John Roberts on Government Reform
Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. George W. Bush 2005)
"Alabama is again able to enforce laws that help ensure the fairness and integrity of our elections," Alabama's Republican Attorney General said. A District Judge issued a preliminary injunction after finding that Alabama's election rules will cause sick or elderly voters to "likely face a painful and difficult choice between exercising their right to vote and safeguarding their health, which could prevent them from casting a vote in upcoming elections." Alabama appealed the decision. The state argued that it would be confusing to change absentee ballot rules.
Chief Justice Roberts captured the essence of our separation of powers argument (that the president was usurping the Supreme Court's authority). The Chief Justice asked if the president "can take action that's inconsistent with the determination of federal law by this Court?"
With an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court agreed with Texas that the World Court had no authority whatsoever to bind the U.S. justice system. At the same time, it struck down the president's order, concluding it was unconstitutional for the president to unilaterally surrender the sovereignty of the United States of America.
OnTheIssues explanation: This ruling led to a spate of "Voter ID" laws, which proponents claim is needed to protect the integrity of the vote, and which opponents say discriminates against youth & minority voters.
Opinions:Majority: Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, & Alito; concurrence: Thomas; dissent: Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, & Kagan.
In that 2006 case, the Supreme Court held that only one of the congressional districts Texas had drawn was in violation of the Voting Rights Act. That was the district held then by Henry Bonilla, a Hispanic Republican. The Court stunningly ruled that while the district was drawn to be "majority minority," it was not Hispanic ENOUGH for Hispanics to elect their "candidate of choice." It was this flawed reasoning that caused the chief justice to query during arguments of the plaintiff's attorney, "What number of minority voters just right to make a district qualify as 'Hispanic-opportunity,' rather than one masquerading as such?" She did not have a good answer.
The unanimous rulings in which Judge Garland participated similarly reflect a concern that civil rights plaintiffs receive an appropriate day in Court. E.g., Steele v. Schafer (2008, per Garland, reinstating hostile work environment and retaliation claims); Harris v. Gonzales (2007, Garland joining opinion, reversing judgment that employee could not establish lack of notice of filing deadline for civil rights suit).
Judge Garland also authored an opinion narrowly reading states' sovereign immunity from suit under the civil rights laws (Barbour v. WMATA, 2004, joined by then-Judge John Roberts, holding that WMATA waived sovereign immunity from suit by accepting funds under Rehabilitation Act).
Roberts: You raised the question how is this different than justices who dissent and criticize, and how is this different than professors--and I think there are significant differences. The justice who files a dissent is issuing an opinion based upon his participation in the judicial process. He confronted the case with an open mind. He heard the arguments. He fully and fairly considered the briefs. And in my experience, every one of those stages can cause you to change your view. Now, the professor, how is that different? That professor is not sitting here as a nominee before the court. I believe every one of the justices has been vigilant to safeguard against the great danger of turning this into a bargaining process. It is not a process under which senators get to say, "If you tell me you'll rule this way, this way and this way, I'll vote for you."
Bow Jung sued his own attorneys, and the district court granted summary judgment for the attorneys, because Bow Jung-after learning of the conflict of interest-waited beyond the three-year limitations period for malpractice actions before filing suit.
Mother Jung died in Jan. 1995 survived by Bow Jung and May Jung. Mayís husband Robinson worked as a law clerk, and drafted multiple versions of Mother Jungís will, [including naming Bow as her son and as heir]. but Mother Jung never signed the will and died intestate.
In Aug. 1995, May challenged her brotherís heirship [because he had no birth certificate from his birthplace in China]. That dispute finally ended in Dec. 1999, when DNA testing of Mother Jungís exhumed body proved Bow was her natural son.
We reverse the district court [and find in favor of Bow Jung on grounds that the ongoing legal action extended beyond the three-year period].
Prior to the 2008 primary elections, Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to educating the American public about their rights and the government, produced a politically conservative 90-minute documentary entitled Hillary: The Movie. This documentary covers Hillary Clinton's record while in the Senate & the White House. However, The Movie falls within the definition of "electioneering communications" under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA")--a federal enactment designed to prevent "big money" from unfairly influencing federal elections--which, among other things, prohibits corporate financing of electioneering communications. The FEC [enforced the provision] of BCRA prohibiting corporations from broadcasting electioneering communications within 60 days of a general election. [The Supreme Court rules that this] violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.
Justice Kennedy , Opinion of the Court (Roberts, Scalia, Alito, and Thomas concurring):
Some members of the public might consider "Hillary: The Movie" to be insightful and instructive; some might find it to be neither high art nor a fair discussion on how to set the Nation's course; still others simply might suspend judgment on these points but decide to think more about issues and candidates. Those choices and assessments, however, are not for the Government to make.
Justice Stevens (dissent joined by Ginsburg , Breyer, and Sotomayor)
Neither Citizens United's nor any other corporation's speech has been "banned." All that the parties dispute is whether Citizens United had a right to use the funds in its general treasury to pay for broadcasts during the 30-day period. The notion that the First Amendment [allows that] is, in my judgment, profoundly misguided. Although I concur in the Court's decision to sustain BCRA's disclosure provisions, I emphatically dissent from its principal holding.
An Arizona public campaign financing law allowed a person who agreed to the restrictions of a publicly financed campaign to receive an initial allotment from the state. That initial allotment was increased when the spending of a privately financed opponent together with the spending of any independent group exceeded that initial allotment. The public funds to match opponent expenditures topped out at two times the initial allotment.
|Other Justices on Government Reform:||John Roberts on other issues:|
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Amy Coney Barrett(since 2020)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Neil Gorsuch(since 2017)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Brett Kavanaugh(since 2018)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(1993-2020)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
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