SCOTUS 2016 - Eight Ain't Enough

Interesting things afoot this season.

First, the ruling against Obama’s Immigration actions… or non-actions as the case may be. The court was deadlocked at 4-4, so the lower court’s decision stood.

Today, SCOTUS rules against Texas’ abortion rules. These rules, which many other conservative-ruled states used as a model, force clinics which offered abortions to comply with many of the same rules that governed full-up hospitals. Opponents argued that similar operations such as midwife centers did not have to comply, so the rules were in effect simply there to drive up costs on clinics. Kennedy joined with the more liberal judges to make it a 5-3 decision.

Also today, SCOTUS threw out the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor McDonnell. In an unanimous decision, the court said that you can’t convict a political official on “corruption” simply for the act of accepting gifts, you have to prove that there was a quid-pro-quo in an “official act”. This’ll raise the bar a bit on who can and cannot be convicted on corruption charges.

So bribery is fine as long as no one tells anyone they specifically did it because of the bribe.

I’ll try that with a cop next time I get pulled over.

“I’m just going to reach into my wallet and pass you whatever comes out. Just hang onto whatever you need …”

Well, the McDonnell thing went like this: The gifts he received were not illegal under Virginia or Federal law. People can give you stuff.

The prosecutors alleged that the gifts were “understood” to be in return for certain tests on pharmaceutical products by VA state universities. But the tests were never conducted and there is no evidence that McDonnell pushed too hard for them to happen.

What SCOTUS says is that although the gifts and loans and rides in fancy cars looked terrible and “tawdry”, that does not venture into the realm of “corruption” unless political power was actually brought to bear. They seem to be wary of the Feds being able to jump on any little free gift bag or non-Dutch-Treat lunch being grounds for prosecution.

Basically, McDonnell’s conduct was pretty ugly, but not criminal. Stuff like that is why legislatures pass corruption and campaign reform laws, which the Supreme Court then also overturns.

With all due respect to my fellow Democrats, this is exactly the argument the Clinton campaign used when Sanders questioned the money she had taken.

I’m not sure I see any outrage, here. A little well-placed mockery, but that’s it. I mean, it was a unanimous ruling - I’m pretty sure it safely fell within the realm of making sense to most people.