In a 5-4 decision Wednesday evening the U.S. Supreme Court opted to not block a state court’s ruling ordering a faith-based private university to recognize an LGBTQ students’ organization, but the order is quite likely temporary.
Yeshiva University, which has four campuses in New York City, was ordered by a state court to recognize Y.U. Pride Alliance, citing New York State anti-discrimination law.
Over the weekend Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the 2nd Circuit including courts in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, blocked the state court’s ruling in what some call an administrative order. She did not refer the case to the full Court.
Wednesday evening, Justice Sotomayor, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson voted to allow the lower court’s ruling to go into effect. That ruling requires Yeshiva University to recognize the LGBTQ students’ organization.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett dissented, with Justice Alito speaking the loudest.
“I doubt that Yeshiva’s return to state court will be fruitful, and I see no reason why we should not grant a stay at this time,” Alito wrote, according to the L.A. Times. “It is our duty to stand up for the Constitution even when doing so is controversial.”
But legal experts disagreed with Alito, as did the court’s more liberal justices, if not only on the merits, at least on the procedural aspects.
Some were aghast at Yeshiva’s aggressive process, making a beeline for the Supreme Court before having exhausted all remedies in the lower courts – something that was expected practice until what some say this activist court has not only allowed but invited.
“Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kavanaugh join the three more liberal Justices in 5-4 ruling rejecting Yeshiva’s application to block a state trial court order — noting that Yeshiva still has the ability to pursue similar relief in the New York state courts,” Law professor Steve Vladeck noted.
Vladeck is also the author of the upcoming book, “The Shadow Docket: How the Supreme Court Uses Stealth Rulings to Amass Power and Undermine the Republic.”
Y.U. Pride Alliance attorney Katie Rosenfeld called the decision a “victory for Yeshiva University students who are simply seeking basic rights that are uncontested at peer universities,” Reuters reports. “At the end of the day, Yeshiva University students will have a club for peer support this year, and the sky is not going to fall down.”
But before LGBTQ and civil rights supporters start celebrating, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, agreeing with conservative writer David French, says, “Roberts and Kavanaugh will ultimately side with Yeshiva, but they refused to reward the school’s abuse of the shadow docket to hop over state courts.”
The far-right legal group Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing Yeshiva.
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
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Treasury Dept. Finally Hands Over Six Years of Trump’s Tax Returns to Powerful House Committee
The U.S. Dept. of the Treasury has finally handed over six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns, after the U.S, Supreme Court denied the ex-president’s request to block the document transfer. The powerful House Ways and Means Committee is now in receipt of all six years, according to a Wednesday afternoon report from CNN.
The returns are primarily from Trump’s time as president.
The Committee will need to work quickly, as Republicans will take over the House majority early next year, and the current Chairman, Richard Neal, will no longer serve in that role.
Republicans are expected to end any investigations into Donald Trump, including his tax returns, as they begin investigations into top GOP priorities: Hunter Biden’s laptop, the origin of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and President Joe Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.
This is a breaking news and developing story.
Image via Shutterstock
Republican Attempts to Create Special Religious Rights Fail as Bipartisan Historic Same-Sex Marriage Bill Passes Senate
Far right activists and organizations for months have been falsely claiming legislation to protect same-sex marriages would destroy different-sex marriages and take away religious rights from ordinary Americans, but early Tuesday evening on a bipartisan basis the Senate passed the Respect for Marriage Act, 61-36.
61-36: Senate passes marriage equality legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages under federal law. 60 votes were needed. The Respect for Marriage Act now heads back to the House for final approval. pic.twitter.com/vKvliW5pIU
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) November 29, 2022
The legislation itself is very simple. It essentially leaves in place the status quo on marriage from the Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling. Should right wing Supreme Court justices strike that ruling down, the Respect for Marriage Act would require the federal government and states to recognize any marriages that were legal when they were entered, now and in the future.
35 states currently still have same-sex marriage bans on the books. If the Supreme Court overturns Obergefell, many of those could become law immediately.
In order to overcome a Republican-led filibuster Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday agreed to allow three GOP Senators to offer amendments to the legislation, amendments that would have created special religious rights to discriminate.
An amendment from Senator James Lankford (R-OK) failed, as did one from Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT). 60 votes were needed for each.
Sen. Lee’s was seen by some as the most extreme, and was strongly supported by the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts, in a false claim, had said: “The ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ contains so many infringements and encroachments on religious freedoms and on conscience that Republicans should unite solidly against it. Instead, it should be called the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”
Far right evangelical activist Franklin Graham falsely claimed the “bill strikes a blow at religious freedom for individuals & ministries & is really the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act.'”
The Pennsylvania Family Council wrongly called it “a bill that would redefine marriage and attack religious freedom & Christian social services.”
But despite GOP fear-mongering, the legislation has religious protections built in, protections so strong 20 faith-based organizations including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, have supported its passage.
The bill now heads back to the House for a final vote, and then to President Joe Biden, who has said he will sign it into law.
"What a great day," says Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, as Senate approves legislation to codify protections for lawful same-sex and interracial marriages.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 29, 2022
‘Denied’: Trump Just Lost Big at the Supreme Court Over His Tax Returns
The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon rejected a request from Donald Trump, asking that it block a lower court ruling ordering that six years of the former president’s tax returns be given to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Trump has been battling the Committee for three years.
The order says Chief Justice John Roberts referred Trump’s request to the full Court. It does not say if any justices agreed with Trump.
“The application for stay of the mandate presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court is denied. The order heretofore entered by The Chief Justice is vacated,” the ruling reads.
But Democrats need to move quickly.
“The decision by the court in a brief order noting no dissenting votes means the committee can try to access the documents ahead of the Republican take-over of the House in January,” NBC News notes. “The committee, however, has not said how quickly it expects to get the documents. Upon taking control, Republicans are expected to withdraw the request.”
This is a breaking news and developing story.
Image: Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour
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