Justice

Cars and trucks drive along a motorway near Roth
Cars and trucks drive along a motorway near Roth, Germany, August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

June 18, 2019

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – A planned German highway toll for cars discriminates against foreign drivers and breaches European Union law, the EU’s highest court said on Tuesday.

The European Court of Justice backed a challenge from Austria, which charged the economic burden of the toll fell solely on drivers from EU countries other than Germany.

The ruling means Germany cannot introduce the toll, which was due to take effect in October 2020. It had passed a law in 2015 establishing the charge for passenger cars that used the country’s highways.

Those with cars registered in Germany would have been charged an annual fee of up to 130 euros ($146.09), but they would have been given a corresponding reduction in motor vehicle tax.

Drivers living elsewhere would also have needed passes to drive on German highways, again up to a maximum of 130 euros a year. That worried Austrian drivers, because the fastest east-west route across mountainous Austria involves a shortcut through Germany called the “German corner”.

Austria has a similar annual toll of its own – but without the tax break for local drivers – which can irritate Germans who flock to Austria on holiday or cross it on their way to Italy.

Austria, backed by the Netherlands, complained that the tax relief for German residents effectively meant only foreign drivers were truly paying the charge.

The court agreed on Tuesday, saying the planned system constituted indirect discrimination on grounds of nationality.

“I believe that this ruling of the ECJ really is a good day for the European Union … and that it is also a sign, a clear signal in favor of fairness,” Austrian Transport Minister Andreas Reichhardt told a news conference.

Germany, supported by Denmark, had argued the charge was in line with EU transport policy and the principle that users and polluters should pay the cost of the highway network.

The court disagreed. It said drivers in Germany did not have the opportunity to pay for less than the full year even if they rarely drove on highways.

“I expect that Germany will respect this ECJ ruling and that discrimination against foreign drivers will be abandoned,” Reichhardt said, adding that he would await a public reaction by his German counterpart before discussing the issue.

German ticket operator CTS Eventim and Austrian road systems specialist Kapsch TrafficCom were awarded a 2 billion-euro contract in December to operate the toll.

German already has a road toll for trucks.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; additional repoting by Francois Murphy in Vienna; editing by Catherine Evans, Larry King)

Source: OANN

Visitors lined up at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning as the justices prepared to hand down decisions. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP

With less than two weeks left in the U.S. Supreme Court’s term, the justices handed down four decisions on Monday. Defying predictions, three were decided by shifting liberal-conservative coalitions.

Here, in a nutshell, are the results, as well as the fascinating shifting votes:

Dual sovereignty upheld, with Ginsburg, Gorsuch dissenting

In a 7-2 vote, the court reaffirmed its 100-year-old rule declaring that state governments and the federal government may each prosecute a person separately for the same crime, without violating the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause. Dissenting were the court’s leading liberal justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and one of its most conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch.

Racial gerrymandering case thrown out with a mix of liberals, conservatives

Spurning pleas from Virginia Republicans, the court let stand decisions by lower courts finding that 11 state House districts were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Constitution. The Supreme Court said the Republican-dominated Virginia House of Delegates had no legal standing to appeal to the Supreme Court on its own when the state Senate and the state’s attorney general had decided against appealing.

Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority. She was joined by conservative justices Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas and liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Dissenting were conservative justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as liberal justice Stephen Breyer.

Uranium ban upheld again with an ideological mix

The court upheld Virginia’s ban on uranium mining. In a 6-3 vote, the justices said that the state law was not superseded by the federal Atomic Energy Act.

Writing for the court’s majority, Gorsuch said the Atomic Energy Act gives the federal government the authority to regulate nuclear safety but not the authority to regulate mining itself. Fellow conservatives Thomas and Kavanaugh joined the Gorsuch opinion in full, but liberal justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan agreed only with his bottom line. They refused to sign on to Gorsuch’s broad language about matters that they said, “sweep well beyond the confines of this case.”

Dissenting were Roberts, Breyer and Alito.

One traditional 5-4 split

The only classic conservative-liberal split on Monday came in a case testing whether a private corporation that runs a public access TV channel in New York City is a public forum that, like a public park, cannot discriminate against speakers.

The court, in a 5-4 vote, concluded that the public access channel was owned by Time Warner, not by the city. And because it was privately owned, the channel could not be sued for refusing to air a movie.

Kavanaugh wrote the decision for the five conservative justices, declaring that “[M]erely hosting speech by others is not a traditional, exclusive public function.”

Therefore, channel operators cannot be sued for violating the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. At first blush, at least, the decision would seem to preclude First Amendment lawsuits against private platform operators, like Twitter and Facebook, though Kavanaugh warned that the decision should not be read “too broadly.”

Dissenting were the court’s four liberal justices.

What’s still left?

On Thursday, the court is expected to hand down more of the 20 remaining decisions on its docket. Among those are the three blockbuster cases of the term:

  • The American Legion v. American Humanist Association: a case from Maryland that tests whether a giant World War I memorial in the shape of a Latin cross is, as the challengers maintain, a symbol of Christianity that violates the Constitution’s ban on establishment of religion. The objectors are seeking its removal to private property and an end to taxpayer funding of the cross.
  • Rucho v. Common Cause (North Carolina) and Lamone v. Benisek (Maryland): cases from North Carolina and Maryland that test whether there is any constitutional limit to extreme partisan gerrymandering that serves to entrench one-party domination of congressional seats in states that are more narrowly divided.
  • Department of Commerce v. New York: State and local governments are challenging the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Census Bureau’s own experts have warned that adding the question will lead to a serious and uneven undercount of the population, with potentially profound political consequences.

These three decisions (and 17 others) remain in the wings.

FILE PHOTO - Mohamed Mursi, head of the Brotherhood's newly formed Justice and Freedom Party gestures during an interview with Reuters in Cairo
FILE PHOTO – Mohamed Mursi, head of the Brotherhood’s newly formed Justice and Freedom Party gestures during an interview with Reuters in Cairo, May 28, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

June 18, 2019

CAIRO (Reuters) – Former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi has been buried alongside other senior figures of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, his son, Ahmed Mursi, said on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

The burial was attended by members of the family in Cairo’s Nasr City after authorities refused burial in Mursi’s home province of Sharqiya in the Nile Delta, Ahmed Mursi said.

“We washed his noble body at Tora prison hospital, read prayers for him at the prison hospital … and the burial was at the Muslim Brotherhood spiritual guides,” Ahmed wrote.

Mursi died on Monday from a heart attack after collapsing in a Cairo court while on trial on espionage charges, authorities and a medical source said. He was 67.

Mursi, a top figure in the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, had been in jail since being toppled by the military in 2013 after barely a year in power, following mass protests against his rule.

His death is likely to pile international pressure on the Egyptian government over its human rights record, especially conditions in prisons where thousands of Islamists and secular activists are held.

(Reporting By Ali Abdelaty, writing by Sami Aboudi)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

June 18, 2019

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

“Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

COURT DIVISIONS

The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

“That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.’”

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

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Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, had been expected to be transferred to the notorious Rikers Island jail complex this month to await trial on a separate state case.

But last week, Manhattan prosecutors were surprised to receive a letter from the second-highest law enforcement official in the country inquiring about Mr. Manafort’s case. The letter, from Jeffrey A. Rosen, Attorney General William P. Barr’s new top deputy, indicated that he was monitoring where Mr. Manafort would be held in New York.

And then, on Monday, federal prison officials weighed in, telling the Manhattan district attorney’s office that Mr. Manafort, 70, would not be going to Rikers.

Instead, he will await his trial at a federal lockup in Manhattan or at the Pennsylvania federal prison where he is serving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for wide-ranging financial schemes, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

A senior Justice Department official said that the department believed Mr. Manafort’s treatment was appropriate, but several former and current prosecutors said the decision was highly unusual. Most federal inmates facing state charges are held on Rikers Island.

The intervention of Mr. Rosen was just the latest twist in the case of Mr. Manafort, whose campaign work for Mr. Trump and political consulting in Ukraine put him in the cross hairs of a two-year investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

He was convicted of financial fraud in two separate federal cases that came out of the investigation, which was led by the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

While that might have been the end of his criminal problems, in March, he was indicted on 16 New York state felonies, including mortgage fraud and falsifying records to obtain millions of dollars in loans. The charges, which are based on some of the same actions in the federal cases, were brought by the office of the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Mr. Manafort is expected to be arraigned next week in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

He has been slated to be held on Rikers Island, which has long been plagued by violence and mismanagement, prompting efforts to close it. Officials there had said Mr. Manafort likely would have been held in protective custody for his own safety, isolated from the general population and under heavy guard.

He is now likely to be held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal detention center in Lower Manhattan, while he awaits trial. He may also remain at the federal prison in Loretto, Penn., where he is serving his sentence, and brought to New York for hearings, according to the people with knowledge of the matter.

The former Justice Department officials and current state prosecutors, who regularly handled the transfer of federal inmates to state custody, said they were surprised that the second-highest official in the Justice Department would take an interest in the case. The decision is usually made by the warden at the prison where the inmate is being held.

Justice Department officials were unable to say who made the decision in Mr. Manafort’s case; the Bureau of Prisons, which is part of the Justice Department, did not respond to a request for comment.

Todd Blanche, a lawyer for Mr. Manafort, acknowledged that the involvement of the deputy attorney general and the decision not to hold his client at Rikers was atypical. But he said the case itself was also unusual: Mr. Manafort, he argued, should not be facing state charges for behavior that was the subject of two federal convictions.

“You’ll find no example of someone like Mr. Manafort being prosecuted by the feds and then by the district attorney for exactly the same conduct,” Mr. Blanche said.

As early as last month, Mr. Blanche had objected to his client being held at Rikers. In a May 17 letter, he asked the warden at the federal prison in Pennsylvania not to approve New York’s request that Mr. Manafort be transferred, citing his age and health issues.

In the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Blanche also criticized the charges against his client, arguing that they were “a blatant violation” of New York’s double jeopardy laws and calling the case “politics at its worst.” The district attorney’s office has said it is confident the charges will stand.

Mr. Blanche also said in his letter that the New York prosecutors were “insisting that Mr. Manafort remain on Rikers Island, likely in solitary confinement, pending trial.” New York prosecutors have said they had taken no position on where Mr. Manafort is held.

While Mr. Blanche’s letter indicated that copies were sent to Mr. Vance by email and registered mail, other correspondence and people with knowledge of the matter indicated Mr. Vance did not receive the letter.

Instead, Mr. Rosen wrote to Mr. Vance last week, asking whether his office was going to respond.

The question of Mr. Manafort’s detention was one of the first high-profile matters to be undertaken by Mr. Rosen, who was confirmed as the deputy attorney general one day before Mr. Manafort’s attorney asked the Bureau of Prisons to keep his client out of Rikers.

A senior Justice Department official said that the Bureau of Prisons had been keeping the Justice Department apprised of Mr. Manafort’s situation, given the high-profile nature of his case. Mr. Rosen sought Mr. Vance’s response largely because of these briefings, the official said.

Mr. Rosen did not ask Mr. Vance about safety at Rikers Island or whether it was suitable for other prisoners, according to a copy of the June 11 letter, which was reviewed by The Times.

FILE PHOTO: A flag flies from the Department of Justice in Washington
FILE PHOTO: A flag flies from the Department of Justice in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

June 17, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department said on Monday it had settled antitrust charges with CBS Corp, Cox Enterprises Inc, E.W. Scripps Co, Fox Corp and Tegna Inc, which were accused of sharing competitively sensitive information.

“All five companies are alleged to have engaged in unlawful information sharing among their owned broadcast television stations,” the department said in a statement.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Source: OANN

Why haven’t efforts to impeach President Trump gained Watergate-style momentum? The lack of energy has created a sense of bafflement and disappointment among some of the president’s most determined adversaries. But there are some simple reasons for it. Here are three:

1.) The facts are different. In Watergate, the underlying crime was a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters, perpetrated by burglars paid by President Richard Nixon’s reelection campaign. The scandal proceeded from there. In Trump-Russia, the underlying crime was the hacking of the DNC’s and John Podesta’s emails — a crime committed by Russians in Russia. Special counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted a number of Russians and Russian entities for their actions, spent two years trying to find conspiracy or coordination between the Russians and the Trump campaign. He failed.

That single fact has shaped every other aspect of the Trump-Russia affair. In Watergate, the cover-up flowed from Nixon’s desire to conceal his campaign’s involvement in the break-in and other political dark acts. It formed the bulk of the obstruction of justice case against Nixon, which in turn served as the basis for articles of impeachment. In Trump-Russia, Mueller did not charge, although he clearly suggested, that Trump obstructed the investigation of an event — conspiracy/coordination — that did not happen. That meant the simplest, most plausible motive for obstruction — Trump, knowing he was guilty, tried to cover up his campaign’s conspiracy with Russia — was off the table. Given that, Mueller’s obstruction case veered all over the map. He conceded that Trump had many motives to act as he did — anger at being wrongly accused, concern over his ability to govern, a desire to defend the legitimacy of his election — and that none of them involved covering up conspiracy or coordination with Russia.

That’s a very different set of facts from Watergate. Consider the single most explosive episode of Watergate — the Saturday Night Massacre, in which Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Trump’s opponents say his desire to fire Mueller was Nixonesque. But try to imagine the Saturday Night Massacre with a Trumpian set of facts: What if Nixon told his White House counsel to tell the attorney general to fire Cox, but the counsel ignored the order? Nixon called again, and the counsel ignored him again. Nixon then let the matter drop, and Cox completed his investigation. No Saturday Night Massacre. That alone shows there is simply no comparison between Watergate and Trump-Russia.

2). The press is different. Just as the facts of Trump-Russia are quite unlike Watergate, so the media environment of 2019 is quite unlike what existed in 1974. Back then, there were three 30-minute broadcast network newscasts, CBS, NBC, and ABC. There were two big newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, and TV network executives sat down each day, within a few blocks of each other in Manhattan, to produce newscasts that basically illustrated the papers’ latest stories. There was no Internet, no cable news, no podcasts, no social media, and no talk radio. Nixon, even if he had had strong defenses, faced a solid wall of media opposition.

Today, the situation is much, much different — and infinitely better. There is far more diversity of opinion in the media writ large, and, importantly, popular access to primary sources. That troubles some media figures who miss the old days of news monopoly. “During the Watergate era … there were three networks,” Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote recently. “Now, cable news, talk radio, thousands of websites and social media create a polluted firehose-blast of information mixed with disinformation.”

“Back then, what was said on those three networks … was largely believed,” Sullivan added. “Much more than now, there was a shared set of facts.”

But it was a limited set of facts — just the ones selected by those network producers in Manhattan. Today’s media diversity, in terms of the Trump-Russia affair, means more facts see the light. And people inclined to support the president, or just be skeptical of the government’s investigative targeting of the Trump campaign, have a way to make their case beyond what anyone had 40-plus years ago.

3.) Congress is different. Differences in the facts of the cases and differences in the media’s ability to report those facts have had a profound effect on lawmakers. They’re better informed, if they want to be, and can make a better defense of the president of their party. And having a significant number of constituents supporting the president makes representatives more likely to support him, too. (Also unlike today, in 1974, opposition party Democrats controlled all of Congress, with 243 seats in the House and 56 in the Senate.)

So, this is a new world. It is perhaps not surprising to hear Democrats wish they could somehow turn today’s Trump-Russia affair into yesterday’s Watergate. If they could just hold televised hearings, they say, that could capture the nation’s attention and give Trump-Russia a Watergate-like urgency. Americans would turn against the president by the millions.

Others believe they just need time. It took Watergate years to grow big enough to oust Nixon, they say. But look at the numbers. The break-in was in June, 1972, and Nixon resigned in August 1974 — a period of two years and two months. In Trump-Russia, the FBI began its investigation nearly three years ago, in July 2016. The Senate began investigating in January 2017. And Mueller took office in May 2017. It’s been a long time.

Trump-Russia could go longer still, and it would not change the basic facts of the case. It is simply a different case in a different world. Try as they might, the president’s opponents can’t make it 1974 again.

(Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

“Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

COURT DIVISIONS

The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

“That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.’”

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham

(Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

“Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

COURT DIVISIONS

The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

“In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

“That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.’”

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Will Dunham

A Supreme Court ruling in the case of an Alabama man who pleaded guilty to a gun charge could have major implications for the unrelated white-collar case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in New York — by keeping him exposed to another set of charges, even if he ultimately wins a presidential pardon.

At issue in the Alabama dispute was whether the “dual sovereignty doctrine” — which allows a person to face both state and federal charges for the same offense — violates the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled it does not.

“Although the dual-sovereignty rule is often dubbed an ‘exception’ to the double jeopardy right, it is not an exception at all,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the opinion. “On the contrary, it follows from the text that defines that right in the first place.”

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This clears a path for prosecutors in New York to continue their case against Manafort, who already has been convicted of federal crimes that include bank and tax fraud. Had the court ruled the other way in Monday’s case, Gamble v. United States, and eliminated the dual sovereignty doctrine, a pardon from President Trump would have left Manafort free and clear.

But with the doctrine still in place, the New York case complicates matters since presidential pardons only affect federal cases, not state ones.

“No one is beyond the law in New York,” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said in a statement when the indictment was announced. Manafort is facing 16 counts in that indictment, including conspiracy, residential mortgage fraud, and falsifying business records. The charges are based on allegations similar to ones related to his federal convictions.

Earlier this month, a judge agreed to have Manafort transferred from his federal prison in Pennsylvania to New York’s notorious Rikers Island as he awaits trial.

The Gamble case, meanwhile, involved a man who was first convicted of a state gun possession charge following a guilty plea, then indicted in federal court for the same possession. He pleaded guilty in that case too, only to appeal with the argument that the federal charge violated double jeopardy.

Alito explained that the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits multiple prosecutions for the same “offence,” but “an ‘offence’ is defined by a law, and each law is defined by a sovereign.” Therefore, Alito said, “where there are two sovereigns, there are two laws, and two ‘offences.'”

Alito’s opinion was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Brett Kavanaugh, as well as Chief Justice John Roberts.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Neil Gorsuch each wrote dissenting opinions, marking the latest case that saw Gorsuch and Kavanaugh — both Trump nominees — on opposing sides. Ginsburg viewed the Double Jeopardy Clause as barring “successive prosecutions by parts of the whole USA,” noting that the United States and the individual states “compose one people, bound by an overriding Federal Constitution.”

Gorsuch pointed to historical interpretations, including those from when the Fifth Amendment was adopted in 1791, which “suggested that a prosecution in any court, so long as the court had jurisdiction over the offense, was enough to bar future reprosecution in another court.”

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The conservative justice railed against the idea that a person in the United States should be allowed to be charged for the same thing in two separate cases.

“A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result,” he said.


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