The Obama Administration has been accused by public interest groups of being one of the most hostile administration toward whistleblowers since the Nixon Administration. Not only whistleblowers but reporters have been subject to abusive investigations and crackdowns under President Obama. Now, that record has taken an even more dangerous turn. The Justice Department is facing bipartisan criticism after it moved to restrict access of inspectors general to documents needed to ferret out corrupt and abusive practices. The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has issued a controversial 68-page memo that says that the department’s inspector general would be required to get permission from the agencies it is investigating to obtain wire taps, grand jury testimonies, and credit information.
Despite the determination of investigators at the State Department and intelligence agencies that Hillary Clinton did use her personal email system to handle confirmed classified information (and potentially compromised “hundreds of classified emails”), Clinton dismissed such allegations and assured the public that it is “pretty clear” that there was no classified information on her personal email system — a system that she used rather than the secure State Department system.
Retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark has caused a stir with an interview with MSNBC in which he appeared to call for the establishment of World War II-style internment camps to be revived for “disloyal Americans.” Clark used the infamous American internment camps for Japanese, German, and Italian Americans as a model: “if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.”
The Justice Department has lost a major case where it sought to bar efforts to determine if a convicted rapist is in fact innocent. The Obama Administration argued in United States v. Watson that Bill Watson should not be able to use a new DNA test that was not available when he was convicted of a rape in 2006. Despite dozens of cases where convicted individuals were proven innocent, the Obama Administration fought to prevent the use of this test even though the Innocence Project offered to shoulder all of the costs. The position of the Justice Department was inimical to the values of due process and the rule of law, in my view. The United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit rejected the highly technical claims that neither Watson nor the court should knew the true identity of source of key evidence found at the crime scene.
The Redskins lost a major challenge this week to the cancellation of the their trademark protection by the Patent and Trademark Office. I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name as well as the underlying law used to strip the team of its trademark protection. The law allows for a small administrative office to effectively dictate the outcome of a long simmering societal debate over the team name. More importantly, the standard for determining what names or words are disparaging remains dangerously undefined with striking contradictions as we have previously discussed in permitted and disallowed trademarks.
Below is my column today in the Washington Post on the ruling in Obergefell on the basis for the Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Due to limitations on space, I could not go into great depth in the opinion which primarily dealt with the notion of the “right to dignity.” The Court did not pursue an equal protection analysis beyond the following highly generalized statement:
The right of same-sex couples to marry that is part of the liberty promised by the Fourteenth Amendment is derived, too, from that Amendment’s guarantee of the equal protection of the laws. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way, though they set forth independent principles. Rights implicit in liberty and rights secured by equal protection may rest on different precepts and are not always coextensive, yet in some instances each may be instructive as to the meaning and reach of the other. In any particular case one Clause may be thought to capture the essence of the right in a more accurate and comprehensive way,even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right.
Since the Court did not substantially address whether homosexuals are a protected class or the other Equal Protection line of cases, the opinion appears to craft a right around the inherent right of self-expression and dignity in intimate affairs. That is very appealing to many in the expansion of due process concepts, but the column explores what it portends for future rights.
Here is the Sunday column:
As widely rumored, Pope Francis has issued a historic papal encyclical that agrees with the vast majority of scientists that global warming is real, largely caused by mankind, and threatens the very future of humanity. He has called for emergency action to curtail carbon emissions by reducing fossil fuels and developing renewables.