U.S. Supreme Court

US Supreme Court

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss a Michigan couple whose case could determine constitutional same-sex marriage rights, a challenge to Michigan’s right-to-work law, and a Republican-proposed plan for changes to the Electoral College.

antiochla.edu / Antioch University

 

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday it will not review lower court rulings on same-sex marriage cases from several states.

Kathy Gray, Detroit Free Press reporter, says that means the U.S. Supreme Court let those lower court rulings stand, which lift the ban on same-sex marriage in the five states – Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana. 

Michigan's case is still up in the air, because it's being heard – along with cases in Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky – in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a decision could come at any time.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear seven same-sex marriage cases. And that leaves the fate of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A decision from the Sixth Circuit could come at any time. The case was argued in August. Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee are also waiting on the ruling. A decision to uphold same-sex marriage bans in those states and Michigan would create a conflict between different circuits that could land the case before the Supreme Court.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the issue of gay marriage this session. Read more about this decision's implications here.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is optimistic the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to take up the question of gay marriage this year.

There is a long-established principle that whenever state law conflicts with a federal law, the federal law prevails. That’s been established by a long string of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, plus a little event called the Civil War.  

This is why, for example, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes could rule that the pensions of Detroit city workers and retirees could be cut, even though Michigan’s state constitution says they can’t be. Federal bankruptcy law prevails.

If this weren’t the case, it would mean that anything Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court did could be overruled by any state legislature, and our nation would become no more than a collection of 50 countries united in name only.

That’s something we all learned in civics class -- which makes the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision yesterday on life sentences for minors completely baffling.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to automatically sentence juveniles to life without the possibility of parole. However, some politicians who want to be seen as tough on crime, claimed this decision was not retroactive.

And yesterday, in a four to three vote, the Michigan Supreme Court agreed with them. The justices ruled that minors who were sentenced in Michigan to life without the possibility of parole still have no chance of a hearing – if they were sentenced before the nation’s highest court’s ruling.

Michigan police officers and defense attorneys don’t expect much to change in the state after a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in a privacy case.

The nation’s highest court ruled that police need a warrant to search a criminal suspect’s mobile phone.

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

As expected, Michigan’s attorney general has dropped an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the court to block a Lansing casino project.

But the legal fight is far from finished.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state of Michigan could not sue the Bay Mills tribe to block it from operating a casino located off its reservation. The court ruled that the tribe has sovereign immunity.

The state was using the same legal strategy in an appeal in a case involving a proposed Lansing casino.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Clean air advocates in Michigan are cheering a U.S. Supreme Court decision that will allow stricter regulation of coal-fired power plants.

The high court decided this week to overturn a lower court ruling and allow the Environmental Protection Agency to slap new limits on pollution from power plants.

Big news out of Washington, D.C. today: The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Michigan’s ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action. The Court's majority held that Michigan voters were within their rights to amend the state constitution to ban the college admission policies. We dove into the decision on today's show.

Then, we checked in with Michigan Radio's auto-beat reporter Tracy Samilton about big changes that are likely in the leadership at Ford.

And, on this Earth Day, what moths can tell us about the world's changing climate.

Also, we spoke with author Joseph Tirella about his book Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America.

First on the show, it's taken months of bargaining, bickering and posturing, but there have been promising advances in the Detroit bankruptcy journey.

Pieces are starting to fall into place that could complete the so-called "grand bargain" that would protect the DIA collection and soften the blow for Detroit's retirees.

First came word of a tentative deal between the city and its pensioners. A day later, the board that represents police and fire retirees gave unanimous approval to the deal.

Now it's on to the next hurdle: getting state lawmakers to approve Michigan's share of the grand bargain – $350 million.

Chris Gautz, Capitol Correspondent of Crain's Detroit Business, joined us today.

U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Michigan’s ban on race- and gender-based affirmative action in college admissions today.

A six-to-two majority on the Court held that Michigan voters were within their rights to amend the state constitution to ban the admission policies.

Rick Pluta is Lansing bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Credit David Jesse @freephighered / Twitter

The U.S. Supreme Court released its ruling this morning in favor of Michigan's 2006 constitutional ban on using affirmative action in college admissions.

Six justices ruled in favor of Michigan's ban, but for different reasons. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsberg dissented, and Justice Kagan recused herself from the case.

U.S. Supreme Court

When the U.S. Supreme Court recently handed down its 5-4 decision in McCutcheon vs.

Kennecott Eagle Minerals

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take a case trying to stop the development of a new copper and nickel mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The high court let stand a lower court's rejection of the Huron Mountain Club's arguments that the mine needs federal permits.

The Club owns a 19,000-acre wildlife and nature preserve that includes an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River.

The Eagle Mine is located a few miles upstream, and some mining will take place under the river.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A campaign spending watchdog is worried about the potential effect on Michigan’s politics by a U.S. Supreme Court decision today. 

The Supreme Court has struck down limits in federal law on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

The political campaign ad season is upon us. We’ve already seen the first trickle of ads here in Michigan, but we know the spigot is barely open at this point.

And, this brings us to an interesting court case out of Ohio that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in just over a month. At issue is whether a state can preemptively enforce a ban on a supposedly false and misleading political advertisement.

This started when the Republican independent committee the Susan B. Anthony List wanted to put up a billboard that accused an Ohio congressman of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions. The Congressman cried foul under an Ohio law that forbids knowingly or recklessly making false or misleading statements about candidates.

The billboard never went up after the congressman threatened to file a legal complaint. But the Susan B. Anthony List and some other groups challenged the law. That lawsuit was dismissed on a technicality and that was upheld by the U.S Sixth. Circuit Court of Appeals – of which Michigan is a part.

courtesy of www.instant-casino-bonus.com/gaming

  The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in a case that pits Michigan against an Upper Peninsula Indian tribe.

The case revolves around the tribe's plan to open an off-reservation casino.

Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today from D.C.

Listen to the full interview above.

This week we saw yet another split in the Republican Party. But this intra-party fight had little to do with the usual Tea Party v. Establishment narrative. Instead, the imbroglio was over “issue ads.” Or, to be even more specific: disclosure of who is paying for issue ads.

Issue ads can sound and look an awful lot like campaign ads but they don’t directly or explicitly endorse a candidate by saying “vote for Candidate X” or “oppose Candidate Y.” It’s these magic little words – “vote,” “elect,” “support,” – that make a political ad a political ad.

But issue ads can say Candidate X did a horrible thing or Candidate Y is an amazing person. Take for example this ad from the 2010 Republican Gubernatorial Primary: “Raising taxes in this economy is crazy. But that’s what Congressman Pete Hoesktra wants to do… Call Congressman Hoesktra and tell him raising taxes is crazy.” Language like that makes it an issue ad. It says “call Congressman Hoekstra” but it doesn’t specifically say how to vote.

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today on the constitutionality of Michigan’s affirmative action ban. The justices aren’t expected to announce a decision till next spring. And most of the so-called experts are betting that the Supreme Court will uphold our constitutional amendment banning affirmative action, the one voters passed by a wide margin seven years ago.

They think the vote will be 5-3, and that Justice Anthony Kennedy will be the swing vote. Well, they may be right. But none of the experts ever dreamed that the swing vote in the court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act would be that of Chief Justice John Roberts, and that he would find it constitutional on the grounds that it was actually a tax. So you never really know.

This issue is more complicated than many people on either side think.  I can sympathize with those opposing affirmative action. Giving someone special treatment because their ethnic background or the color of their skin, sounds terribly unfair. Unfair whether we are talking about discriminating for them or against them. Except -- it’s not that simple.  

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Legislation to overhaul Michigan’s juvenile lifer law would not apply to inmates already sentenced as teenagers to life without parole.

The bills were adopted today by the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

The legislation is required because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles.

James Sorenson lost his son in 2007 to a teenaged murderer.    He says any rewrite of the law should put the interests of the victims’ families ahead of teenagers who participated in a murder.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers attempting to respond to a ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional have hit a stalemate that threatens to derail any progress.

They can't agree on whether last year's Supreme Court decision last year applies retroactively to the roughly 360 Michigan inmates who were under 18 when they committed crimes.

Aimee Hechler / imgur.com

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage don’t really change the legal status of same-sex couples in Michigan. In 2004, voters amended the Michigan Constitution to enact a sweeping ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

But there’s a lot happening on the issue in courts, the Legislature, and on the campaign trail.

The Supreme Court’s decision returns gay marriage battles to Michigan and the 34 other states that prohibit same-sex marriage.

Gay rights groups here have set their sights on November of 2016. That’s when they hope to run a ballot question to reverse the state’s gay marriage ban. 

 If you are a liberal, you were probably dismayed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act Tuesday, and thrilled by the justices’ ruling on same-sex marriage Wednesday.

If you are a conservative, you probably feel exactly the opposite.  Yet things are seldom as black and white as they seem, and like everyone else, Michiganders are apt to see just how complex the effects of these rulings really are, as the consequences of these decisions play out in coming months and years.

Aimee Hechler / imgur.com

Update 4:30 p.m.

Earlier this month, Michigan Radio's Lester Graham spoke with Kent and Diego Love-Ramirez - a gay couple in Michigan and the parents of two-year-old Lucas. The two were legally married in Washington D.C. last December, but they live in Michigan - a state that doesn't recognize their union:

"...it is very difficult for us to be in a two-parent family and not have that recognized."

Sarah Alvarez / Michigan Radio

Last night, Buena Vista School District held meetings to discuss two important issues.

Overall, while the board made decisions for the 2013-2014 school year assuming the school district would open this coming fall, the future of the district depends on whether or not higher ups decide to dissolve the struggling school system.

First, the board made decisions on the school district’s budget and layoffs.

You know by now that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act yesterday. But what you may not know is this: That act was passed by Congress back in 1965 because a white woman from Detroit gave her life in the struggle for civil rights.

TexasGOPvote.com / Flickr

In its decision announced this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday "effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965," according to the New York Times.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the court said Congress is relying on outdated voting data in subjecting areas to federal oversight. More from the NYTimes:

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Michigan Democrats propose legislation to legalize same-sex marriage

While they wait for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage this week, Michigan House Democrats are proposing legislation that would let voters reconsider the ban on same-sex marriage in the state.

“Legislation would let voters replace the gay marriage ban with an amendment that specifically allows same-sex marriages…The Republican state House speaker says any effort to reverse the same-sex marriage ban should start with a citizen-initiated petition drive,” Rick Pluta reports.

Governor Snyder still pushing Senate on Medicaid expansion

“Governor Rick Snyder says he’s considering vetoing every bill that hits his desk until state lawmakers vote to expand Medicaid in Michigan…Snyder blasted the state Senate last week for leaving on summer recess without voting on the bill. He says he’s looking at a variety of options to get lawmakers back in Lansing,” Jack Neher reports.

Bay Mills casino case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide if the state can challenge a tribe’s right to open a casino in the northern Michigan town of Vanderbilt.

“The case now goes on the docket for the Supreme Court’s upcoming term. The issue is whether state Attorney General Bill Schuette has the legal standing to challenge the casino. The Bay Mills Indian tribe says he does not – that the Vanderbilt property is part of the tribe’s independent territory," according to Rick Pluta.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan’s state constitutional amendment barring racial preferences in university admissions and other public institutions might be the next major case dealing with affirmative action laws in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided today not to decide a Texas affirmative action case where a white student challenged the University of Texas’s admission policy that includes race as one of its deciding factors. 

user dbking / Flickr

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert to another affirmative action case, agreeing to hear a case involving the University of Michigan's effort to ban consideration of race in college admissions.

The case has been added to the list the Court will begin hearing in their next session which will begin in October.

The justices are already considering a challenge to a University of Texas program that takes account of race, among other factors.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta joined Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty to explain what this means for both cases.

Listen to the full interview above.

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