800px-Capitol_Building_Full_ViewThe hearing on the Administration’s motion to dismiss the House challenge was heard yesterday in Washington, D.C. as reported widely in the media. (Wall Street Journal, NBC, Daily Mail, Rollcall, New York Times,AP, The motion is now under advisement and the parties will wait for a decision on whether the House can be heard on the merits of this historic challenge. If the Court rules against the motion, the parties will then be able to present their arguments on the merits of the constitutional challenge. If the Court rules for the motion, the case can proceed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for review. (Thanks to Claire Duggan for the photographs)

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220px-Meade_and_Prettyman_CourthouseAt 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia will hear argument on the motion to dismiss filed by the defendants in U.S. House of Representatives v. Burwell, et al., No. 1:14-cv-01967 (D.D.C.). The defendants are the Departments of Health and Human Services and Treasury, and the secretaries of those two executive branch agencies. The Administration is seeking to prevent the Court from reaching the merits of this historic case, which was authorized by an affirmative vote of the entire House of Representatives on July 30, 2014, and which the House filed for the purpose of protecting our constitutional structure.

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What is the Cost to Purchase a State Supreme Court?

Chief Justice Roberts

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

The answer to the question posed in the title, in the state of Wisconsin, is $8 Million dollars.  For those of us who think Judges are not and should not be politicians, the situation in Wisconsin is especially disturbing.  However, Wisconsin is not alone in this dilemma.  Thirty nine states elect their judges and the money flowing into those campaigns is increasing the concerns of special interests “purchasing” justice. Professor Turley has also commented in the past about the alarming amounts of money flowing into judicial elections.

In a recent United States Supreme Court decision, Chief Justice Roberts weighed in on money and politics in judicial elections.  “Last week, the United States Supreme Court upheld a Florida judicial rule that prohibits candidates for election to state judgeships from personally soliciting money for their campaigns. ‘ “Judges are not politicians,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., wrote in the majority opinion in the 5-4 decision, “even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot.” He went on, “Simply put, Florida and most other States have concluded that the public may lack confidence in a judge’s ability to administer justice without fear or favor if he comes to office by asking for favors.” ‘ New Yorker Continue reading

NSA Now Claims DNI Director Clapper Merely Forgot About Massive Surveillance System Targeting Millions of Citizens

Robert-Litt220px-James_R._Clapper_official_portraitThe National Security Agency is still struggling to explain what many denounced as the uncharged act of perjury by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in denying the existence of the secret NSA surveillance program targeting the communications of all Americans. If you recall, the first explanation by Clapper was that his denial was an intentional act to pick the “the least untruthful” statement to answer the question. Then, National Intelligence general counsel Robert Litt (left) insisted that Clapper “misunderstood” the question. Now, Litt is changing spins and saying that Clapper merely forgot about the massive surveillance system. It was not only massive but recently declared illegal, as some of us have long maintained. It is the latest chapter in America’s Animal Farm as average citizens are criminally charged with small discrepancies in statements to investigators while people like Clapper and David Petraeus and Sandy Berger are protected from serious repercussions for alleged criminal acts.

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Is The Cell Phone Kill Switch in the Wrong Hands?


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

You may not have heard of it before, but the government has the ability to shut off cell phone service at any time, under the guise of National Security.  The Department of Homeland Security has an operating procedure known as Standard Operating Procedure 303( SOP 303) and it has been labeled as the cell phone “kill switch”.

I knew very little about the “kill switch” before today, but according to a recent Al Jezeera America article, the kill switch authority is being currently debated in Federal court. Continue reading

Stranger in a Strange Land: ABA To Hold Session On The Cultural Defense

200px-AbalogoI will have the honor of serving as the moderator on a panel at the American Bar Association’s conference in Washington, D.C. today. The panel is entitled “Stranger in a Strange Land: Cross Cultural Issues in the Courts.” This is part of an internationally successful program organized by Judge Hon. Delissa A. Ridgway of U.S. Court of International Trade. Judge Ridgway has brought together jurists and lawyers from around the world to discuss difficult cultural issues that are increasingly appearing in criminal and civil cases. These cases deal with arguments or defenses that turn on the cultural norms or practices of a given defendant or litigant. The cases have forced the question of when and how courts should recognize such defenses.

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Philadelphia Judge Refuses To Reverse $1 Million Fine Against Lawyer Despite Supporting Testimony From Multiple Witnesses

PanepintoPhiladelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Paul Panepinto appears immovable on a controversial roughly $1 million sanction imposed on insurance defense lawyer Nancy Raynor after a witness discussed a bar subject in his testimony. Raynor insists that she told the witness not to discuss that a woman in the case was a smoker. Various witnesses have come forward to say that they heard Raynor give such instructions, but Panepinto has dismissed the new evidence and refused to budge on the sanction. Many lawyers are worried about the standard being set by the case since witnesses will sometimes stray in their testimony without any direction or knowledge of counsel.

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