Bringing up some old WW2 shit, Rosalie Simon and company are survivors of the holocaust from Hungary. They sued Hungary in the US for damages incurred during the holocaust. Weirdly, they opted to sue here in the US, and not in Hungary, claiming that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) expropriation exception which reads:
A foreign state shall not be immune from the jurisdiction of courts of the United States or of the States in any case—in which rights in property taken in violation of international law are in issue and that property or any property exchanged for such property is present in the United States in connection with a commercial activity carried on in the United States by the foreign state; or that property or any property exchanged for such property is owned or operated by an agency or instrumentality of the foreign state and that agency or instrumentality is engaged in a commercial activity in the United States;
Basically saying that because these items were taken in violation of international law, they can be sued in our federal court. But the opposition argues that Hungarian courts should be given a crack at hearing this first, and they can’t just sue here in the US out of convenience.
The court enjoined this case with the Germany v. Philipp one, and kicked that shit back to Hungary, arguing this is basically none of our fucking business.
In a case with two names that can’t be pronounced by any reasonable person, we’re going to talk about free speech.
Chike Uzuegbunam, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) is a religious dude, and he wanted to talk about his faith and shit with anyone who would listen. GGC has two free speech zones that can be reserved, and they told Chike to do that shit there. The rest of campus, he should keep his trap shut about any of his “God” propaganda.
Chike was like, “Fine you assholes,” and reserved one of those zones as he was asked, and then went on to spread the word of whatever religion it was he wanted to talk about. But Chike, is one dedicated mother fucker, and made up literature for that shit to go with his speeches.
So then the school was like, “Woah, we didn’t say you could pass out literature, man. WTF are you doing?”
So now Chike was like, “This is some bullshit” and sued them for violating his first amendment rights, and decided to seek damages.
The school, knowing they done fucked up, changed their rules accordingly, and then said, “See look at us, we fixed it. So now this case is moot, and we don’t owe him anything, right?”
But Chike was like, “Fuck you man, the damage was done. I appreciate you fixing it after the fact, but you can’t run over me with your car, put me in the hospital, and then say you don’t owe me for my hospital bills because you sell the car and can’t run over me anymore.”
So now here we are at SCOTUS to determine if mooting the case absolves GGC from owing Chike some scratch.
Chike’s side basically argues that a case is only moot if the courts have no action left to help them due to the changes made by the other party. While the school changed their policy, they didn’t do anything to compensate Chike as a result.
The defense of course didn’t suffer any injury, and therefore there isn’t any damages incurred.
Basically, the school was hoping SCOTUS would see they changed their rules, moot the case, and effectively sweep it under the rug, as opposed to dropping some legal hammer on them for shitting all over Chike’s 1st amendment rights. In order to make the case not moot, Chike’s team included like a fucking dollar’s worth of damages, so that even if the case is considered mooted because the school changed their rules, there’ still the matter of that fucking dollar to decide.
In an 8:1 decision, where only John Roberts dissented, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Uzuegbunam, saying that the nominal damages rendered the case not moot, and they could proceed, and the courts could ultimately decide the case for Uzuegbunam. That even nominal damages requested by the petitioner are worth deciding.
John Roberts in his lone dissent, was like, “You eight stupid assholes basically just ensured that every god damn case we’ll hear, from now to kingdom fucking come, will have a fucking dollar of damages added to it. Great job, dumbasses. We’ll never be able to moot a case and go home early every again. Serious, fuck you.
Back in 1998, Al Qaeda detonated some truck bombs in Kenya and Tanzania, near the US embassies there. It became pretty clear that Al Qaeda was behind it, and that Sudan had given them some training and safe harbor for their part in these bombings.
So families of the victims decided to sue the fuck out of Sudan for wrongful death. Sudan didn’t give a fuck, and didn’t even bother to show up to court to defend themselves.
As is typical in a civil court proceeding, if you don’t show up to defend yourself, you’re going to lose your judgement. And they did.
So then, when awards were handed down, they decided to appeal. Hard to appeal when you didn’t bother to defend yourself, but fuck it. They’re going for it.
Most countries have sovereign immunity in a U.S. court, which basically means they’re not bound to any U.S. law, and therefore can’t typically be sued in a U.S. court. But, under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), a country determined to be involved in terrorism loses such sovereign immunity, and can be subject to a lawsuit. It’s not the easiest thing to enforce, but if these nations happen to have money parked in the United States, we’ll seize that shit.
In 2008, Congress amended the law to allow for punitive damages in such a suit. So the Sudanese government is challenging on the grounds that this shit occurred ten years before the punitive damages amendment to the law, and therefore, the action is not open for punitive damages.
In an 8-0 unanimous decision (Kavanaugh couldn’t be bothered, and decided to sit this one out), SCOTUS sided with Opati. They determined that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) is retroactive, and applies to things that happened prior to it being written, such as these bombings.
In Montana, they offer a tax-credit for people who donate to scholarship funds. Espinoza’s child was a recipient of one of these scholarships. But because Espinoza’s spawn was going to a private Christian school, it’s an issue. Because Montana has a rule, and we have the 1st amendment, which largely forbids any relationship between government and the church.
So now SCOTUS must decide if giving someone a scholarship, funded by taxpayers, should be prohibited from going to a religious school, in order to preserve the separation of church and state that people believe the 1st amendment represents. For the record, it doesn’t. It’s merely written as “Congress shall make no law…”
But, a long time ago, SCOTUS has ruled that 1A was meant to create a separation between church and state, and it’s been precedent ever since.
So Espinoza’s team is trying to argue that this law from Montana forbidding such scholarships based on religious grounds is the unconstitutional rule, because it discriminates against religious people.
Montana obviously argues that giving taxpayer money to a religious school violates the first amendment.
In a 5:4 partisan decision, SCOTUS sided with Epinoza. That the scholarship was awarded with no consideration to the school they choose to attend. As such, it is discriminatory to award it to them, but then restrict what school they can use the funds for.
The libertarian in me would like to point out that taxpayers shouldn’t be fucking funding education for anyone but their own fucking kids, or anyone else they voluntarily choose to help. If that were the case, we wouldn’t even be having this fucking argument.
While I’m atheist, I tend to agree with this decision. If we’re going to dole out scholarships on merit, we don’t have the right to tell them what school they use it with.
Ginsburg and Sotomayor argued that the law didn’t place any burden on the scholarship’s recipient, and therefore wasn’t a violation of 1A. But that’s fucking dumber than a box of rocks. If this person chooses a school, and then government steps in and says you can’t use our scholarship for THAT school, that’s a fucking burden. Again, I’m atheist. But fuck that. This is the problem with left wing assholes. They want the taxpayer to help everyone, but then they only want that help applied to things they agree with, and not what the person wants. This is why they can all kiss my lily-white ass, those arrogant pricks and prickettes.
Breyer’s and Kagan’s opinion was also a dissent, but in their case, they more argued that this was a 1A conflict since taxpayer’s ultimately end up funding a religious education. I can buy into that one.
In our previous episode of Average Joe SCOTUS, we talked about R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, a case where a transgender male -> female person was fired because of their desire to transition, and whether Title VII of the Civil Rights act, which protects people in the work place from being discriminated against for their sexual identity.
In this case, a very similar issue is at play. So apparently SCOTUS is looking to deal with sexual identity/orientation issues in one session, and establish precedent. But whereas the previous case was about someone transitioning from man to woman, this is about sexual preference.
Gerald Bostock is a gay man who worked for Clayton County as a child services coordinator starting in 2003. By all accounts, was a damn good employee, and did his job like a boss.
Eventually, in 2013, Bostock decided to join an all-gay softball league. The backass motherfuckers he worked for, decided to criticize him over his participation in this league. Presumably making up some bullshit argument to link gay men to abusing young boys or some shit. I have no fucking idea how they thought being gay would hinder his ability to do his job.
In meetings, one person in the room was even noted as making disparaging remarks about being gay against Bostock. Shortly after, they announced they were auditing him and his work, and he was terminated shortly after.
Bostock, assuming he was fired for his open gayness, and not because of his job performance sued. So here we are at SCOTUS trying to determine if the Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation.
The crux of Bostock’s counsel’s argument was as follows:
John G. Roberts, Jr.
Do you agree or disagree with Judge Posner’s statement that the statute should be read to encompass sexual orientation discrimination to “avoid placing the entire burden of updating old statutes on the legislative branch”?
Pamela S. Karlan
I disagree with Judge Posner.
I don’t think you need to do any updating here.
I think you should read the words as they were understood then, which is men and women.
Title VII was intended to make sure that men were not disadvantaged relative to women and women were not disadvantaged relative to men. And when you tell two employees who come in, both of whom tell you they married their partner Bill last weekend, when you fire the male employee who married Bill and you give the female employee who married Bill a couple of days off so she can celebrate the joyous event, that’s discrimination because of sex. Well, if no one has any further questions, I’ll reserve the remainder of my time for rebuttal. (Laughter ensued because this was her first argument, which was then met with silence as if none of the justices had a question.)
In a pretty big landmark decision, spanning multiple cases, SCOTUS rules 6:3 that the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964 does cover gay and transgender people. The CRA is meant to protect people who are born a certain way, and then employers discriminating against them for being that way. Their decision accepts the idea that being gay or transgender isn’t a choice, but a condition of who you are as a person.
The issue at play in this case, is the government edicts doctrine, which basically goes like this. Government cannot copyright their fucking laws. Meaning, they can’t pass a law, and then get pissed that someone reprints it verbatim elsewhere, like other copyrights.
The reason for this, is that we are a government by the people and for the people, and all people should have equal access to the laws that govern them. So if government copyrighted something, and you could only get it from government (potentially with some fee attached), you may not have good access to it, where someone else might have given it to you another way.
So, now to this case. Georgia has this thing they call The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA). It’s a book of all their laws and shit, with annotations explaining stuff. The annotations aren’t law, but they’re still from Georgia Lawmakers, and then printed and published by a private company.
Public.Resource.Org (PRO), being the nice people they are, try to put out all laws for people to have easy access to them. So they bought the OCGA, scanned that motherfucker, and put it out.
Georgia was like, “Hey motherfucker, you can’t do that. Sure our laws are in there, but there’s a bunch of other shit too. You can’t print that. It’s a copyright violation.”
But PRO was like, “Fuck you, assholes. These are official government documents, both laws, and explanations of the law, and therefore the government edict doctrine mentioned earlier applies. So you can take your cease-and-desist order, and shove it sideways up your whole ass.”
The 11th circuit court of appeals agreed with PRO, and told Georgia to eat a bag of dicks. So Georgia asked for SCOTUS to hook them up, and here we are.
SCOTUS in a non-partisan split decision was unimpressed with the state of Georgia and their shitty argument, siding 5-4 for Public.Resource.org. That the idea the annotations are copyrightable but laws aren’t is fucking stupid, and anyone who interprets it that way are fucking idiots.
So, this shitty ass bank, United Western Bancorp, Inc. (UWBI) had several subsidiaries, including United Western Bank. They apparently sucked at what they did, because they were losing money like they stored it in a toilet that just kept getting flushed.
Anyway, when you own several companies as a parent company, you can file one big ass tax form each year for the parent company instead of a bunch of little forms for each of your subsidiaries, so that’s what these assholes did.
Well, one of their branches United Western Bank (UWB) lost so much damn money, they qualified for a $4,000,000 tax refund. So the parent UWBI was like, “gimme that money, bitches.” Rodriguez, they’re Chapter 7 attorney, and the petitioner here, filed one big ass return for all of UWBI, claiming the losses of UWB, and getting that big ass refund as a result.
However, the FDIC had closed down UWB (the subsidiary), and took them into receivership because they were the shittiest bank that ever banked. Now UWBI (the parent) was told that the FDIC was taking UWBI’s refund, because they argued it went to UWB since they were the source of the loss, and therefore the FDIC would use that money to pay its debtors.
But UWBI was like, “Fuck you, you government pricks. We need that money.” So one court agreed, another court didn’t, as is usual. And eventually, these assholes found their way to SCOTUS.
In 1973, the courts had ruled on a previous case where they decided that a refund of this nature, absent any other agreement, belonged to the parent company. They call this the Bob Richards rule, because that’s the case it was named after in 1973.
But the FDIC is arguing that they did have an agreement between the subsidiary and the parent, and therefore the Bob Richards rule does not apply.
You can read about the case and hear oral arguments here.
So SCOTUS is now being asked whether state law or federal law determine who gets a tax refund. Because state law would mean Rodriguez wins. SCOTUS being keen on state’s rights determined that the state can and should handle this shit, and unanimously decided for Rodriguez, telling the FDIC to go eat a bag of dicks.
log·i·cal: capable of reasoning or of using reason in an orderly cogent fashion lib·er·tar·i·an: an advocate of the doctrine of free will; a person who upholds the principles of individual liberty especially of thought and action