Tag Archives: First Amendment

Average Joe SCOTUS: FNU Tanzin v. Tanvir

A trio of Muslims, Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah and Naveed Shinwari, are here in the U.S. legally, but not natural born citizens, so they’re either citizens or green card holders.

The FBI in their campaign on the war on terror, sought to have Tanvir and company inform for them against other Muslims who may be involved in terrorist activities. Tanvir and company told the FBI to go fuck themselves, and as a result, were put on a No-Fly List by the FBI.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) basically prevents government from harassing people based on their religion, unless the government can show that there’s a compelling government interest in doing so, such as preventing a terrorist attack. RFRA also allows people to sue federal agents if they violate those religious freedoms wrongly.

So Tanvir and his merry band of Muslims are suing the federal government officials who put them on the list for doing so, after they refused to rat out their fellow Muslims. But the government is arguing that the RFRA doesn’t allow these guys to sue individual agents, it only says they can seek appropriate relief.

So now SCOTUS must decide if the RFRA allows individual federal agents to be sued under the law.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS decided that the FBI assholes were completely out of line, and can be sued for damages by the three Muslim men, paving the way for future suits against other lawless pricks operating in law enforcement.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Carney v. Adams

James Adams is a Delaware resident, and a member of the state’s bar association. He applied for a judicial job, but the job required he be Republican, and Adams is apolitical. This rule is part of Delaware’s effort to make the courts balanced.

Adams, being a lawyer, decided to do what lawyers do best. Sue some people. He argued the provision in the Delaware Constitution that allows such a requirement of political affiliation is some bullshit.

There is precedent in rulings on Elrod v. Burns and Branti v. Finkel which allows policy makers to have partisan rules for hiring other policy makers. But Adams is arguing that judges aren’t policy makers, since they don’t write laws or regulations, they merely interpret them.

A district court sided with Adam’s argument, and the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed, although they argued that Adams lacked standing for some reason.

So now, Carney thinks this is some bullshit, and has challenged the decision for Adams here at SCOTUS.

So now SCOTUS is being asked to determine if this rule violates the first amendment. Many of the justices brought up the point that other parties such as the Libertarian or Green party aren’t represented, yet they might bring even greater balance. But Carney is essentially arguing that his interest is in balance, and not necessarily making sure all parties are represented.

Carney also argued that there were other judicial positions open, that he were qualified for, and that Adams is merely trying to make a name for himself by going after this one he’s not.

Justice Gorsuch questioned:

Neil Gorsuch

The major party provision prohibits Independents from service, serving as judges.

That’s quite a sweeping rule.

As I understand you, you’ve indicated that you’d agree that that violates the Equal Protection Clause as applied to elected positions. But you indicate that it’s somehow very different with respect to appointed positions. And I guess I’m not clear why, given the absence of any historically-rooted tradition along these lines with respect to the major party requirement. I understand your argument that it serves as a backstop for the bare majority rule, which does have historical antecedents, plenty of them, but, near as I can tell, none of those has ever included this backstop before.

This is a novel thing.

And it does prohibit a great percentage of the population from participating in the process.

Justice Kavanaugh went on to ask:

Brett M. Kavanaugh

Why can’t Independents even better serve the goal of a balanced judiciary nonpartisan/bipartisan judiciary?

In a 8:0 decision, SCOTUS decided they didn’t give a fuck about Adams claim, saying it’s none of their fucking business. They said that Adams couldn’t even sue because he wasn’t even ready to become a judge if he won. It’s like he was suing in case he decided to try.

Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants Inc.

Back in 1991, the government passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It was basically a law preventing spammers from calling you on your cell phone via a machine (robocalls), and racking up costs for the phone’s owner. Obviously, in 1991, people were often paying for minutes of usage, whereas now, most phone plans have unlimited calling. But still, I hate these assholes, so I like the law.

There were exemptions, though. It allowed for emergency calls. And it allowed for calls when you had previously agreed to get them from that party.

In 2015, those assholes in congress added a provision to allow debt collection calls “owed to or guaranteed by the United States” as well. Any calls from the federal government in general are also allowed.

Along come these butt plugs from The American Association of Political Consultants, Inc., who love spamming the hell out of people with their surveys and shit. They claim their 1st amendment right to free speech is being limited by not allowing them to annoy the fuck out of all of us with cell phones wanting to talk to us about politics and shit. They argued that because the law limits calls based on content, allowing the government to make them, while these assholes can’t, versus banning all calls—this makes such a ban a 1A violation of free speech.

At one point, this scumbag also argued:

The government-debt exception confirms that Congress did not view the privacy interests here as compelling. That exception exposes 60 million Americans to unlimited calls to collect more than 4.2 trillion dollars in debt.

Those are the kinds of calls consumers hate the most. If Congress really thought privacy was paramount, it would not have allowed those calls.

While it’s true those are the calls people hate the most, the fact is, those people agreed to incur a debt, and agreed to allow the people who lent them money or services to collect that debt, and then they didn’t fucking pay it. I’ve been there, it’s annoying. But it’s no one’s fault but my own.

Yet these shady fuckhats want to call you and just shoot the breeze about who you plan on voting for and shit. Ain’t nobody got time for that, and I didn’t agree to that shit in advance. They also argue these calls are non-commercial, meaning they’re not trying to sell you anything. So that’s why they think it should be OK.

Both an appeals court and the fourth circuit were highly unimpressed with this bullshit argument. So here were are to determine if it’s a 1A violation or not.

In a 6:3 majority, the right-leaning justices along with Sotomayor agreed that the government-debt exception violates the 1st amendment. That the government doesn’t get to say you can be called if the debt is guaranteed by them, but restrict a private debt collector.

The interesting part, is while the government lost and AAPC won, technically, AAPC still can’t call your ass. Instead, SCOTUS ruled that this “government-backed debt collection” exemption could be struck from the law itself, while leaving the rest of the law in tact. So now, you cannot robocall for any debt collection to your cell phone, whether it’s backed by the government, or a private debt. So AAPC still can’t call your mobile phone, but neither can any other debt collector.

This is basically like when you’re a kid, and you’re mad your older brother can go out, and you can’t. So instead of letting you go out, your parents say your brother can’t either. You didn’t make your own situation better, you just made it worse for others.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Iancu v Brunetti

So this dude Eric Brunetti owns a clothing company called FUCT. Now, we can act like it’s an acronym all we want, but the point is clearly that it’s to be pronounced as “fucked.”

In 2011, an intent-to-use patent was filed for his brand, but the Lanham Act governs such patents, and section 2(a) says:

No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it—

(a) Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute; or a geographical indication which, when used on or in connection with wines or spirits, identifies a place other than the origin of the goods and is first used on or in connection with wines or spirits by the applicant on or after one year after the date on which the WTO Agreement (as defined in section 3501(9) of title 19) enters into force with respect to the United States.

So the attorney processing the request for the patent told the applicants to get fucked. (See what I did there?)

Brunetti appealed, and the appeals court agreed with the finding that it violated 2(a), but decided that such a restriction was a violation of the first amendment which guarantees free speech.

So off we go to SCOTUS, and it was a slam dunk. While Iancu tried to argue that government has a role to play in protecting our fragile little ears, and our fragile little psyches from such dastardly phrases as the word “fuck” or anything that sounds like it, despite the fact that we damn near all say it every day, the justices weren’t having it.

Iancu even busted out the George Carlin argument, about words you can’t say. Classic bit. But to no avail.

All nine justices agreed, it is a restriction on free speech, and Iancu from the Secretary of Commerce office can get FUCT.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

 

Average Joe SCOTUS – The American Legion v. American Humanist Association

Back in 1918, this park made a war memorial with a big-ass cross in it. At the time, it was a private park. In 1961 the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission took over that land and everything on it.

This cross racked up big maintenance costs over time, and the Maryland Commission was paying to maintain it. Some non-Christians at the American Humanist Association (I’m atheist, but they sound like the boringest borings that ever bored, don’t they?) were like, “Separation of Church and state, man! This is bullshit.”

So then the American Legion was like, “Listen you atheist assholes. The cross has been used to honor dead people for years. It is often a Christian symbol, sure. But sometimes, it’s secular. So give us a fucking break. Have you ever seen the World War 1 memorial? Crosses are everywhere!”

But American Humanist wasn’t having that bullshit and took them to court. They cited the old Lemon v Kurtzman decision, which sided with atheists that government couldn’t give money to non-secular schools. They were like, “It’s the same god damn thing!”

So as usual, lower courts couldn’t agree, and these peeps found their asses in the sights of SCOTUS.

SCOTUS wasn’t hearing that shit, though. They somehow argued that the cross can indeed have a secular meaning as the American Legion and sided with them accordingly, 7 to 2. Only Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented. Ginsburg was like, the cross “is the foremost symbol of the Christian faith…” I’m pretty sure she said, “are you fucking nuts?” But they bleeped it out.

Here’s the deal, this is not government establishing religion, or prohibiting free expression thereof, which is what the constitution actually says, not that there should be a separation of church and state. We’re still arguing over this nonsense because SCOTUS seems to care more about precedent than the constitution’s verbiage. As Scalia once said, “that document is dead.” Meaning it should be interpreted as that shit is written, not what you think they meant. If congress doesn’t like it, amend it.

Again, I’m atheist, but if it isn’t a law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free expression thereof, then it doesn’t violate 1A as it’s written. So amend it, or move on.

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

Average Joe SCOTUS – Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck

OK, we all know New York would regulate the size of your bowel movements if they could, right?

These legislators in the United Socialist State of New York decided that if you’re going to operate a cable TV company in New York, and you have more than 36 channels (because they’re the kind to write arbitrary bullshit rules like that), you have to at least dedicate one channel to a public access channel that is on a “first-come, first-served” basis.

Time Warner, being a big ass cable company, were granted permission to operate there if they had four public access stations available. New York assigned a gestapo group to oversee it—Manhattan Community Access Corp. (MCAC).

Along come these beatnik assholes Halleck and Melendez and their shitty poetry and stupid socialist bullshit home video they called, “The 1% visit El Barrio.” I haven’t heard their poetry, or watched their dumb video. It’s just that all poetry is shitty, and I’d rather watch my cat lick his balls. Get a fucking job.

Because their poetry was especially shitty, these gestapo public access stations police at MCAC told them to get the fuck out and don’t come back.

Halleck and Menendez said, “First amendment, motherfuckers! I have a right to speak without you Nazi government assholes preventing me from doing so.”

But MCAC was like, “We’re a private group, not government. And frankly, you can speak to your heart’s content, just not on our fucking channel, asshole. Now get lost.”

So SCOTUS was asked to decided if MCAC was a government entity since it existed at the behest of government, even though it was a private entity. And did they violate the beatnik’s 1A rights?

The conservative justice don’t give a fuck about these beatnik’s garbage poetry and videos, and ruled for MCAC. Ginsberg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan being the hippies they are dissented—poetry is life!. They were like, “you right wing assholes don’t realize that when New York set this shit up to be public access, they made it an electronic public forum. Limiting these beatnik’s ability to use this public forum is a clear violation of 1A, and you guys can eat a bag of dicks.”

So then the right-wing justices were like, “Too bad we have the majority, assholes.” 5:4 decision for MCAC.

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

Religious Liberty? Sexual-Orientation Liberty? How about just “Liberty”

In January of 2013, an Oregonian bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple who were soon to wed. Aaron and Melissa Klein, the bakery’s owners, are Christian, and felt that baking such a cake would violate their religious beliefs. As such, they refused the lesbian couple’s business.sweet_cakes_by_Melissa

As reported here by Fox, the couple faced a $150,000 fine, based on a January 29th, 2015 ruling, for discrimination as a result of such action.

Being an atheist and a libertarian, I find Aaron and Missy’s actions egregious and disgusting. I suspect many people who champion gay rights are happy to see them in trouble. But, as much as libertarians are indeed for gay rights, we are supposed to champion rights for all people, qualifiers be damned.

While the courts are doing a good job protecting the rights of the lesbian couple, they are taking away rights from the Kleins in doing so, and this is no better.

If the Constitution’s 1st amendment guarantees free speech under the law so people can say hateful things, shouldn’t the 1st amendment’s freedom of religion clause protect those who practice religion-based hate just the same?

U.S. Constitution: 1st Amendment
U.S. Constitution: 1st Amendment

If I were the gay couple looking to get the aforementioned cake, I’d be rather insulted by the Klein’s actions, but if I believe in liberty, I’d fight vehemently for them to engage in such hate, so long as their hate isn’t harming me in some way. Let the free market deal with the Kleins in the court of public opinion.

I could do so by taking my story to local media, which happened as a result of this case, but I could also go on social media like Facebook and Twitter and spread the fact that the Kleins are not gay-friendly, hoping reasonable people opt not to frequent their store, harming their business accordingly.

The free market appears to have done exactly that since the aforementioned article by Fox indicates they have since moved to doing business out of their home, because the loss of business cost them the ability to continue leasing their store. They opted to start a GoFundMe campaign to help them with their cause, but that later was shut down, again due to the free market flexing its muscle as gay rights groups got GoFundMe to pull the Klein’s campaign.

Religious groups on the right are calling for religious liberty, but in my opinion, they are equally bad in all of this, since I doubt many of them support the lesbian couple’s right to marry. If they do, good on them for not being hypocrites.gay-marriage1[1]

If America is indeed a free-market capitalist system, government has no right to impose its will on private enterprise in this way. Yet we Americans tolerate it because we ignore the fundamental basis of the Constitution—that we all have equal rights under the law, including business owners like the Kleins.

Equal rights under the law has to mean that any business should have the right to engage in, or refuse, business with anyone else for any reason imaginable, no matter how hateful and disgusting those reasons may be.

Why? Because it’s their business. Despite Obama’s claims to the contrary, they built it, and they own it. They should have the right to build it up or burn it down however they see fit.

But we so often call for such laws, because there seems to be this knee-jerk reaction that every time someone is wronged, instead of trusting in the free market to sort it out, we feel we must ask government to pass a law to prevent this from happening in the future instead. But that is not, nor ever should be, the purpose of government.

Government’s duty is only to protect your rights, not your feelings. In a free country, you are going to be exposed to people who offend you, but that also means you are free to walk away and not listen to them or deal with them.

The lesbian couple certainly could have found another bakery, or simply baked their own cake. Why would they want to do business with people they know don’t like them in the first place?lesbian_wedding_cake[1]

It’s certainly their right to ask the Kleins to bake them a cake, but how could anyone say they have a right to demand the Kleins bake them one? Don’t the Kleins have rights?

So as much as gay rights groups were up in arms until the January 29th decision was handed down, and now religious groups are up in arms instead, I’d call for both of them to stop being hypocrites. If you say you’re for freedom and rights, then you have to champion the rights for those who hate you too.