Open Thread: SCOTUS Decisions, Friday Edition

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

SCOTUS will dump a second cluster of decisions this week at 10:00 a.m. this morning. As in the past, there’s no clue as to which cases have been decided, including Trump’s presidential immunity case.

Decisions released today to follow in an update and will appear at the bottom of this post.

~ ~ ~

Time-killing observation:

Clarence Thomas is a lying mothertrucker who lies

Oh, oops, he just kind of forgot to tell the American people his rich white daddy bought him some trips.

Details of the private jet flights between 2017 and 2021 were obtained as part of an investigation the committee has been conducting into reports of lavish undisclosed travel and perks provided to justices by Crow and other wealthy benefactors that have sparked calls for reform.

Crow released the information after the committee issued subpoenas in November for him and conservative activist Leonard Leo to provide information to the body. The subpoenas have never been enforced.


Mothertrucker needs to step down but you know he thinks he’s entitled because he’s been bought and paid for.

~ ~ ~

Three decisions today, none of which are about presidential immunity.

First decision: U.S. Trustee v. Hammons

Justice Jackson wrote the 6-3 majority opinion concerning bankruptcy. Several dozen Chapter 11 bankruptcies were charged higher fees when their cases were moved to a different judicial district.

Second decision: Campos-Chavez v. Garland

Justice Alito wrote the 5-4 majority opinion with Jackson writing the dissent. The case was centered on immigration and the notification issued to Campos-Chavez related to subsequent removal order.

Third decision: Garland v. Cargill

Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion with Sotomayor writing the dissent. The case concerned bump-stocks on guns and their definition as “machinegun” which are regulated by ATF.

~ ~ ~

Suspense escalates about the presidential immunity case.

Watch this space for updates related to the decisions above or other developments related to the SCOTUS jurists.

67 replies
  1. MsJennyMD says:

    Thank you Rayne for the post.

    I hear people say it affected your self-esteem to be segregated. It never affected mine.
    Clarence Thomas

    I was never a liberal. I was radical. I was cynical. I was negative. But, I was never a liberal. I always saw that as too lukewarm for me.
    Clarence Thomas

    I still have a 15¢ sticker on the frame of my law degree. It’s tainted, so I just leave it in the basement.
    Clarence Thomas

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Clarence Thomas’s self-knowledge is inversely related to his self-hatred. He has little of one and a great deal of the other.

  2. Local Oaf says:

    Rest assured that Clarence Thomas will continue to amend his disclosures as omissions become public knowledge.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We have adopted this minimum standard to support community security. Very sorry this noncompliance hasn’t been noted until now; unfortunately with only 23 comments to date you do not qualify for grandfathering. /~Rayne]

    • Rayne says:

      Re-read the post, emphasis on WaPo excerpt: Thomas has still not disclosed the three trips. That information was obtained by the Senate via subpoena to rich white daddy Harlan Crow.

      Thomas has not demonstrated any remorse, only intransigence when it comes to judicial ethics. We can only wonder what else that lying mothertrucker is still hiding.

      • Local Oaf says:

        Rayne, I attempted to skewer CT’s modus operandi with a sarcasm. Your inability to parse that has sent you into a tailspin.

        Unless there is another Local Oaf on this blog, I don’t understand how my username does not conform to your new standard.

        [My bad – attribute the error to distracted moderation. I have a lot of balls in the air today and too many open tabs, sorry about that. /~Rayne]

  3. Terry Salad says:

    We now have two branches of government (Republicans in Congress and SCOTUS) that are utterly corrupt and working in concert so that there are no repercussions. I don’t think the Founding Fathers thought of that.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      I believe one or more of the founders contemplated the thought that the body politic may be corrupted by parties versus individual interests. They have been proven very prescient.

  4. Clare Kelly says:

    Re Garland v. Cargill

    “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck,” Sotomayor wrote. “A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires ‘automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger’ … Because I, like Congress, call that a machine gun, I respectfully dissent.”

    Ed Pilkington
    Joan E. Greve
    The Guardian
    June 14, 2024

  5. Frederick_12JUN2024_1054h says:

    Another defeat for Donald Trump in court today:

    [Welcome to emptywheel. SECOND REQUEST: Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We have adopted this minimum standard to support community security. Because your username is far too common (there are other Fredericks/Frederics/Freds in this community) it will be temporarily changed to match the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • Nessnessess says:

      I see how it could be read that way. But it won’t parse or land that way in the info sphere. I can more easily imagine that, were Trump asked about the bump stock ban now, he would (with all the false modesty he could manage) “concede” that the ban was ill-conceived and on second thought he agrees with the decision by “our mostly wonderful and wise Supreme Court.”

  6. Sussex Trafalgar says:

    Clarence Thomas was nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court because of his political beliefs and because he was African American, not his legal acumen. I, for one, always believed Anita Hill told the whole truth and nothing but the truth about Clarence Thomas when she testified under oath. Thomas lied under oath.

    Thomas was such an empty suit when it came to his legal acumen that, if I remember correctly, he never asked a question during his time on the Supreme Court when Justices Ginsburg and Scalia were also on the Court. Thomas knew Ginsburg and Scalia were personal friends and he was well aware that Ginsburg and Scalia respected each other’s legal acumen.

    Thomas is an angry despicable person.

      • Sussex Trafalgar says:


        Anita Hill has courage and intestinal fortitude.

        She’s a genuine hero in my opinion.

        • dopefish says:

          Christine Blasey Ford also.

          USA has two right-wing sexual harassers on its Supreme Court.

    • paulka123 says:

      Thomas’ long term thought process is obvious. Per Pro-Publica in the early 2000s he was complaining to a Republican Congressman that SC Justices weren’t making enough money, threatening quitting. Doesn’t get the pay raise he wants, is addicted to the position of power he holds decides he will make himself wealthy no matter what so starts accepting over $4,000,000 in gifts. Meanwhile, he concludes that public corruption isn’t a thing and starts decimating public corruption laws.

      In a functioning democracy (or if he had an iota of honor or integrity) he would be gone already.

      • P J Evans says:

        I suspect he’s addicted to spending, given that his household income is far higher than most of us will ever enjoy.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes. Another gift that keeps on giving from George H. W. Bush, along with Bill Barr.

  7. Ed Walker says:

    This is just one more in a long line of cases where the right-wing radicals on SCOTUS strike down government efforts to protect human life, protect the planet, and protect us from corruption in government and business.

    This is why billionaires fund Leonard Leo. They don’t like government regulation.

    And they don’t care about your life, your liberty, or your pursuit of happyness.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Defining a machine gun by emphasizing the trigger pull – one pull, one shot vs. one pull, many shots – has been outdated for decades. The bump stock intentionally exploits that. But Thomas continues to rely on it, while ignoring a much more important criterion: rate of fire.

    A civilian AR-15, for example, depending on the skill of the user, fires about 45 rounds a minute on its only setting, semiautomatic. A bump stock increase that more than tenfold, to 400-800 rounds a minute. For comparison, a common military weapon similar to the AR-15, the M-4, fires at a rate of 700-970 rounds a minute on full auto.

    That should have settled the issue, but not for Thomas and his gun-happy brethren on the majority.

    • Andrew_is_tired says:

      This is a very good argument on policy grounds (and I agree, obviously bump stocks should not be available for public ownership). But the law in question doesn’t say anything about rate of fire; even Ian Millhiser at Vox said the majority is a perfectly plausible read of the law as it is.

      The problem is that our legal superstructure is set up in order to push Congress to act on these things, but Congress is incentivized not to act.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yes, the current statute is inadequate and needs to be updated, but the rate of fire issue is relevant, if not explicitly in the statute.

        I suspect Millhiser is in the minority. Thomas had to do considerable damage to the English language and normal statutory interpretation to hold that a “bump stock does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does.”

        Thomas isn’t being merely disingenuous. He’s lying. A semiautomatic AR-15 with a bump stock can shoot 400-800 rounds a minute. The best lightning-fast trigger finger might shoot 60 rounds a minute, and require a lot more effort.

        • algebraist says:

          That is disingenuous. You couldn’t fire 800 rounds a minute because 1) you couldn’t carry enough of the legal 10 round max capacity magazines and 2) you couldn’t change them quickly enough unless you were super skilled.

          Now where you want to go with this is the safety aspect. Bump stocks reduce your accuracy in what I’d consider a dangerous way to operate a firearm. Your aim goes all over the place.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Not so. Rate of fire is a standard specification. Fully automatic military-grade rifles easily fire several hundred rounds per minute. An M-4 on full auto fires 700-970 rounds per minute. Standard, thirty-round magazines are readily available. Some weapons, including the AR-15, accept hundred-round drum magazines.

          The number of rounds fired – as opposed to the rate at which they are fired – depends on many things: training; the quality and condition of the weapon and ammunition; the number, condition, and capacity of the magazines; and so on.

          Sure, you empty a typical thirty-round magazine within seconds. That’s not effective, unless you’re firing into a crowd, like the Las Vegas shooter. He stacked his gear in his hotel room. Within ten minutes, he fired over 1000 rounds, killing about 60 people and wounding about 500.

          Without a bump stock, he would probably have been exhausted before firing 400 rounds. The slower rate of fire would have allowed people more time to recognize their peril and hide or escape. That’s one reason machine guns are banned. It’s a reason the AR-15 should be banned.

  9. Brian Ruff says:

    I say we ban all these cheap shithole country AK imports; keep America’s shootings American!

  10. Savage Librarian says:

    Strip Show

    Why did Clarence jimmy Crow
    Prying back his cover, whoa
    Let’s begin the blow-by-blow:
    It looks like lots of dough

    In Mama’s Harlan bungalow
    He ups odds and tempo
    I wonder if she’ll ever know
    She bore her very own psycho

    And what about that nephew, bro
    Abracadabra, gone, presto
    Not like Nazi treasured ammo
    As he drinks champagne, feeds on roe

    Gall and greed from the get-go
    Oath and ethics, a strip show
    Is it all quid pro quo
    What exactly does he owe

  11. Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

    If anyone is curious how easily even a well intentioned person can be corrupted:

    I’m a water polo ref, and in every game I care not who wins other than the team that legally plays better and scores more goals that day. When reffing UMichigan v Michigan State some years ago (a rivalry), a coach snuck up behind me during dead time and quietly said, “I really like your reffing. I’m going to insist the assignor put you in our next tournament.”

    Besides snapping my suspenders and feeling like I just found a twenty dollar bill, I couldn’t help making a few iffy calls in his favor. The jedi mind trick flattery worked. (Car pooling home with the other 3 refs, we discovered he said the same thing to all of us).

    I can’t imagine someone providing private jet flights, lodging in luxury locales, private school tuition for my kid… Thomas should have his ass kicked to the curb.

    • Rayne says:

      Thinking of that PBS promotional ad from the recent past which exhorted the viewer to be more [insert adjective ex. Inspired, Passionate; Empowered, etc.].

      Be more skeptical. My second kid went to MSU and I’d definitely be more skeptical if approached by an MSU coach. Ditto UofM or any other coach.

      You’d think our justices would be that way, too, but nope — some are and have always been corrupt.

      • Buzzkill Stickinthemud says:

        I was younger and only encountered angry players, fans, parents, and coaches. To have someone butter the bread rather than burn it in the toaster was a new experience.

        I have grown and now can only be corrupted by things not easily at hand, like a chocolate malt.

  12. dopefish says:

    The New Republic hilighted Sotomayor’s dissent to the bump-stock decision (her dissent was joined by the other liberal Justices)

    Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor torched her colleagues Friday in a dissenting opinion on the federal bump-stock ban.

    And in a brutal move, Sotomayor cited each of her conservative colleagues in her dissent. She highlighted past arguments they had made in favor of respecting congressional intent, rather than imposing their own view on something—skewering their hypocrisy in Friday’s ruling.

  13. Nom du Guerre says:

    Thomas seems to have no sense of irony.
    In his early career, he chafed at the notion — held by some — that he was only successful in school because of affirmative action.

    Yet Thomas’ appointment to SCOTUS was a very cynical example of race-based hiring.

    Thomas was appointed to replace Thurgood Marshall, a towering figure on the court — who was also black, but his political opposite. Prior to Marshall’s appointment, Marshall had won 29 of 32 cases he argued before the Supremes. Thomas had *nothing* approaching that level of achievement; he was appointed because he would do conservatives’ bidding.

    His whole “high tech lynching” speech at his Senate confirmation hearings was soaked in righteous indignation. That confirmation fight (much like Kavanaugh’s) was indeed a shitshow that focused on the nominee’s character. We now see that his character is truly as bad as some believed at the time.

    • Magnet48 says:

      I thought both times that any candidate for any judgeship that behaves that way – Thomas complaining about high tech lynching, Kavanaugh actually crying & whining – should automatically be disqualified for lacking judicial temperament, but alas, I have no power.

      • P-villain says:

        In my state, the Judicial Nominations Commission sends out blind peer-review questionnaires on judicial candidates. 99% of the time, I’ve never heard of the person, but once it was a former colleague whose temperament clearly disqualified them in my mind. I did my best to make my questionnaire into a blackball. I can’t say if it worked, but I can say that to this day, they have never ascended to the bench.

  14. harpie says:

    Covering the Friends of the Court The Supreme Court’s corruption scandals will not soon be forgotten, but many already fail to appreciate their full implications.

    The above is an introduction to this:

    Supreme Transparency

    The undue influences over justices of the Supreme Court
    Our project aims to demonstrate the web of corrupt ties between justices, their billionaire and powerful pals, and the organizations who file amicus briefs before the court. […]

  15. jecojeco says:

    R-SCOTUS to American families victimized by mass murders by auto weapons “get over it”. Either we vote these GOP scoundrels out or suffer the consequences in our schools, malls, hospitals and bedrooms.

  16. Dissembling Bling says:

    My favorite interpretation of Thomas, roughly remembered from a New Yorker article: He is a black nationalist separatist and he doesn’t believe the constitution as stands will ever be free of racism. So he decided the quickest way to bring the downfall of America is by promoting the farthest right wing agenda possible.

    • Yohei1972 says:

      Heh… almost plausible.

      More seriously… I recall some article not long ago, in I forget which publication, that tried to give an explanation of Thomas’s philosophy by looking at his votes and his public speeches and maybe one or two other sources. It can be summed up, if I remember rightly: The rights revolution of the 1960s was bad for America, because a strong traditional family in a patriarchal system is the only solid basis for a society; it was especially catastrophic for black Americans, who are in even more in need of this strong hand because of their longstanding economic and social disadvantages.

      Also sounds like a plausible explication. Though if that’s his conscious philosophy, that doesn’t mean it can’t mask other, more deep-seated drives. And it certainly isn’t incompatible with personal greed. Not to mention loathing of women.

  17. wetzel-rhymes-with says:

    The “Nash maneuver” explained at the end of A Beautiful Mind can work. A person can learn to deconstruct their psychotic delusions with analtytical philosophy, neurology, and psychology (+ prayer for me), but it doesn’t work so well for the agonizing sadness in the second half. For a few times, I think a person can hold off attribution, let themselves cry, and they can avoid depressive cognitions. It’s important not to depend on internet forums or other “artificial” relationships, like work, to provide social support.

    Yesterday, I let one touch upset with my wife, and so the activation took on attribution and became “a reason to be sad” and I had to go hide in the bedroom with an episode of writhing agony that if I were in public would certainly have been transported. I’m grateful my adult children did not witness. Since then I’ve managed to forestall two crying jags by recognizing the activation in my throbbing fingertips and going for a walk in the sunshine. I don’t know if this is working due to the sunshine or because I”ve got a gospel country song I’m working on called “The Lord Brings The Sunshine”. The radiologist next door understands that my idea for a PET scanner invention but radiologists in general have little kid physics. I’m working on a manuscript on that, and my primary job, which is too important for me to be doing something else that hasn’t already been through “preclinical”, some country songs, two companies, one I’ve had for 25 years, and another new one about speeding clinical discovery, plus two 501-C3s. Nobody can pull as hard as a maniac genius as long as they can keep it together. It’s not a picnic. I’m falling behind in my reading here. Love you all.

  18. Tetman Callis says:

    The only way to fix the bump stocks issue is the same way to fix any such issue in America — elect legislators who will pass effective legislation and make it stick. CJ Roberts has long been explicit about this — that he would prefer the American people grow up and take responsibility for their own governance, as their constitution expects and requires, and quit turning to the courts or the executive to magically fix things the way a child might run to mommy to kiss the owie and make it all better or run to daddy to make the scary monster go away.

    The court’s majority makes it clear — ATF’s rule did not square with the law. It’s the rule that any rational person would want, but to make it stick, the underlying statute has to be clarified. For that to happen, the Congress will have to take action and write the clarification into law.

    • Yohei1972 says:

      But ironically, as a jurist, Roberts is helping to make sure the American people don’t grow up, by working to entrench even further the privileges and disproportionate power of a childish minority driven by superstition, ignorance, entitlement, and an unearned victimhood narrative. And also the even tinier minority who childishly believe their wealth entitles them to dictate terms to everyone else. He’s a hypocrite.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Pretty sure the radical majority on the Supreme Court see no irony in what they do, which is wholly intentional.

  19. Veritas Sequitur says:

    An appalling disposition towards imprudent rulings & unethical judicial practice in cases about dangerous guns is a grotesque manifestation of the supreme court’s steep descent under Roberts. Please note: SCOTUS’ nonchalance regarding deadly gun violence which takes the lives of tens of thousands of American children, women, or men every year is in distinct contrast to the remarkable regulation of guns within the SCOTUS edifice, within the chambers of its members, and otherwise within close proximity to their persons, residences, & various vacation properties. Follow the link here to understand some of the plunge into gun lobby gobbledygook at the sadly diminished & unprecedentedly unpopular supreme court: “Any Good Hunting?: When a Justice’s Impartiality Might Reasonably Be Questioned” via Social Science Research Network (SSRN) – Elsevier ~~~>>>

  20. wetzel-rhymes-with says:

    Here’s an Existentialist gospel song. I got the melody for it today. Parts of the lyrics are another fellow’s. Writing it has gotten me through this last tough patch, I think, of whatever I’ve been going through since my Dad died a few months ago. There is also a great deal of stress in my job. Where I work is as treacherous as Versailles, and if I’m not great every day, they are justified to shoot me on a utilitarian basis. If you don’t post this song, Rayne, it’s alright, and I’m sorry for the pain I’ve been lately. Cheers.

    He Brings Her Sunshine

    She ain’t got no roof
    She’s dancing in the rain
    She loves her life
    She enjoys every day
    It doesn’t really hurt her
    What the world throws her way

    He brings her sunshine
    And knows that even though
    She’ll go through some hard times
    He brings her sunshine
    Like an angel on the wing
    The light in everything
    He brings her sunshine

    He can see your light shine
    He can hear your laughter ring
    There’s a song in your heart
    Go ahead and let it sing
    And you will also
    Find the sunshine in everything


    Her eyes, they see
    I’m just the person I’m supposed to be
    I love her
    And how she sees the sunshine in me!


  21. harpie says:

    NYT with more new info on the topic here:
    [Continued from above: ]

    The Gun Lobby’s Hidden Hand in the 2nd Amendment Battle Case after case challenging gun restrictions cites the same Georgetown professor. His seemingly independent work has undisclosed ties to pro-gun interests.
    June 18, 2024 Updated 9:28 a.m. ET Mike McIntire and Jodi Kantor
    [Mike McIntire has been reporting on gun rights, and Jodi Kantor on the Supreme Court.
    They welcome tips at nytimes[ ].com/tips.]

    […] A little-known political economist at Georgetown University, Dr. English conducted a largest-of-its-kind national survey that found gun owners frequently used their weapons for self-defense. That finding has been deployed by gun rights activists to notch legal victories with far-reaching consequences. […]

    • Clare Kelly says:

      Thank you, Harpie.
      Among other things from the NYT piece:

      “His academic focus has been ethical behavior and public policy — among his research interests is “how to lie with data science.”

      We might find out on Thursday just how successful he’s been at it.

  22. punaise says:

    RIP Willie Mays, one of the greatest baseball players ever. I was a bit too young to catch the prime of his career, but he was still force to be reckoned with at Candlestick Park in the late 60s.

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