Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
The high court will hear oral arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that could go a long way in determining the limit of Christian wedding vendors’ First Amendment protections.
In a case that pre-dates the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage in 2015, the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom will defend Phillips and argue that wedding cakes are equivalent to art and free expression and that their client has the right to refuse events that violate his convictions.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, there has been much heated debate in the country surrounding the intersection of LGBT protections and the religious freedom of Christian conservatives.
Many conservative Christian leaders have considered this case to be one of the most important cases pertaining to religious freedom in over a decade.
Ronnie Floyd, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, told The Christian Post that he fears a ruling against Phillips could set a negative precedent on religious freedom rights for Christian professionals, even those outside of the wedding industry.
“As the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal noted, It could compel Catholic doctors to perform abortions or force Catholic adoptions services to place children with same-sex couples,” Floyd, the pastor at Cross Church in Arkansas, said. “I think that is the far-reaching issue, whether it is Catholic or it’s evangelical — those of us who have a deep belief in religious liberty and the sanctity of human life and those kind of matters. Where does it stop? That is extremely frightening.”
“I don’t think by any means that someone that did what Jack did should be discriminated against because he doesn’t feel like he can in good conscience do that,” Floyd added. “I just think that is a violation to his own personal commitment to what he believes is right relating to one of the great traditions of the Christian faith: family and marriage between a man and a woman. That is one of the core principles.”
Some argue that Phillips should be required to make cakes for same-sex weddings because in this specific case he was not asked to travel to or attend the wedding ceremony as a part of the transaction because the wedding was in Massachusetts and the cake was for a wedding reception in Colorado.
“But even if the cake were to have been consumed at a wedding, Phillips’ creation of the cake before the ceremony would not have constituted participation in any meaningful sense,” conservative political commentator George F. Will wrote in an op-ed published by The Washington Post.
“Photography is inherently a creative, expressive art, so photographers have a strong case against compulsory documentation of ceremonies at which they must be present. Less clearly but plausibly, florists can claim aesthetic expression in floral arrangements, but their work is done before wedding ceremonies occur. Chauffeurs facilitate ceremonies, but First Amendment jurisprudence would become incoherent if it protected unwilling chauffeurs from their supposedly expressive participation in ceremonies to which they deliver actual participants.”
Will asserted that he believes Phillips should “lose this case.”
“A cake can be a medium for creativity; hence, in some not-too-expansive sense, it can be food for thought. However, it certainly, and primarily, is food,” Will said. “And the creator’s involvement with it ends when he sends it away to those who consume it.”
In a response to Will, National Review columnist David French argued that wedding cakes are art.
“Who has ever said that a wedding cake was primarily food? No one wants the cake to taste like trash, but is that the reason that brides, moms, and wedding planners agonize over their cake choice? (Grooms are more likely to be indifferent.) No, they want the cake to be beautiful. They want it to be — dare I say it — a work of art,” he wrote.
Carrie Severino, a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, said in a statement that this case is not about “generic cake.”
“This is not about a generic cake someone picks up at Costco. After all, Jack Phillips was willing to sell an off-the-shelf cake to the couple. But the government wanted to unconstitutionally force him to design a custom wedding cake that would promote a message in direct conflict with his conscience and deeply held religious beliefs, even when there were plenty of other businesses with no such conflict that were happy to bake that cake,” she said. “The left will try to frame this case as an LBGTQ case but, at its core, it’s about whether or not the government can force or compel an American citizen — protected by the First Amendment — to violate their religious convictions and their right to free speech.”
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board published an op-ed on Sunday in support of Phillips that argued that the state of Colorado is doing what the Supreme Court said shouldn’t be done — “demean” or “stigmatize” those with different morals.
“As Justice Kennedy noted in Obergefell, the ‘Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,'” the WSJ op-ed concludes. “If this applies to same-sex marriage, which isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, it certainly ought to apply to religious belief, which is there in black and white.”
Although Will believes that Phillips should lose his case, he doesn’t believe Phillips should have been subject to government punishment for what he did.
“Phillips ought to lose this case. But Craig and Mullins, who sought his punishment, have behaved abominably,” Will contended. “To make his vocation compatible with his convictions and Colorado law, Phillips has stopped making wedding cakes, which was his principal pleasure and 40 percent of his business. He now has only four employees, down from 10. Craig and Mullins, who have caused him serious financial loss and emotional distress, might be feeling virtuous for having done so. But siccing the government on him was nasty.”
“Denver has many bakers who, not having Phillips’s scruples, would have unhesitatingly supplied the cake they desired. So it was not necessary for Craig’s and Mullins’ satisfaction as consumers to submit Phillips to government coercion. Evidently, however, it was necessary for their satisfaction as asserters of their rights as a same-sex couple,” Will continued. “Phillips’ obedience to his religious convictions neither expressed animus toward them nor injured them nor seriously inconvenienced them. Their side’s sweeping victory in the struggle over gay rights has been decisive, and now less bullying and more magnanimity from the victors would be seemly.”
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that President Donald Trump’s travel ban can go into full effect, restricting entry into the United States for foreign nationals from eight countries — including six whose population is mostly Muslim.
The decision, supported by seven of the nine justices, was a major victory for Trump and his administration after two previous versions of the travel ban were blocked or narrowed in lower courts earlier this year. Lower courts will continue to consider legal challenges to the executive order, but for now, the president has gotten his way.
Here’s what happens next:
What does this mean?
The Supreme Court’s decision Monday means that the U.S. government can legally block some foreign nationals from gaining visas or enter the United States.
Who is affected by this travel ban?
The Supreme Court acted Monday on a “presidential proclamation” submitted by White House lawyers in September. The latest iteration of the travel ban affects nationals from previously named countries like Iran, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Somalia, as well as Chad, Venezuela and North Korea, which were recently added.
Based on that proclamation, the ban applies to foreign nationals in the following ways:
North Korea and Syria: Blocked issuance of all U.S. visas.
Iran: Blocked issuance of nearly all U.S. visas except for students and exchange visitors.
Venezuela: Blocked issuance of visas for government officials (and their immediate relatives) on business or tourist travel into the U.S.
Chad, Libya and Yemen: No new U.S. visas will be awarded, and business and tourist visas have been suspended.
Somalia: Entry to the U.S. is suspended; visa holders will be subject to extra scrutiny.
How and why did the Supreme Court rule this way?
The Supreme Court acted Monday on a request from White House lawyers to lift restrictions on the order, but it did not give any reasons why it did so, The Washington Post reported. Instead, the Supreme Court urged lower courts to move quickly on their cases challenging previous versions of the travel ban.
No, the travel ban is only allowed to be carried out while pending legal challenges play out. The ban could be affected by future rulings.
What legal challenges remain?
The Trump administration is appealing two decisions in federal appeals courts. The two cases could be heard as early as this week, CNN reported.
One legal challenge in Maryland argues that “a nationality-based travel ban against eight nations consisting of over 150 million people is unprecedented” and that the travel ban was borne out of Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign.
Another legal challenge in Hawaii argues that the travel ban “plainly discriminates based on nationality” and therefore violates federal laws.
White House lawyers argue that the president has the full discretion to enforce immigration laws.
How did Trump react?
Trump had not yet offered a reaction to the decision, but the White House said in a statement that it was not surprised by the decision.
“The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts.”
The travel ban caused an uproar in the past, so how did people respond this time?
The Supreme Court’s decision drew a lot of reactions Monday. Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, one of the original challengers of the travel ban, said he looked forward to a “speedy resolution.”
Reaction to the ruling was overwhelmingly critical on social media, but some were cautious about reading too much into the ruling and wondered how the courts would rule next. Others saw it as a strong sign that Trump eventually would prevail. Others were deeply disappointed.