US Supreme Court OT 2018

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Found a new one: Lopez v. Mass.

Question Presented:
Does the Due Process Clause permit the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to shift the burden to criminal defendants charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm and/or ammunition to show authorization for possession?
History:
  • 4/30/2019 - Massachusetts waives right to respond to petition
  • 5/08/2019 - Distributed for conference on 5/23/2019
  • 5/09/2019 - Response requested - Due 6/10/2019
Clearly someone on the court wants to see how Massachusetts plans to defend burden shifting. At the least we may see a dissent from denial of cert that takes Massachusetts to task for burden shifting.
 
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Yesterday SCOTUS upheld (7-2, Gorsuch & Ginsburg in dissent) the 'separate sovereigns' exception to the Constitution's double jeopardy prohibition prohibition. Basically, federal and state governments can continue to try you for the same offense. A not guilty verdict in one court does not prevent the other government from trying you again in their court.

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Yesterday SCOTUS upheld (7-2, Gorsuch & Ginsburg in dissent) the 'separate sovereigns' exception to the Constitution's double jeopardy prohibition prohibition. Basically, federal and state governments can continue to try you for the same offense. A not guilty verdict in one court does not prevent the other government from trying you again in their court.

SCOTUSBlog
Decision
Why would a court decide against itself and limit power? Power of the courts first, constitutional consideration second. The circus of “justice”.
 

amm5061

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Yesterday SCOTUS upheld (7-2, Gorsuch & Ginsburg in dissent) the 'separate sovereigns' exception to the Constitution's double jeopardy prohibition prohibition. Basically, federal and state governments can continue to try you for the same offense. A not guilty verdict in one court does not prevent the other government from trying you again in their court.

SCOTUSBlog
Decision
Kinda surprised RGB dissented on this one, but not surprised by the outcome.
 

VetteGirlMA

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There seem to be a lot of interesting split decisions coming from scotus lately. So much for the partisan voting. At least there is hope that the court may be honest.
 

jpk

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There seem to be a lot of interesting split decisions coming from scotus lately. So much for the partisan voting. At least there is hope that the court may be honest.
If the court was "Honest" it would stick to the constitution as written.....so far there's very little if any of that.......
 

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Yesterday SCOTUS upheld (7-2, Gorsuch & Ginsburg in dissent) the 'separate sovereigns' exception to the Constitution's double jeopardy prohibition prohibition. Basically, federal and state governments can continue to try you for the same offense. A not guilty verdict in one court does not prevent the other government from trying you again in their court.

SCOTUSBlog
Decision
Interesting. The court's ruling is mostly respecting stare decisis. Thomas has an originalist concurrence in which he explicitly rejects stare decisis as a justification for the ruling. Gorsuch has a textualist dissent in which he resolves an issue that could have plausibly gone either way in favor of individual liberty. Ginsburg's dissent is 100% about her the outcome being "unfair" rather than making any reasonable interpretation of any law or constitutional provision.
 

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Interesting. The court's ruling is mostly respecting stare decisis. Thomas has an originalist concurrence in which he explicitly rejects stare decisis as a justification for the ruling. Gorsuch has a textualist dissent in which he resolves an issue that could have plausibly gone either way in favor of individual liberty. Ginsburg's dissent is 100% about her the outcome being "unfair" rather than making any reasonable interpretation of any law or constitutional provision.
But, Thomas still sided with the majority, which is based on stare decisis and nothing more.
 
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The analogy he used was that if you committed a crime in a different country, you could be tried in the US and the other country. He said both the feds and states have their own sovereignty (from the FF), hence you should be able to be tried in both places.
 

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The analogy he used was that if you committed a crime in a different country, you could be tried in the US and the other country. He said both the feds and states have their own sovereignty (from the FF), hence you should be able to be tried in both places.
The foreign court example is very odd to me and a huge stretch. I'm really straining to think of people who have slipped through some limp wristed foreign court and then flaunted around the world a free man with the guilt of OJ Simpson. Typically the people who bypass a fair trail to punish them for unspeakable acts have some sort of sweatheart deal with name the Western Intelligence Agency of your choice and are free men due to necessity for reasons. Which isn't exactly a great thing either with few exceptions.

This is out of my wheelhouse legal wise but it seems like a BS decision that only serves to benefit some draconian agendas. If you can't get someone in the 1st court, keep trying in a court with a separate bureaucratic jurisdiction? What? What am I missing here?
 

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But, Thomas still sided with the majority, which is based on stare decisis and nothing more.
Thomas's concurrence was based on originalism. His point was that there is no evidence that at the time the Constitution was written, it restrained the prosecution of a single discrete act by both the feds and the states. So if Congress had passed a law in 1795 that overlapped with a state law, and both prosecuted, no one would have questioned that that was allowed. The balance of state/federal power was much different at the time.

I'd characterize that as a stretch, into the realm of what's recently been described as "ahistorical literalism". I think originalism is generally good, but only if supported by evidence. If you can't muster decent evidence to support a particular originalist view, then the default should be strict constructionist textualism. I think Gorsuch's textualist view is most plausible.
 

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Thomas's concurrence was based on originalism. His point was that there is no evidence that at the time the Constitution was written, it restrained the prosecution of a single discrete act by both the feds and the states. So if Congress had passed a law in 1795 that overlapped with a state law, and both prosecuted, no one would have questioned that that was allowed. The balance of state/federal power was much different at the time.

I'd characterize that as a stretch, into the realm of what's recently been described as "ahistorical literalism". I think originalism is generally good, but only if supported by evidence. If you can't muster decent evidence to support a particular originalist view, then the default should be strict constructionist textualism. I think Gorsuch's textualist view is most plausible.
Under true originalism, federal prosecutions would be limited to treason and piracy. Under the Constitution, there is no authority for 99.9% of federal laws.
 
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Actually, you're wrong. "Ignorance of the law..." is a cliche, it's not a legal doctrine. Criminal offenses generally have some mens rea, or guilty mind (intention or knowledge of wrongdoing) aspect to them.

In the case of 922, the statute clearly states "Whoever knowingly violates subsection...". There are two elements to the offense of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm. The person has to 1) be in possession of a firearm and 2) be prohibited. In the case of Rehaif, the trial judge instructed the jury that Rehaif only had to know he was in possession of a firearm, NOT that he knew he was in the country unlawfully or that he was a prohibited person as a result.

This case has VERY broad implications. Anyone who stopped reading or comprehending when they read 'alien' or 'muslim' is missing the point entirely. There are so many people (especially in Massachusetts) who are in possession of firearms (knowingly) but are (unknowingly) prohibited persons.

The feds jam people up for this pretty frequently I think. We shouldn't want to government to win this one.
Rehaif came down this morning, 7-2 (Alito and Thomas in dissent - no surprise) in favor of petitioner (Rehaif). This is good. From this tweet thread: "So the government must prove not only that a defendant knowingly possessed a gun, but knew they fell into one of the categories set forth in 922(g), including felons and aliens."

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Rehaif came down this morning, 7-2 (Alito and Thomas in dissent - no surprise) in favor of petitioner (Rehaif). This is good. From this tweet thread: "So the government must prove not only that a defendant knowingly possessed a gun, but knew they fell into one of the categories set forth in 922(g), including felons and aliens."

Decision
So basically, they walked around the "do illegals have RKBA rights?" question entirely, by ruling on a technicality "the definition of knowingly" to get the case to go away.... or at least that's what it smells like.

I wonder what implications this has for "knowingly" though. For example, some guy gets an MA DUI in 1998 and pleas out for a misdafelony. Then he moves to Kansas a few years later and his friend sells him a few guns, and somehow it is discovered that he is a PP and is bagged by the feds for it- does this set up the possibility that guy could walk based on the fact that he may not have known he was a prohibited person?

-Mike
 

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So basically, they walked around the "do illegals have RKBA rights?" question entirely, by ruling on a technicality "the definition of knowingly" to get the case to go away.... or at least that's what it smells like.

I wonder what implications this has for "knowingly" though. For example, some guy gets an MA DUI in 1998 and pleas out for a misdafelony. Then he moves to Kansas a few years later and his friend sells him a few guns, and somehow it is discovered that he is a PP and is bagged by the feds for it- does this set up the possibility that guy could walk based on the fact that he may not have known he was a prohibited person?

-Mike
"Knowingly" results in a scienter requirement for all elements of the crime. "Willingly" would require you actually know your actions are unlawful (e.g., you understand the law). So, no effect on the law on that front.
 
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So basically, they walked around the "do illegals have RKBA rights?" question entirely, by ruling on a technicality "the definition of knowingly" to get the case to go away.... or at least that's what it smells like.

I wonder what implications this has for "knowingly" though. For example, some guy gets an MA DUI in 1998 and pleas out for a misdafelony. Then he moves to Kansas a few years later and his friend sells him a few guns, and somehow it is discovered that he is a PP and is bagged by the feds for it- does this set up the possibility that guy could walk based on the fact that he may not have known he was a prohibited person?

-Mike
Boston4567 is right here. This ruling was ABOUT the technicality, the Court didn’t sidestep anything.

To your question: this is a gift to anyone with a MA OUI who doesn’t realize that they’re a prohibited person. It’s very good.
 

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Boston4567 is right here. This ruling was ABOUT the technicality, the Court didn’t sidestep anything.

To your question: this is a gift to anyone with a MA OUI who doesn’t realize that they’re a prohibited person. It’s very good.
Was this originally a 2a case though? Or was his claim all along based on "he didn't know" vs an rkba argument? When I say they dodged, they didn't have to examine the question of whether an illegal has 2a rights.... although the implies that they don't (eg, the definition of an illegal being a pp is recognized in passing by the court) but only in a roundabout way...

-Mike
 

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Was this originally a 2a case though? Or was his claim all along based on "he didn't know" vs an rkba argument? When I say they dodged, they didn't have to examine the question of whether an illegal has 2a rights.... although the implies that they don't (eg, the definition of an illegal being a pp is recognized in passing by the court) but only in a roundabout way...

-Mike
There's a doctrine called constitutional avoidance that says you should avoid ruling on constitutionality if a case can be resolved on more narrow grounds (statutory, regulatory, etc). There are very good jurisprudential reasons for this doctrine. In this case though, it wasn't necessary to use it because it wasn't a 2A case as far as I know. They don't mention 2A in the decision and SCOTUS wouldn't leave an issue that was briefed unaddressed.

@Knuckle Dragger I'm not so sure that it affects MA DUIs though. I guess it depends on whether they'd consider "prohibited person" status to be an element of the crime, or whether "prohibited person" is a term of art used within the law to refer to the conditions that make one a prohibited person.

Based on the statute and the ruling, I think the latter is true, and I don't think this ruling affects it. If "being a prohibited person" were to be an element of the crime, it would essentially convert the word "knowingly" to "willingly" in the statute. That could be a plausible interpretation of the statute if it were written to define the elements of the crime that way, but it's not. I think the intersection of this ruling and an MA DUI's PP status would be limited to "the government has to prove you know you got a DUI". But it's possible that it could be interpreted as "the government has to prove you know you got a DUI, and that the maximum penalty for a DUI in MA is 2 1/2 years in prison", in which case it would indeed make the government's case much more difficult to prove.
 
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There's a doctrine called constitutional avoidance that says you should avoid ruling on constitutionality if a case can be resolved on more narrow grounds (statutory, regulatory, etc). There are very good jurisprudential reasons for this doctrine. In this case though, it wasn't necessary to use it because it wasn't a 2A case as far as I know. They don't mention 2A in the decision and SCOTUS wouldn't leave an issue that was briefed unaddressed.

@Knuckle Dragger I'm not so sure that it affects MA DUIs though. I guess it depends on whether they'd consider "prohibited person" status to be an element of the crime, or whether "prohibited person" is a term of art used within the law to refer to the conditions that make one a prohibited person.

Based on the statute and the ruling, I think the latter is true, and I don't think this ruling affects it. If "being a prohibited person" were to be an element of the crime, it would essentially convert the word "knowingly" to "willingly" in the statute. That could be a plausible interpretation of the statute if it were written to define the elements of the crime that way, but it's not. I think the intersection of this ruling and an MA DUI's PP status would be limited to "the government has to prove you know you got a DUI". But it's possible that it could be interpreted as "the government has to prove you know you got a DUI, and that the maximum penalty for a DUI in MA is 2 1/2 years in prison", in which case it would indeed make the government's case much more difficult to prove.
Good explanation of constitutional avoidance.

WRT to OUIs, few people with this conviction in MA realize realize the implications because no one every gets times let alone the possible 2-1/2 year. More specifically, we have all these people with OUI, FLRB relief and gun licenses from MA. Setting aside the state's recent change of policy, I know for a fact that 99.9% of folks with FLRB relief and and LTC do not understand that they're federally prohibited.
 
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First, it's not a 'gun' case. It's an ACA vagueness case. ACA (Armed Career Criminal Act) is a shit show and has gotten a lot of attention from the high court in the last few years. ACA is vague and because statutes vary state to state in terms of definitions, elements of the crime, etc. it is really hard to make the kind of generalizations that ACA relies upon without becoming unconstitutionally vague.

Anything that puts a hole in ACA is good for liberty.
 
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Gorsuch is rapidly becoming my favorite justice.
#Gorsuchstyle. It's very interesting where he's ended up on a lot of these cases. I really like where he's come down on 'Indian' cases. It's refreshing to have a justice that's not from the eastern elite. Also, the mix on close cases in the last week has been really interesting.
 

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Gorsuch is rapidly becoming my favorite justice.
Wow! Yes for sure. I liked this tidbit a lot:

Gorsuch, appointed by Trump in 2017, wrote that laws passed by Congress must give ordinary people notice of what kind of conduct can land them in prison.

"In our constitutional order, a vague law is no law at all," Gorsuch added.
Happy he said it.


One thing I really dislike about conservatives is the justice boners. The obsession with harsh/draconian punishment for everything possible really puts me off to a lot of conservative items. Everyone time someone says "ignorance of the law is no excuse" my eyes do a complete 360º rotation in my brain, they roll that hard. You have to be majorly ignorant to make such a comment considering all the insane laws on the books. From animal jizz to poop, you name it, you go to jail. Who the F thinks this shit up and how the hell are the penalties so high for all these stupid offences? Well, mostly justice boner Republicans.

Don't get me started on mandatory minimums. Jesus Christ. Pretty disappointed in Kavenaugh so far, he's pretty much been a boring uninspired cliche so far from what I've seen.


As for this sort of crime - pinning additional charges onto a crime due to objects being present, its beyond asinine. If you assault someone does it really matter what you used? Shouldn't we be looking at the damage and repercussions of said damage? Also the intent and goals? This sort of thinking is right out of the hate crime or other protected classes thinking. If you attack me, an incredibly sexy, smart and attractive white male it's no big deal. Black? Hate crime. Gay? Hate crime. Cop? Protected class. Can't we all be equal under the law? WTF is going on?
 
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