Archive for the ‘Constitutional Law’ Category

250px-US-CourtOfAppeals-6thCircuit-SealBy any measure, former Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree was a disgrace to the bench. The worse of his violations was his affair with the wife of a man in a child-support case before his court. However, while calling McCree’s conduct “often reprehensible,” a three-judge panel ruled that his affair with a litigant before him was still covered by judicial immunity when the former husband Robert King sued for damages in a civil rights case. The United States for the Sixth Circuit barred such recovery as a matter of judicial immunity in what will likely be a highly controversial decision.

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230px-CPR_training-04190px-Falk,_Benjamin_J._(1853-1925)_-_Eugen_Sandow_(1867-1925)Below is my column today in the Chicago Tribune on the rivaling rulings in the D.C. Circuit and the Fourth Circuit over a critical provision under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). As an academic interesting in statutory interpretation and legisprudence, the opinions are fascinating and capture two different but well-argued views of the role of both courts and agencies in dealing with legislative language.

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Patch_of_the_San_Diego_Police_DepartmentThirty women who work at two strip clubs, Cheetahs and Expose, are suing the city of San Diego and police Chief Shelley Zimmerman for what they allege were “license inspections” that were really photo ops for officers who snapped pictures of dancers in dressing rooms during a raid on July 15, 2013. (No, those are not supposed to look like two stripper poles on the police patch).

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US-CourtOfAppeals-4thCircuit-SealPresident_Barack_ObamaSoon after the D.C. Circuit delivered a major loss to the Administration in rejecting its statutory interpretation under the ACA in Halbig v. Burwell, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has delivered an equally important victory on the very same issue in King v. Burwell. This tale of two circuits only increases the likelihood of a Supreme Court review and perhaps the case for expedited appeals.

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US-CourtOfAppeals-DCCircuit-SealPresident_Barack_ObamaAs I have written about in columns and testimony, the most significant challenge to Obamacare was never Hobby Lobby but Halbig vs. Burwell that has been pending in the D.C. Circuit. I described Halbig in my testimony as a live torpedo in the water for Obamacare. Well, that torpedo just hit. The D.C. Circuit has found that the Obama Administration effectively rewrote the law on a critical provision dealing with tax credits and state exchanges. It is another major blow against the Administration and more importantly another judicial finding that President Obama exceeded his authority in his effort to “go it alone” in ordering such changes to federal laws.

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JeffreyAndersonMugShot-279x300There is a disturbing child pornography case out of Nebraska that also raises some challenging legal questions. Jeffrey Anderson, who entered a conditional guilty plea for one count of distributing child pornography, after digitally editing a photo of a naked adult woman having sex and replaced the face with that of an 11-year-old girl. He then sent the girl the photo with the caption “This is what we will do.” The Eighth Circuit upheld his 10-year sentence in rejected the conditional challenge to the charge.

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Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

City of Moses Lake LogoA controversy developed in Moses Lake, Washington over a Fourth Congressional Candidate’s and his supporters’ placement of campaign signs on city owned property and rights of way in the city.

House hopeful Gavin Seim declined to agree to a required use permit in placement of his campaign signs calling the permitting and removal of his signs a violation of his free speech and his right to participate in government.

Moses Lake City Manager Joe Gavinski claims the policy somehow protects the public. The city’s government permits six campaign free speech zones within its jurisdiction.

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HobbyLobbySubmitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Back in March of this year—during oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby case—Sahil Kapur (Talking Points Memo) said he thought that the conservative Supreme Court Justices “appeared broadly ready to rule against the birth control mandate under Obamacare.” He added that “their line of questioning indicated they may have a majority to do it.” Kapur reported that Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Alito “expressed no sympathy for the regulation while appearing concerned for the Christian business owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood who said the contraceptive mandate violates their religious liberty and fails strict scrutiny standards under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).”

During oral arguments, Justice Scalia said, “You’re talking about, what, three or four birth controls, not all of them, just those that are abortifacient. That’s not terribly expensive stuff, is it?”

There are a couple of things I think Justice Scalia should know. First, the four contraceptive methods that Hobby Lobby objected to paying for—Plan B, Ella, and two intrauterine devices—are not abortifacients. They do not prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus—which the owners of Hobby Lobby consider to be abortion. Instead—according to the Food and Drug Administration—the four contraceptive methods in question prevent fertilization of an egg. Second, the cost of intrauterine devices can be quite considerable—especially to a woman working for minimum wage or for a company like Hobby Lobby.

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Badge_of_the_Riverside_County_Sheriff's_DepartmentThe video below has been released in a lawsuit over a highly disturbing case where a Riverside undercover officer befriended a 17-year-old boy with autism and convinced him to buy pot for him. They then arrested him and added him to their list of drug war statistics. Before the arrest, in addition to autism, their son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Tourette syndrome and anxiety disorders.

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libertyFor years, we have lamented the wholesale attack on free speech in France from ever-expanding hate speech ruling to stripping away anonymity on the Internet to censorship of expression to criminalizing historical claims (though the last move was later reversed). The erosion of such protection has never been so evident as with the ruling against blogger Caroline Doudet. A French judge has issued an emergency ruling forcing that one of the titles of a blog restaurant critique be changed to reduce its prominence on Google and for Doudet to pay damages. It is an absurd ruling and frightening in its implications for free speech. France appears to have dived headlong into speech regulation and censorship.

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260px-capitol_building_full_viewThis morning I will be testifying as the lead witness before the House Rules Committee on the authorization of litigation by the House of Representatives to challenge the unilateral actions of President Obama. The authorization makes it clear that the House will focus on the ACA changes. The hearing will begin at 10 am in H-313 in The Capitol building. It will be aired live on C-Span 3.

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chiefweb11USA_-_NORTH_CAROLINA_-_City_of_Durham_police_departmentWe have followed the scandals in Durham involving its police chief and former district attorneys. Now Durham police officers have been shown to have lied about non-existent 911 calls to enter the homes of citizens without a warrant. Despite this illegal tactic that was admitted on the stand, no officers have been fired. Instead, Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez (left) has sent out a memo. You may recall Lopez who earlier reportedly said that a public defender deserved to be shot.

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220px-TangopenguinThe Singapore government is supporting the National Library Board in the plan to destroy a children’s book detailing the real-life story of two male penguins raising a baby chick in New York’s zoo. It appears that the government views “And Tango Makes Three” to be nothing more than penguin perversion.

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

We have heard the phrase for quite some time now.  “Corporations are people”.  It sounds so simple, but what does it mean in practice?  The corporate structure is designed to protect individual shareholder assets from creditors of the corporation.  If you maintain your corporate structure requirements and corporate book, the individual’s assets cannot be attached or claimed by a creditor of the corporation.

Corporations are also afforded special tax breaks and tax rates that individual persons cannot take advantage of.  How has the Hobby Lobby decision altered or not altered the corporate veil protection provided to corporations?  (more…)

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