Opinion: Decrying Same-Sex Marriage Decision, Justices Thomas and Alito Endorse Trump’s Assault on Civil Rights

Last Monday the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear a case brought by Kim Davis, a former country clerk who, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case legalizing same-sex marriage, who refused to issue certificates for such marriages because of her religious objections to them.  She was sued and even jailed for this refusal and was appealing her case. read more

Andrew Cuomo Calls Trump Tax Decision a “Victory for Democracy” as President Has Twitter Meltdown

Andrew Cuomo destroys Mitch McConnell at his press conference

Andrew Cuomo praised the Supreme Court’s decision to allow New York prosecutors access to Donald Trump’s tax returns on Thursday but the President himself was not happy.

The Governor of New York welcomed the news that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has the right to present the President returns to a grand jury. He is seeking eight years’ worth of Trump’s personal and business records.

“It is a fundamental principle in our country: No one is above the law,

not even the president read more

Trump Says He Can “Live With” Supreme Court’s Decision on LGBT Rights Despite Conservative Anger

Trump holds coronavirus briefing with no medical experts

Donald Trump says he can accept the Supreme Court’s decision on LGBT rights, despite conservative outrage. The President did not criticize the move, as some believed he would.

The court ruled 6 to 3 that LGBT people enjoyed protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights act – meaning they cannot be fired simply for being LGBT. Trump-appointee Neil Gorsuch sided with the majority.

“I’ve read the decision, and some people were surprised,” Trump said on Monday. “But they’ve ruled and we live with their decision.”

“That’s what it’s all about. We live with the decision of the Supreme Court,” he said

“Very powerful. Very powerful decision actually,” Trump said. “But they have so ruled.”

Trump’s apparently calm reaction to the landmark decision may further worry conservatives, many of whom reacted with fury and incredulity to the ruling and attacked the justices supporting it.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Gorsuch have become particular targets of conservative ire – but none more than Gorsuch, who was appointed by Trump to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia.

There are also suggestions that the court’s decision could endanger President Trump’s reelection.

One major reason cited by many social conservatives for supporting him was the need for conservative judges but the recent decision seems to indicate that argument is flawed.

Follow Darragh Roche on Twitter

Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries: “The President Is Behaving Like a King” by Withholding His Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today about Donald Trump’s tax returns. It’s not clear how the justices will vote, but Democrat Hakeem Jeffries has made his position clear.

The New York Congressman tweeted as the justices began grilling lawyers for Congress and the President on Tuesday.

“Every single President since Richard Nixon has made their tax returns public,” Jeffries said.

“The House lawfully requested that Trump do the same.”

Every single President since Richard Nixon has made their tax returns public.

The House lawfully requested that Trump do the same. He refused.

The President is acting like a King.

But this is a democracy.

No one is above the law. #TrumpTaxes read more

Supreme Court conservatives sympathetic toward Trump census citizenship query

By Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared sympathetic toward a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, a plan opponents have called a Republican effort to deter immigrants from taking part in the population count.

During an extended argument session that lasted about 80 minutes, the court’s liberal justices voiced skepticism over the administration’s stated justification for the citizenship question – that it would yield better data to enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects eligible voters from discrimination.

Lower courts have blocked the question, ruling that the administration violated federal law and the U.S. Constitution in seeking to include it on the census form.

The court has a 5-4 conservative majority, and conservative justices signaled support toward the administration’s stance.

Chief Justice John Roberts challenged New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood, whose state sued the administration over the plan to add the question, saying citizenship is critical information for enforcing the Voting Rights Act.

A ruling is due by the end of June.

The case comes in a pair of lawsuits by a group of states and localities led by New York state, and a coalition of immigrant rights groups challenging the legality of the question. The census forms are due to be printed in the coming months.

The official population count, as determined by the census, is used to allot seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and distribute some $800 billion in federal funds.

Opponents have said inclusion of the question would cause a sizeable undercount by frightening immigrant households and Latinos from filling out the census, fearful that the information would be shared with law enforcement. This would cost Democratic-leaning areas electoral representation in Congress and federal aid, benefiting Republican-leaning parts of the country, they said.

Trump, a Republican, has pursued hardline immigration policies.

The Supreme Court, which includes Trump’s conservative appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, has handed the Republican president some major victories, including last year allowing his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.

During Tuesday’s arguments, liberal justices noted evidence presented in the case from the Census Bureau’s own experts that showed the citizenship question would lead to a population undercount, and, contrary to the administration’s stated goal, less accurate citizenship data.

The liberal justices dismissed the administration’s Voting Rights Act rationale, noting that the Commerce Department solicited other federal departments to make a formal request to add the citizenship question.

“You can’t read the record without sensing this need is a contrived one,” Justice Elena Kagan said.

U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, arguing on behalf of the administration, said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department includes the Census Bureau, acted within his discretion in deciding to add the citizenship question.

“It boils down to whether the secretary’s judgment is a reasonable one,” Francisco said.

Business groups and corporations such as Lyft, Inc, Box, Inc, Levi Strauss & Co and Uber Technologies Inc also opposed the citizenship question, saying it would compromise census data that they use to make decisions including where to put new locations and how to market products.

Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman on Jan. 15 ruled that the Commerce Department’s decision to add the question violated a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act. Federal judges in Maryland and California also prohibited the question’s inclusion in subsequent rulings, saying it would violate the Constitution’s mandate to enumerate the population every 10 years.

In November, when the Supreme Court allowed the trial before Furman to proceed, three of the court’s conservative justices – Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – said they would have blocked it, indicating they may be sympathetic to the administration’s legal arguments.

Furman found that Ross concealed his true motives for his March 2018 decision to add the question.

The Census Bureau itself estimated that households corresponding to 6.5 million people would not respond to the census if the citizenship question is asked, leading to less accurate citizenship data.

Citizenship has not been asked of all households since the 1950 census. It has featured since then on questionnaires sent to a smaller subset of the population. While only U.S. citizens can vote, non-citizens comprise an estimated 7 percent of the population.

For a graphic on the major Supreme Court cases this term: https://tmsnrt.rs/2V2T0Uf

(Reporting by Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)