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Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

Trump Fundraiser Offered Russian Gas Company Plan to Get Sanctions Lifted for $26 Million

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Pay to play, and a reason for (and example of) collusion and corrupt intent. Ryan Grim and Alex Emmons report in the Intercept:

SHORTLY AFTER PRESIDENT Donald Trump was inaugurated last year, top Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy offered Russian gas giant Novatek a $26 million lobbying plan aimed at removing the company from a U.S. sanctions list, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.

Broidy is a Trump associate who was deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee until he resigned last week amid reports that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model with whom he had an affair. But in February 2017, when he laid out his lobbying proposal for Novatek, he was acting as a well-connected businessman and longtime Republican donor in a bid to help the Russian company avoid sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. The 2014 sanctions were aimed at punishing Russia for annexing Crimea and supporting pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.

In February 2017, Broidy sent a draft of the plan by email to attorney Andrei Baev, then a Moscow- and London-based lawyer who represented major Russian energy companies for the firm Chadbourne & Parke LLP. Baev had already been communicating with Novatek about finding a way to lift U.S. sanctions.

Broidy proposed arranging meetings with key White House and congressional leaders and generating op-eds and other articles favorable to the Russian company, along with a full suite of lobbying activities to be undertaken by consultants brought on board. Yet even as he offered those services, Broidy was adamant that his company, Fieldcrest Advisors LLC, would not perform lobbying services but would hire others to do it. He suggested that parties to the deal sign a sweeping non-disclosure agreement that would shield their work from public scrutiny.

The plan is outlined in a series of emails and other documents obtained by The Intercept. Broidy and Baev did not dispute the authenticity of the exchanges but said the deal was never consummated.

In March, Bloomberg News reported that Broidy “offered last year to help a Moscow-based lawyer” — Baev — “get Russian companies removed from a U.S. sanctions list.” The news outlet did not identify the Russian firms or provide details of that proposal.

“At the time when I was a partner of Chadbourne & Parke LLP I had very preliminary discussions with Elliott Broidy with regard to possible engagement of him as a strategic consultant with regard to a possible instruction by one of my corporate clients. This instruction has never materialized,” Baev told The Intercept in an email. “Nor did I or Chadbourne provide any services to any other individual or entity in connection with any attempt to remove any Russian company or an individual from the US sanctions list.”

Broidy told The Intercept through a spokesperson that Baev had approached him about the proposal, but that Broidy had decided not to go through with it for political reasons. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 April 2018 at 3:16 pm

The Restaurant Industry Ran a Private Poll on the Minimum Wage. It Did Not Go Well for Them.

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Lisa Graves and Zaid Jilani report in the Intercept:

ONE OF THE nation’s most powerful anti-minimum wage lobbying groups tapped a longtime Republican pollster to survey the public about a range of issues impacting the industry.

A significant chunk of the survey focused on attitudes toward the minimum wage — and many members of the powerful lobby group aren’t going to like the results.

The poll — which was presented on a slide deck obtained by The Intercept and Documented — found that seven in 10 Americans want to see the minimum wage raised even if it means that they’d have to pay more for meals. It also found that the industry’s various talking points against raising the wage are mostly falling flat with the general public.

Conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz’s firm LuntzGlobal on behalf of the other NRA — the National Restaurant Association — the poll found that 71 percent of people surveyed support raising the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour.

The NRA, which did not respond to a request for comment, is the trade association for the massive restaurant industry. It has estimated that restaurant sales reached $799 billion in 2017, up 4.3 percent over 2016, and boasts eight years of consecutive growth in revenue for U.S. restaurants.

“The restaurant industry now in the United States is larger than 90 percent of the world economies,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s Research and Knowledge group.

The NRA paid its CEO, Dawn Sweeney, more than $3.8 million in total compensation, including a bonus of $1.7 million. If her total compensation were computed hourly, it would amount to $1,867.88 per hour (as of four years ago), which would take a minimum-wage worker 247 hours, or six weeks of full-time work, to earn.

The NRA has long claimed that increasing the government wage floor would “ratchet up restaurants’ labor costs and result in thousands of jobs lost,” but these results show that the NRA’s rhetoric on the minimum wage is failing to move the American public. Indeed, as Democrats embrace a $15 per hour minimum wage ahead of the 2020 presidential campaign, the NRA is moving in the opposite direction.

Industry Messaging Backfiring

The leaked NRA poll is the first instance of a known national poll commissioned by the industry itself that shows how widely popular raising the minimum wage is and how small the opposition is, even though other published national surveys have shown a similar level of public support. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more, including a chart that shows that 71% want the minimum wage even if the restaurant’s prices go up some to cover the expense.

One interesting point:

A small minority of those surveyed don’t care: Twenty-nine percent told the Luntz pollsters that they would not support raising the minimum wage “even if the average food service employee cannot make ends meet.” Twenty-nine percent of respondents also said they were most concerned about cost increases.

I’m sure it’s a coincidence, but 29% is very close to the percentage of voters that support Trump (through thick and thin). Maybe that’s the percentage of people who lack empathy and the spirit of a community working together for the benefit of all.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 April 2018 at 2:35 pm

James Comey Told Barack Obama That His Use of the Phrase “Mass Incarceration” Was Insulting to Law Enforcement Officers

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Apparently (at least in Comey’s view) law enforcement officers are sensitive snowflakes unable to withstand even indirect criticism. That’s not the view I hold, FWIW.

Peter Maas reports in the Intercept:

IN HIS NEW BOOK, James Comey portrays himself as a law enforcement saint who desires only the best for us, and the best is manifestly not President Donald Trump. But if you read “A Higher Loyalty” with more than its anti-Trump morsels in mind, a less benevolent version of Comey emerges — akin to the King George character in “Hamilton,” who lovingly sings to his rebellious American subjects, “And when push comes to shove/ I will send a fully armed battalion/ To remind you of my love.”

Most stories about Comey’s best-selling memoir have focused on its Hamlet-like agonizing over his potential role in tilting the 2016 election, and his horror at discovering that Trump, once in the White House, was as thuggishly corrupt as the mafia dons Comey had prosecuted before he led the FBI and got fired by Trump. But Comey’s insistence on upholding the law is devotional to the point of ruthlessness, as he makes clear when explaining the need to send Martha Stewart to jail in 2003 for lying about an insider stock tip she had received.

“People must fear the consequences of lying in the justice system or the system can’t work,” Comey writes. “There was once a time when most people worried about going to hell if they violated an oath taken in the name of God. That divine deterrence has slipped away from our modern cultures. In its place, people must fear going to jail. They must fear their lives being turned upside down. They must fear their pictures splashed on newspapers and websites. People must fear having their names forever associated with a criminal act if we are to have a nation with the rule of law.”

This is ridiculous and dangerous, because it suggests Americans are insufficiently cowed by the necessarily God-like wrath of the machinery of law enforcement. Comey is worried that the country risks degenerating into criminality and sloth — and that all that’s standing between us and chaos is the FBI’s lash and our submission to it. Rather than separating himself from the Trump administration’s extremism, Comey sounds much like retired Gen. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff who recently bemoaned the lost discipline of an earlier and supposedly sunnier era.

“You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country,” Kelly said during a bitter press conference, in which he tried to smear a member of Congress who had accurately reported that a grieving war widow was offended by comments Trump made in a fumbled condolence call. “Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor. That’s obviously not the case anymore, as we see from recent cases. Life — the dignity of life — is sacred. That’s gone. Religion, that seems to be gone as well.”

Like Kelly, Comey frames his blinkered nostalgia as public virtue, and he’s largely succeeding: His book has been lavishly and warmly received. Comey is certainly right about the danger of Trump, but that doesn’t mean he’s right about other things. For instance, he shows minimal concern for the police killings of black men and the protest movement that’s grown out of them. He seems unable to believe that poor and minority communities have a fair case against the way law enforcement has been practiced on them.

In a short chapter on racial injustice, Comey describes the killings of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray as “tragic deaths.” But he turns the killings around, lamenting that they “dominated perceptions of the police. They swamped and overshadowed millions of positive, professional encounters between citizens and police officers, and extraordinary anger was building toward all uniformed law enforcement.” Yes, Comey really went there — blaming the victims of police abuse for making people upset that police were abusing them.

Comey did not hide these views while at the FBI, and after making a speech in Chicago in 2015 that was not well received by the civil rights community, he was summoned to the Oval Office by then-President Barack Obama. Comey describes that session in his book, and he seemed to double down, telling the country’s first black president that the law enforcement community was upset at the way Obama had used the phrase “mass incarceration.” It was offensive, Comey told the president.

“I thought the term was both inaccurate and insulting to a lot of good people in law enforcement who cared deeply about helping people trapped in dangerous neighborhoods,” Comey writes. “It was inaccurate in the sense that there was nothing ‘mass’ about the incarceration: every defendant was charged individually, represented individually by counsel, convicted by a court individually, sentenced individually, reviewed on appeal individually, and incarcerated. That added up to a lot of people in jail, but there was nothing ‘mass’ about it.”

This is a delusion worthy of King George.

The idea that poor defendants are represented individually is true in a strict sense, but if you cannot afford a good lawyer of your own (many Americans cannot), you are unlikely to have decent representation in the face of prosecutor’s offices with significant resources. The idea that  . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 April 2018 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Books, Law Enforcement

In Rural Tennessee, a Big ICE Raid Makes Some Conservative Voters Rethink Trump’s Immigration Agenda

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Jonathan Bltizer writes in the New Yorker:

April 5th began in the usual way at the Southeastern Provision meat-processing plant, in Bean Station, Tennessee—some workers were breaking down carcasses on the production line, while others cleaned the floors—until, around 9 a.m., a helicopter began circling above the plant. Moments later, a fleet of cars pulled up outside. Agents from the I.R.S., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ice), and the Tennessee Highway Patrol emerged, and proceeded to arrest ninety-seven people, most of them originally from Mexico or Guatemala, for working without legal papers. It was the largest workplace roundup of immigrants in a decade.

Bean Station is a sleepy lakeside town of three thousand people in eastern Tennessee. The Southeastern Provision plant—located just off the main roadway, past cattle farms and clapboard churches—is made up of a string of dilapidated barn buildings, but it is the third-largest business in Grainger County. Two hundred and fifty head of cattle pass through the plant each day, which translates to roughly thirty million dollars of business every year. After the raid, the I.R.S. said in a court filing that many workers there typically make less than minimum wage, and that the agency believes the owners of the plant, headed by a man named James Brantley, owe the government millions of dollars in back taxes. But neither Brantley nor any of the other owners of the business were arrested on April 5th. (Lawyers for the plant owners could not be reached for comment.) Of the ninety-seven people taken into custody, ten are facing federal criminal charges relating to past immigration violations, and one is facing state criminal charges. The remaining eighty-six people were placed in deportation proceedings. Thirty-two of these people were released on the day of the raid—allowed to return to their families and sleep at home as their cases work through the system—but fifty-four were kept in detention, and many were soon moved to facilities out of state.

Most of the people who were arrested lived not in Bean Station but in a town called Morristown, part of Hamblen County, about ten miles to the south. In Morristown, a larger town of thirty thousand people, the raid was catastrophic news. Families’ worst fear had come true: husbands, fathers, wives, mothers—gone. The following day, more than five hundred students were reported absent from area schools, kept home out of a combination of fear, anxiety, and confusion. The raid also set off a whirl of activity, as relatives of those arrested gathered each day at a church in the center of town to meet with advocacy groups and discuss their legal options.

This past weekend, I travelled to Morristown to talk to the families affected by the raid and also to observe how the wider community was responding. While Hamblen County is home to a sizable immigrant community from Central America—11.5 per cent of its population is Hispanic, more than twice the state average—it’s also a deeply conservative place. In 2016, seventy-seven per cent of the county voted for Donald Trump. Yet in the two weeks since the raid, Morristown residents have helped raise sixty thousand dollars to help families with relatives in detention. A vigil was held in support of the families of those arrested, and volunteers from local schools, churches, and businesses had been distributing food and coördinating other forms of assistance. For many people in town, the raid exposed the human costs of the political fight over immigration policy.

“Immigration is kind of a hot-button topic here,” Hank Smith, a fifty-year-old salesman from Morristown, told me. “Some people feel like immigrants are taking our jobs, that they’re not paying their taxes. But others are more sympathetic.” Smith counts himself among the latter group. “I’m a Christian; God loves everybody equally. And I never had a problem with anyone being here,” he said. Nevertheless, in 2016, Smith voted for Trump. He had been mostly indifferent to Trump’s anti-immigrant invective on the campaign trail; the rhetoric didn’t resonate with him personally, but it didn’t alienate him, either. “My kids were getting to an age where they’d be going to work, so the economy was the major issue for my family,” he told me. “It’s the things that affect us the most that we vote on. And immigration didn’t really affect me before. But then this raid happened.”

After Trump took office, ice announced that it planned to quadruple the number of workplace inspections it conducts. In January, the agency launched stings at ninety-eight 7-Eleven franchises in seventeen states. Smith hadn’t noticed those. But when the arrests happened closer to home, he was immediately struck by the fact that many of the people who’d been picked up had lived in the area for more than a decade. He knew people like them, he told me—“they work hard and they do the jobs that no one else wants to do.” He also felt strong sympathy for their kids. Smith said, “I felt I understood the legal side of it. But this is the first time I really started looking at the human side. Families are being divided.”

Smith and I had met through his pastor, David Williams, who leads the Hillcrest Baptist Church—a large, pale-brick building on the eastern edge of downtown Morristown, across the street from the elementary school where the vigil was held. Most of Hillcrest’s congregants are white—the town’s immigrant community tends to gravitate to St. Patrick, the Catholic church a few miles down the road—but Williams has been among the most vocal members of the local clergy in calling for solidarity with the families affected by the raid. “I look at this from a humanitarian perspective,” he told me. “You cannot be a true Christian if you ignore your neighbor in need.” Some of his parishioners dislike his outspokenness, but not all of them. “The people in the middle have had their hearts soften because of the raid,” he said.

Morristown is close-knit, politically conservative, and religious—and in recent years, it’s been growing more diverse. The town has become a regional manufacturing hub, home to plants belonging to Japanese, German, and Belgian companies. Immigrants from Central America began to trickle in during the nineteen-eighties as seasonal workers at tomato farms, and the influx increased as they began staying in the area year-round to work at chicken-processing plants nearby.

One morning, I met with Morristown’s Mayor, Gary Chesney, a self-described “lifelong Republican of the Reagan variety,” in his office at a commercial insurance company. (Being mayor in Morristown is a part-time job.) Chesney had heard that an undercover I.R.S. agent had been working at Southeastern Provision to scope out the conditions before the raid, and that the agent had asked some of the undocumented workers at the plant why they’d taken jobs in Bean Station if they lived in Morristown. “They said, ‘We’re here because we can’t get jobs in Morristown,’ ” Chesney said. “I was proud of that. We’ve been following the rules and guidelines here. But the innocent victims were the kids whose parents were picked up. I was also proud that our locals took care of the innocent folks.” Chesney didn’t see a contradiction in these two sources of pride; he stressed the town’s capacity both for conservatism and for reasonableness. National politics had further intensified the local conversation about immigration, he said—everyone knew that there were many Morristown residents who were anti-immigrant, and whose views remained the same after the raid—but he believed some of the acrimony stemmed from misinformation about how the undocumented were “gaming the system” or committing crimes. Chesney said, “We all get a little bit smarter as the issue gets more personal.”

My first night in Morristown, I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. A family—a couple with two young kids—was sitting in the booth next to mine, and before the parents paid their check, they flagged down their waitress with a question. “We’re trying to figure out who’s right,” the husband—who was white, bearded, and looked to be about forty—told her. “Is it ‘estoy cansado’ or ‘soy cansado?’ ” Laughing, the waitress replied in accented English, and a conversation ensued about the grammatical differences between the two Spanish forms of the verb “to be.” As the family left, I approached the man and asked him for his thoughts on the recent raid. “Terrible stuff,” he said. He felt for the families. But he did have one reservation about the community’s response. “It’s great that everyone’s pulling together to help. But what about the citizens here who need help? Are they getting it, too?”

On Sunday afternoon, thirty people gathered in the chapel of St. Patrick church for an information session that had been advertised with flyers that read,  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 April 2018 at 4:05 pm

A Short History of Threats Received by Donald Trump’s Opponents: The pattern goes beyond Stormy Daniels.

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Decca Muldowney reports in ProPublica:

When Stormy Daniels spoke to “60 Minutes” last month, the porn actress described a threat she received years ago after speaking to a journalist about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. A stranger approached her in a parking lot in Las Vegas. Daniels was there with her baby daughter. “Leave Trump alone,” Daniels recalled the man warning her. “That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.”

Daniels did not report the threat to the police. On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted that Daniels’ account of events was “a total con job” about a “non-existent man.”

As it happens, other people in disputes with Trump have also found themselves the targets of threats — and sometimes they’ve reported it to authorities.

We asked both the Trump Organization and White House about each of the incidents. They did not respond.

Thirty-six years ago, a New York City housing commissioner in a dispute with Trump says he received a death threat.

In 1982, New York City Housing Commissioner Anthony Gliedman received what he described as an “abusive and profane” call from someone angry that Gliedman had opposed Trump’s request for a $20 million tax abatement. Gliedman reported the call to the FBI, saying the caller was “threatening his life.” The documents, obtained by BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold through a Freedom of Information Act request, show the FBI decided not to pursue the case.

The next day, Trump called the FBI, saying he had also received a call with threats to both himself and Gliedman. According to the FBI notes, Trump explained he was “merely passing on this information not only for his own safety but for the safety of Commissioner GLIEDMAN.”

A former police officer says he “deterred” Trump’s opponents in Atlantic City.

Former NYPD detective turned private investigator Bo Dietl, (who appeared in Martin Scorsese’s mob film, “Goodfellas,”) told the Daily Beastin 2016 that Trump used him to “deter” opponents. He says he once confronted an unnamed Atlantic City attorney who was making trouble for Trump. “He hired me to get the guy,” Dietl said, “So I went to visit the guy who was trying to fuck with Trump, and I says, you know, I think you better think about this.” Eventually the attorney “just mysteriously went away,” Dietl told the Daily Beast.

In emails to ProPublica, Dietl denied making these statements: “I NEVER said I was hired by Trump. I said I knew Trump and know the Lawyer. I helped settle a deal. No threats.”

Nine years ago, a lawyer representing Trump Atlantic City casino creditors says he got threatening phone calls. The FBI traced one of them to a payphone outside the “Late Show With David Letterman,” where Trump was appearing.

“My name is Carmine,” the caller told the lawyer, Kristopher Hansen, in 2009. “I don’t know why you’re fucking with Mr. Trump but if you keep fucking with Mr. Trump, we know where you live and we’re going to your house for your wife and kids.” BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold (again) first reported the incident.

In 2015, a reporter covering Ivana Trump’s claim that Trump raped her says he was threatened by Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen.

“I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting,” the Daily Beast’s Tim Mak, recalled Cohen telling him. “You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up … for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet.”

Cohen did not immediately respond to our requests for comment.

Stormy Daniels also recalled that a man, she believes Cohen, said her life would be “hell” if she refused to sign a statement denying her affair with Trump.

In Stormy Daniels’ recent interview with Anderson Cooper, she said that after the Wall Street Journal revealed the pay-off she received from Cohen, she was coerced into signing the statement denying her affair with Donald Trump. Here is the full exchange. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 April 2018 at 3:12 pm

What the Rape and Murder of a Child Reveals About Modi’s India

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Mitali Saan writes in the NY Times:

India is sliding toward a collapse of humanity and ethics in political and civic life, as the recent reports of the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl from a seminomadic Muslim community in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir reveal. Politicians from India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party defended the men accused of the crime and ignited a furious debate about the fundamental character of the country.

The child was abducted in January and imprisoned for a week in a temple, where she was drugged, starved and raped repeatedly before being murdered. Her body was thrown into the forest. At the time the crime passed without much comment beyond the local press.

Outrage finally exploded last week, after a front-page report in the Indian Express newspaper revealed terrifying details from the police charge sheet, including the fact that one of the accused, a police officer, had asked his co-conspirators to hold off killing the child so that he could rape her once more.

The charge sheet and other reports strongly suggested that this was not a random crime but one deliberately in line with the ugly sectarian politics playing out across India. Intimidation of religious minorities and violence against them has increased since Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the Bharatiya Janata Party to power in 2014. India’s traditional secularism is now locked in battle with the new majoritarian, Hindu chauvinist politics he represents.

The 8-year-old girl belonged to the Muslim Bakarwal people, who move with their sheep and horses between high mountain pastures in the summer and the plains of the Hindu-dominated Jammu region in winter. There is tension with local Hindus over the right to graze animals on the land. According to the police, the motive of the premeditated crime was to terrorize the Bakarwals and dislodge them from the area. The bereaved parents were not even allowed to bury the child in the village. They have since fled the area.

A newly formed group called Hindu Ekta Manch, or Hindu Unity Forum, organized a protest march in defense of the accused, who include a retired government official and two police officers. Thousands joined in, many waving the Indian national flag. Vijay Sharma, a co-founder of the group and an organizer of the march, was also a high-ranking leader of Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in the region.

Mr. Modi’s party shares power with a regional political party in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Two B.J.P. ministers in the state government joined the protest in defense of the accused. “So what if a girl died?” one of them remarked. “Many girls die every day.”

They demanded that the investigation be transferred from the state police — the investigators included Muslim officers — to the federal Central Bureau of Investigation, a largely delegitimized institution that serves as a de facto arm of the ruling party. Lawyers at a court in the city of Jammu tried to physically prevent officials from filing charges against the accused and have threatened the lawyer who is representing the girl’s family.

Over the past week, horrified Indians have protested vigorously on social media and in some cities. The disgust and the fury at the complicity of politicians, and the federal government’s silence, grew into a thunderous chorus demanding that the prime minister speak up and fire the ministers backing the Hindu Ekta Manch.

Belatedly reacting to popular outrage, Mr. Modi finally said: “Incidents being discussed since past two days cannot be part of a civilized society. As a country, as a society, we all are ashamed of it.” He promised justice. His vague statement delicately alluded to another case in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where a lawmaker from Mr. Modi’s party is accused of rape. Mr. Modi stayed away from his party’s involvement in both cases.

Yet instead of uniting India in horror, the incident has deepened religious, political and ethical divides. It has also made clear that there is no automatic political cost to crime or falsehood if it furthers the hegemonic political narrative. The politicians involved were sacked only after a huge public outcry. Government ministers, officials, right-leaning media and right-wing supporters have been perfectly sanguine about using the dead child to polarize society with whataboutery, fake news and wild conspiracy theories.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Modi’s party . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 April 2018 at 3:09 pm

Three Republican judges agree, with a decision that refers to “tyranny”

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James Hohmann in the Daily 202 column in the Washington Post reports a bracing development (and judicial opinion):

A panel of three judges, each appointed by a Republican president to the federal appeals court in Chicago, ruled unanimously on Thursday against President Trump’s effort to withhold money from “sanctuary cities.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld a nationwide injunction that blocks the Justice Department from using “the sword of federal funding to conscript state and local authorities to aid in federal civil immigration enforcement.”

Trump’s latest courtroom defeat offers yet another civics lesson about checks and balances for the first president in American history who lacks any prior governing or military experience. Unlike congressional Republicans who have by and large kowtowed and capitulated to Trumpism, despite private uneasiness and grumbling in many cases, Republican-appointed judges are free not to care about the wrath of the president or blowback from his loyalists. This gives them the breathing room to worry more about the rule of law than partisanship. That was the point of an independent judiciary and giving lifetime appointments. It’s how the Constitution is supposed to work.

Judge Ilana Rovner, who was appointed to a district judgeship by Ronald Reagan and elevated to the circuit by George H.W. Bush, offers a remarkable rebuke of the Trump administration in a 35-page opinion that can be read as a tutorial on the separation of powersShe even throws around words like “tyranny” that you don’t often see in opinions of this nature:

“Our role in this case is not to assess the optimal immigration policies for our country,” she writes. “Rather, the issue before us strikes at one of the bedrock principles of our nation, the protection of which transcends political party affiliation and rests at the heart of our system of government …

“The founders of our country well understood that the concentration of power threatens individual liberty and established a bulwark against such tyranny by creating a separation of powers among the branches of government. If the Executive Branch can determine policy, and then use the power of the purse to mandate compliance with that policy by the state and local governments, all without the authorization or even acquiescence of elected legislators, that check against tyranny is forsaken …

“Congress repeatedly refused to approve of measures that would tie funding to state and local immigration policies. Nor … did Congress authorize the Attorney General to impose such conditions. It falls to us, the judiciary, as the remaining branch of the government, to act as a check on such usurpation of power. We are a country that jealously guards the separation of powers, and we must be ever‐vigilant in that endeavor.”

Rovner, 79, and her parents fled Latvia, and the Nazis, when she was an infant. She lost family members in the Holocaust. She often says that she decided to become a lawyer to stop anything like that genocide from happening again. Displayed in her chambers are the green card she was issued when she arrived in America in 1939 and her mother’s passport. “These are the things that saved my life,” she told the Chicago Tribune for a 2011 profile.

Her scathing opinion was joined by Judge William Bauer, who was appointed by Gerald Ford. Judge Daniel Manion, who Reagan put on the bench, wrote a concurrence saying he would have narrowed the injunction to protect only Chicago, rather than keeping it national.

The injunction was ordered last September by District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who was also appointed by Reagan.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has tried to require that cities give federal immigration agents access to undocumented immigrants who are in their jails in order to get certain public safety grants. This effort has already been blocked in separate lawsuits by federal judges in California and Pennsylvania. The judge who blocked the administration from holding back money from Philadelphia, Michael Baylson, was appointed by George W. Bush and wrote an unusually long 128-page ruling against the administration in November.

The 7th Circuit opinion yesterday complains that the term sanctuary cities “is commonly misunderstood” and “a red herring.” Contrary to popular understanding, the judges explain, “the federal government can and does freely operate in ‘sanctuary’ localities.”

— The Justice Department quickly criticized the ruling, saying the administration continues to believe it has the power to attach strings to money appropriated by Congress and complaining that courts keep issuing broad injunctions that thwart Trump. “Many in the legal community have expressed concern that the use of nationwide injunctions is inconsistent with the separation of powers, and that their increased use creates a dangerous precedent,” DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement. “We will continue to fight to carry out the department’s commitment to the rule of law, protecting public safety, and keeping criminal aliens off the streets to further perpetrate crimes.”

— Trump reacted on Twitter last night: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 April 2018 at 12:35 pm

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