Massachusetts' highest court on Monday struck down a proposed "millionaire tax" ballot question, blocking it from going before state voters in November and ending advocates' hopes for generating some $2 billion in additional revenue for education and transportation.
The Supreme Judicial Court, in a 5-2 ruling, said the initiative petition should not have been certified by Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey because it violated the "relatedness" clause of the state constitution that prohibits ballot questions from mingling unrelated subjects — in this case, taxing and spending.
The proposed constitutional amendment — referred to by its proponents as the "Fair Share Amendment," would have imposed a surtax of 4 percent on any portion of an individual's annual income that exceeds $1 million. The measure called for revenues from the tax to be earmarked for transportation and education.
Writing for the majority, Associate Justice Frank Gaziano said a voter who supported the surtax but opposed earmarking the funds for a specific purpose would be left "in the untenable position of choosing which issue to support and which must be disregarded."
The justices offered hypothetical examples of voters who might support spending on one priority but not the other, such as a subway commuter with no school-age children.
The measure had been poised to reach voters in November after receiving sufficient support from the Legislature in successive two-year sessions. But several business groups, including the Massachusetts High Technology Council and Associated Industries of Massachusetts, sued to block it.
The court's ruling was a devastating blow for Raise Up Massachusetts, a coalition of labor unions, community and religious organizations that collected more than 150,000 signatures in support of the millionaire tax.
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that immigrants the government has detained and is considering deporting aren't entitled by law to periodic bond hearings.
The case is a class-action lawsuit brought by immigrants who've spent long periods in custody. The group includes some people facing deportation because they've committed a crime and others who arrived at the border seeking asylum.
The San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had ruled for the immigrants, saying that under immigration law they had a right to periodic bond hearings. The court said the immigrants generally should get bond hearings after six months in detention, and then every six months if they continue to be held.
But the Supreme Court reversed that decision Tuesday and sided with the Trump administration, which had argued against the ruling, a position also taken by the Obama administration.
Justice Samuel Alito wrote for five justices that immigration law doesn't require periodic bond hearings. But the justices sent the case back to the appeals court to consider whether the case should continue as a class action and the immigrants' arguments that the provisions of immigration law they are challenging are unconstitutional.
But Justice Stephen Breyer, writing a dissenting opinion joined by two other liberal-leaning justices on the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said he would have read the provisions of immigration law to require hearings for people detained for a prolonged period of time.
"The bail questions before us are technical but at heart they are simple," Breyer wrote. "We need only recall the words of the Declaration of Independence, in particular its insistence that all men and women have 'certain unalienable Rights,' and that among them is the right to 'Liberty,'" he wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case on behalf of the immigrants, had previously said that about 34,000 immigrants are being detained on any given day in the United States, and 90 percent of immigrants' cases are resolved within six months. But some cases take much longer.
In the case before the justices, Mexican immigrant Alejandro Rodriguez was detained for more than three years without a bond hearing. He was fighting deportation after being convicted of misdemeanor drug possession and joyriding, and was ultimately released and allowed to stay in the United States.
The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to restore the ban on travel to the U.S. from citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.
Per Reuters: "The administration filed two emergency applications with the nine Court justices seeking to block two different lower court rulings that went against Trump's March 6 order barring entry for people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days while the U.S. government implements stricter visa screening."
Last week, an appeals court in Richmond upheld the block on Trump's order. Chief Judge Roger Gregory ruled that it, "speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination." There have been conflicting rulings on the order, and on Trump's earlier attempt to implement the ban, as it has worked its way though the courts.
Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional two state anti-corruption laws that outgoing governors passed in apparent attempts to shield themselves from investigation.
Many Mexicans were outraged when the governors of the states of Veracruz and Chihuahua pushed through the laws just months before they are to leave office giving them the power to name anti-corruption prosecutors.
The federal Attorney General's Office appealed the laws, arguing they violated new federal anti-corruption standards. It said the appeals were meant to show "there is no room for tailor-made local laws."
On Monday, the Supreme court agreed, saying neither law could stand.
There have been allegations of corruption in both Veracruz and Chihuahua, and many feared the now struck-down laws would have allowed the governors to control who would investigate them.