Archive for the ‘judiciary’ Tag

Heads Should Roll   Leave a comment

In my opinion, anything less than resignations across the board – from Commissioner Goodell on down the line – is an insult, not just to those who are victims of domestic violence but to all of us who believe in the rule of law.

Posted September 9, 2014 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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Former Va. Governor Found Guilty On Multiple Corruption Counts   1 comment

Looks like Gov. Ultrasound is now Gov. Felon

RICHMOND — A federal jury Thursday found former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, guilty of public corruption — sending a message that they believed the couple sold the office once occupied by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson to a free spending Richmond businessman for golf outings, lavish vacations and $120,000 in sweetheart loans.

After three days of deliberations, the seven men and five women who heard weeks of gripping testimony about the McDonnells’ alleged misdeeds acquitted the couple of several charges pending against them–but nevertheless found that they lent the prestige of the governor’s office to Jonnie R. Williams Sr. in a nefarious exchange for his largesse.

The verdict means that Robert McDonnell, who was already the first governor in Virginia history to be charged with a crime, now he holds an even more unwanted distinction: the first ever to be convicted of one. He and his wife face decades in federal prison, though their actual sentence will probably fall well short of that.(Washington Post via. Crooks & Liars)

I don’t know what’s worse here: the fact that he was able to exploit the Commonwealth of Virginia’s admittedly weak ethics rules or that Mitt Romney actually considered McDonnell for vice-president back in 2012. Regardless, though, it is good to see that the laws on ethics and corruption are still enforced in this country.

Posted September 4, 2014 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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Obama Administration Calls Out High Court Over Hobby Lobby Decision   Leave a comment

For most of this past year, the Supreme Court has been playing a combination CalvinballKabuki Theatre kind of political game with the Obama Administration over healthcare policy in regards to birth control, basically moving the goalposts every so often while telling everyone that things would be okay if the executive branch would simply come up with different standards…well, this week, the Obama Administration called the High Court out on it:

For most of the last year, the Supreme Court has forced the Obama Administration into an elaborate dance, where the Court hands down orders casting doubt upon the administration’s efforts to ensure that all women have access to affordable birth control — while simultaneously implying that everything would be fine if the administration just designed their birth control policy a different way. Friday, the administration is expected to announce a new policy that appears designed to end this dance and force the justices to rule definitively on whether employers with religious objections to birth control effectively have the power to restrict their employees’ access to birth control coverage, no matter how the government structures its regulations.(Think Progress)

In essence, what the administration appears to be doing is pretty much what, in my opinion, they should’ve done to start with: craft an across-the-board standard that treats all businesses, whether large or small, public or private, the same for purposes of healthcare reform. Had they done so to start, we wouldn’t be having this political theatre that I mentioned at the outset and healthcare reform would be that much further along.

Posted August 22, 2014 by Matthew in Uncategorized

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On The Indictment Of Texas Gov. Rick Perry   1 comment

In and amidst all the news Friday came word from the Lone Star State that Texas Gov. Rick Perry had been indicted over allegations of public coercion and abuse of power. By now, as Booman points out in his article over at Booman Tribune, there are a lot of suppositions, rumors and random chatterings going about as a result, but there are a few solid thoughts over this indictment against Gov. Perry that come to mind…

First, by most legal accounts, this is going to be a difficult indictment to prove in court as the bulk of the indictment centers around Gov. Perry’s threat to veto – and subsequent veto of – funding for the Travis County DA’s Public Integrity Unit. Now, at first glance, this sounds very coercive – and given the circumstances at the time and the particulars surrounding the threatened veto – it may well have sounded coercive. However, as some have pointed out in the media, there was a partisan – wait, very partisan tilt – to this and that may’ve played into the indictments as well.

How so? For this reason: like most judicial offices in this country, most district attorneys’ offices are partisan offices for purposes of elections and like a good number of urban countries, Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmburg is a Democrat in a decidedly Republican state. Had she resigned following her arrest and conviction for a DUI back in 2013, Gov. Perry would’ve likely appointed a Republican to replace her, which would’ve allowed him to control the sole office in Texas that investigates public corruption by state officials. This is because, unlike in most states, where it is the purview of the state attorney general to investigate such cases, in Texas that power is given solely…to the Travis County District Attorney. 

Form a partisan perspective, it is no wonder that Democrats’ screamed bloody murder over Perry’s threat – and subsequent veto of – funding for the Travis Co. office tasked with investigating public corruption…and why Republicans vociferously rushed to Perry’s defense. Given the situation, I don’t blame them for defending Perry’s actions here. What DA Lehmburg did was reprehensible and in most states, would’ve likely prevented her from re-assuming her duties as District Attorney (at least that’s the rule in North Carolina…case in point: former Durham County, NC district attorney Mike Nifong).

However, if this becomes the standard for abuse-of-power & public coercion indictments, then the standard for such indictments will have truly fallen for such indictments…and I say that as someone who has zero love whatsoever for Governor Goodhair. As I look at it, what Governor Perry did what equally reprehensible, for in vetoing funding to the Travis Co. PIU, he effectively shut down on-going investigations into corruption cases across the state, including a few that might have a bearing on the political fortunes of Texas GOP Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, especially when you consider that the Texas AG’s office had, by most accounts, zero interest in pursuing those cases.

FWIW, I agree with Booman’s perspective here: what we have with the Perry indictments are a case of someone acting in a very coercive and abusive manner that doesn’t quite reach the standard needed for a conviction. On the other hand, as he also points, this effectively torpedoes Perry’s nascent presidential aspirations, so even if the indictments don’t pan out, the damage to Perry’s political future may well already have been done.

Texas Governor Indicted For Abuse Of Power   1 comment

Well, there goes that nascent presidential campaign

A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption — making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state’s first indicted governor in nearly a century.

A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit, which is run by Travis County District Rosemary Lehmberg’s office. Several top aides to the Republican governor appeared before grand jurors in Austin, including his deputy chief of staff, legislative director and general counsel. Perry himself wasn’t called to testify.(Washington Post via Crooks & Liars)

2 thoughts here: (1)this should be a lesson to public officials that you should never threaten defunding the offices of those tasked with investigating public corruption..and (2)watch how fast the Right sweeps this under-the-rug – or worse – lets Rick Perry wear this as a badge of honor.

Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Decision Gives New Meaning To Pretzel Logic   Leave a comment

The Urban Dictionary defines “pretzel logic” as:

…fallible, twisted or circular reasoning that when dissected is wrong, does not make sense or does not explain the situation rationally.(Urban Dictionary)

…well, that’s what, when read through, today’s 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. appears like: one great big batch of judicial pretzel logic…quoting Crooks & Liars:

After reading the majority opinion in Hobby Lobby, I’m stunned. If you thought the reasoning in Citizens United was bad, welcome to the decision opening the floodgates to the Church of the Almighty Dollar. In order to make this decision, the majority had to twist itself in knots. Here are some examples: (1)Corporations are persons, but maybe only if they’re closely held. Maybe. Corporations are established to protect the people who own them, therefore they are ‘persons’ too. (2)Corporations are religious too, my friends. In disagreeing with Ginsburg’s dissent, Alito writes that ‘for-profit corporations do seek to perpetuate the religious values shared’ just like churches do. (3)Lofty values belong to owners and employees alike. Because for-profit corporations may be organized for any lawful purpose, they are not required to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and therefore may impose their owners’ religious beliefs onto their customers and employees. (4)Denying science: It is enough that the Greens and the Hahns believe some contraception methods are actually abortion methods, regardless of science. Alito argues that because the Hahns and Greens believe IUDs and three other forms of covered contraception are “connected to the destruction of the embryo in a way that is sufficient to make it immoral for them to provide the coverage. (5)Contraception first, then vaccinations, transfusions, antidepressants and more! They are trying to kill the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and Medicaid by the death of a thousand cuts. First it was contraception, but the majority left the door open for more challenges by carving out contraception and inviting other groups to challenge other treatments.(Crooks & Liars)

That last point is the most chilling; don’t be surprised if more cases begin worming their way through the judicial woodwork, all using the faux mantras of “corporate personhood” and “religious liberty” to get what they want, regardless of what the law – or the Constitution – actually said.

Supreme Court Whittles Away At Public Sector Unions In 5-4 Decision   2 comments

On the whole, this decision in Harris v. Quinn could’ve been a lot worse for public-sector unions:

In a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court created a new class of employee called a “partial public employee” and ruled that they could not be compelled to contribute union dues.

This is a ‘splitting the baby’ decision that doesn’t gut union membership but certainly hobbles it.(Crooks & Liars)

In essence, what Harris did was hobble what’s known as the ‘free rider provision’ of federal labor law; under current law prior to today’s decision, all employees in a workplace – regardless of whether or not they were members of a union or not – were required to pay some dues to the representative union in their workplace in exchange for the benefit of having union representation regardless of whether they themselves were members. Unless I’m reading this decision wrong – and sometimes with the High Court its’ hard to tell at times – this case effectively gives union opponents a wedge that they can now drive into numerous workplaces, both public & private, in the hope of breaking, bit by bit, the idea of collective bargaining within the workplace.

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