Tag Archives: SCOTUS

Average Joe SCOTUS: Babcock v. Kijakazi

This is a case about retirement benefits. But before you nod off, let me tell you about it.

David Babcock joined the National Guard back in 1970, served over 3 years, then went to flight school to become a pilot. But flying wasn’t his one true love, making planes flyable was. So he want back to the guard, and ended up as a technician who worked on planes for a civilian group, while he was still enlisted. He also spent a couple years in Iraq form 2004-2005.

When Babcock retired in 2009, he got money from the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and from the military’s Defense Finance and Accounting Service. (DFAS)

Once he fully retired in 2014, Social Security was like, “Here’s your benefits fuckface. But we’re reducing them because you’re getting so much scratch from the CSRS and the DFAS.”

So Babcock was like, “Hold the fuck on, you assholes. According to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), I should be exempted from you not giving me full benefits. I was fucking active duty military. You aren’t supposed to be doing that shit to us.”

The Windfall Elimination Provision, is basically a rule SSI has to say, “Hey look, if you’ve got money falling out of your asshole, you don’t need full SSI benefits. So we’re going to steal the money you paid into the system, and give it to some other dumb fuck who did nothing to earn it. OK?”

But generally, they don’t do this to active duty military, because they fucking risked their lives for these assholes who send them to every war-torn shithole the president or congress doesn’t like. So that’s Babcock’s beef.

The state however, is trying to say that a “Dual Service Technician” which is what Babcock was, isn’t the same as other military. Yes, he was in the military, but he was essentially a private contractor. The government fucking loves a technicality it can use to fuck someone in the neck.

Well, anyway. SSI didn’t see fit to agree Babcock was the type of military personal that should be exempted, and despite Babcock’s appeal, an Administrative Law Judge (ASL) sided with the assholes at SSI.

So now SCOTUS is being asked to decide if a dual status employee is still military for purposes of the military exemption of the windfall provision.

According to 8 out of 9 justices, it is not. He was a friend of the military, but he wasn’t out there risking getting his ass shot off. As the law was written by congress, he’s unfortunately fucked. But thank you for your assistance in the effort.

Gorsuch, the lone dissenter was like, “You other eight justices are being dicks to this poor motherfucker. He was invaluable to the war effort, he deserves to get paid.”

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Mississippi v. Tennessee

In what promises to be another snoozefest, we have another case that SCOTUS has as part of their original docket. Meaning, it’s not a case they choose to hear, it’s a case they have to hear.

In a case involving the two state with the most double letters in their name, Mississippi have beef over some water with Tennessee. The Middle Claiborne Aquifer is fucking huge. It spans several states including these two assholes.

Not sure what an aquifer is? Neither was I. It’s basically, underground rock which is porous and stores a lot of water inside it. So forget about the rock for a minute, just think of it as a huge lake that spans the states, but you can’t fucking see it, because it’s underground.

Tennessee’s Memphis Light, Water & Gas Division pumps a lot of water out of that mother fucker from wells in Tennessee, but near the Mississippi border. Mississippi expects a certain amount of water from it, too. They argue they can’t get what they want, because those greedy assholes in Tennessee take too much from near the border, which basically depletes Mississippi’s portion as it flows to Tennessee when they pump water out.

They claim that their own groundwater goes down into the aquifer. But when Tennessee pumps water from their side, Mississippi’s groundwater flows into Tennessee, and therefore, they lose it.

Anyway, the courts have in the past appointed a special master to sort this shit out. They try to make sure that states which share a body of water, get their fair share of that water, and one isn’t fucking over the other.

Typically, the courts use an “equitable apportionment” rule to rivers and shit. But this is the first time an aquifer is the source of the dispute. Mississippi is hoping to make the case that it doesn’t apply to groundwater. Presumably because what Tennessee is taking, isn’t that dissimilar to what one would expect in a similar dispute over a river.

The idea is that Mississippi probably has a much larger chunk of water underneath than Tennessee, so they think they should get more of the water that’s there, whereas Tennessee would argue they should get an equal cut.

Normally, the equitable apportionment rule weighs several factors, one of which is that the complaining state has to show how they were harmed by the other state’s taking of the water, putting a larger burden on Mississippi.

The bottom line is, this seems like some pretty amazing creativity on Mississippi’s part. The nature of water is that it fucking flows. Whether it’s above ground in a river, or below ground in an aquifer, that’s what water fucking does.

The idea that Mississippi is going to act like this groundwater is somehow supposed to be treated different than river water is a pretty big stretch in my mind. But fuck it, might as well waste the court’s time with this bullshit.

Justice Clarence Thomas came out asking if there was any previous cases where somehow, someone was taking water from a shared source, but not entering the property of the other state, and the courts offered a remedy that wasn’t “equitable apportionment.”

Justice Roberts and Justice Kagan also seemed as baffled as I am about how this could possibly be anything different than an equitable apportionment situation.

Read this bit of the transcript to see an argument only a lawyer could love. It is clear, he’s hoping they just won’t get that he’s full of shit.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Well, what other cases would you — putting aside water, what other cases would you admit are subject to equitable apportionment?

John V. Coghlan

Your Honor, I’m not sure, and I’m not sure the equitable apportionment should or should not apply as a concept to groundwater.

I think there are reasons why, based on the nature of groundwater, it might not make sense. But I think the Court doesn’t need to address that question about whether or not equitable apportionment should apply to groundwater because, as I say, this is a different type of injury.

This is an injury where one state is reaching across the border and exercising control beyond its sovereign territory.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Putting aside your reaching across the border, I mean, in — in the absence — you — you concede, don’t you, that the aquifer flows from Mississippi into Tennessee?

John V. Coghlan

We — we concede that there is some water that crosses the border, yes.

John G. Roberts, Jr.

Well, I suppose then you’re — you’re not saying that there’s no equitable apportionment of that water?

John V. Coghlan

I think, Your Honor, our point is that whether or not aquifers and groundwater should be subject to equitable apportionment is not the legal issue that we’re presenting before the Court. What we’re presenting is does Tennessee have the right to control the resource beyond Tennessee’s sovereign boundaries in Mississippi when Mississippi has not waived its sovereign right over control of that groundwater.

Elena Kagan

I’m not sure I understand that, Mr. Coghlan.

I mean, you’re not now saying that this is not an interstate water.

You’re conceding that it is an interstate water, is that correct?

John V. Coghlan

I don’t know that we’re conceding it, Justice Kagan.

Elena Kagan

You’re saying that you win even if it is an interstate water, is that correct?

John V. Coghlan

That’s correct.

Elena Kagan

Okay.

So you’re saying it’s irrelevant whether it’s an interstate water or not?

John V. Coghlan

That’s correct.

Elena Kagan

So let’s assume that it is an interstate water.

John V. Coghlan

Okay.

Elena Kagan

And you’re saying that the reason you should win is because — is because what? Because Mississippi is essentially doing something unnatural to have access to that interstate water? What —

John V. Coghlan

I’d say, Your Honor, it’s that Tennessee —

Elena Kagan

Tennessee, excuse me.

John V. Coghlan

That Tennessee is exercising control over groundwater while it is located within Mississippi’s sovereign territory.

Elena Kagan

Well, but Tennessee is doing things, I think you admitted, in — in — in one of the questions that Justice Thomas put to you — Tennessee is acting entirely within its own borders.

It is having effects on Mississippi, but that’s the case with respect to people using a flowing river, that if there’s a — a flowing river, Tennessee might be taking water from it, which has effects in Mississippi. So why is it any different?

John V. Coghlan

Justice Kagan, where I would disagree with you is that Tennessee is acting entirely within its own borders.

Their — their wells are physically located in Tennessee, but this pumping is creating a unnatural area of effect that’s predictable, measurable, and controllable, and that area of effect is having physical effect, unnatural —

Elena Kagan

Well, it’s have —

John V. Coghlan

— physical effects —

Elena Kagan

— it’s — it’s predictable, measurable, and controllable when an upstream state takes a lot of water from a river that that will leave the downstream state with less water.

All of that is predictable in the exact same way that one state is harming another, and yet we turn to equitable apportionment to deal with that.

John V. Coghlan

And I think, Your Honor, the difference as — as I — in this case is that in all of the Court’s equitable apportionment cases, the state who’s, you know, unnaturally having an effect on the water by taking and removing water is acting, and the effect of that is occurring — the direct effect of that is occurring entirely within the state’s sovereign territory and that whether or not the water ultimately doesn’t reach the downstream state because it doesn’t flow there is — is incidental, whereas, here, there is a direct intentional effect. The — the — the purpose of pumping is to move water.

And Tennessee is putting these wells next to the border, creating a vacuum, and of — of a measurable area of effect, and intentionally pulling the water out of Mississippi and exercising control, direct control I would say, over that groundwater while it is within Mississippi’s sovereign territory.

If you’re still as confused as I am as to what their justification is for treating this situation any different than others, then welcome to my world.

It should be pointed out, Mississippi is seeking millions in monetary damages, and Tennessee’s counsel was not shy about suggesting this was just an attempted money grab by Mississippi.

So now SCOTUS has to decide if Mississippi’s damages claim is legit, or some bullshit.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS agreed, Mississippi were being whiny little bitches, and Tennessee doesn’t owe them shit. Equitable apportionment was awarded, and Mississippi doesn’t get any more than that.

Hear oral arguments here

https://www.oyez.org/cases/2021/143-orig

Read about the case here

Average Joe SCOTUS: Nielsen v. Preap

Mony Preap was a legal immigrant to the United States, a refugee from Cambodia. He came to the United States in 1981 with his parents. In 2006, his ass got busted with weed, and convicted of two misdemeanors as a result.

Because he’s a legal immigrant, and not a citizen, that immigration status can be revoked for certain crimes an immigrant pay commit, one of them being drug offenses.

But at the time, immigration authorities couldn’t be bothered, and did not detain him. Later, he was busted for battery, a crime that oddly does not qualify as a crime that gets you deported if you’re a non-citizen.

Thank about that. Victimless crime? “Fuck you, get out.” Straight up assault? “Nah, you’re good.”  America really needs to get its priorities straight. But back to Preap and others.

Once Preap was busted for battery, immigration decided to hold him without bail while they considered sending his ass back to Cambodia. But since the battery charge does not fall under the statute, they reverted back to his marijuana charges as justification for doing so.

Preap was like, “this is some bullshit” and filed for habeas relief, which means he wanted to be lawfully charged or released, not hanging out and chilling in jail for no good reason.

The Ninth Circuit agreed with Preap, that if the government were to hold Preap for deportation after his marijuana charge, they should have done so at the time of that charge, not years later.

The rule in question is 8 U.S. Code § 1226

Subsection C2 reads: The Attorney General shall take into custody any alien who is deportable under section 1227(a)(2)(A)(i) of this title on the basis of an offense for which the alien has been sentence [1] to a term of imprisonment of at least 1 year.

So now the SCOTUS is being asked to determine if ICE should have to detain these people immediately upon release, or if there is no such time restriction implied, and ICE can detain them whenever it decides to.

The conservative justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh didn’t give a flying fuck about Preap and his bullshit argument. They decided if Preap did the crime, that he can do the time, even if it’s years later.

I think everyone understands the opposition, here. A guy does a crime, and afterwards, goes back and largely lives a decent life, he shouldn’t have to live in fear the rest of his life that one day the government will roll up on his shit and be like, “Sorry sucker. You’re out!”

But nonetheless, the right wing five didn’t give two shits, and were not willing to prevent the government from doling out justice how they see fit.

Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion, essentially feeling that this interpretation opens up Pandora’s box for the federal government to use this tool down the road, to get rid of immigrants in general outside the normal scope of the law. He’s probably right, but he lost anyway. So it doesn’t matter.

Judgement 5:4 for Nielsen

 

Average Joe SCOTUS: Flowers v. Mississippi

Back in 1996, there was an armed robbery at the Tardy Furniture Store, and four people were killed. The petitioner in this case, and all around asshole Flowers was eventually tried in Mississippi and convicted for the robbery/homicide of one of the people, and sentences to death. Seriously, fuck that guy.

The court had allowed evidence the Mississippi Supreme Court (SCOM) felt was inadmissible related to the murder of the other three people, and dismissed the case.

So Mississippi tried him for the murder of a second victim, and did the same dumb shit, and the SCOM again dismissed on the same grounds, but those persistent prosecutors in Mississippi weren’t about to let this douchebag get off for murder, and went after him again a third time. They prosecuted him for the murder of all four, again found him guilty a third time, and again sentenced this mortherfucker to death.

We all know Mississippi has some race problems, and even if this motherfucker was guilty, these inept motherfuckers could fuck up a wet dream. The assholes in Mississippi went out of their way to exclude black jurors, since Flowers was black, and they thought black jurors might acquit, over recent racial tensions.

There were mistrials multiple times, and it wasn’t until the sixth trial this motherfucker AGAIN was convicted and sentenced to death. But of course you know, that isn’t the end of this shit.

Flowers was like, “these racist motherfuckers in Mississippi kept striking my brothers and sisters from the jury, denying me the right to a fair trial, and equal protection under the law. 6th and 14th amendments, y’all!”

So Flowers asked SCOM to step in, but they upheld the conviction. But then SCOTUS was like, “Wait a fucking minute. You’re joking, right SCOM? Look again, assholes. We already ruled on this shit in Batson v Kentucky. Maybe you’ve heard of it? You can’t just strike jurors because they’re fucking black.”

But SCOM was like, “Fuck you SCOTUS, this is a good conviction. The state fucking told you we had other reasons for striking those black jurors. This was a small ass town, and all those people knew either the defendant or the victims.”

While the lone black SCOTUS justice was one of two who dissented, (along with Gorsuch), and felt the non-race-based reasons were reasonable and potentially a legit reason for the state striking those jurors, the other seven justices sided with Flowers in ruling this was some racist bullshit. Judgement for Flowers.

Read about the case and/or hear oral arguments here.

Average Joe SCOTUS: Cochise Consultancy Inc. v. United States, ex rel. Hunt

We all remember that there were some warfare activities in Iraq, right? So because of all that, there were munitions scattered about the place everywhere, and that shit needed cleaned up.

So The Parsons Corporation were given a $60M government contract to find those munitions, and discard of them properly, back in 2006.

In the contract, Parsons had to provide adequate security for their employees, and they subcontracted that duty to a company called ArmorGroup, despite the fact that Cochise Consultancy (the petitioner here) had submitted a competitive bid.

As it turns out, this piece of shit for the Army Corps of Engineers named Wayne Shaw, had taken bribes, forged documents, threatened people, and shit like that to ensure Cochise got the bid over ArmorGroup, and eventually, his shady ass got the subcontract shifted to Cochise.

Once Cochise started, they were getting $1M more a month than ArmorGroup would have. Eventually, that shady dickhead Shaw got rotated away from Iraq, and Parsons put the contract out for bid again, eventually giving the bid back to ArmorGroup.

A Parson’s employee, Billy Joe Hunt, was involved in the corrupt scheme between Cochise and Parsons, and eventually in 2010, the FBI came knocking on his door, and he was quick to fess up, landing his ass in federal prison for ten months.

In order to encourage whistle blowers to blow some fucking whistles, the government allows for something called qui tam lawsuits under the False Claim Acts. It’s basically where a private person can sue a private party for defrauding the government, and then get 30% of the reward for doing it. As you can imagine, it encourages private people to report these scumbags, when they can get a reward for doing it.

So Hunt decided to go after Cochise and Parsons in 2013 to try to make some money. He was in federal prison for ten months, and was probably broke AF. So he saw an opportunity, and went for it.

But, unfortunately for Hunt, it was deemed past the statute of limitations by the time the FBI came after him, and he served his time. It had been seven years since the violations occurred, and of course Hunt knew about it all along.

The statute of limitations required it had to either be within six years of the violation, or three years after a government official knew about it, and the seven years exceeded both.

So a district court dismissed Hunt’s claim, but then a US Court of appeals disagreed, reversed, and sent it back, saying that Hunt was a Parson’s employee, and not a government official, therefore, the three year statute hadn’t been violated yet. The government had only recently found out, and they didn’t bother to intervene.

So as usual, two courts don’t agree, and SCOTUS here we come. Cochise of course didn’t like the Appeals Court ruling, so they sued to try to enforce the Statute of Limitations exclusion given by the lower court.

So SCOTUS were asked to resolve the idea that Hunt was not to be considered an acceptable person to “know about it” and start the clock on the three year statute of limitations.

SCOTUS told Cochise to go pound sand up their ass. Unanimous decision for Hunt. He wasn’t a government official, and acted within three years of a government official knowing about the fraud. Now fuck off and pay him you dirty fucks.

Hear oral arguments or read about the case here.

 

 

Average Joe SCOTUS – Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill

There’s this thing some politicians do called Gerrymandering, where they draw election districts in really weird ways so as to help their side win elections. It’s often reffered to as “stacking and cracking,” but here’s how it can work.

Let’s say the government awards every 2,000 constituents with a congressional representative, and you have a state with a population of 10,000, so you get five congressional reps as a result.

Now, let’s assume your state is evenly divided, 5,000 Republicans, and 5,000 Democrats. If you divided your state up in very equal ways, you’d potentially have five districts where 1,000 are Democrats and 1,000 are Republicans each—a fair division.

Now let’s imagine Democrats control congress at the time when districts are redrawn. So what they do, is draw the districts in such a way that two of those districts have 2,000 Democrats and zero Republicans (that’s “stacking”), then the remaining 1,000 (333ish) Democrats are divided up into three districts which have the remaining 5,000 Republicans (1,666ish). That’s an example of “cracking.”

You see what just happened right? What should have been a tight race is now always going to be a state which picks three Democrats and two Republicans, and therefore Republicans will always lose.

Gerrymandering is a fascinating and way more complicated thing than I outlined above. So if the above interests you in the slightest, and you want to know more, check out this series of podcasts called “The Gerrymandering Project” from the statistics geniuses at 538. It’s fascinating, interesting, and most of all, non-partisan and factual. There’s no agenda with 538, other than being right.

Now, about these assholes at the Virginia House of Delegates.

The 14th amendment says:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Back in 2014, twelve voters, presumably black, citing the 14th amendment, argued they were not getting equal protection under the law, because their state was being gerrymandered along racial lines, and therefore, their votes were being minimized unfairly.

In 2017, they made it to SCOTUS, and SCOTUS said 11 out of 12 looked shady AF, but one seemed fair enough. Basically, in those 11 districts, Virginia Republicans drew that map with a standard of having at least 55% black voting-age people in them. They argued this was because those districts were predominantly black, and thus, represented them all fairly, which is required in the federal Voting Rights Act.

But the opposition argued that basically, they “packed” those 11 districts with black voters, so that several of the other 129 of 140 districts could be favorable to Republicans.  If this was their motive, versus complying with federal law, then it’s some racist bullshit.

Before y’all jump on the “Republicans are racists” bandwagon, remember that black voters pull the lever for Democrats to the tune of 80% on average. So it could be that it’s purely trying to maximize votes, and not driven by any racial hatred.

SCOTUS wasn’t having that 55% bullshit as a fair test for redistricting. So they sent it back to the lower court and told them to they fucked up reviewing it previously, allowing that 55% number to slide, so try again, fix it, and quit bothering us.

The lower court agreed, it was some racist gerrymandering bullshit and said those 11 districts were unconstitutional and ordered them to be redone.

So then, the assholes from the Virginia House of Delegates were like, “Listen, SCOTUS! This is bullshit. We did this right and we want another bite of this fucking apple.”

SCOTUS was asked to rule on several aspects.

Were those 11 districts fucked up?

Did the lower court fuck up in adjudicating the Virginia House of Delegates work?

And should the Virginia Delegates even have a right to sue in the first place since the state of Virginia didn’t challenge the lower court, nor the people who started the civil action. The Virginia Delegates are just people who might lose some votes as a result.

SCOTUS decided 5:4 to dismiss. They told the Virginia delegates to go eat a bag of dicks. You’ve got no business here, and we’re not even going to bother answering your other two questions. If Virginia doesn’t have a problem with the decision, it’s not your fight to fight. Capiche? Now fuck off.

 

Read about the case and/or hear oral arguments here.

 

 

 

Average Joe SCOTUS – Smith v Berryhill

Back in 1987, this dude Ricky Lee Smith was all kinds of fucked up. So he filed for, and received disability insurance. Then 2004 rolled up, and SSI was like, enough’s enough, man. Get a J-O-B.

So Smith was like, “Fine, fuck you.”

Then, eight years later, he crawls his ass back to the SSI office, and is like, “Seriously, I’m fucked up. I need help.” But SSI wasn’t having it, and told him to fuck off. Not once, but twice.

So Smith applied for a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) on March 26, 2014, and the ALJ was like, “You can fuck right the hell off. We agree with the SSI peeps. Get a job. You can work, so work.”

So now, a month later, he files for an appeal by mail (or so he says), and then by fax on October 1st. The claims rep was like, “We never got your shit back in April, but we have it now. So we’ll file it.

But then the appeals council was all like, “Why the fuck did you wait so long? Claim denied, bitch.” Smith was like, “Fuck you, I sent it a month later by snail mail. This October shit was just a follow up.”

But the Council was like, “Prove it, dude. You’re talking shit.”

So then Smith went to the district court, the Appeals Council’s boss, and was like, “Hey man. Those assholes over at the Appeals council are trying to fuck me like I’m in the McDonald’s drive thru. Can you help me out? I’d like some judicial review.”

But then the Appeals Council was like, “sure we denied it, but it wasn’t final or anything yet. No reason to bring the district court into all this man. It’s all good. They’ve got no reason to get involved.”

The district court was like, “Smith, you seem like a lazy piece of shit to us, and we don’t want to hear your shit today. So we agree with the Appeals Council. Go back over there and leave us alone.”

So now Smith, being both too lazy to work, but clearly motivated enough to waste the taxpayer’s money went to SCOTUS and was like, “Can you help me out here? Can you make the district court realize that when the Appeals Council told me I was too late, then I had every reason to go to the District Court and get them to sort those motherfuckers out?”

All nine SCOTUS justices sided with Smith. They agreed that the Appeals Council telling him to fuck off for being late, was a final decision on their part, and the now places his fight in the district court to address it through judicial review.

Hear oral arguments and read about the case here.