Today’s ruling in Hobby Lobby is the type of decision that tends to suck the oxygen out of the room. For that reason, the important decision in Harris v. Quinn could be overlooked. At issue in the case is the viability of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education— the 1977 opinion held that the government could constitutionally condition a person’s employment in the public sector on the paying fees to a union. As I mentioned on CNN last night, this is a major decision that is being pushed from the coverage but deserves more attention. As anticipated, Justice Alito wrote the decision and ruled against the union.
Archive for the ‘Constitutional Law’ Category
Below is my column in the Sunday Washington Post on separation of powers — authored with United States Senator Ron Johnson (R, Wis.). As the piece states, Johnson and I come from sharply different political perspectives, though the most surprising aspect of this collaboration is that he is a Packers fan and I am a Bears fan. We decided to write a piece together to try to seek a nonpartisan response to the rapidly expanding executive power in our system — and the corresponding decline of legislative power. We have been discussing this worrisome shift within our system and the lack of any collective institutional identity, let alone action, from members. We thought, if we could show the common ground in these concerns, it might encourage other members to reach across the aisle in the interests of their institution.
Posted in Bizarre, Congress, Constitutional Law, Courts, Criminal law, International, Justice, Lawyering, Media, Military, Politics, Religion, Society, Supreme Court on 1, June 29, 2014 | 152 Comments »
By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy
Ahmed Abu Khatallah’s boat docked yesterday and the reputed Benghazi attacks mastermind was met with a contingent of U.S. Marshals, Navy security and a phalanx of Justice Department types all eager to hear his gilded version of events and to usher him to a US federal courtroom near the White House where the processes of the US justice system could start slowly grinding now in earnest. He pled not guilty for anyone interested. Before his arrival, however, a cacophony of Republican lawmakers decided to weigh in on his treatment aboard the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the USS New York, provided by the Navy.
As many know, Abu Khatallah was captured in a clandestine operation conducted by US special ops aided by shadowy figures from both inside and out of the Libyan power structure who lured him to a villa where US forces made the arrest. Abu Khattallah, designated by the State Department as a global terrorist, was regarded as a prime suspect due to his affiliation with a group he helped to found and known as the Ansar al-Sharia. A fundamentalist militia group that rose to power after the fall of Gaddafi, it has claimed responsibility for the attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, leading the Tunisian government to declare it a terrorist organization. The group has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations that tourists frequent. Not exactly the kind of guys you bring home to dinner.
Abu Khatallah’s capture was coup for an administration looking to change the dialog on the Benghazi attack which left four Americans dead including US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Criticized for everything from the response (or lack thereof) to the attack by US security forces as well as even the characterization of the attack itself, the administration has been attempting to change the narrative since 2012. In his new book, Blood Feud, excerpted by the New York Post, author Edward Klein claims President Obama pressured then Sect’y of State Hillary Clinton to issue a release stating the attack was a spontaneous uprising relating to an obscure internet video criticizing Islam. Knowing the attack coincided with the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on US soil, Clinton bristled. According to Klein, Clinton said, “Mr. President, that story isn’t credible. Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.” But the president was adamant. He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.” (more…)
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
We have discussed the plight of Meriam Ibrahim who endured a trial and subsequent death sentence imposed in a Sudan sharia court alleging apostasy and adultery. A Christian woman, she was considered formerly to be Muslim by virtue of her father’s religion though raised by her mother in an Orthodox faith. Having married her husband, a Christian man with American citizenship, triggered the charges. Previous discussion can be read HERE and HERE.
After an international outrage over her arrest and conviction, an appeals court struck down the convictions and released her, and a child born to her while in prison.
As she was preparing to leave Sudan, Meriam again faced the authorities at an airport alleging she had false documentation allowing her departure from Sudan. Once again arrested, she has since been released and has taken refuge in the American Embassy in Khartoum. Yet it seems her ordeal will not be over.
By Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor
As I write this, the news is still coming in, and the full story is far from being told. I will provide breaking news as I hear it, but our intrepid bloggers should consider the comments an Open Thread. If you have solid news to report, please do so, and source the information. Otherwise it is just gossip.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that conspiracy theorists are breaking out the tinfoil hats.
It is with a great sense of relief and thankfulness that I can now report that all charges have been dropped against my client Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Minutes ago, United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga signed the order dismissing the indictment against Dr. Al-Arian. The case was before Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, but it was Judge Trenga who signed the order on Friday afternoon.
The press has reported on the motion of the Justice Department to drop all charges against my client Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Obviously, we have been seeking this result for years in this case. However, as lead counsel, I am limited in what I can say about the case before the dismissal of all charges. My office is receiving a great number of calls from the media, but I will continue to defer to the Court on the pending motion.
Justice Minister Mohammed Al-Eissa gave the world a chilling lesson on the blind faith that underlies the medieval Sharia system imposed by Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries. Al-Eissa warned that questioning the Sharia system was akin to questioning God and “Any attack on the judiciary will be considered an attack on the Kingdom’s sovereignty.” That certainly simplifies things. Most people harbor a notion that they can criticize their legal system and call for reforms but Al-Eissa pointed out that their legal system comes from God and is therefore not subject to change on its most controversial parts. “Justice” will continue to be meted out in “Chop Chop Square” (Deera Square, right) in the name of Islam.
The Supreme Court has ruled in Noel Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115, and found that President Obama had indeed violated the constitution in his recess appointment. The decision was unanimous. I will be discussing this and the abortion case ruling at 1pm with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
Sarah Anne Markham, 23, is facing charges of child neglect after she allegedly refused to take her newborn baby to a hospital despite the child being dehydrated and underweight. The police reported that the reason was that Markham is a vegan and objected to the formula prescribed by the doctors.
In a major (and increasingly rare) victory for privacy, the Supreme Court voted unanimously to require a warrant for police to search cellphones of arrested individuals. Chief Justice Roberts issued a consolidated opinion in two cases: Riley v. California, No. 13-132, and United States v. Wurie, No. 13-212. The second case is another loss for the Obama Administration which fought to strip citizens of privacy over their cellphone records — a consistent attack on privacy by this Administration. The Supreme Court also issued a major ruling in favor of cable companies in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., a decision that may not sit well with the many citizens who despise these companies. I will be discussing these decision on CNN with Wolf Blitzer today.
There is a major decision out of Oregon where U.S. District Judge Anna Brown has ruled that the government’s no-fly list is unconstitutional since there is no meaningful way to contest inclusion of the list barring you from commercial flights. Brown issued a 65 page ruling with the holding that the “inclusion on the no-fly list constitutes a significant deprivation of their liberty interests in international travel.” It is a refreshing opinion from the federal courts which tend to be highly deferential to the government in this area.
There is a highly disturbing story out of Florida where the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has uncovered instructions from the U.S. Marshals Service that appear to tell police to actively deceive judges and defendants about the use of the controversial surveillance tool called Stingrays, or IMSI catchers, which simulate a cellphone tower and trick any nearby mobile devices into connecting with them. The federal officials reportedly told police to lie to courts and defendants and say that the suspect’s location came from a “confidential source.”
Posted in Constitutional Law, Courts, Criminal law, Justice, Media, Society, tagged Andrew Goodman, civil rights, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Edgar Ray Killen, James Earl Chaney, Jerry Mitchell, Judge Marcus Gordon, Ku Klux Klan, Michael Schwerner, Mississippi, Mississippi Burning, Neshoba County on 1, June 22, 2014 | 26 Comments »
By Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor
Fifty years ago today, the course of American history changed. It was changed by a few carloads of haters, with law enforcement officers complicit. Murder, pure and simple. It was June 16, 1964 that the Mount Zion Methodist Church was burned to the ground by arsonists. The church offended the Ku Klux Klan because it housed a Freedom School. This was a part of the educational program designed to help black Mississippians register to vote. The attack on the church was not a sneak arson in the wee hours. In fact, Klan members assaulted and beat several African Americans present at the church. Then they set the church on fire, burning it to the ground.
Intelligence gathered later by legitimate law enforcement discovered that the Neshoba County church was not chosen by accident. The attack on the church and the people inside was designed to lure more CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality) volunteers to the area. The Klan was interested in one worker in particular, Michael Schwerner. He had attracted interest as a target, aside from being Jewish, because he had helped with a boycott of Mississippi stores, his Freedom Summer activities, and of course helping set up Freedom Schools around the state. The carefully planned trap worked.
We have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area. I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing. As with his approach in Libya, Syria and other combat operations, President Obama declared this week that he does not need any approval or even consultation with Congress if he decides to commit us again to war again in Iraq.