A big week at the Supreme Court

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US Supreme Court Photo by Pixabay.

The Supreme Court delivered two major opinions this week and conservatives are not very happy with two Republican-appointed justices. Justice Neil Gorsuch — often held up as the example of why Republicans should tolerate President Trump’s antics — wrote the opinion in a 6-3 decision that said employers cannot discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity because, well, Gorsuch argues that’s what the text of the law says. Might conservatives abandon textualism? Later in the week, the Supreme Court decided 5-4 the Trump administration improperly tried to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects from deportation many unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the country as minors.

One way to read Chief Justice John Roberts’s opinion, Emily Bazelon says, is that he’s offended by the Trump administration’s sloppy lawyering. They should have been more clear about why they wanted to toss protections for Dreamers. Michael Steele says the administration’s actions are less about a coherent immigration policy and more about undoing President Obama’s work. This decision, of course, doesn’t erase all the uncertainty about the future of DACA. Plus: why did the Supreme Court pass on cases about the Second Amendment and qualified immunity?

And speaking of, how much would eliminating qualified immunity actually improve police behavior? Without it, Christine Emba says there could be trickle-up accountability — the threat of a lawsuit could make officers behave better, but maybe it would simply force local government to pay more attention to training and hire better officers. Emily Bazelon says the threat of lawsuits can be a good accountability tool for law enforcement, but for large-scale reform, major culture change is necessary from leadership to the unions and through the ranks. 

Finally: John Bolton’s tell-all memoir is coming out next week, and the details in it are pretty embarrassing for President Trump. The Department of Justice is trying very hard to stop the publication of the book. Josh Barro says it’s an egregious abuse of power for the Department of Justice to try to silence John Bolton and punish him for exercising his First Amendment rights.

Credits

Guest:
Emily Bazelon - New York Times Magazine / Yale Law School - @EmilyBazelon

Hosts:
Christine Emba, Josh Barro, Michael Steele

Producer:
Sara Fay