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Discussion Starter #42
U.S. top court rejects challenge to rules accommodating Pennsylvania transgender students


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday preserved a Pennsylvania school district’s policy accommodating transgender students, declining to hear a challenge backed by a conservative Christian group to rules letting them use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

The justices left in place a 2018 lower court ruling that upheld the Boyertown Area School District policy, which was challenged by six former or current high school students, though the action does not set a national legal precedent. The Supreme Court scrapped plans to hear a major transgender rights case involving bathroom access in public schools in 2017 and has never issued a decisive ruling on the matter.

The students challenging the policy argued that it violated their right to privacy under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment and a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, known as Title IX. They were backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal group that has been involved in several major Supreme Court cases.
 

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God, you guys are truly amazing...no one's going to try to peek around the fu**ing corner to see your little pe-pe..



Here in Quebec, we have many high schools with co-ed bathrooms...and it's been like that from the 80's...
 

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Weird case results. The dissenters (both of them) were on point, doesn’t matter how long ago an unconstitutional act was done. Thomas got his part right, however I’d bet the Maryland state constitution closely echoes that of the US with respect to religious freedom/the government not having a religion, every one I’ve looked at has such a passage. Gorsuch had a weird position, seemingly suppressing the standing of a citizen to challenge the constitutionality of an act of government, doesn’t hinge on what sort of “injury” the citizen has suffered directly.

Maryland needs to turn the monument over to a private foundation/church lock, stock, and barrel.
 

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Discussion Starter #47
I can see both sides of this one and I'm struggling with it.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court on Monday struck down a longstanding U.S. ban on trademarks on “immoral” or “scandalous” words and symbols, ruling in a case involving a clothing brand with an indelicate name that the law violates constitutional free speech rights.

The justices ruled against President Donald Trump’s administration, which defended the law that had been in place since 1905, and in favor of Los Angeles streetwear designer Erik Brunetti, who was turned down by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when he sought to trademark his brand name FUCT.

Liberal Justice Elena Kagan wrote the decision in which all nine justices agreed that the prohibition on “immoral” trademarks ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment right to free expression. However, three justices wrote dissents to say the bar on “scandalous” trademarks should have been upheld.

The Supreme Court followed a course it took in 2017 when it struck down a similar law forbidding the registration of “disparaging” trademarks in a case involving an Asian-American dance rock band called The Slants, a name federal trademark officials deemed offensive to Asians.

“There are a great many immoral and scandalous ideas in the world (even more than there are swear words),” Kagan wrote in Monday’s decision, adding that the trademark law covers them all. “It therefore violates the First Amendment.”

The justices, who are due to wrap up their current term in the coming days with a handful of other major rulings on tap, upheld a 2017 lower court ruling striking down the law. The Supreme Court’s decision removes the authority of government officials to bar federal trademark registration for profane language or sexually graphic images.

The Trump administration had warned that invalidating the law would unleash a torrent of extreme words and sexually graphic images on the marketplace.

‘ODIOUS RACIAL EPITHET’

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and John Roberts were the three justices who partly dissented. Sotomayor said the government will now have no choice but to register “the most vulgar, profane or obscene words and images imaginable.”

Breyer said such words could even lead to physical altercations. “Just think about how you might react if you saw someone wearing a t-shirt or using a product emblazoned with an odious racial epithet,” Breyer said.

When the 2011 trademark application for FUCT was rejected, the Patent and Trademark Office noted that brand name sounds like a profanity, though is spelled differently, and concluded that Brunetti’s products contained sexual imagery, misogyny and violence.

Brunetti sought a trademark because it would make it easier to protect his brand of casual clothing against counterfeiters. The brand’s name is clever, Brunetti said, because of its association with the profanity, while the acronym also means “Friends U Can’t Trust.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in intellectual property law, ruled in Brunetti’s favor in 2017.

During arguments in the case on April 15, the justices and lawyers involved in the case were careful to tiptoe around the profanity at the center of the dispute. Justice Department lawyer Malcolm Stewart discreetly called it “the equivalent of the past participle form of the paradigmatic profane word in our culture.” Minding his language, Justice Stephen Breyer merely called it “the word at issue.”

Brunetti’s brand includes products such as a pullover sweatshirt saying “The world is fuct,” sweatpants saying “We are fuct,” and a T-shirt saying “Fuct is free speech, free speech is fuct.” Brunetti said in an April interview that while some people will be offended by certain words, limiting First Amendment protections is a “slippery slope.”

The Trump administration had argued that banning vulgar terms and sexually indecent images did not discriminate against anyone’s viewpoint, and that the government should not be forced through the trademark system to promote words and images that would be shocking or profane to the public.

The case marked the latest important free speech decision by the justices.

In another free speech case decided last year, the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot impose a blanket prohibition on apparel such as T-shirts and buttons bearing political messages in polling sites, striking down a Minnesota law as a First Amendment violation.

The court in 2015 ruled that Texas did not violate free speech rights when it rejected a proposed specialty vehicle license plate displaying the Confederate flag, to some an emblem of Southern pride and to others a symbol of racism.
 

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Discussion Starter #51
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch sided with the U.S. Supreme Court’s four liberal members on Monday in striking down as unconstitutionally vague a law imposing stiff criminal sentences for people convicted of certain crimes involving firearms.

In the 5-4 decision, the court ruled against President Donald Trump’s administration in declaring that the federal law in question was written too vaguely and thus violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of due process. The court’s four other conservative justices dissented, including Brett Kavanaugh, who like Gorsuch was appointed by Trump.

The court invalidated the firearms convictions of two men prosecuted in Texas on a variety of charges for their roles in a series of 2014 gas station robberies in Texas. Although the robbers were armed, no shots were fired.

The law, the most recent version of which was passed by Congress in 1986, imposed additional penalties on anyone who committed certain violent crimes while in possession of a firearm.

Gorsuch, appointed by Trump in 2017, wrote that laws passed by Congress must give ordinary people notice of what kind of conduct can land them in prison.

“In our constitutional order, a vague law is no law at all,” Gorsuch added.

Kavanaugh, appointed by Trump in 2018, wrote a dissenting opinion expressing surprise at the court overturning a law in use for decades.

“The court’s decision today will make it harder to prosecute violent gun crimes in the future,” Kavanaugh wrote.

Kavanaugh said there was evidence that steep prison sentences have been a contributing factor in a decline in U.S. violent crime.

Gorsuch said Congress could pass a more specific law to address the issue, but added that “no matter how tempting, this court is not in the business of writing new statutes to right every social wrong it may perceive.”

It represented the third ruling in the court’s current term in which Gorsuch has joined the court’s liberals in a 5-4 decision.

The court sided with defendants Maurice Davis and Andre Glover, who were convicted of multiple robbery counts, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and two counts each of brandishing a shotgun during a crime of violence.

Davis was originally sentenced to 41 years in prison. Glover faced a 50-year sentence. Both likely will now get shorter sentences. The decision does not affect their other convictions.

Monday’s ruling was similar to another 5-4 ruling a year ago in which Gorsuch also joined the liberals in the majority. The court ruled that a law requiring the deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence also was unconstitutionally vague.

Gorsuch is ideologically aligned with the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he replaced on the court in 2017. Scalia wrote a 2015 ruling that Gorsuch invoked in Monday’s decision that found that a similar provision in a federal criminal sentencing law also was overly broad.

Trump’s Justice Department appealed the case to the Supreme Court after the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year threw out one of each of the two defendants’ firearm-related offenses.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

The case did not involve the right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, which the Supreme Court’s conservative justices tend to interpret broadly.


https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-guns/supreme-court-strikes-down-stiff-firearms-penalties-idUSKCN1TP1YR
 

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I can see both sides of this one and I'm struggling with it.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and John Roberts were the three justices who partly dissented. Sotomayor said the government will now have no choice but to register “the most vulgar, profane or obscene words and images imaginable.”

Breyer said such words could even lead to physical altercations. “Just think about how you might react if you saw someone wearing a t-shirt or using a product emblazoned with an odious racial epithet,” Breyer said.
Breyer's statement here is inane. You can have, and people have had, t-shirts and other things emblazoned with "an odious racial epithet" for decades. I don't like it, but the 1A provides the right. Breyer is talking about physical altercations here, but that possibility's there whether or not the "odious" emblazonment on the t-shirt or whatever else is trademarked or not. He's actually making an argument for the banning of speech here, and that's scary for a Supreme Court Justice, of all people, to be doing.

Sotomayor's point makes more sense than Breyer's, though to me it is a double-edged sword. I'm thinking specifically of the name, "Washington Redskins", as the term, "redskin" is the Native American version of the term, "nigger". The trademark was pulled by the USPTO. But then the Matal v. Tam case came in, regarding an Asian American rock group calling themselves, "The Slants". The rock group won that case in the SCOTUS, unanimously. That unfortunately means that the name "Washington Redskins" can still be trademarked. No, I don't like that fact...but the First Amendment is not always convenient, and I've got to respect that right, too, even when I have to hold my nose to do it.
 

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that went well-

the supreme court ruled pubs could gerrymander away the voting rights of minorities

because they were above the law
 

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Saw that one coming, and despite everything bad about the gerrymandering, the decision isn't incorrect constitutionally. The feds have no business meddling around in state elections.

That being said, the unwavering support of one of the two major parties (doesn't matter which) has led to this. The shoe was on the other foot within my lifetime, and would be again if the Dems have figured out that the state elections are important, too. Really they're more important, it's where governing is supposed to happen, state constitutions and city charters have way less limits on what those governments are allowed to do.

Oh, well.
 
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