Supreme Court Delivers 6–3 Decision That Liberals Will Not Like

The Supreme Court has made its first major ruling since the leak of a draft decision that shows that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

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Chief Justice John Roberts criticized the Roe v. Wade opinion leak early this month during a private meeting, calling it “absolutely appalling.”

In remarks to judges and attorneys in Atlanta first reported by CNN, Roberts said he hoped ‘one bad apple’ would not affect ‘people’s perception’ of the high court.

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Having leaked the document, he called the individual or persons responsible ‘foolish’ for believing that it would influence court decisions.

He announced that an investigation would be conducted into the ‘betrayal.’

‘I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak,’ Roberts said in a statement.

Roberts said the leak was an ‘egregious breach’ and an ‘affront to the court.’

‘We at the Court are blessed to have a workforce – permanent employees and law clerks alike – intensely loyal to the institution and dedicated to the rule of law. Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court. This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here,’ Roberts declared.

The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that federal judges cannot hear new evidence filed by death row inmates who claim their state-appointed lawyers weren’t effective in their state trials.

On a 6-3 vote, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that two death row inmates in Arizona could not raise evidence of ineffective counsel in their federal habeas appeal because they had not brought the argument in state court.

“To respect our system of dual sovereignty … the availability of habeas relief is narrowly circumscribed,” Thomas wrote for the majority in the case of Shinn v. Ramirez.

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“Only rarely may a federal habeas court hear a claim or consider evidence that a prisoner did not previously present to the state courts in compliance with state procedural rules,” Thomas continued.

The three liberals on the Supreme Court – justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan – wrote in dissent that the ruling “effectively ends” Sixth Amendment rights to representation for wrongfully convicted people.

“This decision is perverse. It is illogical: It makes no sense to excuse a habeas petitioner’s counsel’s failure to raise a claim altogether because of ineffective assistance in postconviction proceedings,” wrote the liberal justices in their dissent.

Sotomayor argued the majority overturned a precedent “that recognized a critical exception to the general rule that federal courts may not consider claims on habeas review that were not raised in state court.”

The case the justices heard is a gruesome one. It should be shocking that the liberal justices could hear it and still come down on the side of the criminal, but these days it’s not.

From the case SHINN, DIRECTOR, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, REHABILITATION AND REENTRY v. MARTINEZ RAMIREZ:

On May 25, 1989, David Ramirez fatally stabbed his girlfriend, Mary Ann Gortarez, and her 15-year-old daughter, Candie, in their home.

Ramirez stabbed Mary Ann 18 times in the neck with a pair of scissors, and Candie 15 times in the neck with a box cutter.

Police also found physical evidence that Ramirez had sexually assaulted Candie, and Ramirez later admitted that he had sex with the child on the night of the murders and four times before. A jury convicted Ramirez of two counts of premeditated first-degree murder. The trial court sentenced Ramirez to death, and the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed on direct review.

Ramirez then filed his first petition for state postconviction relief. That petition raised myriad claims, but it did not raise the one at issue here: that Ramirez’s trial counsel
provided ineffective assistance for “failing to conduct a complete mitigation investigation” or “obtai[n] and present available mitigation evidence at sentencing.”

Ramirez did not raise this ineffective-assistance claim until he subsequently filed a successive state habeas petition, which the state court summarily denied as untimely under Arizona law.

Ramirez also petitioned the U. S. District Court for the District of Arizona for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U. S. C. §2254.

As relevant here, the District Court held that Ramirez had procedurally defaulted his ineffective assistance claim by failing to raise it before the Arizona courts in a timely fashion.

Ramirez responded that the District Court should forgive the procedural default because his state postconviction counsel was himself ineffective for failing to raise the trial-ineffective assistance claim and develop the facts to support it.

The District Court permitted Ramirez to file several declarations and other evidence not presented to the state court to support his request to excuse his procedural default.

Assessing the new evidence, the District Court excused the procedural default but rejected Ramirez’s ineffective-assistance claim on the merits.

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The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded. Like the District Court, it held that Ramirez’s state postconviction counsel’s failure to raise and develop the trial-ineffective-assistance claim was cause to forgive the procedural default.

The Ninth Circuit also held that Ramirez’s underlying trial-ineffective-assistance claim was substantial, and that Ramirez therefore had suffered prejudice. See id., at 1243–1247. But, unlike the District Court, the Court of Appeals declined to decide the merits of Ramirez’s claim.

The court remanded the case for further factfinding because, in its view, Ramirez was “entitled to evidentiary development to litigate the merits of his ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim.”

Arizona petitioned for rehearing en banc, arguing that the Ninth Circuit’s remand for additional evidentiary development violated 28 U. S. C. §2254(e)(2). The Ninth Circuit denied rehearing over an eight-judge dissent by Judge Collins.