Friday, March 12, 2010

Eric Holder Blames the "Process" (Mafia Attorneys: Please Don't Read This)

I just love how Attorney General Eric Holder blames an inanimate "process" for his own failure in a quote cited at the end of this Legal Times blog post:
"While I made a good faith effort to fully answer the Committee's questions in my initial submission," Holder wrote, "it appears that the process I used to search manually and electronically for relevant material from my three decades in public life was deficient."
Should we have confidence the errors were inadvertent, when the Attorney General sees such a need to couch his terms?

I wonder how many defendants being prosecuted by DOJ for obstruction of justice will now use this defense before a jury:
"While I made a good faith effort to fully comply with the Justice Department's subpoena, it appears that the process I used to search manually and electronically for relevant material was deficient."
Defense lawyers may have a bit of fun with this one. Here's hoping the ones who do are defending innocent people.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:53 PM

Monday, February 01, 2010

More on James O'Keefe Case

As I mentioned the other day, James O'Keefe has been charged under Title 18, Section 1036 of the U.S. Code, which prohibits persons from entering "any real property belonging in whole or in part to, or leased by, the United States... by any fraud or false pretense."

A thing that strikes me about the James O'Keefe case is that people enter Congressional offices all the time under false pretenses. They say they want to talk to the staff or the Congressman in the District office, but once there, they stage a sit-in to stop logging, to demand climate change action, to demand an end to the Iraq War, or to demand sanctions against one country or another.

Yet, the media greets them as heroes and O'Keefe as a criminal.

ACORN, by the way, has a long history of orchestrating sit-ins. I'm sure its members don't always come in and say, "Hi, I'm Jane Doe, I represent ACORN and I'm here to stage a sit-in. Would you mind terribly if I brought a few hundred of my friends in, too?" Obviously, Code-Pink has done it, too.

If at the end of the day the charges against O'Keefe are merely that he entered a federal office under false pretenses and all these lefties have denounced him for doing so, they'll have denounced him for doing essentially the same thing they do all the time.

Written by David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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Posted by David A. Ridenour at 9:09 PM

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thoughts on Barack Obama's Attack on the Court


Following the obligatory full disclosure that the National Center for Public Policy Research was not exactly neutral in the case of Citizens United v. FEC when it went before the Supreme Court (we supported and signed on to an amicus brief in the case spearheaded by the Free Speech Coalition last year), I want to slightly defend President Obama vis-a-vis his erroneous remarks about the case during the State of the Union address.

Yes, Justice Samuel Alito was right (Bradley Smith, a campaign finance expert and law professor, proves it succinctly here), and President Obama wrong, on the facts.

But in regards to those who are calling the President a liar on the matter: I doubt it because I doubt the President knew the facts of the case before he spoke. Unlike our last Democratic President, Barack Obama has never been particularly interested in issues, and his speechwriters draw heavily from left-wing sources without fact-checking (as when they blindly trusted Slate's Timothy Noah when drafting Obama's health care speech to the joint session of Congress).

The left-wing position on Citizens United, as Democracy 21 put it, is that a loophole now exists in the law because, although foreign corporations are banned from influencing elections, "there is no statutory prohibition against foreign-controlled domestic corporations from making expenditures to influence federal elections."

But the absence of a statute is not the fault of the Supreme Court, and President Obama and the left is wrong to criticize the Court for it. Congress had plenty of time to anticipate Citizens United v. FEC and to pass legislation to deal with this or any other loophole if it believes a loophole exists.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear Citizens United v. FEC in August 2008. The Court heard arguments on it twice (March and September 2009), which led court-watchers to expect that major parts of McCain-Feingold would be struck down. Any legislation affecting the influence of foreign-controlled domestic corporations on U.S. elections would have received extensive bi-partisan support. Yet Congress didn't pass it, and Obama never asked it to try.

The Supreme Court had one duty: to apply the Constitution. President Obama was criticizing the court on public policy grounds the Court would have been out of line to consider.

The role of the Supreme Court is something about which leftists in general tend to be willfully ignorant. For example, in comments about this case, Josh Glasstetter of the popular left-wing Crooks and Liars blog not only ignored the fact that the Supreme Court is supposed to be neutral on policy impacts, but he exaggerated the decision's impact immensely:
[The Supreme Court justices voting in the majority] don't seem to mind that Lukoil (Kremlin Inc.), Citgo (Hugo Chavez LLC), Aramco (King Fahd and Sons Co.), and countless other multinational corporations - including those run as business arms of foreign governments - now have a free hand to influence the government from top to bottom.
If it so chose, Congress could plug any loophole being exploited by Hugo Chavez long before November. Who would vote against it?

So I defend the President on the charge that he lied when he claimed the decision opened "the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections," because I doubt he knew any better, but I don't excuse him for acting as if the Supreme Court and the Congress have the same responsibilities.

He's a former law professor, for heaven's sake!

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:12 AM

Friday, January 22, 2010

International Bureaucrat Criticizes Supreme Court Free Speech Ruling

Fortunately, it's none of his business, but it is a sad and twisted commentary on the international human rights situation when one of its top spokesman speaks out against free speech.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:39 PM

Alan Grayson Inadvertently Reminds Us of the Limits of Stare Decisis on Roe Anniversary

Portrait of Dred ScottDred Scott

Some members of the Project 21 black leadership group were offended by Rep. Alan Grayson's comments comparing yesterday's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC to the Dred Scott case, believing Grayson's comparison tends to trivialize Dred Scott. In Dred Scott the Supreme Court, after all, "decided" that black Americans who were, had been, or were descended from slaves could not be U.S. citizens (among other noxious things).

It is breathtaking that a majority of the Supreme Court could take away the citizenship of a huge group of people just like that.

The fact that the Dred Scott decision could ever take place certainly reminds us of the limits of stare decisis, something worth remembering on this anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision.

The Project 21 press release can be read here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:17 AM

Sunday, November 22, 2009

David Beamer Op-Ed Recommended

For those who have not already done so, I strongly recommend the Wall Street Journal op-ed of November 20 by David Beamer (father of Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer) on Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to try the -- I suppose I am supposed to say "alleged" -- 9/11 terrorists as if they were domestic criminals.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:58 PM

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's Happening Now

Bob Moffit on a new way the Senate leadership is trying to deceive you.

Roundup of black conservative opinion of NFL-thinks-it-is-too-good-for-Rush-Limbaugh dustup.

Judge tosses out yet another lawsuit trying to set global warming policy in the courts instead of the legislatures.

Is the Honduran constitution negotiable?

Snow in New Jersey on October 15 does not disprove the global warming theory.

Daniel Henninger: Donald Rumsfeld was right.

Obama says the damage from Katrina was caused in part by a "breakdown of government." If gov't came make a hurricane worse, why would we want it to run health care?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:51 AM

Friday, October 02, 2009

What's Happening Now

Senator Kerry blocks Senate fact-finding trip to Honduras.

Woman who "essentially starved" her toddler to death served a mere six months and is now accused of grotesquely abusing her son. Six months?

State of Michigan threatens woman for babysitting.

A population map.

In the none-of-its-business department: Major U.S. corporation spends $290,000 telling Irish voters to vote to join EU.

John Goodman asks: Why is AARP selling out seniors?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:11 AM

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's Happening Now

Tonsils redux: President Obama says greedy doctors are coming for your feet... but LA Times says prevention in these cases is expensive. Why don't the greedy doctors do prevention, Mr. Prez?

Funeral Director Full-Employment Bill: President Obama sees post office as model for health care system.

Obama: "Technically, I'm not for a single-payer system." Technically?

Murder a child; go free. Worse than appalling.

Wrong again, Mr. President.

Why are people upset about ObamaCare? Because certain politicians lie and lie and lie and lie and lie.

Government health care would cost more than the politicians claim.

CNN says talk radio hosts are too predictable.

Astroturf for hire. By the left.

No plants at Obama "town meeting." Uh huh.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:06 PM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's Happening Now

A secret meeting. Others are not-so-secret anymore.

Opposed to government-run health care? Join the bus tour.

We need a special prosecutor.

Surprise! A letter to the Senate (pdf) on Sotomayor.

The House Democrats' health care bill and illegal aliens.

Bill Cosby is shocked at Barack Obama.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:32 PM

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Project 21's Borelli to Speak About Sotomayor Confirmation Hearing on Fox News Channel Monday

DBStrategyRoom021309.jpgProject 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli is scheduled to appear on the Fox News Channel's online "Strategy Room" program on Monday, July 20 between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM eastern.

Deneen expects to discuss the judicial confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor. Deneen wrote about the nomination, and Sotomayor's opinion on racial preferences, in a recent New Visions Commentary from Project 21.

In the commentary "Special Treatment and Sotomayor," Deneen wrote:
After all of the significant strides that have been made for equal opportunity over the years, one would think that winners and losers today would no longer be decided based on skin color...

...But America changed.

From the White House to the worlds of sports, entertainment and corporate America, most blacks have moved on and are taking advantage of opportunities and leading successful, productive lives...

...Fortunately, the Court's ruling on the Ricci case won't allow the clock to continually be turned backward. But based on comments made by the nominee, Sonya Sotomayor could reinvigorate racial preferences.

This disturbing possibility puts change at a crossroads.

In light of the Court's ruling in the Ricci case, Sotomayor's opinions should be closely scrutinized to determine her judicial philosophy.
To access the live Internet broadcast, click here and then click the "STREAM THIS NOW" headline in the center or the page under the photo.

This post was written by David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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Posted by David W. Almasi at 11:30 AM

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Did Sonia Sotomayor Lie Today?

John Hinderaker thinks she may have.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:34 PM

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Go For It, Indiana

Here's hoping the U.S. Supreme Court hears this case.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:13 PM

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

On Sotomayor, Rumors of Conservative Hypocrisy are Overblown

ScienceBlogs, which, despite the neutral and academic-sounding name, apparently is a left-wing political blog, has a curious attack on "the Right" today on the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor. Since husband David and I are in it, mildly, and post author Ed Brayton appears to have a glaring blind spot that causes him to unfairly malign several of my fellow conservatives, I thought I'd take a minute to set the record straight.

Brayton claims there is "glaring hypocrisy" of which some conservatives are guilty. Specifically, Brayton charges, in 2005 (Brayton actually wrote "1995") quite a few conservatives signed a letter to Republican Senators opposing the use of the filibuster to obstruct up-or-down 50-percent-plus-one votes on judicial nominees. The hypocrisy comes in, Brayton charges, because some of those same conservatives also signed a letter dated June 2, 2009 calling on Republican Senators to consider using a filibuster to, if needed, make sure the Senate debate on Sotomayor is "appropriately long."

Brayton misses, either intentionally or because he did not understand one or both of the letters, the important common position in each letter: Opposition to the use of the filibuster to obstruct a straightforward up-or-down 50-percent-plus-one vote.

The 2009 letter spells out very clearly that the letter's signers are not trying to obstruct a majority vote on Sotomayor, but merely make certain a meaningful debate on the nomination occurs. Paragraphs are devoted to the explanation, as well as very clear phrases, such as "the traditional filibuster, not intended to obstruct [a vote]."

It seems so clear to me, I don't see how Brayton could have misunderstood it.

P.S. The Other McCain rebuts another ridiculous criticism of the June 2 letter. Really, why do certain people feel so threatened by a call for a mere debate?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:25 PM

Quote of Note: Obama on the Need for Justices to Have "Empathy"

"...while adherence to legal precedent and rules of statutory or constitutional construction will dispose of 95 percent of the cases that come before a court, so that both a Scalia and a Ginsburg will arrive at the same place most of the time on those 95 percent of the cases -- what matters on the Supreme Court is those 5 percent of cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction and interpretation will only get you through the 25th mile of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works, and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.

"In those 5 percent of hard cases, the constitutional text will not be directly on point. The language of the statute will not be perfectly clear. Legal process alone will not lead you to a rule of decision. In those circumstances, your decisions about whether affirmative action is an appropriate response to the history of discrimination in this country or whether a general right of privacy encompasses a more specific right of women to control their reproductive decisions or whether the commerce clause empowers Congress to speak on those issues of broad national concern that may be only tangentially related to what is easily defined as interstate commerce, whether a person who is disabled has the right to be accommodated so they can work alongside those who are nondisabled -- in those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart."

-Barack Obama, Senate Floor Speech on the Confirmation of Judge John Roberts, September 2005

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:16 AM

Quote of Note: Obama on the Senate's Advise and Consent Role

"As we all know, there's been a lot of discussion in the country about how the Senate should approach this confirmation process. There are some who believe that the President, having won the election, should have the complete authority to appoint his nominee, and the Senate should only examine whether or not the Justice is intellectually capable and an all-around nice guy. That once you get beyond intellect and personal character, there should be no further question whether the judge should be confirmed.

"I disagree with this view. I believe firmly that the Constitution calls for the Senate to advise and consent. I believe that it calls for meaningful advice and consent that includes an examination of a judge's philosophy, ideology, and record..."

-Barack Obama, Floor Statement on the Confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito, Jr., January 26, 2006

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:02 AM

Monday, June 01, 2009

Michelle Malkin on New Black Panther Case

Michelle Malkin has been covering (here and here) the Department of Justice's decision on the Philadelphia New Black Panther Party alleged voter intimidation case.

She writes, "According to a legal source familiar with DOJ procedures, dismissing a lawsuit won by default is unheard of."


Michelle mentioned Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie's call for a special counsel, writing:
Project 21's Mychal Massie wants an investigation: "From all accounts, this was a clear-cut violation of peoples' right to vote without fear and intimidation, but the Obama Administration appears to be trying to sweep it under the rug," said Massie. "After all of the allegations about the Bush Administration politicizing the Justice Department, this smacks of either extreme ignorance or extreme hubris on the part of their successors. Whatever the case, an independent investigation is needed to get to the bottom of what's going on over there."
Michelle has a copy of the full affidavit of one of the eyewitnesses in this case. She has a link to a PDF of it in this post.

Mychal's press statement can be read here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nothing Gets By CNN


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 PM

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Black Leader Says Sotomayor Nomination Perfect Catalyst for Debate About Judicial Activism

Project 21's Mychal Massie has thoughts on the Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination.

Among other things, he says the Sotomayor nomination is the perfect catalyst to begin a national debate on the appropriateness of "judicial activism," when judges essentially cut lawmakers out of the legislative process and try to rule from the bench.

More here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:12 PM

Monday, May 18, 2009

Outrage of the Day: 9th Circuit Harms U.S. Security

Writing in the Washington Examiner, National Center for Public Policy Research board member Horace Cooper has harsh words for a recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on "extraordinary rendition."

Horace writes:
A recent ruling by a three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the ACLU's lawsuit against "extraordinary rendition" to go forward was reckless and lawless. Tragically, the price for aiding the ACLU may well be the loss of American lives.

This case (Mohamed, et al., v. Jeppesen Dataplan, et al) started in 2007 when the ACLU and five non-citizens filed suit claiming that the five men were unlawfully captured and tortured as part of a "clandestine" CIA program for interrogating suspected terrorists.

...This case demonstrates the limits of courts when it comes to assessing policy matters, particularly those associated with national security. Judges have no particular skills in evaluating either the benefits or the consequences of their rulings on national security and as lifetime appointees they are well insulated from the consequences of their rulings.

...When this case came before U.S. District Judge James Ware, he dismissed this case once its implications for national security became clear. The Justice Department had invoked the "state secrets" doctrine and former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden's warned that if this case were to go forward it could cause "exceptionally grave" danger to U.S. national security.

It is well settled that when the "subject matter of a lawsuit is a matter of state secret," the suit must be dismissed without regard to the question of evidence. And as the Supreme Court has recognized for over a 100 years, any lawsuit predicated on "alleged espionage agreements" also require a per se or automatic dismissal. This case involved both elements. But in overturning Judge Ware, the Ninth Circuit decision flies head long against these precedents.

...This decision was particularly distressing as it disregarded the assertion of the "State Secrets" privilege by both the Bush and Obama Justice Departments.

Furthermore, this decision is sharply at odds with the national-security reality that Americans face: We are in a worldwide war with terrorists who seek to destroy our country and our way of life. They have attacked us at sea and on land, at home and abroad. And recent disclosures by the Obama Administration about a thwarted attack on Los Angeles a few years ago reveal that our enemies haven’t stopped their efforts to harm us.

Make no mistake the precedent of allowing these alleged victims of the United States government's "extraordinary rendition" program to misuse the Federal Court system even though the CIA is not a party to the lawsuit is lawless as well as dangerous.

Publicly exposing vital secrets will aid terrorists and others who threaten our nation’s security. Unfortunately, this ruling, by denying the seriousness of the threat, will only make the effort to save American lives more difficult.
Read it all here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:55 PM

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Open Letter to Senator Barbara Boxer

Dear Senator Boxer:

I read with interest your letter urging people to send an e-mail to President Obama urging him to select a woman for the U.S. Supreme Court.

I don't often agree with you, but I think you are half right this time. The President should definitely pick either a woman or a man.

But I'm concerned that your position overlooks the fight against another terrible form of discrimination.

You wrote:
Women make up 51% of our nation's population.

Yet only 17% of the seats in Congress are held by women. Only 3% of corporate CEOs are women. And just one out of nine Supreme Court justices is a woman.
Women have been discriminated against, and continue to be discriminated against, so the President should choose a woman for the Supreme Court. That's your position in a nutshell, right?

Have you considered that you may not be going far enough?

Let's face it, Senator. It isn't just women who are discriminated against. It's older women.

Older women are definitely discriminated against more than younger, more beautiful women.

If the President is going to use his Supreme Court pick to take a stand against discrimination, the President shouldn't just pick a woman for the Supreme Court. He should pick one of the women who are discriminated against the most.

That is, an older woman.

And the older the woman he chooses, the stronger a statement he'll make.

So please join me in urging the President to nominate someone really old to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The older the better.

Like 98 or so.

The noble fight against sexism and ageism requires no less.

With all due respect,

Amy Ridenour

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:38 PM

Friday, May 01, 2009

So President Obama is to Have a Supreme Court Pick

Here's hoping he feels the need to pick a black Latino Native American gay transgendered Wiccan, and the only one he can find is 96 years old.

(And healthy enough to live to be 100.)

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:21 AM

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Senate Majority Leader Calls Chief Justice a Liar

HarryReidTheScreamFlickrCCabsentee_redstate.jpg In what only makes sense as his latest entry in the highly-competitive Laughstock of Washington contest, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday called Chief Justice John Roberts a liar.

Reid claims that, in not one but two judicial confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate,* Roberts lied to the Senate about "who he was."

From the March 28 Washington Times story by Stephen Dinan:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings by pretending to be open-minded about his judicial philosophy.

"We got into a little jam with Roberts. Roberts didn't tell us the truth. At least [Justice Samuel A.] Alito told us who he was," Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said, comparing former President George W. Bush's two successful Supreme Court nominees.

"We're stuck with those two young men," Mr. Reid said, though he added that Democrats hope to try to balance out the judiciary overall by "having some moderates in the federal court system as time goes on."...
Harry Reid acts more and more every day like the nation's crazy uncle. Of course John Roberts told the Senate "who he was" (Reidspeak for "judicial philosophy"). For his Chief Justice confirmation hearings alone, Roberts answered a lengthy Senate questionnaire, participated in four days of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee, had all his past decisions, public writings and statements heavily scrutinized, had the 39 cases he'd argued before the Supreme Court minutely reviewed, had his professional history (including stints in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses and clerking for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist) gone over with a microscope, and a good bit more.

The famous arroyo toad quip ("The panel's approach in this case leads to the result that regulating the taking of a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California constitutes regulating 'Commerce... among the several States...'") all by itself should have given Reid a big clue that Roberts wasn't the "living-Constitution-let's-see-what-the-French-think" style of jurist the left seems to prefer.

Or, as Reid calls them, "moderates."

I assume, of course, that Reid understood the point, or could even tell you what the Commerce Clause is (and yes, he's a lawyer).

But if even if all that is Greek to Reid, there's still the fact that Senate Democrats not once but twice (1991 and 2001) delayed giving Roberts his confirmation hearings when he was nominated to lower courts. We can assume it wasn't because Senate Democrats thought Roberts too "moderate."

Last week left-wing Rep. Barney Frank called Justice Antonin Scalia a "homophobe." This week, left-wing Senator Harry Reid calls the Chief Justice a liar.

Do you suppose the left is irritated that our country still has strong good men who defend our Constitution?

Must be.

* 2003: U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; 2005: U.S. Supreme Court
Image: Flickr - absentee_redstate - Creative Commons

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:54 AM

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Barney Frank Calls Antonin Scalia a "Homophobe"

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview Friday on that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a "homophobe."

"At some point, [the Defense of Marriage Act] is going to have to go to the United States Supreme Court," Frank said. "I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court."
I predict Justice Scalia won't call Rep. Frank any nasty name in response, which should tell us all we need to know about which of them has more class.

Some people call others names because their brain boxes are too small to permit them to think through and then articulate an idea. Barney Frank, however, is very intelligent, so we can put this one down to nastiness.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:23 AM

Monday, January 19, 2009

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie on Don Kroah Show

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie is at this minute being interviewed on the Don Kroah Show on WAVA AM radio on President Bush's commutation of the sentences of jailed Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:51 PM

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Boumediene v. Bush Ruling Will Cost Lives

Project 21's Kevin Martin and four members of the U.S. Supreme Court fear the Supreme Court's ruling in Boumediene v. Bush (pdf) -- the Guantanamo Bay/enemy combatant decision -- will cost lives:
Supreme Court Gitmo Ruling Called "Chilling"; Will Cost American Lives

For Release: June 12, 2008
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected]

Washington, D.C. - Responding to today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush that allows suspected terrorists to challenge their incarceration, Project 21 member Kevin Martin is criticizing the Court, saying this decision puts national security at risk and sends a confusing signal to the military.

"As a Navy veteran who supported and defended our Constitution at home and abroad, today's Supreme Court ruling benefiting suspected terrorists is deeply disappointing," said Martin. "To grant suspected terrorists the same rights as those fighting to protect our nation is wrong. I consider this one of the most chilling legal rulings in my lifetime. Giving alleged foreign combatants the same rights as any American provides potential ammunition to those with political agendas running counter to the commander-in-chief. Our nation's enemies will now have the ability to gum up our federal courts with baseless legal challenges and further hinder the pursuit of justice."

In the razor-thin 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court decision allows suspected terrorists such as those currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba the right to challenge their incarceration in federal courts. It overturns a law passed in 2006 that limited judicial jurisdiction and affects 270 suspected terrorists currently being held by the U.S. military - including 14 suspects al Qaeda members.

Writing in dissent, and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the 2006 law struck down today was "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants. The political branches crafted these procedures amidst an ongoing military conflict, after much careful investigation and thorough debate. The Court rejects them today out of hand, without bothering to say what due process rights the detainees possess, without explaining how the statute fails to vindicate those rights, and before a single petitioner has even attempted to avail himself of the law's operation... One cannot help but think... think, after surveying the modest practical results of the majority's ambitious opinion, that this decision is not really about the detainees at all, but about control of federal policy regarding enemy combatants."

In another scathing dissent, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the majority decision "warps the Constitution" and that "[our] nation will live to regret what the Court has done today." Scalia further warned the ruling "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed... that consequence would be tolerable if necessary to preserve a time-honored legal principle vital to our constitutional Republic. But it is this Court's blatant abandonment of such a principle that produces the decision today." Scalia also wrote a practical affect of the decision will likely be harm to enemy combatants, as the decision is likely to result in enemy combatants being turned over to other nations by the United States following capture.

Martin added: "This sends a confounding message to our men and women in uniform, within our intelligence community and to our allies. Their hard-fought efforts to capture terrorist suspects maybe for naught because they could simply be released back on the battlefield on a legal technicality."
For more information, I recommend reading the decision.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:33 PM

Monday, May 26, 2008

Photo ID: Bad for Polls, but Good for Premieres

From David Almasi:
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Indiana election law requiring that people show valid photo ID at a polling place before they receive a ballot. The decision was made over the outcry of critics who claim it will restrict access to the polls - particularly for the poor, elderly and minorities.

This Sunday, HBO debuted its new movie "Recount," a star-studded drama about the 2000 post-election recount in Florida. The decision to certify the election in George W. Bush's favor was made over the outcry of critics who claimed the voting process was too confusing and irregular -- particularly for the poor, elderly and minorities.

Don't think a Hollywood film about it won't echo these beliefs. According to a review of "Recount" in Entertainment Weekly: "Speaking of Democrats, 'Recount' may not be downright blue, but it's not as purply as it wants to appear. Despite its 'equal time' approach, 'Recount' is an underdog story, and thus a Democrat story." On the Politico website, Laura Dern, who plays then-Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, says of the story: "As much as I consider myself a conspiracy theorist, it was much worse than I expected."

I am a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly and sometimes receive its online giveaways. I won a pair of tickets to go to a premiere of "Recount" at a movie theater in downtown Washington. I'm busy, but I wanted to be able to give the tickets to a co-worker. No can do. In order to use the tickets, according to the personalized e-mail I received, "please have photo IDs for you and your guest available for inspection."

So let me get this straight: I'm not supposed to be required to show a photo ID before doing something as important as voting, but I do need one to see a movie? A movie, by the way, that at that time was scheduled to be on television in just four days.

I'm figuring the people behind this movie were outraged when they heard about the Supreme Court's decision.

This is just one of the many things I’ve dealt with lately that required photo ID. I needed photo ID last week to donate blood. I needed a photo ID to get a free burrito from Moe's on my birthday. And I need to show a photo ID just to get past the lobby in my wife's office building. Shouldn't one also be required for voting?

But, based on prevailing liberal logic, the photo ID requirement at these places and at the "Recount" premiere is wrong -- particularly for the poor, elderly and minorities.
David Almasi is executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. To contact David directly, write him at [email protected].


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:39 PM

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Novel Approach to Requesting a Pardon for Ramos and Compean

David Almasi shares an idea for a novel approach to a pardon request to President Bush for Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean:
"Mr. President, I am honored and grateful that you have invited me to your ranch on the wedding day of your daughter. And may their first child be a masculine child."

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie has been a long-standing advocate of a presidential pardon or commuting of the prison sentences of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. In fact, Project 21 has successfully enlisted the support of black churches across America for a special "National Day of Prayer for Jailed Border Agents and All Law Enforcement" on Sunday, May 11. More information on the case and the need for a pardon can be found in Mychal's Washington Times column, is available here.

Saturday is Jenna Bush's wedding. Since previous pleas have for clemency have fallen on deaf ears, perhaps a page can be taken from Mario Puzo's The Godfather. Someone who's been invited to the Crawford, Texas nuptials needs to put the question of freedom for Ramos and Compean to President Bush tomorrow. Since, according to Puzo's story, "no Sicilian can refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day," maybe something similar can be arranged with the President.

I know he's not Sicilian, but it's worth a try. Patriotism and logic have failed thus far.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 AM

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On Eve of D.C. Gun Ban Supreme Court Case, Black Activist Says No Rights are Secure Unless All of Them Are

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today on the constitutionality of the nearly 32-year-old District of Columbia handgun ban. Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli, a gun owner, says the court must respect all the protections in the U.S. Constitution, or none of them are truly safe:
Black Activist Asks: If Courts Can Gut Second Amendment, How Can We Assume 13th Amendment Ban on Slavery is Safe?

For Release: March 18, 2008
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or
[email protected]

As the U.S. Supreme Court considers its first major case involving the definition of the 2nd Amendment's protection of gun rights in almost 70 years, black activists with the Project 21 leadership network assert that government should not be allowed to pick and choose what constitutional protections are honored and enforced.

"As a black American, I would be horrified to hear a state or local government enacted legislation or regulation that gutted the 13th Amendment's prohibit on slavery or the 15th Amendment's guarantee that all races could vote. Why aren't more people outraged when the 2nd Amendment's guarantee that individuals can protect themselves is infringed?" asks Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. "Besides violating the 2nd Amendment, this case involving the District of Columbia's gun ban is a violation of the fundamental rationale of law as well as immorally denying citizens the right to protect themselves."

In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, to be heard at 10:00 am Eastern on March 18, the justices will consider arguments about a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last spring that struck down the 1976 law that banned most gun ownership in the nation's capital. This particular case is important from other recent gun rights cases heard by the Court because the nature of the case touches the core 2nd Amendment protection of an individual's right to own a firearm.

"In Washington, criminals know that an unarmed citizen is easy prey. Right now, the criminals are winning because the city's gun ban is effectively protecting the plunderer and punishing the property owner," added Project 21's Borelli. "The lower court verdict to restore power to the people to legally possess a suitable firearm will make criminals think twice about their actions, and it is something the Supreme Court should affirm."

Borelli's column on the case is available at

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:22 AM

Friday, July 27, 2007

Another Neo-Know-Nothing?

When it comes to the Law of the Sea Treaty, "neo-know-nothings" can be found in some pretty august positions.

Here's part of what Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner had to say about the Law of the Sea Treaty in a column two years ago:
in Washington, a bad idea never goes away -- it just gets tabled until everyone forgets why it was such a bad idea.

The facts are simple, and they are the same today as they were back in 1982 when President Reagan first rejected the Law of the Sea treaty and Donald Rumsfeld (then a special presidential envoy on the treaty) told the world why: It does not serve our national security interests or our economic interests, and we should make sure it isn’t ratified.

Admittedly, Secretary Rice isn’t the treaty’s only supporter. Last year, it passed the Senate Foreign Relations committee. Even some members of the U.S. military are on board. As Michael Mullen, then vice chief of naval operations, told a House committee, “we must be able to take maximum advantage of the established and widely accepted navigational rights the Law of the Sea Convention codifies to get us to the fight rapidly.”

But, in fact, the Navy stands to gain little from the treaty. As Admiral Mullen also testified, the U.S. already is complying with large parts of the agreement. “If the U.S. becomes a party to the Law of the Sea Convention, we would continue to operate as we have since 1983,” he said. “The Convention’s rules in this regard do not change the rules the Navy has operated under for over 40 years under the predecessor 1958 treaties to which the United States is a party, governing the territorial sea and high seas.”

In other words: Treaty or no treaty, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.

But while there’s not much for us to gain, there’s plenty to lose.

In October 2003, Defense Department official Mark Esper told the Senate that other nations could use Law of the Sea treaty to curtail American military operations, even though these maneuvers are supposed to be exempt. China, for example, likely would waste no time attempting to use the treaty to stop U.S. naval war games.

It’s not merely the military that’s at risk, though. If ratified, the treaty would create virtual governments that would be outside of American control but would exercise power over American interests. For example, Section 4 of the treaty would establish the International Sea-Bed Authority to exercise executive and judicial control over almost all of the world’s oceans and seabeds -- nearly 70 percent of the planet. Its new authority would have the power to tax American interests engaged in a variety of maritime endeavors. Only U.S. lawmakers ought to be able to decide how -- and how much -- to tax Americans.

If the treaty went into effect, the result would resemble the United Nations: The U.S. would foot the bill for about 25 percent of the organizations the treaty would establish. But, as at the U.N., blocks of non-democratic nations could limit our actions easily.

Let’s be frank: These international bureaucracies don’t work. The United Nations is already dealing with a sex scandal in the Congo, genocide in Sudan and the Oil-for-Food fiasco in Iraq. Why would we want to create more unaccountable international bureaucracies and place them in charge of our oceans?

As former Secretary of State George Shultz noted last year, nations create international organizations to serve their common interests, not to govern them. The current system works well and is in our national interest. That’s why it’s time to sink the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, once and for all.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:17 PM

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Neo-Know-Nothings? Law of the Sea Supporter Casts Civility Adrift

A story (paid subscription required) in the National Law Journal this week featured husband David as the lone supporter of U.S. sovereignty against quotes from three supporters of ratification of a treaty many Reaganite conservatives believe would hurt our national defense.

The National Law Journal article is nothing if not objective, beginning with the title "Sea Treaty Cast Adrift by the U.S.; Plenty of Support, but No Approval."

By the very definition of "plenty," there isn't "plenty of support" for the Law of the Sea treaty, because there hasn't been enough to get it approved. "Plenty" implies a surfeit. But more to the point, if there have been polls of public attitudes of the Law of the Sea Treaty, and I know of none, they certainly weren't referenced in the article.

The text commences in an equally fair and balanced manner:
The Law of the Sea Treaty, which established a sweeping legal regime for activities on and under the world's oceans, has been a fixture of international law for nearly three decades. But why, despite broad political, military, industry and environmental support in the United States, has the Senate never ratified it?

Some international law experts say it's unlikely any other treaty has been so widely supported and yet failed to come to a vote in the Senate for so long a period of time.

Today, 153 nation states have acceded to the treaty, including Russia, China, every European Union nation and virtually all U.S. allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

President Bush recently urged the Senate to dust it off and push it through by the end of this congressional session.

Is the small, but tenacious, opposition rooted in traditional conservative mistrust of international legal bodies, such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court?

"I think that can be part of it," said treaty opponent David Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "Certainly there are provisions of the treaty that give people reasons to be distrustful."

But that distrust is based on misinterpretations of treaty specifics and poor lawyering, insisted longtime treaty advocate John Norton Moore of the University of Virginia School of Law, director of its Center for National Security and Oceans Law and Policy...
Mr. Moore (a Law of the Sea Treaty negotiator) goes on to refer to treaty opponents as a "a neo-know-nothing movement," evidently referring to the mid-19th century Know-Nothing Party.

(The National Law Journal may have missed the reference, as it did not capitalize the party's name -- possibly its writer and/or editors thought Moore was describing critics as a movement of newly-minted idiots.)

The Know-Nothings, for those of you who have limited your knowledge of history to what they teach in schools and universities, was an anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic political party during the pre-Civil War era.

The slur is reminiscent of comments from the pro-amnesty lobby, which called law-abiding citizens who want to build a wall to protect our border before discussing amnesty for illegal aliens xenophobic immigrant bashers, among other epithets. But heck, even Jimmy Carter's amnesty of Vietnam War draft-dodgers didn't take place until after the war was over.

Peace first; then forgive.

To be fair, Mr. Moore also called some treaty opponents "fine people." If I actually were married to an anti-immigrant Catholic basher, it would be a relief indeed to know he is a fine one. And at the risk of sounding like a newly-mined idiot myself, based on his picture on the University of Virginia website, Mr. Moore looks friendly -- though not chubby -- enough to play Santa Claus. Maybe he didn't really mean it.

I'm posting a bit more of the article below, but you'll have to visit (paid subscription required) the National Law Journal website to see the whole thing:
...The treaty gives states the option of choosing among ITLOS, the International Court of Justice or arbitral tribunals to settle their disputes. The United States is on record as rejecting the two courts and as choosing arbitration once it is a party to the treaty.

States are the main parties before the court or the arbitral tribunals, unless a state authorizes a private party, for example an oil company whose tanker has been seized by a foreign state, to proceed on its own behalf. Private parties have direct access to dispute resolution only in the deep sea-bed mining portion of the treaty. Mining companies sought their own right to sue and arbitrate, which was considered radical at the time, according to Oxman, but now is quite common, particularly under investment treaties.

Despite the United States' election of arbitration, Ridenour and other treaty opponents, such as Jeremy Rabkin of George Mason University School of Law, argue the United States could end up before the court when provisional measures -- similar to temporary injunctions -- are sought by a complaining state. The treaty provides that the court would automatically adjudicate such disputes when states cannot reach agreement on the method of adjudication or arbitration "within two weeks from the date of the request for provisional measures."

"You can imagine many circumstances in which the U.S. would disagree with Syria or Iran and where neither side agrees to arbitrators," said Ridenour. "The tribunal is not packed with a lot of U.S. supporters. One of the problems with these international tribunals is often you have judges from countries that do not have a long tradition of representative democracy."

But that is the "extreme setting" that treaty opponents magnify into a major, but baseless, problem, Moore said.

"All of the general dispute mechanisms are set up specifically for arbitration, like the normal commercial arbitration favored by American industry around the world," he said. At the end of the day, if parties can't agree on the arbitration process, he and others said, it is not unusual to have an appointing authority step in. And, if the United States were a treaty member, said Moore, it could have a judge on ITLOS and be an influential voice in the development of ocean laws.

Opponents also say treaty provisions on protecting the marine environment could become a "backdoor for environmental lawsuits" brought in U.S. courts on issues such as global warming. But supporters counter that U.S. courts are familiar with interpreting treaty obligations and the government wants this treaty because it offers stable rules of law and avenues for stopping environmental damage...
David's concerns about the Treaty, though it doesn't cover all of them, can be found here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Law of the Sea Treaty Unconstitutional?

Julian Ku, writing on the Opinion Juris blog, says Article 39 of Annex VI of the Law of the Sea Treaty may be unconstitutional:
I believe this provision, Art. 39 of Annex VI, does raise a real potential constitutional issue. This provision refers to the effect of decisions of the Seabed Disputes Chamber, a portion of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea authorized to settled disputes over seabed rights...

Here is the provision in its entirety:
Article 39 Enforcement of decisions of the Chamber

The decisions of the Chamber shall be enforceable in the territories of the States Parties in the same manner as judgments or orders of the highest court of the State Party in whose territory the enforcement is sought.
As I argued at length here, this provision appears to require U.S. courts to give more than "full faith and credit" to judgments of this international chamber. Rather, it requires a U.S. court to treat such chamber decisions as equivalent to those of the U.S. Supreme Court. As far as I know, no prior treaty has ever committed the U.S. in quite this emphatic way. And I do think this provision raises real and serious U.S. constitutional questions about the excessive delegation of judicial power under Article III...

...[The State Department's] Their solution is to request the Senate attach a declaration to its advise and consent papers declaring this provision is "non-self executing." This means that Congress would have to act to subsequently pass legislation giving effect to this provision.

But even this solution is not free of problems. First of all, UNCLOS art. 309 appears to prohibit any reservations and exceptions, which might be read to nullify any non-self execution declaration. Second of all, even if Congress passed subsequent legislation, this would help (but not completely resolve) the constitutional question of whether Congress can require federal and state courts (and maybe the U.S. Supreme Court) to treat an international tribunal judgment as binding precedent...
Some commenters to his post disagree.

The entire conversation is here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:08 AM

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