As ThinkProgress has previously explained, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is the second most powerful court in the country. It’s also a bastion of right-wing jurisprudence thanks in no small part to Senate Republican filibustersauthor, Congress, Economy, Environment, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, SPONSOR, The Nation, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Welcome to Justiceline, ThinkProgress Justice’s morning round-up of the latest legal news and developments. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @TPJustice Pro tip: If you are going to be sworn in as CIA Director on a copy of the Constitution to emphasize your devotion to the rule of law, make sure you choose a copy that includes the Bill of Rights . Maryland moves one step closer to repealing the death penaltyauthor, Congress, director, Economy, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Politics, ThinkProgress, Tweets, Washington, White House | Comments Off
Stanford Law Professor Pam Karlan Last last week, the New York Times ‘s Charlie Savage published a characteristically excellent piece detailing the calculations and miscalculations that led to President Obama appointing far fewer judges to the federal bench than his two predecessors — and no judges who stand out as “assertive liberals who might stand as ideological counterpoints to some of the assertive conservatives Mr. Bush named.Arizona, author, Barack Obama, Economy, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Politics, The Nation, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, White House | Comments Off
Republican Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference on Monday, where he expressed concerns similar to those expressed by Chief Justice John Roberts last year about the growing vacancy crisis on the federal bench: The Senate is a political entity and will act in a political way and that’s quite proper.Affordable Care Act, Arizona, author, Economy, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Medicare, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, White House | Comments Off
Judicial Nominee Pamela Ki Mai Chen Since taking office, President Obama has quadrupled the number of openly gay judges holding lifetime appointments to the federal bench, although this fact has as much to do with the poor record of past presidents in naming gay judges as it does with President Obama’s commitment to diversity. Before Obama took office, only one openly gay judge — Clinton appointee Deborah Batts — was an Article III federal judgeArizona, author, Economy, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, White House | Comments Off
Judge Robert Bacharach Last January, President Obama nominated federal Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.author, Congress, Economy, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Harry Reid, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Medicare, Republican Party, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War | Comments Off
Marc Thiessen, the Bush Administration torture apologist turned Washington Post columnist, uses his column today to proclaim that Chief Justice Roberts was a failed nominee and Republicans need to ensure that future Robertses never reach the high Court again: We don’t know if he was suddenly convinced by his liberal colleagues, or simply had a failure of nerve.Affordable Care Act, author, Barack Obama, Economy, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, Washington | Comments Off
ThinkProgress filed this report from the Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, California. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) just doesn’t know what to do with his radical book arguing that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. The Perry campaign has alternatively embraced the book , distanced itself from it , run away from voters asking him about it, and misrepresented what it says . ThinkProgress’ Scott Keyes caught up with Rick Perry’s campaign manager yesterday, and learned that Team Perry is back to simply not telling the truth about what their candidate believes: KEYES: Does the governor still think that Social Security exists at the expense of the Constitution? PERRY SPOX: In the book he never said — he didn’t say it was unconstitutional. Is that what you’re getting at? KEYES: Well, just that he wrote that Social Security exists at the expense of the Constitution. PERRY SPOX: He believes Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and that we’ve got to address it. We’re starting a national conversation. Watch it: For the record, here is the passage in Fed Up! where Rick Perry says that Social Security is unconstitutional: There is no ambiguity in this passage. Nor is there ambiguity in a subsequent interview where Perry reiterated his belief that Social Security and Medicare violate the Constitution: I don’t think our founding fathers when they were putting the term “general welfare” in [the Constitution] were thinking about a federally operated program of pensions nor a federally operated program of health care. What they clearly said was that those were issues that the states need to address. Not the federal government. I stand very clear on that. Simply put, the Perry campaign needs to stop misrepresenting what their candidate believes.Affordable Care Act, Arizona, author, Economy, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, Medicare, Social Security, ThinkProgress, Tweets, War, Yglesias | Comments Off
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is preparing to file a lawsuit against Well Fargo bank for allegedly shunting thousands of African-American borrowers into subprime mortgages when they should have qualified for less expensive loans. News of DOJ’s probe comes just one week after Wells Fargo agreed to pay an $85 million settlement after a similar lawsuit was brought by the Federal Reserve alleging that the bank preyed upon over 10,000 borrowers.Africa, author, Congress, Debt Ceiling, Economy, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Headlines, Health, Justice, LGBT, Media, ThinkProgress, Top Headlines, Tweets, Yglesias | Comments Off
A prison in Norway. Following last week’s shocking bombing and shooting attack by alleged suspect Anders Breivik, much of the world is now awaiting his trial. Many right wingers, particularly those in the United States, are now bemoaning Norway’s criminal justice system, noting that the country uses a maximum sentencing law that typically only allows prisoners to be jailed for 21 years (although prisoners can be held for additional five-year sentences if they are deemed dangerous). “Most murderers in Norway spend just 14 years behind bars. The terrorist is 32 years old. He will get out when he’s 53. That means he’s serving about 3 months for every person he murdered. Justice?” asked a blogger at Big Peace. Yet before Americans rush to judge Norway’s criminal justice system — which relies far less on punitive measures than ours and that has a strong focus on rehabilitation — they should look at the results it produces. Norway is one of the safest countries on earth, boasting some of the world’s lowest crime rates: – Norway Has Some Of The Lowest Murder Rates In The World: In 2009, Norway had .6 intentional homicides per 100,000 people. In the same year, the United States had 5 murders per 100,000 people, meaning that the U.S. proportionally has 8 times as many homicides. – Norway’s Incarceration Rate Is A Fraction Of That Of The United States: 71 out of every 100,000 Norwegian citizens is incarcerated. In the United States, 743 out of every 100,000 citizens was incarcerated in 2009. The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate. – Norway’s Prisoner Recidivism Rate Is Much Lower Than The United States’: The recidivism rate for prisoners in Norway is around 20 percent . Meanwhile, it’s estimated that 67 percent of America’s prisoners are re-arrested and 52 percent are re-incarcerated. While many Americans may have an understandable emotional reaction to a country that strives to treat even the most heinous of murderers humanely, they should also be aware of the fact that Norway’s criminal justice system appears to have produced a nation that is much safer and imprisons far less of its people than the United States or just about any other country.Anders Breivik, Articles, Federal Nominations, Feeds, Justice, LGBT, Terrorism, Tweets | Comments Off
In an essay published by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, torture memo author John Yoo brings his unsurpassed ability to pretend the Constitution says whatever conservatives wish that it said to the subject of whether President Obama can issue an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political donations: The proposed executive order making disclosure of political giving history a condition to being awarded a federal contract makes some of the Nixon-era “dirty tricks” look almost quaint by comparison . As the Supreme Court has made clear, anonymous political speech enjoys “an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent,” and anonymity serves as a shield “against the tyranny of the majority.” Any president who seeks to undo this centuries-old American constitutional right by the fiat of an executive order would be prudent to reflect on the ultimate outcome when Richard Nixon and John Dean tried, using their infamous enemies list, to accomplish that precise objective. If there is anyone in the universe who should think twice before criticizing a government lawyer for enabling a president to break the law, it is John Yoo. And while Yoo certainly spares no adjective in arguing that preserving the integrity of American democracy is an impeachable offense, he might also want to consider actually reading what the Supreme Court has to say about disclosure laws before drafting articles of impeachment against President Obama. In an obscure case called Citizens United v. FEC , the Supreme Court held that “disclosure could be justified based on a governmental interest in ‘provid[ing] the electorate with information’ about the sources of election-related spending.” President Obama’s proposed executive order provides the electorate with information about the sources of election-related spending. So Yoo’s entire argument can be rebutted in exactly two sentences. Elsewhere in his essay, Yoo comes to the defense of poor, innocent corporations that may lose their ability to deceive their customers and investors: After disclosure of a contribution by the retailer Target to MN Forward, a conservative Minnesota political group that supported a gubernatorial candidate who was opposed to gay marriage, proponents demanded that Target also support pro-gay candidates. Target refused. MoveOn organized a widespread boycott and flash mobs appeared at Target stores; the retailer countered by suing protesters. In the seconds it took for a Facebook video of the boycott to go viral, Target’s established reputation as a gay-friendly company was shredded. After institutional investors protested the “misalignment” between Target’s Minnesota political spending and its professed corporate values, Target announced that future political contributions would require the approval of an internal policy committee. In other words, Target misled the public by calling itself a gay-friendly corporation, when it actually was secretly funding an anti-gay effort. Yet, because of disclosure, it was no longer able to maintain this charade and forced to end its two-faced practices. In Yoo’s twisted understanding of the world, this is a great tragedy and not a compelling argument for why disclosure laws are necessary. Given Yoo’s role in the Bush administration’s torture policy, asking him to express a legal opinion is a bit like asking Don Draper for advice on marital fidelity. Even so, Yoo’s defense of corporate America’s power to secretly buy elections is weak even by his own tragically incompetent standards .
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President Obama will nominate Michael Fitzgerald, an openly gay man, to a federal court in California. Fitzgerald will be Obama’s fourth openly gay judicial nominee — although only one of these four has made it through the U.S. Senate’s wall of obstruction.
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ThinkProgress Supreme Leader Faiz Shakir has a piece in the Washington Post arguing that unprecedented obstruction requires unprecedented tactics. Specifically, he argues that Barack Obama needs to drop the DC convention of having nominees suffer in silence meeting privately with legislators and let Richard Cordray speak : After withdrawing his nomination earlier this year, Nobel Laureate Diamond was finally free to speak out. He took to the pages of the New York Times and appeared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” to bemoan the many misconceptions that had been advanced by Republicans about his record. It was a cogent and powerful response to his detractors . But it came too late. It’s time for a no-regrets approach. Richard Cordray shouldn’t be quarantined from the media while Republicans go on the attack. This time, let the nominee speak. I think this is especially compelling in light of the fact that at least 44 Senate Republicans have already indicate that they’ll filibuster any nominee unless President Obama agrees to substantially restructure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in order to make it more bank-friendly. Under the circumstances, we’re not really talking about a narrow “confirmation strategy;” we’re talking about a broader political strategy around the CFPB. Since Cordray would be the first chief of the new bureau whose very existence and basic structure are controversial, it makes a lot of sense for him to do media appearances where he can explain his vision for the agency in some detail and lay out his argument for the structure currently enshrined in law.
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