Category Archives: Constitutional Law

Argument preview: Texas redistricting battles return to the court

Since October, the Supreme Court has heard oral argument in two major redistricting battles, involving allegations of partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin and Maryland. When the justices take the bench next Tuesday, they will hear oral argument in a third redistricting dispute, this time involving allegations that Texas lawmakers drew federal congressional and state legislative districts that harmed some of the state’s black and Hispanic residents. The tale of the two cases known as Abbott v. Perez is a long and complicated one. It began in 2011, when Texas’ Republican-controlled legislature began redistricting in the wake of the 2010 census, which indicated that Texas had gained over four million new residents, who were predominantly minorities; that population growth meant that the state would get four new seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. But the plan that the legislature created never went into effect. A three-judge district court (the normal forum….. To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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Politics Can Be Fun – Some Encouragement for Earth Day

Some people tell me it’s hard to deal with global dangers and dangers to our health that aren’t fun to think about and that feel out of our control as well. How can we deal with it? Compare those to how we protect our families in other situations. I often feel better thinking about dangers than ignoring them, like when we talked with our children about dangers they faced on their way to school. I remember a colleague asking me to baby sit for his children when I was abroad. They were a British couple and Alistair was explicit – there were people around who snatched and sold children. That was painful to think about. That’s why they had to. I’m a husband, parent and grandparent. It is my job to think about what could destroy my family and embitter our lives. We all take pride in protecting our families and helping them protect themselves. Part of being a grown-up is to stare danger in the face and deal with it. Lots of things are well within our….. To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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No new grants, but four CVSGs

This morning the Supreme Court issued orders from last week’s private conference. The justices did not add any new cases to their merits docket for their next term, which begins in October, but they did ask the U.S. solicitor general to weigh in on four cases. Two of the cases in which the U.S. solicitor general has been asked to file briefs expressing the views of the United States are original actions – that is, lawsuits filed first in the Supreme Court – challenging state laws that seek to regulate the treatment of farm animals. The first case, Missouri v. California, asks the justices to invalidate a California law that requires farms raising egg-laying hens to ensure that the hens can move around freely. Telling the court that California’s regulation of eggs has “inflated egg prices for every egg consumer in the Nation,” 13 states argue that the law is trumped by federal laws and violates the Constitution’s commerce clause, which….. To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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Tax Objector's Strategy To Prevent Garnishment Does Not Constitute Tax Evasion

The Oregonian last week reported on a partial court victory by Christian tax objector Michael Bowman who for the last nearly 20 years has refused to file income tax returns unless some accommodation is made so none of his tax monies support abortion.  When in 2012 Oregon tax authorities began to garnish Bowman's bank account, he moved to keep only a small balance in his checking account by cashing his pay checks rather than depositing them.  This led federal authorities last year to charge him with felony counts of tax evasion.  However, last week an Oregon federal district court held that merely cashing pay checks, when his income was fully reported to the IRS, could not constitute tax evasion.  However Bowman still faces four federal misdemeanor counts of willful failure to file tax returns... To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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[Ilya Somin] Originalism, Living Constitutionalism, and the Power to Initiate War

In a recent post at the Originalism Blog, prominent originalist legal scholar Michael Ramsey notes the phenomenon of nonoriginalists like Sen. Bernie Sanders claiming that Trump's recent air strike on Syria requires congressional authorization. In Ramsey's view, this conclusion is difficult to justify on other than originalist grounds: I agree [with Sanders]…. But let's be clear that Senator Sanders and those agreeing with him are making an originalist argument. The Constitution given its original meaning is clear…. To "declare war" in eighteenth-century terms included "declaring" by taking military action as well as by issuing a proclamation, and even relatively small armed conflicts with foreign nations were considered "war." In contrast, the nonoriginalist case against the President's war-initiation power is highly uncertain. It can be made…. But the argument the other way is strong as well. Circumstances have changed….. To continue reading this legal news please click Read full information...

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