Archive for the 'Legal' Category

How does concern about sex predators turn into this?

Sep 22, 2009 in Legal

Arresting and stigmatizing kids who have sex:

It takes so little for this happen to a child. A girl in school has oral sex with a boy in school. She becomes a sex offender for the rest of her life. Streaking a school event, as a practical joke, becomes a sex crime in the new America. Two kids “moon” a passerby and are incarcerated in jail as sex offenders, where they may well learn a lesson or two about rape. A teenager, who takes a sexy of photo of him, or herself, is paraded around the community as a “child pornographer” for the rest of his or her life. Two kids in the back seat of a car have fumbling sex. The law says one is an offender because the other is a “victim.” One week later, a birthday passes, and it is no longer a crime. One week’s difference and a life is ruined. In other cases an act that is legal on Monday is illegal on Tuesday because the older of the two turned one year older. That becomes enough to qualify him, or her, as an offender.

I’m sure rightwing puritanism has nothing to do with this, and Republicans can join Democrats in repealing this insane criminalization of youth.

-jb

Activist judges legislatin’ from the bench!

Jul 01, 2009 in Legal

It’s Okay If You’re A Republican..

Republicans really have no judicial philosophy whatsoever. They’ve been repeating the phrases “activist judges!” and “legislating from the bench!” for years to protest decisions they hate for visceral, emotional reasons, primarily any regarding abortion or gay rights. Does anybody honestly think they’d care if the Constitution explicitly spelled out such rights? Of course not. They toss out the 9th Amendment and claim the Constitution to be an exhaustive, complete list of our rights in order to fight abortion and gay marriage, along with any other rights that interfere with their mission to control how you live your life. And it’s not exactly like they’re applying much seriousness to interpreting the Bible either in these hateful, soulless quests. They speak for effect, always.

Republican judges go wherever the hell their personal feelings and opinions guide them (being members of the human species faced with ambiguities), and if it requires being activist and legislating from the bench, then by Jeebus that’s what they’ll do. Odds are they don’t even realize they’re violating their own standards, because such standards don’t truly exist.

And if they do, they sure hope people don’t notice.

-jb

Judicial conservatism.

May 04, 2009 in Legal

Souter, like many a conservative judge, was labeled liberal because his rulings didn’t conform to the dreamwishes of rightwing activists. TNR makes the point that just because his rulings had a liberal result doesn’t mean he wasn’t conservative in interpreting the law.

From 1953, when Earl Warren joined the Supreme Court, until well into the 1970s, the Supreme Court issued one liberal opinion after another–opinions that enhanced protections for criminal suspects, took the government out of American bedrooms, demanded an end to segregation, insisted on equal protection for women, and identified and enforced a woman’s right to choose abortion.

Asking the Supreme Court to overrule these decisions is anything but judicially conservative–it’s downright radical. And when the judicially conservative David Souter was asked to toe the movement line, he insisted on a very conservative response: No. He alone stood for judicially conservative values, insisting on maintaining and supporting the Court’s own doctrine and decisions. He stood by stare decisis.

What the right wants is activist judges for their pet causes like abortion, gay rights, and Christian supremacy. Time and time again, it is revealed that they have no real sound Constitutional philosophy. Their two central tenets are that rights not enumerated in the Constitution do not exist (violating the 9th amendment) and that if people don’t want (by a slim majority) something like abortion or gay marriage legal, then the court shouldn’t overrule them, a rule somehow summarized in the sentence, “Things that make James Dobson mad are more important than the stupid Constitution.”

-jb

The long game?

Apr 14, 2009 in Barack Obama, Glenn Greenwald, Legal, War Crimes

Glenn Greenwald sizes up the liberal consensus against Obama on unlawful imprisonment. It’s brutal. Greenwald should keep up the pressure.

But there are dissenters among liberals and others concerned about habeus corpus. Obama plays the long game, they say, and his critics often speak too soon. Procedural hurdles may be the culprit as the Obama administration takes some time to assess each prisoner on hand. I don’t suggest this as an excuse to be forgotten later: I intend to acknowledge greater blame for Obama as time progresses. Six months from now I’ll have a much harder time believing they’re still working on it. A year? Please, give Obama credit for knowing that line won’t work then.

By no means, however, should we be ambiguous with President Obama about what answer we expect.

-jb

Drawing a line in the sand.

Feb 12, 2008 in Constitution, Corporate shenanigans, Disappointing Dems, Glenn Greenwald, Legal, Politics, Where's the outrage?!?!

Harry Reid, Jay Rockefeller, and 12 Democrats make it more than clear that having a (D) next to your name is never a guarantee that you will stand up for the Constitution, or that you won’t stand against it. Glenn Greenwald laments:

That’s really the most extraordinary aspect of all of this, if one really thinks about it — it isn’t merely that the Democratic Senate failed to investigate or bring about accountability for the clearest and more brazen acts of lawbreaking in the Bush administration, although that is true. Far beyond that, once in power, they are eagerly and aggressively taking affirmative steps — extraordinary steps — to protect Bush officials. While still knowing virtually nothing about what they did, they are acting to legalize Bush’s illegal spying programs and put an end to all pending investigations and efforts to uncover what happened.

Just tell me how a Republican congress could have delivered a better result for Bush. When it came time to answer the question of whether or not we were going to become a surveillance state for good, enough Democrats crossed over to show that liberals are still a minority, and that “conservative” means “authoritarian” today. And then we have those scared independents and spineless politicians who refuse to believe that standing up for founding principles is a career-maker. They understand the Constitutional arguments, and then they wake up in a cold sweat from nightmares in which Republican ads accuse them of loving Osama bin Laden more than Jesus.

We must face the truth: Bush has scored a complete slam dunk on nearly every consolidation of his authority he has attempted. What he has not been able to carry out on his own, he has gotten the support of Congress to finish. Fear has won.

Is it any wonder that people see Obama as an antidote, a catalyst who could enable a resurrection of the Constitution? Every grassroots organization left or right should put the task in front of Obama from day one: renounce the unitary executive and reverse every presidential order from Bush that remotely relates to the concept. That’s just for starters. But I think Obama, more than Clinton or McCain, would be the president most likely to be swayed by the people’s call for a return to accountability. I don’t think with the other two there is even a glimmer of hope that the authority of the president will loosen.

-jb

If you aren’t outraged by this, don’t ever claim you have libertarian or Constitutionalist principles.

Feb 03, 2008 in Legal

I personally can’t wait for Dana Pico’s comment that he approves of this.

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Of course, this has nothing to do legally with George W. Bush’s torture policies. In fact it’s clearly illegal and these cops don’t stand a chance in court. Yet one must wonder if the fact that today’s Bush-led GOP has decided torture is great influenced these police officers, who have turned from defenders of the peace to bullies of the peaceful. If a valuable social purpose was fulfilled by reporting to the scene of an assault and taking the victim back to the police station to further assault her in a manner far worse, then I simply don’t see it, and I don’t think most people do either.

I’ve generally done a good job of avoiding negative encounters with police officers, and try to be as polite and civil to them as possible. When I meet a police officer, I look at them as a fellow American doing a public service, and treat them with the same politeness I afford everybody else I meet. But I can personally attest that if you get arrested, “Innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t mean jack fucking shit to some cops. You keep your mouth shut and walk in a straight line because they let you know straight up front that you’re nothing but maggot scum to them, they don’t care what the hell you got brought in for, and they sure as hell don’t give a rat’s ass whether you’re innocent or not.

I will continue to believe most lawmen are civilized and judicious in their use of authority and power, but there is a problem, and it is systemic.

-jb

p.s. last portion in italics was added after the blog entry was published.

George Bush’s Department of Injustice.

Jan 29, 2008 in Legal, Politics

Way too much weight is given to Iraq when people describe why George W. Bush has been a failure as a president. People say, “Well, if only we were victorious in Iraq Bush would be just fine!”

The government agency that enforces one of the principal laws aimed at keeping politics out of the civil service has accused the Justice Department of blocking its investigation into alleged politicizing of the department under former Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales.

Scott J. Bloch, head of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, wrote Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey last week that the department had repeatedly “impeded” his investigation by refusing to share documents and provide answers to written questions, according to a copy of Bloch’s letter obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The Justice Department wants Bloch to wait until its own internal investigation is completed. A department official signaled recently that the investigation is examining the possibility of criminal charges.

But that, the regulator wrote, could take until the last months of the Bush administration, “when there is little hope of any corrective measures or discipline possible” being taken by his office.

No. The lesson of Bush’s presidency is that yes, a president can be so corrupt and incompetent that he ruins not just the country he invaded, but the one he was elected to serve. Bush’s reverse Midas Touch turns everything he touches into shit while he looks for a parachute to escape this plunging 757 of a country.

And yes, such a president can and does enjoy majority support within the Republican party.

-jb

Corporations and Government unite against the people.

Dec 19, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Corporate shenanigans, Drugs, Legal, Politics, War on Terra, Where's the outrage?!?!

One of the virtues of fascism is that corporations are easily integrated into the system. Corporations have the power to streamline and lubricate the mechanics of tyranny, privatizing what the government cannot get away with itself. If the government itself goes awry, watch out. One way the government always goes awry is through gradual mission creep and erosion of civilian protections. Crooks and Liars looks at an NYT article about how Bush’s surveillance state will inevitably spread beyond terrorism-related cases and become standard police procedure against U.S. citizens. The most obvious point-of-entry? The failed War on Drugs.

This article has exposed even more Bush administration lies and confirmed what many of us have suspected for some time. It’s not all about international terrorism. It appears the programs are being used for domestic crime fighting and there are more companies involved with the programs than previously revealed — and the programs include capturing data that is strictly domestic. In other words, the very core of our judicial system appears to have been thrown out the window and we still have no idea how bad things really are.

“What, me worry?” being the refrain of the right, I find it impossible to secure them any sympathy.

-jb

Mukasey walks right in and erects a stone wall.

Dec 14, 2007 in Constitution, Disappointing Dems, Legal, Politics, Where's the outrage?!?!

Wow. Democrats are really experts at getting suckered by George Bush. Hell, they knew Gonzalez was dirty before he got the job. Mukasey? Seemed like a perfect gentleman!

Then, of course, Mukasey walks through the front door and throws up a firewall. Here’s a passage of unbearable irony:

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today sharply rebuffed congressional demands for details about the Justice Department’s inquiry into the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, saying that providing such information would make it appear that the department was “subject to political influence.”

Oh, how you averted that appearance, Mukasey. Being a hack to avoid looking like a hack, is it?

The Department of Justice is on life support here. Its integrity is our government’s integrity. It’s our government’s promise to call it fair and square for the honest citizen. What part of “justice” do they not understand?

-jb

Dark Secrets

Nov 07, 2007 in Foreign Policy, Legal, National Security, Racism, Straight-up madness, War Crimes, War on Terra, Where's the outrage?!?!, WTF?

If a person gets tortured, but no one sees or hears him, did he really get tortured?

Stephen Gray, and independent British journalist has a very intriguing documentary,that will be aired on PBS.   The documentary is called “Extraordinary Rendition”.  He interviews some of the victims of rendition, all carried out by the CIA.

Up until now we have heard that our gov’t has been outsourcing torture. That it’s not really Americans who are doing it, that they hand the victims over to authorities in countries where torture is common. However:

The dark prison was run by the Americans,” a former inmate, Bisher al-Rawi, tells Grey. “It wasn’t Afghani people flying the aircraft, it wasn’t Afghani people who sort of shackled me and did whatever they did to me. It was Americans.”

Although some of the victims of Rendition are genuine suspects of terrorism, there are countless who are not.  The most famous being Maher Arar, the Syrian Canadian programmer, who was deported to Syria and tortured and then released without explanation or any charges against him.
Amy Goodman interviewed him yesterday about this documentary.

This is what he told her after he had interviewed a victim of rendition in Egypt who was also released without explanation or any charges:

And he also leaves behind dozens of people that he says are still in Egyptian jail, and they all wear a white uniform. The uniform says “interrogation” on it. And that means they haven’t been charged with anything. They are still there, held in secret, without access to any lawyers, and they’re held indefinitely. And they’re all people who have been sent there by the CIA in the rendition program.

If you live in an area where PBS does not air, or if they aren’t airing this program it will be available on their website later this week.

I am really interested in seeing how NeoCons defend this. I guess the same way they defend the Patriot Act and other erosion of our civil liberties…

If anyone saw it when it aired, please leave your comments, I’d love to hear about it.  I missed it.

-aa

That said, I must concur…

Aug 30, 2007 in Legal, Politics

…I agree, I also don’t think what Larry Craig did should be a crime.

What the man did was engage in a series of secret codes devised by gay men to find other gay men, secretly, so as not to arouse (pun slightly intended, homophobic men get bigger boners watching gay porn than straight men do) the ire of a guy who isn’t interested in chowing down on some sausage. You tap your shoe, and you wait to see if the other guy taps his shoe. You move your foot closer, he moves his foot closer. This little dance continues until both men are, quite willingly, bumping and grinding in a stall.

Now, doing manly buttsex in a bathroom stall is certainly something that should probably net you a fine. But the officer was returning some of the signals to Craig in order to get him to the point where Craig was giving the hand signal. A straight man wouldn’t even consider doing such a thing, being extremely unlikely to be in on the code. Hell, I’m extensively familiar with gay culture, and this system of restroom cruising was complete news to me. I would never have understood what a tapping foot was to mean. However, who says the sex has to happen in the bathroom? Perhaps one man then follows the other to another location. Without expression of intent to fuck in the bathroom, the cop is really sitting on (no pun intended that time) nothing other than some dirty flirting.

It was definitely an overreach of unnecessary police power…but it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.

-jb

How did we let talk of equality get into the Iowa Constitution?

Aug 30, 2007 in Legal, teh gay

A small victory for equality in Iowa, sure to inflame those against it:

A Polk County judge on Thursday struck down Iowa’s law banning gay marriage.

The ruling by Judge Robert Hanson concluded that the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and he ordered the Polk County recorder to issue marriage licenses to six gay couples.

“This is kind of the American Dream,” said plaintiff Jen BarbouRoske, of Iowa City. “I’m still feeling kind of shaky. It’s pure elation, I just cannot believe it.”

Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda Legal, a New York-based gay rights organization, said the ruling requires “full equality for all Iowans including gay and lesbian Iowans and their families.”

“The Iowa Constitution has lived up to its promises of equality for everyone,” she said.

Holy smokes, what were we snorting when we promised equality?

The judge was, of course, simply doing his job. For that, he will be roundly attacked as some liberal activist judge. There really isn’t any coherent response cited in the Register article as to why he was wrong, because he wasn’t. What he did was make a judgment that may not have been particularly popular, but which reflected the rights of citizens as outlined in the Iowa Constitution. Unfortunately, we have a majority still interested in repressing a minority, who care not one whit for their rights, nor for any Constitution that protects them. True to form, if the Iowa Constitution permits equality for gays, then theocrats and bigots will conclude that the Constitution must be changed to prevent such horrors:

House Minority Leader Christopher Rants, R-Sioux City, said the judge’s ruling only illustrates the need for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

In my part of Iowa, gays weren’t exactly going on Pride marches, and “faggot” got thrown around liberally, but when it came down to having a lesbian couple for neighbors, our small town had a “live and let live” mentality. It simply wasn’t anybody’s business. Iowa has plenty of bigotry running around, obviously, but a lot of Iowans are higher-minded, and that’s part of our state’s reputation. We like to be fair, we like to be even-handed in our treatment of others, and we don’t begrudge people for being the way they naturally are unless it hurts somebody else.

We’ve learned that gay people are, just like straight people, pretty much made that way. The instant you’ve established that, the case for equality is a no-brainer. Judge Robert Hanson made the logical choice. The question is, will Iowa rise to the occasion, or succumb to the leagues of the small-minded and willfully ignorant? Will we live up to our Constitution, or shit on it?

-jb

Bush is a criminal…*yawn*

Jun 21, 2007 in Constitution, Legal, Politics

Republicans view this as the administrative equivalent of speeding tickets:

“The findings of this report should come as no great surprise: When the president tells federal agencies they don’t have to follow the law, they often don’t,” Sloan said. “This report should put to rest any doubts as to the real impact of signing statements. The Constitution does not bestow upon the president the power to simply ignore portions of laws he doesn’t like.”

Why wouldn’t they? Bush’s signing statements pass the buck onto him. Why should a government employee would feel afraid to do something illegal if the President says, “Fuggedaboudit, eh?”

But Tony Fratto , a White House spokesman, defended Bush’s use of signing statements and his expansive view of the president’s constitutional powers.

“We are executing the law as we believe we are empowered to do so,” Fratto said.

Memo to Democrat politicians from White House: go fuck yourself, try to do something about it.

Memo to Democrat politicians from public: You were told to do something about it.

-jb

The lynching of Genarlow Wilson, continued.

Jun 14, 2007 in Constitution, Legal, Racism

There ain’t been much for new posts at IL lately, mostly because we’ve been having some raucous comment wars that have taken up most of my spare time. One has been over the legalistic lynching of Genarlow Wilson, a guy who’s spent 27 months in prison for receiving oral sex from a 15 year old girl when he was 17 (he would have been exonerated if they had actually had intercourse, naturally). Our favorite commenter, Dana Pico, has leapt to the defense of Genarlow’s sentencing. I’ve mostly commented on the issue of justice and blamed Georgia’s legislature just as much for this fracas, but one of Andrew Sullivan’s readers illustrates the virtues of knowing something about the law:

However, the comment by your correspondent that the court lacked the authority to release Wilson and that General Baker is the only person standing up for the rule of law is deeply flawed. This was a habeas petition, and Georgia law gives the county containing the prison exclusive jurisdiction to determine habeas petitions. Additionally, section 9-14-48 of the Georgia Code requires that habeas relief be granted “to prevent a miscarriage of justice.” Section 9-14-42 makes clear that the judge has the right to decide the case on grounds of both the Georgia Constitution and, more importantly, the US Constitution. In this case, the judge found Wilson’s sentence to be not only a miscarriage of justice, but also “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the 8th Amendment of the US Constitition. That conclusion, by the way, is one that is supported by a number of US Supreme Court cases, most notably Salem v. Helm (1983), which defined even a prison sentence as cruel and unusual if it was overly harsh compared to the underlying offense, the sentences imposed on other criminals in the state, and the sentences for the same act in other states. Wilson’s sentence would seem to be excessive under each of these tests.

Gosh, I was righter than I knew. Dana has backed away from the morality and justice of Wilson’s sentence, but it turns out his legal justifications were weak also.

I’ve got to stop making concessions to rightwingers. They almost always turn out to be unnecessary.

-jb

Good luck.

May 23, 2007 in Legal

Russia and GB don’t have any formal extradition agreements nor does Russia even believe in the act of extraditing any citizen to be judged by a foreign jury.  (A feature they share in common with our country, I might add).

-mg

Surprised?

Apr 12, 2007 in Legal, Politics, Rove

The Deeth has a post about James Zogby’s recent trip through Iowa and below the fold he links to this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal that discusses the flap over the supposed voting fraud that took place in Wisconsin during the 2004 elections.  The gist?  The charges were intentionally trumped up so that Karl Rove could “lean on” AGs that weren’t playing ball.  You may remember the testimony from David Iglesias saying that he was fired for not vigorously pursuing bogus voter fraud issues in Arizona.

Update:  here’s the last nail in the coffin for Gonzalez.   

-mg