Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

Richard_Posner_at_Harvard_University

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

I can still remember the first time I voted in a National election.  I was a young, 18-year-old student and I could finally have a say in who was going to run the country.  It was a proud day for me and the countless other 18 year olds who were also voting for the first time.  I can honestly say that I have not missed voting in any election since.  That includes both primary and general elections.  There wasn’t always a lot to vote for in some of those primaries over the years, but I consider voting a duty, so I made sure that I made it to the polls.

It hasn’t always been easy for all citizens to cast their vote.  Even in my lifetime, the Jim Crow laws of the South made it difficult, at best for African-Americans citizens to register and to cast their ballots.  After years of protests and legal battles, I thought the Jim Crow style of voter suppression was a thing of the past.  It turns out I was wrong.  Very wrong. (more…)

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President_Barack_ObamaWhile President Barack Obama continues to assure the public that he is protecting privacy and the press, his Administration continues to do precisely the opposite in court with comprehensive attacks on civil liberties. A good example is the continued abuse of two-time Pulitzer prize winner and New York Times investigative reporter and author James Risen. Risen continues to be threatened by the Justice Department with arrest because he is protecting the identity of his sources. Risen spoke this weekend and observed simply that “Obama hates the press.”

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department of treasury

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

I have written in the past about our large financial institutions and their uncanny ability to break the law and escape any criminal penalties at the corporate or personal level.  If the Department of Justice had actually indicted a Bank of America official and procured a criminal conviction, that Bank of America official could have assisted the corporate office in their no-bid contract to handle all of the federal prison systems inmate financial services and email services.

“A few blocks north, however, at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center, there exists a market that Bank of America has locked down, literally. For the 790 federal prisoners incarcerated at MCC, Bank of America controls the provision of money transfers, e-messaging and some telephone services.

The bank’s monopoly extends across the federal Bureau of Prisons system—121 institutions housing 214,365 inmates. Since 2000, Bank of America has collected at least $76.3 million for its work on the program.” Readersupportednews  That would be $76.3 Million dollars in the Bank of America coffers without any need or worry about having to compete for this latest sweetheart deal.  (more…)

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holderericBelow is my column on the resignation of Eric Holder as United States Attorney General. For civil libertarians, Holder’s tenure as Attorney General under President Obama has been one of the most damaging periods in our history with a comprehensive attack on various constitutional rights and principles from free speech to the free press to international law. In recent polling by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, Holder was the second most unpopular government official after the positively radioactive Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

As someone who previously called for Holder’s firing after the investigation of various journalists under national security powers, I am hardly one who can offer congratulatory sentiments for such a record. However, much like President Obama, one has to wonder what could have been if Holder had chosen a more principled and less political approach to his office. Holder is resigning the same week that a federal judge ordered the release of “Fast and Furious” documents after the Justice Department was accused of a pattern of delay and obstruction. Holder was previously held in contempt by Congress for his withholding documents and conflicting accounts to an oversight committee looking into the scandal. Indeed, Holder was looking at an even more aggressive period with the possible loss of the Senate and increased GOP seats in the House.

Ironically, Holder came into office trying to distinguish himself from such disastrous predecessors as Alberto Gonzales but proved no less political or blindly loyal to his own president. Indeed, both men fought aggressively to expand the powers of the presidency and national security laws over countervailing individual rights and separation of powers principles. It will be civil liberties and not civil rights that will be the lasting, and troubling, legacy of Eric Holder. The column is below:

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225px-ruth_bader_ginsburg_scotus_photo_portraitI have been previously critical of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s public speeches and interviews (as well as those of some of her colleague’s like Justice Scalia). Ginsburg has again crossed the line of judicial decorum in my view with yet another interview. In this case, she openly discusses the danger of Republican influence on any replacement in the context of her decision to stay on the Court. The interview with Elle magazine is another public appearance that continues the corrosive influence of politics on the Court and the maintenance of political contingencies by some of the justices.

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220px-B-2_spirit_bombingPresident_Barack_ObamaI just completed a two-city debate with former Bush official John Yoo on executive power with a focus on undeclared wars. It appears Yoo won the debate . . . at least with President Obama. Indeed, Yoo appears to have had Obama at “hello” to quote Jerry Maguire. Without any declaration of war, Obama has launched attacks against targets in Syria — an act of war by any measure and a violation of international law.

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220px-Bret_Stephens180px-john-yooToday I had my second debate with Berkeley Law Professor and former Bush official John Yoo. The first debate sponsored by Christopher Newport University was held in Newport News four days ago and the second was sponsored by Hillsdale College at a debate held in Washington, D.C. There is a clear theme emerging to get Americans to embrace war as a continuing reality for American policy. Equally notable is how well-connected Republicans are returning over and over to another theme: Rand Paul must be stopped. In his luncheon speech, Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal repeatedly mocked Rand Paul and his opposition to the United States engaging in wars around the globe. It seems that there is a real fear that Paul could gain traction with Republicans in steering the U.S. from an interventionist course. There are many positions of Paul that people of good faith can disagree with. I certainly have such differences with him. However, it is specifically his notion of limited presidential authority and a disinclination toward new wars that is the focus of these attacks.

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