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SCOTUS: No longer content with stacking, they're now dealing from the bottom of the deck


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Warren Accuses John Roberts Of Acting As ‘Super Legislator’ During Student Debt Oral Arguments


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized Chief Justice John Roberts’ fixation on the “fairness” of the Biden administration’s student debt relief plan Thursday, which he and his right-wing peers brought up repeatedly during oral arguments earlier this week.


“When Justice Roberts asks about fairness rather than focusing on statutory interpretation or constitutional issues, he’s becoming a super legislator. That’s not his job,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) told TPM. “It is not the role of the United States Supreme Court to make those judgements.” 


“And that means this Court is trying to pull more power into itself and away from the elected officials whose jobs it is to make those decisions,” she added. “This is not about a Court that is promoting small government. This is about a Court that is promoting big court.” 


Roberts, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, repeatedly asked the U.S. Solicitor General about the fairness of the plan, with Roberts conjuring up a hypothetical person who forewent college to start a lawn care business to torque up the sympathy. 


The liberal justices pushed back. 


“Congress passed a statute that dealt with loan repayment for colleges and it didn’t pass a statute that dealt with loan repayment for lawn businesses — so Congress made a choice,” Justice Elena Kagan said, referring to the 2003 law on which the Biden administration’s proposal is based. 


The statute in question says that the Secretary “may waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs” as the Secretary “deems necessary in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency.”


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Supreme Court rules for deaf student who sued Michigan school district


The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of a student in Michigan seeking to hold his local school district accountable for, he alleges, failing to adequately meet his educational needs.


In the unanimous ruling, the court said Miguel Luna Perez could pursue claims against Sturgis Public School District under the American with Disabilities Act.


The brief decision, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, was about a technical issue: whether Perez was barred from bringing a claim under the ADA because he was already seeking relief under a different federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA.


Perez and his family allege that the school district failed to provide qualified aides who could adequately translate into sign language.


The school also indicated that Perez was advancing normally and was on course to graduate from high school. The family were shocked when they were told Perez would not receive a diploma.


The school settled Perez’s IDEA complaint, promising to provide education at the Michigan School for the Deaf.


Perez then sued under the ADA, seeking compensatory damages.


The school district claimed that lawsuit could not proceed because of the IDEA lawsuit, but the Supreme Court disagreed in Tuesday’s decision.


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‘I’m fine with you making stuff up’: Top SCOTUS lawyer sparks fiery exchanges in Jack Daniels trademark case over bottle-shaped dog toy


The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in a major intellectual property case involving a dog chew toy, Jack Daniels whiskey, and a fake liquor label advertising its product as “43% poo.”


Dog toys and scatological references notwithstanding, the case promises serious implications for the future of parodies within the legal world of intellectual property.


Spirits giant Jack Daniels sued VIP Products for trademark dilution based on a rubber dog toy shaped like a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey featuring a label that read, “Bad Spaniels, the Old No. 2, on your Tennessee Carpet.” The bottom of the toy continues the fecal theme with the words “43% POO BY VOL.” and “100% SMELLY.”


A photo of the two products can be seen below.




The toy’s packaging specifically denies any affiliation with Jack Daniels, but the whiskey maker says there is still a risk that consumers may get confused and think that the two are linked, which would dilute the Jack Daniels brand. VIP products argues that it has a First Amendment right to parody a brand even when the owner of the brand dislikes it.


Taking center stage during Wednesday’s arguments was attorney Lisa Blatt, who argued on behalf of Jack Daniels. Blatt is a familiar face to the justices, having argued at least forty cases before the Supreme Court — more than any other woman in history — and has won in more than 80% of those cases.


When Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson suggested an analytical framework that was “cleaner” and “more consistent with the statute,” Blatt retorted: “I’m fine with you making up stuff.”

“No, I’m not making it up,” Jackson responded. She then referred to handwritten notes in which the justice captured Blatt’s earlier argument.


Blatt doubled down on her position, ostensibly schooling Jackson: “Sorry, but in trademark law you can have a very confusing use of a trademark…”


“I’m sorry, Ms. Blatt,” Jackson interrupted, before continuing to press the attorney on the significance of brand confusion in trademark claims.


Almost immediately, the internet noticed the awkward exchange between the two women, with some calling Blatt’s comments to the justices “rude” and “condescending.”


Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not appear inclined to gloss over Blatt’s “making up stuff” comment, opting instead to bring clarity and context to the lawyer’s thinly-veiled suggestion that at least some of the justices were improvising their jurisprudence.


Sotomayor reminded Blatt that when it comes to interpreting a statutory standard, judges “have to figure out” and “have to create some principles.”


“All these tests are judicially-crafted,” Sotomayor said, using a somewhat more nuanced framing than what Blatt’s “making stuff up” implied.


“First of all, that’s funny. I’m going to give you that,” she said to Sotomayor. “Second, funny is not relevant.”


When Sotomayor interjected during Blatt’s follow-up argument, Blatt snapped: “I’d like to get this answer out. It’s not about whether you get the joke. It’s whether it’s confusing about who made the joke.”


“It’s  just a little rich for people who are at your level to say that you know what the average purchasing public thinks about all kinds of female products that you don’t know anything about, or dog toys that you might not know anything about,” Blatt said.


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Insulting the members of the Supreme Court doesn't seem like the best way to win them over to your side of the argument.

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I listen to a SC podcast that does a weekly summary so I'm familiar with this lawyer.  She is quite often spicy.  I've heard in interviews that essentially she gets a little extra leeway than most because she is there so often.

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3 hours ago, TheGreatBuzz said:

I listen to a SC podcast that does a weekly summary so I'm familiar with this lawyer.  She is quite often spicy.  I've heard in interviews that essentially she gets a little extra leeway than most because she is there so often.


I looked up her bio, and your post checks out.  

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Activist group led by Ginni Thomas received nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations


A little-known conservative activist group led by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, collected nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations to wage a cultural battle against the left over three years, a Washington Post investigation found.


The previously unreported donations to the fledgling group Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty were channeled through a right-wing think tank in Washington that agreed to serve as a funding conduit from 2019 until the start of last year, according to documents and interviews. The arrangement, known as a “fiscal sponsorship,” effectively shielded from public view details about Crowdsourcers’ activities and spending, information it would have had to disclose publicly if it operated as a separate nonprofit organization, experts said.


The Post’s investigation sheds new light on the role money from donors who are not publicly identified has played in supporting Ginni Thomas’s political advocacy, long a source of controversy. The funding is the first example of anonymous donors backing her activism since she founded a conservative charity more than a decade ago. She stepped away from that charity amid concerns that it created potential conflicts for her husband on hot-button issues before the court.


Thomas’s activism has set her apart from other spouses of Supreme Court justices. She has allied with numerous people and groups that have interests before the court, and she has dedicated herself to causes involving some of the most polarizing issues in the country.


In recent months, the high court has faced increasing scrutiny over a range of ethical issues, including the lack of transparency surrounding potential conflicts of interest and a whistleblower’s claim that wealthy Christian activists sought access to justices at social gatherings to shore up their resolve on abortion and other conservative priorities.


In a brief statement to The Post, Mark Paoletta, a lawyer for Ginni Thomas, said she was “proud of the work she did with Crowdsourcers, which brought together conservative leaders to discuss amplifying conservative values with respect to the battle over culture.”


“She believes Crowdsourcers identified the Left’s dominance in most cultural lanes, while conservatives were mostly funding political organizations,” Paoletta wrote. “In her work, she has complied with all reporting and disclosure requirements.”


He wrote: “There is no plausible conflict of interest issue with respect to Justice Thomas.”


A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court did not respond to questions for Clarence Thomas.


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Edit:  TEG beat me to it.  If you want the long form version:

Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire


For over 20 years, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been treated to luxury vacations by billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow.


IN LATE JUNE 2019, right after the U.S. Supreme Court released its final opinion of the term, Justice Clarence Thomas boarded a large private jet headed to Indonesia. He and his wife were going on vacation: nine days of island-hopping in a volcanic archipelago on a superyacht staffed by a coterie of attendants and a private chef.


If Thomas had chartered the plane and the 162-foot yacht himself, the total cost of the trip could have exceeded $500,000. Fortunately for him, that wasn’t necessary: He was on vacation with real estate magnate and Republican megadonor Harlan Crow, who owned the jet — and the yacht, too.


For more than two decades, Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. A public servant who has a salary of $285,000, he has vacationed on Crow’s superyacht around the globe. He flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet. He has gone with Crow to the Bohemian Grove, the exclusive California all-male retreat, and to Crow’s sprawling ranch in East Texas. And Thomas typically spends about a week every summer at Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks.


The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.


These trips appeared nowhere on Thomas’ financial disclosures. His failure to report the flights appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said. He also should have disclosed his trips on the yacht, these experts said.


Thomas did not respond to a detailed list of questions.


In a statement, Crow acknowledged that he’d extended “hospitality” to the Thomases “over the years,” but said that Thomas never asked for any of it and it was “no different from the hospitality we have extended to our many other dear friends.


Through his largesse, Crow has gained a unique form of access, spending days in private with one of the most powerful people in the country. By accepting the trips, Thomas has broken long-standing norms for judges’ conduct, ethics experts and four current or retired federal judges said.


“It’s incomprehensible to me that someone would do this,” said Nancy Gertner, a retired federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton. When she was on the bench, Gertner said, she was so cautious about appearances that she wouldn’t mention her title when making dinner reservations: “It was a question of not wanting to use the office for anything other than what it was intended.”


Virginia Canter, a former government ethics lawyer who served in administrations of both parties, said Thomas “seems to have completely disregarded his higher ethical obligations.”


“When a justice’s lifestyle is being subsidized by the rich and famous, it absolutely corrodes public trust,” said Canter, now at the watchdog group CREW. “Quite frankly, it makes my heart sink.”


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Clarence may truly be friends with the dude. 


It doesn't matter.


Failure to disclose is 💯 an ethics problem and he should (but won't likely) be severely admonished (or worse) for it. 


I had little respect for Thomas anyways. Now I have none. Nor should anyone. 

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I hope this is what finally puts this dude out of power. And I hope it causes deeper looks at all of them. I bet Beer boy is full of this same brand of **** too. 


Its always wild to me that conservatives look and hunt for conspiracies in ever corner and under every pizza place, but they have this **** right in front of them. In the open. And then vote for it. 

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The degree of corruption in the GOP is just utterly shameless and disgusting.  Not shocking.  They'll rally to his support, of course.  What a pathetic party.  

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