This morning, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that employers may require employees to settle collective disputes in individual arbitration, thereby barring them from banding together in class-action lawsuits against employers.
The greatest restraint on judges is that they are bound by a written text — or, at least, that they are supposed to be. Members of Congress gain their legitimacy from the will of the people, so they have broad ranging authority to enact laws that, in their opinion, will serve those people. Judges, by contrast, have no democratic legitimacy and far less discretion. Their sole task, at least in theory, is to apply written law to individual cases.
Democrats romped through Wisconsin on Election Day, winning each of the five statewide offices on the ballot and winning the statewide popular vote in the state assembly by eight points. Nevertheless, Republicans won a 63 vote supermajority in the 99 seat Wisconsin assembly. Wisconsin, in other words, did not have a democratic election for the state assembly. Something resembling an election took place and voters cast their ballots in earnest, but the entire state assembly race was rigged.
The elevation of D.C. Circuit Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could have a profound impact on the rules governing the American democratic system. In recent years, the Supreme Court has swiftly remade the landscape of American politics, gutting 1960s-era civil rights laws restricting voter suppression, sharply weakening labor unions, and deregulating the campaign finance system to allow for wealthy individuals and corporations to exercise greater influence over elected representatives. With President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, that influence is poised to grow.
Gorsuch’s dissenting opinion in Carpenter v. United States is an odd piece of writing. After lecturing his colleagues for 20 pages about how he has uncovered a way of interpreting the Fourth Amendment that is more “tied to the law” than the last half-century of Supreme Court opinions on this subject, Gorsuch outright refuses to apply this mysterious new interpretation to the case at hand.
The Supreme Court held on Monday that white lawmakers enjoy a presumption of racial innocence, even when they draw legislative districts that empower white voters at the expense of racial minorities. The thrust of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Abbott v. Perez is that the “good faith” of a “state legislature must be presumed,” even when there are very serious allegations of racial gerrymandering.
Somewhat unintuitively, American corporations today enjoy many of the same rights as American citizens. Both, for instance, are entitled to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. How exactly did corporations come to be understood as “people” bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a bizarre—even farcical—series of lawsuits over 130 years ago involving a lawyer who lied to the Supreme Court, an ethically challenged justice, and one of the most powerful corporations of the day.
Trump and Republican leaders have celebrated Gorsuch’s confirmation as perhaps the signature accomplishment of the new administration, one that restored a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Now, as Gorsuch is set next week to begin his first full term on the court, he has accepted an invitation to speak to a conservative legal scholarship group Thursday at Trump International Hotel in Washington. He will be speaking to the Fund for American Studies, a nonprofit education organization that says it teaches “limited government, free-market economics and honorable leadership” to students at home and abroad.
On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court blockedtwo rulings by a federal district court that would have required Texas to redraw its state and federal congressional districts. The lower court had ruled that the Texas Legislature illegally gerrymandered these districts along racial lines and ordered new maps for the 2018 election. But by a 5–4 vote, the Supreme Court put that order on hold, ensuring that the gerrymander will remain through 2018. The decision may also indicate that the five Republican-appointed justices will eventually reverse the district court’s decisions altogether.
The Supreme Court has officially agreed to hear a case with the potential to put firm limits on partisan gerrymandering — and dramatically change the way states draw legislative boundaries. The case, Gill v. Whitford, challenges the 2011 Wisconsin state assembly map. Those districts were drawn by the Republican state legislature in Wisconsin, and packed Democrats into a smaller number of districts to maximize Republican odds. The lawsuit argues that the map is an unconstitutional effort to help Republicans retain power.
The U.S. Supreme Court has reinstated a new Arizona that makes it a felony to collect early ballots. Saturday's order from the nation's highest court overturns an appeals court decision a day earlier that blocked the new law. The decision is a blow to Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts and groups that had already geared up to help voters deliver their ballots to the polls.