The Justice Department has lost a major case where it sought to bar efforts to determine if a convicted rapist is in fact innocent. The Obama Administration argued in United States v. Watson that Bill Watson should not be able to use a new DNA test that was not available when he was convicted of a rape in 2006. Despite dozens of cases where convicted individuals were proven innocent, the Obama Administration fought to prevent the use of this test even though the Innocence Project offered to shoulder all of the costs. The position of the Justice Department was inimical to the values of due process and the rule of law, in my view. The United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit rejected the highly technical claims that neither Watson nor the court should knew the true identity of source of key evidence found at the crime scene.
The Supreme Court has handed down its decision in Elonis v. United States, a case that had sweeping implications for free speech on the Internet. The Obama Administration sought to establish a low standard for criminalizing speech based on a reasonable person standard that would have gutted the requirement of scienter or intent in establishing a criminal threat. The Court adopted the narrowest basis to remand the case but it clearly rejected the lower standard sought by the Administration. In doing so, free speech dodged a bullet today and the Obama Administration came perilously close to rolling back on protections for free speech on both the Internet and social media.
By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
During a conference held to award Journalist Glenn Greenwald the Siebenpfeiffer Prize for Journalism, Greenwald reported a conversation in which German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. In this the Vice Chancellor commented to him that the United States threatened Germany with withholding vital intelligence of terrorist activity if the nation granted asylum to Edward Snowden or otherwise allowed him to travel to Germany.
The event shows the extreme measures the Administration is willing to take regarding whistleblowers and others labeled as threats.
The Obama Administration previously filed its Motion to Dismiss in the challenge by the United States House of Representatives v. Burwell. As many of you know, I am lead counsel in the action. The Obama Administration is seeking to block the court from hearing the merits of our Complaint and below is our filing today in defense of the right of the House of Representatives to be heard in the federal court. The case is before Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.