Open Thread: SCOTUS Decisions, Friday Edition [UPDATE-1]

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

We’re still counting down to the Supreme Court’s term ending on June 28; SCOTUS delivers a few more decisions today of the remaining 18 cases they’ve heard. Looks like there will be more than four issued.

Yet again we ask: will SCOTUS finally decide the question of presidential immunity posed in Trump v. United States? Perhaps it’s not even a question of whether today or not we’ll see a decision.

What’s your Magic 8-Ball say: YES the court will decide this month, or NO the court’s conservatives are going to drag this into the next term to give Trump an assist.

Decisions released today follow in an update at the bottom of this post.

~ ~ ~

Time-killing observations:

Leah Litman’s op-ed in the NYT which I linked yesterday must have hit a nerve. There are more op-eds about the challenges the Roberts’ Supreme Court poses, undermining its legitimacy through acceptance of corrupt behavior and the appearance of partisanship.

This one from The Daily Beast neatly encapsulates the problems: Supreme Court Sends Out an Ominous Sign

And this one in the Los Angeles Times suggests conservatives are worried about the public’s perception, so worried they need to assure us things aren’t as bad as the appear: Column: The Supreme Court’s role in our partisan polarization has been greatly exaggerated

As we should give the columnist, Jonah fucking Goldberg, the time of day. Contrast and compare his Wikipedia and Sourcewatch entries if you’re not familiar with his work.

I’d rather take the word of a conservative former Supreme Court clerk about this problematic Supreme Court.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — Today’s decisions:
First decision: Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado

Justice Jackson wrote the 5-4 decision; Justice Gorsuch dissented. In this case regarding a dispute over water rights to the Rio Grande and Elephant Butte between states Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico, Roberts and Kavanaugh sided with Jackson, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Second decision: Department of State v. Muñoz

Justice Barrett wrote the 6-3 decision with a concurrence by Gorsuch. Justice Sotomayor wrote the dissent. In question was denial of a visa to the non-citizen spouse of a U.S. citizen.

Third decision: Erlinger v. United States

Justice Gorsuch wrote the 6-3 decision, with Roberts and Thomas offering concurring opinions. Kavanaugh wrote a dissent joined by Alito; Jackson also joined excepting Part III. Jackson filed a dissenting opinion.

This case was about the Armed Career Criminal Act and how a court determines the mandatory sentencing to be applied. It’s worth reading Jackson’s dissent given her background as the only SCOTUS jurist who served as a public defender.

Fourth decision: Smith v. Arizona

Justice Kagan wrote the court’s opinion. There were no dissents, but:

KAGAN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which SOTOMAYOR,
KAVANAUGH, BARRETT, and JACKSON, JJ., joined, and in which THOMAS
and GORSUCH, JJ., joined as to Parts I, II, and IV. THOMAS, J., and GORSUCH, J., filed opinions concurring in part. ALITO, J., filed an opinion
concurring in the judgment, in which ROBERTS, C. J., joined.

Okay, then.

This was about a drugs and paraphernalia possession case and the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. IIRC it’s also the third case in the last two days in which expert(s) testimony was key; this issue might be worth watching more closely as it may be an evolving topic.

Fifth decision: United States v. Rahimi

Chief Justice Roberts offered the 8-1 decision; there were multiple concurrences. Thomas wrote the dissent.

Of course Thomas did.

This was a Second Amendment case regarding a federal law prohibiting possession of firearms by those under domestic-violence restraining orders. Thomas apparently believes an abuser’s right to bear arms is more important than a domestic partner’s right to life.

Sure would like to know if there are any financial links between the gun lobby and Thomas considering his consistency on guns.

~ ~ ~

A big gun rights case but still no presidential immunity decision. Will SCOTUS dump all the biggest cases at once in order to dampen the effect of each individual case, including Trump v. United States?

The next batch of SCOTUS decisions will be handed down next Wednesday, June 26.

Updates regarding today’s decisions and other SCOTUS-related news will follow at the bottom of this post. This is an open thread.

97 replies
    • ExRacerX says:

      Except for Thomas’ dissent, of course. We knew he was a shill for the gun lobby and champion of the rich and powerful, but now he’s also oppressor of the vulnerable and voiceless.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Thomas may have generous friends with big pocketbooks in the gun industry. He has so many everywhere, how could he not? I suspect he’s also taking a simplistic, across-the-board stance against all agency and government regulation, which the majority seems to back, if slightly more discreetly. So, in for a penny, in for a pound.

      A plus, from Thomas’s perspective, is that his dissent drips with misogyny.

      • Yankee in TX says:

        With Thomas, misogyny is an expected feature, not a bug.

        He complains the majority has rewritten the 2A, when in fact he and his comrades already did that in Heller and progeny. Their “custom and history tradition” test is simply unworkable in the modern age to apply to modern age problems. Thomas is a 2A absolutist. If you apply his reasoning to the 1A, then shouting “Fire” in a crowded theatre is just fine with him. The resulting carnage from such 1A or 2A activity is just the price of a free society. Attempts to curb the carnage be damned!

        I really want to see him, Alito and Roberts hauled before the next Congress to explain their corruption and the lack of an enforceable ethics code.

    • Rayne says:

      Ugh. Dirtbag thinks he’s the exception to the rule.

      Yes, yes, he’s an exceptional dirtbag. Just get in the bin already, Bannon.

      • Bad Boris says:

        Extensive past experience with a number of individuals presenting with Bannon’s behavior/symptoms lead me to believe Steve’s a stone-cold alky who fears being deprived of his juice far more than being locked up.

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        That pairs, in an obscenely morose way, with Trump’s recent equating of his own self with Emmet Till.

  1. Anonymous At Work_CHANGE-REQD says:

    Smith was about bootstrapping expert testimony in having Expert A testify about Expert B’s findings when Expert B does not testify. The Court’s thin reasoning is that Expert A is only testifying about their expert opinion on Expert B’s report and not directly about the facts in Expert B’s report. Very slimy at times since the attenuation of what Expert A is actually saying is a distinction that juries could miss or ignore, while only mattering to law professors writing pieces for legal journals.

    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next. Use a name generator or whatever approach you prefer, but we’ve had many Anonymous over nearly two decades, difficult to distinguish them. Keep in mind usernames must be at least 8 letters long. Thanks. /~Rayne]

      • joel fisher says:

        The logic–which I think is stupid–is that a restriction that didn’t exist in 1792
        can exist now. I haven’t read the decision so I don’t know how they got around their own logic.

        • Greg Hunter says:

          I find it more than a little interesting that the SCOTUS used the cutoff date of 1791 and not 1792 for historical precedence in the so-called ratification era, which conveniently leaves out the 1792 Militia Act.

  2. scroogemcduck says:

    The immunity case is going to be a complete mess, isn’t it? I anticipate a 6-3 overall decision with multiple concurrences and dissents on its component parts. A true “rule for the ages”.

  3. harpie says:

    Rayne: Sure would like to know if there are any financial links between the gun lobby and Thomas considering his consistency on guns.

    Looks like we’re back where we left off last week…lol

    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

    […] A little-known political economist at Georgetown University, Dr. [William] 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.
    The Firearms Policy Coalition, the busiest litigant of gun cases in the country, has made extensive use of Dr. English’s survey, including introducing it in the Supreme Court case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Dr. English’s work was cited in multiple briefs in that case, as well as in oral arguments and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s concurring opinion. […]

    FPC drew the pretty pictures THOMAS used in last week’s Garland v. Cargill bump-stock Opinion.

        • harpie says:

          Dear Rayne, if possible, please rescue the comment I messed up…THANKS!

          [Not certain what was “messed up,” just freed it from Pending, though. /~Rayne]

          Thanks Rayne…I don’t know if I would have been able to recreate that…
          I think I was editing till beyond the last second. OY!

      • harpie says:


        Amicus agrees with Respondent that 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8) violates the Second Amendment. This brief focuses on Respondent’s alternative argument that Congress has no authority to enact a ban on firearm possession by individuals subject to family law restraining orders. The Court can and should address this argument, which disposes of the need to decide the Second Amendment issue. […]

        • Rayne says:

          %&*$#@)&!!!! FPC wants to complete do away with the “well regulated militia” intent of the Second Amendment, pretend that the historical reason why Americans were allowed to have guns was that they were expected to serve in lieu of a standing army which the early nation didn’t have.

          A well-regulated militia doesn’t shoot their domestic partners.

      • Rayne says:

        So, so close to a direct undotted line between gun lobby and Thomas.

        EDIT: Hey, hold this thought, harpie, I thought of a way to host and operate a wiki site for all the stuff you collect like this info on Thomas and Leo. I’m going to be super busy from now through 6/28, will try to connect with you after that about the idea. :-)

      • harpie says:

        GOLDWATER Institute and CATO Institute:

        The right of women to be free from physical abuse
        at the hands of men has received short shrift through
        out our nation’s history. And so has the right of the
        people to keep and bear arms. This case presents those
        rights in direct—but not insoluble—conflict. […]

      • harpie says:


        Rahimi should not only lose his Second Amendment liberties, but he should also lose all of his liberties—if the allegations against him are ultimately proven true with sufficient due process. But constitutional safeguards cannot be set aside to obtain those ends. […]

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          Sorry, I should have poked around the site before saying “not sure how they identify those [Powerbroker-Affiliated Organizations] relative to other amici.” My mistake.

          The site says “These organizations have significant, credible financial or other ties to powerbrokers—people or entities with conflicts of interest for at least one Supreme Court justice. These links document the conflicted sources of money, leadership, or other significant ties, as well as the Supreme Court cases in which such organizations filed amicus briefs.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      William English. Most of his training was at Duke, but he brags about a mostly online masters degree from Oxford. He worked at Harvard for five years, and at Brown for a year, before joining Georgetown’s business school.

      He may be academically talented, in a Kris Kobach sort of way, but he must also benefit from considerable wingnut welfare. He had enough fundraising juice to start an “Abigail Adams” program at Harvard. He claims, with no apparent irony, the following research interests:

      ethical persuasion, institutional corruption, experimental social science, and the biological foundations of social behavior. He is currently studying the architecture of public trust and the varieties of corruption in political institutions.

      His research taste seems very…catholic, and predictably arch-conservative.

      • John Paul Jones says:

        The “biological foundations of social behavior” rings alarm bells for me, as it links back to the sociobiological strand of the late 70s, early 80s, which was where a lot of behaviourists went when their particular line went soft, so to speak. And the same ideas have more recently been picked up by so-called “evolutionary psychologists.” A lot of it seems to me to be “just so” stories that purport to explain social behaviour by reference to supposed evolutionary “fitness” in a theorized early hominid environment. In other words, no more rigorous than Kipling, and sometimes verging on Lamarkism. I can see how such notions might attract minds eager to bolster pre-existing conservative ideas, which happened a lot to sociobiologists of various stripes. (End of rant.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “Most” gun owners “frequently used” their weapons for “self-defense?” LOL. I imagine every police officer says the same thing. It’s also a little like saying that most people who enter the water swim.

      The reliability of gun owners’ self-described usage might be approached with the skepticism medical doctors give to patients’ self-disclosure about how much they eat, drink alcohol, and have sex.

      Apart from the useful gun lobby PR it provides, I’m not sure how much the research byte adds, given the other purposes to which gun owners use their weapons. The description of “largest-of-its-kind” survey is also suspect, in the sense that, under the Dickey Amendment, named after a self-proclaimed “point man” for the NRA, the feds were long prohibited from researching gun violence. The research is only now getting started in earnest, which may make William English’s survey an attempt to get ahead of an ugly curve.

      • Twaspawarednot says:

        The claim that most gun owners use them for self defense reminds me of the suspicious fact that wolves are shot in self defense by people claiming fear for their lives. Where are the unarmed people that claim they were attacked? Maybe OT.

      • Ithaqua0 says:

        Kristi Noem used her gun to defend herself from maybe being butted by her goat and definitely being annoyed by her dog.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Noem seems to have misused her weapon because the offending animal threatened her ego. She didn’t train her dog, but expected it to perform as if it were trained. (I don’t recall why she claimed to have shot her goat.)

          Her dog’s non-conforming behavior – in the environment she wrongly subjected it to – threatened her self-esteem. So, she got rid of the offender, rather than the source of the offense – herself.

          That’s probably why a lot of men use their weapons on those nearest to them. It’s certainly a reason to keep Kristi Noem away from any position of public authority.

  4. Rayne says:

    Argh. That jerk Thomas. This is why his dissent in United States v. Raihimi is so ugly.

    Wokebloke (call me Doug) @[email protected]

    “… at the founding women had few legal rights, and were largely considered the property of their husbands. And they pointed to modern-day statistics showing that in 2019, at the time Rahimi’s case began, more than 70 women were shot and killed every month by a domestic partner, and that domestic assaults that involve guns are 11 times more likely to cause death than assaults without guns.”
    #SCOTUS #ClarenceThomas #DomesticAbuse #Murder #Guns

    Jun 21, 2024, 12:02 PM

    If guns=privacy I’m sure he’d vote against them but nope.

    • P J Evans says:

      He completely misses that using that reasoning, he’s property. Because that’s what he’d have been at the founding. He can’t see how any of that applies to *him*, just to the people he wants to be superior to.

      • Matt Foley says:

        Guy doing Rudy’s voice nailed it. The guy who plays Mike Lindell is also really good.

        On Colbert the woman who impersonates Melania is amazingly good.

  5. cruxdaemon says:

    Bruen dissent: This basically means we cannot have modern gun laws.
    Clarence Thomas’ Rahimi dissent: I agree we cannot have modern gun laws.

    • Rayne says:

      Clarence Thomas, continued: I also agree we cannot have modern intimate relationships and marriages in which women can expect not to be shot by their owners, I mean, husbands/boyfriends/guardians.

      • ExRacerX says:

        To be fair, not all domestic violence is perpetrated by a male upon a female.

        From the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

        “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner…. …1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.”

        That said, I doubt Clarence Thomas gave that much thought.

        • ExRacerX says:

          Responding to Rayne, June 21, 2024 at 3:42 pm…

          No need to invoke nonexistent deities—this case is about victim’s rights, and I support those rights.

          While it’s true that males are almost always the aggressor in domestic violence, not all their victims are female. Male children and males in same-sex relationships are also at risk. Companion animals, regardless of gender, are also at risk.

          In any case, I’m certain Clarence Thomas didn’t give any potential victims consideration while making his decision—because he could not possibly have done so and then submitted that opinion.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          You’re referring to domestic violence overall. Rayne is specifically referring to a subset of that, gun-related domestic violence, which is the subject of the Supreme Court case.

        • Rayne says:

          Reply to earlofhuntingdon
          June 21, 2024 6:47 pm

          Thanks. It’s aggravating to go through the hassle of finding and sharing links to an overview of the case and SCOTUS’ decision only to have the content ignored.


          Facts of the case
          Between December 2020 and January 2021, Zackey Rahimi was involved in a series of violent incidents in Arlington, Texas, including multiple shootings and a hit-and-run. Rahimi was under a civil protective order for alleged assault against his ex-girlfriend, which explicitly prohibited him from possessing firearms. Police searched his home and found a rifle and a pistol, leading to Rahimi’s indictment for violating federal law 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), which makes it unlawful for someone under a domestic violence restraining order to possess firearms. Rahimi moved to dismiss the indictment on constitutional grounds but was denied, as his argument was foreclosed by United States v. McGinnis, 956 F.3d 747 (5th Cir. 2020).

          Rahimi pleaded guilty but continued his constitutional challenge on appeal. As the appeal was pending, the U.S. Supreme Court decided New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, 579 U.S. __ (2022). Rahimi argued that Bruen overruled McGinnis and thus that § 922(g)(8) was unconstitutional, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit agreed.

          Does 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), which prohibits the possession of firearms by persons subject to domestic-violence restraining orders, violate the Second Amendment?

        • ExRacerX says:

          Rayne & Earl,

          Thanks for the case details, but I’m sure the Supreme Court Justices understand their decisions in a particular case can set or uphold legal precedent that will be invoked in future cases.

          That’s why I view this decision to be about the protection of ALL domestic violence victims.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Not much support for that view or optimism about this Court’s majority, regarding either the 2nd Amendment or domestic violence.

        • LaMissy! says:

          Some percentage of that 1 in 4 men who have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner have a male intimate partner. Also true for the 1 in 25 number.

  6. CovariantTensor says:

    It’s such a no-brainer someone deemed by a court to be enough of a danger to a domestic partner to have a restraining order imposed ought to forfeit his “Second Amendment Rights”. At least most of the court saw reason on this one.

    In general, the conservatives seem to hold the right to bear arms so important that the fact any nut job with a will to own a semi-automatic weapon can is a problem for law enforcement and society to sort out, after the fact. It’s as if they’re sitting on a hill in their robes, genuflecting to the Constitution, without a care as to the practical consequences of their rulings. If they were truly “originalists”, though, they should only allow people to own muskets, flint locks and swords.

    Since this is an open thread, apparently 3 judges on the 11th Circuit implored Cannon to recuse herself from the Trump stolen documents case, based on the bad optics of having been appointed by Trump and having been slapped down for her handling of search warrant, and she declined.

  7. harpie says:

    Bragg Asks Judge to Extend Trump’s Gag Order, Citing Deluge of Threats
    Donald J. Trump claims the order has unfairly restricted his free speech rights ahead of his sentencing on 34 felony counts. He has nonetheless attacked the judge, prosecutor and justice system.
    June 21, 2024 Updated 1:57 p.m. ET

    […] The New York Police Department has logged 56 “actionable threats” against Mr. Bragg, his family, and employees at the district attorney’s office since early April, according to an affidavit provided with the filing. […]

    The 56 threats, prosecutors said, did not include hundreds of harassing emails and phone calls received by Mr. Bragg’s office, which the police are “not tracking as threat cases.” […]

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Justice Thomas’s constipated view of originalism, itself a late 20th century invention, leaves no room in the 21st century for ideas, laws, or regulations that didn’t exist in the late 18th century, including regulating gun ownership.

    His point of reference is convenient for his contemporary disdain for democracy, and an executive and legislature that function through delegating considerable authority to executive branch agencies. It leaves room for misogyny – since women in the 18th century were the property of their better males – no room for racially mixed marriages, like his, and lots of room for the buying and selling of slaves.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        A little over your skis. The majority in this decision brought out the garlic – the crosses were already out – not the stake.

    • MsJennyMD says:

      “A judge should be evaluated by whether he faithfully upholds his oath to God, not to the people, to the state or to the Constitution.” — Clarence Thomas

    • Rayne says:

      I don’t know why that ignorant git stuck in the 18th century doesn’t just openly put himself up for auction as chattel. We can all see he’s okay with slavery, why not just own it in plain view — and let us see who owns his sorry ass?

    • Booksellerb4 says:

      What ever happened to “Unenumerated rights ? Do we need to enumerate some now?

      The right to self self-defense, despite what I grok from Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson & ?(Max Webber??) is not an “enumerated” or “unenumerated” right at all in the US Constitution- it appears to be a right one gives over to the “state” within the context of the social contract.* So I am really kinda surprised, but appreciative of, the court ruling on the domestic gun prohibition — even balanced on the edge of a legal encumbrance (restraining order v conviction). As a reasonable person, I’ve always considered life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to be the start of that “unenumerated” list. Maybe I mis-understood?

      Please forgive me if this sounds odd, but how does one defend a right that is “not expressly coded”? The current court’s inferences (The act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true) on such matters, and the subsequent implications/results of those decisions hasn’t been accurate or honest in a good long while. A real bummer, IMHO.

      *Even considering the “right” to defend on behalf of the state, or some other in need of vim vi repellere licet.

      • Rayne says:

        You’ll want to read Department of State v. Muñoz if you haven’t already. We’re definitely headed toward enumeration including (perhaps even especially) privacy which underpins all the cases Thomas has said they’re going to attack, from Loving v. Virginia to Griswold v. Connecticut to Obergefell v. Hodges.

        • Bombay Troubadour says:

          (Sorry I’m late to the thread),
          Thomas and his desire for overturning the ‘Loving’ decision is ironic, but not surprising. Cueing Frank Wilhoit. Paraphrased, “Conservatism: Laws for thee, but not for me”.

  9. Rwood0808 says:

    Is the court going to drag the immunity decision out? I don’t think that was ever the question.

    Why else would they take the case at all if that wasn’t the goal?

    Trump will get what he wants, the only question is how many knots will the court ties itself into to do it.

    OT: Why the fuck is Smith not filing to have Cannon removed yet? From what I’m reading her last decision opened the door.

  10. David Brooks says:

    My logic would be: given the belief around here that the Court is seeking the best outcome for Trump, if they were going to grant him full immunity, they would have announced it earlier. The logic for announcing at the latest possible moment is that he doesn’t have immunity (yay!) but there is now no time for the trial to conclude (boo!).

  11. Molly Pitcher says:

    According to the Nevada Independent: Judge dismisses Nevada fake electors case over lack of jurisdiction

    “At a Friday morning hearing in Clark County District Court, Judge Mary Kay Holthus said she was unconvinced by state prosecutors’ arguments that Clark County was the appropriate county to hear the case. The electors’ attorneys had argued a more appropriate venue would be in Carson City, where the false signing ceremony took place, or in Douglas County, where the fake elector documents were originally mailed from.

    Clark County is more Democratic, meaning a jury could be less favorable to the Republican defendants….

    Immediately after the ruling, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said the “judge got it wrong” and that his office will appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

    The state is unable to re-file the case up north because a three-year statute of limitations expired in December.

    • paulka123 says:

      “The state is unable to re-file the case up north because a three-year statute of limitations expired in December.”


  12. paulka123 says:

    Women were considered second class citizens in the 18th Century. PoC had even fewer rights.

    Using Originalism/History and Tradition to define women’s (and PoC’s) rights today makes them second class citizens, right?

  13. MsJennyMD says:

    The Supreme Court ruled to protect domestic violence survivors from abusers with guns, however last week the court overturned the federal bump stock ban. Highly uneven.

  14. Matt Foley says:

    Show me where the Ten Commandments say I can’t spread a deadly virus that killed millions.

    You can’t. MAGA Christian pro-life anti-vaxers for the win!

  15. harpie says:

    Gilded Age Fortune…

    Timothy Mellon, Secretive Donor, Gives $50 Million to Pro-Trump Group
    The cash from Mr. Mellon, a reclusive billionaire who has also been a major donor to a super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is among the largest single disclosed gifts ever.
    June 20, 2024

    Timothy Mellon, a reclusive heir to a Gilded Age fortune, donated $50 million to [pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc] the day after the former president was convicted of 34 felonies […]

    He was already the single largest contributor to super PACs supporting both Mr. Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is running as an independent. Mr. Mellon has previously given $25 million to both. […]

    Mr. Mellon, who had previously put $25 million into the group over the last 12 months, now accounts for nearly half of what the group has raised in total. […]

    • harpie says:

      […] Despite his famous last name — he is the grandson of former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and a member of the wealthy Mellon family — Republican fund-raisers had largely not heard of him before he made a $10 million donation to a G.O.P. super PAC in mid-2018. That gift was the first of nine eight-figure checks that he would cut to major Republican groups.

      He would go on to hire political counsel to guide him in Washington, although he lives primarily in Wyoming these days. Few recipients of his money have even met him. […]

      I wonder WHO the “political counsel to guide him in Washington” is.

      Also, there’s this:

      […] Mr. Mellon originally self-published an autobiography, but it was taken off-line in 2016 after some incendiary passages became
      public, including a line that Black people were “even more belligerent” after social programs were expanded in the 1960s and ’70s.

      Mr. Mellon also wrote that social safety net programs amounted to “slavery redux.”

      “For delivering their votes in the Federal Elections, they are awarded with yet more and more freebies: food stamps, cellphones, WIC payments, Obamacare, and on, and on,” Mr. Mellon wrote, according to The Washington Post. […]

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        What else would the grandson of Andrew Mellon say about social safety nets than that they are “slavery redux.” Easy to say when you, your father, and grandfather are/were billionaires. I suspect what he means is that taxes of any kind make him a slave – but one who’s never worked a day in his life.

        Might be one reason Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Mellon’s older peer gave away the bulk of his fortune to good causes, notably public education, through vastly expanding the number of public libraries and the founding of what’s now Carnegie Mellon University. Carnegie’s family hated him for it. Just imagine how many Tim Mellons there would have been in the Carnegie family, if not for grandpa Andrew’s different priorities.

    • harpie says:

      Some perspective from Philip Bump:
      Jun 22, 2024 at 9:11 AM

      In each of these counties, if every single resident saved a year’s salary and pooled it, they wouldn’t be able to match what billionaire Timothy Mellon contributed to a pro-Trump PAC.

      [link] [screenshot]

      Includes an interactive letting you figure how much of your own salary you need to save up to reach Mellon (or Bloomberg) levels.

  16. harpie says:

    In Abortion Cases, Legions of ‘Friends’ Seek to Persuade Supreme Court A new study analyzed 50 years of friend-of-the-court briefs and found that abortion opponents were more relentless than their adversaries, with some reflected in the justices’ opinions.
    Adam Liptak June 24, 2024, 5:02 a.m. ET

    […] Overall, the authors wrote, abortion opponents had pressed “a more relentlessly human, emotional, personal attack to pursue its political agenda.”

    The authors, self-described feminist scholars, wrote that supporters of abortion rights “simply could not counter these arguments within conventional advocacy strategies.”

    None of this means that the many scores of amicus briefs were particularly influential. Indeed, the sheer number of briefs probably diluted the power of any individual one.

    “Normally I didn’t even read amicus briefs,” Justice John Paul Stevens told me in 2011, a year after he retired and a few years before he died in 2019.

    Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, said something similar in 2011 at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

    “My law clerks read all amicus briefs,” he said. “If there’s one that has a hidden truffle in there somewhere, they call it to my attention.” […]

      • harpie says:

        Re: THOMAS clerks:

        Clarence Thomas’s Clerks: An ‘Extended Family’ With Reach and Power The Supreme Court justice has built a network of former clerks who share messages, meals and a common vision — wielding influence at universities, law firms and the highest rungs of government. 12/24/23

        JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS has filled the legal world with scores of his former clerks, acolytes who have carried forward his idiosyncratic brand of conservatism and rallied to his defense.

        • harpie says:

          Some of those names, some of which are very familiar:

          Laura Ingraham // James Ho // Gregory Katsas // Kathryn Kimball Mizelle //
          Neomi Rao // David Stras // Christopher Landau // Mark Paoletta [“adopted clerk”] // Scott Stewart // Carrie Severino // John Eastman // Peter Rutledge // John Yoo // Mike Lee [“adopted clerk”] // Leonard Leo [“adopted clerk”] // Taylor Meehan // William Consovoy [deceased]

    • harpie says:

      Liptak, [continuing directly]:

      Still, Allison Orr Larsen, a law professor at William & Mary who has written extensively on amicus briefs, said some of the new study’s findings “highlight for me a problem in abortion litigation that I think applies in amicus practice more generally: More amici than ever before claim to be factual experts, but in reality these ‘experts’ are motivated by advocacy and masked in neutral-sounding names.”

      [Examples from 2022 and 2007][…]

      That phenomenon is troubling, Professor Larsen said. “The end result is that the studies and statistics and history presented by these groups are selected by people with a dog in the fight and presented to the justices without any serious adversarial testing or fact-checking,” she said. “It is a system ripe for abuse and risks tainting Supreme Court decisions with unreliable evidence.” […]

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