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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87 – NPR

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — here in her chambers during a 2019 interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg — died on Friday at the age of 87.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — here in her chambers during a 2019 interview with NPR’s Nina Totenberg — died on Friday at the age of 87.

Shuran Huang/NPR

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas.

The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87.

“Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member. Her death will inevitably set in motion what promises to be a nasty and tumultuous political battle over who will succeed her, and it thrusts the Supreme Court vacancy into the spotlight of the presidential campaign.

Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

She knew what was to come. Ginsburg’s death will have profound consequences for the court and the country. Inside the court, not only is the leader of the liberal wing gone, but with the court about to open a new term, the chief justice no longer holds the controlling vote in closely contested cases.

Though Roberts has a consistently conservative record in most cases, he has split from fellow conservatives in a few important ones this year, casting his vote with liberals, for instance, to protect at least temporarily the so-called DREAMers from deportation by the Trump administration, to uphold a major abortion precedent and to uphold bans on large church gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. But with Ginsburg gone, there is no clear court majority for those outcomes.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Released From Hospital

Upcoming political battle

Indeed, a week after the upcoming presidential election, the court is for the third time scheduled to hear a challenge brought by Republicans to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. In 2012, the high court upheld the law in a 5-4 ruling, with Roberts casting the deciding vote and writing the opinion for the majority. But this time the outcome may well be different.

That’s because Ginsburg’s death gives Republicans the chance to tighten their grip on the court with another appointment by President Trump so conservatives would have 6-3 majority. And that would mean that even a defection on the right would leave conservatives with enough votes to prevail in the Obamacare case and many others.

At the center of the battle to achieve that will be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In 2016, he took a step unprecedented in modern times: He refused for nearly a year to allow any consideration of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

Back then, McConnell’s justification was the upcoming presidential election, which he said would allow voters a chance to weigh in on what kind of justice they wanted. But now, with the tables turned, McConnell has made clear he will not follow the same course. Instead he will try immediately to push through a Trump nominee so as to ensure a conservative justice to fill Ginsburg’s liberal shoes, even if Trump were to lose his reelection bid. Asked what he would do in circumstances such as these, McConnell said: “Oh, we’d fill it.”

So what happens in the coming weeks will be bare-knuckle politics, writ large, on the stage of a presidential election. It will be a fight Ginsburg had hoped to avoid, telling Justice John Paul Stevens shortly before his death that she hoped to serve as long as he did — until age 90.

“My dream is that I will stay on the court as long as he did,” she said in an interview in 2019.

“Tough as nails”

She didn’t quite make it. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg was nonetheless a historic figure. She changed the way the world is for American women. For more than a decade, until her first judicial appointment in 1980, she led the fight in the courts for gender equality. When she began her legal crusade, women were treated, by law, differently from men. Hundreds of state and federal laws restricted what women could do, barring them from jobs, rights and even from jury service. By the time she donned judicial robes, however, Ginsburg had worked a revolution.

That was never more evident than in 1996 when, as a relatively new Supreme Court justice, Ginsburg wrote the court’s 7-1 opinion declaring that the Virginia Military Institute could no longer remain an all-male institution. True, Ginsburg said, most women — indeed most men — would not want to meet the rigorous demands of VMI. But the state, she said, could not exclude women who could meet those demands.

“Reliance on overbroad generalizations … estimates about the way most men or most women are, will not suffice to deny opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description,” Ginsburg wrote.

She was an unlikely pioneer, a diminutive and shy woman, whose soft voice and large glasses hid an intellect and attitude that, as one colleague put it, was “tough as nails.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Life Immortalized In Song

By the time she was in her 80s, she had become something of a rock star to women of all ages. She was the subject of a hit documentary, a biopic, an operetta, merchandise galore featuring her “Notorious RBG” moniker, a Time magazine cover and regular Saturday Night Live sketches.

On one occasion in 2016, Ginsburg got herself into trouble and later publicly apologized for disparaging remarks she made about then-presidential candidate Trump.

But for the most part Ginsburg enjoyed her fame and maintained a sense of humor about herself.

Asked about the fact that she had apparently fallen asleep during the 2015 State of the Union address, Ginsburg did not take the Fifth, admitting that although she had vowed not to drink at dinner with the other justices before the speech, the wine had just been too good to resist. The result, she said, was that she was perhaps not an entirely “sober judge” and kept nodding off.

The road to law

Born in Brooklyn, Ruth Bader went to public schools, where she excelled as a student — and as a baton twirler. By all accounts, it was her mother who was the driving force in her young life, but Celia Bader died of cancer the day before the future justice would graduate from high school.

Then 17, Ruth Bader went on to Cornell University on a full scholarship, where she met Martin (aka “Marty”) Ginsburg. “What made Marty so overwhelmingly attractive to me was that he cared that I had a brain,” she said.

After her graduation, they were married and went off to Fort Sill, Okla., for his military service. There Mrs. Ginsburg, despite scoring high on the civil service exam, could only get a job as a typist, and when she became pregnant, she lost even that job.

Two years later, the couple returned to the East Coast to attend Harvard Law School. She was one of only nine women in a class of more than 500 and found the dean asking her why she was taking up a place that “should go to a man.”

At Harvard, she was the academic star, not her husband. The couple were busy juggling schedules and their toddler when Marty Ginsburg was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Surgeries and aggressive radiation followed.

'Ruth Bader Ginsburg' Reminds Us Why The Justice Is A True Legal Icon

“So that left Ruth with a 3-year-old child, a fairly sick husband, the law review, classes to attend and feeding me,” Marty Ginsburg said in a 1993 interview with NPR.

The experience also taught the future justice that sleep was a luxury. During the year of her husband’s illness, he was only able to eat late at night; after that he would dictate his senior class paper to her. At about 2 a.m., he would go back to sleep, Ruth Bader Ginsburg recalled in an NPR interview. “Then I’d take out the books and start reading what I needed to be prepared for classes the next day.”

Marty Ginsburg survived, graduated and got a job in New York; his wife, a year behind him in school, transferred to Columbia, where she graduated at the top of her law school class. Despite her academic achievements, the doors to law firms were closed to women, and though recommended for a Supreme Court clerkship, she wasn’t even interviewed.

It was bad enough that she was a woman, she recalled later, but she was also a mother, and male judges worried she would be diverted by her “familial obligations.”

A mentor, law professor Gerald Gunther, finally got her a clerkship in New York by promising Judge Edmund Palmieri that if she couldn’t do the work, he would provide someone who could. That was “the carrot,” Ginsburg would say later. “The stick” was that Gunther, who regularly fed his best students to Palmieri, told the judge that if he didn’t take Ginsburg, Gunther would never send him a clerk again. The Ginsburg clerkship apparently was a success; Palmieri kept her not for the usual one year, but two, from 1959-61.

Ginsburg’s next path is rarely talked about, mainly because it doesn’t fit the narrative. She learned Swedish so she could work with Anders Bruzelius, a Swedish civil procedure scholar. Through the Columbia University School of Law Project on International Procedure, Ginsburg and Bruzelius co-authored a book.

In 1963, Ginsburg finally landed a teaching job at Rutgers Law School, where she at one point hid her second pregnancy by wearing her mother-in-law’s clothes. The ruse worked; her contract was renewed before her baby was born.

While at Rutgers, she began her work fighting gender discrimination.

The “mother brief”

Her first big case was a challenge to a law that barred a Colorado man named Charles Moritz from taking a tax deduction for the care of his 89-year-old mother. The IRS said the deduction, by statute, could only be claimed by women, or widowed or divorced men. But Moritz had never married.

The tax court concluded that the Internal Revenue Code was immune to constitutional challenge, a notion that tax lawyer Marty Ginsburg viewed as “preposterous.” The two Ginsburgs took on the case — he from the tax perspective, she from the constitutional one.

Jurist, Prudent: Documentary 'RBG' Profiles Ginsburg On And Off The Bench

According to Marty Ginsburg, for his wife, this was the “mother brief.” She had to think through all the issues and how to fix the inequity. The solution was to ask the court not to invalidate the statute but to apply it equally to both sexes. She won in the lower courts.

“Amazingly,” he recalled in a 1993 NPR interview, the government petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, stating that the decision “cast a cloud of unconstitutionality” over literally hundreds of federal statutes, and it attached a list of those statutes, which it compiled with Defense Department computers.

Those laws, Marty Ginsburg added, “were the statutes that my wife then litigated … to overturn over the next decade.”

In 1971, she would write her first Supreme Court brief in the case of Reed v. Reed. Ruth Bader Ginsburg represented Sally Reed, who thought she should be the executor of her son’s estate instead of her ex-husband.

The constitutional issue was whether a state could automatically prefer men over women as executors of estates. The answer from the all-male Supreme Court: no.

It was the first time the court had struck down a state law because it discriminated based on gender.

And that was just the beginning.

Ginsburg (left) joins the only three other women to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court — Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — in a celebration of O’Connor, the first woman justice, at the Newseum in Washington in 2012.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP


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Ginsburg (left) joins the only three other women to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court — Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — in a celebration of O’Connor, the first woman justice, at the Newseum in Washington in 2012.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

By then Ginsburg was earning quite a reputation. She would become the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School, and she would found the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

As the chief architect of the battle for women’s legal rights, Ginsburg devised a strategy that was characteristically cautious, precise and single-mindedly aimed at one goal: winning.

Knowing that she had to persuade male, establishment-oriented judges, she often picked male plaintiffs, and she liked Social Security cases because they illustrated how discrimination against women can harm men. For example, in Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, she represented a man whose wife, the principal breadwinner, died in childbirth. The husband sought survivor’s benefits to care for his child, but under the then-existing Social Security law, only widows, not widowers, were entitled to such benefits.

“This absolute exclusion, based on gender per se, operates to the disadvantage of female workers, their surviving spouses, and their children,” Ginsburg told the justices at oral argument. The Supreme Court would ultimately agree, as it did in five of the six cases she argued.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Reflects On The #MeToo Movement: 'It's About Time'

Over the years, Ginsburg would file dozens of briefs seeking to persuade the courts that the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection applies not just to racial and ethnic minorities but to women as well.

In an interview with NPR, she explained the legal theory that she eventually sold to the Supreme Court.

“The words of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause — ‘nor shall any state deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.’ Well that word, ‘any person,’ covers women as well as men. And the Supreme Court woke up to that reality in 1971,” Ginsburg said.

During these pioneering years, Ginsburg would often work through the night as she had during law school. But by this time, she had two children, and she later liked to tell a story about the lesson she learned when her son, in grade school, seemed to have a proclivity for getting into trouble.

The scrapes were hardly major, and Ginsburg grew exasperated by demands from school administrators that she come in to discuss her son’s alleged misbehavior. Finally, there came a day when she had had enough. “I had stayed up all night the night before, and I said to the principal, ‘This child has two parents. Please alternate calls.’ “

After that, she found, the calls were few and far between. It seemed, she said, that most infractions were not worth calling a busy husband about.

The Supreme Court’s second woman

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter named Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Over the next 13 years, she would amass a record as something of a centrist liberal, and in 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court, the second woman appointed to the position.

She was not first on his list. For months, Clinton flirted with other potential nominees, and some women’s rights activists withheld their active support because they were worried about Ginsburg’s views on abortion. She had been publicly critical of the legal reasoning in Roe v. Wade.

Justice Ginsburg Will Make Her Operatic Debut — Sort Of

But in the background, Marty Ginsburg was lobbying hard for his wife. And finally Ruth Ginsburg was invited for a meeting with the president. As one White House official put it afterward, Clinton “fell for her — hook, line and sinker.” So did the Senate. She was confirmed by a 96-3 vote.

Once on the court, Ginsburg was an example of a woman who defied stereotypes. Though she looked tiny and frail, she rode horses well into her 70s and even went parasailing. At home, it was her husband who was the chef, indeed a master chef, while the justice cheerfully acknowledged she was an awful cook.

Though a liberal, she and the court’s conservative icon, Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, were the closest of friends. Indeed, an opera called Scalia/Ginsburg is based on their legal disagreements, and their affection for each other.

Ginsburg speaks at a memorial service for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in March 2016.

Susan Walsh/AP


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Over the years, as Ginsburg’s place on the court grew in seniority, so did her role. In 2006, as the court veered right after the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Ginsburg dissented more often and more assertively, her most passionate dissents coming in women’s rights cases.

Dissenting in Ledbetter v. Goodyear in 2007, she called on Congress to pass legislation that would override a court decision that drastically limited back pay available for victims of employment discrimination. The resulting legislation was the first bill passed in 2009 after Obama took office.

Ginsburg And Scalia: 'Best Buddies'

In 2014, she dissented fiercely in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a decision that allowed some for-profit companies to refuse, on religious grounds, to comply with a federal mandate to cover birth control in health care plans. Such an exemption, she said, would “deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs, access to contraceptive coverage.”

Where, she asked, “is the stopping point?” Suppose it offends an employer’s religious belief “to pay the minimum wage” or “to accord women equal pay?”

And in 2013, when the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, contending that times had changed and the law was no longer needed, Ginsburg dissented. She said that throwing out the provision “when it has worked and is continuing to work … is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

She viewed her dissents as a chance to persuade a future court.

“Some of my favorite opinions are dissenting opinions,” Ginsburg told NPR. “I will not live to see what becomes of them, but I remain hopeful.”

And yet, Ginsburg still managed some unexpected victories by winning over one or two of the conservative justices in important cases. In 2015, for example, she authored the court’s decision upholding independent redistricting commissions established by voter referenda as a way of removing some of the partisanship in drawing legislative district lines.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Undergoes Surgery For Lung Cancer

Ginsburg always kept a backbreaking schedule of public appearances both at home and abroad, even after five bouts with cancer: colon cancer in 1999, pancreatic cancer 10 years later, lung cancer in 2018, and then pancreatic cancer again in 2019 and liver lesions in 2020. During that time, she endured chemotherapy, radiation, and in the last years of her life, terrible pain from shingles that never went away completely. All who knew her admired her grit. In 2009, three weeks after major cancer surgery, she surprised everyone when she showed up for the State of the Union address.

Shortly after that, she was back on the bench; it was her husband, Marty, who told her she could do it, even when she thought she could not, she told NPR.

A year later her psychological toughness was on full display when her beloved husband of 56 years was mortally ill. As she packed up his things at the hospital before taking him home to die, she found a note he had written to her. “My Dearest Ruth,” it began, “You are the only person I have ever loved,” setting aside children and family. “I have admired and loved you almost since the day we first met at Cornell. … The time has come for me to … take leave of life because the loss of quality simply overwhelms. I hope you will support where I come out, but I understand you may not. I will not love you a jot less.”

Shortly after that, Marty Ginsburg died at home. The next day, his wife, the justice, was on the bench, reading an important opinion she had authored for the court. She was there, she said, because “Marty would have wanted it.”

Years later, she would read the letter aloud in an NPR interview, and at the end, choke down the tears.

In the years after Marty’s death, she would persevere without him, maintaining a jam-packed schedule when she was not on the bench or working on opinions.

Some liberals criticized her for not retiring while Obama was president, but she was at the top of her game, enjoyed her work enormously and feared that Republicans might not confirm a successor. She was an avid consumer of opera, literature and modern art. But in the end, it was her work, she said, that sustained her.

“I do think that I was born under a very bright star,” she said in an NPR interview. “Because if you think about my life, I get out of law school. I have top grades. No law firm in the city of New York will hire me. I end up teaching; it gave me time to devote to the movement for evening out the rights of women and men.”

And it was that legal crusade for women’s rights that ultimately led to her appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

To the end of her tenure, she remained a special kind of feminist, both decorous and dogged.

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Department Justice

Justice Department Probes Electric-Truck Startup Nikola Over Claims It Misled Investors – The Wall Street Journal

The Justice Department has joined U.S. securities regulators in examining allegations that electric-truck startup Nikola Corp. misled investors by making exaggerated claims about its technology, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department’s inquiry is being handled by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, working in concert with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has initiated its own examination of the claims about Nikola, the people said.

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Intervenes Justice

Justice Dept. Intervenes To Take Over Trump’s Defense In Defamation Lawsuit – NPR

On Twitter, E. Jean Carroll (right) slammed the Department of Justice’s attempt to take over her defamation suit against President Trump, telling him to “bring it.”

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On Twitter, E. Jean Carroll (right) slammed the Department of Justice’s attempt to take over her defamation suit against President Trump, telling him to “bring it.”

Seth Wenig/AP

Updated at 12:17 p.m. ET

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday moved to assume responsibility for defending President Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says Trump raped her in the 1990s.

E. Jean Carroll filed suit in New York state court last year after Trump, answering reporters’ questions, denied knowing her and accused her of lying. Carroll, a columnist for Elle magazine, wrote in a memoir that Trump had raped her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store in 1995 or 1996.

In an unusual five-page filing in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Justice Department argued that Trump’s remarks were made in the performance of his official duties as president and that therefore government attorneys should assume Trump’s defense from his private lawyers.

The filing asked the court to designate the United States, rather than Trump, as the defendant in Carroll’s defamation suit and to move the case from state to federal court. Federal officials are generally immune from charges of defamation. If the DOJ’s filing is successful, it would effectively bring Carroll’s case to an end.

Carroll immediately condemned the legal maneuver, writing in a series of tweets, “TRUMP HURLS BILL BARR AT ME.”

Addressing the president, Carroll said she is “ready! So is every woman who has ever been silenced!”

“BRING IT!”

Robbie Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, said in a statement that the Justice Department’s argument is “shocking.”

“It offends me as a lawyer, and offends me even more as a citizen,” Kaplan wrote.

Carroll’s lawsuit had reached a critical stage in state court. Last month, a judge rejected the president’s request to temporarily halt the proceedings. Carroll has asked the judge to order Trump to provide a DNA sample as part of pretrial discovery. Trump may also be required to sit for a deposition if the case proceeds.

Barr: Standard practice

Attorney General William Barr said on Wednesday that the involvement of the Justice Department was routine.

Part of Trump’s legal defense in the matter includes the position that he is shielded by a federal law protecting federal employees in defamation suits that are based on comments made during their official duties. Even remarks about things that took place before their government service are shielded, according to this legal position.

The attorney general said on Wednesday that the standard practice is for a federal employee being sued to alert the Justice Department so that it can defend her or him, which the White House has done in this case, Barr said.

The law and court precedents are clear that presidents enjoy the legal shield in question and that, as a federal worker in this situation, it’s the Justice Department’s role to become involved, Barr said.

“This was a normal application of the law. The law is clear, it is done frequently, and the little tempest that’s going on is largely because of the bizarre political environment in which we live and … and I’ll just leave it at that,” Barr said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what role, if any, Barr himself had played in the process leading up to the Justice Department’s submission of its brief on behalf of Trump in the New York case.

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Justice Snyder

The Snyder Cut of Justice League gets new trailer at DC FanDome – CNET

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The Snyder Cut will be available in four parts on HBO Max.


DC

The Snyder Cut trailer is here! If you’ve been following director Zack Snyder on his multiple social media platforms (he’s a fan of Vero as well as Twitter), you’ll be steeped in the teases for his version of Justice League, landing on HBO Max sometime next year.

Now cast everything aside and feast your eyes on the full teaser trailer dropped at the end of Zack Snyder’s Justice League panel Saturday at virtual convention DC FanDome.

Major things of note from the trailer debuted at FanDome: Our first major look at Darkseid, along with some additional footage of The Flash and Cyborg. The trailer features Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, which might be the most Zack Snyder part of the whole thing.

After stepping back due to the death of his daughter and leaving Joss Whedon to complete the movie for the theatrical cut, Snyder finally got the green light (and a big budget) by WarnerMedia and HBO Max to revisit his superhero ensemble blockbuster and bring his original vision to life.

Entertain your brain with the coolest news from streaming to superheroes, memes to video games.

Snyder said his cut would appear on HBO Max in four hour-long parts, but would also be available to watch as a complete movie once all four parts had been released — which seems… strange. Snyder also said DC was working on a distribution plan for regions where HBO Max isn’t available.

In the lead up to the 24-hour online FanDome, Snyder’s been drip-feeding us stills, clips and design changes to his version of 2017’s Justice League. Recently we saw a new, spikier design for villain Steppenwolf, plus a short teaser showing the inclusion of villain Darkseid, who was cut from the theatrical version.

Snyder also confirmed Superman’s black suit will make an appearance, and there’s even talk of a different end-credits scene.

There was also controversy, when the trailer leaked early, leading Snyder to get into an online stoush with Forbes film critic Scott Mendelson, who’d criticized the trailer for looking a bit too similar to the original.

You said you enjoyed the theatrical cut of Justice League like you enjoy your Saturday morning cartoons… Well this is made for grownups, so you’re not in the demographic. Also, cool of you to comment on a leaked teaser. @ScottMendelson https://t.co/Zsu2O2oixb

— Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) August 22, 2020

“[T]his is a movie for grownups,” Snyder tweeted.

During the panel discussion, Snyder dropped more details on other abandoned characters like genius size-shifter Atom, Martian Manhunter and The Green Lantern.

For everything Snyder has teased so far on The Snyder Cut, head to our big explainer here. And for all you need to know about signing up to HBO Max, head here.

New movie calendar for 2020 and 2021 following coronavirus delays


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Justice League

Justice League: The Snyder Cut Trailer Breakdown | DC FanDome – IGN


Justice League: The Snyder Cut Trailer Breakdown | DC FanDome – YouTube
























































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Department Justice

Justice Department to seek death penalty for Boston bomber: report | TheHill – The Hill

The Justice Department will seek to reinstate the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrJustice Department to seek death penalty for Boston bomber: report Five takeaways on Bannon’s indictment Ex-FBI lawyer Clinesmith pleads guilty to falsifying document in Trump-Russia probe MORE said Thursday.

The attorney general told The Associated Press in an interview that the Justice Department will appeal an appeals court ruling from last month that overturned the death sentence for Tsarnaev.

Barr said the department would take the argument for the death penalty to the Supreme Court for the man convicted in the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260 others. 

“We will do whatever’s necessary,” Barr said, according to the AP. “We will take it up to the Supreme Court and we will continue to pursue the death penalty.”

Barr’s comments come after an appeals court ruled the U.S. district court did not adequately vet jurors for bias in what they had read or seen about the case. The court had convicted Tsarnaev of all 30 charges, and the appeals court upheld most of the convictions. 

Tsarnaev’s legal team acknowledged he and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, initiated the bombings but argued that their client was radicalized by his brother. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died after being run over by his brother while he was trying to escape and a gun fight with police. 

But prosecutors have argued that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also wanted revenge on the U.S. for its wars in predominantly Muslim countries and wrote in the boat he was caught in to “stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”

An attorney for Tsarnaev, David Patton, declined to comment on the matter when contacted by The Hill. 

After the decision by the appeals court, Patton said, “it is now up to the government to determine whether to put the victims and Boston through a second trial, or to allow closure to this terrible tragedy by permitting a sentence of life without the possibility of release,” according to the AP.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic National Convention What we’ll remember from the 2020 Biden convention Chris Wallace labels Biden’s acceptance speech ‘enormously effective’ MORE tweeted that the government “must again seek the Death Penalty in a do-over of that chapter of the original trial” after the appeals court threw out the death penalty last month. 

The Justice Department resumed federal executions in recent weeks after a 17-year suspension, leading three men to be executed last month. Three others have executions scheduled next week or in September.

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Department Justice

Department of Justice accuses Yale University of discriminating against Asian and White applicants – CBS News

A Justice Department investigation has found Yale University is illegally discriminating against Asian American and White applicants, in violation of federal civil rights law, officials said Thursday. Yale denied the allegation, calling it “meritless” and “hasty.”

The findings, detailed in a letter to the college’s attorneys Thursday, mark the latest action by the Trump administration aimed at rooting out discrimination in the college application process, following complaints from students about the process at some Ivy League colleges. The Justice Department had previously filed court papers siding with Asian American groups who had levied similar allegations against Harvard University.

The two-year investigation concluded that Yale “rejects scores of Asian American and White applicants each year based on their race, whom it otherwise would admit,” the Justice Department said. The investigation stemmed from a 2016 complaint against Yale, Brown and Dartmouth.

“Yale’s race discrimination imposes undue and unlawful penalties on racially-disfavored applicants, including in particular Asian American and White applicants,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, who heads the department’s civil rights division, wrote in a letter to the college’s attorneys.

Prosecutors found that Yale has been discriminating against applicants to its undergraduate program based on their race and national origin and “that race is the determinative factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.” The investigation concluded that Asian American and White students have “only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African American applicants with comparable academic credentials,” the Justice Department said.

“Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division,” Dreiband said in a statement. “It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin.”

The investigation also found that Yale uses race as a factor in multiple steps of the admissions process and that Yale “racially balances its classes.”

Students On Campus Of Yale University Watch Senate Hearing With Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh And Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
Yale University Law School.

Yana Paskova / Getty Images


The Supreme Court has ruled colleges and universities may consider race in admissions decisions but has said that it must be done in a narrowly tailored way to promote diversity and should be limited in time. Schools also bear the burden of showing why their consideration of race is appropriate.

In a statement, Yale said it “categorically denies this allegation,” has cooperated fully with the investigation and has been continually turning over “a substantial amount of information and data.”

“Given our commitment to complying with federal law, we are dismayed that the DOJ has made its determination before allowing Yale to provide all the information the Department has requested thus far,” the university said in a statement. “Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent.”

The university said it considers a multitude of factors and looks at “the whole person when selecting whom to admit among the many thousands of highly qualified applicants.”

“We are proud of Yale’s admissions practices, and we will not change them on the basis of such a meritless, hasty accusation,” the statement said.

The Justice Department has demanded that Yale immediately stop and agree not to use race or national origin for upcoming admissions. The government also says that if Yale proposes that it will continue to use race or national origin as a factor in future admission cycles, the college must first submit a plan to the Justice Department “demonstrating its proposal is narrowly tailored as required by law, including by identifying a date for the end of race discrimination.”

The Justice Department has also previously raised similar concerns about Harvard University, which prosecutors accused of “engaging in outright racial balancing,” siding with Asian American students in a lawsuit who alleged the Ivy League school discriminated against them.

A federal judge in 2019 cleared Harvard of discriminating against Asian American applicants in a ruling that was seen as a major victory for supporters of affirmative action in college admissions across the U.S. That ruling has been appealed and arguments are scheduled for next month.

In the Harvard case, the Justice Department had argued that the university went too far in its use of race, but the judge disagreed. Though the Supreme Court has ruled that colleges’ use of race in admissions must be “narrowly tailored” and can be only a “plus factor,” past rulings still give colleges latitude in considering a wide range of factors, including race, as they build their classes.

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Department Justice

Justice Department accuses Yale of discriminating against Asian American and White applicants – CNN

(CNN)The Justice Department accused Yale University of discriminating against Asian American and White applicants in its undergraduate admissions process.

“Yale rejects scores of Asian American and white applicants each year based on their race,” disfavoring applicants from those races compared to African American applicants with similar academic credentials, the Justice Department alleged in a statement Thursday.
The announcement, the culmination of a two-year civil rights investigation spurred by a complaint by Asian-American groups, represents the latest move by the Trump administration to undermine affirmative action policies that have bolstered diversity within higher education for decades.
The school’s admissions process, the Justice Department said, is a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and Yale must stop the use of race or national origin in its upcoming admissions cycle or get sign-off on a plan that continues to use it from the department, officials told the school.
In a statement, a Yale spokeswoman said the school “categorically denies this allegation” and called it a “meritless” and “hasty” determination.
Yale said that they have provided the Justice Department with “a substantial amount of information and data” so far but had been unable to provide all of the information that the department had requested ahead of Thursday’s conclusion, which was shared with the university in a letter earlier in the day.
“Had the Department fully received and fairly weighed this information, it would have concluded that Yale’s practices absolutely comply with decades of Supreme Court precedent,” said Karen Peart, the school’s director of university media relations, adding that the school would not change its policy.
The Supreme Court has long upheld campus affirmative action, permitting universities to consider the race of an applicant among many factors, toward the goal of greater campus diversity, and forbidding racial quotas in admissions.
A federal judge in Boston last year upheld a similar challenge brought by an Asian American student group against Harvard, determining that while Harvard’s admissions process is “not perfect,” she would not “dismantle a very fine admissions program that passes constitutional muster, solely because it could do better.” The student group has appealed that decision.
The Trump administration submitted a “statement of interest” in the Harvard case, siding with the student challengers and noting that the administration was investigating Harvard’s screening processes after complaints to the Department of Education from more than 60 Asian-American groups. The Obama administration had fielded and rejected similar complaints.

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Justice League

Justice League: The Snyder Cut and 10 Movies That Did It First – Den of Geek UK


By Don Kaye, David Crow | |

The pop culture shattering confirmation that the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League has been willed into existence by a small cadre of devoted DC fans turned geek media upside down this week. It also raises a number of interesting, if troublesome, questions. While the theatrical version of Justice League that exists now is hardly anyone’s idea of a singular artistic vision–it was grafted together from footage separately directed by Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon–it still represents the best efforts of the filmmakers at the time. If that final product is not satisfactory to fans, do those fans get to dictate the creation of a new one? For instance, where is the “Gareth Edwards cut” of Rogue One or Josh Trank’s original vision for Fantastic Four?

That is a debate that will continue to reverberate throughout social media and fandom. The truth is, there are alternate or different versions of well-known films that have indisputably improved on the original product in ways great and small. But most of these new editions are true “director’s cuts” in the sense that the original filmmaker was involved in the alternate version, either in a supervisory or hands-on capacity. Still, in some instances, a scenario closer to that of Justice League–in which two competing visions of a film are potentially available–resulted in a fascinating side-by-side comparison.

It’s generally rare when a filmmaker is given the financial and technical resources to complete the movie as they see fit, long after it has run its course at the box office or on home video. Justice League was not the critical, fan, or financial success anyone involved hoped for, but we’ll finally see if Snyder’s chance to complete his version of the movie can at least make up ground with the first two. In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of films below that offer some kind of precedent for what Snyder and Warner Bros. Pictures are about to undertake.

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (1980)

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was completed in 2006, nearly 30 years after the film was originally in production. Donner was originally hired, fresh off the success of The Omen (1976), to make Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) simultaneously. But Richard Lester, director of A Hard Day’s Night (1964), completed Superman II after Donner walked away due to a feud with the producers. The finished film, released with Lester’s sole directorial credit, included around 30 percent of the footage Donner shot. The rest of Donner’s footage–including scenes with Marlon Brando as Superman’s father Jor-El–was unearthed years later and he was finally able to put together a reasonable approximation of what his version of the sequel might have looked like.

While the basic plot is the same, Donner’s version captures more of the mythic flavor of the first film and tones down the campiness that crept into the franchise under Lester. It also clarifies several plot points (like how Superman gets his powers back after giving them up to be with Lois Lane) and restores the original time-altering ending, which was initially grafted onto the first film. While both versions of Superman II are great fun, Donner’s cut almost certainly retains the original intent and themes.

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist

Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) / Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist (2005)

Every movie in the film series based around The Exorcist seems to exist in different versions, but none were as radical as the two different takes of the fourth entry in the series. This infamous mess began with Dominion, a prequel meant to explore the back story of the first film’s aged Father Merrin (played by Max von Sydow in the original movie and Stellan Skarsgard here) and his previous encounters with the demon Pazuzu–a force much scarier in the original film when it was referred to only as “the Devil.” Paul Schrader (Raging Bull, First Reformed) directed and in typical Schrader fashion, he delivered a brooding, existential meditation on faith and evil that did not sit well with studio execs.

Said studio, Morgan Creek Productions, worried about the movie’s prospects, so it enlisted action director Renny Harlin to retool the movie into a somewhat more conventional if bland horror thriller. When that version, Exorcist: The Beginning, came out first and died at the box office, Morgan Creek allowed Schrader to complete his cut. But the studio seemed intent on sabotaging it, only providing the director with meager funds to finish the picture and then releasing it on just 110 screens. As a result, neither version is very good, but there’s no question that Schrader’s more cerebral take is the better one.

Harrison Ford in Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Blade Runner (1982)

The mother of all director’s cuts is Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, which went through at least three major iterations (and other less significant ones) before Scott finally got the version he wanted. The original theatrical release was infamous for its terrible voiceover narration and “happy ending” in which Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard and his replicant lover Rachel (Sean Young) got to escape and live happily ever after. The 1992 “director’s cut,” made with Scott’s participation, made some changes but still was not satisfactory.

Then came the 2007 “final cut,” for which Scott had complete control and additional resources, in which numerous visual fixes were made, scenes that appeared or disappeared over the years were properly reinserted, the “unicorn dream” was fully restored and, most controversially, the ending tweaked to make it seemingly apparent–after years of debate–that Deckard was a replicant as well. While your mileage may vary on that last point (it did for Villeneuve, who ignored it in his 2017 sequel), the “final cut” is otherwise the best version of Blade Runner there is–the moody, subtle, atmospheric future noir that Scott first envisioned.

The Abyss

The Abyss (1989)

James Cameron’s underwater sci-fi/action spectacle was already a rousing, exciting thriller when it hit theaters in 1989. The abrupt ending, however, with a massive alien vessel rising from the ocean to stupefy the humans above, felt like something was missing. And it was–some 28 minutes of the movie.

Cameron himself, and not the studio, took the footage out to reach a running time of two hours and 15 minutes (the length he had to deliver to retain final cut) and also because Industrial Light and Magic was unable to complete the effects in time. But soon Cameron and editor Ed Marsh re-edited the film to restore all the trimmed scenes–including the extended climax in which the aliens threaten to clean up the Earth with gigantic tidal waves unless humanity backs off its rush to nuclear self-destruction.

While the film arguably works both ways, the special edition adds poetry and motivation to the finale, as it makes the story’s thematic concerns crystal clear.

Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now Redux (1979)

Could Francis Ford Coppola’s flawed masterpiece about the Vietnam War be improved? That’s the question that Coppola set out to answer for himself with a 2001 re-release that incorporated about 49 minutes of footage back into his already lengthy and surreal exploration of the American psyche (he reportedly started out with around five hours of usable footage when shooting was done).

Redux restores a number of scenes to the film that play up its episodic, dreamlike tone, while adding to the feeling of insanity–of the world and the war slipping away from all concerned parties–that permeates the original version. The most significant addition is the French plantation sequence, which emphasizes that Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is literally voyaging back into the past yet is also the most meandering new portion of the film. In the end, we prefer the original theatrical Apocalypse Now, but Redux is a fascinating look at a different and perhaps more thematically complete iteration.

Coppola took 20 minutes back out in 2019 and released this as Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut.

Carrie Hehn and Sigourney Weaver in Aliens

Aliens (1986)

Of all the films on this list, Aliens probably had the least amount of footage added or altered -just 17 minutes of additional scenes were reinserted for a “special edition” that first appeared on VHS in the UK in 1990 and in several subsequent home video releases. But included in those 17 minutes is a scene that arguably changes the entire meaning of the movie, as well as the motivation and character arc of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley (whose first name was also revealed to us by the additional material).

That scene comes early in the movie when Ripley, having floated through space in suspended animation for 57 years, learns that her daughter–just a child when she left on her deep space voyage–grew to adulthood and eventually died at 67. Her loss, guilt, and grief are acute, but when she journeys with the space Marines to rescue the colony on LV-426, their discovery that the little girl Newt is the sole survivor offers Ripley a chance at redemption. While the other added scenes are interesting, this one sequence alters the film’s narrative and deepens Ripley’s character considerably while also making Ripley and the alien queen mirror images of each other–two mothers fiercely protecting their young.

Once Upon a Time in America

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

The last film ever directed by the great Italian auteur Sergio Leone also turned out to be his most problematic. Leone debuted the movie in a four-and-a-half hour version at the Cannes Film Festival before whittling 40 minutes out of the picture for its European release. But the American distributor literally butchered the movie, an irony given that it was Leone’s grand statement on American organized crime. Not only was it released in a cut that ran at two hours and 19 minutes, but the movie’s flashback structure was completely rearranged so it would run in chronological order.

The result was an incoherent mess with numerous scenes missing and Leone’s careful calibration of scenes set in the past and present being completely thrown out. Critics who saw both versions were savage with the American cut, but it wasn’t until 2012 that Warner Bros., working with the family of the now deceased director, restored the film to a 251-minute version that still lacked around 18 minutes of footage due to rights issues. We may never see the full Once Upon a Time in America, but at least the version that is out there now almost fully restores Leone’s haunting, mournful, and violent crime epic.

Touch of Evil

Touch of Evil (1958)

Orson Welles had a turbulent relationship with Hollywood throughout his entire career–more or less abandoning it late in life. That bad romance was crystallized in the saga of his noir masterwork, Touch of Evil. Welles’ original rough cut of the film was taken out of his hands by the studio Universal Pictures, which not only edited the movie down to a scant 93 minutes but brought in another director, Harry Keller, to perform reshoots and add new scenes (yes, they did that even back then!).

Some 20 years later, a 108-minute version closer to Welles’ vision was unveiled, but it was another two decades before a definitive version–based on a 58-page memo that Welles had written in 1958 to the studio, which ignored it–was assembled by famed editor Walter Murch. The latter incorporated as many of Welles’ suggestions and changes as possible (some materials and scenes were lost) while also fine-tuning the sound and other aspects of the picture. The final 111-minute version is a more nuanced and sophisticated version of Welles’ already complex narrative, and a tribute to his considerable talent.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in Daredevil

Daredevil (2003)

An example of a director’s cut being an entirely different animal from its theatrical counterpart, Mark Steven Johnson’s preferred version of Daredevil is indeed an upgrade. Not that we would necessarily say that makes it good. Forced by Fox to reduce his “gritty” superhero movie to barely over 90 minutes in February 2003, Johnson got his director’s cut released a year later with 30 more minutes of storytelling and violent content. In fact, the MPAA upgraded the film from PG-13 to an R as a result.

While there are significant differences, including the removal of a cheesy fireside love scene between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner—added in reshoots by studio mandates—and the inclusion of a subplot that actually explains why Michael Clarke Duncan’s Wilson Fisk gets arrested at the end (pesky details in the theatrical cut), this is still a silly movie that bounces around like a tonal pinball between future Zack Snyder-styled gritty nihilism and Joel Schumacher levels of camp. Remember the scene where Matt Murdock and Elektra Natchios meet cute by karate fighting with wire-fu on a playground? Yeah, that’s still here, and he’s still technically a blind man she’s trying to kick in the face.

But if you want more superhero grim-dark punch ups, this is actually a pretty good companion piece to Batman v Superman

Kingdom of Heaven

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

What a difference 50 minutes can make. That’s the separation in running time lengths between the theatrical and director’s cut versions of Kingdom of Heaven, and it turns out to be the difference between films that are worlds apart. Despite technically being the same story, Ridley Scott’s true vision for a Crusader epic set during the fall of Jerusalem from Christian rule in 1187 is like an entirely different movie. It’s also the best example of a director’s cut changing the entire tone and effect of a film that I’ve ever seen.

The Kingdom of Heaven movie that reached theaters in May 2005 featured all of the action, painterly cinematography, and production design that makes the movie a feast for the eyes. Yet in its attempt to make the picture more commercial, 20th Century Fox had Scott delete the movie’s soul.

Many fans, however, knew there was a better cut lingering in a Fox edit bay, and when it reached DVD seven months later, they were rewarded for their patience. With the definitive version of his film, Scott added back an hour of character development and context, making what was initially a generic ancient war movie a spiritual meditation on the nature of violence and religion, and arguably a more insightful film than the better remembered Gladiator. It also featured entire subplots that gave depth and motivation to supporting characters’ tragedies—most notably Eva Green as the self-damning Queen Sibylla, who in the theatrical cut has two-thirds of her scenes removed, including the fact she has a son who will be king. In the theatrical cut, she’s reduced with maximum banality to simply being a love interest. What was also lost is the grandiose sweep of the director’s cut, which to this day Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed should owe a debt of gratitude.

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Coronavirus Justice

Coronavirus: Justice Department warns California over religious rights – Los Angeles Times

The measures Gov. Gavin Newsom enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus and his plans to unwind them may discriminate against religious groups and violate their constitutional rights, the U.S. Justice Department warned in a letter Tuesday.

In a three-page letter to the governor, Eric S. Dreiband, an assistant attorney general and the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said Newsom had shown “unequal treatment of faith communities” in restricting their abilities to gather and ultimately reopen.

“Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights,” Dreiband wrote.

Newsom’s office had no comment beyond confirming that it had received the letter.

Dreiband raised issues both with California’s stay-at-home order and Newsom’s plan to roll it back. While worshipers cannot gather in person, even while following social distancing protocols, California has deemed employees in the entertainment and e-commerce industries essential and allowed them to continue working in person, “regardless of whether the product they are selling and shipping are life-preserving products or not,” Dreiband said.

“This facially discriminates against religious exercise,” he said.

Moreover, Dreiband wrote, the governor has permitted restaurants, shopping malls and offices to resume operations in the second phase of his plan to reopen California’s economy, but houses of worship cannot hold in-person services until its third, later phase.

“The Constitution calls for California to do more to accommodate religious worship, including in stage 2 of the reopening plan,” Dreiband said.

In April, the Justice Department intervened in a dispute between a Mississippi church and the city of Greenville, whose police officers had broken up a service held in the church’s parking lot. At the time, Atty. Gen. William Barr said religious groups “must not be singled out for special burdens.”

For the most part, religious institutions in California have followed the state’s stay-at-home rules, canceling services and curtailing in-person contact.

A handful of churches, however, have flouted these rules. In Butte County, public health officials upbraided a congregation for holding an in-person service for Mother’s Day, defying county orders. One churchgoer has since tested positive for COVID-19, potentially exposing 180 other attendees to the virus, according to county officials, who have since tried to track down every attendee and instruct them to self-quarantine.

“For 7 weeks we have been kept out of our church and away from our church family,” the church’s pastor, Mike Jacobsen, wrote on Facebook. “I am fully aware that some people may not understand that for our church it is essential to be together in fellowship.”

Several churches and parishioners have asked federal judges to keep Newsom from enforcing the restrictions on worship. None so far have been successful.

Wendy Gish, a parishioner at the Shield of Faith Family Church in Fontana, had asked a judge in Los Angeles to strike down the prohibition. “My sincerely held religious belief is that God commands me, and other believers, to regularly come together to worship him,” Gish said in a declaration.

U.S. District Judge Jesus G. Bernal ruled against her.

“An in-person religious gathering is not analogous to picking up groceries, food or medicine, where people enter a building quickly, do not engage directly with others except at points of sale, and leave once the task is complete,” he wrote. “Instead, it is more analogous to attending school or a concert — activities where people sit together in an enclosed space to share a communal experience.”

In Sacramento, a federal judge denied a similar request from Cross Culture Christian Center, a church in Lodi.

“Even in times of health, government officials must often strike the delicate balance between ensuring public safety and preserving the Constitution’s fundamental guarantees,” U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez wrote. “But during public health crises, new considerations come to bear, and government officials must ask whether even fundamental rights must give way to a deeper need to control the spread of infectious disease and protect the lives of society’s most vulnerable.”

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