SCOTUS Strikes Again and Not in the Way You Think

The Good

Note this one on your calendar, the court gets it correct. Just when you think SCOTUS will raise its ugly right-wing head again, it decides differently. I can’t tell you what the votes were for and against. This is an unsigned decision. Mabe the one who ratted on the SCOTUS-Alito’s anti-abortion decision will give us a hint? Haven’t heard much from Ginni Thomas as of late.

Supreme Court issues rare emergency order favoring voters challenging elections rules” | CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed

Supreme Court on Friday sided with Black voters who challenged Georgia’s system of electing members to the state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities in the state.

As CNN notes the decision, “The move was a rare example of the conservative court siding with voters over state officials in disputes regarding election rules, especially when the court is asked to act on an emergency basis.”

The Bad

I ran across this court decision yesterday. It is mind numbing.

Former judges who sent kids to jail for money must pay more than $200 million“: NPR, Associated Press, Forget what award was granted and look to the detail of what happened over years.

In what came to be known as the kids-for-cash scandal, now deposed judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, shut down a county-run juvenile detention center. In turn, they accepted $2.8 million in illegal payments from the builder and co-owner of two for-profit lockups to place sentenced juveniles in this facility. Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, pushed a zero-tolerance policy that guaranteed large numbers of kids would be sent to PA Child Care and its sister facility, Western PA Child Care.

Ciavarella ordered children as young as 8 to detention, many of them first-time offenders deemed delinquent for petty theft, jaywalking, truancy, smoking on school grounds and other minor infractions. The judge often ordered youths he had found delinquent to be immediately shackled, handcuffed and taken away without giving them a chance to put up a defense or even say goodbye to their families.

“Ciavarella and Conahan abandoned their oath and breached the public trust,” Conner wrote Tuesday in his explanation of the judgment. “Their cruel and despicable actions victimized a vulnerable population of young people, many of whom were suffering from emotional issues and mental health concerns.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out some 4,000 juvenile convictions involving more than 2,300 kids after the scheme was uncovered.

It’s unlikely the now-adult victims will see even a fraction of the eye-popping damages award, but a lawyer for the plaintiffs said it’s a recognition of the enormity of the disgraced judges’ crimes.

There is no victory in this decision. These kids have been permanently with little chance of recovery from their exposure. The money awarded is not forth coming from these two criminals. Unless the state kicks into it, nothing will come from this to help them.

The Ugly

The federal government monopolized Student Loans in a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010. These monopolized loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Congress passed legislation blocking the courts (and yes they can even block SCOTUS) from discharging student loans in bankruptcy. The Department of Education has the same and delegated power as the courts when it comes to Student loans.

If we don’t act quickly, the student loan default system could plunge more families into poverty,” (, Michele Streeter

Federal student loan default, defined as a borrower missing payments for 270 days, comes with severe consequences. The entire loan balance becomes due, and borrowers face ongoing damage to their credit scores, along with a range of significant fees. The federal government wields vast extra-judicial powers to collect student debt, including garnishing wages, seizing Social Security payments, and attaching tax refunds based on the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit.

By seizing these benefits, the federal government takes away critical financial lifelines reducing poverty for millions of families. Borrowers in default can not enroll in income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, which seek to make monthly payments more affordable (as low as $0) and get borrowers back on track.

Additionally, the federal government, states and colleges often impose a series of harsh penalties unrelated to collecting payments. Penalties including restricting access to further federal aid, withholding a student’s academic transcripts, and suspending professional and even driver’s licenses. These measures are not only punitive, they’re also self-defeating: By undermining someone’s ability to cover basic expenses, return to school, keep their job or even drive a car, the student loan default system makes it harder for someone who is already struggling to secure their financial footing.

Forty-five million people are holders of student loans.