Average Joe SCOTUS: Romag Fasteners v. Fossil

We’re all familiar with Fossil, I assume. They sell handbags and shit. Well, there’s a small Connecticut company, Romag Fasteners, that almost 20 years ago, entered into an agreement with Fossil to supply them with magnetic fasteners for their handbags.

Fossil has their shit made in China, because that’s what you do these days. Can we all agree China plays pretty fast and loose with intellectual property? They’re the fucking worst with that shit. Communists don’t believe in intellectual property, because they’re fucking commies who don’t believe you can own a fucking thing, certainly not intellectual property.

Anyway, there’s one licensed distributor of Romag fasteners in China, and the Fossil plant in China decided to pinch a few pennies, and have a company replicate the fastener cheaper, and use those instead, all apparently unbeknownst to Fossil HQ here in the US.

Some wily ass Romag employee saw the bags at Macy’s, with the Romag name on the fasteners, but that clearly wasn’t one of their fasteners. So they were like, “You motherfuckers!”

So clearly this is a trademark issue, and it’s wrong. The problem is, Fossil argues they were clueless. And they can’t be held liable for wrongdoing when they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong.

Romag of course is saying, you assholes made money off our name, so fucking pay us. Whether you know or not, doesn’t matter.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS was entirely unimpressed with Fossil’s argument, siding with Romag, that Fossil owes them money. Ignorance isn’t a fucking excuse.

Hear oral arguments and/or read about the case and the opinions here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Ramos v. Louisiana

6th Amendment – Bill Of Rights – United States Constitution

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

14th Amendment – Section 1

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

All around Louisiana scumbag, Evangelisto Ramos allegedly murdered someone. He went to trial, and opted for a jury. Ten of the jurors thought he was guilty AF, but two weren’t so convinced. However, in Louisiana, you don’t need to convince all twelve jurors, ten will do just fine.

So Ramos appealed, citing the 6th amendment, which says nothing about unanimous decisions, somehow alludes to the notion that decisions must be unanimous. The appeals court told Ramos to get fucked. And the Supreme Court of Louisiana told him they didn’t even have time to listen to his bullshit. SCOTUS on the other hand seemed bored, and were happy to have a listen.

His argument is based on 1972’s Apodaca v. Oregon where SCOTUS decided that while the 6th amendment guarantees the people a right to trial by jury, and that federal jury trials require a unanimous jury verdict, such a unanimity verdict requirement does not apply to the states. They need only be a trial by jury.

Ramos’ team argues that if it’s good enough for federal courts, it’s good enough for the state courts too, and wants that decision overturned.

In a 6-3 non-partisan majority, SCOTUS sided with Ramos. They decided that the 6th amendment effectively ensures a guilty verdict must be unanimous, whether it be in federal or state court, doesn’t matter. That the courts should ultimately be consistent in this.

So this decision reverses SCOTUS’ previous decision in Apodaca, and therefore creates a new and contrary precedent. Doing so goes against a principle SCOTUS likes to adhere to called “stare decisis,” the idea that once the court rules on something, they set a precedent that should be consistently applied going forward.

The reason for stare decisis is that the law shouldn’t be a constantly changing thing, merely an evolving thing. That citizens shouldn’t be innocent/acquitted one day of something, but then someone else does the same thing, and is found guilty the next day. You can imagine it would leave all of us wondering whether we’re going to jail or not on an issue where the courts seem to change their mind all the time. No es bueno.

So what does all this mean? Well, it potentially means the people in jail, on a non-unanimous decision, are either going to have to be retried, since their verdicts will now be deemed a mistrial, presumably. Or, they are just probably going to go free now.

Hear oral arguments, read the ruling, and get a synopsis of the case here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund

So this is an environmental maze of nonsense, which is pretty common for the EPA. The Clean Water Act (CWA) mandates something called National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for people putting pollutants into waterways people use, (called navagable) from what they refer to as a point source. So basically, if you have a pipe (point source) that feeds into a river (navagable water), and the water coming out of that port has contaminants in it, you need a fucking permit. Any non-point sources are governed by the EPA outside the CWA.

The county of Maui, gets rid of treated wastewater by pumping it through wells which then seep into the groundwater, and eventually out into the ocean. There were several reports through the 40+ years they’ve been doing this shit, showing that 90% of this treated wastewater makes it to the ocean, and at no point, did anyone from the EPA argue they needed one of the special NPDES permits mentioned above until recently, when the Hawaii Wildlife Fund apparently realized it’s budget was looking weak.

But then a district court decided the Maui County had violated the CWA anyway, because apparently they needed more money. They argued that even though that shit just seeps into the ground water, it’s still something that would fall under the CWA’s rules in spirit, apparently. Because it sure as fuck isn’t a point source feeding into navagable waters as they define it.

Maui argues that since the pollution starts in a well, seeps into the ground, makes its way into the groundwater, and then eventually to the ocean, there’s not a direct link from where they put it, and the ocean, such as a pipe for instance, that drains directly into the ocean.

The 9th circuit agreed with the district court, but Maui County is still convinced this is some bullshit of the highest order, so they’re not asking SCOTUS for help.

In a split 6-3 decision, SCOTUS decided that the CWA’s rules also should encompass a functional equivalent of a direct discharge, and that Maui’s argument is a bullshit technicality they aren’t buying one little bit.

Alito, Gorsuch, and Thomas however, wanted to adopt the dead document mantra, and say that the letter of the law is what we’re bound by, and by the letter, Maui makes a good argument.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Babb v. Wilkie

Noris Babb, a pharmacist with the VA, started a team of people specifically designed to help elderly veterans with problems unique to elderly veterans. Because of this unique position, they gave Babb the authority to write prescriptions, even though she wasn’t a medical doctor, because her position to some extent required her to be able to do that.

The VA liked her old fart program so much, they created a much larger program modeled after it. During this time, they denied the ability of several pharmacists above fifty years old, while approving the same ability for some younger pharmacists under forty. So these old farts filed an Equal Employment Opportunity claim, stating they were discriminated against because of their terminal and persistent geriatric condition.

Babb, who had this authority decided to support the old farts, and wrote a letter assisting them with their claim. But after she did so, she applied to be a part of this new program, since it was her baby after all, and she was denied.

Presumably, her supporting the old farts against the VA didn’t sit well with the VA, so they added a much larger workload to Babb, which she couldn’t maintain. As a result, they stripped her of the authority to write prescriptions, and denied her involvement in this new program that she helped create, citing her non-compliance with their requirements as their reason.

And to really rub that shit in, they gave the credentials and job to a younger sub-30 year old woman instead.

So Babb was all like, “This is fucking bullshit, you assholes.” So off they go to SCOTUS to determine if she has to prove age was a factor in her being denied the opportunity, in order to make her claim it was age discrimination. It appears she makes a fair case that they retaliated against her, but she’s also claiming age discrimination since the promoted female they chose instead of her was much younger.

SCOTUS, in an 8-1 majority sided with Babb. The ADEA prohibits a federal employer from using age as a consideration when making employment decisions. But they stated that while it doesn’t have to be the but-for cause to win a judgement, the remedy the courts offer should take that into consideration. Only Clarence Thomas disagreed, basically arguing the court wasn’t very specific in its ruling, and would make it much harder for federal agencies to operate going forward.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Kansas v. Glover

Fourth Amendment To The U.S. Constitution

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.

Charles Glover was motoring on his merry way when he got pulled over. Why did he get pulled over, you ask? Because police have some high tech shit, and while following, ran his plate, which then notified them that the owner of the car (Charles Glover), had his license revoked. So the cop assumed correctly, it was Glover driving the car, and pulled his dumb ass over.

Once pulled over, he confirmed it was Glover driving, and arrested this stupid motherfucker accordingly.

So Glover was like, “How the fuck you gonna pull me over, with no probable cause to pull me over? Fourth amendment, asshole!”

But the officer was like, “We made an assumption, and we were right, that the motherfucker who owns the car, is the motherfucker driving the car. And don’t act like you’re innocent here, asshole. You were driving without a fucking license.”

So Glover sued in state court to suppress the evidence based on an illegal search, and the state court agreed. Judgement for Glover. Then an appellate court was like, “Hold the fuck on, state court. This is probable cause in our opinion, judgement for Kansas.” But then the Kansas Supreme court was like, “Hold the fuck on, appellate court, the state court got it right. There’s a lot of assuming going on here, in order to do a search without a warrant, and we don’t fucking like it. Judgement for Glover.

So now Kansas is like, “Fuck all this noise. We’re going to SCOTUS, assholes. Because this guilty motherfucker is trying to get away with some bullshit.

Glover’s counsel’s argument was essentially that you have no way of knowing that the owner is driving, especially if the owner’s license is suspended, and assuming they’re not a ne’er-do-well, they probably had someone else drive it for them or whatever.

Whereas Kansas is like, “The phrase is ‘reasonable suspicion’ you assholes. It’s fucking reasonable the owner is driving, even if they’ve lost their license. So reasonable in fact, it was the fucking owner in this case who was driving. Now fuck off with this bullshit.”

In an 8-1 decision, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Kansas, and told Glover to suck balls. They argued it is reasonable to assume the driver of a car, is the owner of said car, baring any contrary information, and thus the cops had the right to pull him over based on what they knew.

Sotomayor, seemingly quite libertarian, was the lone dissenter, saying that such a ruling flips the burden of proof from the government, to the individual, and that’s some straight up bullshit. But apparently the other eight weren’t impressed.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Thryv, Inc. v. Click-To-Call Technologies

So these Click-to-Call assholes sued these Thryv assholes for a patent infringement. Any company that spells a normal word in a weird way (Thryv instead of Thrive) deserves to lose just because they’re probably annoying fucks who think they’re edgy, IMO. But I digress.

Anyway, there’s this procedure within patent law called Inter Parties Review (IPR). Basically, where someone with a complaint about the patent, can ask the patent office (PTO) to review that shit.

However, there’s a rule within this that says, if you’ve been sued as infringing the patent, you can’t ask for an IPR more than a year after you’ve been sued. If you’ve never been sued for infringement however, you can ask for IPR to your heart’s content.

Well, despite the fact that C2C sued Thrive 12 years earlier, the 1 year time-bar was ruled as not relevant, because the case was dropped. So they basically argued that since the case was dropped, the one year time limit didn’t apply—it’s as if the suit never even happened.

But now that Thryv is asking for an IPR, C2C is like, “Woah, you assholes. It’s 12 years since we sued you mother fuckers, way longer than a fucking year. Take your IPR request and shove it squarely up your ass sideways.”

So now SCOTUS has to decide if a suit that is dropped happened or not basically. They’re also looking into whether the judicial branch even has the right to opine on execute decisions. Meaning that the Patent Office is directed by the Executive branch, and they get to make their own rules. So can a judge investigating an IPR ruling even have the authority to do that. Separation of powers and all.

In a 7-2 decision, SCOTUS was more impressed with Thryv’s argument. That it is a separation of powers thing, and that SCOTUS can’t overrule the president’s procedures for the patent office.

Hear oral arguments and/or read about the case and the opinions here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Maine Community Health Options v. United States

So, we all remember this monstrosity, the Affordable Care Act, also known colloquially as Obamacare, right?

Well, one of the piece of shit parts of this piece of shit law, was a Risk Corridor provision they added to insure the previously uninsurable. Listen to this bullshit. Are you ready?

They told insurance companies to insure these people, and they would reimburse them if they incurred losses. And they would get the money to reimburse them from companies who were making higher profits and not incurring such losses.

This was a scheme brought about because the government wanted all people insured, but the insurance companies rightly argued that these people who were previously deemed uninsurable have no data for us insuring them previously, for us to figure out a fair rate that covers them.

So the government basically told them, “do your best” on figuring out a rate, and if you lose money, we’ll reimburse you.

The plan was to give them three years to figure out a proper rate during this period, then the risk corridors would go away.

Here’s the rub. These idiots literally thought somehow that insurance companies would make as many profits to cover the losses from insuring people with pre-existing conditions, and other life-long medical needs. Because apparently, not one of these 538 assholes ever took a fucking math class.

Anyway, the insurance companies did what they were told, but then as usual, Congress was full of shit, and denied paying such claims, because “Surprise!” they didn’t recoup enough profits from other insurance companies to cover all these crazy high claims.

So now Maine Community Health Options (MCHO) is suing the Fed for what they’re owed, or the repeal of this stupid fucking law. May a god I don’t believe in be with them.

SCOTUS’ job is determine if the law passes constitutional muster since the government isn’t fulfilling their obligation, but yet expect these insurance companies to comply nonetheless, basically putting them in an untenable position.

At one point, Justice Roberts seemed to clearly grasp the idea that the government’s argument was a load of shit.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

I vaguely recall the government arguing on several occasions that unenacted bills are entitled to some weight in the interpretation process, but you don’t question that these insurance companies would not have participated in the risk corridor program but for the government’s promise to pay?

Edwin S. Kneedler

I — I don’t — well, it’s not about participating in the risk corridor program.

The question is they participated in the — in the marketplaces that were set up, the exchanges, and they had a number of business incentives.

This was a vast new market for customers, many of whom, 90 percent of whom would get tax subsidies.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

— customers who otherwise were largely uninsurable.

Edwin S. Kneedler


But they — but it was a mark —

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Well, that’s no great business opportunity for them.

Edwin S. Kneedler

Oh — oh, no, it — it is, because Congress provided tax credits to subsidize the — the — the persons who — who purchased insurance on the exchanges.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

No, it’s a good business opportunity for them because the government promised to pay.

If you’re wondering what the state’s argument in all this is, as near as I can tell, they’re saying that the duty to pay was contingent on a “subject to appropriations” clause. Meaning that in the law, it basically argues they’ll pay if any future congress of the time agrees to appropriate the funds.

So get this straight.

Government MANDATED private insurance companies do something on a promise to pay them later. But then congress said, “well, we’ll pay if we agree to, anyway.”

What the fuck is that?

Even Elena Kagan, who is often deemed a more left-leaning justice seemed to think it was ridiculous.

Elena Kagan

Mr. Kneedler—are insurers obligated to pay in if they have excess profits?

Edwin S. Kneedler

Yes, it is a user fee.

Elena Kagan

So this is one where the “shall pay in” is obligatory but the “shall pay out” on the part of the government is not obligatory?

Edwin S. Kneedler

The  pay in is not subject to an appropriations question.

It is an obligation.

And that part of the arrangement, the reciprocity in the program still exists, the payments in and payments out, which is how I think most —

Elena Kagan

I mean, you pay in, that’s obligatory.

We commit ourselves to paying out.

It turns out if we feel like it. What — what kind of — what kind of a statute is that?

In an 8-1 decision, SCOTUS agreed with Maine Community Health Options. The government has to pay these insurance carriers the money they fucking owe them. And by government, it means you and I, the taxpayer, in case you weren’t aware.

Alito, the only dissenter argued that the majority’s opinion “infers a private right of action”, but that wasn’t in the law created by congress. I believe he may be on crack.