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SCOTUS

Supreme Court Poised To Funnel Your Tax Money To God-Bothering School

Don't worry, they'll find a reason madrassas aren't eligible.

Once again, everything is fucked.

In a truly insane oral argument last week, a majority of Supreme Court justices seemed ready to destroy public education and force states to fund private religious schools.

The case is Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and the battle is over whether it's constitutional for states to refuse to fund private religious schools. And our rightwing Supreme Court, with five justices who went to Catholic schools at some point in their lives, seemed ready to absolutely obliterate the wall that separates church and state.

On the steps of the Supreme Court, petitioner Karen Espinoza made it clear that was her goal, saying:

We are a Christian family and I want those values taught at school. Our morals as a society come from the Bible.

So that's great.

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Cops Behaving Badly

St. Louis Top Prosecutor Kimberly Gardner Suing EVERYONE For Balls-Out Racism

Yeah, seems like the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 is pretty on-point!

A prosecutor suing her own police force for perpetuating a racist conspiracy is not something you see every day. But that's what Kimberly Gardner, the chief prosecutor for St. Louis, Missouri, is doing.

Kimberly Gardner is the first African American circuit attorney in the history of St. Louis. She was elected in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson. Gardner won her election after running on a platform of rebuilding trust between law enforcement and St. Louis's black community.

Since taking office in 2017, Gardner has sought to reform both her office and the practices of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. And the city's white establishment has fought it, kicking and screaming at every turn, even going as far as to appoint a special prosecutor to criminally investigate her.

Now, Gardner is suing the City of St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Officers Association labor union, a special prosecutor appointed to investigate her office, and others for violating her civil and constitutional rights through a "racially motivated conspiracy to deny the civil rights of racial minorities."

The suit argues that the local officials targeting her have violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution and makes explosive allegations, like, "On information and belief and based on recent media reports, there are white supremacists on the St. Louis police force."

As the complaint notes,

The stakes are high. This case cries out for federal enforcement.
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SCOTUS

Say Goodbye To Your Little Friends!

We are talking about birth control pills.

Fun news! (Not fun news.) The battle over birth control continues and Supreme Court is going to hear Hobby Lobby Redux this term.

On Friday, the Supreme Court granted cert in Pennsylvania v. Trump and Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, a pair of cases about whether employers can refuse to give their employees insurance with birth control coverage.

Yes, this again. Because the third time to the Supreme Court's the charm!

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Vote suppression

Florida Just Seeing If The 24th Amendment Ban On Poll Taxes Is Really Written In Stone

Florida gonna Florida.

It used to be the case that all people with felony convictions were prohibited from voting in Florida — but in 2018, ballot initiative passed by voters changed that, re-enfranchising former offenders throughout the state. This week, the state Supreme Court threw a wrench into that plan.

Since the passage of Amendment 4, Republicans in the state have tried their damndest to stop people from voting. (We're sure that has nothing to do with the fact that people of color are vastly over-represented in our prison system.) One of their tactics was to pass a law saying that former offenders can't register to vote until they have paid all of their court-ordered fines, fees, and restitution -- which many former offenders simply can't afford. The Florida Supreme Court upheld this definition of the new voting rights amendment.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was on-brand, praising the decision and ignorantly calling voting a privilege.

Voting is, of course, a fundamental right and not a privilege. And the Florida Supreme Court can't overrule federal courts, which have ruled that the inability to pay can't be a barrier to exercising the right to vote.

So this is all a mess, but there's still hope.

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News

Sorry, Texas, Judge Says There's No 'Racist Dicks Can Reject Refugees' In 'USA'

Loosely paraphrased.

A federal judge in Maryland ruled Wednesday that Donald Trump's executive order giving state and local officials the power to reject refugee resettlement is "unlawful" and doesn't "appear to serve the overall public interest." The executive order, issued in September when the Stephen Miller administration announced the US would slash refugee admissions to the lowest level in modern history, had required that before any refugees can be resettled, state governors or local officials would have to give their express written consent.

In his ruling, US District Judge Peter J. Messitte wrote that

Giving states and local governments the power to consent to the resettlement of refugees — which is to say veto power to determine whether refugees will be received in their midstflies in the face of clear Congressional intent.

If you're a nerd who enjoys reading court decisions, check it out. It's very clearly argued, and you get the sense Judge Messitte found the government's arguments insultingly bad.

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lawsplainer

Harvard Law Prof's One Weird Trick! Sues NYT For 'Clickbait Defamation'

Imagineering new laws must be why they pay him the big bucks.

Lawrence Lessig has lost his damn mind.

The Harvard Law professor, who absolutely knows better, is suing the New York Times for what he calls "clickbait defamation," arguing in a lawsuit that "The consequences of this clickbaiting have been harmful to Lessig and his work."

Clickbait defamation, while surely a nifty phrase in the mind of Lessig, is most definitely not a thing. And this suit is dangerous, irresponsible, and very, very dumb.

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Healthcare

Donald Trump Is A Preexisting Condition And Should Not Be Covered

And yet here we are.

Oh look, Donald Trump is lying about healthcare again. In tweets posted yesterday, Trump insisted -- falsely, and repeatedly -- that he had "saved preexisting Conditions in your Healthcare," which is of course completely false. His administration is right now supporting a dumb lawsuit that would eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act. The Washington Post notes that as of early December, Trump had made almost 70 false assertions that he has protected patients from being punished by insurers for prior medical conditions, when of course his attempts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act would do the exact opposite. But yesterday's tweets were pretty damned brazen, even for the liar in chief. In the morning, he griped about some ads from Michael Bloomberg, and even made up a very funny name for the billionaire who's trying to buy himself credibility in the Democratic primary.

Apparently Trump was set off by this Bloomberg ad that accurately accuses Trump of repeatedly trying to "undermine coverage for 134 million Americans who have preexisting conditions." Which is what will happen if Trump gets his wish and Obamacare is declared unconstitutional in a federal lawsuit the administration supports. That's what would happen "if Republicans win in court."

To be extremely clear: No, the lawsuit does not say "pretty please throw out every part of the ACA except the protections for people with preexisting conditions."

Mind you, it's not only the lawsuit.

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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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