Archive for federal court

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

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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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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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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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"We're done with your phony War on Christmas." #WarOnFundies

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cross memorial Mt.SoledadMt. Soledad cross, which sits on public land located on a San Diego hilltop.

Merry War on Christmas, boys and girls! Only four more corporate shopping days left, so it's time to focus on what Christianity and the celebration of the birth of their savior is all about.

If you're a regular reader of The Political Carnival, then Queen of Church v. State Oversight and author of Being Christian, K.C. Boyd, needs no introduction. If you are unfamiliar with her work, just go here to see all of my posts of her humor-imbued brilliance.

Yesterday she sent me something on the so-called War on Christmas that was share-worthy, and it goes a little something like this:

War on Christmas, fundies via KC Boyd religion

K.C. created that, wrote it, and thought, correctly, that I'd appreciate it. Oh, I do, I do.

war on christmas smaller

And because I value her perspective, allow me to also share today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter. They are responding to a Times editorial and a news item about efforts to preserve the Mt. Soledad cross, a war memorial in the vicinity of San Diego, California that was constructed on publicly owned land as a tribute to American soldiers killed in battle. A federal judge recently ordered the cross's removal, a decision I strongly support:

I'm disappointed in the Christian community for making no effort to understand the opposition to the Latin cross that sits on top of Mt. Soledad. They only offer criticism to those who find the cross offensive and unwelcome on public property.

Nonreligious Americans are not opposed to Christianity or religious symbols; they just don't appreciate any religious demonstrations on public property — be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or any other faith.

It's offensive to hear the Christian community imply that non-Christians are somehow not as patriotic or worthy of military honors because they don't support the Christian faith.

Rob Macfarlane

Newport Beach

***

The letters printed on this subject reflect the breadth of views held by our citizenry of widely varying beliefs. But none addresses the enduring root of religious symbol controversies.

Keeping crosses prominently positioned has become one means by which the Christian majority validates — some would say struts — its bullying of religious and nonreligious minorities. The same principle motivates that majority to insist on prayers to its God during meetings convened by public entities; nonbelievers are thereby marginalized.

The Supreme Court should put an end to institutionalized oppression of this country's growing non-Christian minority. A sweeping decision on the order of Brown vs. Board of Education — which in 1954 reversed the 'separate but equal' doctrine by which blacks were systematically oppressed — is past due.

Such a decision would ratify separation of church and state and help liberate nonbelievers from majority oppression. It would also serve to free the court from endless haggling over prickly religious freedom disputes.

Solano Beach

Aaron Mills

***

The saying, 'I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you,' comes immediately to mind after reading the letters wondering why someone would want the cross removed. But here's one more attempt:

The cross represents a powerful group that has been, for centuries, trying to obliterate me and mine from this planet. How can anyone seriously say that this honors us in any way?

Mary Ann Steinberger

Tujunga

By the way, of all the letters the L.A. Times received on this topic, only two were in favor of preserving the cross.

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Judicial Openings, Facts Need Not Apply

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Blacks need not apply

Talking Points Memo reports:

A conservative group is attacking Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who is up for re-election in 2014, with a TV ad buy demanding he refuse to let President Barack Obama fill three judicial vacancies on the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Judicial Crisis Network, a right-wing activist organization focused on the courts, has taken out what it claims is a six-figure ad buy airing the spot below for two weeks on Little Rock television, a spokesman for the group said.

As you watch the ad, keep in mind they talk of court packing:

Court packing. Hmm. Sounds pretty ominous. Kind of an underhanded, subversively sneaky, maybe even a covert plan to leverage control of the judicial wing of our three branches of government.

The term court packing means to add additional judges to the Supreme Court to tip the "political" slant of the judicial make up. It refers to the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 where FDR tried to increase the size of the Supreme Court by up to 6 additional judges. These were ADDITIONAL judges, not FDR's filling of vacancies.

Obama's faced with three federal judge appointments to fill vacancies. Positions that already exist. Republicans are against this, not because his nominees aren't qualified, but because the right wingnuts are just trying to prevent Obama from doing anything. These nominees are picked based on their judicial rulings in the past, not what they might do in the future, and certainly not based on their political bent. And the Senate can vote them down -- but only if they get to vote. The anonymous holds the Republican wackadoos place on these nominees prevents that.

Filling these federal court vacancies is part of Obama's job description. He names the nominees to the federal court to fill empty seats and burgeoning courtrooms. There's a backlog of cases because of judicial vacancies. So these seats need to be filled, for our justice, safety and security. But the GOP senators don't seem to care about that.

Strategically, if Obama had come out and said I don't think I should be filling these seats, we've got enough justices already, the same right wingers would be up in arms saying that Obama was trying to obscure justice by not filling these vacancies. Maybe that's what he should have done. The negative sales method. It's worked in advertising and in election campaigns. Maybe that's the way the Republicans need to be handled. At least until they catch on. But that would be like evolution. Something they don't believe in.

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We can't handle a shackled guy in federal court, for Christiangodsake, don't you KNOW that, B. Hussein Obama?!

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Afraid of own shadow

Remember back in 2009 how Republicans were screaming and panicking over the possibility of holding 9/11 trials in a downtown Manhattan, USA federal court? OH MY GOD! TERRISTS ON U.S. SOIL!

Right there in our USA courtrooms!

They'll all whisper propaganda into their ultra super duper Muslim Dick Tracy magic transmitters to signal all the other terrists to gather in New York, USA during the trials and spread their Al Qaedaitude all over Amurika, USA! During the trials! Right there!

Our national security machine can't handle a shackled guy in federal USA court, for Christiangodsake, don't you KNOW that, B. Hussein Obama?!

Gaaaa!

So the president scrapped the federal trials and moved everything to military tribunals. Even though we've had plenty of successful trials right here in the U.S.A. of plenty of bad guy terrorists that turned out just fine in which the bad guy terrorists were convicted, thrown in high security prisons, and were never heard from again.

No propaganda was spread, there was no retaliation, nobody was infected with Al Qaeda germs, and we all lived happily ever after under that big conservative thumb that keeps infringing on the rights of others.

The Hill:

Attorney General Eric Holder said he was right to push for trying the 9/11 defendants in federal court in New York.

Holder said Monday that if the trial for alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four co-conspirators had been held in federal court, rather than a military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay, the defendants would already be on death row.

To quote Holder, "I was right." He sure as hell was.

The Guantánamo trial for the five 9/11 defendants remains in pre-trial proceedings, with the trial not expected to begin for another year at least.  Defense attorneys have said the pre-trial classification fights will push the trial date back to 2016. [...]

“I think that had we gone along the path that I announced at that time, we would not have had to close down half of Manhattan, it wouldn't have cost the $200 million a year and the defendants would be on death row as we speak,” he said.

But that doesn't matter. Republican cowards got their way, again. And justice has not been properly served, again. And Americans pay the price, again.

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