Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Mon 6/24 - SCOTUS Confused Rulings on Gun Rights and Abortion, potential Divisions in High-Profile Cases, Trump Inflames FBI and Criminal Charges Against Boeing

Legal News for Mon 6/24 - SCOTUS Confused Rulings on Gun Rights and Abortion, potential Divisions in High-Profile Cases, Trump Inflames FBI and Criminal Charges Against Boeing

Supreme Court rulings on gun rights and abortion, potential divisions in high-profile cases, Trump's inflammatory FBI claims, and possible criminal charges against Boeing.
Harry S. Truman signing the Military Selective Service Act, pencil sketch

This Day in Legal History: Military Selective Service Act

On June 24, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Military Selective Service Act, marking a significant moment in U.S. legal and military history. This legislation established a peacetime draft system, requiring all male U.S. citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for potential military service. The act was a response to growing Cold War tensions and the need for a ready and sizable military force. It aimed to ensure that the United States could quickly mobilize troops if needed, reflecting the country's shift towards maintaining a strong peacetime military presence.

The Selective Service System, initially created during World War I and reactivated in World War II, was thus given a permanent peacetime role. Registration under this act became a civic duty, fundamentally altering the relationship between American citizens and their government regarding national defense. Although controversial, the draft was seen as a necessary measure to prepare for potential conflicts, particularly with the Soviet Union.

This legislation faced opposition and legal challenges, with debates focusing on its fairness and the implications for civil liberties. Despite these controversies, the draft remained in effect until 1973, shaping the U.S. military and its operations through the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Selective Service System continues to exist today, although conscription has not been active since the Vietnam era, maintaining its relevance in American law and policy as a safeguard for national security.

The U.S. Supreme Court, holding a 6-3 conservative majority, recently delivered key rulings on constitutional gun rights and access to abortion medication, reflecting a temporary ideological bridge. However, as the term nears its conclusion, imminent decisions on several high-profile cases could reveal deeper divisions among the justices. These cases include Donald Trump's claim of presidential immunity, an Idaho abortion ban with no health exceptions, and the Chevron deference doctrine which supports federal regulations.

The court's term has been less ideologically driven compared to the previous two years, where conservative rulings significantly impacted abortion rights and affirmative action in college admissions. Justices have also faced scrutiny for actions outside the court, including flags linked to Trump's election loss efforts at Justice Samuel Alito's residences and undisclosed travel by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Public perception of the court is increasingly polarized, with a May poll showing 69% of Republicans and only 27% of Democrats viewing it favorably. The term's conclusion is anticipated soon, with 14 cases yet to be decided, marking the second-slowest term since 1946. Notably, pending decisions include Trump's federal prosecution avoidance and whether to raise the bar for prosecuting his supporters involved in the January 6 Capitol attack. Additionally, key rulings on agency powers and social media content regulation are awaited, potentially impacting federal regulatory authority and the administrative state.

S&P 500 Firms Rarely Disclose Emissions to SEC as Rules Loom

U.S. prosecutors, led by Special Counsel Jack Smith, are set to request that a judge curtail former President Donald Trump's "inflammatory" statements about law enforcement agents involved in his criminal case concerning mishandling classified documents. This follows Trump's false claim that an FBI policy during a 2022 search of his Florida resort authorized agents to attempt an assassination, a claim prosecutors describe as "deceptive and inflammatory." They argue it poses unjustified risks to agents.

Smith will ask Judge Aileen Cannon to prevent Trump from making statements that threaten law enforcement while he awaits trial. Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally retaining sensitive national security documents and obstructing efforts to retrieve them. His lawyers argue that restricting his statements would violate his free speech rights during the presidential campaign and that there is no evidence of threats against the FBI.

Previously, Cannon denied Smith's request on procedural grounds, citing inadequate consultation with Trump's lawyers. Trump faces similar gag orders in other federal cases, including attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss and a New York case where he was convicted of falsifying business records.

Trump has consistently criticized prosecutors, judges, and witnesses, claiming that the justice system is being used to undermine his campaign. His baseless assassination claim, included in campaign fundraising emails, was also supported by his congressional allies. Additionally, Trump's legal team is challenging Smith's investigation by arguing it is unlawfully funded and that Smith's appointment lacked necessary congressional approval.

Prosecutors to seek limit on Trump's 'inflammatory' FBI claims | Reuters

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Rahimi, concerning gun rights, highlighted significant divisions among the justices on using history and tradition to evaluate firearm restrictions. Seven of the nine justices wrote separate opinions, indicating a robust debate over originalism, a legal theory embraced by the court's conservative majority. Chief Justice John Roberts clarified that historical analogues, rather than exact matches, should guide the constitutionality of gun laws, addressing misunderstandings from a 2022 ruling. The case upheld a federal law banning gun possession by individuals with domestic violence restraining orders, a decision agreed upon by eight justices with varying opinions on originalism.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, arguing no historical precedent justifies revoking Second Amendment rights due to potential interpersonal violence. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, while concurring with Roberts, wrote separate opinions reflecting different interpretations of originalism. Gorsuch emphasized adhering to the Constitution’s original meaning, Barrett advocated for a flexible approach, and Kavanaugh discussed the nuances of historical analysis.

This debate mirrors other recent cases where justices grapple with applying historical tests to constitutional questions. For instance, in a trademark case involving Trump and an administrative law case, concurring opinions revealed disagreements on using history and tradition. These fractured approaches complicate lower courts' efforts to apply Supreme Court precedents consistently. Legal scholars expect ongoing struggles in deciding constitutional gun questions, given the historical ambiguities and disputes highlighted in these opinions.

Supreme Court Shows Division on History Test in Gun Decision

U.S. prosecutors have recommended that the Justice Department bring criminal charges against Boeing for violating a 2021 settlement agreement related to two fatal 737 MAX crashes, according to sources. The Justice Department must decide by July 7 whether to prosecute Boeing. This recommendation, previously unreported, follows a May determination that Boeing breached the agreement shielding it from fraud conspiracy charges if it overhauled compliance practices and paid $2.5 billion.

Boeing insists it has honored the settlement terms and disagrees with the Justice Department's assessment. Discussions between Boeing and the Justice Department are ongoing, with no final decision yet. Potential resolutions could include extending the settlement or imposing new, stricter terms, such as installing a third-party compliance monitor. Prosecutors might also consider additional charges beyond the original fraud conspiracy.

The situation has intensified scrutiny of Boeing, already under investigation after a mid-flight panel blow-off from one of its jets. The possibility of criminal charges adds to Boeing's challenges, particularly concerning its significant government contracts, which could be jeopardized by a felony conviction.

Families of the crash victims have criticized the 2021 agreement, advocating for prosecution and substantial fines against Boeing. At a recent Senate hearing, Boeing's CEO apologized for the company's safety failures. The families have urged prosecutors to seek nearly $25 billion in fines and proceed with criminal charges.

Exclusive: US prosecutors recommend Justice Dept. criminally charge Boeing | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at