SCOTUS under Trump


I don’t know what the courts were thinking, but here is a guess:

  1. The state says that non-employees in the chamber are a security threat. The courts almost always defer to the executive on this sort of assessment.

  2. The state could probably argue that it does not have the resources to hire a Muslim chaplain. Remember, it doesn’t even have the resources to hire the guards it needs.

  3. So how to avoid the problem of religious preference? Either
    (a) ban the Christian chaplain from the chamber, or
    (b) point out that a state-employed chaplain is expected to provide cross-faith spiritual support to people of all faiths, not just their own. Their personal faith is irrelevant, just like the personal faith of every other employee is irrelevant.

  4. But regardless of whether you end up with (a) or (b), Ray’s imam still wouldn’t make it into the chamber. Therefore, his request is not particularly likely to succeed. But at this point in time, he needs to be very likely to succeed to get a stay of execution. Therefore, no stay of execution.



I don’t think they typically defer to the executive over the establishment clause, though, do they? I’m certainly not a SC justice, but given the vast deference given to religious expression over government power in past SC decisions, the decision to ignore that in this case is troubling.



They defer to the state assessment of security interests. In other words, the courts are very unlikely to contradict the executive and declare that non-employees actually pose no security threat. And the establishment clause is balanced against security and other interests.

The very existence of government chaplains is an example of balancing the establishment clause against other interests. I mean, if the establishment clause automatically trumped all other interests then there would be no chaplains at all.

Furthermore, a law that appears to favor a religion does not violate the establishment clause if the government provides a secular reason for it. So December 25 is a federal holiday, because we need federal holidays and December 25 is as good a day as any other. This does not violate the EC. Likewise “blue laws” that force businesses to close on Sundays. In contrast, there isn’t really a secular rationale for a nativity creche, so it’s not allowed.



Wait, isn’t “Limbo” still a thing in Roman Catholic theology? I’m very much a lapsed, agnostic/almost atheist “cultural” Catholic, but as a kid around 50 years ago or a bit less, that was always the explanation about where unbaptized babies go when they die.



Limbo is in limbo.

Just kidding, it’s dead.



Over ten years ago no less! Thanks.




But what happened to all the babies that were in Limbo? Are they just floating around in space now?



They’re in a caravan headed for El Paso.



Found one of them.



Now SCOTUS will take up the census citizenship question test, even though it hasn’t been heard by an appeals court yet. Any bets on how they’ll decide it?



I think it will probably pass? The Census asks all kinds of weird shit. I haven’t been really following it that closely though. I don’t know what the details of the case are really.



The argument is basically that the Constitution says the census is necessary and important, which means it should be as accurate as it can reasonably be made; and that plenty of data show that asking the citizenship question suppresses the real count of people in the country, which makes it less accurate than it needs to be; and that there is no compelling reason to ask the question.



There will also likely be a fair amount of evidence found during the discovery process that the motives for adding such a question were, shall we say, less than honorable.



It is also important to note that the language of the Constitution stipulates a count of all the PEOPLE, not all of the citizens.



Sure, but they’re not threatening not to count non-citizens.



Yes, but they’re also (cynically) counting on households with undocumented non-citizens keeping quiet about them, so places with a large number of such people get fewer resources and less congressional representation.
I know the conservative justices traditionally don’t look to predictable de facto real world consequences, though. If they’d been in the majority in 1954 we wouldn’t have gotten Brown v Board.



They may not be saying so, but the broad assumption appears to be that that is what would happen, which only benefits the Republicans.



Yes, if course. But will the Roberts gang see it that way? They don’t seem to care much about transparent motivations as long as they aren’t officially expressed.



Now Clarence Thomas wants to make it easier for public figures to sue for libel. In other words, Trump wants to start suing people and publications.

Would this guy just go away already?