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Legal

2019: The Year in Lawsplaining

But only the Nice Things, so we don't kill your soul before 2020 gets here.

2019 often seemed like a never-ending hellscape, particularly when it came to legal news. And, in a lot of ways, it was.

But Yr Wonkette can't let you go into 2020 all depressed, now can we?! So here are a few of our favorite things in law from the last year.

Letitia James is the New York Attorney General

And isn't she just lovely? From day one on the job, she has been a thorn in Donald Trump's side. James has filed a whole bunch of lawsuits against Trump and his cronies and just generally kicked ass and taken names since she was sworn in last January. And really, what more could we want from one person?

AG James's 2019 highlight reel includes:

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Journamalism

2019: The Year Devin Nunes Sued A Cow, And A Forty-Millionaire Sued US!

Open up the libel laws, uh huh uh huh!

There's been a funny thing going on in the ol' U-S-A. Conservatives are really really really concerned about "free speech," because of how Antifa keeps murdering them with "concrete milkshakes" every time they try to throw a white power party, but don't worry, they got better. (Antifa has yet to actually murder any conservatives with the wholly fictional concrete milkshakes, but it's like when your husband is mean to you in your dream, you still get to be mad at him about it.)

But at the same time, conservatives are really really really NOT concerned about "free speech" when people say or tweet mean things that are absolutely protected First Amendment "opinion" and absolutely protected First Amendment "satire" going way back through many Supreme Court cases. Like, this shit is some settled-ass case law -- far more than your dumb "everyone gets a gun," which only goes back as far as 2008's Heller decision, and even Antonin Scalia said that didn't actually mean that you can have a fucking rocket launcher.

And that's why Devin Nunes sued a cow.

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Vote suppression

Stacey Abrams's Org Loses One 'Fair Fight' Against Voter Purge

But we're pretty sure they'll be back for a second round in state court.

On Friday, a federal judge declined to reinstate nearly 100,000 voters to Georgia's voting rolls after yet another voting roll purge by the Georgia Secretary of State's office.

Judge Steve Jones of the Northern District of Georgia ruled in Fair Fight Action v. Raffensperger that he could not step in and order Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to reinstate some 98,000 Georgia citizens to the state's voter rolls after he purged them earlier this month. The challenge, led by Stacey Abrams's voting rights organization, Fair Fight Action, had sought to ensure that people would not be unfairly denied their right to vote.

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Courts

Here Is Something Horrible For Your Christmas Stocking!

Yep, it's more bad judges, hooray!

Guess what? Once again, everything is shit.

Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed two more Trump nominees -- Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke -- to lifetime appointments on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Trump has now appointed 50 appellate court judges and 187 total federal judges in less than three years in office. Obama, by comparison, appointed 55 appellate judges over his eight years in the White House.

Let's learn more about these gaping human wounds!

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Courts

Nutcase Appeals Court Judges Just Voided Yr Obamacare. Should You Be Worried?

About which, the judges or the Obamacare? Yes.

Going into the holiday season, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided to give Americans the gift of panic attacks about losing their health insurance.

Texas v. United States is a lawsuit filed by a bunch of shitbag Republican attorneys general, seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act and take health insurance away from millions of Americans. And this week, they got just a little bit closer to their goal.

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SCOTUS

Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch Goes On 'Fox & Friends' To Do War On War On Christmas

Extreme wanking motion.

Once again, everything is fucked.

Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch woke up, thought "Fuck impartiality," and appeared on "Fox & Friends," a TV show that primarily exists to rally Donald Trump's fans. Judges who are supposed to both be and appear impartial normally don't appear on cable networks, particularly cable networks that act as arms of political parties. But Gorsuch used his book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It, as an excuse to appear on Trump's favorite show.

As a Supreme Court justice, Gorsuch could easily appear on any news program and any network of his choice. The fact that he chose this show and this network only demonstrates the fact that he is not even trying to pretend to be unbiased.

Further evidence that Gorsuch doesn't care about appearing unbiased can be seen throughout the appearance:

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Vote suppression

Georgia Voter Purge Makes Strong Case For Return Of General Sherman

Or at least Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

After a federal judge gave the go-ahead Monday, the Great State of Georgia announced it would purge more than 300.000 people from the state's voting rolls. Not because they did fraud or anything, but because they didn't vote often enough, at least according to Georgia's dubious records. Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, argued that the cancellations will eliminate about 120,000 voters who would be eligible to vote were it not for Georgia's dumb "use it or lose it" law, which strikes people from the rolls if they haven't voted in a general election since 2012. The remaining people to be purged either moved out of state, or were assumed to be unpersons after mail sent by state election commissars was returned as undeliverable.

What a great day for democracy, with fewer people able to vote!

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SCOTUS

Light A Candle, Knock On Wood, Turn Around Three Times, And Spit, Because SCOTUS Is Ruling On Trump's Tax Returns

And now, we wait.

Shit's goin' down.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court added another major issue to a docket already filled with blockbusters, granting cert in three cases about Donald Trump's desperate attempts to keep his tax returns from congressional committees, New York prosecutors, and the American people.

All of the cases are stayed pending a decision from the Supreme Court, meaning Trump's tax returns and other documents will remain secret for now.

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Guns

Court Hears 'What Is Definition Of Machinegun' Case, Everybody Murdered With One Still Dead

But is a part 'designed and intended for use converting a weapon into a machinegun' actually turning it into a machine gun? And how many angels on the head of this pin?

Earlier this week in Cincinnati, lawyers for the Department of Justice and anti-gun-control nonprofit Gun Owners of America sparred over what makes a weapon a machine gun.

Newly manufactured automatic machine guns have been illegal in the United States since 1986. But, until earlier this year, civilians could legally possess devices bump stocks, which allow a user to mimic the firing motion of a fully automatic weapon.

Oddly enough, the Trump administration is on the right side of this one, defending the bump stock ban against challenges from people who care more about guns than gun violence.

On Wednesday, a conservative panel of the conservative Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Gun Owners of America v. Barr, a case challenging the ban on bump stocks. And right now, things aren't looking great for the future of the bump stock ban.

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Courts

Who's Ugly Crying Now? Us, After Reading About Trump's Newest Judge

Sarah Pitlyk just won a lifetime appointment to make sure we all stop sinning, by law.

Another day, another terrible new federal judge.

Last week, the Senate confirmed eight more Trump judges to lifetime appointments, including Sarah Pitlyk, a woman whose entire legal career has been dedicated to fighting against reproductive rights.

We're not just using "reproductive rights" as a euphemism for abortion here. Pitlyk does, of course, think the government should control uteruses, but her hatred of reproductive freedom goes much, much further than that.

Fertility treatments, birth control, and surrogacy? The work of the devil.

Pitlyk has called contraception "evil," a "seriously wrongful" act, and "a grave moral wrong." And she wrote that fertility treatments and surrogacy have

grave effects on society, including diminished respect for motherhood and the unique mother-child bond; exploitation of women; commodification of gestation and of children themselves; and weakening of appropriate social mores against eugenic abortion.

When did she write that, you ask?

2017.

Pitlyk has never argued a motion or taken a deposition, much less tried a case. She was unanimously declared "Not Qualified" by the ABA. And now, she has a lifetime appointment to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Bloody hell.

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Feminininism

Supreme Court: If You Want An Abortion In Kentucky, You Have To Let A Doctor Sexually Assault You

That's pretty much all a transvaginal ultrasound is.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled to let Kentucky's transvaginal ultrasound law stand. This means that anyone who wants an abortion in one of Kentucky's three remaining abortion clinics has to let a doctor shove a wand up their vaginas in order to show them an ultrasound of their fetus, in hopes that this will convince them not to have an abortion. This should be especially thrilling for recently traumatized rape victims.

Without any sort of dissent at all, the Court upheld the decision of the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, that the law did not violate the First Amendment rights of doctors, thereby allowing the law to go into effect:

Via CNN:

"As a First Amendment matter, there is nothing suspect with a State's requiring a doctor, before performing an abortion, to make truthful, non-misleading factual disclosures, relevant to informed consent, even if those disclosures relate to unborn life and have the effect of persuading the patient not to have an abortion," the appeals court held in its ruling.

Ok, but what about the rights of patients to say what sort of medical procedures they want performed on them? Shouldn't that be a consideration? I guess not!

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Courts

George Zimmerman, Larry Klayman Team Up To Do More Evil Sh*t To Trayvon Martin's Family, DEFINITELY AREN'T RACIST

Shit is fucked up and bullshit.

George Zimmerman, apparently not satisfied with having merely shot Trayvon Martin dead in 2012, is now suing Martin's family and everyone involved in the second-degree murder case against Zimmerman, even though the trial ended in Zimmerman's acquittal. But you see, decent people nationwide detest George Zimmerman, and for some crazy reason think he's a racist. Plus he can't seem to hold a job, and his attempts to make a living selling shitty racist art, signing autographs, or auctioning off the not-murder weapon haven't brought in the wealth and acclaim he clearly deserves. Surely some evildoers must be responsible for that. Couldn't be anything George Zimmerman did, because he's a very great guy.

Please disregard the domestic violence.

So that's why he and wingnut lawyer Larry Klayman are suing Trayvon Martin's family and a few thousand other people, demanding $100 million in damages from all those who conspired to defame Zimmerman and manufacture evidence against him and just generally ruin his life. The defendants, the suit claims, "have worked in concert to deprive Zimmerman of his constitutional and other legal rights."

Oh yes, and would you believe that, by sheer coincidence, the lawsuit is based on claims in a book and "documentary" movie with the compelling title The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud That Divided America, released in September. And the lawsuit is being flogged to media outlets by the movie's director, Joel Gilbert, who's described by the Daily Beast as "a fringe filmmaker who traffics in conspiracy theories." You don't say!

A cynic might even suspect Zimmerman, Klayman, and Gilbert know the lawsuit will have every bit as much success as Klayman's other legal efforts, but that it might generate some book sales and movie downloads. But that's a very uncharitable take. Probably the book and movie are simply so full of astounding new evidence proving George Zimmerman is the real victim that Klayman and Zimmerman had no choice but to file the lawsuit, to correct the public record. All Zimmerman wants is his good reputation back. And One Hundred MILLLLLION dollars.

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SCOTUS

Supreme Court Hears Gun Case, We're All Gonna Die

Maybe the Court will rule narrowly. Or maybe Brett Kavanaugh will yell I LIKE GUNS, OK?

How do we love guns? Let us count the ways.

Gun rights are up at the Supreme Court this term and the Court's decision could gut gun control laws all around the United States.

On Monday, SCOTUS held oral arguments in NY State Rifle v. City of New York, a case that could upend gun control laws nationwide.

As if we didn't already have enough terrible shit to worry about.

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Environment

DC Court Says Climate Change Prof Can Sue The F*ck Out Of National Review And Man We're Broken Up About It

Go fuck yourself William F. Buckley :D

Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied a cert petition in Competitive Enterprise Institute and National Review v. Michael E. Mann, letting a DC Court of Appeals order allowing the lawsuit to go forward to stand.

And I don't know about y'all, but I can't wait to see the bros over at the National Review go in front of a DC jury.

When this Supreme Court refuses the opportunity to jump in to both protect the bootlickers at the National Review AND try to debunk climate change, you know someone done fucked up.

Excuse me for a moment.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

*breathes*

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA

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Trump

Supreme Court Might Let Trump Tell Congress, America To Get Bent

Only little people pay taxes.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided to once again halt the release of Donald Trump's tax returns.

The brief order in Trump v. Mazars temporarily blocks a lower court order requiring the accounting firm to turn Trump's tax returns over to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which first issued subpoenas for the returns back in April.

What does this mean?

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Immigrants

Man Who Helped Immigrants NOT DIE Not Guilty Of Helping Immigrants NOT DIE

We got us a Nice Time!

Dr. Scott Warren is a humanitarian and Arizona border activist. He was arrested, charged with a felony, and put on trial -- twice -- for being a good person.

His crimes? Literally saving lives. Warren was charged with two felony counts of harboring illegal immigrants for giving food, water, and temporary shelter to two migrants in the Arizona desert.

For saving two lives, Warren faced up to 20 years in prison.

Thankfully, the jurors weren't buying what the Trump prosecutors were selling, and the 12-person jury came back quickly with its verdict of not guilty on all counts.

As Laurie Roberts wrote for the Arizona Republic:

Fortunately, there are some things that endure, even in the Trump era.

Things like faith and hope and the ability to offer a cup of water to a thirsty man.

Warren was charged with a crime for WHAT?!

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