Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

210px-flag_of_washington_dcsvg220px-CriminologygunglockUnited States District Court Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. has finally handed down a ruling in Palmer v. District of Columbia overturned the city’s total ban on residents on carrying firearms outside their home. The litigants repeatedly went to court to try to force Scullin to rule during the five year wait for a decision. They probably now feel it was worth the wait. The court held the D.C. law was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The D.C. Attorney General’s Office and city council has continued to resist the rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010) and have spent copious amounts of money and time defending this law. The city could have drafted more tailored laws but seemed intent to re-fight aspects of its historic loss in Heller. The Office of Attorney General continues to dig a deeper hole both legally and financially for the citizens in such litigation.

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_51889481__47552719_daughterThere is an interesting (and tragic) case out of France where Andre Bamberski, 76, was convicted for organizing the kidnapping five years ago of retired doctor Dieter Krombach. Krombach was accused at the time of raping and murdering Kalinka Bamberski, 15: the daughter of Bamberski and the step daughter of Krombach. When a German court refused to extradite Krombach for the 1982 murder, Bamberski had him kidnapped and dumped (tied up) in front of a French courthouse in 2009. Bamberski was found guilty and was looking at ten years but was given a one-year suspended sentence.
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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

Since the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted in April of this year to declassify its long-awaited Torture Report, the intelligence agencies have been working behind the scenes to convince the Executive Branch to further sanitize it or keep it entirely secret.  Needless to say, the declassification process used to prepare the report for public consumption has been dragging on.  With the CIA and other defense agencies working overtime to keep a lid on the report, the truth may never reach the public.

What can Congress do to make sure that its report gets declassified and distributed to the public if the President agrees with the intelligence agencies and does not order the release? (more…)

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Submitted by Kimberly Dienes, guest blogger.

ss_101833846This week on Wednesday, the state Appellate Division of New York determined that open-hand spanking of an 8-year-old boy at a party was ‘a reasonable use of force.’ According to an article published on the case in the New York Daily News, the perspective that spanking does not constitute “excessive corporal punishment” is a common finding in courts across the country, regardless of the type of spanking (hand, spoon, or paddle), and the frequency and duration of spanking (several times a day, once a week, one spank, 37 spanks). After yet another case involving child corporal punishment has hit the courts, we must turn once again to the question of whether child corporal punishment should be regulated, or perhaps even prohibited, by law.

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225px-NewyorktimeslogoWe have been discussing the growing support for the legalization of marijuana in the United States. Now, it is being reported that The New York Times will come out on Sunday in favor of legalization — a major endorsement for the movement.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 9.17.22 AMYesterday, we discussed a controversy involving Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who played a major role the ACA, or “Obamacare.” He told MSNBC recently that “It is unambiguous this is a typo. Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it`s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the federal states.” However, a libertarian group uncovered a video showing Gruber saying quite clearly after the passage of the law that this provision was a quid pro quo device: state exchanges for tax credits. Conservative sites have lit up over the video below showing Gruber essentially describing the very tradeoff identified in Halbig. He told MSNBC recently that “It is unambiguous this is a typo. Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it`s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the federal states.” However, a libertarian group just uncovered a video showing Gruber saying quite clearly after the passage of the law that this provision was a quid pro quo device: state exchanges for tax credits. Conservative sites have lit up over the video below showing Gruber essentially describing the very tradeoff identified in Halbig. Indeed, Gruber later signed on amicus briefs supporting the White House interpretation and even joined the counter spin from the White House and denouncing that very interpretation as “nutty.” Gruber responded to critics showing the video below by that “I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake.” However, now another response has been raised in which Gruber gave the same interpretation during this presentation. In my view, the point is again to ask why both sides have to denounce each other as nuts or extremists when there are good-faith arguments can be made on both sides.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 9.17.22 AMThere is an interesting twist this morning on the controversy over the Halbig decision that we have previously discussed. As I have stated in testimony before Congress and columns, I do not view the law as ambiguous and agree with the conclusion in Halbig as a matter of statutory interpretation, even though I think that the change ordered by the Obama Administration makes sense. Nevertheless, the White House and various supporters have insisted that the key language in the law linking tax credits to exchanges “established by a State” was a typo and nothing more. One of those voices has been Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who played a major role in the drafting of the law and was paid almost half of a million dollars to consult with the Administration on the law. He told MSNBC recently that “It is unambiguous this is a typo. Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it`s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the federal states.” However, a libertarian group just uncovered a video showing Gruber saying quite clearly after the passage of the law that this provision was a quid pro quo device: state exchanges for tax credits. Conservative sites have lit up over the video below showing Gruber essentially describing the very tradeoff identified in Halbig.

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23ARIZONA-now-master180We previously discussed the botched execution in Oklahoma and the questions that it raised about our methods of execution. Now we have another horrific execution story to report. In Arizona, it took almost two hours for the prison to execute Joseph R. Wood III. The execution took so long that his counsel had time to file emergency papers with the federal court saying “He is still alive.”
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250px-Bed_bug,_Cimex_lectularius220px-US_Capitol_Building_at_night_Jan_2006The halls of Congress have been crawling for years with lobbyists and influence peddlers seeking to cash in on government largess. However, one creature proved too much this year in the Senate. The Architect of the Capitol rolled out yellow police tape and sealed off a bathroom in the Dirksen Senate Office Building after a woman was spotted crawling with bed bugs while waiting to attend a Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

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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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150px-YouTube_logo.svgCalifornia lawyer Daniel Bornstein is controversial for his work on behalf of landlords and the use of eviction laws in San Francisco. It was not entirely unexpected therefore when protesters suddenly appeared at a 2014 seminar on eviction law. I have always opposed such protests that seek to prevent others from hearing the views of speakers or teachers. I can understand therefore why Bornstein was upset. However, he has been accused by an activist of taking the step of filing a copyright infringement claim with YouTube to get the company to pull a video of the incident below. It is not clear if the video below is the same video or whether some material has been removed from the original.
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250px-Holt_Renfrew_MannequinsThe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) continues to show the world how systemic murder and terror can be justified in the name of religion as the work of the faithful. Now, after brutalizing the population of Mosul, ISIS has turned its attention to those godless tramps of fashion: mannequins. ISIS has ordered that all mannequins be covered in veils as another application of medieval Sharia law.

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Southwest_Air_LogoIt appears that passengers now tweet at their own peril on airlines. We have previously seen how tweets have gotten passengers pulled from planes, including tweets that simply joked or criticized an airline. Now in Minneapolis, Duff Watson says that he was pulled from a Southwest Airlines flight because he tweeted his dissatisfaction with a gate agent. He says that the agent told him that his tweet calling her rude left her feeling threatened and that he could only fly with his children if he deleted the tweet. It appears a new twist on the company’s slogan, If it matters to you, it matters to us.

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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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