US Supreme Court Backs Payments For Student Athletes

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The US Supreme Court ruled Monday that America’s top university athletics body cannot block student-athletes from getting extra benefits, eroding its power over the multi-billion-dollar college sports industry.

The high court sided unanimously with student-athletes in a narrow case focused on whether they can receive limited cash or non-cash benefits from their schools related to their education, which the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) currently forbids.

While it did not weigh in on whether student-athletes should be able to cash in completely on their performances, the Supreme Court made it clear it did not accept the NCAA’s claim that its strict ban on their earning any money, to retain “amateur” status, was important to the business.

The court called the NCAA an effective monopoly in its control over the lucrative industry of college sports.

“Put simply, this suit involves admitted horizontal price fixing in a market where the defendants exercise monopoly control,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the opinion.

“No one disputes that the NCAA’s restrictions in fact decrease the compensation that student-athletes receive compared to what a competitive market would yield.”

The long-brewing case, NCAA v. Alston et al, did not address the hottest topic of college sports: whether athletes, like universities and the NCAA, should benefit from endorsements or monetization of their personal images, such as sales of shirts bearing their names.

But the court said the NCAA could not prove that athletes keeping their amateur status was important to what Gorsuch called its “massive business.”

“Those who run this enterprise profit in a different way than the student-athletes whose activities they oversee,” he said.

“The president of the NCAA earns nearly $4 million per year. Commissioners of the top conferences take home between $2 to $5 million… And annual salaries for top Division I college football coaches approach $11 million.”

READ ALSO: Biden Goes To Church A Day After Challenge From Bishops On Abortion

‘Price-fixing labor

The ruling appeared to open the gate for a broader challenge to the NCAA’s control on how student-athletes can earn money, or share in the profits the NCAA and universities rake in.

“Price-fixing labor is price-fixing labor,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a concurring opinion.

“The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America,” he said.

“All of the restaurants in a region cannot come together to cut cooks’ wages on the theory that ‘customers prefer’ to eat food from low-paid cooks.”

The White House applauded the ruling, while the NCAA said the court had reaffirmed its authority to adopt “reasonable rules” and that it remained free to judge what constitutes “truly educational benefits.”

Individual states will implement new laws on July 1 that give student-athletes the right to profit from endorsements, so-called “name, image and likeness” (NIL) benefits.

Currently, the NCAA bans them from profiting from social media, sales of shirts bearing their names, video games using their likenesses and apparel deals arranged by their schools.

But the much smaller National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, authorized NIL benefits last year.

The NCAA has stalled on the issue, leading to Congress now debating legislation.

The council for NCAA’s powerful Division I, representing the largest and richest schools, will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and could discuss the issue.

“The NCAA remains committed to supporting NIL benefits for student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.

“Additionally, we remain committed to working with Congress to chart a path forward, which is a point the Supreme Court expressly stated in its ruling.”

AFP

US Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare, Preserves Health Care For Millions

(FILES) In this file photo the US Supreme Court building is seen in Washington DC on April 17, 2021. (Photo by Daniel SLIM / AFP)

 

The US Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a bid by Republican-led states to overturn Obamacare, safeguarding the health insurance of millions with the coronavirus pandemic still a threat in much of America.

In a 7-2 decision, the nation’s highest court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), former president Barack Obama’s signature health care program, ruling that Texas and the other 17 states did not have standing in the case.

President Joe Biden, who was Obama’s vice president when the ACA was enacted, called the court ruling “a big win for the American people.”

“With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD,” Biden said. “And it’s here to stay.”

“BFD” is a reference to a comment Biden whispered into Obama’s ear at the 2010 ACA signing ceremony, when he said: “This is a big fucking deal.” Biden’s remark was picked up by live microphones.

The White House said this month that more than 31 million Americans currently receive their health care through Obamacare, which Republicans have unsuccessfully attempted to have thrown out in Congress and in the courts on numerous previous occasions.

Other Democratic lawmakers welcomed the court decision.

“Thanks to the tireless advocacy of Americans across the country and the work of Democrats in Congress, the Affordable Care Act endures,” said Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives.

“Despite every desperate right-wing attack to rip health care away from millions of Americans, the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and it’s here to stay,” said Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“Now let’s get to work to improve it so every American can get the care they need.”

Former president Donald Trump had pledged to eliminate the ACA but his efforts repeatedly failed and he never presented an alternative.

– ‘Lack the standing necessary’ –

Four of the conservative justices on the court — including two appointed by Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts — joined their three liberal colleagues in voting to uphold the ACA.

Conservative justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who was also appointed by Trump, were the dissenting voices.

Under the ACA, poor adults have access to the Medicare program normally open only to retired people over 65; young people under 26 can be covered by their parents’ insurance; and people whose preexisting medical conditions led to their being denied commercial health insurance have coverage.

Attorneys for the Trump Justice Department and Texas-led states had argued that the entire ACA is unconstitutional because of legal questions over consumer penalties for people who do not obtain insurance.

“Hence, they believe the Act as a whole is invalid,” Justice Stephen Breyer said in the opinion of the court.

Breyer noted, however, that Congress had removed the penalties compelling people to buy insurance in 2017 and the plaintiffs could therefore not prove they had suffered any injury which would allow them to bring the suit.

“We do not reach these questions of the Act’s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them,” he said.

Obamacare has survived two previous Supreme Court challenges — in 2012 and 2015 — and has grown in popularity among Americans over the years after a rocky start.

AFP

US Supreme Court Allows Release Of Trump Tax Records To Prosecutors

A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by Donald Trump to prevent his tax records from being handed over to prosecutors in New York.

The nation’s highest court denied the request filed by lawyers for the former president without comment.

Trump has been waging a protracted legal battle to prevent his tax records from being handed over to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

The prosecutor has been fighting for months to obtain eight years of Trump’s tax returns as part of an investigation into the ex-president’s finances.

READ ALSO: WHO Slams Rich Countries For Hogging COVID-19 Vaccines

The ruling concerns a subpoena that Vance had issued to Trump’s accountants Mazars USA ordering it to hand over documents stretching back to 2011.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a three-word statement issued after the ruling.

Vance’s probe was initially focused on payments made before the 2016 presidential election to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump, including porn star Stormy Daniels.

But the state-level investigation is also now examining possible allegations of tax evasion, and insurance and bank fraud.

Trump, who left the White House last month, did not immediately respond to Monday’s ruling.

In the past, he has called the investigation “the worst witch hunt in US history.”

US presidents are not required by law to release details of their personal finances but every US leader since Richard Nixon has done so.

Trump broke with this tradition.

Vance’s investigators have interviewed Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who received a three-year prison term after admitting making hush payments to the two women.

The ex-lawyer had testified to Congress that Trump and his company artificially inflated and devalued the worth of their assets to both obtain bank loans and reduce their taxes.

READ ALSO: WHO Slams Rich Countries For Hogging COVID-19 Vaccines

If the allegations are true and Trump was charged and convicted then he could face a possible jail term. Unlike federal offenses, state crimes are not pardonable.

Investigators also recently interviewed employees of Deutsche Bank, which has long backed the former president and the Trump Organization, US media reported.

They spoke to staff at Trump’s insurance broker Aon, too.

In July, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s argument that as a sitting president he was immune from prosecution.

Trump’s lawyers then challenged the scope of the requested documents, saying it was too broad.

New York’s Attorney General Letitia James is also investigating allegations of bank fraud and insurance fraud through civil proceedings.

Ahead of the November 3 election, the New York Times reported that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, a claim the former president denies.

US Supreme Court Approves Last Federal Execution Of Trump’s Era

A file photo of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP

 

The US Supreme Court approved the 13th and final execution of the Trump administration Friday, less than a week before the White House is taken over by Democrat Joe Biden, who opposes the death penalty.

Dustin Higgs, a 48-year-old black man, will receive a lethal injection in the federal penitentiary in Terre-Haute in Indiana, after the final court rejected a stay of execution.

In January 1996, Higgs invited three young women to his apartment near the capital Washington, along with two of his friends. When one of the young women rebuffed his advances, he offered to drive them home but instead stopped in an isolated federal nature reserve outside the city.

According to the Department of Justice, he then ordered one of his friends to shoot the three women. In 2000, he was sentenced to death for kidnapping and murder. The man who pulled the trigger was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole.

“It is arbitrary and inequitable to punish Mr Higgs more severely than the actual killer,” said Higgs’ lawyer Shawn Nolan, in a plea for clemency addressed to President Donald Trump at the end of January.

But the Republican president, a staunch defender of the death penalty, did not follow up. On the contrary, his administration fought in court to be able to proceed with the execution before he leaves the White House next week.

A court had ordered a stay of execution on the grounds that Higgs contracted Covid-19 and that, with his damaged lungs, he would likely suffer cruelly at the time of an injection of pentobarbital.

The Department of Justice immediately appealed and won the case.

The final bid to halt the execution then went before the Supreme Court, whose conservative majority — firmly established by Trump appointees — has systematically given the green light to federal executions since the summer.

The Trump administration resumed federal executions in July following a 17-year hiatus, carrying them out at an unprecedented rate.

Among the 12 people put to death since then was, for the first time in nearly 70 years, a woman — Lisa Montgomery, executed Tuesday despite doubts about her mental health.

At the same time, states postponed all executions to avoid spreading the virus.

“This is not justice,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a dissenting note to Friday’s decision. “After waiting almost two decades to resume federal executions, the Government should have proceeded with some measure of restraint to ensure it did so lawfully.”

“When it did not, this Court should have. It has not. Because the Court continues this pattern today, I dissent.”

President-elect Joe Biden, who will be sworn in on Wednesday, has vowed to work with Congress to try to abolish the death penalty at the federal level.

Democratic lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill to that effect and since their party has regained control of the Senate, it stands a chance of being adopted.

-AFP

US Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Election Result

(FILES) The US Supreme Court on December 11, 2020 dismissed a bid by Texas to overturn the results of the presidential election, which Republican Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden, in a fresh setback for the president. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

 

The US Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a bid by Texas to overturn the results of the presidential election, which Republican Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden, in a fresh setback for the president.

The longshot suit lodged late Tuesday against four states key in the November 3 vote — Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — challenged Biden’s victory in each jurisdiction.

But the Supreme Court, made up of nine justices including three appointed by Trump, said Texas — which voted for the president — “has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”

The court’s decision “is an important reminder that we are a nation of laws, and though some may bend to the desire of a single individual, the courts will not,” tweeted Michigan attorney general Dana Nessel.

Biden spokesman Mike Gwin said the ruling was “no surprise.”

 

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 11: More than 100 Republicans in the House of Representatives voiced their support for a pro-Trump election lawsuit in Texas as the state calls for the Supreme Court to delay the certification of election results in four battleground states that Vice President-elect Joe Biden won. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images/AFP

 

“Dozens of judges, election officials from both parties, and Trump’s own Attorney General have dismissed his baseless attempts to deny that he lost the election,” he said.

The Texas suit had been seen as audacious and legally unsound, given that no one state has any legal right to interfere in another’s voting processes. Even so, it was backed by 106 Republican lawmakers and 17 state attorneys general.

Texas alleged that the results in the other four states were “unconstitutional” because of their heavy use of “fraud-prone” mail-in votes during the coronavirus pandemic.

It offered no proof of significant fraud, and didn’t challenge the use of mailed ballots in states Trump won.

The suit cited numerous alleged examples of potential fraud already rejected by lower courts.

Even so, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani insisted the allegations were “sound.”

“They have to be tested but that’s what the court is for. They can’t just dismiss it like that,” he told Fox News.

White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox that the court “dodged” and “hid behind procedure.”

In a tweet following the verdict, President Trump said the court had “let us down” and accused it of having “No Wisdom, No Courage!”

But perhaps the most eyebrow raising reaction came from the chairman of the Texas Republican Party, who slammed the ruling and appeared to suggest the state should secede.

“Perhaps law-abiding states should bond together and form a Union of states that will abide by the constitution,” Allen West said in a party statement.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 11: Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on December 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. More than 100 Republicans in the House of Representatives voiced their support for a pro-Trump election lawsuit in Texas as the state calls for the Supreme Court to delay the certification of election results in four battleground states that Vice President-elect Joe Biden won. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images/AFP

 

Dozens of court losses

Trump and his allies have filed dozens of lawsuits in several key states, almost all of which have been thrown out by the courts.

On Tuesday the Supreme Court also refused his bid to overturn his loss in Pennsylvania.

Trump had hoped that the high court, whose bench he has tipped solidly to the right, would intervene in his favor.

In 2000, the Supreme Court halted a recount in Florida, where George W. Bush was only 537 votes ahead of Democrat Al Gore, allowing the Republican to win the election.

Minutes before Friday’s ruling came down Trump released a new TV ad again falsely claiming that the election was stolen, calling it an “outrage” and telling supporters to contact their legislators.

The lawsuit came as all 50 states plus Washington, DC have formally certified their vote tallies, opening the way to convene the Electoral College.

There is no doubt that Biden won the presidency, with state-by-state wins giving him 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.

The Democrat snagged 51.3 percent of the ballots compared to Trump’s 46.9 percent, a seven million vote margin.

The Electoral College is set to affirm Biden’s win on December 14, and he will be sworn in on January 20.

Trump Allies Take Pennsylvania Vote Complaint To US Supreme Court

 

 

Allies of President Donald Trump sought an emergency order Thursday from the US Supreme Court blocking the certification of election results in Pennsylvania, a key state won by President-elect Joe Biden.

The move follows the Pennsylvania state supreme court’s rejection Saturday of a suit challenging expanded mail-in voting in the key northeastern state.

In the motion filed Thursday the top US court is not asked to rule on the merits of the case at this point.

Rather, the plaintiffs ask the court for an injunction to halt any remaining steps in the election certification, which was actually done last week, so the plaintiffs can develop their arguments. They include Mike Kelly, a Republican member of the House of Representatives.

The court is expected to respond quickly in writing and is not obliged to explain whatever ruling it makes.

Trump is still refusing to concede defeat in the November 3 election, alleging without providing evidence that there was widespread fraud in both voting and vote counting and that the election was stolen from him.

 

READ ALSO: One Month After Losing To Biden, Trump Mulls Running For Presidency In 2024

 

The Trump campaign and Trump allies have filed a flurry of lawsuits in battleground states that he lost, seeking to overturn the results. In some 20-odd cases, however, the courts have rejected these suits.

On Tuesday Attorney General Bill Barr, a close ally of the president broke with Trump and said there was no evidence of significant fraud to invalidate Biden’s win.

Trump appointed three conservatives to the nine-member court during his presidency and said right after the November election he was prepared to go all the way to that tribunal to defend what he called his re-election victory.

In the 2000 presidential election, the high court halted a recount in Florida while George W. Bush held a 537-vote lead over Al Gore, handing Bush the presidency.

This time is different: There is not just one but several states that Trump is disputing and the margins of victory for Biden there are much larger than Bush’s was.

The Supreme Court is considered unlikely to risk its reputation by getting involved in the Pennsylvania suit, which would not change the overall outcome of the election anyway.

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87

US Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 87, Hospitalised
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the anchor of the court’s liberal faction.
MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

 

United States Supreme Court Justice and liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday, opening a crucial vacancy on the high court expected to set off a pitched political battle at the peak of the presidential campaign. 

Ginsburg, 87, died after a fight with pancreatic cancer, the court announced, saying she passed away “this evening surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, DC.”

Affectionately known as the Notorious RBG, Ginsburg was the oldest justice of nine on the Supreme Court.

She anchored its liberal faction, whittled to four by two appointments since 2017 from President Donald Trump.

Coming just 46 days before an election in which Trump lags his Democratic rival Joe Biden in the polls, the vacancy offers the Republican president a chance to solidly lock in a conservative majority at the court for decades to come.

That could lead to a court that would potentially limit abortion rights, strengthen the powers of business, and water down rights provided minorities and the LGBTQ community over the past three decades.

But Democrats are expected to fight tough to force a delay in her replacement until after the election — an uphill battle given the control Trump’s Republicans have on the Senate, which must approve any nominee.

– Fought for women’s rights –

Ginsburg, who was Jewish, was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1933.

A legal scholar and law professor, she had a deep history in jurisprudence of standing up for women’s rights.

She became only the second woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice when she was appointed to the court in 1993 by president Bill Clinton.

“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement.

“Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

– Looming political fight –

There was no immediate comment on her death from the White House.

Speaking to a rally in Minnesota and apparently still unaware of the news, Trump reminded the crowd of the likelihood that a new term would allow him to appoint new justices.

“The next one will have anywhere from one to four” justices, he said. “Think of that, that will totally change” the landscape on core legal issues, including abortion, he said.

ABC News later reported, citing well-informed sources, that Trump will move quickly to name a replacement.

In a pitch to conservative voters earlier this month, he unveiled a long list of possible replacements for court vacancies, all of them deeply conservative, that he would tap if reelected.

Asked in August by radio host Hugh Hewitt if he would nominate a justice just before the election, Trump replied: “Absolutely, I’d do it.”

“I would move quickly. Why not? I mean they would. The Democrats would if they were in this position.”

Democrats were expected to fight hard to prevent a replacement from being named right away.

Ginsburg herself was acutely aware of the stakes of her health on the court balance, and her fans fretted at her increasingly frequent trips to the hospital over the past two years.

According to NPR radio, Ginsburg raised the issue this week with her granddaughter Clara Spera.

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she said, according to Spera.

But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Friday he would move on any nominee from Trump, ignoring the precedent he set in 2016 in freezing Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill a vacancy before the election.

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement.

US Supreme Court Judge, Ginsburg, Being Treated Again For Cancer

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 20, 2017 US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks on as she speaks to first year Georgetown University law students in Washington, DC. - US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 87-year-old anchor of its liberal faction, has been discharged from hospital on July 15, 2020 US media reported, after being hospitalized for a suspected infection on July 14. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)
(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 20, 2017 US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks on as she speaks to first year Georgetown University law students in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)

 

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 87-year-old anchor of its liberal wing, said Friday that she is undergoing chemotherapy for a recurrence of cancer but will remain on the bench.

Ginsburg, one of the four progressive justices on the nine-member court, said a biopsy in February had revealed lesions on her liver.

Ginsburg, the oldest member of the court, said a course of immunotherapy had proved unsuccessful but chemotherapy was “yielding positive results.”

“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she said in a statement. “I remain fully able to do that.”

Supreme Court justices serve until they die or voluntarily retire, and Ginsburg has clung to her position despite her age and health struggles, aware that if she leaves it could change the US judicial landscape.

President Donald Trump’s administration would relish an opportunity to appoint a new justice who would tilt the court in a more solidly conservative direction, potentially shifting US law and social policy for decades.

The four liberals — with moderate conservative Chief Justice John Roberts often acting as a swing vote — have prevented a reversal of long-standing abortion rights, rebuked stronger executive powers for the president and staved off greater involvement of religion in public life.

Ginsburg, who was appointed to the court by president Bill Clinton in 1993, has suffered at least three previous bouts with cancer over the past two decades, including colon cancer and lung cancer.

She said she began immunotherapy in May after the biopsy in February revealed the lesions on her liver. When that proved unsuccessful, she began chemotherapy.

‘I wish her the best’

“My most recent scan on July 7 indicated significant reduction of the liver lesions and no new disease,” Ginsburg said.

“I am tolerating chemotherapy well and am encouraged by the success of my current treatment,” she said. “I will continue bi-weekly chemotherapy to keep my cancer at bay, and am able to maintain an active daily routine.

“Throughout, I have kept up with opinion writing and all other Court work.”

Ginsburg said that her brief hospitalization this week for an infection was unrelated to her cancer diagnosis and treatment.

 In this file photo taken on May 21, 2018 US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks after receiving the American Law Institute's Henry J. Friendly Medal in Washington, DC,.  JIM WATSON / AFP
In this file photo taken on May 21, 2018 US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks after receiving the American Law Institute’s Henry J. Friendly Medal in Washington, DC,. JIM WATSON / AFP

 

Asked Tuesday at a White House press conference about Ginsburg’s health, Trump said: “I wish her the best… She’s actually given me some good rulings.”

Trump has welcomed some of the Supreme Court’s rulings, but more often over the past three years it has dealt his administration setbacks — on his immigration policies and, more recently, his bid to prevent his finances from being made public.

Both Trump’s Republicans as well as Democrats have made the balance of the court a campaign issue for November’s presidential election.

Trump, who has already appointed two justices to the court, said in June he was planning to release a list of potential candidates for the next vacant seat if he is reelected.

“If given the opportunity, I will only choose from this list, as in the past, a Conservative Supreme Court Justice,” he tweeted.

Democrats for their part have sought to mobilize voters, warning that Trump should not be allowed to name another justice.

Hugely popular with Democrats, Ginsburg has become a feminist hero and an unintentional social media icon fondly known as “The Notorious RBG,” a riff on slain rapper The Notorious B.I.G..

“She’s got this,” said Representative Joyce Beatty, one of several Democratic members of Congress who wished her a speedy recovery. “There’s a reason she’s #NotoriousRBG.”

Ginsburg has been hospitalized several times in recent years, including for two days in May to remove gall stones.

But her hospital stays have always seen her actively participating in court activities by teleconference.

 

AFP

US Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 87, Hospitalised

US Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 87, Hospitalised
In this file photo taken on November 30, 2018, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses for the official photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC.  Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 87-year-old anchor of its liberal faction, has been hospitalised for a suspected infection, the court said on Tuesday.

Ginsburg was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore early Tuesday after first going to her regular Washington hospital late Monday with fever and chills.

She underwent an endoscopic procedure Tuesday afternoon “to clean out a bile duct stent that was placed last August,” the court said in a statement.

Ginsburg “is resting comfortably and will stay in the hospital for a few days to receive intravenous antibiotic treatment.”

One of four liberals among the nine justices, Ginsburg’s health is closely watched as Donald Trump’s administration seeks an opportunity to appoint a new justice who would tilt the court solidly in a conservative direction, potentially shifting US law and social policy for decades.

Supreme Court justices serve until they die or voluntarily retire, and Ginsburg has clung to her position despite her age aware that if she leaves it could change the landscape of US justice.

Ginsburg has been an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court (pictured) for almost three decades. She took the oath of office on August 10, 1993.

 

Together with the centrist Chief Justice John Roberts, the four liberals have prevented a reversal of longstanding abortion rights, stronger executive powers for the president, and greater involvement of religion in public life.

Hugely popular with Democrats, the unintentional social media icon is fondly known as “The Notorious RBG,” a riff on slain rapper The Notorious B.I.G.

She has been hospitalized several times in recent years, including for two days in May to be treated for a benign gallbladder infection.

But her hospital stays have always seen her actively participating in court activities by teleconference.

It was not clear if she took part in court discussions overnight Monday on emergency petitions over the resumption of federal executions as a convicted murderer awaited on death row in an Indiana prison.

The court ruled five to four in favor of going ahead, and hours later the murderer, Daniel Lee, was put to death, in the first federal execution in 17 years.

AFP

US Supreme Court To Hear Appeal On Abortion During Coronavirus Crisis

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud

 

Abortion rights advocates on Saturday called on the US Supreme Court to urgently intervene to force Texas to reinstate the right to abortion, which has been suspended in the state since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This is the first appeal related to COVID-19 to reach the highest American court, which has been operating only in writing for nearly a month.

The Court, which legalized abortion in 1973 in its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, will have to decide whether a state can suspend the case law in the name of a public health emergency.

This case will be a test for the Supreme Court, which has been profoundly reshaped since the election of President Donald Trump.

During his campaign, the Republican billionaire promised to appoint only anti-abortion judges to the court. Since then he has brought in two new judges out of nine.

The petition concerns Texas’s decision — later followed by other conservative states — to include abortion on the list of “non-emergency” medical procedures prohibited while the COVID-19 outbreak continues.

State Governor Greg Abbott argued that these procedures should be suspended to keep hospital beds available for coronavirus patients and protective equipment for their caregivers.

Abortion rights activists said the crisis was being exploited for “ideological” purposes and immediately took the matter to court.

They pointed out that abortions could not wait, that most of them were medical, and that Texan women wishing to terminate a pregnancy were likely to travel to neighboring states, at the risk of spreading the virus.

A federal court twice ruled in their favor, but its decisions were overturned on appeal. Texas abortion clinics are therefore asking the Supreme Court to reinstate the lower court’s decision.

“This is an extraordinarily difficult time, but this is an easy case,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is defending them.

“Texas is blatantly abusing its emergency power to obliterate Roe v. Wade,” she added in a statement.

Other courts in Ohio, Alabama and Oklahoma have struck down similar measures.

While abortion is legal throughout the United States, there are wide regional disparities in access to the procedure.

Coastal states have many clinics, while the more religious central and southern states have adopted many restrictive regulations that have forced many facilities to close.

AFP

Florida Executes Killer Who Targeted Gay Men

 

A confessed murderer linked to a months-long killing spree in 1994 that targeted older gay men was executed Thursday in the US state of Florida.

Gary Ray Bowles, who was 57, was executed by lethal injection at 10:58 pm (0258 GMT).

In a final written statement, Bowles apologised for the “pain and suffering” he had caused, stating “I never wanted this to be my life. You don’t wake up one day and decide to become a serial killer.”

Bowles was dubbed the “I-95 killer” after being linked to a half-dozen homicides along the interstate highway of that name, a major artery along the East Coast.

Late Thursday the US Supreme Court rejected defense motions calling for a stay of execution.

According to court records, Bowles had a disturbing and chaotic childhood. His father died before he was born, and his mother remarried several times, twice to men who abused Bowles.

He took to drugs and drinking by age 11, and at 13 he nearly killed his second stepfather by smashing a rock into his head, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

A Washington Post profile, written in 1994 while police were desperately searching for the suspected serial killer, described Bowles as a “rugged, handsome and charming” young man who had left home as a teenager and turned to prostitution to survive.

He had a long arrest record, including for robbery, and spent a few years in prison in the 1980s after beating and raping a girlfriend — so viciously that one detective was quoted as saying, “I’ve seen better looking bodies in an autopsy.”

In 1994, after the months-long manhunt had spurred public fears up and down the I-95 corridor, Bowles was captured in the northern Florida city of Jacksonville and charged with the murder of Walter Jamelle Hinton.

Bowles subsequently confessed to the other murders – crimes that had been linked in part by the killer’s habit of stuffing rags or other objects down his victims’ throats.

He received a death sentence in 1999.

Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed the execution order earlier this summer.

Florida is one of 29 US states that still practice capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which advocates against the death penalty.

Inmates in that state are allowed to choose death by injection or by electrocution. A private citizen is paid $150 to serve as executioner, according to the state’s website.

US Supreme Court Troubled By Case Of Man Tried Six Times

(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 10, 2018, shows the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The US Supreme Court will begin March 20, 2019, to examine the case of a black man who was tried six separate times for the same crime, which he insists he didn’t commit in a process tarnished by charges of racism.
MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

The US Supreme Court appeared vexed on Wednesday by the case of a black man who was tried six separate times for the same crime in a process tainted by charges of racism. 

Associate Justice Samuel Alito, one of the five conservative justices on the nine-member bench, said he found aspects of the case of death row inmate Curtis Flowers “troubling.”

Flowers, 48, was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to death for the July 1996 murders of four people in a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi, where he had briefly worked until being fired.

Flowers was tried five separate times for the crime before his 2010 conviction and has spent nearly half his life behind bars.

READ ALSO: Netanyahu, Pompeo Vow To Counter Iranian ‘Aggression’

Three convictions were thrown out on appeal because of prosecutorial misconduct and two trials ended in a hung jury.

The Supreme Court is not examining the guilt or innocence of Flowers but whether the district attorney deliberately sought to keep black people off the jury in his most recent trial.

While prosecutors and defence lawyers are allowed to use what are called peremptory challenges to eliminate potential jurors they are not allowed to do so on the basis of race.

Lawyers for Flowers argued that district attorney Doug Evans, who prosecuted all six cases and is white, rejected potential black jurors in what amounted to racial discrimination.

US law forbids someone from being tried twice for the same offence, but since the cases were eventually inconclusive Flowers could be tried again.

During the 2010 trial which resulted in Flowers’ conviction and death sentence, Evans rejected five of six potential black jurors.

Jason Davis, representing the state of Mississippi in court on Wednesday, said this was because they either had links to Flowers or debts to the furniture store.

‘Extremely aggressive’

Sheri Lynn Johnson, Flowers’ lawyer, responded by pointing out that the five potential black jurors were asked 145 questions compared to just 12 for the 11 eventual white jurors.

And the questioning of the potential black jurors was “extremely aggressive,” Johnson said.

“It looks as if he was trying to create a record to strike black jurors,” said Justice Elena Kagan, one of the court’s four liberal justices, all of whom appeared sympathetic to Flowers’ case.

Another liberal justice, Sonia Sotomayor, said Evans had shown an extraordinary “passion for this case” by putting Flowers repeatedly on trial.

Flowers was arrested several months after the murders when two witnesses said they saw him near the scene of the crime. He has maintained his innocence.

The case gained national prominence after it was the subject of a podcast called “Into the Dark” by journalist Madeleine Baran and a radio colleague from American Public Media.

“Curtis Flowers was always tried by an all-white jury or a nearly all-white jury, even though the place where the murders happened and where he lived was nearly 50 per cent African-American,” Baran said.

In Mississippi, a southern state with a history of slavery and racial segregation, “I met only one white person who thought that Curtis Flowers was innocent,” Baran told AFP.

In an unusual occurrence, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, a conservative renowned for his silence during oral arguments, asked his first question in over three years.

Thomas asked what the race was of the jurors dismissed by the defence and was told they were white.

The court is expected to render its decision by June of this year, but Baran noted that even if it rules in Flowers’ favour he could still go on trial again.

AFP