Federal District Court strikes down Handgun Carry Ban

William Jacobson, who is feeling under the weather, celebrates

Well, well, well–I guess the big guy upstairs knew I could do with a pick-me-up while I struggle through this respiratory infection.  And boy, did he deliver big (with a h/t to Ace of Spades HQ).

In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional.

Palmer v. District of Columbia (1:09-CV-1482 , filed July 26, 2014; full decision at the end of this post).

This should, of course, be the common fate of virtually every gun law currently on the books, particularly when (as is the only proper legal course) strict scrutiny is applied to the thousands of state and Federal laws that continue to irrationally infringe our rights to keep and bear arms.

Kudos to Attorney Alan Gura, for his continuing masterful efforts in defense and promotion of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  As Alan noted in his own blog, Reality-Based Litigation:

In 2012, I won Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012), which struck down Illinois total ban on the carrying of defensive handguns outside the home. With this decision in Palmer, the nation’s last explicit ban of the right to bear arms has bitten the dust. Obviously, the carrying of handguns for self-defense can be regulated. Exactly how is a topic of severe and serious debate, and courts should enforce constitutional limitations on such regulation should the government opt to regulate. But totally banning a right literally spelled out in the Bill of Rights isn’t going to fly. My deepest thanks to the Second Amendment Foundation for making this victory possible and to my clients for hanging in there. Congratulations Americans, your capital is not a constitution-free zone.

 

The Hobby Lobby ruling and why Liberals are wetting themselves over it

The Other McCain explains it very well I would say. It is like I say, the Collectivist Left assumes that every right comes FROM government, and can be limited by government, and of course must be paid for BY government

Years ago, while reporting on federally funded research — the infamous “porn arousal” studies at Northwestern University — I developed what I like to think of as the Existential Theory of Liberalism: To a liberal, nothing exists unless it is mandated, subsidized and/or regulated by the federal government.

If you think it is a waste of taxpayer money to give a creepy psychology professor a federal grant to measure women’s sexual arousal to pornography, you will be condemned as “anti-sex.” If you want to reduce deficit spending by limiting tax money for the National Endowment of the Arts, you’re “anti-art.” Don’t agree with proposed EPA environmental regulations? You’re “anti-science.”

The reaction to today’s Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case— where a business objected, as a matter of religious liberty, to ObamaCare’s mandated insurance coverage for contraceptives — is a case in point: Liberals want us to believe that, unless businesses are compelled by federal law to provide contraception to their employees, contraception will cease to exist.

Absolutely nailed it Mr. McCain!

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Hobby Lobby In Obamacare Contraception Case

Supreme Court Pares Back Obamacare’s Contraception Mandate – The Blaze

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Obamacare cannot force companies to pay for emergency contraceptive coverage for their employees that could lead to abortions, in violation of their religious beliefs.

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The 5-4 ruling delivered a huge victory to conservatives who have worked for years to scale back the various mandates of the controversial healthcare law.

The Court decided that Obamacare cannot be used to require for-profit, closely held companies to provide certain birth control drugs and devices – such as morning after pills – that could cause abortion.

The case was brought by Hobby Lobby, a Oklahoma-based retail chain owned by the Green family. The Greens said they are willing to cover 16 of the 20 birth control methods mandated by Obamacare to its employees, but not four others because the risk of abortion goes against their religious beliefs.

The company argued before the Court that the Obamacare mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which says the government cannot place burdens on the exercise of freedom of religion.

“Providing these objectionable drugs and devices violates the deeply held religious convictions of the Greens – the sole owners of their family businesses – that life begins at conception,” the company’s website says. “Yet refusing to comply with the federal mandate would subject them to an untenable choice of paying substantial fines or discontinuing the outstanding and affordable health insurance plan currently provided to their valued employees.”

The majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito agreed with that argument. According to SCOTUS Blog, the Obama administration failed to show that the broad contraception mandate is the least restrictive way of advancing its interest in ensuring access to birth control. The Court also ruled that the decision applies only to the contraception mandate, not other insurance mandates, such as those involving vaccinations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the government could pay for this coverage if it wants to make it available, but cannot compel a company to do so.

The decision deals a big hit to the Obama administration, which defended its interpretation of the law as something that forces companies to provide all manner of birth control methods to workers.

Republicans in Congress welcomed the high court’s ruling.

“Religious liberty will remain intact and all Americans can stay true to their faith without fear of big government intervention or punishment,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom, and with this decision, America will continue to serve as a safe haven for those looking to exercise religious liberty.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the ruling a victory for religious freedom and a defeat for the Obama administration’s “Big Government objectives.”

“The mandate overturned today would have required for-profit companies to choose between violating their constitutionally-protected faith or paying crippling fines, which would have forced them to lay off employees or close their doors,” he said.

“The president’s health care law remains an unworkable mess and a drag on our economy,” he added. “We must repeal it and enact better solutions that start with lowering Americans’ health care costs.”

The case is Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, referring to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell. She replaced Kathleen Sebelius earlier this year – prior to that, the case was Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby.

The case is second big blow to Obama from the Supreme Court in as many weeks. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that President Obama’s 2012 “recess” appointments were not legal, because Obama made them when the Senate was not in recess.

That ruling prompted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to say the decision was the biggest rebuke to a sitting president since 1974, when the Court decided unanimously that President Nixon must release the Watergate tapes.

Also related to abortion, the Court last week struck down a Massachusetts law that said people can’t stand on a public road or sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion clinic.

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Related article:

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The Supreme Court Deals Blow To Public-Sector Unions – Business Insider

The Supreme Court on Monday limited the power of public-sector unions to compel employees to pay contributions, dealing a setback to public-sector unions.

But the 5-4 decision, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, wasn’t as sweeping as some union advocates had feared.

“This is a substantial obstacle to expanding public employee unions, but it does not gut them,” SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein wrote.

Unions had been concerned that the court would strike down laws in 26 states requiring teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public-sector employees to pay dues to the unions that negotiate contracts on their behalf, even if the workers don’t want to become union members.

The court hedged somewhat, but the decision is still a setback for public-sector unions. In a 5-4 decision written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the court “recognized a category of ‘partial public employees’ who could not be required to contribute to union fees,” according to SCOTUSblog. Unions worried the court would rule all public employees could not be forced to pay, which would dry up their ranks and their coffers.

“It remains possible that in a later case the Court will overturn its prior precedent and forbid requiring public employees to contribute to union bargaining. But today it has refused to go that far. The unions have lost a tool to expand their reach. But they have dodged a major challenge to their very existence,” Goldstein wrote.

The case, Harris v. Quinn, stemmed from a challenge in Illinois involving in-home care providers. Illinois uses Medicaid funds to pay in-home care workers, but turnover was high at the low-paying jobs. In response, more than 20,000 in-home car workers organized and joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), after executive orders from Govs. Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn, both Democrats, classified them as “public employees.”

The National Right to Work Foundation brought a challenge to Quinn in 2010, arguing workers who didn’t want to participate in the union shouldn’t have to pay the dues.

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California Judge Rules Against Smarmy, Leftist Teacher’s Unions

California Judge Rules Against Teacher’s Unions And His Perspective Is Incredibly Refreshing – Independent Journal Review

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A California judge ruled today that current tenure statutes for teachers deprive students of their right to an education due to evidence so compelling that “it shocks the conscience.” This ruling will be submitted for further appellate review.

Furthermore, he specifically stated that judges should focus solely on the law when making a decision, and ignore politics and personal opinion. How wonderfully adroit.

That this Court’s decision will and should result in political discourse is beyond question, but such consequence cannot and does not detract from its obligation to consider only the evidence and law in making its decision.

At issue in the lawsuit, filed by nine public school students, are statutes of the CA Education Code that violate the state’s constitution by resulting in “grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment.”

In other words, the functional impossibility of firing “grossly ineffective” teachers and the resultant letting-go of “competent” ones, especially in low-performing schools, kept kids from getting the quality of education to which they are entitled.

The lawsuit was vigorously opposed by the California teachers’ unions. Which is a shocking revelation in-and-of-itself, to be sure. The head of the L.A. teachers union said this in response:

This decision today is an attack on teachers, which is a socially acceptable way to attack children. You attack teacher and student rights.

So, a clear statement that children are being substantially harmed by current rules, is actually an attack against those very children? One wonders what planet teachers’ union leaders originate from and how reality is perceived of on that sad, alien world. Because it’s certainly different down here on earth.

The particular items at issue:

1. Permanent Employment Statute – 2 years is not sufficient time to establish sufficient competence. Most states have 3 to 5 year periods and 4 states have no tenure system at all.

2. Dismissal Statutes – it is almost impossible to fire “grossly ineffective” teachers once they’ve received tenure, so most districts do not even try.

3. Last-In, First Out – the newest teachers get let go first, regardless of gifting or performance.

The sixteen pages of the decision, with its unyielding indictment of the current tenure rules on every page, is stunning in its evisceration of the status quo. No wonder the unions are outraged. The status quo is them.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Setting A Fine Example: Judge And Public Defender Brawl Outside Florida Courtroom (Video)

Judge & Public Defender Brawl Outside FL Courtroom – Gateway Pundit

Florida Judge John Murphy and public defender Andrew Weinstock came to blows on Monday outside the courtroom.

Judge Murphy asked Weinstock to step outside where he started swinging at him.

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A supervisor says the public defender thought they were going to talk it out in the hall, but says the judge threw punches at him. view full article

This took place in a Brevard County Florida courthouse.

KMOV reported:

Things got heated between a judge and a public defender in a Florida courtroom Monday.

Judge John Murphy is heard on the surveillance camera using an expletive to describe how he will beat up public defender Andrew Weinstock.

WFTV reports it happened when the judge was pressuring Weinstock to get his client to waive his right to a speedy trial.

The two are seen walking out into the hallway.

Weinstock’s supervisor says the public defender thought they were going to talk it out in the hall, but says the judge threw punches at him.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Court: Cops Can Kick In Your Door And Seize Your Guns Without A Warrant If They Feel It’s In Your Best Interest

Shock FedGov Court Ruling: Police Can Kick In Your Door And Seize Guns Without Warrant Or Charges – Daily Sheeple

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals may have just dealt a serious blow to the U.S. Constitution.

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In a unanimous decision earlier this month the Court determined that law enforcement officers are not required to present a warrant or charges before forcibly entering a person’s home, searching it and confiscating their firearms if they believe it is in the individual’s best interests.

The landmark suit was brought before the court by Krysta Sutterfield of Milwaukee, who had recently visited a psychiatrist for outpatient therapy resulting from some bad news that she had received. According to court records Sutterfield had expressed a suicidal thought during the visit, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, when she said “I guess I’ll go home and blow my brains out.” This prompted her doctor to contact police.

For several hours the police searched for Sutterfield, speaking with neighbors and awaiting her return home. They received an update from her psychiatrist who said that Sutterfield had contacted her and advised that she was not in need of assistance and to “call off” the search, which the doctor did not agree to. Police eventually left and Sutterfield returned home, only to be visited later that evening by the lead detective on the case:

Krysta Sutterfield vs. city of Milwaukee, et al.

Sutterfield answered Hewitt’s knock at the front door but would not engage with her, except to state repeatedly that she had “called off” the police and to keep shutting the door on Hewitt. Sutterfield would not admit Hewitt to the residence, and during the exchange kept the outer storm door closed and locked. Unable to gain admittance to the house, Hewitt concluded that the police would have to enter it forcibly.

Sutterfield called 911 in an effort to have the officers leave; as a result of that call, the ensuing events were recorded by the emergency call center. Sutterfield can be heard on the recording telling the officers that she was fine and that she did not want anyone to enter her residence.

After informing Sutterfield of his intention to open the storm door forcibly if she did not unlock it herself, Berken yanked the door open and entered the house with the other officers to take custody of Sutterfield pursuant to the statement of detention. A brief struggle ensued.

Sutterfield can be heard on the 911 recording demanding both that the officers let go of her and that they leave her home. (Sutterfield would later say that the officers tackled her.) Sutterfield was handcuffed and placed in the officers’ custody.

At that point the officers conducted a protective sweep of the home. In the kitchen, officer James Floriani observed a compact disc carrying case in plain view. He picked up the soft-sided case, which was locked, and surmised from the feel and weight of its contents that there might be a firearm inside. He then forced the case open and discovered a semi-automatic handgun inside; a yellow smiley-face sticker was affixed to the barrel of the gun, covering the muzzle. Also inside the case were concealed-carry firearm licenses from multiple jurisdictions other than Wisconsin. Elsewhere in the kitchen the officers discovered a BB gun made to realistically resemble a Glock 29 handgun.

The contents of the case were seized along with the BB gun and placed into police inventory for safekeeping.

Berken would later state that he authorized the seizure of the handgun in order to keep them out of the hands of a juvenile, should a juvenile enter the house unaccompanied by an adult while Sutterfield remained in the hospital.

Sutterfield subsequently filed a lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee with the district court, a case that was initially dismissed. She then filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th District claiming that her Second and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

In a 75-page opinion the court, while pointing out that the intrusion against Sutterfield was profound, sided with the city of Milwaukee:

“The intrusions upon Sutterfield’s privacy were profound,” Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for three-judge panel.

“At the core of the privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment is the right to be let alone in one’s home.”

But the court also found, that on the other hand, “There is no suggestion that (police) acted for any reason other than to protect Sutterfield from harm.”

“Even if the officers did exceed constitutional boundaries,” the court document states, “they are protected by qualified immunity.”

As noted by Police State USA, the court may have just created a legal loophole for law enforcement officials around the country, giving them immunity from Constitutional violations if they merely suggest that exigent circumstances exist and that they are acting in the best interests of the health and safety of an alleged suspect, regardless of Constitutional requirements:

In short, Sutterfield’s privacy (which was admittedly encroached upon) was left unprotected by the Bill of Rights because of the “exigent circumstances” in which police executed an emergency detention – with no warrant, no criminal charges, and no input from the judiciary. Similarly, the gun confiscation was also deemed as acceptable due to the so-called “emergency” which police claimed had been taking place for 9 consecutive hours.

The federal ruling affirms a legal loophole which allows targeted home invasions, warrantless searches, and gun confiscations that rest entirely in the hands of the Executive Branch. The emergency aid doctrine enables police to act without a search warrant, even if there is time to get one. When the government wants to check on someone, his or her rights are essentially suspended until the person’s sanity has been forcibly validated.

The implications of the courts legal decision are alarmingly broad. Though this particular case involved exigent circumstances in which an individual suggested she wanted to commit suicide, albeit tongue-in-cheek, the court’s opinion suggests that such tactics can be applied for any “emergency” wherein police subjectively determine that an individual may be a danger to themselves or others.

Under new statutes passed by the federal government these emergencies and dangers could potentially include any number of scenarios. Senator Rand Paul recently highlighted that there are laws on the books that categorize a number of different activities as having the potential for terrorism, including things like purchasing bulk ammunition. Last month, when a group of concerned citizens assembled at Bundy Ranch in Nevada to protest government overreach, Senator Harry Reid dubbed them “domestic terrorists.” Even paying with cash or complaining about chemicals in water can land an American on the terror watch list. Non-conformists who do not subscribe to the status quo can now be considered mentally insane according to psychiatrists’ Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders.

Law enforcement has an almost unlimited amount of circumstances they can cite to justify threats to one’s self or others, and thus, to ignore Constitutional requirements when serving at the behest of the local, state or federal government.

Have the Federal Court’s latest decision made it possible for these vaguely defined suspicious activities to be molded into exigent circumstances that give police the right to enter homes without due process, confiscate legally owned personal belongings, and detain residents without charge?

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Arkansas Supreme Court Overrules Leftist Judge’s Anti-Voter ID Decision

Arkansas Court Voids Judge’s Decision Against Voter ID Law – New York Post

The Arkansas Supreme Court has tossed out a judge’s ruling striking down the state’s voter ID law, but stopped short of ruling on the constitutionality of the measure.

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Justices on Wednesday vacated a Pulaski County judge’s decision that the law violates Arkansas’ constitution. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox had struck down the law in a case that had focused on how absentee ballots are handled under the law, but justices stayed his ruling while they considered an appeal.

Justices said Fox didn’t have the authority to strike down the law in the case focusing on absentee ballots.

Fox has also ruled the law unconstitutional in a separate case, but said he wouldn’t block its enforcement during this month’s primary. That ruling is also being appealed to the high court.

Arkansas is amid early voting ahead of next Tuesday’s primary.

The ruling comes as voter ID laws are being challenged throughout the nation. Though 31 states have laws in effect requiring voters to show some form of identification, Arkansas’ in one of the strictest in the nation. Seven other states have photo ID requirements in effect similar to Arkansas.

A federal judge in Wisconsin struck down that state’s voter ID law last month, and Pennsylvania’s governor has said he wouldn’t appeal a judge’s recent ruling striking down his state’s voter ID law. President Barack Obama last month waded into the voter ID debate, accusing Republicans of using restrictions to keep voters from the polls and jeopardizing 50 years of expanded voting access for millions of black Americans and other minorities.

Republicans backing voter ID laws in Arkansas and elsewhere have said the efforts are aimed at preventing voter fraud and protecting the integrity of the election process.

Under previous law in Arkansas, election workers were required to ask for photo ID but voters didn’t have to show it to cast a ballot. Under the new law, voters who don’t show photo identification can cast provisional ballots. Those ballots are counted only if voters provide ID to county election officials before noon on the Monday after an election, sign an affidavit stating they are indigent or have a religious objection to being photographed.

Arkansas’ law took effect Jan. 1 and had been used in some local elections this year. This month’s primary is the first statewide test of the new law.

The case had initially focused on rules for absentee ballots under the voter ID law. The Pulaski County Election Commission sued the state Board of Election Commissioners for adopting a rule that gives absentee voters additional time to show proof of ID. The rule allows voters who did not submit required identification with their absentee ballot to turn in the documents for their vote to be counted by noon Monday following an election. It mirrors an identical “cure period” the law gives to voters who fail to show identification at the polls.

Fox’s ruling had been stayed by the state Supreme Court, but the high court declined to stay Fox’s decision to strike down the state board’s rule giving absentee voters additional time.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Federal Judge Puts A Stop To Leftist Political Witch Hunt Of Conservative Groups In Wisconsin

Federal Judge Brings An End To Political Witch Hunt In Wisconsin – The Foundry

U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Randa has put an end to a political witch hunt by local Wisconsin prosecutors that featured a secret investigation more reminiscent of a banana republic than the world’s foremost democracy. In two orders – one of which termed the prosecutors’ appeal of his decision as “frivolous” – Randa ordered local prosecutors to “cease all activities related to the investigation” and to return all of the records and documents they had seized from dozens of conservative advocacy organizations.

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Judge Randa concluded that local prosecutors, led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, were attempting to criminalize the political speech of about 30 conservative organizations, including Wisconsin Club for Growth. These prosecutors had instigated “a secret John Doe investigation replete with armed raids on homes to collect evidence.” The prosecutors were upset apparently over the organizations’ support of legislation pushed by Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees. They claimed it was a criminal violation for independent organizations to engage in political speech and political advocacy in support of Gov. Walker’s proposed legislation. Judge Randa ruled the prosecutors had a “long-running investigation of all things Walker-related.”

Judge Randa’s description of the appalling tactics used by the prosecutors is shocking. The head of WCG, Eric O’Keefe, as well as his advisors and employees, were treated like members of a drug cartel. Armed officers conducted raids in the early morning hours, with sheriff deputy vehicles using “bright floodlights to illuminate” the activists’ homes. Deputies executed search warrants “seizing business papers, computer equipment, phones, and other devices, while their targets were restrained under police supervision and denied the ability to contact their attorneys,” the judge wrote. Just as bad, O’Keefe and the other targets of the investigation also were served with subpoenas that included a “Secrecy Order” telling them they could not reveal anything about the investigation or the seizure of their property and records “under penalty of perjury.”

According to Judge Randa, the list of advocacy groups subpoenaed by the prosecutors “indicates that all or nearly all right-of-center groups and individuals in Wisconsin who engaged in issue advocacy from 2010 to the present are targets of the investigation.” And yet because of the Secrecy Order, the victims of this prosecutorial abuse were unable to exercise their right to complain in public about an offensive investigation and obnoxious police tactics aimed at restricting their First Amendment rights to speak about important public policy issues.

Judge Randa said the prosecutors’ interpretation of the law was “simply wrong”:

“The defendants are pursuing criminal charges through a secret John Doe investigation against the plaintiffs for exercising issue advocacy speech rights that on their face are not subject to the regulations or statutes the defendants seek to enforce.”

Randa’s condemnation of the Wisconsin prosecutors was stinging. He said he was “left to wonder” if the prosecutors had “actually read the complaint” O’Keefe filed against them. He had “no idea why the defendants even attempted to raise” some of their defenses and characterized them as “the height of frivolousness.” Most importantly, the judge held that the prosecutors were not entitled to immunity from civil liability because they had acted without probable cause.

This means that not only has the judge put a halt to the criminal investigation being conducted by the prosecutors, but the lawsuit filed by O’Keefe against the prosecutors for violating his civil rights will go forward. The judgment could be substantial. O’Keefe said his organization lost $2 million as a result of the investigation, which “devastated” its ability to advocate for Walker’s reforms.

The use of the tremendous power given to law enforcement officials to target political speech they do not like is one of the greatest threats to our liberty and freedom of speech. Although the tactics these prosecutors used have now been rebuked in court, voters should remember this shameful behavior. And the Wisconsin legislature should immediately act to rid of the state of a statute that allows Star Chamber proceedings that impinge upon our cherished First Amendment rights.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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First Among Equals: An Orwellian Dissent From A Muddled Ruling (James Taranto)

First Among Equals: An Orwellian Dissent From A Muddled Ruling – James Taranto

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You might have heard that the Supreme Court ruled 6-2 today that states have the right to ban racial preferences, euphemistically known as “affirmative action,” in public-university admission, but that’s not quite right. On that point the justices (save for Elena Kagan, who sat the case out) were unanimous. “When this Court holds that the Constitution permits a particular policy, nothing prevents a majority of a State’s voters from choosing not to adopt that policy,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a dissent joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

But in the case styled Schuette v. BAMN, Sotomayor endeavored to make nothing into something. She and Ginsburg would have upheld a decision by the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that held illicit the method by which Michigan’s voters accomplished that end: a ballot initiative, approved in 2006, that amended the state constitution to bar racial discrimination.

We noted the case, and offered a lengthy analysis, back in 2011, when a three-judge Sixth Circuit panel first ruled in favor of the unwieldily named Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary. We pegged the case then as a likely one for the high court to take up, and we didn’t expect the Sixth Circuit’s ruling to stand. But we’re disappointed the court didn’t repudiate BAMN’s arguments more clearly.

The background, in brief: As there was no colorable argument that the substance of the Michigan amendment was unconstitutional, BAMN invoked what the appellate court called the “political process doctrine.” It rested on two prior cases, Hunter v. Erickson (1969) and Washington v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 (1982), in each of which the high court struck down a ballot measure repealing and banning a policy that, as Justice Harry Blackmun put it in Seattle, “inures primarily to the benefit of the minority.” In Hunter, the policy in question was a fair-housing ordinance enacted by the city council; in Seattle, a forced-busing program instituted by an elected school board.

The six justices who voted to reverse the Sixth Circuit and let the Michigan amendment stand split 3-2-1 on the grounds for doing so. The result is a clear outcome but a doctrinal muddle. We thought it would be amusing and enlightening to go through the four main opinions in descending order of clarity.

Clearest of all is Justice Antonin Scalia’s concurrence in the judgment, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. “It has come to this,” Scalia begins portentously. “Called upon to explore the jurisprudential twilight zone between two errant lines of precedent, we confront a frighteningly bizarre question: Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment forbid what its text plainly requires?”

Scalia and Thomas’s view, thus far joined by no other sitting justice, is that racial discrimination in public-university admissions is flatly unconstitutional. The prevailing view on the court is that such discrimination is permissible, but only for the purpose of realizing “the educational benefits” of a “diverse student body,” as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor put it in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003).

As Scalia notes: “Were a public university to stake its defense of a race-based-admissions policy on the ground that it was designed to benefit primarily minorities (as opposed to all students, regardless of color, by enhancing diversity), we would hold the policy unconstitutional.” The Sixth Circuit had to reach just that conclusion in order to fit the Michigan amendment into the political-process doctrine.

Thus, as we noted in 2011, Grutter and BAMN were on a collision course. Either the racial preferences the court upheld in Grutter were unconstitutional or the political-process doctrine didn’t apply. Scalia and Thomas recognized this contradiction squarely and would have dealt with it by both holding the preferences unconstitutional and overturning Hunter and Seattle.

Justice Stephen Breyer concurred in the judgment on much narrower grounds. He was part of the Grutter majority in 2003 and still thinks racial preferences are constitutionally permissible. He ducked the question of whether the political-process doctrine applied to the substance of the Michigan amendment by saying it didn’t apply to the process. Because racial preferences were imposed by unelected university administrators, he argued, the process change isn’t a “political” one at all. It appears to be a way of evading the central questions of the case, but it does have the virtue of being relatively simple.

Then there’s the Sotomayor dissent, which begins as follows: “We are fortunate to live in a democratic society. But…” An empty piety, followed by an equivocation, followed by a total of 58 pages – you know this is going to be a tough slog.

The most quoted part of Sotomayor’s opinion is this: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.” This is a rejoinder to Chief Justice John Roberts’s assertion, in Parents Involved v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1 (2007), that “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” (Roberts in turn rebutted Sotomayor in a separate concurrence to today’s decision, which we’re leaving out of our ranking by clarity.)

Roberts’s statement was trivially true, which means that Sotomayor’s defies logic. Her argument amounts to an assertion that a ban on racial discrimination is a form of racial discrimination–that everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others. Also Orwellian is her claim that she wants “to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race.” Such an assertion is almost always disingenuous. After all, the way to speak openly and candidly is to speak openly and candidly. Declaring one’s intention to do so is at best superfluous throat clearing.

And while Sotomayor may be open, she isn’t candid. She presents a potted history of race in America in which there is a straight line from Jim Crow segregation through literacy tests to the Michigan amendment, which “involves this last chapter of discrimination” – even though it bans discrimination, and even though Sotomayor acknowledges that its substance is perfectly constitutional.

Yet for all the faults of the Sotomayor opinion, she does score some points against the plurality opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Kennedy refrained from either reversing the Hunter and Seattle precedents or distinguishing the Michigan amendment from those cases by noting the contradiction between the Sixth Circuit’s finding and the high court’s rationale for upholding racial preferences in Grutter.

Instead, he essentially rewrites Hunter and Seattle, as Sotomayor notes (citation omitted):

Disregarding the language used in Hunter, the plurality asks us to contort that case into one that “rests on the unremarkable principle that the State may not alter the procedures of government to target racial minorities.” And the plurality recasts Seattle “as a case in which the state action in question… had the serious risk, if not purpose, of causing specific injuries on account of race.” According to the plurality, the Hunter and Seattle Courts were not concerned with efforts to reconfigure the political process to the detriment of racial minorities; rather, those cases invalidated governmental actions merely because they reflected an invidious purpose to discriminate. This is not a tenable reading of those cases.

Although Sotomayor is right about this, she goes on to make an error that is the mirror image of Kennedy’s, in citing the 1996 case of Romer v. Evans (omitting another citation):

Romer involved a Colorado constitutional amendment that removed from the local political process an issue primarily affecting gay and lesbian citizens. The amendment, enacted in response to a number of local ordinances prohibiting discrimination against gay citizens, repealed these ordinances and effectively prohibited the adoption of similar ordinances in the future without another amendment to the State Constitution. Although the Court did not apply the political-process doctrine in Romer, the case resonates with the principles undergirding the political-process doctrine. The Court rejected an attempt by the majority to transfer decision-making authority from localities (where the targeted minority group could influence the process) to state government (where it had less ability to participate effectively).

Actually in Romer the high court, with Justice Kennedy writing for the majority, rejected the Colorado Supreme Court’s application of the political-process doctrine. Instead, Kennedy held that the amendment itself violated equal protection–something even Sotomayor concedes is not true of the Michigan measure.

The plurality opinion is frustratingly muddled, but it’s likely to be seen as the controlling one, since it reflects the farthest position in either direction that a majority of justices are willing to go. In effect it means that it will be difficult if not impossible to challenge state ballot initiatives banning racial preferences at public universities. And while the court did not overturn the Hunter and Seattle precedents, they do not look like especially robust law, now that they’ve been rewritten by Justice Kennedy.

As for the Roberts-Sotomayor kibitzing, it’s actually a continuation of a conversation that started many years earlier, when the late Justice Harry Blackmun, in an opinion in University of California v. Bakke, wrote: “In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.”

Blackmun wrote those words in 1978, when Sonia Sotomayor was a law student. Thirty-six years later, Justice Sotomayor wrote these words:

Race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”

Are Sotomayor’s lamentations evidence that Blackmun was right, or that he was wrong?

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Related article:

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Four Points From Scalia’s Scathing Dissent In Supreme Court Ruling To Allow Searches Based On Anonymous Tips – The Blaze

“A freedom-destroying cocktail.”

That’s how Justice Antonin Scalia characterized Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling that law enforcement officers may pull over and search drivers based solely on an anonymous tip.

The justices ruled 5-4 Tuesday to uphold a traffic stop in northern California in which officers subsequently found marijuana in the vehicle. The officers themselves did not see any evidence of the tipped reckless driving, which was interpreted as drunkenness, even after following the truck for several minutes.

Justice Clarence Thomas said the tip phoned in to 911 that a Ford pickup truck had run the caller off the road was sufficiently reliable to allow for the traffic stop without violating the driver’s constitutional rights.

But Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the dissent in Prado Navarette v. California, had strong words about the decision’s implications for the future.

Here are some of Scalia’s points, in which he was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor (emphasis added):

* Law enforcement agencies follow closely our judgments on matters such as this, and they will identify at once our new rule: So long as the caller identifies where the car is, anonymous claims of a single instance of possibly careless or reckless driving, called in to 911, will support a traffic stop. This is not my concept, and I am sure would not be the Framers’, of a people secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.

* Anonymity is especially suspicious with respect to the call that is the subject of the present case. When does a victim complain to the police about an arguably criminal act (running the victim off the road) without giving his identity, so that he can accuse and testify when the culprit is caught?

* The Court’s opinion serves up a freedom-destroying cocktail consisting of two parts patent falsity: (1) that anonymous 911 reports of traffic violations are reliable so long as they correctly identify a car and its location, and (2) that a single instance of careless or reckless driving necessarily supports a reasonable suspicion of drunken­ness. All the malevolent 911 caller need do is assert a traffic violation, and the targeted car will be stopped, forcibly if necessary, by the police. If the driver turns out not to be drunk (which will almost always be the case), the caller need fear no consequences, even if 911 knows his identity. After all, he never alleged drunkenness, but merely called in a traffic violation—and on that point his word is as good as his victim’s.

* Drunken driving is a serious matter, but so is the loss of our freedom to come and go as we please without police interference. To prevent and detect murder we do not allow searches without probable cause or targeted Terry stops without reasonable suspicion. We should not do so for drunken driving either. After today’s opinion all of us on the road, and not just drug dealers, are at risk of hav­ing our freedom of movement curtailed on suspicion of drunkenness, based upon a phone tip, true or false, of a single instance of careless driving.

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Federal Judges Slap Down Eric Holder For Illegally Instructing Prosecutors To Ignore Drug Laws

Judges: ‘Law Provides Executive No Authority’ to Cut Drug Sentences As Holder Did – CNS

Two federal judges on the U.S. Sentencing Commission said Thursday that Attorney General Eric Holder stepped “outside the legal system” and exceeded the authority of the executive branch by sending “improper instruction” to federal prosecutors to reduce drug sentences before they were officially approved by either the commission or Congress.

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“I have been surprised at the attorney general’s steps taken to proceed with this reduction outside of the legal system set up and established by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984,” Judge Ricardo Hinojosa, the commission’s vice chair, said during a public hearing in the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington.

“As you all know, the commission in the act is given the authority to promulgate and amend guidelines on a yearly basis. And in the act itself, Congress has preserved its right to reject any potential promulgation of, or amendment to, any guidelines made by the commission itself after the commission has acted.

“Meaning that if Congress does not reject a guideline amendment, it will not go into effect until November 1st of this year if we vote in favor of this amendment.,” said Hinojosa, who is also the chief judge of the Southern District of Texas.

“When the attorney general testified before us, he failed to mention that the night before, at around 11 pm, the department had ordered all of the assistant U.S. attorneys across the country to (and it’s not clear to me whether it was supposed to be not oppose or to argue for, in fact the U.S. attorneys in front of my court have said they’ve been asked to argue for) the two-level reduction in all drug trafficking cases before the commission has acted and before Congress has had the opportunity to vote its disapproval of the commission’s actions, if Congress is so inclined, which is certainly the right that they have preserved for themselves in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984,” Hinojosa said.

“It would have been nice for us to have known and been told beforehand that this action had been taken, so any of us who would have liked to have asked the attorney general under what basis under Title 18… the courts were being asked by the Justice Department to follow this request.

“If it was because the attorney general had spoken in favor of this proposal ,that is a dangerous precedent because attorney generals in the past have consistently expressed opinions to the commission on guideline promulgation and amendments, many times for an increase, and sometimes for a lowering of the penalties.

“But none have ever then asked the courts to proceed with increases or decreases simply because the attorney general has spoken in support of them before the commission has acted and before the Congress has exercised its statutory right not to act,” the vice-chairman said.

Judge William Pryor, who sits on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, also rebuked Holder for preempting the commission.

“Like Judge Hinojosa, I regret that, before we voted on the amendment, the attorney general instructed assistant United States attorneys across the nation not to object to defense requests to apply the proposed amendment in sentencing proceedings going forward,” Pryor said.

“That unprecedented instruction disrespected our statutory role ‘as an independent commission in the judicial branch’ to establish sentencing policies and practices under the Sentencing Reform Act and the role of Congress, as the legislative branch, to decide whether to revise, modify, or disapprove our proposed amendment.

“We do not discharge our statutory duty until we vote on a proposed amendment, and Congress, by law, has until November 1st to decide whether our proposed amendment should become effective. The law provides the executive no authority to establish national sentencing policies based on speculation about how we and Congress might vote on a proposed amendment.

“I appreciate the attorney general’s personal appearance before the commission last month, and his helpful comments in support of this amendment,” Pryor added. “But I hope that we can avoid int the future the kind of improper instruction that he sent federal prosecutors before we voted on the amendment.”

Pryor also pointed out that a previous amendment to the Fair Sentencing Act included a “safety valve” that allows low-level offenders to plead guilty and receive reduced sentences. The Justice Department estimates that lowering sentences will reduce the federal prison population by 6,500 inmates over the next five years.

The commission had been deliberating since last summer on recommendations to amend federal sentencing guidelines in an effort “to reduce the costs of incarceration, and reduce prison populations without endangering public safety.”

Commissioners voted unanimously on Thursday to recommend the reduced sentences the Justice Department supported, which would shave an average of 11 months off the prison terms of some drug offenders. Both Hinojosa and Pryor voted for the amendment, which Pryor pointed out “maintains all statutorily mandated minimum sentences” and “respects the primary role of Congress in establishing the boundaries for sentencing drug offenders.”

Several other amendments, which were published in the Federal Register on Jan. 17, 2014, were also passed, but the one reducing sentences for drug offenders, who make up nearly half of the federal prison population, elicited more than 20,000 responses from the public, commissioners said.

Holder testified at the commission’s previous hearing on March 13th, telling commissioners that low-level, non-violent offenders should “face sentences appropriate to their individual conduct, rather than strict mandatory minimums.” (See sentencing cmsn.pdf)

“The system was not perfect as it existed before, and it is not perfect as it exists now and under the reforms that I have implemented,” Holder testified. “But what we want to do is to work with the commission,” he said a day after sending his sentencing memo to federal prosecutors.

“For those committed to the rule of law, the question now goes beyond whether reducing sentences for dealers in dangerous drugs is wise. It’s whether the Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, is committed to following the law as it exists, or, instead, as he wants and speculates it might become,” said William Otis, adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Under federal law, Congress, has six months to vote the amendments down. In the absence of congressional action, they will become law on November 1st.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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*VIDEO* Judge Jeanine Pirro Verbally Bitchslaps Obama Over Dictatorial Behavior


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If I could just correct Justice Sotomayor

Via The Right Scoop

CBS DC – On the Supreme Court since 2009, Sotomayor said it was tough at first as justices made references that went over her head. She said joining the high court amounted to joining an ongoing conversation among justices who had served for years.

“I figure I may not be the smartest judge on the court but I’m going to be a competent justice,” she said. “I’m going to try to be the best I can and each year I think my opinions have been getting better. And I’m working at finding my voice a little bit.”

Sotomayor was asked at a talk at Yale Law School later in the day about her use of the term “undocumented immigrants” rather than the traditional illegal alien. Sotomayor characterized the issue as a regulatory problem and said labeling immigrants criminals seemed insulting to her.

“I think people then paint those individuals as something less than worthy human beings and it changes the conversation,” Sotomayor said.

No, people who are for LEGAL immigration do not paint illegal immigrants as lesser people. But what I really need to correct here is what is “insulting”. What is truly insulting is having a race-obsessed, Left Wing hack on the Supreme Court

Win For Little Sisters Of The Poor As USSC Issues Injunction Against Contraception Mandate

Supreme Court Issues Injunction Against Contraception Mandate – Townhall

This afternoon, the Supreme Court issued an order for an injunction against forcing private businesses to apply for an exemption to Obamacare’s contraception mandate.

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The Little Sisters of the Poor – a Catholic group that cares for the old and infirm – have challenged Obamacare’s contraception mandate on the grounds that it violates religious liberty. The Supreme Court is considering the case, and while the case is under consideration, it has issued a temporary order that businesses will not have to provide contraception coverage, or to follow the Obama Administration’s “guidelines” to fill out the paperwork required to provide contraception coverage indirectly.

As Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner reported:

The unsigned order of the court “should not be construed as an expression of the Court’s views on the merits” of the case, currently on appeal before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Filed with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she referred the request to the entire court. She had issued a temporary injunction on Dec. 31 while considering the nuns’ request for an injunction during the appeal. There were no filed dissents to the continued injunction.

There’s no timeline for when SCOTUS will issue its final ruling.

As Fox News detailed, the Little Sisters of the Poor case represents a nightmare for the Obama Administration:

For an administration seeking to win a skeptical public over to ObamaCare, the Justice Department could not have picked a more sympathetic foe for a Supreme Court fight than The Little Sisters of the Poor.

The administration is fighting back against a lawsuit filed by the non-profit, which does not meet ObamaCare’s classification of a “religious employer” because it hires and tends to people of all religious and ethnic backgrounds.

Supporters say The Little Sisters of the Poor epitomize service by caring for the elderly poor and those deemed “worthless” by society. In the United States, it runs 30 homes where hundreds of its employees provide nursing and end of life care.

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*VIDEO* Judge Jeanine Pirro Verbally Bitchslaps Hillary Clinton Over Benghazi Cover-Up


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H/T Weasel Zippers

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Vile, Leftist Hypocrisy Update: Senate Democrats Go Nuclear, Eliminate Filibusters On Obama Nominees

Reid, Democrats Trigger ‘Nuclear’ Option; Eliminate Most Filibusters On Nominees – Washington Post

The partisan battles that have paralyzed Washington in recent years took a historic turn on Thursday, when Senate Democrats eliminated filibusters for most presidential nominations, severely curtailing the political leverage of the Republican minority in the Senate and assuring an escalation of partisan warfare.

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The rule change means federal judge nominees and executive-office appointments can be confirmed by a simple majority of senators, rather than the 60-vote super majority that has been required for more than two centuries.

The change does not apply to Supreme Court nominations. But the vote, mostly along party lines, reverses nearly 225 years of precedent and dramatically alters the landscape for both Democratic and Republican presidents, especially if their own political party holds a majority of, but fewer than 60, Senate seats.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats of a power grab and suggested that they will regret their decision if Republicans regain control of the chamber.

“We’re not interested in having a gun put to our head any longer,” McConnell said. “Some of us have been around here long enough to know that the shoe is sometimes on the other foot.” McConnell then addressed Democrats directly, saying: “You may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” he said.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned Democrats against the rule change on Wednesday, saying that if the GOP reclaimed the Senate majority, Republicans would further alter the rules to include Supreme Court nominees, so that Democrats could not filibuster a Republican pick for the nation’s highest court.

The vote to change the rule passed 52-48. Three Democrats – Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) – joined with 45 Republicans in opposing the measure. Levin is a longtime senator who remembers well the years when Democratic filibusters blocked nominees of Republican presidents; Manchin and Pryor come from Republican-leaning states.

Infuriated by what he sees as a pattern of obstruction and delay over President Obama’s nominees, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) triggered the so-called “nuclear option” by proposing a motion to reconsider the nomination of Patricia Millet, one of the judicial nominees whom Republicans recently blocked by a filibuster, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Senate voted 57-40, with three abstentions, to reconsider Millett’s nomination. Several procedural votes followed. The Senate Parliamentarian, speaking through Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the chamber’s president pro temp, then ruled that 60 votes are needed to cut off a filibuster and move to a final confirmation vote. Reid appealed that ruling, asking senators to decide whether it should stand.

Senators began voting about 12:15 p.m. The final vote was 52 in favor of changing the rule, 48 against.

The Democratic victory paves the way for the rapid confirmation of Millett and two other nominee to the D.C. appeals court. All have recently been stymied by GOP filibusters, amid Republican assertions that the critical appellate court simply did not need any more judges.

But the impact of the move is be more far-reaching. The means for executing this rules change – a simple-majority vote, rather than the long-standing two-thirds majority required to change the chamber’s standing rules – is more controversial than the actual move itself.

Many Senate majorities have thought about using this technical maneuver to get around centuries of parliamentary precedent, but none has done so in a unilateral move on a major change of rules or precedents. This simple-majority vote has been executed in the past to change relatively minor precedents involving how to handle amendments; for example, one such change short-circuited the number of filibusters that the minority party could deploy on nominations.

Reid has rattled his saber on the filibuster rules at least three other times in the past three years, yielding each time to a bipartisan compromise brokered by the chamber’s elder statesmen.

But no deal emerged by the time debate started Thursday morning. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the main negotiator who brokered recent deals to avert such a showdown, as well as one in 2005, met with Reid on Wednesday, but neither side reported progress.

The main protagonists for the rules change have been junior Democrats elected in the last six or seven years, who have alleged that Republicans have used the arcane filibuster rules to create a procedural logjam that has left the Senate deadlocked. Upon arriving in 2009, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said, he found that “the Senate was a graveyard for good ideas.”

As he recounted in a speech this week, Udall said, “I am sorry to say that little has changed. The digging continues.”

As envisioned earlier this week, Democrats would issue a new rule that would still allow for 60-vote-threshold filibusters on legislation and nominees to the Supreme Court.

Republicans, weary from the third rules fight this year, seemed to have adopted a resigned indifference to this latest threat, as opposed to the heated rhetoric in mid-July when the issue last flared up. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, mocked the idea that the Democrats would leave in place the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominations, in the event that a GOP nominee wins the White House in 2016.

He made clear that if that occurred, and the GOP reclaimed the Senate majority, the Republicans would then alter the rules so that Democrats could not filibuster a Republican pick for the Supreme Court. “If [Reid] changes the rules for some judicial nominees, he is effectively changing them for all judicial nominees, including the Supreme Court,” Grassley said Wednesday.

Reid’s move is a reversal of his position in 2005, when he was minority leader and fought the GOP majority’s bid to change rules on a party-line vote. A bipartisan, rump caucus led by McCain defused that effort.

At the time, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was the No. 2 GOP leader and helped push the effort to eliminate filibusters on the George W. Bush White House’s judicial selections. Eight years later, McConnell, now the minority leader, has grown publicly furious over Reid’s threats to use the same maneuver.

Democrats contend that this GOP minority, with a handful of senators elected as tea party heroes, has overrun McConnell’s institutional inclinations and served as a procedural roadblock on most rudimentary things. According to the Congressional Research Service, from 1967 through 2012, majority leaders had to file motions to try to break a filibuster of a judicial nominee 67 times – and 31 of those, more than 46 percent – occurred in the last five years of an Obama White House and Democratic majority.

Republicans contend that their aggressive posture is merely a natural growth from a decades-long war over the federal judiciary, noting that what prompted the 2005 rules showdown were at least 10 filibusters of GOP judicial nominees. To date, only a handful of Obama’s judicial selections have gone to a vote and been filibustered by the minority.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Related video:

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FLASHBACK – 2005


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Federal Appeals Court Rules Obamacare Violates Religious Liberty

Appeals Court Blasts Obamacare As ‘Unsound’ – WorldNetDaily

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Another appeals court has ruled that the Obama administration is violating Americans’ religious rights by demanding employers provide abortifacients for their employees, but the latest ruling, from the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, goes a lot further.

It states that the Obama administration’s understanding of the law is “unsound.”

The court accuses the White House of trying to force religious believers to practice their faith only in their homes or churches, abandoning it in public. The charge has been made against the Obama administration before. For example, it has deliberately changed the Constitution reference to “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship,” which is not the same.

The case in the Seventh Circuit was brought on behalf of Grote Industries and its owners, a family-run auto lighting company based in Madison, Ind.

The lawsuit was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom alleging that the mandates in Obamacare force employers, “regardless of their religious or moral convictions,” to provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.

The case, like dozens of others filed over the same issue, alleges the requirement violates the owners’ “constitutionally protected freedom of religion and conscience.”

The decision notes that the government argued that it has the right to force the owners to violate their faith because of a prior Supreme Court statement.

The Supreme Court said: “Congress and the courts have been sensitive to the needs flowing from the Free Exercise Clause, but every person cannot be shielded from all the burdens incident to exercising every aspect of the right to practice religious beliefs. When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”

In the current case, the court said the government “apparently reads this passage as foreclosing all religious-exercise claims arising in the course of commercial activity merely because the contact is commercial.”

“That reading is both unsound and extraordinary.

“Unsound because it would nullify the rest of the court’s opinion, which considered the Amish farmer’s claim on the merits even though his activities were for profit; the commercial context did not defeat the claim.

“And extraordinary because it would leave religious exercise wholly unprotected in the commercial sphere. At bottom, the government’s argument is premised on a far-too-narrow view of religious freedom: Religious exercise is protected in the home and the house of worship but not beyond. Religious people do not practice their faith in that compartmentalized way; free-exercise rights are not so circumscribed.”

According to ADF, the mandate “forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties” in violation of owners’ faith.

“All Americans, including job creators, should be free to honor God and live according to their faith,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, who argued before the 7th Circuit in May. “The court’s decision joins the majority of other rulings on the mandate, which have found it to excessively conflict with our nation’s guarantee of religious freedom to all Americans. The decision rightly foresees the dangers of allowing government to have this kind of power. If the government can force family business owners to act contrary to their deepest convictions under the threat of fining them out of business, it is a danger to everybody.”

About 70 lawsuits have been filed over the issue. Most have ended with an order that the Obamacare requirements cannot be enforced against the company.

The latest decision “suspends the mandate for two job creators, including a family-run auto lighting manufacturer represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys.”

“We hold that the plaintiffs – the business owners and their companies – may challenge the mandate. We further hold that compelling them to cover these services substantially burdens their religious exercise rights…,” the 7th Circuit’s decision states. “On the government’s understanding of religious liberty, a Jewish restaurant operating for profit could be denied the right to observe Kosher dietary restrictions. That cannot be right. There is nothing inherently incompatible between religious exercise and profit-seeking.”

The circuit court ruling also noted that “the federal government has placed enormous pressure on the plaintiffs to violate their religious beliefs and conform to its regulatory mandate.”

The court said the real issue is not an employee’s use of abortifacients but employers’ objections “to being forced to provide insurance coverage for these drugs and services in violation of their faith.”

The judges also noted that the government “has not made any effort to explain how the contraception mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering its stated goals of promoting public health and gender equality.”

The issue already has been presented to the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

The court could soon decide whether to accept that specific case, brought by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Liberty University.

“Obamacare is a train wreck. It is hard to see how Obamacare will ultimately survive. Whether it be the judiciary or the legislative process, this law will almost certainly be overturned because it is unworkable on so many levels,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, Friday after the latest brief was filed.

The Fourth and 10th Circuits also have made rulings similar to the Seventh decision.

The Obama administration wants the high court to ignore the case, but Liberty Counsel contends the administration “fails to recognize significant differences between the employer mandate and the individual mandate that affect the constitutional arguments, and thereby fails to appreciate the extent of the conflict between the Fourth Circuit’s decision and this court’s precedents.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Judge Orders Girl Back To Home Of Guardian Whose Sex Offender Roommate Then Rapes Girl, Murders Guardian

Girl Raped After Judge Sends To Sex Offender’s Home – WorldNetDaily

Charges are being considered against a Texas judge who sent a minor back into the home of a guardian who was living with a sex offender who later murdered the guardian and raped the juvenile, according to a lawsuit.

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Also, three Texas teachers were indicted for failing to tell authorities about the student’s report of threats from the sex offender, the suit notes.

The consequences of the judge’s decision and the actions by the teachers were severe: The student was tied up and raped by the sex offender, who also murdered her guardian in front of the student, according to the lawsuit in Caldwell, Texas.

The Texas Center for Defense of Life late Tuesday filed the action on behalf of the juvenile, identified only with the initials S.R.L. The case seeks a court ruling that the teachers and judge “breached their duty” to the juvenile and compensation.

The defendants in the case are teachers Bliss Bednar, Vance Skidmore and Bradley Vestal as well as the Caldwell Independent School District and a retired judge, Terry Flenniken.

“There is no excuse for Judge Flenniken’s poor decision,” said TCDL attorney Greg Terra. “He knew exactly what the minor was dealing with in her home situation and that she lived with Edward Clinton Lee, a registered sex offender, and yet still sent her back to live with him and her guardian instead of granting the petition to release her to her biological mother.”

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The court filing states S.R.L. was living with Jean Slovacek-Storm, who previously had been married to S.R.L.’s grandfather. Edward Clinton Lee, a registered sex offender, also was living in the home.

The juvenile’s mother, Angela Belcher, had tried to get her daughter out of the living arrangement through the courts months earlier when S.R.L. became pregnant at age 15 with her 15-year-old boyfriend, but she was rebuffed by Flenniken.

The judge was considering a legal request by TCDL to remove S.R.L., during her pregnancy, from the home where she was living with Slovacek-Storm and Lee.

In that case, Flenniken interviewed S.R.L. privately in his chambers.

In the interview, according to an affidavit, the juvenile told the judge of the threats from Lee. Lee, the statement said, “had repeatedly asked S.R.L. to take off her clothes, even offering her $20 to strip down in front of him.” Also, “S.R.L. would move the dresser against the door, rearranging her room to keep Lee out and going so far as to sleep in her day clothes and not in pajamas so that Lee would not be able to see her change.”

She also reported to the judge Lee would come into the bathroom while she was showering to take pictures.

Flenniken apparently disregarded the girl’s statements.

“Flenniken returned to the courtroom with S.R.L. without making any report to the police about the reported sexual offenses and propositions,” the lawsuit alleges. “Flenniken had no discretion, based on his special relationship with S.R.L. not to intervene and protect S.R.L… Action was mandatory.”

Then on the morning of June 29, 2012, “about four months after Flenniken sent S.R.L. back to the home of Lee, a registered sex offender, Lee shot and murdered Jean Slovacek-Storm and violently sexually assaulted S.R.L., tying her up,” according to the lawsuit.

“S.R.L. eventually escaped her bonds, left the house through a window, and ran naked down the street to a local school where she found a police officer. On April 30, 2013, Edward Clinton Lee plead[ed] guilty to aggravated sexual assault of S.R.L. and aggravated kidnapping of S.R.L. in conjunction with his plea to capital murder, and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.”

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The case alleges that the teachers also knew of the dangers and had not only an opportunity but a responsibility to call authorities long before the assault and murder occurred.

In a statement by Terra that was released to WND, he reported that S.R.L. was in Bednar’s English class and was instructed to write about “the best or worst things that has ever happened in their life.”

Terra said: “S.R.L. asked Ms. Bednar if she could write about something that was happening to her right now. Ms. Bednar responded that she may do so if she changed the names.”

The essay “details the sexual abuse and sexual assault of ‘Sandra’ by ‘Phillip,’” he continued.

But after the essay was turned in, according to Terra, “Edward Clinton Lee and Jean Slovacek-Storm had been contacted by Assistant Principal Vance Skidmore and Principal Bradley Vestal regarding the paper.”

Lee and Slovacek-Storm “strongly admonished S.R.L. for ‘lying in her paper to get Eddie in trouble,’” Terra reported. “S.R.L. was immediately driven to the school and forced to apologize to Bednar, Skidmore, and Vestal for ‘lying’ in her paper.”

The lawsuit alleges once the educators received the knowledge of S.R.L.’s situation, they “had no discretion and were required to report” to authorities.

“Had they reported the abuse outcry, S.R.L. would like not have suffered aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping,” the lawsuit alleges.

Skidmore, Bednar and Vestal have been indicted on a Class A misdemeanor counts of failure to report, and their cases are pending.

According to Terra’s statement regarding the case, the Texas attorney general is reviewing Flenniken’s involvement and “will consider whether any criminal charges will be filed again him.”

Additionally, TCDL is filing grievances against Flenniken with the Texas state bar as well as the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

School officials declined to respond to a WND request for comment, and Flenniken declined comment when asked by AP.

“So much pain and agony could have been spared for the girl and her family if Judge Flenniken did what any judge in the country would have done and ordered the girl out of the home of the sex offender,” said Stephen Casey, attorney at TCDL. “The shock and horror of what happened to this girl will have lifelong repercussions. The school officials also failed her by not following the mandatory training and reporting of the abuse outcries. Had they adhered to the law, this tragedy would likely have been prevented.”

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Social Security Judge Collaborated With Lawyer To Improperly Award Benefits To Hundreds Of Applicants

Social Security Judge Accused Of Disability Scheme – Time

A retired Social Security judge in West Virginia collaborated with a lawyer to improperly award disability benefits to hundreds of applicants, according to a report released Monday by congressional investigators.

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The report accuses retired administrative law Judge David B. Daugherty of scheming with lawyer Eric C. Conn to approve more than 1,800 cases from 2006 to 2010.

“By 2011, Mr. Conn and Judge Daugherty had collaborated on a scheme that enabled the judge to approve, in assembly-line fashion, hundreds of clients for disability benefits using manufactured medical evidence,” said the report by the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Conn runs a law firm specializing in disability cases in Stanville, Ky., near the West Virginia border. Daugherty, who was a judge based in Huntington, W.Va., retired in 2011 after questions were raised about his relationship with Conn, the report said.

According to the report, the Social Security Administration paid Conn’s firm more than $4.5 million in attorney fees from cases heard by Daugherty from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, Conn was the third highest-paid disability lawyer in the country, the report said.

Investigators reviewed Daugherty’s bank records and found $96,000 in unexplained cash deposits, the report said.

“From 2003 to 2011, Judge Daugherty’s bank records contain regularly occurring cash deposits totaling $69,800, the source of which is unexplained in the judge’s financial disclosure forms,” the report said. “From 2007 to 2011, his daughter’s bank records list similar cash deposits totaling another $26,200. When asked about the $96,000 in cash deposits, Judge Daugherty refused to explain their origin or the source of the funds.”

Neither Daugherty nor Conn could be reached for comment. Both men were scheduled to testify Monday at a committee hearing.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon declined to comment on whether the Justice Department is conducting a criminal probe of the matter.

Questions about Daugherty’s relationship with Conn were first raised by The Wall Street Journal in 2011.

Nearly 11 million disabled workers, spouses and children get Social Security disability benefits. That’s a 45 percent increase from a decade ago. The average monthly benefit for a disabled worker is $1,130.

An additional 8.3 million people get Supplemental Security Income, a separately funded disability program for low-income people.

In order to qualify, people are supposed to have disabilities that prevent them from working and are expected to last at least a year or result in death.

Social Security disability claims are first processed through a network of local Social Security Administration field offices and state agencies called Disability Determination Services. About two-thirds of initial claims are rejected, according to agency statistics.

If your claim is rejected, you can ask the field office or state agency to reconsider. If your claim is rejected again, you can appeal to an administrative law judge, who is employed by Social Security.

The average processing time for a hearing before a judge is a little longer than a year, according to the agency. Daugherty approved claims for Conn’s clients in as little as 30 days, the report said.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Jihadist Swine AKA Ft. Hood shooter found guilty on all counts

Via Gateway Pundit. I have just one question. Can we put  a bullet in this bastards head now?

AP reports: Army Maj. Nidal Hasan was convicted Friday in the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, a shocking assault against American troops at home by one of their own who said he opened fire on fellow soldiers to protect Muslim insurgents abroad.

The Army psychiatrist acknowledged carrying out the attack in a crowded waiting room where unarmed troops were making final preparations to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded.

Because Hasan never denied his actions, the court-martial was always less about a conviction than it was about ensuring he received the death penalty. From the beginning of the case, the federal government has sought to execute Hasan, believing that any sentence short of a lethal injection would deprive the military and the families of the dead of the justice they have sought for nearly four years.

A jury of 13 high-ranking military officers reached a unanimous guilty verdict in about seven hours. In the next phase of the trial, they must all agree to give Hasan the death penalty before he can be sent to the military’s death row, which has just five other prisoners. If they do not agree, the 42-year-old could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Four years? It took four years to convict this vile, despicable coward?

 

Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder ignores Supreme Court ruling on Voting Rights Act

Here goes Team Obama again, snubbing their nose at the rule of law, and the highest court in America

Via Red Alert:

In response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision that states are innocent of institutional racism until proven guilty, Attorney General Eric Holder is arguing that Texas’ “history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities” should make its voting laws subject to the Department of Justice’s oversight indefinitely.

While speaking before the National Urban League in Philadelphia on Thursday, Holder said his agency would ask a federal judge to require Texas to submit all its voting laws to the DOJ for review before they can be legally enacted because the state has a supposed history of discrimination and racism.

“And today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a pre-clearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” Holder said at the organization’s annual conference.

The Attorney General cited “evidence of intentional racial discrimination” found following the case Texas v. Holder, in addition to a ”history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities.” He continued, saying the state would need to acquire “pre-approval” from either the Department of Justice or a federal court before implementing any future changes in voting laws.

I expect there is a good chance Governor Perry will ignore the Attorney General. Don’t mess with Texas!