Archive for court ruling

Judge: Florida redistricting a "mockery," illegally favors GOP

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redistricting

Florida (aka Flori-duh) Republicans just got a major smackdown from a circuit judge who ruled that their congressional redistricting map was illegal. North Carolina, are you paying attention?

The map is now invalid because it "violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts," per the Los Angeles Times. Or to put it another way, the GOP hoped to pull a fast one on Democratic voters and failed miserably. The plan is "invalid."

In Florida, the GOP controls the Legislature, and the judge said that they did that with "improper partisan intent" in 2012.

gerrymander definition

gerrymandering via Doonesbury

Oh, but it gets worse. Judge Lewis also said that those (ir)responsible tried to keep the whole thing a big secret. And you know what they say about cover-ups...

cover up 2 cover-up...where...

cover up worse than crime

In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent."

Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering - that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other. [...]

Lewis noted that legislative leaders and political operatives had deleted emails and other documents outlining their redistricting efforts.

As the League of Women Voters of Florida president said, the ruling "exposed the conspiracy to influence and manipulate the Legislature into violating its constitutional duties."

Of course, Republicans will blame those pesky activist judges. Like the ones on the Supreme Court, GOP?

nice try no cigar

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Judge who ended #Walker probe attended junkets financed by Kochs (VIDEO)

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citizens united check republic billionaires Koch brothers dark money

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A judge is supposed to be impartial. A judge, well, judges, and so he or she must be fair and dispassionate. A judge should not feel pressured or indebted to any party while rendering a decision. He or she should only rely on evidence presented.

So, when reports surfaced that the judge who halted the Walker "John Doe" criminal investigation attended all-expenses paid "judicial junkets," that raised a few eyebrows. Why?

Those little "junkets" were funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and other ideological and corporate interests. And by now, it's common knowledge that Walker and the Kochs are BFF. Well, Walker and the Kochs' wallets are BFF, because nothing defines friendship like corporate cash.

Did I mention that same judge has an assistant who is married to a Walker campaign lawyer?

Chris Hayes covered the corrupt judge story on "All In" last night. PR Watch wrote it up a few days ago:

On May 6, federal District Court Judge Rudolph Randa blocked an ongoing John Doe criminal probe into allegedly illegal coordination between nonprofit groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth, which spent $9.1 million on electoral ads during Wisconsin's recall elections, and the recall campaigns of Governor Scott Walker and state senators. John Doe investigations are similar to grand jury investigations, and Wisconsin Club for Growth -- and its director, Eric O'Keefe, a longtime compatriot of the Koch brothers -- asked the federal court to stop the probe, alleging it violated their "free speech" rights.

Judge Randa sided with O'Keefe, and also ordered prosecutors to destroy all evidence gathered in the investigation, an extraordinary edict in a criminal case made even more astounding by the fact that it came in the context of a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit has blocked this part of his ruling; an appeal of the remainder of his decision is pending.

An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms. (The 2013 disclosure form has been requested but has not yet been publicly posted).

The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley, and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical.

Much more at the link.

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WI judge who halted John Doe lawsuit has assistant married to Walker campaign lawyer

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judgment WI judge

Recently, a WI judge put a stop to the Scott Walker-infused John Doe investigation:

The John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups has once again been halted after a federal judge on Thursday dismissed as “frivolous” an interim appeal by the prosecutors in the case.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa issued the decision less than a day after the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago stayed an earlier ruling ending the secret investigation.

Turns out that Steven Biskupic, a former U.S. attorney who is representing "a party in the secretive John Doe probe," is married to Cary Biskupic. Cary happens to work for WI Judge Rudolph Randa.

Conflict of interest much? Then again, questionable activities, hypocrisy, and legal problems are not atypical in Walker World.

Via the Wisconsin State Journal:

An assistant to the federal judge who ordered a halt to the state’s secret investigation into possible illegal campaign coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups is married to a lawyer for Walker’s campaign — which could be grounds for a judge to step down from a case. [...]

Walker’s campaign paid Biskupic’s law firm $86,000 last year, according to a recent campaign finance report. Walker’s campaign is also one of the targets in the John Doe probe, according to court filings.

According to the federal Code of Conduct for Judicial Employees, employees working for federal judges should not perform any official duties in any matter in which a spouse has an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding.

Of course, with the way things often go in Walker World, this too may slither under the radar and be allowed to stand.

walker world

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Same-sex marriage ban in Texas ruled unconstitutional. Two tweets say it all. #LGBT

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gay rights liza minelli sign same-sex marriage

Another win for same-sex marriage and gay rights as another homophobic, backwards, discriminatory attempt to legally keep loving couples apart bites the dust. The Texas ban on marriage equality has been ruled unconstitutional. So there.

Yay

Here's the  Los Angeles Times breaking news email alert:

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia today ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage in Texas is unconstitutional because it deprives gay couples of due process and equal protection.

The ruling does not allow same-sex couples to immediately marry because the judge stayed the injunction pending any appeal.

The score: Same-sex marriage a Zillion, sad little ignorami Zero. Or something.

Two tweets came across my Twitter stream immediately after the news broke, and they must be shared. They come via two of my favorite Twitter pals, Igor Volsky and Ali Davis. Once you read them, you'll understand why I follow them:

texas gay marriage lgbt ruling tweet Igor Volsky

texas gay marriage lgbt ruling tweet Ali Davis

Another Twitter buddy tweeted this:

Imagine that.

It's wonderful how so few words can speak volumes. Sometimes less is so much more. Thank you Igor, Ali, and Joe.

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State appeals court rejects challenges to WI John Doe probe targeting conservatives

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walker christie WI john doe probeImage via Free Wisconsin blog

Remember the WI John Doe probe into former Scott Walker aides and associates? Meet WI John Doe Probe II.

Via Watchdog.org:

MADISON, Wis. — A state appeals court on Thursday rejected an effort to shut down a Democrat-launched secret investigation into conservative groups, ruling that the court-administered dragnet did not overstep its authority as targets of the probe have claimed.

In effect, the decision keeps alive a two-year John Doe investigation into dozens of conservative organizations amid allegations of illegal campaign coordination during Wisconsin’s recent partisan recall elections.

Eric O’Keefe is the director of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, which is one of at least 29 conservative groups targeted. O'Keefe himself is a target who previously threatened to sue prosecutors if they don’t drop the investigation, claiming they are “violating the constitutional rights of private citizens and must be held accountable.”

Feeling the heat, are you Eric?

Meanwhile, in other news, Gov. Walker raised $5.1 million in the second half of 2013. Walker’s campaign says most of the donations came from supporters who contributed $50 or less.

To fake-quote Jerry Seinfeld, "Who are these people?"

who are these people

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Obamacare supporters score a legal victory in Missouri as overall enrollment rises

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jim crow obamacare

That sound you hear is the GOP wondering what they'll smear next as they see their "Obamacare" and Benghazi!!!!!! attack campaigns morphing into punchlines.

There are two articles in the Los Angeles Times that throw political pies in the faces of Republicans who insist on trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act... and the president himself. Take a look at how those on the right just lost a court battle in their efforts to impede health care enrollment in Missouri:

Supporters of President Obama’s health law scored a legal victory in Missouri on Thursday as a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing new rules limiting the ability of community organizations to help consumers sign up for coverage under the law.

Missouri is among many Republican-leaning states that have put restrictions on these groups, including a requirement that they get licenses before they can help with the enrollment process. Proponents of the restrictions maintain that they protect consumers.

There were eight plaintiffs on the winning side, including Effort for AIDS and Planned Parenthood. Once again, opponents of President Obama and Obamacare are willing to sacrifice other people's lives and health in order to score political points. Who's kidding whom? The GOP's attitude toward women and just about anyone who doesn't look or sound like an old white man is abominable, no matter how much they claim they're reaching out. "Uncle Sugar." 'Nuff said.

The judge agreed that, since the state insisted that the federal government operate its marketplace, then obstructing attempts to make the process run more smoothly wouldn't make much sense.

Then again, since when have Republicans ever made sense?

In other words, his ruling sent a message: Butt out, GOP, you asked for this, so kindly get lost and let these people do their jobs. Community organizers, go for it.

Meanwhile, the marketplaces are recovering in nicely:

Approximately 3 million people have now enrolled in health insurance plans sold through marketplaces created by President Obama’s health law, the administration announced Friday.

The milestone indicates nearly a million additional people have signed up since the end of December.

Psst! Republicans...nice try smaller

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Score one for oil drilling opponents!

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that's oil folks smaller

I rail all the time about Big Oil drilling into every pristine and not-so pristine corner of the world, fracking, and the usual gluttons' utter disdain for keeping our precious earth and its inhabitants safe, healthy, and beautiful.

Writing about it for years on end is exhausting and is taking a toll. That is one of the main reasons I have outrage overload (and have been ordered to cut back for health reasons). It's not easy to rant endlessly, yet feel as if you're having no impact.

Thankfully, there are people with big, effective voices who are being heard:

environment erin brockovich tweet CA, West VirginiaLink

But today is different. Today I am the bearer of good news, or rather, the Los Angeles Times is:

The U.S. government violated the law when it opened millions of acres of the Arctic Ocean to offshore oil drilling, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, possibly delaying plans by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell to drill off the northwest coast of Alaska in the near future.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the Interior Department did not properly evaluate the impact of oil development in the Chukchi Sea when it sold more than $2.6 billion in development leases in the environmentally sensitive area in 2008.

A coalition of environmental advocacy groups and Alaska Native organizations sued the federal government, arguing that the U.S. had offered an estimated 30 million acres of oil leases for sale without sufficient scientific information or analysis of potential effects on the region.

bam

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