Archive for Justice


Maybe they’ll have to drink the water?

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MichMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder has even more legal trouble coming his way:

A federal racketeering lawsuit by hundreds of resident in Flint, Michigan, is alleging the city’s two-year water crisis was the result of an“intentional scheme” crafted by state officials and Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, to balance the city’s budget.

In a press conference announcing the 17-count racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (Rico) complaint on Wednesday, attorneys said the state of Michigan ran Flint’s day-to-day operations through an emergency manager, who prioritized balancing the city’s budget through a cost-cutting measure: switching Flint’s water source in April 2014 from Lake Huron, which serviced the city for more than 50 years, to a local river.

With adults and children essentially poisoned by lead, a neurotoxin, the damages could go on “for generations,” said attorneys about the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Flint.

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Categories : Justice, National, Water
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‘Moral Revolution’ tour kicks off in NYC

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When Rev. William J. Barber II spoke at Netroots-Detroit in 2014, no one left the hall. The man is riveting. All the more so because he is right—in the moral sense of the word. Barber, North Carolina’s NAACP state chair and Moral Mondays organizer, is taking his moral message on the road. And with a little more fire under him after the state legislature passed on March 23 the now-infamous HB2 law targeting not just the LGBT community, but citizens’ ability to sue employers over discrimination and cities’ ability to pass their own anti-discrimination ordinances. He began a 15-state tour yesterday in New York City:

The leader of the “Moral Mondays” movement and a prominent New York minister are joining forces for a 15-state “moral revolution” tour to counter the nation’s conservative voices.

Barber told a March 28 press conference:

“Far too much of our national political discourse and activity has been poisoned by the dominance of regressive, immoral and hateful policies directed toward communities of color, the poor, the sick, our children, immigrants, women, voting rights, environment and religious minorities,” said Barber, who founded the Moral Monday movement. “Our country is in need of a revolution of moral values to champion the sacred values of love, justice and mercy in the public square.”

An email announcing the Sunday kickoff spoke to the tour’s goals:

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Categories : Action, Justice, National, News
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NC’s HB2: Is it getting hot in here?

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House Bill 2 (HB2), North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law is drawing lots of fire from inside and outside the state. New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and West Palm Beach have banned travel to North Carolina for their employees. Apple, Biogen, PayPal, IBM, and the NBA have condemned the law. Plus Dow Chemical, Google, Bayer, the NCAA, and others. The press center for the annual High Point furniture trade show announced Monday that “dozens of customers have contacted the High Point Market Authority to inform us that they have cancelled plans to attend the Market in April due to passage of HB2.”

Yesterday, former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr. criticized HB2 as “inappropriate, unnecessary legislation that will hurt North Carolina.” The Charlotte-based Bank of America was a major player in the financial crisis in 2008, but still figures prominently among the state’s employers. McColl’s criticism will not help McCrory, Charlotte’s former mayor.

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Cracked: FBI drops Apple case

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Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik arrive in Chicago on July 27, 2014. U.S. Government

Richard Clark said the FBI really did not need Apple’s help to break into the San Bernadino shooter’s iPhone. The former U.S. counterterrorism official and security adviser to the White House told NPR he believed the NSA could do it, no problem, but that the FBI was “not as interested in solving the problem as they are in getting a legal precedent.” Edward Snowden said the same via Twitter.

The FBI just proved them right (the Guardian):

The US government dropped its court fight against Apple after the FBI successfully pulled data from the iPhone of San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook, according to court records.

The development effectively ended a six-week legal battle poised to shape digital privacy for years to come. Instead, Silicon Valley and Washington are poised to return to a simmering cold war over the balance between privacy and law enforcement in the age of apps.

Justice Department lawyers wrote in a court filing Monday evening that they no longer needed Apple’s help in getting around the security countermeasures on Farook’s device.

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Categories : Justice, National, Privacy
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The new nullification

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George Cruikshank illustration from "Oliver Twist," 1911 edition

George Cruikshank illustration from “Oliver Twist,” 1911 edition

The M.O. of the extremist Republican Party: find the lines, cross them, dare people to push them back. Courts have. So now the GOP is going after the courts.

The new nullification expands on the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Republicans now claim the right to preemptively void any legal decisions they might not like. Rejecting President Obama’s yet-unnamed pick for the U.S. Supreme Court, for example. On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned Judicial Committee colleagues that they were redrawing the lines and setting a precedent, a new normal that will cut both ways.

Senate Republicans have stonewalled Obama’s other judicial appointments. Republicans have refused to hold confirmation votes on presidential nominees to federal agencies they would like abolished. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee wants states to be able to effectively nullify Supreme Court rulings he doesn’t like. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas proposes amendments to the U.S. Constitution that would allow two-thirds of the states to override a U.S. Supreme Court decision or a federal law or regulation they don’t like. As Iowa’s 2014 Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Joni Ernst told the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.” Don’t even think about it.

What’s not the matter with Kansas?

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Gotta love Notorious RBG

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350z33 at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0
or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

The women on the U.S. Supreme Court had a bit of a field day when the Texas abortion case of Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt came before the court yesterday. The 2013 Texas law at issue requires clinics offering abortion services to meet standards set for ambulatory surgical centers. In addition, it requires doctors performing those abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Hannah Levintova at Mother Jones sets the stage:

The Texas health department argues that these provisions are necessary to protect women’s health—a standard that was established in 1992 in Casey as a legitimate reason for states to pass abortion restrictions. Casey also established, however, that the state’s interest in women’s health has to be weighed against whether an abortion law would place an “undue burden” on women seeking abortion care. This is where the plaintiff’s argument lies. Whole Woman’s Health, which runs three abortion clinics in Texas, argues that the burdens on women created by HB 2—clinic closures across the state that have forced thousands of women to travel hundreds of miles for abortion care—far outweigh any interest in protection of women’s health that Texas has. They point to many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, that have said ambulatory surgical facilities and admitting-privileges requirements are not necessary to provide safe abortion care.

Dahliah Lithwick takes up the narrative as Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor question Stephanie Toti who argued on behalf of the Texas clinics:

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Preemptive rejection? Bucket!

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Does anyone imagine that if a Republican president were residing in the White House, prominent Republicans would insist that he abdicate his responsibility to the next president to appoint a replacement for a Supreme Court justice? But insisting a Democrat must is what passes for a principled stand in today’s Republican Party. One Republican rule set when they hold power; another Republican rule set when Democrats do. They who used to accuse the left of relativism have come to embrace it. Proudly. As Richard Nixon did in saying, “Flexibility is the first principle of politics.”

Steve Benen points out how Republicans responded within minutes of notice of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death by challenging the very legitimacy of the president’s authority to nominate Scalia’s replacement:

The GOP majority … has embraced a course that corrupts the process with a showdown unlike anything seen in the modern era. The high court vacancy must remain unfilled for at least 11 months, they say, regardless of the consequences, all because of the unbridled disgust Republicans have for President Obama.

Indeed, to further their obviously ridiculous case, GOP senators have even begun making up rules that didn’t exist before the weekend…

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Warren (2)Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren brushed off liberal efforts last year to get her to run for president in 2016. It is not hard to guess why. For one, she is smart enough to know that at this point she lacks the depth — especially in foreign policy — to do the job well. (After a quarter century in Congress, Bernie Sanders struggled with foreign policy in the Democratic debate last night.) Second, if she stays in the Senate, Warren can be a thorn in the side of all the right people as an advocate for working Americans for a couple of decades. It’s what she does. She’s very good at it. And it’s fun watching Elizabeth Warren do what she is so good at.

In an interview with The Nation, Warren spoke again about the “rigged game” in Washington. In particular, the bipartisan effort to reform sentencing laws that some Republicans are using the bill as a means of protecting corporate criminals from even the nearly nonexistent prosecutions to which they are now exposed. On the floor of the Senate, Warren said,

[F]or these Republicans, the price of helping out people unjustly locked up in jail for years will be to make it even harder to lock up a white-collar criminal for even a single day. That is shameful, shameful. It’s shameful because we’re already way too easy on corporate lawbreakers.

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Categories : Corruption, Justice, National
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Elizabeth Warren: Two Legal Systems

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Thank you. Thank you.

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Elizabeth Warren indicts “shockingly weak” enforcement

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Photo by Tim Pierce (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
(],via Wikimedia Commons.

If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie. – from Rigged Justice

In the first of what she promises will be annual reports on enforcement, Sen. Elizabeth Warren this morning released Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy. Calling the Obama administration’s enforcement against corporate criminals “feeble,” Warren’s report cites 20 criminal and civil cases from 2015 in which authorities punished corporate crimes – where they were enforced at all – with a slap on the wrist. Prosecutors took only one of these cases to trial. She follows up with an op-ed in the New York Times, writing, “These enforcement failures demean our principles.” The report begins:

Much of the public and media attention on Washington focuses on enacting laws. And strong laws are important – prosecutors must have the statutory tools they need to hold corporate criminals accountable.  But putting a law on the books is only the first step.  The second, and equally important, step is enforcing that law.  A law that is not enforced – or weakly enforced – may as well not even be a law at all.

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