Author: jonathanturley

St. Lawrence University and The Effort To Rescind The Honorable Degree Of Susan Collins

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the call by alumni and professors at St. Lawrence University to strip Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) of her honorary degree in light of her vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  The university has now confirmed that they have never rescinded an honorary degree and will not start with Collins.  Putting aside the prevalent “rape culture” declared by almost a hundred faculty members, the two letters reflect the diminishing hold of intellectual honesty and integrity at our places of higher education.

Here is the column: Continue reading “St. Lawrence University and The Effort To Rescind The Honorable Degree Of Susan Collins”

Fifth Circuit Rules Walmart Is Not Liable For Selling 60 Cans Of Fatal Dust Remover To A Clearly Deranged Addict During a 27-Hour Period

There is an interesting case out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Allen v. Walmart, 2018 WL 4998231 (5th Cir.  Oct 16. 2018. Judge Edith Brown Clement ruled for Walmart in a novel claim that the chain should not have sold Karalee Alaine Williams a dust remover. Williams was found dead in the parking lot after inhaling the product. It reads like a dram shop claim for dust removers.  Notably, Williams kept returning in worse and worse shape, including her final visit naked from the waist down — but was still sold additional dust remover.  Her mother brought an array of claims, including negligence, negligence per se for violating Texas Health & Safety Code Chapter 485, negligent entrustment pursuant to Restatement (Second) of Torts § 390 and  breached a duty to Williams under a theory of premises liability. She also alleged that Wal-Mart owed Williams a duty in the products liability context, invoking Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 82.003(6) (2009).

Continue reading “Fifth Circuit Rules Walmart Is Not Liable For Selling 60 Cans Of Fatal Dust Remover To A Clearly Deranged Addict During a 27-Hour Period”

North Carolina University Student Found Guilty Of Destroying Confederate Statue But Given No Punishment

I have been critical of the handling of cases where protesters destroy statutes that they find offensive.  When various protesters in North Carolina who torn down a statue in public and then celebrated their criminal acts in broad daylight. Because the statue of a civil war memorial, the act of property destruction was condoned by many and Durham District Attorney Roger Echols caved to the pressure in dropping all charges against everyone.  It was effective immunity for a popular criminal act — a dangerous concept in any legal system.  Not surprisingly, others soon claimed the right to unilaterally destroy property, including protesters on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus who took it upon themselves to destroy the controversial Silent Sam Confederate statue. 

I was critical of not only the failure to stop the destruction of the statue despite police at the scene but the decision not to charge above the misdemeanor level. Maya Little, a 26-year-old doctoral student of history, mixed with her own blood with red ink on the statue and was equally unapologetic before the court in declaring “The Orange County court system must also reckon with the Black blood that stains it.”

Now Orange County District Judge Samantha Cabe has found Little guilty but the declined to impose any penalties. Cabe seemed to yield to the argument of Little that she was triggered by the statue or, as her counsel argued, “One person’s defacement is another person’s improvement.”

Cabe backed away from any punishment despite the premeditation of the act and lack of remorse.  Cabe effectively left some public art without the real protection of the law in granting  “continued judgment” — sparing Little for even paying court costs or a technical criminal violation.

The concern is that, once again, there may be no penalty (and thus no deterrent) for those planning and then destroying public art due to public support or sympathy with their acts.

Senior Treasury Official Charged With Leaking Material Related To Russian Investigation

In what could prove the most serious leak prosecution in decades, senior Treasure Department official  Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, 40, has been charged with leaking information to the news organization, Buzzfeed, that she removed from her work at  Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). According to the criminal complaint,  she was the source of leaked financial information on Paul Manafort, Maria Butina and other suspects charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.  While she allegedly first sought to conceal her relationship with a report and denied any contacts with the media, she later claimed to be a whistleblower. That is not likely to help her. She was reportedly found with a drive or memory device containing information in what could prove a lengthy sentence if convicted. Continue reading “Senior Treasury Official Charged With Leaking Material Related To Russian Investigation”

The Washington Post Publishes the Last Column Of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Before His Brutal Murder By The Saudi Government

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Journalist Jamal Khashoggi apparently wrote one last column before he was savagely murdered by agents of the the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia within its consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.  There is mounting evidence that Khashoggi was killed by a team sent from Saudi Arabia including a forensic expert and a close security aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.  Turkish sources released the contents of a tape indicating that  Khashoggi was literally cut up while alive by the Saudis and may have taken seven minutes to die.  There are strong indications that the United States is desperately seeking any way not to sanction Saudi Arabia or lessen such sanctions, including the suggestion by President Donald Trump that “rogue” elements might be responsible.  While Trump initially promised severe punishment if Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate, the fear of many is that the Administration will find a way to protect Saudi Arabia in the face of the torture and dismemberment of a respected intellectual.  For some,  Khashoggi is merely a name while Saudi Arabia represents billions in contracts and thousands of jobs.  However, he was a person living in the United States and a journalist who fought for freedoms in the Middle East.  While he also praised the Saudi Crown prince for some reforms (particularly in giving women more rights), he was a danger precisely because he bravely spoke of freedoms of speech and the press in a region where such expression often results in arrest or execution.  The Crown Prince has insisted that Khashoggi was a “friend” and that he exited the building, but the Saudis can offer no proof of the exiting.

Now the Washington Post has published his last column.  As fate would have it,  Khashoggi wrote about press freedom and his dream that Middle Eastern nations could some day join the West and free and open nations.   Continue reading “The Washington Post Publishes the Last Column Of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi Before His Brutal Murder By The Saudi Government”

Faculty Members Denounce The “Rape Culture” At St. Lawrence University As Part Of Its Calls To Rescind Sen. Collins’ Honorary Degree

I wrote a column yesterday in The Hill newspaper on the effort to strip away the honorary degree awarded to Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) in 2017 in retaliation for her vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  One of the letters seeking the rescission was from roughly 100 professors from virtually every department within St. Lawrence University.  What was most surprising was the assertion of these faculty members that St. Lawrence University has a “rape culture” and that Sen. Collins’ vote was in furtherance of that culture. Notably, there are only 217 full-time and part-time faculty at the university.

Continue reading “Faculty Members Denounce The “Rape Culture” At St. Lawrence University As Part Of Its Calls To Rescind Sen. Collins’ Honorary Degree”

California Professor Who Assaulted Pro-Life Advocates Is Featured by Oregon To Help Students “Embrace . . . The Radical Potential of Black Feminism in Our Everyday Lives”

I have written a great deal about the disturbing case of  Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Young who criminally assault pro-life advocates on campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara.  I have expressed my shock that she was not fired by the University of California and how she was supported by many faculty and students in her violent response to a pro-life display.  Now however she will be honored as a featured speaker at the University of Oregon’s  Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  Part of its “black feminist speaker series,” Miller-Young will “discuss her work on black feminism, labor and sex work.”  The College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English promise that the series will show “the radical potential of black feminism in the work that we do on campus and in our everyday lives.”  She will presumably leave out her work leading students in a violent attack on free speech. Continue reading “California Professor Who Assaulted Pro-Life Advocates Is Featured by Oregon To Help Students “Embrace . . . The Radical Potential of Black Feminism in Our Everyday Lives””

Hardy Questions His Training After Finding This . . . and Getting A Couple Minutes With the Squeaky Toy As A Reward

This just may be my favorite picture of the year.  U.S. Customs and Border Protection beagle Hardy found a roasted pig ‘s head in checked luggage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.  You can almost hear the dog’s inner voice saying “I find this and the ole Hardy ‘good boy’ and a squeaky toy?”  This is precisely why they cannot get cats to do this work. Continue reading “Hardy Questions His Training After Finding This . . . and Getting A Couple Minutes With the Squeaky Toy As A Reward”

Why? President Trump Engages In Name Calling With Daniels In New Low For Public Discourse

I have previously and repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump for his tweets and comments, including personal attacks and name calling that is below the dignity of his office.  Some on this blog have (perhaps correctly) labeled me as something of a prude when it comes to foul language and uncivil exchanges in professional sports, academia, or politics. However, even discounting my sensitivity over such conduct by adults, this is a new low. After news of a judge tossing the defamation lawsuit of Stormy Daniels, Trump lashed out at her and her counsel, Michael Avenatti.   Trump called Daniels “horseface” and Avenatti as a “third-rate lawyer.” Daniels responded by calling him “Tiny” and a man with a penchant for “bestiality.” Once again, why? Trump is President of the United States calling a porn star a adolescent schoolyard name and triggering a name calling contest on social media.  Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans have again criticized the President for such language.

 

Continue reading “Why? President Trump Engages In Name Calling With Daniels In New Low For Public Discourse”

Three Reasons Mueller May Not Charge On Obstruction

440px-Alfred_Hitchcock_(1955)Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the curious status of the obstruction investigation that was the original rationale for a special counsel investigation.  While Special Counsel Robert Mueller is likely to sharply chastise (with good reason) Trump’s comments and conduct vis-a-vis former FBI Director James Comey, he is not making any of the moves that one would expect from a prosecutor building an obstruction case.  Here are three reasons why this may be the Hickcockian bomb that does not go off. Continue reading “Three Reasons Mueller May Not Charge On Obstruction”

Warren Takes DNA Test Showing Distant Native American Heritage . . . Trump Denies Pledging One Million Dollars

Elizabeth_Warren,_official_portrait,_114th_Congress440px-Official_Portrait_of_President_Donald_TrumpSen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) effectively called President Donald Trump a welcher after she took a DNA test as he demanded on national television on the promise that he would donate $1 million to her favorite charity.  While the test by a Stanford professor showed only that she was between 0.097 per cent and 0.156 per cent American Indian, it was still a DNA test.  Warren called on Trump to donate to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.  President Trump however initially denied that he ever made the offer and then changed the offer retroactively to require his testing Warren. Continue reading “Warren Takes DNA Test Showing Distant Native American Heritage . . . Trump Denies Pledging One Million Dollars”

Time To Ban Football Fans: Patriots Fans Throw Beer and Flip Off Chiefs Player [Updated]

193px-New_England_Patriots_logo.svgAs many on this blog know, I love watching football. However, I no longer go to games because of the often drunk and unruly fans.  I long ago decided not to take the kids to games because of all of the drinking and profanity.  It is a real shame because I know other families who have reached the same conclusion.  Stadiums are simply no longer family friendly environments unless you want your kids surrounded by profanely spewing drunks. The alternative would be for owners to actually exercise a modicum of responsibility and toss out unruly fans.  I have made the same argument for baseball.  Their failure to do so was on display in the New England-Kansas City game where Patriots fans flipped off Chiefs Wide Receiver Tyreek Hill after he scored a touchdown in the 4th quarter.  They also threw beer on him as shown in the video below. Update: The Patriots identified the fan who threw the beer but apparently did nothing about the other abusive fans.  It is good to see this fan banned from the stadium and hopefully we will see more enforcement of basic standards of civility and decorum at these games.  The fan has been charged with disorderly conduct.

Continue reading “Time To Ban Football Fans: Patriots Fans Throw Beer and Flip Off Chiefs Player [Updated]”

“Baboons Are Free!”: Idaho Fish And Game Commissioner Causes Outrage After Posing With Dead Family Of Baboons

idaho-fish-game-commissionerI have previously expressed my disgust over trophy hunting game like lions and elephants — people who post accounts of the thrill of killing a giraffe or rhino with a high-powered rifle.  I simply do not understand the joy or power felt in these thrill kills.   Nothing however quite prepared most of us for Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner Blake Fischer. Fischer shared photos of his hunting trip in Africa where he posed with a photo of a entire “family of baboons,” including a baby, that Fischer massacred with a recurve bow.  He gleefully reported that, while you are charged for killing large animals, “Baboons are free.”

Continue reading ““Baboons Are Free!”: Idaho Fish And Game Commissioner Causes Outrage After Posing With Dead Family Of Baboons”

Fourteen Months and Counting: Rob Rosenstein Should Recuse Himself From The Mueller Probe

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on recent stories indicating that top Justice Department officials raised the recusal of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein back in June 2017.  I first raised Rosenstein’s recusal in June and August of that year when the Mueller investigation began based on his role in the firing of James Comey and I have repeatedly called for the recusal since then (here and here and here).  Unless Mueller has told Rosenstein that he does not consider obstruction to be a serious matter for criminal investigation in this context, it is difficult to see how Rosenstein can continue. Indeed, even if Mueller rejects obstruction theories, Rosenstein should not have continued as his superior in the investigation while that matter was explored in compliance with the mandate given Mueller.

Here is the column:

Continue reading “Fourteen Months and Counting: Rob Rosenstein Should Recuse Himself From The Mueller Probe”

Pro-Life Students Attacked at Ryerson University in Latest Assault on Free Speech

We have been following the increasing violence seen on college campuses, particularly directed against conservative and pro-life speakers.  The latest incident occurred at Ryerson University in Ontario  where a video captured Ryerson Student Gabriela “Gabby” Skwarko attacking two members of Toronto Against Abortion (TAA).  Skwarko works for the school’s Office of Social Innovation. The video below shows a violent and unprovoked attack to stop an act of free speech on campus. Continue reading “Pro-Life Students Attacked at Ryerson University in Latest Assault on Free Speech”

Res ipsa loquitur – The thing itself speaks