Posts filed under 'Judiciary'

Supreme Court Gives Up On Even Pretending To Not Be In The Tank

This is such a disgrace.

With today’s decision in Southern Union Company v. United States, the Chamber [of Commerce] has declared victory in all seven of its cases that have reached a clear outcome [this year]….

This string of seven straight victories brings the Chamber’s overall win/loss rate before the Roberts Court up to 68% (60 of 88 cases).  As we have reported in prior studies, this is significantly higher than the Chamber’s success before the Rehnquist Court of 56% (45 of 80 cases), and dramatically higher than its success rate before the Burger Court, when the Chamber only won 43% (15 of 35) of its cases.

Yet another sign that government of the people, by the people, and for the people has indeed perished from the earth.  Or at least from the United States.

June 22nd, 2012 at 11:18am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Newt Loves/Hates The Constitution

This is remarkable:

Newt Gingrich on Sunday hammered at the nation’s judiciary system, saying that if a court’s decision was out of step with American popular opinion, it should be ignored.

There’s “no reason the American people need to tolerate a judge that out of touch with American culture,” Gingrich said on CBS’ Face the Nation, referring to a case where a judge ruled that explicit references to religion were barred from a high school graduation ceremony….

Host Bob Schieffer asked Gingrich how he planned to enforce that. Would you call in the Capitol Police to apprehend a federal judge, he asked.

“If you had to,” Gingrich said. “Or you’d instruct the Justice Department to send the U.S. Marshall in.”

But this is what makes it really genius:

Gingrich claims his tough stance is part of a key question going into the 2012 elections: “Do you want to move towards American exceptionalism, reassert the Constitution, reassert the nature of America, or do you, in fact, want to become a secular, European, sort of bureaucratic socialist society?”

So… apparently “reasserting the Constitution” means completely ignoring it when it doesn’t agree with popular opinion?  Or maybe Newt believes that American popular opinion is just instinctively attuned to the Constitution at all times?

In any case, if popular opinion is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter of what should be considered constitutional, then why do we even need a judiciary at all?

December 19th, 2011 at 07:08am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Elections,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Bug Or Feature?

This just in: In the US, income determines outcome. Who knew?

When the rich and powerful can act with impunity and can crush and exploit ordinary people any time they feel like it, that is not democracy.  John Edwards may have been a philandering bastard, but I thought his Two Americas message was very important.  I wish it could have survived the death of his political career.

June 14th, 2011 at 11:47am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Judiciary

And Now, Your Moment Of Zen…

From a story about Justice Clarence Thomas accusing Supreme Court critics of being lazy and illiterate for supposedly not reading the rulings they write about:

Critics of the court’s decisions, he said, often appear not to have read the rulings they’re discussing — and though he generally does not read court commentary, he knows that most lawyers and members of the public do.

Too perfect.

May 19th, 2011 at 11:31am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Republicans,Wankers

The Other Gaypocalypse

Sure, it’s a big deal that Judge Walker struck down Prop 8, but it’s sucked up so much blog and media attention that I think we’re missing the dire unintended consequences of another, very similar ruling:

Mexico’s supreme court on Thursday upheld a landmark law that allows gay marriage in the capital city, bucking a challenge raised by the conservative government of President Felipe Calderon.

This year, Mexico City became the first capital in mainly Catholic Latin America to pass a law allowing gay couples the same marriage and adoption rights as heterosexuals.

Do you realize what this means? Millions of opposite-marriage-loving Mexicans will be forced to flee to the United States (but not California) to preserve the sanctity of their marriages!

In addition to the inevitable collapse of American society as we know it, think how many conservative heads will explode while trying to decide whether to vilify the interlopers or welcome them as brothers. (Pro Tip for Mexican marriage refugees: Tell Bill O’Reilly how much you love Christmas and falafel – I know it sounds weird, but trust me on this one.)

(Crossposted at The Seminal)

August 5th, 2010 at 08:32pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Immigration,Judiciary,Teh Gay

Profiles In Courage

Shorter Democrats: Hooray, we lost!  Now we don’t have to worry about being the anti-gun party anymore!

Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what the Republicans said after Roe v. Wade.

June 30th, 2010 at 06:56am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Judiciary,Politics

Conservatives Vs. Kagan

Personally, I think Robert Bork attacking Elena Kagan is just about the best thing that could happen to her, at least in terms of bolstering her (near-zero) credibility as a progressive, but it’s the non-Bork part of the story that really jumps out at me:

Gerard Bradley, a Notre Dame law professor, and William Saunders, senior counsel of Americans United for Life, added that Kagan’s admiration of Thurgood Marshall – the first black Supreme Court justice – indicate she would bring pro-abortion rights views and a political agenda to the bench.

“No one would describe Justice Marshall as particularly analytically driven,” Bradley added. “They would describe him as a particularly politically driven justice.”

“We are concerned that [Kagan] is quite extreme on the abortion issue and that she would be an agenda driven judge,” Saunders said.

Because if there’s one thing conservatives can’t tolerate, it’s judges who issue rulings based on politics and ideology rather than impartial legal analysis.

Also, props to Politico for this little zinger at the end:

Tuesday, the New York City Bar Association rated Kagan as “highly qualified” according to their 140-year history of evaluating judicial nominees. The only candidate that they have not rated either “highly qualified” or “qualified” since 1987 was Robert Bork.

I still don’t want to see her on the Supreme Court, but that was a thing of beauty.

June 24th, 2010 at 07:33am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Irony Continues To Be Dead

It really is amazing the things Republicans can say with a straight face:

The two Republican senators afterward issued a statement promising to “treat the president’s nominee fairly” but warning against “a rush to judgment.” They set down markers for how they expect to debate the nomination once it is made.

“Judges must apply the Constitution and laws even-handedly,” they said. “They should not enter the courtroom with preconceived outcomes in mind, or work to arrive at the preferred result of any president or political party. A Supreme Court justice must not be a rubber stamp or policy arm for any administration.”

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  They must have their irony gland surgically removed or something.

April 22nd, 2010 at 11:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Politics,Quotes,Republicans

Obama Will Choose Who He Wants For Supreme Court

I know we’re supposed to read this as “Obama will choose a progressive because the GOP will obstruct him no matter what he does,” but I’m reading it as “Obama will choose a pro-corporate centrist because he likes pro-corporate centrists, not because he’s afraid of Republican obstruction.”  So if he makes a lousy pick, it’s because he wants to, not because he’s trying to placate the GOP.  (It’s like healthcare reform all over again…)

Also, this just cracked me right up:

The White House seems confident that because Democrats allowed votes on President George W. Bush’s nominees, the 41 Senate Republicans won’t stand in the way with the highly unusual judicial filibuster this year.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  Good luck with that, guys.

April 21st, 2010 at 06:17pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Obama,Politics,Republicans

At Least They’re Consistent

Texas Attorney General fights to prevent the dissolution of a marriage he doesn’t believe in in the first place:

After the joy of a wedding and the adoption of a baby came arguments that couldn’t be resolved, leading Angelique Naylor to file for divorce. That left her fighting both the woman she married in Massachusetts and the state of Texas, which says a union granted in a state where same-sex marriage is legal can’t be dissolved with a divorce in a state where it’s not.

A judge in Austin granted the divorce, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is appealing the decision. He also is appealing a divorce granted to a gay couple in Dallas, saying protecting the “traditional definition of marriage” means doing the same for divorce.

Bad enough that gays have been allowed to undermine the sanctity of traditional marriage, but now they want to undermine the sanctity of traditional divorce too?  This must not stand, man!

April 21st, 2010 at 11:31am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Teh Gay

Chart Of The Day

People For the American Way charts how many executive branch nominees have had to get through cloture votes over the last 60 years:

Obstruction

Tell me again about how shamelessly those terrible obstructionist Democrats used the filibuster against poor oppressed President Dubya and are simply getting their just due and comeuppance now.

March 17th, 2010 at 11:26am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Were You Aware Of It?

Apparently all Protestants are rich white guys.

Who knew?

March 11th, 2010 at 09:54pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Media,Racism,Religion,Republicans,Sexism,Wankers

Can Doctors Be “Disbarred”?

Looks like yesterday was Professional Misconduct Day on the NYT op-ed pages.

First, the torture doctors:

According to Justice Department memos released last year, the medical service opined that sleep deprivation up to 180 hours didn’t qualify as torture. It determined that confinement in a dark, small space for 18 hours a day was acceptable. It said detainees could be exposed to cold air or hosed down with cold water for up to two-thirds of the time it takes for hypothermia to set in. And it advised that placing a detainee in handcuffs attached by a chain to a ceiling, then forcing him to stand with his feet shackled to a bolt in the floor, “does not result in significant pain for the subject.”

(…)

The medical basis for these opinions was nonexistent. The Office of Medical Services cited no studies of individuals who had been subjected to these techniques. Its sources included a wilderness medical manual, the National Institute of Mental Health Web site and guidelines from the World Health Organization.

(…)

The shabbiness of the medical judgments, though, pales in comparison to the ethical breaches by the doctors and psychologists involved. Health professionals have a responsibility extending well beyond nonparticipation in torture; the historic maxim is, after all, “First do no harm.” These health professionals did the polar opposite.

Nevertheless, no agency — not the Pentagon, the C.I.A., state licensing boards or professional medical societies — has initiated any action to investigate, much less discipline, these individuals. They have ignored the gross and appalling violations by medical personnel. This is an unconscionable disservice to the thousands of ethical doctors and psychologists in the country’s service. It is not too late to begin investigations. They should start now.

And then the legal profession:

The Supreme Court has a chance to reinforce that fundamental protection in the case of Albert Holland. A Florida prisoner, he did everything he could to ensure that his lawyer filed his habeas corpus petition, which would allow the federal courts to review his state-court conviction for first-degree murder and other crimes.

He continually asked about it, and emphasized the importance of meeting the deadlines. The lawyer repeatedly assured Mr. Holland that he would take care of it, and then missed the habeas deadline. Mr. Holland was given a new lawyer, who argued that due to the first lawyer’s extreme negligence, the failure should be excused under “equitable tolling,” which allows for deadlines to be excused in the broader interests of justice.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit rejected the argument, ruling that even gross negligence by a lawyer does not provide a basis for equitable tolling. Unless there was “bad faith, dishonesty, divided loyalty, mental impairment,” or something of that magnitude, the court said, the deadline would stand.

Disgraceful behavior by Holland’s lawyer, and disgraceful behavior by the appeals court.  I don’t have high hopes for the Supreme Court, but I hope the criminally incompetent lawyer got disbarred (not holding my breath).  And any doctor who facilitated torture should be shunned and shamed, and never allowed to practice medicine ever again.

5 comments March 2nd, 2010 at 07:01am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Media,Prisoners,Terrorism,Torture,Wankers

Joe Reveals Himself

Hey, remember when NARAL endorsed Joe Lieberman in 2006, and even urged its members to thank him for voting against the Alito nomination, even though he voted for cloture?  Just in case anyone still believes that that nay vote actually meant something, well…

The pledge by Lieberman to oppose the [healthcare] bill represents a potentially huge setback for reform proponents, many of who saw the latest round of policy compromises as the last true chance to corral the needed votes. That said, leadership has several fallback options (none of them promising) should Lieberman follow through on the threat.

The first is to convince the senator to support Democrats in breaking a Republican filibuster before casting a vote against the bill. This would allow for the legislation to pass with Lieberman still registering his opposition. Lieberman, however, has said he considers the procedural vote to cut off debate to be of the same significance as a vote on the bill itself.

Just so you know.  Joe was against the filibuster before he was for it (and yes, he was a member of the Gang Of 14, too).

December 14th, 2009 at 09:03am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Healthcare,Judiciary,Lieberman,Politics,Wankers

Judicial Activism = Absence Of Conservative Judicial Activism

That’s really the only consistent definition that I can see in the Republicans’ usage of the term.  John McCain is the latest offender:

One day after he warned that Republicans have a “very, very deep hole that we’ve got to come out of” with Latino voters, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced that he would oppose the first Latina nominated to the nation’s highest court. Moreover, in his statement opposing Judge Sonia Sotomayor, McCain misrepresents his own record on judges:

Again and again, Judge Sotomayor seeks to amend the law to fit the circumstances of the case, thereby substituting herself in the role of a legislator. … To protect the equal, but separate roles of all three branches of government, I cannot support activist judges that seek to legislate from the bench. I have not supported such nominees in the past, and I cannot support such a nominee to the highest court in the land.

Despite his claim that he has never supported a judge who “seeks to amend the law to fit the circumstances of the case,” McCain voted in favor of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito; and he described both Roberts and Alito as “model judges” during the 2008 campaign….

[Insert Roberts, Alito, and Thomas' greatest hits here]

As a Yale Law School study published before Roberts and Alito joined the Supreme Court determined, Justice Thomas is the one justice who is most likely to vote to invalidate an Act of Congress — doing so a massive 65.63% of the time. The Court’s two Clinton appointees, Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, are the least likely to second-guess Congress.  So McCain has no problem with judges who “substitute [them]self in the role of a legislator;” he’s just upset that Sotomayor won’t push the same right-wing agenda as his favorite justices.

“Judicial activism” is transparently dishonest garbage, but I predict that Republicans will continue using it as an excuse to vote against moderate and progressive judges until roughly the end of time.

August 3rd, 2009 at 07:36pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Judiciary,McCain,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

The Wrong Basket

Digby wonders why the Republicans are going so hard after Sotomayor:

This is what I find inexplicable about Republican strategy. They knew before she was nominated that the person Obama named was 99% likely to be confirmed. They knew she was replacing a liberal on the court, so no harm no foul in terms of the balance on the court. And they know they have a problem with Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic in the country. Allowing a large margin to vote for Sotomayor would be an easy way to ease some of those tensions, buy some good will and provide some cover the next time the Democrats try to block a nominee, without having to actually do anything. It’s just good politics.

And yet they’ve gone out of their way to publicly sully the woman’s reputation and now are pulling every possible string to keep the vote as tight as possible, thereby reinforcing the notion that they hate Hispanics so much that they will do everything in their power, even when they are sure to lose, to keep one from the Supreme Court.

(…)

This is so politically obtuse that makes me wonder what in the hell these people are really worried about. It occurs to me that they are seeing something much more devastating in their numbers than just losing the Hispanic vote of the future. It seems they must be afraid of losing the white working class. Assuming they are behaving rationally (which is assuming a lot) the only logical reason they could have for ginning up all this racial animosity is if they feel the need to secure their base with the old tried and true racial resentment. If they were secure there, they could afford to be magnanimous toward Sotomayor in a situation that makes no substantial change in policy.

Of course, it could also just be that they are a bunch of sexist, racist bastards themselves and just can’t stand the idea of a woman of Puerto Rican extraction being in power. With these people it’s usually a good idea to apply Occam’s Razor and call it a day.

If doubling down on racism is an actual strategy, then it’s a very desperate and risky one.  They’re putting all their eggs in a basket which is shrinking.  Even if white people aren’t becoming less racist over time (and I’d like to think we are), their proportion of the electorate is getting smaller.  Winning the racist vote is going to be less and less valuable, and alienating the minority and non-racist vote is going to be more and more damaging.

So good luck clinging to that Southern Strategy, Republicans, even now that it’s becoming more anchor than life preserver.

August 3rd, 2009 at 07:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Politics,Racism,Republicans,Wankers

How Do They Say This Stuff With A Straight Face?

Lots of practice, I guess…

Bork, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan, also lashed out at the way Democrats conduct confirmation hearings.

“It’s quite true that the Democrats are willing to engage in furious attacks, often without any basis in fact, and Republicans are not,” he said.

“I don’t know if that’s a Republican virtue or Republican timidity. But I think the Republicans are either going to have to persuade the Democrats to quit that approach to confirmations, or take up the same kind of tactics themselves, which would be too bad.”

Those poor, innocent Republicans, once again victims of their own compulsion to play nice with those vicious cutthroat Democrats.  Makes me weep, it does.

July 17th, 2009 at 12:18pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Legal Fail

Okay, I am admittedly not a law-talking expert, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work this way…

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, asked if she would recuse herself from future gun control cases because she ruled in the past that the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment does not apply to state gun control laws.

Can anyone see where justices recusing themselves from cases involving issues where they had previously ruled might potentially cause some problems?

July 17th, 2009 at 08:12am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

The GOP’s Noble, Lonely Crusade

YouTube Preview Image

If there’s one thing Republicans in general, and Tom Tancredo in particular, hate, it’s bigoted intolerant racists:

Earlier this week, Tancredo declared her to be a “racist” who should be “disqualified” from serving on the bench.

This afternoon on CNN, he went further, attacking [Sonia Sotomayor's] affiliation with the National Council of La Raza as equivalent to being a member of the Ku Klux Klan:

TANCREDO: If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino — it’s a counterpart — a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that’s going to convince me and a lot of other people that it’s got nothing to do with race. Even though the logo of La Raza is “All for the race. Nothing for the rest.” What does that tell you?

SANCHEZ: Alright. We’re not talking about — we’re not talking about La Raza –

TANCREDO: She’s a member! She’s a member of La Raza!

You see, the only reason Republicans hate minorities and women and gays so much, is that minorities and women and gays all hate straight white men, and Republicans simply cannot abide that kind of intolerance.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, “La Raza” appears to be Spanish for “ACORN”:

The La Raza line is the latest right-wing attack on Sotomayor. Right-wing groups have been waging war against La Raza since the 2006 immigration rallies. Conservatives, including Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA), claim the group “supports racist groups calling for the secession of the western United States as a Hispanic-only homeland.” The right-wing blog Stop The ACLU calls La Raza “an anti-white extremist group.”

These attacks — promoted by Drudge — are only going to escalate. Of course, the characterizations are wildly false. La Raza is the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization that focuses on such nefarious issues as “civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health.” Used to these attacks, La Raza has a long fact-sheet debunking the unhinged claims of the right, including pointing out that “La Raza” translates as “the people,” not “the race,” as the right wing suggests.

Tancredo echoed a popular right-wing myth, claiming the group’s slogan is “All for the race, nothing for the rest.” When ThinkProgress asked a La Raza spokeswoman, she replied, “No. That’s very much incorrect.” In fact, the true slogan is “Strengthening America by promoting the advancement of Latino families.” A far cry from Tancredo’s egregiously false, race-based characterization.

May 28th, 2009 at 07:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Immigration,Judiciary,Racism,Republicans

Religious Right Tacking Left?

Wow, maybe the religious right is reading the New Testament after all:

The Southern Baptist Convention, the dominant religious voice of the South, has finally weighed in on the issue of waterboarding and other forms of torture.

Under no circumstances should they be permitted in this country.

(…)

There is no room for torture as part of the United States’ intelligence-gathering process, Richard Land said today. He also said he believes the practice known as “waterboarding” is torture and, as such, is unethical.

Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said there is no circumstance in which torture should be permissible in interrogations by U.S. officials, even if the authorities believe a prisoner has information that might involve national security.

“I don’t agree with the belief that we should use any means necessary to extract information,” said Land. “I believe there are absolutes. There are things we must never do under any circumstances.

“For me the ultimate test is: Could I, in good conscience, do whatever I am authorizing or condoning others to do? If not, then I must oppose the action. If I could not waterboard someone—and I couldn’t—then I must oppose its practice.”

(…)

“There are some things you should never do to another human being, no matter how horrific the things they have done. If you do so, you demean yourself to their level,” he said.

“Civilized countries should err on the side of caution. It does cost us something to play by different rules than our enemies, but it would cost us far more if we played by their rules,” Land concluded.

Torture is simply not Christian.  I don’t see how that’s even subject to debate, yet a supposedly devout Christian president gleefully indulged in it and then lied about it (also not Christian, BTW – I think there’s a Commandment or something), and millions of supposedly devout Christian Americans had no problem with it at all.

The religious right may even be coming around on Teh Scary Ghey:

In a move that will surprise gay activists and liberals, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, a top religious right groups, tells me that his organization has no problem with GOP Senator Jeff Sessions’ claim today that he’s open to a Supreme Court nominee with “gay tendencies.”

The spokesperson confirms the group won’t oppose a gay SCOTUS nominee over sexual orientation.

“We agree with Senator Sessions,” Bruce Hausknecht, a spokesperson for Focus on the Family, which is headed by James Dobson, told me a few minutes ago. “The issue is not their sexual orientation. It’s whether they are a good judge or not.”

Their sexual orientation “should never come up,” he continued. “It’s not even pertinent to the equation.”

(“Gay tendencies”???  WTF is that supposed to mean?)  John Aravosis doesn’t believe them, but points out that even if it is complete insincere bullshit, it’s still a pretty huge deal that Focus on the Family feels the need to pretend to be tolerant.

If the Christian right decides to start acting more, well, Christian, that can only be a good thing for everyone.  Except for the hate-based extreme right wing of the GOP, and marginalizing them would actually be very healthy  for the GOP as a whole.

2 comments May 8th, 2009 at 07:20am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Religion,Republicans,Teh Gay,Torture

A Modest Proposal

So, as I understand it, the Voting Rights Act may be in trouble:

[T]he Voting Rights Act… among other things, requires a federal judge or the Department of Justice to “pre-clear” any changes to voting procedures in parts of the country that have a history of excluding voters on the basis of race.  White racists who try to exclude minorities as minorities have to justify their decision to do so, and their plans are frequently thwarted by the good folks in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

If early reports from yesterday’s oral arguments in the Supreme Court are accurate, however, that may soon be changing.  Apparently, the five conservative justices are upset that the Voting Rights Act singles out a handful of largely southern states, while allowing states like Michigan and California to escape supervision under the pre-clearance provisions—so they look ready to strike the whole thing down.

If the problem is that southern states are being singled out when there are racists everywhere, how is that an argument for eliminating the VRA entirely?  If the conservative justices are so worried that northern racists are getting away with murder, then why not simply expand the pre-clearance requirement to all states?  I mean, their objective is to eliminate racially discriminatory election laws, right?

Right?

5 comments April 30th, 2009 at 10:56pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Elections,Judiciary,Politics,Racism,Republicans

Correlation & Causation

Apparently the American Bar Association has a liberal bias:

The bar association is, after all, a private trade association, not an arm of the government. It takes public and generally liberal positions on all sorts of divisive issues. And studies suggest that candidates nominated by Democratic presidents fare better in the group’s ratings than those nominated by Republicans.

I’m sure that couldn’t possibly be because Republican presidents are more likely to nominate ideological hacks, nooo.

March 30th, 2009 at 10:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Judiciary,Media,Republicans

Less Compassionate Than Bush

I didn’t think that was even possible:

If Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of Texas’ highest criminal court, has ever doubted her judgment, she has not shown it.

In 1998, Judge Keller wrote the opinion rejecting a new trial for Roy Criner, a mentally retarded man convicted of rape and murder, even though DNA tests after his trial showed that it was not his semen in the victim.

“We can’t give new trials to everyone who establishes, after conviction, that they might be innocent,” she later told the television news program “Frontline.” “We would have no finality in the criminal justice system, and finality is important.”

Oh, God forbid we should give people new trials just because they might be innocent.  What a horrible travesty of justice that would be.

Gov. George W. Bush eventually pardoned Mr. Criner.

Look, when even Dubya, the guy who mocked a condemned woman, is more merciful than you are, it’s time to take a good, long look at yourself.

But wait, there’s more:

Seventeen months ago, lawyers for a man facing execution sought extra time to file a last-minute appeal. Judge Keller refused to delay the closing of her clerk’s office past 5 p.m., even though late filings are common on the day of a scheduled execution. The man, Michael Richard, was put to death by lethal injection a few hours later.

Based on that case, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct last month charged Judge Keller with incompetence, violating her duties and casting public discredit on the judiciary. Judge Keller, who has been the chief judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals since 2000, faces a public trial and could be forced off the bench.

Her lawyer insists that she did nothing wrong and that she was being blamed for the mistakes of the defendant’s lawyers and court staff.

Tell me again about the Republican “culture of life”?  This woman is as pro-death as it gets.

1 comment March 7th, 2009 at 08:29pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Judiciary,Quotes,Republicans,Wankers

Insane Wingnut Quote Of The Day

Diaper Dave Vitter:

After quoting comments from President Obama suggesting that he’d like his judicial nominees to be able to empathize with the downtrodden, Vitter declared that demanding empathy in a judge was something you’d expect in a “dictatorship.”

Because if there’s one thing I totally associate with dictatorships, it’s empathetic judges.

(f/t Attaturk)

February 12th, 2009 at 08:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Politics,Quotes,Republicans,Wankers

Thank You, L.A.!

For not electing an insane white supremacist to the judiciary.

Or Richard Nixon.

(h/t kirk murphy)

June 4th, 2008 at 11:17am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Judiciary,Racism,Republicans

Just What L.A. Needs…

Oh. My. God.

If you ever just pick a judicial candidate randomly at the polling place– I mean who really knows one from the other, right– I hope that after you read this, you’ll never do it again. On page 7 of the Los Angeles “Official Sample Ballot” for next Tuesday’s primary is a race for Judge of the Superior Court (Office number 125). The contest hasn’t gotten any publicity. But I want you to read this:

“No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race, in whom there is no ascertainable trace of Negro blood, nor more than one-eighth Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood, provided that Hispanic whites, defined as anyone with an Hispanic ancestor, may be citizens if, in addition to meeting the aforesaid ascertainable trace and percentage tests, they are in appearance indistinguishable from Americans whose ancestral home is in the British Isles or Northwestern Europe. Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States.”

The man who wrote that– a proposed constitutional amendment– is asking for our votes for the Superior Court. His name– well he has many names– is Bill Johnson. He also goes by the names William Daniel Johnson, Daniel Johnson and James O. Pace. He’s an attorney, a Mormon, and, as you may have concluded, a white supremacist (and Ron Paulista). The paragraph comes from his 1985 book, Amendment to the Constitution– Averting The Decline And Fall Of America in which he urges the repeal of the 14th (which defines citizenship as well as due process and equal protection under the law) and 15th (which guarantees voting rights for all citizens) Amendments. He advocates deporting tens of millions of Americans within one year. That would include… well, read his little amendment again. American Indians, Eskimos, Hawaiians won’t be citizens but they’ll have to live on reservations.

(…)

This isn’t Johnson’s first bid for elective office. When Dick Cheney resigned from Congress to become Secretary of Defense in 1989, Johnson ran for his House seat in Wyoming. He didn’t win although a GOP front group publication, All the Way, strongly backed him.

The strongest pro-majority campaign in the nation is mounting here with far-reaching implications. Congressional candidate Daniel Johnson is being blasted as a ‘white supremacist’ because he favors repatriating non-whites to Africa and scrapping affirmative action programs.

People can be so unfair sometimes.

Aside from being active in Ron Paul’s campaign, he is also a Minuteman activist and exactly the kind of person made to feel empowered by CNN resident xenophobe Lou Dobbs. Johnson’s campaign manager, Holly Clearman is also state coordinator for the Ron Paul for President campaign and is herself is a candidate for the Republican L.A. County Central Committee. They are counting on Paulistas to put him over the top. Fortunately, there are legal community newspapers that actually do the research on judicial candidates. In L.A. we have the Metropolitan News Enterprise, which dug up a lot of the facts on Johnson’s multiple identities.

Oops, looks like Paul withdrew his endorsement, but it might be (conveniently) a little late.

Um, if you’re in L.A., please don’t vote for the crazy racist man, and tell all your hip L.A. friends not to vote for him either.

1 comment May 29th, 2008 at 11:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Elections,Judiciary,Racism,Republicans

The #1 Reason We Need A Democratic President

Judiciary, Judiciary, Judiciary.

Al Kamen provides some perspective on just how imbalanced the courts are right now, and how much worse SCOTUS could be four years from now if McCain becomes president:

The next president will find the federal bench solidly controlled by the GOP, with about 100 Republicans in appeals court seats, compared with approximately 66 Democrats. Republicans have a 56 percent majority at the trial court level.

At least for the first couple of years, [the next president] would probably find the number of Republican retirees far outnumbering Democrats. Forty-six of the 53 longest-serving appeals judges are GOP appointees. [A Democratic president] would have a golden opportunity to replace them with liberal court-abusers. McCain, at least for a chunk of his first term, would only be treading water.

(…)

But there would be a huge silver lining for President McCain. He might have the chance to solidify GOP control of the big prize, the Supreme Court, for many years to come. The senior liberal, Justice John Paul Stevens, just turned 88, although he’s still golfing and, we hear, maybe playing a little tennis.

A second liberal opening might come from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 75. McCain also might be able to replace conservative justices Antonin Scalia, 72, and Anthony Kennedy, 71, with younger Republicans. If everything worked out, McCain could create a court with a seven-member conservative majority whose oldest member would be Clarence Thomas, who turns 60 next month.

More...Every Democrat and progressive should be scared to death by this possibility.  Even if McCain were held to a single term, followed by the Democrats hammerlocking the White House and the Congress for the next 30 years, they could still be overruled at every turn by an unabashedly right-wing Supreme Court, with absolutely no recourse. Roe v. Wade: gone.  Affirmative action: gone.  Employee protections against discrimination, abuse, injury and death: gone.

Any questions on campaign finance, voting rights, or electronic voting machines would be decided in favor of the GOP.  But torture would be okay, just so long as the victims haven’t been convicted of anything.

And that’s just what IWANAL (I Who Am Not A Lawyer) can think of off the top of my head.  I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of what kind of havoc an all-wingnut Supreme Court could wreak.

But if, God forbid, John McCain does become president, I have two specific requests to make of Senate Democrats that might hopefully reduce the damage a little bit:

1) Please remember that judgeships are lifetime appointments, so don’t worry about comity or deference to presidential prerogative.  If you screw up, we all have to live with it for the next 30 or 40 years.  (I feel obliged to point out that life expectancy is quite a bit longer now than it was when the Constitution was written…)

2) Place more weight on the nominee’s judicial history and less weight on their evasive-at-best-dishonest-at-worst responses to your questions.  If they’ve been a right-wing judge all their life, that’s not going to change when they get a promotion.

Yeah, we’d still have a conservative judiciary, but at least some of those judges would choose the law over ideology every once in a while.

(h/t Peterr & dakine)

1 comment May 9th, 2008 at 08:28pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Democrats,Elections,Judiciary,McCain,Politics

For Those Of You Who Refuse To Vote For Obama (Or Hillary) In November

Just a little helpful reminder:

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Tuesday he would appoint judges in the mold of conservatives John Roberts, Samuel Alito and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist if he were elected in November.

In an excerpt from a speech McCain was to give in Winston-Salem on Tuesday, the Arizona senator said he would “look for accomplished men and women with a proven record of excellence in the law, and a proven commitment to judicial restraint.”

“I will look for people in the cast of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and my friend the late William Rehnquist — jurists of the highest caliber who know their own minds, and know the law, and know the difference,” McCain said.

John Paul Stevens would be 92 at the end of President McCain’s first term, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg would be 79.  So if you like the idea of having wingnuts solidly in control of the Supreme Court for the next 20-30 years, then by all means, stay home or vote for McCain on Election Day.

May 6th, 2008 at 11:35am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans

After The Lovings

Another American hero gone:

Mildred Loving was a black woman who married a white man in Virginia, which was against the law in the state. She took her case all the way up to the Supreme Court, which struck down interracial marriage bans in the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision. Today it was announced that she has died at the age of 68. But what her AP obituary doesn’t mention—hopefully others will correct the oversight—is that last year Mildred Loving came out foursquare for marriage equality for same-sex couples as well, and insisted you should, too. Here was her statement:

We didn’t get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there
because the government wouldn’t allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we
grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and
build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that
time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who
should marry whom.

When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no
intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and
lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what
marriage is?

Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own
bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong
kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed.

The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared:
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed
them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there
would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.

We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a
cause. We were fighting for our love.

Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn’t have to fight alone.
Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and
so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the
freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the
Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized
as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free
men,” a “basic civil right.”

(…)

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that
I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to
have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the
“wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no
matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over
others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court
case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so
many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the
freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Two things jump out at me here:

1) Mildred Loving is awesome, and she recognizes that prohibiting same-sex marriages now is the same kind of injustice as preventing mixed-race marriages was then.

2) Since when is “God created the races separate” any kind of recognizable or acceptable legal argument?  I thought our system of law was supposed to be based on the Constitution and not the Bible.  I wish there were a way to remove judges when they demonstrate themselves to be manifestly unqualified or unfit for their positions.

2 comments May 5th, 2008 at 09:31pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Judiciary,Racism,Religion,Republicans,Teh Gay

Libby Judge Misses Signal

Dubya was sending a message all right, but not the one Reggie Walton thinks:

When President Bush erased the prison term of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, he reinforced some Americans’ perception that status can affect justice, according to the judge who sentenced Libby.

(…)

Walton, whom Bush nominated to the District of Columbia bench, acknowledged Tuesday that Bush’s decision was part of the system, but he also said it fed some people’s notion that justice isn’t equal.

(…)

“The downside is there are a lot of people in America who think that justice is determined to a large degree by who you are and that what you have plays a large role in what kind of justice you receive. . . . It is crucial that the American public respect the rule of law, or people won’t follow it.”

That was not the message Dubya sent at all (besides, it’s not like anyone needed him to spell it out for them).  No, his message was that if you break the law on his behalf, he’ll see to it that you’re untouchable.

If it’s not a pardon, it’s the all-purpose handy-dandy shield of Executive Privilege, or State Secrets.  Even if they’re completely groundless, they can be used to drag the congressional investigation process out until the Democrats give up and the public forgets, or until the next president takes office. (Yes, I’m assuming that that will be Congress’s cue to drop all pending investigations – you got a problem with that?)

So if he ever asks you to break the law for him, you should totally do it ‘cuz he’s got your back.  Too bad he’s having trouble getting Congress to help out his telecom buddies…

(h/t Twolf)

3 comments April 30th, 2008 at 11:10pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Corruption/Cronyism,Judiciary,Libby/Plame

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