“I don’t know exactly what an inquisition into my wife’s miscarriages would have looked like. But I do know that it would have done nothing to ease her anguish. Abortion opponents won their victory in the Supreme Court, and now it’s on them to avoid making difficult situations much worse.”
“the Supreme Court handed down a brief, 5-4 decision that effectively places Drew Tipton, a Trump-appointed federal trial judge in Texas, in charge of many of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) decisions about which immigrants to target.
The decision was largely along party lines, except that Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Court’s three Democratic appointees.
The decision in United States v. Texas is temporary, but the upshot of this decision is that Tipton will effectively wield much of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’s authority over how ICE officers prioritize their time for as much as an entire year — and that’s assuming that the Biden administration ultimately prevails when the Court reconsiders this case next winter.
At issue in this case is a perfectly standard decision Mayorkas made last September. Federal law provides that the secretary of homeland security “shall be responsible” for “establishing national immigration enforcement policies and priorities.” Pursuant to this authority, Mayorkas issued a memo to ICE’s acting director, informing him that the agency should prioritize enforcement efforts against undocumented or otherwise removable immigrants who “pose a threat to national security, public safety, and border security and thus threaten America’s well-being.”
Then-secretaries of homeland security issued similar memos setting enforcement priorities in 2000, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2017.
Not long after Mayorkas handed down his memo, however, the Republican attorneys general of Texas and Louisiana went to Tipton, a Trump judge with a history of handing down legally dubious decisions halting Biden administration immigration policies, asking Tipton to invalidate Mayorkas’s memo. Tipton obliged, and an especially conservative panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed Tipton’s order to remain in effect.
DOJ asked the Supreme Court to stay Tipton’s decision, temporarily restoring an elected administration’s control over federal law enforcement while this case proceeds. But the Court just refused. And it did so without explanation.”
“Jonathan Wall, a 26-year-old cannabis entrepreneur, has been confined at a federal supermax facility in Maryland for nearly 20 months, awaiting a May 2 trial that could send him to prison for life. Wall is accused of transporting more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana from California, where cannabis is legal for recreational use, to Maryland, which allows only medical use.
Wall’s case illustrates the draconian penalties that can still be imposed on people for selling pot at a time when most states have legalized marijuana businesses. As far as the federal government is concerned, all of those businesses are criminal enterprises. But depending on how federal prosecutors choose to exercise their discretion, selling pot can make you millions of dollars as a state-licensed supplier, or it can send you to prison for decades.”
“many in law enforcement are opposed to designations, but not because they don’t think there’s a problem. Former FBI agent Tom O’Connor, who worked domestic terrorism cases for 20 years before retiring in 2019, said he is opposed for First Amendment reasons, but he believes it is vital for the U.S. to implement its own domestic terrorism statute. Without a statute, O’Connor said, it is much harder for law enforcement to track domestic terrorism and assign resources to fight it.
“You can’t tell me how many incidents of domestic terrorism have taken place in United States, because you would have to review every act of violence, to tell me if there was a political agenda behind that violence,” O’Connor said. “Because people have been charged with gun charges, other violent actions, but they’re not charged as domestic terrorists, it is almost impossible to correlate that information into a system that can tell you what the problem actually is.””
“the FBI already has unbelievably sweeping authority to surveil individual Americans or domestic groups without ever having to go before a judge to get a warrant.
Under an investigative category known as an assessment, FBI agents can search commercial and government databases (including databases containing classified information), run confidential informants, and conduct physical surveillance, all without a court order.”
“”Social media has become a significant source of information for U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law noted in a report released last week. “The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the State Department are among the many federal agencies that routinely monitor social platforms, for purposes ranging from conducting investigations to identifying threats to screening travelers and immigrants.””
“The Supreme Court’s 8-0 decision in Tanzin v. Tanvir on Thursday is almost certainly correct as a matter of law. Justice Clarence Thomas’s majority opinion was unanimous (Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the Court too late to hear this case, did not participate), and it relies on a fairly straightforward reading of a federal religious liberty law.
Tanzin holds that federal officials may be personally liable if they violate an individual’s religious rights — a ruling that could benefit many religious liberty plaintiffs with genuinely heartbreaking claims against government officials, including the plaintiffs in this case. But it also potentially hands a new weapon to conservative culture warriors who seek broad exemptions from federal law.”
“The plaintiffs are Muslims who claim that FBI agencies placed them on the no-fly list in retaliation for the plaintiffs’ refusal to act as informants against other members of their Muslim communities. One of these plaintiffs, Muhammad Tanvir, alleged that he was unable to see his ailing mother in Pakistan, and that he had to quit his job as a long-haul trucker because he could no longer fly home after a one-way delivery.
The Court’s decision in Tanzin means that these Muslim plaintiffs will be allowed to seek money damages from the FBI agents who allegedly violated their religious rights — although it is possible that the agents will escape liability because of a doctrine known as “qualified immunity.””
“In recent years, the Court’s conservative majority has also appeared very eager to expand the rights of religious conservatives to sue government officials, and some of the Court’s recent decisions suggest that such officials violate the law if they commit fairly minor slights against certain people of faith.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (2018), for example, the Court scolded a state civil rights commissioner who made the objectively true statement that “freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history.”
So one implication of Tanzin is that religious conservatives may now be able to seek money damages from federal officials for violations that, until recently, the courts would have viewed as entirely benign.
The policy implications of Tanzin, in other words, are likely to spark ambivalence among liberals and conservatives alike. Outside of the religious liberty context, conservative judges have generally been hostile to efforts to make law enforcement officers personally liable for their illegal actions. Liberals, meanwhile, will undoubtedly have sympathy for the Tanzin plaintiffs. But the Court’s decision is also likely to empower religious conservatives who seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws and other policies favored by liberals.”
“The good news is that FBI agents and other law enforcement officers are likely to think twice before committing violations similar to the ones alleged by the Tanzin plaintiffs. But government officials may become more cautious about enforcing civil rights and other laws against religious objectors — because those officials could potentially pay a personal price if they do so.”
“Matthew Luckhurst of the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) tried to feed a homeless man a sandwich made of dog feces. While Luckhurst was initially fired for such crappy behavior, Reason reported in March 2019 that his employment was fully restored.
Luckhurst was able to rejoin the force following an arbitration hearing required by the collective bargaining agreement the San Antonio Police Officers Association has with the city. Since the department could not prove the exact date of the crap sandwich incident, the department had no choice but to accept that it missed the 180-day window in which it could discipline Luckhurst, and the arbitration panel ruled in Luckhurst’s favor.
The San Antonio Current reported this week that Luckhurst’s story is not an exception to the rule. Twenty-seven of the 40 SAPD police officers fired between 2010 and 2019 have managed to get their jobs back through arbitration. Only 13 firings were upheld in that entire time.”