How the Supreme Court will handle decisions with Scalia gone and only eight sitting justices

supreme court justices 2010
Source: Outside the Beltway
With Antonin Scalia gone from the Supreme Court, there will be only eight justices until his replacement is nominated and confirmed. If the court splits 4-4 over a decision, the lower court ruling will be upheld without new precedent being set.

Scalia wasn’t completely anti-environment but he did effectively weaken several important environmental protections during his term. His absence makes it less likely that Pres. Obama’s Clean Power Plan will be aggressively challenged.

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SCOTUS to hear free speech case of Paterson PO demoted over political sign

first amendment for everyone
Art courtesy of My First Freedoms website
Paterson Police Officer Jeffrey Heffernan’s discipline case is going to the Supreme Court. The 1st Amendment provides for employees to support the political candidates of their choosing, but lower courts found that Heffernan couldn’t invoke this legal protection because he had no intention of participating in a campaign when he picked up a fallen sign that his mother wanted. He also isn’t a Paterson resident.

But still, Heffernan was demoted because city officials perceived him to be engaged in “overt involvement in a political election”. So, the heart of this matter remains free speech rights. NorthJersey.com reports: read more

How SCOTUS works and why it may uphold Mercury emissions protection

Ruth-Bader-Ginsburg
CREDIT: AP PHOTO/STEPHAN SAVOIA
This article provides fascinating insights into how US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) cases get assigned to judges, and consequently, how opinions are formulated and delivered.

It also gives some hope that maybe the EPA regulations protecting us from Mercury emissions won’t be gutted – because it’s possible that one of the more liberal justices will write the opinion on that matter.