Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:
The Supreme Court ended its term by issuing a slew of decisions.
- In the most highly-anticipated ruling of the term, the Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the nearly 50-year-old precedent that secured the right to an abortion in the United States. Preet Bharara and Joyce Vance discussed the decision and its implications on this week’s episode of CAFE Insider.
- In another case, the Court struck down a 108-year-old New York law that required individuals to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in public. In the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the law unconstitutionally impinged on the right to bear arms.
- The Court ruled that a high school football coach was protected by the First Amendment when he led students in prayer on the field after school games. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the majority ignored the freedoms of the students, who might feel pressured to take part in the religious activity. “In doing so, the court sets us further down a perilous path in forcing states to entangle themselves with religion, with all of our rights hanging in the balance,” Sotomayor wrote.
- In another case with implications for religious rights, the Court decided that Maine may not exclude religious schools from a state tuition funding program because, according to the Court, doing so violated the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause.
- The Court also ruled that police officers may not be sued for failing to administer “Miranda warnings” — the reminders that officers give to criminal suspects, which include that they may remain silent and consult with an attorney. According to Justice Samuel Alito, “A violation of Miranda does not necessarily constitute a violation of the Constitution.” “Allowing the victim of a Miranda violation to sue a police officer for damages under Section 1983 would have little additional deterrent value, and permitting such claims would cause many problems,” he continued.
The January 6th Committee held a surprise public hearing this week.
- The hearing on Tuesday featured live testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Hutchinson testified about numerous conversations and meetings that she witnessed or was informed about, which all pertained to the Insurrection and the surrounding days.
- Hutchinson said, among other things, that Trump knew protestors were armed on January 6th, but he wanted them to be permitted to enter the grounds for his speech that morning anyway. “They’re not here to hurt me,” Hutchinson testified that Trump said.
- In addition, Hutchinson recounted an incident that occurred in a presidential vehicle following Trump’s speech on January 6th. According to Hutchinson, Trump wanted to go to the Capitol with the rioters, but his security team told him that the car would drive him back to the White House instead. Hutchinson said that Trump then became angry, attempted to grab the steering wheel of the car, and reached for the “clavicles” of his bodyguard. Following the hearing, news outlets reported that the Secret Service agents involved in the incident are prepared to testify that the incident did not occur as Hutchinson said.
- Hutchinson also testified that Meadows and Rudy Giuliani sought pardons following the events of January 6th.
- At the end of the hearing, Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney shared evidence of alleged witness intimidation by Trump and his allies. Cheney presented two messages that were sent to January 6th witnesses by members of Trump’s orbit — without naming the individuals. “[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he’s thinking about you. He knows you’re loyal, and you’re going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition,” one of the messages said.
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