Average Joe SCOTUS: Edwards v. Vannoy

Alleged all around scumbag Thedrick Edwards was convicted of several robberies and rape in 2006. Here’s the rub with that shit. At Edwards trial, the prosecutor excluded every black juror they could, and the one remaining voted to acquit. But in Louisiana, at the time, only a 10-2 vote was needed for a conviction, so off to prison he went.

Since then, last year, SCOTUS decided Ramos v. Louisiana, where they basically made it law of the land that a jury must be unanimous for convictions in all state and federal courts. So now this case is to decide if that ruling is retroactive, and thus Edwards should get a hung jury, and potentially be forced to either be retried, or have his case dropped.

Andre Belanger, counsel for Edwards,  swung for the fences when he closed by saying:

Jury unanimity predates the founding and ranks amongst our most indispensable rights. It significantly improves the accuracy and fairness because a verdict taken from 11 is no verdict at all. The state has no legitimate interests in avoiding retroactivity.

Louisiana’s nonunanimous jury scheme was thoroughly racist and discriminatory in its origin.

As members of this Court said in Ramos, we should not perpetuate something we all know to be wrong only because we fear the consequences of being right. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.

Counsel for Vannos is basically arguing the merits of having convictions for crimes when she opened up by saying:

There can be no doubt that declaring the Ramos rule retroactive unsettles thousands of cases that involve terrible crimes in all three jurisdictions.

Requiring new trials in long-final criminal cases would be impossible in sum and particularly unfair to the victims of these crimes. Ramos is unquestionably a new rule. This Court has held on numerous occasions that a discarded precedent is the clearest sign of a new rule.

She’s basically arguing that she doesn’t give a fuck if some of these people are wrongly convicted according to the new Ramos rule, it’ll be a bunch of work for the state of Louisiana to deal with all these people wrongly convicted. This position is depraved AF.

In closing arguments, counsel for Edwards again, dropped a pretty heavy hammer, stating:

As this Court said in Ballew, the risk of sending 10 innocent people to jail is greater than the risk of sending one guilty person free.

In the end, the state has no legitimate interest in avoiding retroactivity but for its desire to let Mr. Edwards languish in Angola for the rest of his life. On what grounds can we let this happen when we know his conviction is unconstitutional? The answer to that question is none. Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.

In a 6:3 partisan decision, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Vannoy. The unanimity rule is not retroactive. In order for this to be retroactive, it would have to be what they call a “watershed” exception. They defined this as “alters our understanding of the bedrock procedural elements essential to the fairness of a proceeding.”

Since this is simply a new rule, a new opinion, a new precedent, or whatever the fuck you want to call it, it isn’t a “watershed” thing, and thus isn’t retroactive.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-5807

Average Joe SCOTUS: CIC Services LLC v. Internal Revenue Service

Back in 2004, Congress decided to charge the commie fucks at the IRS with trying to uncover tax shelters, because it’s never really YOUR money now, is it?

The IRS went about this by requiring accountants to report “reportable transactions” which they would go on to define. If not paid, there would be a hefty fine, we’re calling a tax. November 2016, they included what they called “micro-captive transactions,” which if not reported, would put the IRS gestapo on your ass.

CIC services, a company that does these micro-captive transactions decided to sue, arguing that the IRS’s rule violates the Anti-Injunction Act which says, “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person, whether or not such person is the person against whom such tax was assessed.”

CIC argued they were harmed, because this rule was enforced without any prior discussion, and therefore they didn’t have time to properly comply with it, and this is against rules set for in the Anti-Injunction Act. While the text of the AIA bars certain taxes, CIC is basically arguing tax rules, that aren’t necessarily taxes, should be barred as well for the same reason, since they consider the fines for violating the rules, also a tax.

As CIC’s counsel stated in summation:

Cameron T. Norris

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. Notice 16-66 labels my client’s industry a reportable transaction, a kind of scarlet letter that triggers burdensome reporting requirements and makes it much harder to attract clients. Labeling something a reportable transaction is serious, which is why Congress told the IRS to use notice-and-comment rulemaking.

When the IRS refused to do that, CIC did precisely what we want law-abiding citizens to do: It filed a pre-enforcement suit under the APA, and it is fully complying with the reporting requirements while its case is pending. According to the government, however, what CIC should have done is deliberately violate the tax code.

The government’s path would require CIC’s members to commit a crime, violate their ethical obligations, and convince the IRS to assess it tax penalties.

No law-abiding company or individual would ever do this. Ruling for the government, thus, does not delay judicial review, it denies it altogether.

At the heart of this matter, CIC is basically arguing that the only way they can fight this tax, is to break the law first, by not submitting the info. Then when hit with a fine, challenge that fine in order to get the courts to review it. They obviously think that’s pretty goddamn unfair. They believe they should be able to challenge it before they violate it, which they’re trying to do here, and a judgement for them would give them.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS ruled in favor of CIC Services. They can indeed sue without triggering and Anti-Injunction Act. They did the right thing, and they’ve been vindicated.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-930

Average Joe SCOTUS: Van Buren v. United States

Scumbag cop Nathan Van Buren was “friends” with another scumbag, Andrew Albo. Albo liked the ladies. Especially the ones he paid to have sex with him. Van Buren decided to shake Albo down, and asked him for $15k to cover his son’s medical bills.

Here’s the rub, Van Buren’s son was perfectly healthy, and it was clearly just a shake down.

Albo, not the dullest knife in the drawer, recorded the conversation, and took it to the FBI who decided to set up a sting. They had Albo ask Van Buren to look up a woman he wanted to hire as a prostitute, to make sure she wasn’t a cop. Van Buren did so, and boom! Busted his ass.

So now he’s charged with wire fraud, using law enforcement databases for unlawful purposes. Van Buren’s argument is that he was authorized to use that database, and therefore it wasn’t fraud. So now SCOTUS has to decide whether using a database you’re authorized to use, but using it in a manner the job doesn’t provide for, constitutes wire fraud under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which prohibits anyone who “exceeds authorized access” on a computer, specifically it defines that as “to access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accessor is not entitled so to obtain or alter.”

Counsel for Van Buren launched the opening salvo by arguing:

The CFAA is an anti-hacking statute. It prohibits obtaining information from a computer without authorization.

And to ensure comprehensive coverage, the statute also prohibits “exceeding authorized access.” As Judge Kozinski put it, this ensures that the statute covers not just outside but also inside hackers. In this case, however, the government seeks to transform the supplemental prong of the CFAA into an entirely different prohibition.

In the government’s view, this prong covers obtaining any information via computer that the accessor is not entitled “under the circumstances” to obtain. It is no overstatement to say that this construction would brand most Americans criminals on a daily basis.

The scenarios are practically limitless, but a few examples will suffice.

Imagine a secretary whose employee handbook says that her e-mail or Zoom account may be used only for business purposes.

Or consider a person using a dating website where users may not include false information on their profile to obtain information about potential mates.

Or think of a law student who is issued a log — log-in credentials for Westlaw or Lexis for educational use only. If the government is right, then a computer user who disregards any of these stated use restrictions commits a federal crime.

He makes a pretty valid point. And it seems odd that there isn’t just a specific law to prevent government officials who have access to our private information, from obtaining that for any non-business related use, and sharing it, or something like that. Seems like they know it’s wrong, but just don’t have a proper law to charge him with.

Neil Gorsuch thinking likeme asked,

Neil Gorsuch

And then, on the reverse parade of horribles we’ve heard from the other side, I guess I’m struggling to imagine how — how long that parade would be given the abundance of criminal laws available. So, if this one didn’t cover that kind of conduct, but there were troublesome forms of it, like your client’s behavior in this case, misusing a police database, I assume there are ample state laws available that criminalize a lot of that conduct.

Am I mistaken?

Jeffrey L. Fisher

No.

In fact, this case comes from Georgia, and Georgia itself has a statute about — about hacking or otherwise misusing computer information.

The government, as we point out in our — in our reply brief, the government gave a few hypotheticals in its brief, and almost every one of them is already addressed by some other provision of the — even the U.S. Code, let alone state law. And — and even — remember, my client himself has already lost his job and has other forms of punishment that have already been brought to bear.

In a 6:3 non-partisan decision, SCOTUS ruled for Van Buren. He’d have had to obtain info he was not authorized to have in order to have committed a crime. Sure, this was some personal and troubling bullshit, but it’s info he otherwise had access to. So while it’s kinda immoral, it isn’t illegal. If they don’t like it, they need to pass laws specifically to prevent it.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-783

Average Joe SCOTUS: California v. Texas

You all remember the days when the Affordable Care Act was challenged in SCOTUS, and Chief Justice Roberts argued that the penalty was a tax, and therefore constitutional, right?

Well since then, Republicans, unable to repeal Obamacare outright, made the penalty zero. So now that the penalty is zero, Republicans are now arguing it’s no longer a tax, and therefore the individual mandate is an unconstitutional mandate, and the law should be repealed entirely.

The ACA supporters will argue that the mandate is severable, meaning SCOTUS could remove the mandate clause and leave the rest of the law in tact. But Republicans are like, “That’s how the fucking law was paid for. So you can’t fucking sever it.”

So basically SCOTUS is being asked to re-review this case in light of this new change.

With regards to severing the law, Congress reduced the tax to zero, but didn’t repeal the law. If they had the power to do one, they had the power to do the other. So the argument is then made that it must be severable, because if congress wanted the law to be repealed, they’d have repealed it, not reduced the tax to zero.

But the argument to that, is that congress didn’t have the votes or support for a full repeal, but by removing the tax, they’re hoping SCOTUS will nullify it, effectively trying to make SCOTUS the “bad guy” in all this shit.

At one point, Justice Kavanaugh asked:

Brett M. Kavanaugh

Are you aware of any other examples in the U.S. Code at least where Congress has enacted a true mandate, not something hortatory, but a true mandate with no penalties?

Essentially questioning the validity of such a law knowing there’s no other instance where congress forces you to buy something. Social Security is forced retirement income, but you don’t go out and buy it, government just takes it as a tax.

The reason this is Texas v. California, is because Texas challenged the law, and California and other states are defending it.

In a 7:2 decision, where Alito and Gorsuch dissented, SCOTUS ruled in favor of California. Texas may not sue California over this bullshit. Texas hasn’t shown in any way how they were harmed by California and company, and therefore they have no grounds to be suing here.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-840

Average Joe SCOTUS: Fulton v City of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, like most cities, has a foster child program. They use private services to place kids with foster parents. In 2018, they barred Catholic Social Services (CSS) from fostering, because they won’t let any same-sex couples foster kids through them.

CSS was all like, “Bless you my son, but I believe this is a violation of the first amendment. Amen.”

But the City of Philadelphia was like, “Thanks for the blessings, but respectfully, go fuck yourself. You’re anti-gay bullshit doesn’t fly with us. We don’t care about your religion. It’s your anti-gay bullshit we object to. Even the pope has come around you dumb fucks.”

Justice Breyer queried,

Stephen G. Breyer

Well, you don’t have to say, according to them, whether the couple is married, whether it’s not married, whether it’s same-sex, whether it’s different sex.

You just put that to the side, make a note that you’re putting it to the side, and say, other than that, they’re okay or they’re not okay.

That’s all you have to do. Now what’s the problem? I still don’t quite see it.

You said in your response that you don’t want to do it, which I understand that you don’t.

But they say they’re imposing a requirement that does not interfere with your (religion), they can’t figure out how does it interfere.  And now tell me once again what’s the problem.

His argument being, that they’re not forcing them to adhere to any religious objections, they are just asking them to ignore it.

So now SCOTUS must decide if Philly is denying the CSS their ability to practice their religion.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS sided with Fulton. This is a plain violation of the first amendment. Mostly because the law itself was neutral in text, it allowed for the commissioner to discriminate. That’s a no-no.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/19-123

Average Joe SCOTUS: Borden v. United States

All around ne’er-do-well Charles Borden Jr., a felon who has been felonious multiple times, was rolling dirty. Police pulled his dumb ass over, and he had a gun in his car. So they locked that dumb motherfucker up. He plead guilty to possessing the firearm when he knew damn well he shouldn’t have had it.

During sentencing, the government opted to sentence him under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), arguing he was a violent felon three times before, so basically, he’s officially a piece of shit, and should get an automatic minimum of 15 years in the pokey, which is what a dumb fuck gets when they’re busted with a gun after they have three violent felonies on their rap sheet.

But Borden was like, “Hey, one of those convictions, I was just reckless. I don’t actually mean to hurt anyone.” His argument being, if I wasn’t trying to hurt someone, it’s not violence, according to the ACCA text which reads,  “has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another.”

But the district court who heard his case were like, “Dude, the 6th Circuit already confirmed that reckless aggravated assault does count as a violent felony as a matter of precedent. So you can shove your argument squarely up your ass, Borden.” They believe that congress intended to go after people who harm others, intentionally or not.

The 6th circuit, agreeing with themselves agreed.

So now we’re here at SCOTUS to determine if intent has to be present, to make a felony, a violent felony under the ACCA.

In a narrow 5:4 decision, SCOTUS sided with Borden. He didn’t use force, and therefore you can’t call it violent.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here

Average Joe SCOTUS: Texas v. New Mexico

In a case which seems like a total waste of time and some petty bullshit between two states, at issue here is some water rights thing. This is a unique case that, because it’s an interstate issue, just falls under SCOTUS jurisdiction, as opposed to something they agree to hear.

The Pecos River travels through both Texas and New Mexico. Apparently, they signed a deal that New Mexico would make sure it didn’t take too much water from the river, which would them harm Texas if they didn’t get enough, since the river travels through New Mexico first, and into Texas.

In order to enforce this deal, they hired a River Master to manage this shit.

Anyway, in 2015, there was a big storm, and New Mexico had a reservoir in the Pecos Basin that feeds the Pecos River, and that shit filled up. So they were gonna let that water run down the river to Texas. But Texas was like, “hey buddy, pal, friend, chap…can you hold that water for us. Our reservoir is all kinds of fucked up, and it won’t hold shit.”

So New Mexico was like, “Sure, dawg. We’ll hold it.”

Well, they held that shit for nine months. During such time, a lot of it evaporated. So New Mexico was finally like, “We gotta dump this shit, bro” and so they did.

So the water headed to Texas, but was light, since a lot of it evaporated off. But New Mexico wanted credited for all the water that was evaporated and sent to Texas, since it evaporated while being held for Texas.

Since the contract didn’t account for this shit, they asked the River Master dude to settle this shit, and he was basically like, “Fuck it, I’m calling these losses as Texas’, since they asked NM to hold that shit.”

The U.S. Attorney General sided with New Mexico saying in an amicus brief, “Saying listen you longhorn fucks, if you had taken the water when it was ready for you, all those evaporative losses would have been yours. And it’s not like New Mexico has some way of preventing water from evaporating in a reservoir. So fuck you, this is on you.”

But Texas was like, “Dude, you can’t just make up rules willy-nilly. So let’s have SCOTUS sort it out, since they have nothing better to do.

In a unanimous decision where Justice Barrett abstained, SCOTUS sided with New Mexico, Texas has no standing to review the Pecos River Master’s determination.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2020/65-orig