Average Joe SCOTUS: Taggart v. Lorenzen

Holy fuck! This case has more twists and turns than a Hillary Clinton campaign position.

So this dude Taggart, (The petitioner here) owned 25% of a real estate company. But Taggart sucked with money and investing, was feeling kinda broke, and decided to sell his share to his attorney to get himself some scratch.

However, Terry Emmert and Keith Jehnke also owned 25% each, and they were represented by a Stuart Brown, who was then represented by Shelley Lorenzen (The respondent in the case). My head already fucking hurts from this shit.

Anyway, Emmert and Jehnke thought Taggart selling to his attorney instead of them, was a total dick move, and sued his ass. They won, and Taggart was booted from his own fucking company, with the shares being sold to Emmert and Jehnke. The courts also ruled that Emmert and Jehnke’s attorney could sue for attorney’s fees, so of course he totally did.

Taggart was all like, “Fuck you, I’m filing for bankruptcy.” Which means, his creditors are supposed to go to the bankruptcy proceedings if they want money from him. After that, it’s Hands-Fucking-Off. That’s why it’s called bankruptcy “protection.”

Anyway, this deadbeat Taggart was awarded his bankruptcy, but Brown, the attorney for the two assholes who were trying to squeeze blood from a turnip, decided to sue Taggart anyway, for legal fees, as mentioned earlier, after he got his bankruptcy. Their argument was that Taggart had “returned to the fray” and therefore didn’t deserve protection.

So now Taggart is suing Brown (Lorenzen) for contempt saying, “Hey, those motherfuckers knew I was in bankruptcy, and came after me for money anyway. But Brown (Lorenzen) were like, we thought it was Saul Goodman (Slang for “It’s all good, man”). We didn’t know we couldn’t come after him. We thought he “returned to the fray.”

So 97 different fucking courts weighed in on this shit before it finally got to SCOTUS who were asked to decide if someone in bankruptcy protection can sue someone who comes after them after the bankruptcy, if they thought in good faith, it was OK to sue for that.

SCOTUS unanimously thought Lorenzen, Brown, Emmert, and Jehnke were the bigger assholes in all of this. They fucking knew better, and did it anyway. Judgement for Taggart.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Department of Commerce v. New York

On the 2020 census, the Department of Commerce, at Trump’s request, wanted a question added to the census, that hadn’t been asked since before the Chevrolet Corvette came into being.

They wanted to ask if anyone in the household is not a U.S. Citizen. Their argument being it would help with enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. He argued:

One of the critical elements of Voting Rights Act enforcement is something called Citizen Voting Age Population, or CVAP.

Right now, everything for CVAP comes from the census, with the exception of citizenship.

So population, age, race, all of that comes from the census, except for citizenship, the C in CVAP. So a large amount of voting rights litigation focuses on expert witnesses who try to fill in that missing C and try to estimate that missing C through imputation based on the American Community Survey, which goes to just one in 38 households. And the Department of Justice wanted to get all of the same information from the same database so that critical feature of voting rights litigation, CVAP, all came from the same place.

New York, fearing that homes with an illegal immigrant would say “no” to avoid a visit from ICE, sought to prevent that question from being asked. They want an accurate count, which supports the idea of having the census, since an accurate count helps them understand how many public servants to employ to assist them, and such. Plus, they just think Trump is an asshole, and it’s an asshole question to ask.

So New York decided to depose Trump’s peeps, and ask why the fuck they felt they needed to ask this question in a census, since it seemed politically motivated, and doesn’t help get an accurate count. But the government applied for a stay, basically asking the courts to tell New York to STFU and let them run their goddamn census as they saw fit.

The courts denied this stay, however, and the depositions were allowed to go forward. In the meantime, the district court decided to lay down the law, and tell Trump’s peeps to get rid of the fucking question.

So now SCOTUS was asked by the fed to decide if the district court was out of line, both in handing down their decision, and compelling testimony from Trump’s goons. They were basically trying to get SCOTUS to quash the lower court’s ruling against them.

Breyer and Sotomayor seemed to take particular issue with the fed and their idea that the question wouldn’t cause the census to be less accurate, which was New York’s argument as well, because they laid into Noel Francisco (Solicitor for the fed) on this point like he had slapped their mothers.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS told the fed to go fuck themselves—remove the fucking question. The argued the courts did the right thing, and the feds can take their question and shove it up their ass.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

 

Average Joe SCOTUS: Quarles v. United States

All around scumbag Jamar Quarles broke into a home years ago. And as such, was deemed a violent felon. Then, because of this, was not allowed to be carrying a gun, which this dumb motherfucker proceeded to do.

As such, his possession felony sent this idiot scumbag to prison for 204 months. But Quarles hired some scumbag ambulance chaser who was trying to get Quarles off on a lesser sentence.

Since the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) makes three felonies a condition for being considered as a career criminal, Quarles and his hired ambulance chaser were trying to argue that his burglary from years ago, which he didn’t dispute he did, wasn’t a burglary, because he didn’t form intent to burgle until after he was in the home, as opposed to the idea he broke in for the purposes of burgling.

Yeah, it’s one of those ridiculous semantic bullshit arguments I despise, but hey! At least he’s imaginative. Here’s one particular exchange that went to his point.

Stephen G. Breyer

Is there any reason to think that the person who stays in the bank, and then, ah, what a nice idea, I’ll help myself to some money, is any the less violent or at risk of violence or risk of — is there any less risk there than when he gets the idea of going into the bank two weeks earlier?

Jeremy C. Marwell

Yes.

I think the — the — the existence of pre-formed intent, so somebody who comes to the bank with the advance plan to commit another crime shows that they will be more resolute in their desire to accomplish that crime. It may result in them bringing a weapon because they know they’re going to do that.

And I think it aligns with this — with the fact that ACCA is governing career criminals, trying to select people who have that profit motive to do multiple crimes. And you look at the fact patterns of the cases that are really the point of disagreement between us and the government, you know, Gaines from the New York Court of Appeals, a homeless person who breaks into a warehouse to get out of the cold, while he’s in there decides to grab a jacket and is caught coming out, or the case of young people who break into a house not — not intending to steal something — this is the JNS case from Oregon — take something while they’re in there and caught on the way out.

So after losing in lower courts, they ended up at SCOTUS who was asked to define burglary further, and determine if intent had to be present before he wrongly entered the property he then burgled.

SCOTUS found him and his bullshit argument less than impressive, and unanimously told him to go fuck himself. Judgment for United States.

Hear oral arguments, and read about the case here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Mitchell v. Wisconsin

Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Facts of the case

So this drunkard Mitchell was being a total piece of shit, driving under the influence. In Wisconsin, the legal limit is 0.08% blood alcohol level. This motherfucker was 0.222, nearly four times above the legal limit.

This motherfucker was so drunk in fact, he passed out in the squad car, so the cops had to take his dumb ass to the hospital instead of jail.

At the hospital, he passed out again, so the cops had the hospital take a blood test to determine how drunk this motherfucker was. The astute of you will say, “Hey, that’s a non-consensual search without a warrant.” You’d be right. But Wisconsin has a law that says if you obtain a driver’s license, you automatically agree to such a search.

Anyway, Mitchell thinks this is some bullshit end-run around the 4th amendment. So after trying his level best in Wisconsin court to get them to drop the results of this search, they were like “fuck you, you drunk motherfucker. We need to get your drunk ass off the streets.”

While SCOTUS acknowledges the exigent-circumstances rule allows for a blood test when someone is unconscious, it would have to be a situation where they needed to do so to prevent destruction of evidence, or to save a life. But in this case, the police did have time to get a warrant. So 5:4 decision for Mitchell.

While Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor dissented, they argued that the exigent circumstances rule shouldn’t apply to this bullshit rule in Wisconsin. That the state can’t create a law that basically exempts them from the limits in the Constitution. So they seemed to weirdly side with Mitchell, while still dissenting from the majority opinion which allows the rule, but requires a warrant be obtained in this case, since they had time to do so.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

 

A Libertarian View on Vaping

When non-libertarian people think of libertarianism, the first thought they tend to have, is usually the idea we want to let bad people do bad things as libertarians sit back and watch the world burn. You can probably blame Hollywood’s portrayal of anarchy for this, and the V for Vendetta fans with their creepy Guy Fawkes masks.

As the CDC recently reported here,  an outbreak of lung injury is forming from the use of vaping products, the majority of which are related to products containing THC, which are presumably illegal, and not made under any regulated control.

It’s easy to believe that because libertarians are vehemently against laws recently passed in multiple states banning vaping, that libertarians are happy to watch people get injured or die—that is the impression we have after all. But this is a gross mischaracterization of libertarianism.

The problem lies at the heart of conflating a desire to not legislate away people’s right to do things, with the encouragement of people to do those things.

Libertarians know that vaping is bad for you. And we suffer like anyone else when a family member is injured or killed as a result of using such products. So how would we prevent it?

First, you must know with the failed alcohol prohibition nearly a century ago, and the continued rampant illegal drug use of today despite current prohibitions, that vice bans simply aren’t efficacious for preventing use. Yet, legislators continue going to the dry well of “banning,” hoping it will miraculously produce water this time.

So how do our ideas of removing legislation, and allowing free markets to do what they’ll do help?

  • A free market quickly weeds out inferior quality products, and removes them from the marketplace. Companies go out of business all the time. It would be ridiculous to think that companies who are harming their customers, or selling bad products are thriving, while great companies with superior products are dying. The cream always rises to the top in a free market.
  • A free market ensures investors will invest in the quality of the product, because they aren’t worried about government shutting them down and destroying their investment.
  • A free market drives more people to enter the marketplace with the idea of building a better product in the first place.

How does allowing people to be free help?

  • It removes the allure of doing something forbidden. Just like people all want Cuban cigars, despite the fact Dominicans which are equally good, and perfectly legal, removing bans takes away that excitement of doing something illegal.
  • It removes the risk of an encounter with law enforcement that could end in death, a la Eric Garner, after police attempted to enforce a simple cigarette tax.
  • It allows the usage to be done in a safer place. For instance, you have an issue at a bar that serves legal alcohol, the bar calls 911, an ambulance shows up, and you’re hopefully saved. But if a problem arises at an illegal crack house for instance, they’re probably not calling 911 to come get you from there, tipping police off to the location of the crack house in question.
  • It allows for freer discussions when help is needed. I’m far less likely to ask for help from others, if I fear I’ll go to jail for the actions I’ve taken.

We libertarians do believe you own your own body, and should be free to care for it, or destroy it, however you see fit.

While we want all people to avoid things that may harm them, we don’t want to authorize police to shoot them, or courts to prosecute them, for doing it. Any issues surrounding your health should be between you, and the people you choose to share that information with, such as your doctor, your family, or your friends.

We should all know that freedom is in direct opposition from security. You could be locked up in a padded room, so you’re never able to be harmed or harmed yourself. But it’s a miserable existence for any animal. So we choose freedom instead, and accept the risks that come with it. It may lead to more bad outcomes, but it also leads to many greater outcomes, too.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Rehaif v United States

So this dumb motherfucker Hamid Mohamed Ahmed Ali Rehaif from the United Arab Emirates came to the United States to study at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) on a student visa. I say dumb, because FIT dismissed him for academic achievement issues, which loosely translates to “he was a dumb motherfucker.”

Once he was sent packing from FIT, he was no longer a student, and thus no longer eligible for a student visa, and it was revoked accordingly by the government. We’ll assume he was not notified in any way, because that’s the crux of this case.

During his time here though, Rehaif embraced his inner American, because he headed to the shooting range for a little good ole American shoot ’em up, rented a gun, and bought some ammo to do so. So while the 2nd amendment guarantees a right to bear arms to all Americans, it doesn’t guarantee such a right to immigrants, especially for ones who’ve overstayed their visa.

The statute 18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(2) in question uses the term “knowingly” to charge someone with the crime of possessing a firearm, and doing so while being here illegally. It says:

Whoever knowingly violates subsection (a)(6), (d), (g), (h), (i), (j), or (o) of section 922 shall be fined as provided in this title, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

So the argument at hand, was this action of going to a shooting range, which is otherwise a perfectly normal thing to do here, all of a sudden a ten year crime, and if so, does the United States have to know Rehaif both know he had a gun and/or ammo on his possession (That sounds silly, but someone could have left one in his home for instance, without him knowing), and he knew his visa had been revoked.

SCOTUS opted to say knowingly means just what the fuck you think it means—the government has to have evidence he knew he was in the wrong, and did it anyway. Or contrary to what cops say when you get a ticket, ignorance is an excuse.

7:2 Decision for Rehaif’s ignorant and stupid ass. Alito and Thomas dissented, arguing that ignorance isn’t an excuse. A crime is a fucking crime.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media

We all know about food stamps, right? I know it’s called SNAP now, as the government tries to rebrand it in such a way as to make users in the program not be made to feel bad about taking from other taxpayers, when they absolutely should.

Well, these hacks at Argus Media were presumably writing some story about people using the SNAP program, and submitted a FOIA request for information about the program, which included how much money individual stores were getting from the program.

At first, the USDA who manages SNAP declined to provide the requested information based on FOIA exemption three, which says they cannot disclose info that’s prohibited from being disclosed by federal law. But the lower courts were like, “What fucking law, exactly?”

So since they knew that was some bullshit, they went for exemption 4, which protects:

Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.

The courts had told the USDA to give over the information, and the USDA was all set to comply, but then these assholes at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), believing they’d be harmed if this information was released, filed the appeal to block the information accordingly.

So here we are at SCOTUS trying to literally determine WTF “confidential” means.

First, SCOTUS decided that FMI had standing to sue, since they could incur damages if their competition found out the information being requested. Then they decided as such, the assholes at Argue didn’t need to know this information, and told them to get fucked. Confidential means something that company A has a legit purpose in hiding from company B, which this information would be.

6:3 judgement for FMI, with Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer dissenting on how they defined “confidentiality” while still siding to protect FMI.