North Carolina Supreme Court's New GOP Majority Calls 'Do Over' On Past Voting Rights Rulings GOP Lost
Special guest Billy Corriher walks us through this blatant power grab.
North Carolina had made significant progress over the past few years in voting rights and racial justice, but unfortunately, the 2022 midterm results have jeopardized those gains. Republicans flipped the North Carolina Supreme Court, and they're not bothering making nice about any "independent judiciary." They're ready and willing to operate like an extension of the Republican-controlled legislature.
First on the docket: "Reconsidering" cases the former Democratic-controlled Supreme Court already ruled on less than two months ago. Who needs new arguments (or even a legal rationale) when you have a shiny new Republican judicial majority?
Joshua Douglas, a professor and expert on state constitutions at the University of Kentucky College of Law, told the New York Times, “Quite literally the only thing that changed is the court’s composition. The whole thing simply smells of partisanship.”
The previous Supreme Court said goodbye to jacked-up gerrymanders of State Senate districts and Jim Crow-style voting identification requirements, but the Republican justices will happily say hello.
I'm not unfairly labeling these judges "Republicans," either. North Carolina judicial candidates run with partisan affiliations, and the campaigns have become as expensive and contentious as a statewide race for governor or Senate. The new Republican justices were elected with a clear agenda and they're sparing no time enacting it.
Walking us through this blatant power grab is law-talker Billy Corriher with the People's Parity Project. He's the author of Usurpers: How Voters Stopped the GOP Takeover of North Carolina's Courts, which you should go read. His work has been published in Newsweek, the L.A. Times, ThinkProgress, The Hill, Huff Post, and more.
Corriher explains how Republicans have exploited partisan judicial elections to tilt the courts in their favor, and they aren't stopping there. Don't worry. He has solutions to fight them.
Watch our pre-recorded interview today at 6 a.m. PT/9 a.m. ET.
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Fifth Circuit Defends Sacred Right Of Wife Beaters To Carry Guns
This country man, I don't know.
The Fifth Circuit's reign of terror continues apace with yesterday's order giving domestic abusers the right to keep their guns. It was handed down by two Trump appointees, Judges Cory Wilson and James Ho, and Judge Edith Jones, a FedSoc loon installed by Reagan who is somehow only 73. It's a fucking catastrophe, and the best we can hope for is that the current Supreme Court hates criminals more than it loves guns, since clearly they will never be moved by the need to protect victims of domestic violence.
Here's how the court describes the complainant in this case:
Between December 2020 and January 2021, Rahimi was involved in five shootings in and around Arlington, Texas. On December 1, after selling narcotics to an individual, he fired multiple shots into that individual’s residence. The following day, Rahimi was involved in a car accident. He exited his vehicle, shot at the other driver, and fled the scene. He returned to the scene in a different vehicle and shot at the other driver’s car. On December 22, Rahimi shot at a constable’s vehicle. On January 7, Rahimi fired multiple shots in the air after his friend’s credit card was declined at a Whataburger restaurant.
Would it shock you to learn that this sweetheart had a pending protective order against him,? Would you faint dead to learn that a guy who was violent with women went on to commit other crimes?
You would not! Because you're a sentient person, and you weren't born yesterday. (Unless you were born yesterday, in which case, congratulations on your precocious reading skills.)
Indeed, after he allegedly assaulted his ex-partner, a Texas state court issued a restraining order against Rahimi in February 2020, barring him from coming near her or their minor child. Rahimi was subsequently convicted under 18 USC § 922(g)(8), which was passed to protect victims of domestic violence, a conviction he challenges here.
A recent study in The Journal of American Psychiatry and the Law found that guns were used in 54 percent of domestic homicides, and were associated with a 71 percent increased incidence of additional victims — that is, turning an intimate partner assault into a mass shooting. But that's not the Fifth Circuit panel's problem, as they state in the very first sentence of this opinion: "The question presented in this case is not whether prohibiting the possession of firearms by someone subject to a domestic violence restraining order is a laudable policy goal."
Indeed, the question of whether it's a "laudable policy goal" is entirely moot at this point, because the the court just ruled that it's unconstitutional. So, wife beaters across the Fifth Circuit will now get all their guns back courtesy of Judges Jones, Corey, and Ho. And they couldn't have done it without a Supreme Court packed with Trump's handpicked lunatics.
Because ever since Justice Clarence Thomas's ghastly opinion in N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. Bruen, gun restrictions can only be upheld if they would have made sense to colonial-era lawmakers. And — spoiler alert! — our forefathers were not about disarming men who hit their wives. Here's how these filthy sumbitches throat-cleared that one away:
When the challenged regulation addresses a “general societal problem that has persisted since the 18th century, the lack of a distinctly similar historical regulation addressing that problem is relevant evidence that the challenged regulation is inconsistent with the Second Amendment.” Moreover, “if earlier generations addressed the societal problem, but did so through materially different means, that also could be evidence that a modern regulation is unconstitutional.”
Not that it would really matter if the Founding Fathers confiscated guns from domestic abusers. Justice Thomas contorted himself into a giant pretzel in Bruen to pretend that there were no gun restrictions to speak of in the halcyon era of our country's founding, conveniently ignoring mountains of evidence to the contrary. The ghouls controlling the federal judiciary don't want any gun restrictions, and they're going to invalidate all of them. Just look at Judge Wilson waving away the colonial-era prohibition on "dangerous" people carrying guns:
Despite some facial similarities in how these “dangerousness” laws worked—like § 922(g)(8), they operated to disarm covered people—there were also material differences. For one, they disarmed people by class or group, not after individualized findings of “credible threats” to identified potential victims. Even more, why they disarmed people was different. The purpose of these “dangerousness” laws was the preservation of political and social order, not the protection of an identified person from the specific threat posed by another. Therefore, laws disarming “dangerous” classes of people are not “relevantly similar” to § 922(g)(8) such that they can serve as historical analogues.
Gross! But not as gross as these degenerates pretending that it's a slippery slope from confiscating domestic abusers' guns to disarming people who drive gas-powered cars.
Perhaps most importantly, the Government’s proffered interpretation lacks any true limiting principle. Under the Government’s reading, Congress could remove “unordinary” or “irresponsible” or “nonlaw abiding” people—however expediently defined—from the scope of the Second Amendment. Could speeders be stripped of their right to keep and bear arms? Political nonconformists? People who do not recycle or drive an electric vehicle?
What even is this shit? Also rancid: reasoning that Samuel Adams proposed that the Second Amendment be limited to "peaceable citizens," and it did not pass — therefore, violent citizens are entitled to wander around with heavy weapons.
"Rahimi, while hardly a model citizen, is nonetheless part of the political community entitled to the Second Amendment’s guarantees, all other things equal," they go on, concluding that "the ban on possession of firearms is an 'outlier that our ancestors would never have accepted.' Id. Therefore, the statute is unconstitutional, and Rahimi’s conviction under that statute must be vacated."
The Justice Department has vowed to appeal to the entire Circuit en banc.
TL, DR? Fuck dem kids. And their mamas too.
[US v. Rahimi, Fifth Circuit Opinion]
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Joe Biden Ready To Cancel Supreme Court's College Loans Or Something
Oh, defending loan forgiveness at the SCOTUS, that's it.
Politico reports that the Biden administration is preparing to defend its student debt forgiveness program in the US Supreme Court, filing an initial brief in the case that argues the program is perfectly cromulent under authority Congress granted to the federal Department of Education in a 2003 law. The debt relief plan, you'll recall, forgives up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for most qualifying borrowers, or up to $20,000 for folks who received Pell grants when they went to college.
A group of six Republican-led states sued to overturn the law, claiming it will deprive them of revenue; the SCOTUS case also combines that with a second lawsuit brought by a rightwing group on behalf of two borrowers who didn't qualify for the program — this food is terrible and such small portions! The Supremes are scheduled to hear arguments in the case in February, and will probably decide sometime in June that not only must students pay loans back in full, but they must also get pregnant at their earliest opportunity or go to jail.
As Politico notes, the brief argues that neither the states nor the borrowers from Texas have standing to sue, but even if they do have standing, the program is completely legal anyway, you weasels, respectfully submitted.
Administration officials argue that they have the authority to cancel large amounts of debt under the HEROES Act, a 2003 law that gives the Education Department the power to waive the laws that typically govern federal student loans during national emergencies.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona’s “actions fall comfortably within the plain text” of the HEROES Act, the brief says.
The brief also points out that lower court injunctions putting the debt relief program on hold have already left "millions of economically vulnerable borrowers in limbo," but isn't that the point, to make them straighten up and take some responsibility instead of wasting all their income on luxuries like "rent" and "food for their children"?
The Biden administration has argued that the debt forgiveness program is legal under the HEROES Act because the coronavirus pandemic was very much a national emergency, and that bringing an end to the temporary pause on student loan payments would create a financial emergency if some of that debt were not offset.
The administration says that
"ending that pause without providing some additional relief for lower-income borrowers would cause delinquency and default rates to spike above pre-pandemic levels,” the Justice Department wrote in its brief. “This Court should not compel that damaging and destabilizing result.”
It's hard to say whether this claim that a potential economic emergency would justify using a law's emergency powers will carry any weight with the Court, which in its current composition may well say the 2003 law could only be invoked if it had specified the genetic code for the COVID virus's spike proteins, including all variants.
As for folks hoping for some relief from their student loans, the bad news is that the Court will probably not rule on the case until June. That means no help for the roughly 16 million borrowers the Education Department has already approved for debt forgiveness, or for the 10 million other borrowers who are waiting to have their applications processed.
The good news is that the Education Department, very aware of the chaos that'll result if the pause in debt payments ends while the case is pending, has extended that payment moratorium yet again, until either
60 days after the litigation is resolved or the administration is able to implement debt relief, whichever comes first. If the litigation is still unresolved by June 30, monthly payments will resume 60 days after that date, the department said.
In the interim, the administration may want to suggest that the Supreme Court try working within its own budget and not ordering so much avocado toast, and does Brett Kavanaugh really need the latest model of iPhone?
[Politico / Biden V. Nebraska brief / Photo: Quinn Dombrowski, Creative Commons License 2.0]
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Nevada Wingnut Militia Grifter Michele Fiore Now A Judge, F*ck It, Why Not
May all her cases involve sovereign citizens.
Michele Fiore, the former Nevada state assemblywoman and Las Vegas city councilwoman who despite being a pioneer of the Christmas Gun Greetings genre and an early adopter of full transgender panic never quite became the national GOP star she so clearly wanted to be — at least, not yet — lost another statewide campaign in November, this time for state treasurer. Yr Wonkette would like to apologize for having missed that campaign. It must have been a doozy, what with her colorful history of huge IRS tax liens (her ex-husband's fault, she said) and her failed home-health business, which had its license revoked after she refused to show state regulators her financial records during an investigation of alleged Medicaid fraud.
Other career highlights include the time she actually did some good for once and talked down some of the last Bundy Militia Loons at the 2016 Oregon wildlife sanctuary standoff. Despite that feather in her cap, she didn't win the congressional race she was running at the time. That may have something to do with the TV interview where she said it was fine to shoot federal officers, but only if they were doing tyranny to you.
SO MUCH FIORE CRAY-CRAY
Idiot Nevada Lawmaker Michele Fiore Decks The Halls With Guns, Tits, More Guns
Nevada Rep. Michele Fiore Has Girl Parts On Her Nakedness Area, And So Should You!
Nevada Wingnut Rep. Michele Fiore Stoled All The Money From Medicaid, Maybe
Idiot Nevada Lawmaker Michele Fiore's Grifty Home Healthcare Business Goes Tits Up
Oregon Standoff Ends In Arrests, Disappointment At Failure To Spark Revolution
Michele Fiore At War With Pussy Nevada Cops Who Lack The Balls To Let Her Shoot Them
In conclusion, what a nut! Oh, wait, she's actually in the news again:
Fiore quickly rebounded from her latest electoral disappointment by getting herself appointed a judge last week, although she lacks any real qualifications like a law degree or what most normal humans might consider a moral sense. But she's very good at far-right morality, what with all the support for insurrectionists and domestic terrorists like the Bundy family, so that should be plenty good enough. As the Associated Press reports, she'll be serving on the Pahrump Justice Court in Nye County through 2024. Pahrump is about 65 miles west of Las Vegas, and mostly famous for 10- to 12-year old kids saying its second syllable really loud.
The AP offers this some-holds-barred summary of the most recent parts of Fiore's ... err ... colorful career:
Her appointment to the bench over 17 other applicants marks the latest chapter in a decade-long political career marked by scandal – including reports of an FBI probe into her campaign finances and accusations of physical assault.
In a pitch to Nye County commissioners Tuesday night, Fiore said she would approach the judgeship with “integrity and honesty” because she has “been at the end of the political barrel.”
FBI agents subpoenaed records and searched Fiore’s home last year in northwest Las Vegas in connection with her campaign spending, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Earlier this year, she was sued by Las Vegas Councilwoman Victoria Seaman, who accused Fiore of breaking her finger in a physical fight at City Hall in January. The two were once good friends and close political allies.
The story also notes her longtime fandom of the Bundys' Nevada and Oregon standoffs, her tax troubles, and the fact that she entered the treasurer's race in March, on the last possible day to file, "after campaigning for months as a Republican gubernatorial hopeful." She's a free spirit that way.
Her ascent to the bench is just one more of those trademark moments of spontaneity, it seems, since she only moved to Pahrump in November, after losing the treasurer's race to incumbent Democrat Zach Conine. Pretty inspiring that in America, anyone can move to a new town and become a judge, at least after they've been in every corner of rightwing media for over a decade.
After winning unanimous support of the Nye County commissioners last week, Fiore said she's
ready to start a new life as “a Pahrump girl.” She detailed plans of living on a 2-acre lot that she said she had purchased over the summer, as well as completing a bachelor’s degree and taking the Nevada State Bar exam in the future.
We wish Judge Fiore the best of luck in all her future endeavors, and may most of her cases involve sovereign citizens who demand she prove that the Constitution gives her any authority over them. Maybe she'll demand that her own courtroom's flag have no gold fringe on it.
It's your OPEN THREAD. Please try not to be sexist pigs just because Fiore's a jerk, you.
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