US Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On Kentucky’s HB 454

CITY OF WASHINGTON (October 4, 2021)—the U.S. Supreme Court. to begin a new term and hear some of the most divisive cases at a time when the Court’s institutional legitimacy is under attack and the women voters are advocating to maintain their right to seek an abortion after 16 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion Rights Cases”

The Texas order came after the Supreme Court had already agreed to hear the most important abortion dispute in some 30 years, a direct challenge to Roe v Wade. The case — to be argued on December 1 — concerns Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.
Lawyers for Jackson Women’s Health Organization are asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the law, and uphold Roe, the 1973 landmark decision legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy. In briefs they highlight the fact that if the court were to gut the watershed decision, critics would say that the ruling came only because of a change in the court’s membership.
“Unless the Court is to be perceived as representing nothing more than the preferences of its current membership, it is critical that judicial protection hold firm absent the most dramatic and unexpected changes in law or fact,” wrote Julie Rikelman of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Kentucky’s Attorney General tweeted “HB 454 represents the values of Kentuckians, and next week we will argue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for the ability to continue defending this law.”

Mississippi’s “Gestational Age Act,” passed in 2018 and since blocked by two federal courts, allows abortion after 15 weeks “only in medical emergencies or for severe fetal abnormality” and has no exceptions for rape or incest. If doctors perform abortions outside the parameters of the law they will have their medical licenses suspended or revoked and may be subject to additional penalties and fines.
The state’s attorney general has argued that Roe v. Wade was “egregiously wrong” and should be overturned .
“The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition” state Attorney General Lynn Fitch told the justices in a brief over the summer.

The bill amended  KRS 6.686 to require the Legislative Ethics Commission to make findings for complaints regarding whether they are grounded in fact, warranted by law, and filed in good faith; amend KRS 11A.060 to reorganize the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, terminating the current membership and increasing the number of members from five to seven, two of which would be appointed by the Governor with the Treasurer, Auditor of Public Accounts, Commissioner of Agriculture, Secretary of State, and Attorney General appointing one member each; amend KRS 11A.080 to require the Executive Branch Ethics Commission to make findings for complaints regarding whether they are grounded in fact, warranted by law, and filed in good faith; EMERGENCY.

The Timeline of the Case:

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments on several possible ground breaking cases:

Second Amendment: Challenge to NY concealed carry law

The justices will hear an historic case concerning the scope of the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms on November 3.
Back in in 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller, the court held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms at home for self-defense. Except for a follow-up decision two years later, the justices have largely stayed away from the issue — infuriating gun rights advocates and even some of the justices themselves.
The new case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, concerns a New York law governing licenses to carry concealed handguns in public. It requires a resident to obtain a license to carry a concealed pistol or revolver and demonstrate that “proper cause” exists for the permit. Residents must show that they have a great need for the license and that they face a “special or unique danger to their life.”
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals held that New York’s law does not violate the Second Amendment.
“The law is consistent with the historical scope of the Second Amendment and directly advances New York’s compelling interests in public safety and crime prevention,” New York state Attorney General Letitia James told the Supreme Court.
In a brief, James wrote that the law requires applicants who want to carry a handgun in public without restriction to show an “actual and articulable—rather than merely speculative or specious—need for self-defense.” In short, James argues that the state has a right to regulate when it comes to conceal carry in areas frequented by the public.
She warned that a ruling in favor of challengers would “jeopardize the firearm restrictions that all States and the federal government have adopted to protect the public in sensitive places where people typically congregate” like courthouses, airports, subways and schools.
The Biden administration supports New York, and told the court in a friend of the court brief that while the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, the right is “not absolute.”
“For centuries, lawmakers have protected the public by reasonably regulating such matters as who may possess arms, where they may be taken, and how they may be manufactured, transported, sold, stored, and carried,” acting Solicitor General Brian H. Fletcher wrote.
The petitioners in the case are Robert Nash, Brandon Koch and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. They are represented by Paul Clement, who served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush.

Religious liberty: School vouchers in Maine

In recent years the conservatives on the court have moved for greater protections under the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution and on December 8, they will hear a new case concerning a tuition assistance program out of Maine.
Parents in some rural areas of the state with no school district receive vouchers so that they can send their kids to private schools — including those with religious affiliations. The aim of the program, the state argues, is to give students an education that is roughly equivalent to what they would have had, if there had been a public school in their area.
The lawsuit was brought by David and Amy Carson as well as other parents. The Carsons sought to send their child to Bangor Christian School, a private school that, the parents said, aligned with their Christian beliefs. The school has a mission of “instilling a Biblical worldview” in its students and sees that Bible as the “final authority in all matters.” It does not hire teachers who are members of the LGBTQ community.

Death penalty: Presence of spiritual adviser

On November 1, 2021 the justices will dive back into an issue that has divided them in the past: the presence of spiritual adviser in the death chamber during an execution.
John Ramirez, on death row in Texas, seeks to have his spiritual adviser with him in the execution chamber so that he can “lay hands” on him and audibly pray. While the Texas Department of Criminal Justice allows an adviser to be present in the room, he or she must stand in a corner and is not allowed pray out loud. Ramirez’ lawyer says the policy violates his religious liberty rights.
Ramirez was convicted of robbing and murdering Pablo Castro in 2004 after stabbing him 29 times in a convenience store parking lot. He also robbed a second victim at knifepoint and fled to Mexico, evading arrest for three and a half years, according to the Texas Attorney General’s office.

State secrets, CIA detention facilities and FBI surveillance

The justices will take up two cases concerning the so-called state secrets privilege which permits the government to withhold information that it believes could harm national security if it were disclosed.
Zubaydah was initially captured in Pakistan in March 2002 and detained in CIA detention facilities abroad. His lawyers are now seeking to compel discovery via subpoena from two CIA contractors (James Elmer Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen) who worked on the CIA program. Zubaydah wants the evidence for use in criminal proceedings in Poland that would confirm whether the CIA operated a detention facility in the country in the early 2000s and used interrogation techniques.
The second case involves a dispute brought by three Muslim men who seek to challenge the FBI, arguing that it unlawfully used a confidential informant to gather information about Muslims in their neighborhood based on their religious identity.

Read the Final Kentucky Bill here.


Source: AP News and CNN wrote the original article.

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