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Supreme Court rules 5-4 states can be sued for discriminating against Veterans

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A Supreme Court ruling released Tuesday sides with an Iraq War Veteran, determining that states cannot be exempt from being sued for discrimination against Veterans. CNN reports “The ruling will strengthen work protections for thousands of state-employed veterans returning to work after service in the Reserves or National Guard.”

LeRoy Torres enlisted in the US Army Reserve in 1989 and was an employee of the Texas Department of Public Safety as a state trooper before he was deployed to Iraq in 2007. While serving in the War, Torres suffered lung damage after being exposed to toxic chemicals in so called burn pits.

CNN reports that upon his return he sought reemployment, but told the agency he could no longer serve as a state trooper and sought a comparable job to accommodate his service-related disability. When he was denied the job, he filed suit under federal law but lost in state courts. He appealed the decision to the US Supreme Court.

Torres argued the DPS failing to offer him a job to accommodate his disability violated the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. The law — meant to protect veterans from employment discrimination — was passed under Congress’ power to “raise and support Armies.”

At oral arguments, Andrew T. Tutt, a lawyer for Torres, told the justices that the “Constitution gave Congress the power to raise and support Armies, and the reason for that grant was to ensure the survival of the nation.” He said the law’s protections are “crucial in light of the structure of the modern military” and noted that in order to convince soldiers to join the reserves force, Congress promised them “they would not be discriminated against on the basis of their military service or service-connected injuries.”…

…Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, joined by the other liberals as well as Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Texas had argued that states are immune from such lawsuits brought under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, passed under Congress’ war powers authority. The law was enacted to ensure that those who serve aren’t disadvantaged when they return to the work force with a service-related disability.

Breyer said that “upon entering the Union,” the states “implicitly agreed that their sovereignty would yield to federal policy to build and keep a national military.”

And emphasizing Congress’ war powers authority, he noted that “Congress has broad and sweeping power to raise and support armies.”

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent, joined by Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.

Thomas said that “history and precedent” show that “when the States ratified the Constitution, they did not implicitly consent to private damages actions filed in their own courts — whether authorized by Congress’ war powers or any other Article I power.”

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Nation

Is the FBI ‘purging’ agents with Conservative views?

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On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan formally requested that the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, open an investigation into the FBI’s alleged use of political litmus tests to sideline or remove agents and employees with conservative viewpoints. This request also included a direct warning to FBI Director Christopher Wray about these practices.

Jordan’s action follows a report by Just the News detailing how an FBI security clearance review involved inquiries about an employee’s political beliefs. Specifically, the review asked whether the employee had expressed support for former President Donald Trump, attended a Second Amendment rally, or voiced skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines.

In a letter to Director Wray, Jordan expressed wrote, “The FBI appears to be purging itself of employees who do not share its preferred political views.” He emphasized the troubling nature of these practices, especially when they impinge on fundamental liberties and constitutional rights.

Speaking on the “John Solomon Reports” podcast, Jordan highlighted the severity of the situation: “Particularly when they’re asking about fundamental liberties, your constitutional rights, I mean, that is that is frightening stuff.” He further noted the retaliatory actions taken against whistleblowers who bring such issues to light, adding, “You put all that together, and you talk about politics driving what happens there.”

Jordan’s inquiry into the political weaponization of law enforcement has been ongoing, with a particular focus on the FBI’s conduct. In his communication with Inspector General Horowitz, Jordan underscored that the targeting of an employee’s political beliefs and First Amendment activities was deeply concerning and seemingly unrelated to legitimate security risk assessments. “These actions only serve to further erode the dwindling public trust in the FBI and reinforce the Committee and Select Subcommittee’s concerns about political bias within the FBI,” he wrote.

Jordan also referenced evidence uncovered by Judicial Watch, which suggested political retaliation against FBI whistleblowers aiding Congress. He pointed out that an FBI official allegedly disclosed nonpublic information about these whistleblowers to a Democrat member of the Select Subcommittee, ostensibly to discredit their testimonies about FBI misconduct. “It appears from the documents that the FBI sought to selectively disclose this nonpublic information so that it would be used to impugn the credibility of the whistleblowers,” Jordan stated.

In his separate letter to Wray, Jordan questioned the relevance of political viewpoints to security clearance determinations. He argued that while assessing the legality of employees’ actions is legitimate, questions about political beliefs are “completely irrelevant to any legitimate security risk determination” and infringe upon First Amendment rights.

Following the release of internal FBI memos showing that bureau officials had inquired about an employee’s support for Trump, stance on COVID-19 vaccines, and participation in a Second Amendment rally, concerns about political bias have intensified. These memos indicated that the employee’s security clearance was revoked months after confirming his conservative views and vaccine skepticism.

Tristan Leavitt, the lawyer representing the affected FBI employee, commended the congressional oversight, stating, “It’s good to see Congress holding the FBI’s feet to the fire.” He emphasized the need for a thorough investigation into how these questions were used to justify purging conservative employees from the FBI.

 Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton echoed this sentiment on the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show, predicting that the FBI would attempt to deflect criticism despite clear evidence of misconduct. “I’m sure we’ll get some distraction and noise from Chris Wray and a reaffirmation that the FBI never does anything wrong, even when it’s caught red-handed,” Fitton remarked.

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