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supreme court

Wyoming Gun Owners Praise Supreme Court Gun Ruling

in Guns/News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two Wyoming organizations had completely opposite reactions to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that eased gun restrictions in New York, with one praising the move and another condemning it.

Meanwhile, a candidate for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat praised the Supreme Court for its ruling to overturn the New York law.

“I’ve been saying for years what Justice Thomas has just opined,” said state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, founder of Wyoming Gun Owners. “That special instructions cannot be imposed on a right.”

On Thursday, the six of the nine justices ruled that a New York law improperly put restrictions on the rights of its residents to carry firearms in public for self-defense by requiring them to prove they have a special need for a firearm.

“The exercise of other constitutional rights does not require individuals to demonstrate to government officers some special need,” said a summary of the ruling written by Justice Clarence Thomas. “The Second Amendment right to carry arms in public for self-defense is no different.”

Mark Jones, Gun Owners of America’s national director of hunter’s programs, told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that his organization was thrilled about the ruling. However, he said it was sad that the justices even had to consider the case.

“We feel like they got it right,” Jones said. “To me, it was a question of whether or not that individual right extended to outside of the home. But it’s nice to see the Supreme Court do the right thing and uphold what most Americans would consider a common sense idea.”

The ruling overturns a New York law that required people who want to be licensed to carry a concealed weapon outside of their homes to prove they have “proper cause” to do so.

The lawsuit brought by two New York residents against the superintendent of the New York State Police challenged the law as a violation of both the Second and 14th Amendments.

Thomas, in the court’s majority opinion, said New York’s law treats law-abiding citizens within the state differently than citizens are treated in other states in violation of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee to equal treatment under the law.

Thomas noted that only six states impose such a requirement on those who wish to carry firearms.

“In 43 States, the government issues licenses to carry based on objective criteria,” he wrote. “But in six States, including New York, the government further conditions issuance of a license to carry on a citizen’s showing of some additional special need. Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.”

Since Wyoming is such a gun-friendly state, Jones said he did not expect the ruling would have much statewide impact, but he did think it might have an effect on the U.S. Senate, which is currently debating gun control legislation.

The proposed federal legislation comes in response to a series of mass shooting events in recent months that killed dozens.

President Joe Biden said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court ruling, saying that it “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.”

Also opposing the ruling was the Wyoming chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America.

“As our gun violence crisis gets even worse, SCOTUS has decided to cave to the gun lobby’s extreme agenda and make it harder for states and cities to protect public safety,” the organization said on social media Thursday. “The fact that the Court ruled against New York makes it clear that it chose to put lives at risk and showed indifference to public safety.”

Bouchard, meanwhile, said he was pleased to see the court leaning away from conditional application of the Second Amendment, noting he was involved with the effort in Wyoming to do away with a requirement that residents obtain a permit to carry concealed weapons.

“Now there are 25 states doing the same,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I’m pleased the Supreme Court has aligned with the protections in the constitution.”

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Barrasso, Lummis Look Forward To Meeting With Biden’s Supreme Court Pick

in News

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis both said on Friday they look forward to meeting with President Joe Biden’s nominee to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated by Biden on Friday to become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice, succeeding Justice Stephen Breyer, who will retire at the end of his term, when the court takes its summer recess. Breyer has served as a Supreme Court justice since 1994 and was nominated to the post by former President Bill Clinton.

Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated for a Supreme Court justice. Only two Black men, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas, have served as justices.

Barrasso said the Senate would focus on Jackson’s legal decisions of the past in making its decision on confirmation.

“We won’t follow the radical Democrat playbook of baseless character assassination and personal attacks,” Barrasso said. “Our next Supreme Court justice will make decisions that impact Wyoming and our country for generations. That’s why it’s important to confirm a justice who will apply the law, not legislate from the bench. It is critical that the Senate takes all the time it needs to thoroughly evaluate Judge Jackson’s record and past decisions. The American people cannot afford for this process to be rushed.”

Barrasso said he looked forward to meeting with Jackson in person soon and learning more about her judicial philosophy and understanding of the U.S. Constitution.

Lummis echoed similar sentiments in a tweet she posted on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to meeting Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as we consider her nomination to the Supreme Court,” Lummis said. “It’s important that we have a justice who impartially interprets the Constitution, maintains separation of powers & federalism and who upholds our constitutional rights.”

Jackson is a Harvard Law School graduate and has been serving as a district court judge since 2012, when she was nominated by former President Barack Obama.

Former President Donald Trump nominated two Supreme Court justices during his term, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s spokesman Jeremy Adler did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Friday.

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Supreme Court Halts Vaccine Mandate, Wyoming Officials Rejoice

in News/Coronavirus

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Several top Wyoming officials celebrated the news Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court halted the implementation of the federal vaccine mandate as it applied to workers at large companies.

While the court did allow the mandate requiring health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID to take effect, it blocked the mandate that worker at companies employing more than 100 people get mandates or regularly tested for the coronavirus.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category,” the unsigned opinion said.

Wyoming had filed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the mandate and Gov. Mark Gordon said he was “delighted” to hear of the court’s decision.

“This is a victory for Wyoming businesses and their workers. The court rightfully recognized this action by the Biden Administration for what it was: a blatant example of federal overreach,” Gordon said Thursday.

However, he was disappointed that the health care workers mandate remained in place.

“I continue to maintain that healthcare workers should not be forced to choose between vaccination and termination. We are still in the process of evaluating the impacts of this ruling on Wyoming’s healthcare workforce,” he said. 

U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis had similar praise for the mandate applying to private companies.

“This is a huge win,” she said. “The federal government has no place making far-reaching mandates that put an undue burden on businesses across Wyoming.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso also touted the ruling on his social media Thursday afternoon.

“Today, the Supreme Court confirmed what we all knew: @POTUS Biden’s vaccine mandate on employees of private businesses is unconstitutional. This ruling frees millions of Americans from having to choose between their job and their personal health care decisions,” Barrasso said. “Stopping this massive government overreach is a victory for all Americans who value the Constitution and their personal freedoms.”

President Joe Biden announced in September that he would require federal employees , health care workers and workers at companies employing more than 100 people to get the coronavirus vaccine.

In response, Wyoming filed three lawsuits seeking to block the mandate for employees of large companies, health care workers and federal contractors and their employees.

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Justice Gorsuch To Speak At UW In September

in News/University of Wyoming

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch will speak at the University of Wyoming in September, the university announced this week.

Gorsuch will discuss “Constitution Day Reflections: Equal Justice for All” in a fireside chat format with Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Lynne Boomgaarden.

The free speech will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 16 in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts concert hall. Tickets will be required and can be reserved by the public starting Aug. 30 at the UW Performing Box Office online or by calling 307-766-6666.

All attendees must be 16 or older and show a photo ID to enter.

Gorsuch was to speak on the UW campus last September, but his appearance was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

Gorsuch was born in Denver and received a B.A. degree from Columbia University, his J.D. from Harvard Law School and a PhD from Oxford University.

He served as a law clerk to Judge David Sentelle, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and as a law clerk to Justice Byron White and Justice Anthony Kennedy, of the Supreme Court of the United States.

From 1995 to 2005, he was in private practice and, from 2005 to 2006, he was principal deputy associate attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice. He was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in 2006.

Gorsuch served on the Standing Committee on Rules for Practice and Procedure of the U.S. Judicial Conference, and as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Rules of Appellate Procedure. He taught at the University of Colorado Law School.

President Donald Trump nominated him as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and he took his seat April 10, 2017.

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U.S. Supreme Court: Reservation Police Can Detain, Search Non-Tribal Members

in Wind River Reservation/News

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

People who are not Native Americans can be detained temporarily and searched by police on Indian reservations such as the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming if their behavior poses a threat to the safety of those on the reservation, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

Justices found that a Crow Police Department officer on the Crow Reservation in Montana acted properly when he seized meth from a non-Indian driver.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued Tuesday, the officer saw a truck parked on the right-of-way of a public highway of the Crow Reservation in February 2016.

The officer found the truck’s driver had “watery, bloodshot eyes” and noticed two semiautomatic rifles on the truck’s front seat. He also saw a glass pipe and plastic bag containing meth.

When other officers arrived to assist, the officer was directed to seize all contraband in plain view, leading to the discovery of more meth. The driver was then taken to the Crow Police Department, where he was held while he was questioned by federal officers.

However, federal appeals courts agreed to suppress as evidence the drugs seized from the truck, saying the tribal police officer had no authority to investigate “non-apparent” violations of state or federal law by a non-Indian.

The Supreme Court disagreed, finding its previous rulings provided tribal police exactly such authority to protect tribal members.

“To deny a tribal police officer authority to search and detain for a reasonable time any person he or she believes may commit or has committed a crime would make it difficult for tribes to protect themselves against ongoing threats,” the opinion said.

Tribal police officers cannot detain non-tribal members for violations of tribal law that is only in effect on the reservation, the ruling said, but they can detain non-tribal members for violations of state or federal laws on a public road that would apply both inside and outside of the reservation.

The appeals courts said that before the officer detained the truck’s driver, he should have determined whether the driver was non-Indian and then he could only have detained the man had he been involved in an “apparent violation” of the law.

But the Supreme Court said such an arrangement would be impractical.

“The first requirement, even if limited to asking a single question, would produce an incentive to lie,” it said. “The second requirement — that the violation of law be ‘apparent’ — introduces a new standard into search and seizure law. Whether, or how, that standard would be met is not obvious.”

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Wyoming Supreme Court Suspends Sheridan Attorney for 3 Years

in News/Wyoming Supreme Court

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Supreme Court suspended a Sheridan attorney related to a felony alcohol-related case.

Clay B. Jenkins was suspended from practicing law for three years due to a 2019 DWUI arrest, which was a felony. Jenkins pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three to seven years in prison.

Jenkins has a significant disciplinary history related to substance abuse. He agreed to the suspension.

The Supreme Court ordered Jenkins’ three-year suspension commence Nov. 6, the date of the Court’s earlier order of immediate suspension for Jenkins. 

Jenkins was also ordered to pay an administrative fee in the amount of $750 and costs of $50 to the Wyoming State Bar. 

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Barrasso: Expansion of Supreme Court Very Real Threat Under Biden

in News/politics

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso on Tuesday warned American voters that if former Vice President Joe Biden is elected president, there’s a real likelihood that he would pack the Supreme Court.

Barrasso made the comment on FOX News when host Stuart Varney asked him about a New York Times poll which showed the majority of Americans do not favor expanding the number of seats on the Supreme Court.

“There’s a real threat to expanding the size of the Supreme Court if Joe Biden becomes president,” Barrasso said.

“The reason he’s not leveling with the American people is he knows the position of the far left — the people that control his party — is an unpopular position,” he said.

Barrasso told Varney that he believed Biden won’t reveal he’s in favor of expanding the Supreme Court is that he’s “afraid it would cost him the election.”

The senator did mention that Biden’s running mate, on the other hand, has been upfront about supporting the maneuver.

“Overwhelmingly, people say do not increase the size of the Supreme Court from 9 to 11,” he said. “But his vice presidential nominee, Kamala Harris, she said she is absolutely open to it.”

Barrasso said there have been nine people on the Supreme Court since 1869 and that’s the “right number.”

“That’s not me saying it,” Barrasso said. “It’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg saying it [too] and to expand it would be seen as political.”

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The Humpty Dumpty Court

in Column/Jonathan Lange

By Jonathan Lange. Columnist, Cowboy State Daily

Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court’s latest adventure in legislating, has already seen enough compelling analysis to raise some troubling questions. Here’s a quick overview.

Justice Kavanaugh’s dissent showed that the majority did not interpret Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Rather the Court rewrote Title VII, inserting language that multiple previous congresses decidedly rejected. This is a “transgression of the Constitution’s separation of powers,” he wrote.

The dissenting opinion of Justices Alito and Thomas was stronger still. “There is only one word for what the Court has done today: legislation.” It emphasizes that our elected representatives are currently considering H.R. 5, the so-called “Equality Act,” which would amend the very law that Bostock rewrote. But rather than let the elected legislators vote, six unelected justices disenfranchised 360 million votes cast in three separate elections.

The majority not only arrogated this task to itself, but did it in the laziest way possible. It rewrote a single line of the U.S. Code that would affect 167 different provisions of federal law—but refused to reconcile the contradictions it created.

Among the 167 questions left unanswered are whether men’s access to women’s dressing rooms and sports leagues will be mandated. Whether female students and women escaping from domestic violence will be forced to share dorm rooms and living quarters with men, it didn’t say.

Patients will sue doctors both for removing healthy sex organs and for refusing to remove healthy sex organs. The majority could not be bothered to tell doctors which side will win. These, “are questions for future cases,” it said.

The evasive majority thus refused to commit itself to the logic of its own opinion—for good reason. The opinion’s fatal flaw is an equivocation in the opening paragraph.

Gorsuch wrote, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

This framing of the question assumes that a man’s right to present as a woman is hindered by the unalterable fact of his sex—he can’t help it if he’s a man. Therefore, the Court must come to the rescue and forbid an employer from taking his sex into account.

Gorsuch’s foundational claim that sex is unalterable is heretical to gender theorists. When J.K. Rowling recently said that, “sex is determined by biology,” the outrage mob wanted her canceled.

How Justices Kagan, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor could have signed onto this opinion without incurring the wrath of the same mob should be puzzling.

But, of course, no one is surprised. In our brave, new world, logical inconsistencies are par for the course. In fact, Gorsuch is not the first to opine that “sex discrimination” includes any legal recognition of the unalterable fact of sex.

The theory has been around since 1975, when he was in third grade. Moreover, his fellow Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has spent 45 years arguing against it!

Gorsuch asserts that this self-contradictory opinion is driven by strict and principled “textualism.” But he never once uses the word, “originalism.” It would be better described as “pre-textualism,” because he has no intention of determining the original meaning of the text.

First, neither “homosexual,” nor “transsexual” is, in fact, in the text. Second, multiple legislators over the course of 45 years have proposed changes in the text precisely because the text does not address homosexuality and transsexuality. Third, his concurring justices, Kagan, Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor, have a long and proud history of defying textualism at every turn.

I am not pointing out anything that the majority didn’t already know. They are extremely smart and capable lawyers. Doubtless, Alito, Thomas and Kavanaugh have been reminding them of the logical, constitutional and legal problems for the past several months.

They knew full well that their opinion would require decades of litigation costing millions. They knew that countless doctors, churches, businesses and charities would be sued into oblivion.

They also could have explicitly limited Gorsuch’s theory to Title VII alone. But the majority both refused to rule out any of the 167 new applications, while also refusing to admit that they would all logically follow.

This is now a Humpty Dumpty court. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

The Bostock majority is now that master. That is all.

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