Open Thread: SCOTUS Decisions, Final Day* of Term Edition

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

It’s the last day* Supreme Court’s term, and the last batch of decisions will drop shortly

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

*–No, it’s not the final day after all, but this post was written as a pre-scheduled draft back on June 25 and my psychic powers predicting how many cases would drop on which dates was at an ebb.

~ ~ ~

Time-killing observations:

One of the great tragedies of the red states’ push to ban abortion as reproductive care has been the threats to and loss of doctors and other health care workers who provide reproductive health services. If health care professionals are at risk of prosecution in red states for providing what may be essential lifesaving care, they are often electing to leave and practice elsewhere. With the loss of health care professionals due to the COVID pandemic, they won’t have difficulty finding a new place to practice even if it may not feel like the home they leave behind.

Health care professional Rory Cole wrote an op-ed about Idaho which was affected by SCOTUS’s handling of the Moyle v. Idaho case. Worth a read because her opinion is surely shared by other health care professionals in states like Texas and Florida.

I’m staying in Idaho to practice medicine after the U.S. Supreme Court’s EMTALA decision

~ ~ ~

Today’s decisions —

First decision: City of Grants Pass v. Johnson

Justice Gorsuch wrote the 6-3 decision; Justice Sotomayor wrote the dissent which she opened by noting, “Sleep is a biological necessity, not a crime.”

Grants Pass banned public camping — which really banned homeless persons from sleeping in public. What a piece of shit decision relying on the Eighth Amendment to punish the homeless.

As noted all too often about the so-called conservatives: the cruelty is the point.

Second decision: Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo

Justice Roberts wrote the 6-3 decision; Justice Kagan wrote the dissent. The court split along ideological lines as expected.

This case essentially undermines the unanimous Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (1984) decision upon which federal agencies have relied for decades.

This is yet another swipe at the administrative state by the Roberts court and yet more evidence each of the recent GOP-appointed justices lied during their nomination hearings if they affirmed stare decisis. They are writing law from the bench.

Third decision: Fischer v. United States

Justice Roberts wrote the 6-3 decision; oddly, Justice Brown Jackson concurred. Justice Coney Barrett wrote the dissent joined by justices Sotomayor and Kagan.

This is the January 6 case in which accused insurrectionists were charged with 18 USC 1512(c); the majority narrowed the scope of the charge to impairment of record, document, or other objects in official proceedings. Aggravatingly, this appears to place focus on 18 USC 1512(c)(1) and not 18 USC 1512(c)(2) as you can see from the code itself:

(c) Whoever corruptly—

(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or
(2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

IANAL but this makes no sense to me because the entire point of the attack on the capitol was to obstruct the counting of votes and alter the outcome of the election’s certification.

~ ~ ~

This is an open thread. Any further updates related to these cases will appear at the bottom of this post.

62 replies
    • Rayne says:

      I drafted this post two nights ago and I’ve been a little fucking busy since. Tweaking this scheduled post to reflect the term’s extension into next week wasn’t on my map.

      • dogshelpgod says:

        No need to defend. With this Court, it is just Groundhog Day. (Without a happy ending.)

  1. harpie says:

    Thanks for getting this post up, Rayne!

    Here’s some of Steve Vladeck’s thinking this morning:

    87. And Then There Were Six(ish)
    With more decisions coming today at 10 ET, a quick preview of the remaining 6–8 Supreme Court decisions, with some speculation about which justice was assigned the majority opinion in each case STEVE VLADECK JUN 28, 2024

    • harpie says:

      Continuing directly:

      Jun 28, 2024 at 10:07 AM The Grants Pass law, as Sotomayor made clear in dissent, went further, banning public sleeping with any covering, so much as a blanket, even when no other options are available. This is a very troubling ruling.

    • harpie says:
      Jun 28, 2024 at 10:11 AM

      Sotomayor looks to the “near future” for different action from the court: [screenshot]

      Sotomayor: […] This Court, too, has a role to play in faithfully enforcing the Constitution to prohibit punishing the very existence of those without shelter. I remain hopeful that someday in the near future, this Court will play its role in safeguarding constitutional liberties for the most vulnerable among us.
      Because the Court today abdicates that role, I respectfully dissent.

      After Gorsuch read extensively from his opinion, Sotomayor is reading from her dissent.

      “Sleep is a biological necessity,” she begins, “not a crime.”

      The Supreme Court continues to choose not to livestream opinion announcements, so people not at the court can neither hear this nor understand what’s taking so long.

        • Scott_in_MI says:

          That was my thought as well. From SCOTUSblog: “Chevron’s presumption that statutory ambiguities are implicit delegations of authority by Congress to federal agencies ‘is misguided,’ Roberts explains, ‘because agencies have no special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities. Courts do.'”

          Yeah, but when statutory ambiguities arise because Congress doesn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground in relation to the issue being regulated, how are the courts going to resolve that ambiguity better than an agency whose personnel are directly involved in the relevant issues?

        • Scott_in_MI says:

          Following up on my previous post: this point appears to be the essence of Kagan’s dissent.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Abandoning Chevron won’t necessarily give the Supreme Court a lot of new cases, though it will elicit more cases from the right that further hammer what it calls the administrative state.

          What this decision will do is pour sand in the gear works. A lot of enforcement work will go undone. What does get done will be tied up in the lower courts for years before the Supremes get their first case – apart from the ones it fast tracks for its own ends.

        • jecojeco says:

          I thought judicial restraint was a GOP thing. I guess it was bitten the dust like GOP stong on national defense and GOP fiscal conservatism (only applies to Dem admins).

          Judicial restraint certainly doesn’t apply to the McConnell rigged and trump packed R-SCOTUS.

          It will be a true miracle if we don’t get an obscenely politicized presidential immunity ruling on Monday

      • harpie says:

        Jun 28, 2024 at 10:26 AM

        Roberts has the opinion overruling the 1984 case setting forth a standard in which courts give federal agencies deference to their reasonable interpretations of ambiguous laws. The decision gives more power to the courts to strike down agency actions. [link]

        Thomas and Gorsuch write concurring opinions. Kagan writes the dissent for the liberal justices.

        Kagan is reading from her dissent.

        Here’s a key part: [screenshot]

        • harpie says:

          Kagan: [quote] […] Its justification comes down, in the end, to this: Courts must have more say over regulations – over the provision of health care, the protection of the environment, the safety of consumer products, the efficacy of transportation systems, and so on. A longstanding precedent at the crux of administrative governance thus falls victim to a bald assertion of judicial authority. The majority disdains restraint, and grasps for power. [end quote]

        • P-villain says:

          No less depressing for being entirely unexpected. This ruling will unleash a flood of well-financed litigation that Trump-appointed trial judges will gladly handle. Terrible news for everyone but plutocrats.

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          Both Sotomayor (yesterday) and Kagan (today) have written about the conservative majority’s power grabs:

          Sotomayor’s dissent in SEC v. Jarkesy:

          Today’s decision is a power grab. Once again, “the majority arrogates Congress’s policymaking role to itself.” Garland v. Cargill, 602 U. S. 406, 442 (2024) (SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting). It prescribes artificial constraints on what modern-day adaptable governance must look like. In telling Congress that it cannot entrust certain public-rights matters to the Executive because it must bring them first into the Judiciary’s province, the majority oversteps its role and encroaches on Congress’s constitutional authority. Its decision offends the Framers’ constitutional design so critical to the preservation of individual liberty: the division of our Government into three coordinate branches to avoid the concentration of power in the same hands. The Federalist No. 51, p. 349 (J. Cooke ed. 1961) (J. Madison). Judicial aggrandizement is as pernicious to the separation of powers as any aggrandizing action from either of the political branches.

          … As this Court said over a century ago in this public-rights context, that belief “mistakenly assumes that the courts can alone be safely entrusted with power, and that hence it is their duty to unlawfully exercise prerogatives which they have no right to exert, upon the assumption that wrong must be done to prevent wrong being accomplished.”

          Kagan’s dissent in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo:

          A longstanding precedent at the crux of administrative governance thus falls victim to a bald assertion of judicial authority. The majority disdains restraint, and grasps for power.

        • allan_in_upstate says:

          Roberts: Roberts, overruling Chevron with incredible and unearned hubris: “Perhaps most fundamentally, Chevron’s presumption is misguided because agencies have no special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities. Courts do.”

          This is code for letting the `science’ of Law and Economics be the final arbiter.

        • arleychino says:

          A breathtaking power grab by Roberts and his cabal, doesn’t want any Judges and now no judgements in the Executive branch. Soon to follow, rulings against use of reason and logic by the Executive branch unless expressly approved by the Holy 6.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Roberts, like Alito and Thomas, has his facts wrong, but in a way the purposely aggrandizes his and the Court’s role in American governance.

          Administrative agencies don’t spend a lot of time sorting out the legal ambiguities of statutes, a role Roberts interprets as stealing his job. They spend most of their time enforcing statutes and filling in gaps that Congress intentionally left for them to fill. Oh, and allowing a complex government to run a complex society.

          His judgment will make that much harder to do, which is his point. Given the limits of congressional lawmaking, what he does creates much greater ambiguity. He will allow it to remain unfilled, keeping regulations from restraining resource extraction and profit-taking. Or he will fill it with the evangelical fervor of his peers on the Court.

      • harpie says:

        Geidner Jun 28, 2024 at 10:41 AM:

        Roberts, overruling Chevron with incredible and unearned hubris:

        “Perhaps most fundamentally, Chevron’s presumption is misguided because agencies have no special competence in resolving statutory ambiguities. Courts do.” [screenshot]

        • Ithaqua0 says:

          In short, Congress can’t leave fine-tuning a regulation up to the subject matter experts anymore. Maybe if they wrote that they are doing so explicitly in the regulation, it would work around this finding?

          You would think we were living in the 1700s when so little was known that someone could know everything, so a judge really could be a subject matter expert on almost everything. Back to the future, indeed.

    • P-villain says:

      “The majestic equality of the laws prohibits the rich and the poor alike from sleeping under bridges.”
      – Anatole France

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Justice Gorsuch is the one that Senator Franken disemboweled at his hearing about the case where Gorsuch ruled that a driver in a blizzard had to freeze to death in his truck to protect company property. This is not unusual.

  2. bmaz says:

    Well, the Grant’s Pass decision was pretty pathetic. Elections have consequences; maybe someday the Dems will figure that out. The last 24 hours do not bode well for that though.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Gorsuch only read the first part of A Christmas Carol. Here, he responds to Sotomayor:

      “Are there no prisons?…And the … workhouses….Are they still in operation?”

      “If [the poor] would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

      • Golden Bough says:

        Sadly, not even being visited by numerous well-intentioned ghosts would change Gorsuch’s and the supermajority’s cruelty.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    There’s no guarantee the Court will issue its immunity decision this term. It could wait until the fall. It doesn’t have to say when it will issue it.

    • Rayne says:

      Bernie is older than Biden; if you have a problem with Biden, demanding an older man as a backup to POTUS is bullshit. GTFO.

    • bbuckrah says:

      Rayne so rude. My only problem is that the mangled apricot hellbeast seems unbeatable at the moment. Bernie’s old, but still all here. Kamala should come out relatively unscathed. The world gets saved. Why not?

      • Rayne says:

        Find the exit then because it’s fucking rude to come in here and spout some grossly uneducated crap like demanding the 25th amendment for a competent president for purely political machinations. This is not a site for political n00bs.

        You need to examine why Kamala Harris AND Bernie didn’t win the primary in 2016 because insisting they can win the general now misunderstands the electorate.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I was just wondering whether the Supreme Court will ban the wealthy from sleeping outside, too. Bad for beaches and hammock sales. Bad for courtrooms in which Donald Trump sits.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      But Chris Christie has the beach all to himself!*

      *by order of the New Jersey State Police

  5. David F. Snyder says:

    Putin’s Plot 2.0 (condensed version)

    Step 1: get elected President
    Step 2: stack the judiciary with sycophants
    Step 3: lose the next election and allow the courts and complicit legislators tweak/gut a few critical laws.
    Step 4: get re-elected as chief executive and use the now-owned judiciary and legislature to permanently establish the oligarchy.

    So step 3 is nearly complete. They just need that immunity decision. But they won’t hand that power to Biden, so I don’t blame myself for imagining that they will wait to hand down that decision until Trump has been elected or J6-style instated.

    All that said, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. But half-ass efforts won’t win this.

  6. c-i-v-i-l says:

    SCOTUS just denied Steve Bannon’s request for release pending appeal. Bannon has to report to prison by Monday.

    • Rayne says:

      Apparently all the Nazis and adjacent fascists in Grants Pass have homes in which to sleep.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      There are a few towns in SW Connecticut with the same make-up, so it’s not just Colorado. But I am surprised the case didn’t come from the evangelical heartland of Colorado Springs.

    • P-villain says:

      Yes, lotsa rednecks in Grants Pass, but some beautiful people, too. My heart goes out to the latter; this decision is abominable.

      “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges.”

      – Anatole France

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    With the demise of Chevron, private equity and hedge fund managers the world over will come running to extract even more wealth from a neutered American state. The domestic ones we already have will consider it open season on any America resource not already owned by one of them. Looks like Clarence Thomas will get a shiny new luxury caravan to travel from one empty Walmart parking lot to the next.

  8. harpie says:

    6/27/24 12:36 PM Forbes publishes:
    Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks EPA’s Air Pollution Rule — What To Know
    https: [space] //—what-to-know

    6/27/24 2:43 PM Sean Donoghue [seantankerous] Xeets:

    Justice Gorsuch’s opinion refers five times to “nitrous oxide” (aka laughing gas) [NO2] rather than the entirely different chemical compound — smog-causing “nitrogen oxides” [NOx] — actually at issue in the case.

    1/28/24 5:32 AM Forbes publishes:
    Supreme Court Corrects EPA Opinion After Gorsuch Confuses Laughing Gas With Air Pollutant
    https: [space] //

    6/28/24 10:23 AM ROBERTS COURTesans announce they have overturned “Chevron deference”:

    BREAKING: The Supreme Court overrules Chevron on a 6-3 ideological vote. / Roberts has the opinion overruling the 1984 case setting forth a standard in which courts give federal agencies deference to their reasonable interpretations of ambiguous laws. The decision gives more power to the courts to strike down agency actions.

    • harpie says:

      Forget the imperial presidency. John Roberts wants an imperial SCOTUS.
      Justice Kagan lays it out: “The majority disdains restraint, and grasps for power.”
      CHRIS GEIDNER JUN 28, 2024

      Chief Justice John Roberts announced the latest — and biggest — step in a continued judicial aggrandizement project on Friday, overturning a 1984 precedent that directed courts to defer to reasonable agency interpretations of ambiguous laws within the agency’s bailiwick. […]

      “Chevron is overruled,” Roberts wrote in his 6-3 decision for the court. The Chevron decision is now marked with a “tombstone … no one can miss,” Justice Neil Gorsuch helpfully shared in a concurring opinion. Roberts announced the move with support from all five of his fellow Republican appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court. […]

      • harpie says:


        […] What’s more, Friday’s decision might have been the first of a one-two punch.

        On Monday, when the court is expected to release its final decisions of the term, a previously low-key case could now take on heightened importance. In Corner Post v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the court could potentially open a wide range of longstanding federal rules to new challenges if the court sides with Corner Post.

        Corner Post is asking the justices to hold that APA challenges accrue from when a would-be plaintiff is first affected — instead of from when the agency promulgated the rule. Under the decision it is seeking, a company like Corner Post that opened for business recently would be free to challenge any rule — no matter how long the rule has been in place — because the company had not previously been affected by the rule since it wasn’t in existence. […]

        In other words, if Corner Post wins on Monday and after Loper Bright, we could have a situation — depending on the specifics of the Corner Post ruling where any newly formed company could challenge any rule that it is affected by, no matter how long the rule has been in place, and the Roberts court would get to decide, under a Chevron-free analysis, if it wants to allow the rule.

        !!!!! I want to emphasize that whole last paragraph!

        • harpie says:

          Geidner’s final paragraph, continuing directly:

          The decision in Loper Bright laid bare the reality that has been true and yet that Roberts has desperately been trying to hide this term: When the conservatives want to act — when they have the desire and the votes to do so — they will act, precedent and consequences be damned.

    • harpie says:

      Continuing with the above TL
      Jun 28, 2024 10:48 AM Jamelle Bouie writes:

      once again i think that mark lemley’s article on the “imperial supreme court” is the most perceptive thing written about the roberts court and its overarching project [link]

      Links to:
      The Imperial Supreme Court MARK A. LEMLEY November 2022

      The past few years have marked the emergence of the imperial Supreme Court. Armed with a new, nearly bulletproof majority, conservative Justices on the Court have embarked on a radical restructuring of American law across a range of fields and disciplines. Unlike previous shifts in the Court, this one isn’t marked by debates over federal versus state power, or congressional versus judicial power, or judicial activism versus restraint. Nor is it marked by the triumph of one form of constitutional interpretation over another. On each of those axes, the Court’s recent opinions point in radically different directions. The Court has taken significant, simultaneous steps to restrict the power of Congress, the administrative state, the states, and the lower federal courts. And it has done so using a variety of (often contradictory) interpretative methodologies. The common denominator across multiple opinions in the last two years is that they concentrate power in one place: the Supreme Court. […]

    • harpie says:

      Along the same lines as a comment that’s in the pokey:

      Weakening Regulatory Agencies Will Be a Key Legacy of the Roberts Court
      Two rulings this week by the Republican-appointed majority add to its steady pursuit of enfeebling the ability of the administrative state to impose rules on powerful business interests. Charlie Savage June 28, 2024

      […] The fight traces back to the Great Depression and the New Deal era in the 1930s, when economic disaster had reduced the political power of wealthy business interests. Against that backdrop, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his allies in Congress created the modern administrative state.
      This governing structure has become the way that American society imposes rules on powerful business interests across a range of issues, such as ensuring that the air and water are clean, that food, drugs, vehicles and consumer products are safe, and that financial firms do not defraud people.

      Regardless of their value to society as a whole, such rules can also cut into the profits of business owners. From the start, many wealthy interests have denounced the administrative state as socialism. […]

      • allan_in_upstate says:

        Along these lines I would recommend the recent book, The Quiet Coup, by UC-Irvine law professor Mehrsa Baradaran, especially chapters 4 and 5 on the neoliberal takeover of the legal system. Grim reading, which this week’s decisions fit right into.

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