Tag Archives: First Amendment

Average Joe SCOTUS: Shurtleff v. Boston

We have yet another case were the first amendment’s free speech clause to talk about your stupid religion is at odds with the first amendments freedom of religion clause, which is often interpreted as “Separation of church and state,” despite the fact that it doesn’t actually say that.

In the city of Boston, that’s Bahstin to the locals, their city hall has three flagpoles. The first pole has Old Glory with a POW/MIA flag underneath it. The second pole has a Massachusetts flag on it. Nobody gives a fuck about those two. It’s the third one we need to have a “come to Jesus” about.

While it typically flies the Boston flag, they’re totally OK if you want to fly some other flag on it, like for some local charity, movement, or some other shit. Just submit your stupid fucking petition, and they’ll generally green light that shit and put it up for you.

Bahstin City Hall and it’s miscreant three flags

As is typical in life, good times are often ruined by some cross-waving bible-thumping Jesus freak—in this case, Harold Fucking Shurtleff.

Bahstin had flown a Juneteenth flag, an LGBTQ flag, and even the flag of other countries, including flags from asshole countries like China and Cuba. But along comes Harold Fucking Shurtleff, with a Jesus fish buried in his asshole, and his message that America has lost its way and needs to get right with god. So in 2017, he submits an application to fly his stupid Latin cross flag, because he wanted to hold some Jesus rally that day in the plaza in front of city hall.

Harold Fucking Shurtleff represents a group called Camp Constitution. Don’t even get me fucking started on how a group who says their goal is to defend the constitution seems blissfully ignorant that our forefathers didn’t want religion to be a part of government.

Anyway, back to the case. Greg Rooney, Commissioner of Boston’s Property Management Department, is the dude you talk to, when you want to raise your “I’m going to change the world with my stupid message” flag at Bahstin City Hall.

Over the course of about 12 years, Greg was looser than a twenty-dollar whore. Out of 284 applications, he’s rejected precisely zero of them…until now.

Camp Constitution Jesus Freak Flag

In comes Harold Fucking Shurtleff with his, “I’m going to tell you I care about the Constitution with my group’s name, but what I really want is you heathens to all burn in hell” flag, hoping to fly that shit for a day. I mean, why the fuck not, if we’re going to fly Cuba’s or China’s flag there?

Well, Greg Rooney has heard this phrase, “Separation of church and state,” assumed it was the law, and was like, “sorry dude, we can’t fly that shit here.”

Harold Fucking Shurtleff, apparently having watched way too much Bill O’Reilly, felt that our country was a Judeo Christin country, and we needed to remember that. Despite the fact many of the founding fathers were actually deists, and just believed in a generic god that created the world, and then fucked right the hell off, leaving mankind to do whatever the fuck they wanted.

So Harold Fucking Shurtleff, accuses Greg Rooney of being the devil, and sued him, so he could fly his stupid fucking flag. It’s the American way.

This case is similar to other religious cases we’ve talked about recently, where the “Separation of church and state” interpretation of the first amendment is put under the microscope against the First Amendment’s actual text, and its free speech clause.

The argument is that the First Amendment says, “Government shall make no law…” not “Separation of church and state.” Flying a flag isn’t making a law. So it doesn’t violate the First Amendment’s establishment clause. (The establishment clause is the part about government not establishing religion. That’s just what it’s normally called for brevity’s sake.)

The second argument is that by singling these Jesus freaks out, you’re denying their right to free speech, by using this errant interpretation of the establishment clause.

Harold Fucking Shurtleff (Right)

The argument from god’s soldiers is that denying Harold Fucking Shurtleff and his merry band of Jesus freaks the right to fly their flag, when they apparently let every other asshole fly their stupid flag, denies Harold Fucking Shurtleff his first amendment right to free speech be singling him out specifically because his flag was based on religion.

I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again, if the government (in this case Bahstin) wants to win these cases, instead of just going after some Christian cause, they need to get a fucking Muslim to apply to fly a flag of Allah on the cross, or some shit. Deny them the right to fly that. And then get the Muslim to join the Jesus freaks in their suit. Once the justices are faced with the idea of a Muslim flag flying, we won’t have to worry about having Jesus shoved up our ass, anymore. No way would they side with a Muslim wanting to fly a flag with “Death to Infidels” on it, or some shit.

As per usual, the reason SCOTUS is hearing this, is because when Harold Fucking Shurtleff sued, a district court told him to get fucked. So he went to the First Circuit US Court of Appeals, and they also invited him to go fuck himself.

As is always the case, these Jesus freaks are fucking persistent, and for whatever reason, SCOTUS just loves these First Amendment arguments, lately. So here we are.

As arguments got underway, counsel for Harold Fucking Shurtleff, Mathew Staver, a man who is efficient with his use of the letter T in his name, was pelted with questions as to whether there is a limit to what kind of flag can be flown there. They asked if an Al Qaeda flag could be flown (no, really they did) for instance.

But Staver, committed to the argument, was like, “they never had any fucking rules. They literally allowed every fucking flag imaginable until my fucking client came along. Apparently his review process was, ‘Is it a flag? Great. It’s approved.'”

After Justice Roberts grilled him on limits, Justice Kagan REALLY went for the extreme hypothetical:

Elena Kagan

Mathew D. Staver

Mr. Staver, just to follow up on the Chief Justice’s question, and this is not this case, but it’s an important question because we have to set lines and we’re giving instruction to cities about how they can create their own policies. And suppose a city thinks two things. It thinks we like this idea of having our flagpole be a public forum and having a wide variety of organizations use it to identify themselves and to express messages, so we sort of like this sort of civic organization kind of activity.

Justice Elena Kagan

But, at the same time, we think that there are limits. So the city has a policy of that kind, and then somebody comes to it and says, we’d like to put up this swastika on your pole.

Does the city really have to say yes at that point?

If it’s a designated public forum, I think the answer is yes.

Elena Kagan

So, really, what you’re saying is that a city can’t possibly have a kind of open policy like this because no city is going to want to put up a swastika or a KKK flag or something like that.

So, really, what you’re saying is that this is just a kind of policy that a city can’t have?

Mathew D. Staver

No, Justice Kagan.

In fact, the City could have a more limited policy.

It didn’t choose to do that. Now the City’s brief tries to indicate certain limitations on categories of subject matters.

But that’s nowhere to be found in the 12-year or 13-year policy, and it’s not in the 2018 codification of that policy anyway. That is not limited to subject matters or speaker identity.

If the City wants to open up a forum but limit it to certain kinds of subject matters or speakers, certainly, the City is capable of doing so.

Counsel Mathew Staver

So Staver’s argument is that if the city had put some boundaries on this shit early on, and wrote that shit into some sort of code for what flags they will and won’t raise, then that’d be all Cool & The Gang. But instead, those lazy fucks couldn’t be bothered, and just we’re like, “Meh, approved.” 284 times, until our client, Harold Fucking Shurtleff rolled up with his Jesus flag, and all of a sudden, they’ve got a fucking problem.

He was like, “These mother fuckers just hate Jesus. That’s what this is really all about.”

Justice Kagan, ever the skeptic, wasn’t done with counsel Staver, though. She went on to ask:

Elena Kagan

I guess, though, that one of the points that Justice Breyer was making is, if you’re on the street in Boston and looking over to City Hall and see these three flagpoles, and now you say there’s maybe a fourth, but the three are sort of together, you know, why would you think that this is anything other than government flying a flag?

Mathew D. Staver

I think, when you look at that, Justice Kagan, you’re going to see, one, that’s clearly government speech, as Justice Barrett was referring to in terms of limiting. You have the United States flag always up, and underneath it is always the POW/MIA flag.

It’s always there.

That’s clearly the government’s speech.

Elena Kagan


And then there’s the Commonwealth flag.

And then there’s this third flagpole.

And you’ve walked the street many times and mostly you’ve seen the City of Boston’s flag on it, but occasionally you see another flag on it.

Why wouldn’t you think that this is the City of Boston deciding to put up a substitute flag for its own purposes?

Mathew D. Staver

Because an informed observer would understand the history, the policy.

Elena Kagan

Well, that is very, very informed.

I mean, that is not your typical person who walks the street in Boston. And, you know, all they know is, I’ve seen the City of Boston flag here a thousand times, and now I see another flag.

It must be the City of Boston decided to do something else today.

In rebuttal, Staver’s argument was like, “Listen, generally these fucking flags flown are in conjunction with some even in the plaza, or a particularly special day, to which people would know, the flag is flying in relation to that thing. Many of which aren’t governmental things. So anyone with half a fucking brain would know this wasn’t government sending a message, but instead, government allowing the people to promote whatever bullshit they want to promote that day.”

Seems like a stretch to me. Honestly, I’m surprised that the city can’t just be like, “Hey, if someone wanted to put a flag up of someone’s asshole, we’d have rejected that, too. It’s just that most people fucking know what’s appropriate in a setting like this, and Harold Fucking Shurtleff is just the first idiot to decide to push the envelope.”

In response to the petitioner’s the city’s counsel Douglas Halward-Driemeier opened with this:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: The sole issue here is whether the City’s decision to lower Boston’s flag from the City Hall flagpole and raise another in its place is the City’s own speech.

If so, then, as Summum held, the City is free to select the views it wants to express. If, however, the flag-raisings were private speech and the flagpole had become a public forum, then the City agrees that it cannot exclude Petitioners’ flag. Thus, whether the flag-raisings were government or private speech is dispositive. The facts here are at least as supportive of the City as in Summum.

And Petitioners’ counter-arguments rest upon a caricature of the actual events. First, Summum held that exercising final approval authority constituted effective control.

Petitioners stipulated at Pet. App. 149a that before “final approval,” any flag-raising, Commissioner Rooney “must review whether the City’s decision to raise a flag is consistent with the City’s message.” As in Summum, there is no record of prior denials but also no record of flag-raisings inconsistent with the City’s message.

And, unlike Walker, there are no purely private messages. Second, Summum looked to the general practice of governments erecting monuments. And, similarly here, governments speak from government-owned flagpoles.

That is what the observer would expect.

Whereas Pleasant Grove made no express statement of its message, here, the City has.

It has a specific policy with respect to foreign flag-raisings, and it has issued resolutions in connection with others. Third, as in Summum, the — it would defeat the flagpole’s essential function as the City’s bully pulpit to treat it as a public forum.

Douglas Halward-Driemeier

The City cannot effectively use its flagpole to communicate its own message if it must remain neutral and also carry the opposite message. Private parties are free to wave their flags on City Hall Plaza or even raise a temporary flagpole there, but they cannot commandeer the City’s flagpole to send a message the City does not endorse. I welcome the Court’s questions.

And I’m happy to address some of the questions

Counsel Driemeier for Bahstin went on to establish that there was an established policy, and it was also on their website. Alluding to my earlier point, that their argument should just be, that the reason they approved everything else prior to this, was because up until this asshole showed up, no one tried to put anything up there that violated our policies:

So, Your Honor, to be clear, the City policy, which appears at Joint Appendix 569, states that the City, through its Commissioner, may allow raising of flags to commemorate an event or occasion.

And that’s one bucket that we’ve described, these holidays or other similar events or occasions. Also, on the City’s website, there is a statement of the goals of the flag-raising program, and it says, we commemorate, we, the City, commemorate flags of many countries.

We want to create an environment in which everyone feels included.

We also want to raise awareness in Boston and beyond about the many countries and cultures of the world.

Our goal is to foster diversity by celebrating the communities within Boston. So the foreign nation flag-raising is described in the goals.

It’s on the City’s website.

The policy states we do this in commemoration of events or occasions.

And so the categories we’ve given are explicit there. And, moreover, the rules are actually a subcategory.

The policy incorporates the rules.

And then, under the rule/policy, the first rule is that we, the City, will not put up a flag that is discriminatory, offensive, or that supports religion. The City is going to stay silent, neutral, with respect to religion. We’re not going to support a religion.

Neither will we offer something that is derogatory of religion.

And that’s consistent with the principles of the Establishment Clause.

Justice Alito took counsel Driemeier to task, and posited a hypothetical that what if someone wanted to give a speech in front of city hall, and that speech was a religious speech?

But counsel rebutted that the difference is, that instance would be a person giving a speech in a place where they’re typically allowed to protest government and such, and therefore that’s OK. Because like all rights, it simply requires that government to do nothing.

In this case, the government has a flagpole, and it literally raises and lowers it’s flag, and puts up whatever stupid fucking flag they agree to put up for you. So this requires government to do something—lower their flag and raise yours. That’s what makes it different.

Justice Kavanaugh, apparently growing tired of these cases about the Establishment Clause, basically was like, “Listen fuckhead, haven’t we answered this shit in multiple other cases? Letting religious people be heard on government property, isn’t a violation of the fucking establishment clause. There are so many more interesting things I could be doing with my life right now, than answering this question again and again and again.”

I’m paraphrasing, but you can read the transcript and see I’m not that far off.

Counsel went on to point out that had Harold Fucking Shurtleff just brought some flag for his Camp Constitution group, that didn’t have a fucking cross on it, or at least, if he hadn’t written into his petition that he was specifically asking for a day to get with god, we’d have totally let him raise that shit. It’s just his religious message we don’t want on our fucking lawn.

In a rather surprising unanimous decision (not surprised with the decision, but that it was unanimous), SCOTUS sided with Harold Fucking Shurtleff. They argue that this third-flag program isn’t the government endorsing anything, it’s just a friendly thing they do for Bahstonians, and so denying Harold Fucking Shurtleff his right to fly his stupid fucking flag, is a violation of his first amendment rights to free speech.

Part of the problem for Bahstin, the court reasoned, was that up until new, Greg Rooney had a 284 to zero record, in allowing flags. So the fact that he decided to reject this one, was clearly aimed at denying Harold Fucking Shurtleff’s right to free speech, based on religion. If they had a history of rejecting others that were controversial for whatever reason, they might have won this shit.

SCOTUS also reasoned that this was not historically considered the opinion of the city, when flying these flags. It was always well understood it was just random Bahstonians and their stupid causes. So if the city isn’t pushing the agenda of the flag, then it’s not a 1A violation.

Bahstin Flag

Justice Gorsuch, in his concurring but separate opinion whent on to criticize “The Lemon Test.”

The Lemon Test is an old 1971 SCOTUS precedent, related to a case, Lemon v. Kurtzman. Also a religious speech case.

You’ll often here the term “test” in court cases. All that means is, when considering how to decide, the court asks a question, which becomes a dividing line for how they would choose. So for instance, a test might be, “was the speed at which you were driving above the speed limit?” If so, you’re guilty, if not, you’re AOK. That question is the “test.”

Make sense?

So the Lemon Test, was created in the decision of that 1971 case, and it goes like this:

Laws (1) must have a secular legislative purpose; (2) must have a principal or primary effect . . . that neither advances nor inhibits religion . . .; (3) and must not foster ‘an excessive government entanglement with religion.

So the idea was, that when considering religious first amendment cases, SCOTUS or any other court, going forward, should apply that test.

Well, here we are, 52 years later, and Justice Neil Gorsuch is like, those old bastards were idiots, and that’s a stupid fucking test. We shouldn’t bother with that shit anymore. While Justice Thomas joined him in this separate opinion, they were in the minority in overturning Lemon. They just all agreed in this case, Harold Fucking Shurtleff wins.

As a result of all this nonsense, Bahstin has enacted a new policy, in which Harold Fucking Shurtleff still loses, but now he has a law written especially for assholes like him, to cite as to why he loses. Seems like a lot of work to lose anyway. But in the interim, he did get to raise his dumb fucking flag once, anyway.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here at Oyez and here at SCOTUSBlog.

Average Joe SCOTUS: City of Austin, Texas v. Reagan National Advertising of Texas Inc.

Reagan National Advertising and their co-petitioners Lamar Advantage Outdoor own some billboards and shit. On these billboards, they display commercial and non-commercial messages alike.

In the city of Austin, they have a rule that differentiates whether a sign is permitted based on whether the sign is connected to the property it happens to sit on. Like, let’s say there was a billboard for McDonalds, but it’s on McDonald’s property—that’s AOK. But if there’s just some rando billboard not on McDonald’s property, yet it is advertising McDonald’s, well, it’s a fucking eyesore. Take that shit down—or in this case, if it’s not already up, you can’t put it up.

Reagan had some old style signs they wanted to convert to the new digital signs which can change messages routinely, much easier than the old wallpaper style shit we’re so used to.

Austin’s rule though, was that no new signs could be put up on a property that wasn’t the property of the people advertising on the sign, which these digital signs would violate. Old signs built and put up before the regulation were grandfathered in, though. So that meant this was an odd situation. He wanted to convert the signs, not put up new ones. Although to be fair, the conversion is effectively a new sign.

So Reagan was like, “Woah, you assholes. This violates my first amendment freedom of speech. If the people who own this business want the sign up, and we have a buyer to put messages on the sign, a rule that stifles us just because the buyer doesn’t own the property is some grade A bullshit. If the area is zoned for the sign, and the sign isn’t indecent, it fucking goes up.”

Austin was like, “We’re just trying to prevent our beautiful and weird city from a million fucking signs littering the landscape, and making it look like a shithole.”

But Reagan was like, “We already had these signs up, assholes. We’re just converting them.”

Part of the complaint here is also that, if the ruling is about whether the sign’s message is related to the premises it sits on, means that some overpaid assholes in the Austin courts will effectively have to read every fucking sign application, and become a “Supreme Board of Sign Review” as justice Kagan actually called it in a previous case, “Reed v. Town of Gilbert,” which ruled a town could not make different rules based on the messages temporary signs conveyed.

So the city was like, “You really don’t want to read every fucking sign, do you? Just give us our judgement, and let us have our ruling.”

In opening arguments, counsel for Austin explained their position pretty well.

Michael R. Dreeben

This case involves a fundamental question about the meaning of content-based regulation under the First Amendment.

The Fifth Circuit interpreted this Court’s decision in Reed to mean that any time that an officer must read a sign to apply the law, the law is content-based. That holding is wrong and should be reversed.

A law is content-based on its face when the text of the law singles out specific subject matter for differential treatment.

The law in Reed did that by distinguishing ideological, political, and directional signs. A rule regulating off-premises advertising does not.

The off-premises rule is an empty vessel that applies to all subjects and topics.

It turns on the relationship of a sign to its location, not the content of its message. The Fifth Circuit’s rigid rule does not further First Amendment values.

Austin’s law does not skew the marketplace for speech or suppress any ideas.

But the Fifth Circuit’s rule would have untenable effects.

Many ordinances can be applied only by looking at what a sign says.

Temporary event signs are a perfect example.

Strict scrutiny of such laws is unwarranted. Now Respondent offers a new theory, arguing that any sign code provision tied to the function or purpose of speech is content-based on its face.

But many neutral laws are tied to function.

Sign regulation is inherently functional.

Signs function to present information.

And the regulation of solicitation is based on the function of soliciting. So long as these rules are even-handed, they are facially content-neutral. First Amendment review still applies, but the right standard is intermediate, not strict, scrutiny.

Because the Fifth Circuit applied the wrong standard, its judgment should be reversed. I welcome the Court’s questions.

Once it was Austin’s turn, their lead counsel opened with this rebuttal.

Kannon K. Shanmugam

The City of Austin denied Respondents’ application to convert its existing signs to digital signs, and it did so on the ground that the signs advertised off-premises activities. Under this Court’s decision in Reed, Austin’s distinction between signs advertising on-premises and off-premises activities is content-based. That distinction turns on the subject matter, function, and purpose of the content of the messages on the signs, and it has the effect of prioritizing certain messages from certain speakers and limiting, if not prohibiting, others. The fact that Austin’s regulation does not prohibit speech on an entire subject and that the application of the regulation depends on a factor in addition to the sign’s content does not render it content-neutral.

A district court felt the city of Austin had indeed made a decent argument, as they don’t want to deal with this shit day after day after day, and ruled in their favor. But the 5th circuit was like, “Maybe y’all aren’t familiar with the first amendment, so let us help you. The fact that you’re saying what is on the sign matters, means its content-based, and thus…well…first amendment. Overturned, bitches!”

In a 6:3 apolitical ruling however, SCOTUS sided with Austin. They ruled that they weren’t limiting content in their ruling, which would be a violation of free speech. Instead, this was merely limiting where you could put a fucking sign or not, based on whether what the sign was advertising, was related to the property it was on. Essentially saying a business has a right to put up a sign on their property, but fuck those billboard assholes who want to put signs up everywhere, that shit is hideous.

Justices Thomas, Barrett, and Gorsuch dissented, arguing that this rule from previous case “Reed” is being misinterpreted. At first, it was purely about content. Now you assholes are making it about some new standard that can be fudged about however courts see fit. What the fuck was wrong with “content-based” in a very literal sense? We can’t even…with you assholes.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case at the links below.


Average Joe SCOTUS: Houston Community College System v. Wilson

David Wilson was elected to the board of trustees of the Houston Community College District (HCC) in 2013. After a few years, Wilson found that the other eight members of the board were assholes of the highest order. Specifically, he argued they were taking bribes and shit like that.

Wilson decided to shout that shit from the mountaintops, but that landed his ass in some hot water. You see, a board is composed of nine members who vote. If one member, calls the other eight corrupt mother fuckers, and they take it to a vote, eight people are going to tell Wilson to shut the fuck up. And so they did.

Their feelings were so hurt by Wilson’s accusations, they publicly censured him, and took away his travel privileges.. They even called him “reprehensible.” The nerve of those vindictive little scumbags.

As is usual, this is a court dispute. Wilson was so pissed off by this censure bullshit, he sued in a state court, that his 1st amendment rights had been violated. But the court sided with HCC. Their argument was that a censure is just them calling him a whiny little bitch, but all publicly and shit. It doesn’t violate his first amendment rights. He can still do his job, and say whatever the fuck he wants. They weren’t hurting him at all, and thus he has no reason to be suing them. Seems they were awfully quiet about the $20,000 fine they laid on him, which I think we all agree, could be called “damages.”

But then the 5th circuit was like, “Whoa, hold on a minute you little state court punks. This dude does have cause to sue. So fuck your little piece of shit ruling—you’re a bunch of idiots. Who the fuck even gave you a gavel? They punished the man in a public manner and official capacity, for calling those corrupt fucks out. That qualifies as “cause” in our opinion.”

HCC was like, “Hey, wait a fucking minute. By trying to block the censure, you’re denying us our first amendment rights to call this asshole an asshole.”

So now, we have two people who have diametrically opposed first amendment rights, trying to get SCOTUS to determine who gets to say what and when.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS sided with the HCC. Not that they were promoting their corrupt bullshit, but just the censure itself isn’t a violation of Wilson’s free speech. While Wilson can’t be thrown in jail for saying what he said, the courts can censure him if they wanted to.

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.