Archive for the ‘Constitutional Law’ Category

220px-Jay_Nixon_cropWhile like many I was shocked by the story of the shooting of an unarmed man, Michael Brown, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, I have refrained from making public comments due to the conflicting accounts that have arisen in the case. As a criminal defense attorney, I have long resisted the tendency to rush to judgment, particularly in the midst of public unrest, in such cases. I saw that as a problem in the Trayvon Martin case. Those same concerns were raised this morning with the statement of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon who publicly stated that “a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.” Presumably, he is speaking of the arrest and prosecution of Officer Darren Wilson. However, the investigations into the case are continuing and, in my view, Nixon’s comments are wildly inappropriate at this stage.

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milleryoungincident2 We have been following the controversy surrounding the confrontation of Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Younga with pro-life advocates on campus. Miller-Young led her students in attacking the pro-life display, stealing their display, and then committing battery on one of the young women. Thrin Short, 16, and her sister Joan, 21, filed complaints and Miller-Young was charged with criminal conduct including Theft From Person; Battery; and Vandalism. To the surprise of some of us, faculty and students rallied behind Miller-Young. She remains employed as a faculty member. Miller-Young initially pleaded not guilty but later entered a guilty plea with an apology. She has now been sentenced to sentenced to three years of probation, 108 hours of community service, 10 hours of anger management, $500 in restitution and a small fine. While her actions (and absence of serious university punishment) remain highly disturbing, some of the letters written on her behalf raise new questions over the commitment of University of California faculty to free speech and core academic principles. Miller-Young has been defended by faculty as the victim of a media campaign to portray her as “an Angry Black Woman” and her seemingly happy demeanor on the videotape has been dismissed as a “mask” that she wears as part of a “cultural legacy of slavery.”

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By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

dubuque-schools-logoBeginning this school year, Dubuque, Iowa public school students in middle and high school are to be required to wear heart rate monitors to determine their activity levels in gym class. The heart rate will apparently be part of the grade they receive.

In an almost unbelievable new standard of measuring grades, the public school district in Dubuque believes that their cardio-vascular knowledge is of such expertise, that they can fully translate it somehow into a measure of a student’s progress.

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By Charlton S. Stanley, Weekend writer

We should have seen this coming. I believe it is going to get worse before it gets better, if ever. At some point there is going to be a “pitchforks and torches” backlash.

Ferguson MO logoIt may be starting in Ferguson, MO. Take a look at one of the latest stories to come out of there. It’s sad that we have to look overseas to get reliable and up to date news about what is happening in the good ol’ US of A. Because of the great sucking sound that is the US corporate mainstream media, people who want to get a more balanced read on the news check sites such as Al Jazerra, The Guardian, RT, The Epoch Times, and Der Spiegel.

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225px-rick_perry_photo_portrait_august_28_2004Late yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury in Austin on charges of abuse of power. The charges stem from Perry carrying out a threat to veto funding the budget for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, which handles political corruption investigations.

District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg had been arrested for drunk driving and was widely criticized for her conduct while in custody. She refused to resign even after been sentenced to jail and Perry carried out his threat. I have been critical of Perry in the past and I believe that his veto was wrongheaded. However, I view the indictment as very troubling on a separation of powers basis and the result of the extension of criminal provisions with tangential applicability to this type of dispute.

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Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

rembrandt-ten-commandmentsU.S. District Court Judge James Parker of the New Mexico District ruled a monument displaying the Ten Commandments must be removed from the Bloomfield, New Mexico City Hall.

A lawsuit was filed in the district on behalf of two members of the Wicca Religion by the American Civil Liberties Union against the city. Judge Parker’s ruling stated the city had violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to United States Constitution.

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dJZiSXft_400x400There is a controversy at the University of Illinois over the right of faculty to express views on social media outside of their positions. Steven Salaita had already been offered a tenured position in the American Indian studies program on the Champaign-Urbana campus and was just waiting for approval by the university’s Board of Trustees, usually a perfunctory stage. However, Salaita posted strongly anti-Israeli sentiments after the start of the recent war in Gaza. After those postings, he was informed that the university was rescinding its offer due to opposition on the board.

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225px-alberto_gonzales_-_official_doj_photographPresident_Barack_ObamaFirst there is the record low polls of his popularity. Then there is the growing independent view that there is no chance that the Democrats can retake the House and that the GOP could not only gain seats in the House but retake the Senate. However, nothing likely prepared President Barack Obama for this. His controversial use of unilateral authority has been defended by . . . former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. You may recall Gonzales who was so vilified for his politicalization of the Justice Department and blind support of executive power that he had a difficult time even landing a job. The Gonzales defense is part of a bizarre new world of Democratic politics. Democratic members of Congress recently lined up to quote Associate Justice Antonin Scalia for his restrictive views on standing — a view that has been used to bar public interest organizations in environmental and civil liberties cases. The Obama Administration now routinely pitches appeals to the four most conservative members of the Supreme Court on presidential powers and the most vocal supporters of the President’s use of virtually unchecked power is coming from former Bush officials. Such is the inversive world in which we live. The Democrats have largely abandoned traditional values tied to civil liberties, war powers, privacy, and other core issues in favor of supporting Obama. The result is that you find yourself left with Alberto Gonzales as your pro bono counsel.

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609px-Coat_of_arms_of_Kenya.svgThe anti-homosexual movement in Kenya continues this week with an infamous bill that would reportedly allow foreign homosexual people stoned to death in public. The law would allow such executions for foreigners who commit one homosexual act while imposing a life sentence on Kenyan nationals.

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Ali_Khamenei, Iran’s parliament has continued to follow the religious dictates of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali no matter how bizarre or repressive. So, when Khamenei ordered people to procreate “strengthen national identity” and counter “undesirable aspects of western lifestyles,” the parliament responded by banning permanent forms of birth control like vasectomies and tubal ligations while also banning advertising of birth control in the country.

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Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 8.02.33 AMThere is another disturbing story involving the police seizure of cameras of a scene of alleged police abuse. The arrest of a homeless man was caught on camera in Antioch, California. The arrest turned violent and some accused the police of abuse on the man who appeared mentally disturbed. Regardless of the merits of those allegations, police then added to the controversy by demanding that witnesses turn over their cameras.

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

It seems that a week doesn’t go by without news of the latest Big Bank agreeing to pay billions in a settlement with the government over their past and continuing abuses concerning mortgages.  This past week was no exception.

“Preliminary reports say that a $16 to $17 billion settlement will soon be announced between the Justice Department and Bank of America. That would break the record for the largest bank settlement in history, set less than a year ago by a $13 billion agreement between Justice and JPMorgan Chase.” Crooks and Liars

Sixteen billion dollars is not chickenfeed!  However, as we have learned in the many past settlements, the dollar amounts can be a little deceiving.  (more…)

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260px-capitol_building_full_viewI recently wrote on the issue of impeachment that has been reportedly so widely in the media. As I noted in the column and in prior interviews, there is no serious move toward impeachment by the Republicans and most of the impeachment talk has come from the White House and Democrats, including in fund-raising campaigns. Indeed, I was critical of the Washington Post column after one of the hearings in which I testified on executive over-reach. While the issue of impeachment was mentioned only a handful of times and usually to dismiss it as an option, the column was entitled “Republicans see One Remedy for Obama — Impeachment.” It seems that even denying impeachment as an option still constitutes discussing impeachment. Now The Hill newspaper has looked at the congressional record to see who is raising impeachment more often. The result was that Democrats raised the issue 20 times more often than Republicans, who barely uttered the “I” word.

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300px-Up_loz_arleneBulletproof StockingsA curious scene will unfold this week at the popular Arlene’s Grocery, the popular Lower East side music venue. Julia Darling, the manager of Arlene’s Grocery, has agreed to stop any man from attending the performance because the band, Bulletproof Stockings, is an all-female Hasidic rock band and leads Dalia Shusterman and Perl Wolfe refuse to perform in front of men for religious reasons.

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53d2c9932a01b.preview-620We have yet another case of law enforcement holding people for filming in public and threatening them with arrest. This one however is particularly curious. NewsChannel 13 reporter Mark Mulholland and a videographer were filming a story on Grant Cottage where President Ulysses S. Grant had come to the cottage to finish writing his memoirs. This year is the 129th anniversary of his death and the crew was filming costumed re-enactors were commemorating the anniversary. Due to breaking news, the crew had to return the next day to finish with the shots. They were then approached by a Lt. Dorn from the nearby Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility and told that they could not film without permission. What unfolded was a rule that seemed to be without any coherence as to who may take pictures at a historic site.

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