Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is The Latest In A Long Line Of Justices To Weigh In On Politics

by IAN MILLHISER – On a fall day in 1955, Thurgood Marshall needed a signature to save a man’s life. Marshall’s client, as recounted in Gilbert King’s Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, was an African-American man convicted of raping a white woman under dubious circumstances. The Florida Supreme Court had just rejected Marshall’s request for a last-minute stay of execution, and Marshall needed the Chief Justice of the United States, Fred Vinson, to stop the execution before it was too late. Marshall found the chief in a hotel, two blocks from the White House, playing poker with President Harry Truman. Truman sat silently as his good friend Vinson read Marshall’s brief and eventually decided to side with Marshall’s client. It was a common scene in the Truman administration. Often, Vinson and Justice Tom Clark joined Truman on the presidential...

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Justice Ginsburg Hands Surprise Victory To Consumers Over Big Business

by IAN MILLHISER – An effort to gut one of the most important mechanisms the law uses to deter businesses against widespread violations of the law failed on Wednesday, when the Supreme Court handed down its 6-3 decision in Campbell-Ewald v. Gomez. Had the defendants, who were backed by powerful business interest groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, prevailed in this lawsuit, it would have significantly altered the balance of power between large corporations and their customers and workers. Campbell-Ewald involved a company that allegedly sent many unsolicited text messages to various cell phone users. Under federal law, someone who receives such a message may recover $500 for each violation of the law. The named plaintiff in this case, Jose Gomez, is a man who received one of the unwanted messages. This tiny case about an annoying message took on far greater importance, however,...

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Texas’ ‘Poll Tax’ Goes On Trial

by ALICE OLLSTEIN – A powerful federal court is now considering the fate of one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country: a bill Texas passed in 2011 that sharply limits the number of documents voters can use to prove their identity at the ballot box. In October, a judge struck down the law, calling it an “unconstitutional poll tax.” But Texas appealed that ruling, and the Supreme Court gave them the go-ahead to implement the law in last November’s midterm elections, where it disenfranchised hundreds of eligible voters. On Tuesday, the state argued at the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans that there is no proof lawmakers passed the law to intentionally suppress minority votes, and no proof any eligible voter has been denied the right to vote as a result. Scott Keller of the Texas solicitor general’s office noted that those without ID can still vote by...

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg Shreds Opponent Of Same-Sex Marriage In Court

by DEBORAH MONTESANO – Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch crossed swords with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in court on Tuesday. He’s probably still feeling the sting. The Supreme Court heard 90 minutes of oral arguments on two issues regarding same-sex marriage. The first is whether same-sex couples are guaranteed the right to marry by the U.S. Constitution. The second is whether states that don’t recognize same-sex marriages are required by the Constitution to recognize those marriages when they’ve been performed in a state where they are legal. Justice Ginsburg has left little doubt that she is a firm supporter of equal rights for members of the LGBT community. During the hearing, she took Bursch, the lawyer who is trying to preserve states’ bans on same-sex marriage, to school. The argument that the courts shouldn’t interfere with tradition when it comes to the definition of marriage was the first to...

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Supreme Court Just Limited The Police’s Ability To Search Your Car For Drugs

By IAN MILLHISER, ThinkProgress – Police cannot extend the length of a traffic stop, even very briefly, to conduct a fishing expedition to determine whether the vehicle contains drugs. Though police retain a fair amount of ability to use routine traffic stops to seek out evidence of other crimes, the thrust of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s opinion in Rodriguez v. United States is that they cannot extend a traffic stop even for a minute without a new justification for extending their search. Dennys Rodriguez was driving with a passenger, Scott Pollman, when an officer pulled him over for veering onto the shoulder of a Nebraska highway. In a little over twenty minutes, the cop spoke to Rodriguez and Pollman, called for a second officer, conducted a records check on the two men, and issued Rodriguez a warning ticket. After issuing this ticket, however, the cop extended the stop until the...

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Same-sex Marriage WILL Be Legalized, Whether You Like It Or Not (VIDEO)

by VERA – In a recent interview with Bloomberg News’ Greg Stohr and Matthew Winkler, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asserts her belief in the widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage, explaining that it’s only a matter of time before it is legalized throughout the United States. Ginsburg states: “I think it’s doubtful that it wouldn’t be accepted. The change in people’s attitudes on that issue has been enormous. In recent years, people have said, ‘This is the way I am.’ And others looked around and we discovered it’s our next-door neighbor, we’re very fond of them. Or it’s our child’s best friend, or even our child. I think that as more and more people came out and said, ‘This is who I am, the rest of us recognized that ‘they’ are one of us.” Ginsburg pointed out that it has been easier for people to change their attitudes about homosexuality than it...

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Justice Ginsburg Explains Everything You Need To Know About Religious Liberty In Two Sentences

by IAN MILLHISER – On Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Holt v. Hobbs, establishing that a Muslim inmate may grow a half-inch beard “in accordance with his religious beliefs,” despite a prison policy prohibiting him from doing so. This result is not particularly surprising. During oral argument the justices appeared sympathetic to the inmate, who listed as “Gregory Houston Holt AKA Abdul Maalik Muhammad.” And Mr. Muhammad had strong legal arguments supporting his case. In the Court’s majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito convincingly rebuts the prison’s justifications for requiring Muhammad to shave. Among other things, the prison claimed that an inmate might hide contraband, such as a razor or illegal drugs, in their beard if they were permitted to grow one. According to Alito, however, the prison’s claim that an inmate might smuggle items in a half-inch beard, is “hard to take seriously.” The prison,...

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