News overview

Afternoon Briefs: These SCOTUS judges skipped the inauguration; deferral of extended student loans

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3 SCOTUS judges did not attend Biden and Harris inaugurations

The three oldest US Supreme Court justices did not attend President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday: Stephen G. Breyer, 82; Clarence Thomas, 72; and Samuel A. Alito Jr., 70. It is the first time since 2001 that all the judges are not present. A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court said several judges were not present “due to the public health risks posed by the COVID pandemic”. The Washington Post pointed out that Biden tried to obstruct Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court and grilled Thomas on natural law during his contentious nomination hearing. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was sworn in to Biden and Justice Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in to Vice President Kamala Harris. (CNN, Politico, the Washington post)

Extension of Federal Student Loan Deferrals

The US Department of Education has extended the moratorium on federal student loan payments until September 30. The extension also keeps the interest rate at 0%. Congress postponed federal student loan payments through September 30, 2020, in the Coronavirus Assistance, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act. Former President Donald Trump extended the moratorium. The last extension was due at the request of President Joe Biden. (The Washington post, White House Press release)

Circuit 11 confirms punitive verdict in tobacco case

The 11th Atlanta US Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld punitive compensation of $ 20.7 million against tobacco company Philip Morris USA. The case was filed by the estate of Judith Berger, who was 13 when she first tried cigarettes. The appeals court said the tobacco company engaged in “reprehensible” behavior, in part by engaging in a campaign of disinformation about the dangers of smoking that began in the 1950s. also concluded that the punitive sentence was not constitutionally excessive. (Law360, the Florida Press Service, the 11th Circuit Court decision)