The Supreme Court doesn't like accountability
Also: Anti-LQBTQ bills are being introduced all over, and three anti-trans bills already passed Utah's Senate. And: Florida is banning books and threatening teachers.
The Supreme Court released its first opinion of the term on Monday, a unanimous decision in favor of the government in a case about the statute of limitations in a veteran’s benefits case.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett had the opinion for the court.
The most notable thing about Monday’s opinion is how long it took us to get the first opinion of the term. Ultimately, it’s not all that important, but given that the court is hearing fewer cases these days, it is notable.
The court is doing less on its merits docket, even as it continues to take more actions on its shadow docket and prevent accountability for the justices or scrutiny of the court’s actions — including deciding against livestreaming opinion announcements. You won’t be able to hear Barrett’s announcement of her opinion until at least October, when the court begins its next term and turns over the audio from this term to the National Archives.
Sure, that’s not all that important for Monday’s decision, but imagine the affirmative action decision came down today, and Chief Justice John Roberts read a ruling from the bench that ended race conscious admissions policies in America.
If that happened — and it’s definitely possible that exact thing could happen sometime in the coming months — imagine how much more effective coverage of the opinion would be if news entities were able to play audio of Roberts reading the decision.
Yes, the words are there on the paper nearly immediately, and that’s “the law.” And, yes, people other than the justices can then explain what the ruling means and how it will effect people. But that immediately removes the justices from their decisions.
Additionally, the failure of the court to livestream its opinion announcements as it does its arguments simply takes a piece of governing that could be available to the public and hides it away for several months, until its effective use is primarily for researchers or historians.
Imagine how much more accountability the justices could face for their decisions if their announcement of those decisions was readily and immediately accessible to the public.
Of course, the justices realize that, too. And that’s likely why the decision audio isn’t livestreamed.
Law Dork with Chris Geidner is independent, reader-supported legal and political journalism that seeks to hold government and other public officials accountable. Support this reporting by becoming a free or paid subscriber today.
ANTI-LGBTQ — PRIMARILY, ANTI-TRANS — BILLS: State legislatures are convening, and their members are proposing many anti-LGBTQ bills. As with last year, many of these specifically focus on transgender people. Many of them focus on transgender people’s ability to obtain necessary health care.
The ACLU has a tracker up that, as of this writing, identifies 161 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced already this year.
Of course, many of these bills will not pass. But, as others have noted, the fact that many won’t pass does not mean, in this environment, that they shouldn’t receive attention.
In an article at them, Oliver Haug spoke with several of the leading advocates, researchers, and writers on anti-trans legislation about the upcoming legislative sessions. The ACLU’s Chase Strangio told Haug:
One of the sad realities is, almost every Republican-led state has passed a sports ban. So I think we'll see a shift in momentum to the health bans.
We are seeing that already, as Erin Reed reported on Jan. 20:
Utah’s S.B. 16, a bill that would restrict or bar transgender minors from receiving necessary health care, was passed by the Senate last week and was introduced in the House on Monday.
A bill to bar birth certificate changes for transgender minors (S.B. 93) and a bill forcing school districts to provide information to parents about their children’s gender identity (S.B. 100) both also have passed the Utah Senate. They, too, were introduced in the House on Monday.
A rally is scheduled to take place in Utah on Tuesday in opposition to the anti-trans legislation.
FINALLY, A FLORIDA UPDATE: From Judd Legum at Popular Information, yet another disturbing story about what Gov. Ron DeSantis is doing to education in Florida.
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