As the Supreme Court closed its term, I wrote on two of its final cases and found the outcomes moderately satisfactory, but not perfect. Here are the two columns, with links to the originals embedded in the headlines. (Hint: There’s quite a funny story in the Native American column.)

Court upholds Native American tribal sovereignty (July 9):

The Supreme Court today solidified the sovereign privileges of Native Americans across the country by vacating the state-law conviction of an Oklahoma man who contended that his alleged crime had occurred on tribal territory.

To better understand this case’s importance, allow me to share the story of Louisiana’s Rick Tonry, who was elected to Congress in November 1976 but became a convicted felon (for vote fraud) by the summer of 1977.

Tonry served time in federal prison, but he didn’t learn his lesson. Nine years later, he was convicted again, this time of bribing a Native American chief for a lucrative Louisiana bingo license….

Little Sisters of the Poor facility in Nashville.

Little Sisters rightly win, but it’s only a narrow victory (July 8):

While it is certainly good news that the Little Sisters of the Poor won (for now) the right to be free from Obamacare’s so-called “contraception mandate,” one can make the case that the Sisters’ Wednesday victory should have been more sweeping.

In fact, not even the concurring opinion by Justice Samuel Alito (joined by Neil Gorsuch), which would have given a more conclusive victory to the Sisters, would completely satisfy religious-liberty near-absolutists such as I am. For an entirely salutary result, the Supreme Court would need either to reinterpret or at least partially overturn one of the few ill-advised decisions of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

I would rather see the Little Sisters entirely vindicated not just on the basis of the statute at issue, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but on the basis of the First Amendment itself….


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