Liberal Justices Unanimously Sit Out in Rare Supreme Court Move

( – In a rare move, on June 4, the three liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justices, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, sat out of a decision rejecting the case, Brunson v. Sotomayor, et al.

The case began when Raland Brunson attempted to challenge the 2020 presidential election results in a 2021 lawsuit, Brunson v. Adams, where Brunson sued hundreds of members of Congress for allegedly violating their oaths of office. The Supreme Court rejected hearing the case on Jan. 9, 2023, with no justices dissenting and denied a petition for rehearing on Feb. 21, 2023, also with no justices dissenting. Brunson then filed a second lawsuit, Brunson v. Sotomayor, arguing the justices violated their judicial oath in his first lawsuit “by giving aid and comfort to enemies of the Constitution.”

The three justices did not provide a reason for sitting out the case. Though they are each named a defendant for rejecting the previous appeals case, justices are not required to sit out from a case where they are named a defendant.

This is not the first time justices have sat out of decisions. Both Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Jackson sat out of a decision in early May involving a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was born in Canada and was attempting to have his war crimes convictions vacated. The court rejected the case. The two justices sat out of the decision because when they were appeals court judges, both Kavanaugh and Jackson had heard arguments relating to the case.

In January, all six conservative Supreme Court Justices, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Justice Clarence Thomas, sat out of a case, MacTruong v. Abbott, in which they were named as defendants. The case involved deciding whether the Texas Heartbeat Act (THA) violated federal law and if it was constitutional.

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