Category Archives: SCOTUS For The Average Joe

Average Joe SCOTUS: Ford Motor Company v. Montana Eighth Judicial District Court

In 2015, one Markkaya Jean Gullett was involved in a fatal crash involving a Ford Explorer. One of her tires gave up the ghost, and caused her to lose control of the car. Gullett’s estate sued Ford Motor Company (FoMoCo) in Montana, blaming a design flaw, which seems ironic since the tire failed and not the part FoMoCo actually designed and manufactured. Like seriously, why not go after the tire company?

Ford requested dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. They were like, “We didn’t design shit in Montana, we didn’t do anything that killed this person in Montana, we’ve never even fucking been to Montana. So no way is this shit for them to decide. Besides, you’re not even a real fucking state. What is it, like….50 people live here or some shit?”

As noted by Oyez:

Ford Motor Co. has its headquarters in Michigan and is incorporated in Delaware. Ford assembled the vehicle in Kentucky and first sold it to a dealership in Washington State. The dealership then sold it to an Oregon resident, who later sold the vehicle to a purchaser who brought it to Montana.

But Montana was like, “You run your stupid fucking ads in Montana. And, you have licensed dealers in Montana. So fuck you, you’re doing business here. We can handle this shit, and we have every right to.” Basically they were being the little state that could.

So here we are at SCOTUS to determine if a state court can give itself such jurisdiction when the actions that are in question, in this case the design of the car, didn’t take place in that state.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS decided with Montana over Ford. Saying essentially, “You fucking sell cars in Montana through licensed dealers, so you do business in the fucking state. It’s not like she took it somewhere illegally it wasn’t supposed to go. So go fuck yourself. Montana can have at it.

Now that this is settled, Montana can tell her family to sue the tire company, and leave Ford out of it.

Read about the case, and hear oral arguments at Oyez, here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board

Here’s your basic snooze fest of a case. But since the government has a buttload of rules for the railroad industry, SCOTUS finds a lot of these on their docket.

Good ole Manfredo Salinas was a railroad worker, who eventually got injured on the job, fucked up his back big time, and argued he couldn’t work anymore after multiple surgeries.

As such, he applied for a disability annuity in 2006. But the board denied his application, because apparently a well-functioning back isn’t necessary to work on the railroad.

Then in 2013, Salinas filed again, and this time, was granted his benefits by the same board, arguing that in his advanced age with his injuries, he was basically fucked if he tried to find a job.

Salinas was like, “Thanks. Now let’s talk about that 2006 claim you assholes denied.”

So he sued in the 5th Circuit, but they were like, “A denial by the board is their decision to make, dipshit. We aren’t getting involved.” Their reason, is kinda contrived though. Because a decision to deny reopening an old decision isn’t a final decision that the court can review, although the decision to deny the claim is, but that decision had a time time bar, meaning if not decided within a certain time, it’s dead. Stupid, right?

So basically, SCOTUS is being asked to determine if the courts can in fact rule on a decision not to reopen.

In a 5:4 decision, not even remotely decided on party lines, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Salinas. They opined that a decision by the Railroad Board is in fact subject to judicial review, so they reviewed it. Alito, Gorsuch, Thomas, and Barrett sided against, basically saying that the language in the RRA limits judicial review to the board’s claims of rights or liabilities, and they considered this administrative action, and thus not subject for review.

Read about the case or hear oral arguments here at Oyez or read about it here at SCOTUS Blog

 

 

Average Joe SCOTUS: Federal Republic of Germany v. Philipp

For reasons I’ll never understand, SCOTUS has opted to listen to two separate cases about the same fucking thing.

In Republic of Hungary v. Simon, we heard about a case involving those evil bastards in the Nazi regime stealing Jewish-owned artwork, and the Hungarian government just letting it happen.

Well, this case asks the same question, but this time involves Germany “buying” artwork from some Jewish people in the Netherlands that they had purchased after the 1929 stock market crash. But when we say “buying” we mean demanding it be sold at well below market value.

So heirs of the dealers who were screwed by Germany back then are filing a claim in D.C. Germany, feeling they can handle it themselves, requested the case be dismissed so they can address it in Germany.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS decided that Germany can deal with their own shit, and it’s none of our fucking business. That this issue is not a matter of international law when Germany as a country takes shit from citizens of Germany. They also told Simon to get fucked, for similar reasons, in Republic of Hungary v. Simon.

Read about the case here at Oyez, or here at SCOTUS Blog

Average Joe SCOTUS: Brownback v. King

James King, some rando 26-year-old college student was walking about town when two FBI agents accosted him, thinking he was a home invasion suspect, because he matched a basic description. Before you assume wrongly, he wasn’t black.

Initially, he complied when he spotted their badges, but when one of them pulled his wallet out of his pocket, he thought he was being mugged, and ran. So they tackled him and beat the fuck out of him.

Once he was out of the hospital, he was arrested for resisting arrest, which is fucking crazy, since officers had no cause to arrest him. The court agreed, and he was dismissed without any charges.

One of the issues at play here, is the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This law was passed in 1946 as a way of basically saying, if government agents wrong you, you can sue government, as opposed to the agents, for the bad things they did in the government’s name. However, there’s an older landmark case,  Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1971 that allows people to sue federal officials for violating any constitutional rights. It also allows people to sue the federal government in federal court if they violated state laws.

Within the FTCA, is a “judgement bar” which basically says, if you sued once for this shit, and a judgement was issued, you can’t sue again elsewhere.

The federal officers are barred from being sued under the controversial principle of qualified immunity, unless certain qualifications are met.

A district court felt King didn’t meet those qualifiers for an FTCA claim, determining he wasn’t a victim under any Michigan law, and dismissed his case. They also dismissed his Bivens claim, citing qualified immunity for the officers.

King, realizing that his FTCA claim didn’t meet the burden he needed to make that claim, decided only to pursue the Bivens claim. But then the court said because his FTCA claim was dismissed, that the judgment bar applied, and therefore he couldn’t sue under the Bivens claim.

King was like, “Are you fucking serious right now?” So he took his case to the 6th circuit who sided with King, and allowed him to proceed suing these FBI dipshits.

So the FBI dipshits are suing in SCOTUS to try to say the judgement bar DOES apply since his FTCA claim was dismissed. King says the judgement bar only applies to actions and judgements, not dismissals on jurisdictional grounds.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS felt King was to be the loser, here. The stated that the bar does in fact get triggered by a dismissal.

You can read about the case in depth here at Oyez or here at SCOTUS Blog

Average Joe SCOTUS: Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales

The Supreme Court, apparently loving hearing their greatest hits on repeat, is hearing Henry Schein v. Archer and White Sales Inc. again.

This is a boring ass case where both parties entered into a contract with an arbitration clause which is not in dispute. For some reason, Archer and White think that Henry Schein is engaging in anti-trust business practices, and decided that such an issue is not a contractual issue, but instead a legal one, which should not be left up to arbitration.

SCOTUS in 2019, told Archer and White to fuck off, and sent it back to the US Court of appeals, telling them to send it to arbitration. That if there’s such a clear arbitration clause, it goes to arbitration no matter what. That arbitrators decide if the issue is not one for arbitration to decide, and they didn’t do that.

The appellate court however was like, “Hey, this agreement has some exemptions to arbitration, and therefore there are clearly times when it shouldn’t go to arbitration. So we’re leaving it up to the courts to decide if this claim is arbitratable or not. So SCOTUS was like, “We told you what the fuck to do, and you dare question us assholes?” So they put the claim on hold, and agreed to hear it again.

SCOTUS decided, “You know what, we don’t even know why we agreed to hear this nonsense again, but we can’t even be bothered to give an opinion on it.” So they dismissed the case without an opinion. “Now, go to arbitration, or do whatever the fuck you want to do. We don’t care.”

Read about the case here at Oyez

Average Joe SCOTUS: City of Chicago v. Fulton

Robbin Fulton got his ass busted for driving without a license. As a result, the tyrants at the city of Chicago, decided they’d take his car until he paid his fucking fine.

Fulton wasn’t just an idiot for driving without a license, he’s also broke AF, and had to file for bankruptcy. In that bankruptcy, he named the city as an unsecured creditor. Unsecured just means he owed them money, but didn’t put anything up for collateral with them, which makes sense since it was a fine, and not a loan. If you finance a car or home for instance, that’s secured since the bank can come and take the car or home.

So then, the Chicago Gustapo decided, “Fuck it, we’ll call ourselves a secured creditor, and keep this prick’s car.”

The bankruptcy court told Chicago, “That’s cute, now give this douchebag his car back, and stop being assholes.”

But the city of Chicago are persistent tyrants. They really wanted to keep Fulton’s hooptie. So the went to a federal district court, who were like, “Stop wasting our time with this shit. You were told to give the car back, now give it back.”

So then Chicago, still not convinced that they’re the assholes here, went to the Seventh Circuit, who were like, “Really Chicago? What the fuck is wrong with you? Give Fulton his piece of shit car back, already, and stop wasting everyone’s fucking time. It’s not even a nice fucking car. Why do you want it so much?”

But tyrants will tyrant, and now Chicago is here asking them if they can keep the car.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS decided Chicago was surprisingly AOK, here. Chicago retaining the property of Fulton and others isn’t akin to Chicago repoing it, and selling it to someone else, like a bank might do. So long as they don’t take ownership of the car, they can hold it until the owner exercises provisions in 11 U.S.C. § 542(a), which then allows them to get their cars back. Basically requiring them to sue to get their cars returned, as opposed to a rule that requires the city to automatically return them once a bankruptcy is filed, without any action needed by the vehicle owners.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Trump v New York

Back in July, Trump had the grand idea that the census which is used to determine congressional districts and such, should exclude illegal immigrants in their count used for this. Which seems pretty fair on the face of it, since illegal immigrants are criminals by definition, and not American by definition, thus shouldn’t be represented in Congress.

The census doesn’t even ask this fucking question though, but somehow he wanted them to take their full number of people, and figure out some way to get a tally of illegal immigrants, and remove those fuckers from that total. As usual, Trump is big on ideas, but short on ways to actually do it, and this is no different. So Trump just instructed the Secretary of Commerce to figure it out.

As you can imagine, a bunch of bleeding hearts who know that illegals tend to vote for them more, filed suit to block this order, saying it was unconstitutional, which is a colorful argument at best. Basically, they were saying that the Constitution defines how the census is used to determine the number of house reps, and trying to change that proportion based on a number coming from something other than the census, was contrary to the constitution’s scheme.

A federal district court agreed, so here we are at SCOTUS after Trump challenged it. So now SCOTUS is being asked to determine if the states can even challenge this, since it’s a federal rule. And if so, is Trump’s directive unconstitutional.

In a partisan split, SCOTUS sided with Trump, and essentially said that the lower courts no jurisdiction to give an opinion on this case, and that it was essentially too early for them to sue anyway, since a plan on how to do what Trump wanted to do, hadn’t even been finalized yet. They stated it was, “riddled with contingencies and speculation that impede judicial review.” Basically arguing, you can’t challenge it before he’s even decided how it would work. Besides, Trump’s directive to exclude illegal immigrants may require the use of estimates, which the Constitution doesn’t allow, meaning they could win on that, if Trump doesn’t figure out a plan for solid numbers.

Their ruling leaves an opening for it to be challenged later once Trump’s plan to do this is finalized, which of course is now likely moot since Trump’s dumb ass lost the election.

So while this seems like a win for Trump, it effectively changes very little, and it’s clear that Trump, had he won, could still ultimately lose the ability to do what he hoped to do.

The left-leaning justices dissented because they basically wanted to put an end to Trump’s agenda on this before he went any further.