Justices Hand Down More Decisions, But Two Remain | All Eyes On Stephen Breyer
June 29, 2021
The Supreme Court released three of its five remaining decisions for the term this morning. One was the latest decision from the high court that supported big industry. Justices ruled in favor of a consortium of energy companies seeking to seize land owned by the state of New Jersey in order to build a natural gas pipeline despite the state’s objections. CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS wrote for the majority in the 5-4 outcome, “Specifically, we are asked to decide whether the federal government can constitutionally confer on pipeline companies the authority to condemn necessary rights-of-way in which a state has an interest. We hold that it can.”
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SCOTUS today also ruled that the government can indefinitely detain certain immigrants who say they will face persecution or torture if they’re deported back to their homelands. Mark Sherman with The Associated Press reports, “Over the dissent of three liberal justices, the court held 6-3 that the immigrants are not entitled to a hearing about whether they should be released while the government evaluates their claims. JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO wrote for the court that ‘those aliens are not entitled to a bond hearing.’ The case involves people who had been previously deported and, when detained after re-entering the United States illegally, claimed that they would be persecuted or tortured if sent back. One man is a citizen of El Salvador who said he was immediately threatened by a gang after being deported from the U.S.”
One of the Supreme Court’s most conservative justices, CLARENCE THOMAS, wrote this week that federal laws against the use of marijuana may no longer make sense. The justice wrote, “A prohibition on interstate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach.” Pete Williams with NBC News reports Thomas expressed his position on pot laws as SCOTUS declined to hear the appeal of a Colorado medical marijuana dispensary that was denied federal tax breaks other businesses are allowed to collect.
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Joan Biskupic with CNN notes, “JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER has taken a commanding role in the final days of the Supreme Court session, writing decisions preserving Obamacare and bolstering student free speech and, when conservatives ruled against union organizing on agricultural land, forcefully dissenting for the left wing. But what some liberals want to hear from the 82-year-old Breyer as the session ends in upcoming days is when he might retire.” Biskupic says that although no sign has emerged that Breyer will announce his retirement this week, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen soon. “Once the end-of-term pressure eases, the justice may still weigh competing considerations this summer, including his new power as the leading liberal (after last year’s death of RUTH BADER GINSBURG), his view that judges should separate themselves from politics and his awareness that waiting another year could imperil PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S choice of a successor.”