Justices Reject Inmates’ Plea For Stronger COVID-19 Protections | What Does That Mean For NY Church Case?
November 17, 2020
WAITING FOR THE WORST|
Yesterday, SCOTUS denied relief to Texas inmates seeking stronger health measures at a geriatric state prison that has been ravaged by COVID-19, Jess Bravin with The Wall Street Journal reports. The justices provided their decision in a one-sentence order that provided no rationale, and JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR and ELENA KAGAN dissented. Sotomayor wrote in her 11-page dissent, “If the prison fails to enforce social distancing and mask wearing, perform regular testing, and take other essential steps, the inmates can do nothing but wait for the virus to take its toll.”
Ariane de Vogue with CNN also reports on the Supreme Court’s decision to deny a request from inmates in the Texas prison. She notes, “It is the latest example of the high court deferring to the opinion of state and local officials as they work to combat the pandemic, and comes as COVID-19 is rapidly spreading nationwide.” Twenty lives have already been lost in the prison due to COVID-19 and lawyers for the lead plaintiffs say the inmates filed suit because of prison officials’ “deliberately indifferent response” to the virus.
FROM JAILHOUSES TO HOUSES OF WORSHIP|
“The Supreme Court refused Monday to require increased pandemic precautions at a Texas geriatric prison where 20 inmates have died. At the same time, the justices are more likely in the coming days to order fewer COVID-19 restrictions at New York churches and synagogues. While the prison case continues a pattern of high court actions in which it has refused to second-guess how state officials combat the pandemic, the religion case will reveal whether the court’s beefed-up conservative majority is finally ready to assert itself.” That’s Richard Wolf with USA Today comparing how SCOTUS might respond to public health and safety restrictions placed on houses of worship as opposed to the alleged lack of protections in a prison in Texas that it just refused to second-guess.
FOR THE TAKINGS|
Ian Millhiser with Vox reports on a new case the Supreme Court announced Friday it will add to its docket this term. Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid is a case targeting a 45-year-old California regulation that allows union organizers to briefly enter agricultural workplaces to speak to farmworkers. But Millhiser points out the case could have implications that reach beyond labor organizing as it could allow businesses to deny entry to health inspectors or government officials who ensure those businesses are operating safely. Millhiser: “The Fifth Amendment provides that private property shall not ‘be taken for public use, without just compensation.’ The Cedar Point plaintiffs argue that this ‘takings clause’ gives them a broad right to ‘exclude unwanted persons from [their] property,’ including union organizers — and that property owners are entitled to compensation if this right is violated by a state regulation. If the Supreme Court were to hold that the government may not require a business to allow unwanted people on its premises, the implications could be staggering. It could mean, for example, that the government runs afoul of the takings clause if it requires restaurants to submit to periodic health inspections, or if it requires power plants to be inspected to monitor their emissions, or if factories are required to allow workplace safety inspectors to observe working conditions.”
I'M EVERY WOMAN|
Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson and Jordan S. Rubin with Bloomberg Law report court watchers want to see PRESIDENT-ELECT JOE BIDEN select a woman to be his top lawyer to argue before the Supreme Court. They note that the SCOTUS bar is largely made up of white men and the Office of the Solicitor General has traditionally been a springboard for female and male litigators to build out Supreme Court practices.
OTHER NEWSThe Washington Post
“There is a deeper irony to the Fulton case than a child welfare agency’s unwillingness to help children in need. The real twist is that foster care agencies used to be at the vanguard of LGBTQ rights. In the 1970s and 1980s, foster care agencies placed children in the homes of gay and lesbian couples — despite popular opposition and legal mandates to the contrary — because they believed doing so was in the best interests of the children. These acts of subversion helped create the very LGBTQ families that gave rise to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.”Axios
“A bunch of huge oil companies told the Supreme Court in a new brief that state and local climate lawsuits against them belong in the federal court system. Why it matters: The brief addresses the city of Baltimore’s litigation seeking damages for climate-related harms — but it’s relevant to roughly a dozen similar lawsuits nationwide that plaintiffs want litigated in state courts.”