Archive for unconstitutional

Texas Justice Strikes Down Texas Injustice


Good news

Today reason returned to the Lone Star State. Despite despicable, underhanded chicanery, the Republicans in Texas, led by Rick Perry on a personal mission of anti-woman's rights, were dealt a major setback. The war surely hasn't been won yet, but the battle of Wendy Davisburg has been claimed and the winner is the women of the entire state of Texas.

Texas has had many champions over the years, but none sit taller in the saddle today than District Judge Lee Yeakel. With the stringent new regulations scheduled to go into effect tomorrow, the federal judge wrote Monday that "...these regulations violated the rights of abortion doctors to do what they think is best for their patients and would unreasonably restrict a woman's access to abortion clinics."


Judge Lee Yeakel

Judge Lee Yeakel represents a legal victory for abortion rights providers, who had challenged new requirements that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic and that all abortions must take place in surgical centers, rather than allowing women to take abortion drugs at home

Now, and for the time being, women will continue to have the protections they had under the law, and that Wendy Davis fought so hard to protect. Medication taken at home as prescribed by a licensed doctor will continue to provide choice to women. Clinics will remain open and patients will be granted access, without having to drive hundreds of miles or more to get the medical care and express the choice that the Supreme Court granted under Roe v. Wade.

So take that, Governor Perry, and stick that under your ten-gallon hat. You and your cronies are going to be the great state of Texas's downfall. Healthcare and women's rights are coming. You can't stop progress. But we can stop you. Go ahead and run for President again. You'll meet the same fate as before. A resounding defeat at the polls. Next time you try to think of the three government departments you want to shut down, the third one is your political future.


Cartoons of the Day- Stop and Frisk?



Chan Lowe


Deb Milbrath

Stop and frisk… what so wrong?

Bruce Plante


Stop-and-Frisk Practice Violated Rights, Judge Rules



I never understood how anyone could pretzel the laws to even possibly think this sh*t was legal.

In a repudiation of a major element in the Bloomberg administration’s crime-fighting legacy, a federal judge has found that the stop-and-frisk tactics of the New York Police Department violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and called for a federal monitor to oversee broad reforms.

In a decision issued on Monday, the judge, Shira A. Scheindlin, ruled that police officers have for years been systematically stopping innocent people in the street without any objective reason to suspect them of wrongdoing. Officers often frisked these people, usually young minority men, for weapons or searched their pockets for contraband, like drugs, before letting them go, according to the 195-page decision.

These stop-and-frisk episodes, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, according to the ruling. It also found violations with the 14th Amendment.

To fix the constitutional violations, Judge Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan said she intended to designate an outside lawyer, Peter L. Zimroth, to monitor the Police Department’s compliance with the Constitution.


VIDEO: "You can't ban abortion. Roe v. Wade, right?" Tell Arkansas, where they just passed an unconstitutional law.


abortion ban arkansas

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Rachel Maddow:

There is something slightly inexplicable going on in the great state of Arkansas right now. The Republican-controlled legislature in Arkansas has just passed back-to-back unconstitutional bans on abortion.

You can't ban abortion. Roe v. Wade, right?

Arkansas' Democratic governor Mike Beebe vetoed both of the bans. No so much because he's pro-choice, he actually has a mixed record on the subject. No, he has vetoed the bills because, dude, they are blatantly unconstitutional.

Quote: "The adoption of blatantly unconstitutional laws can be very costly to the taxpayers of our state." 

Well, today after already overriding the governor's veto of the first ban, the Arkansas senate voted to override his veto of the second even stricter abortion ban. If the house also votes to override the veto, the ACLU naturally has already promised that costly lawsuit that the governor was talking about in his veto messages... ...It is all but a forgone conclusion that the state will lose that lawsuit.

Guess what, Rachel, the New York Times has an update:

The law was passed by the newly Republican-controlled legislature over the veto of Gov. Mike Beebe, a Democrat, who called it “blatantly unconstitutional.” On Tuesday the state Senate voted to override his veto by a vote of 20 to 14; on Wednesday the House enacted the bill into law by a vote of 55 to 33, with several Democrats joining the Republican majority. [...]

Adoption of the law, called the “Human Heartbeat Protection Act,” is the first statewide victory for a restless emerging faction within the anti-abortion movement that has lost patience with the incremental whittling away at abortion rights — the strategy of established groups like National Right to Life and the Catholic Church while they wait for a more sympathetic Supreme Court. [...]

Last weekend, a number of Democrats “got worked over” by constituents who support stringent anti-abortion measures, said Representative Greg Leding, 27, a Democrat and House minority leader.

Rita Sklar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said “ It shows an utter disregard for women and their ability to make important personal decisions about their own reproductive health.”


...Also, the legislature can go on record as having tried to illegally ban abortion, even though they all know that is not a thing they are allowed to do. Apparently nothing is a waste of money when it comes to making the same point ever more emphatically in anti-abortion Republican politics.


VIDEO: "If you're an American citizen and the president is going to kill you, do you have the right to give yourself up?"


maddow drones

The L.A. Times:

The administration's legal justification for drone strikes, outlined in a Justice Department paper that became public Monday night, states that an "informed, high-level official" can approve a strike against an Al Qaeda official, including an American citizen, even without evidence that the targeted person is planning a specific operation."

"An 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require … clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future," says the policy paper  [...] [T]he paper says a capture operation can be ruled out by a determination that the risk to American troops is too great. In almost every case, such operations have in fact been ruled out, U.S. officials say. [...]

But the broad authority asserted in the paper to kill Al Qaeda figures even when they have not been tied to an impending attack contrasts with the narrow way the drone strike program has been described by administration officials. [...] The policy paper makes it clear, however, that the U.S. doesn't need evidence tying a militant to a specific plot to mark him for death. [...]

The decision to order a lethal strike falls either to the president or his designee, an "informed, high-level official," in the words of the paper. No court or third party has a right to review it, the paper says.

"The administration's concept of 'imminent threat' appears to require neither imminence nor a specific threat," said C. Dixon Osburn, director of Human Rights First, a Washington activist group. "Accepted principles of international law require both."

After I posted Mark Karlin's The U.S. is “now a nation where a handful of people decide who shall live and who shall die along with a video from the Rachel Maddow Show in which she reacts to the newly revealed "white paper" memo from the Obama administration, I experienced a Moment of "Here we go again." I was immediately labeled an "emo-prog":

A tag dreamt up by self-proclaimed liberals to preemptively blunt any criticism of Obama, even when the same standards were applied to actions undertaken by the previous President.

Apparently questioning the authority of a president-- no matter who he is-- when it comes to secrecy and using drones to kill Americans is very emo-proggy. And apparently, the people who use that infantile term don't like to answer questions like, "What if a President Paul Ryan were to have these same powers? Whose to say the powers wouldn't be abused?" or, "Consider how you'd feel if you were to substitute the name Bush for Obama."

Instead they insist that we should trust President Obama because he means well and is intelligent and caring-- which he is, but that's irrelevant. Under his watch, these drone attacks are still occurring, so no matter how great a guy he is, there are legal and moral issues to consider.

There are also really, really bad precedents to consider.

These same Obama supporters also refuse to respond to my link to this: AUDIO: President Obama literally asked us to “hold him accountable.”

My point: It is okay, mandatory in fact, to question authority, especially when that authority invites you to hold him accountable. Especially when deliberately killing Americans is involved. Especially when Congress isn't. Again, the Times:

... an "informed, high-level official" can approve a strike against an Al Qaeda official, including an American citizen, even without evidence that the targeted person is planning a specific operation...

...The decision to order a lethal strike falls either to the president or his designee, an "informed, high-level official," in the words of the paper. No court or third party has a right to review it...

Here is more analysis and a lot of questions from Rachel, including questions about the president's choice of John Brennan to be the next CIA director:

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"These things are based on facts. Facts that I cannot tell you. So I cannot reference them because I cannot tell you them, but they are facts."

"Right. Exactly. They go into how you conduct your offensive operations. That's the thing we want to know about."

"Now a bipartisan group of 11 U.S. Senators has written to President Obama asking him to release what is still secret about why the administration and the president think that it is legal to kill Americans this way. Quote: 'It is vitally for Congress and the American public to have a full understanding of how the executive branch interprets the limits and boundaries of  this authority so that Congress and the public can decide whether this authority has been properly defined and whether the president's power to deliberately kill American citizens is subject to appropriate limitations and safeguards.'"

The issue here is who's a bad guy and how do you figure it out? If this is the means by which we're going to decide not that you're going to be arrested and tried, but the means by which we will decide whether the president can order you dead, then on what basis is the president making that decision? How do they determine who is a bad guy? Or as Oregon Senator Ron Wyden put it in a question, a written question to the president's CIA nominee John Brennan, 'How much evidence does the president need to determine that a particular American can be lawfully killed?'"

"Following naturally on from that, and this is the one that keeps me up at night, does the president have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender before killing them?"

"If you're an American citizen and the president is going to kill you, do you have the right to give yourself up instead so you don't get killed? And how do you know you should do that if the president's decision that he is going to kill you is a secret decision that nobody ever tells you? And are we right also in only imagining this kind of thing happening in places like Yemen or Pakistan"

Quoting again from Senator Wyden here, 'Are there any geographic limitations on the intelligence community's authority to use lethal force against Americans? Do any intelligence agencies have the authority to carry out lethal operations inside the United States?' Good question."

maddow drones holder memo


The U.S. is "now a nation where a handful of people decide who shall live and who shall die."


drone report

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Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin (bolding is mine):

For months, the White House has been leaking how President Obama "carefully" reviews a kill list (assassination) of alleged terrorists (and who knows what other troublemakers end up on the potential target list?).   Off-the-record comments (and some on the record) are meant to reassure Americans that the president doesn't take the authorization of kills (with the attendant "collateral damage" of civilians and children if a drone strike) lightly, but seriously contemplates who ends up dead as a sanctioned hit. [...]

The authority Obama has assumed without any legislative or court permission goes well beyond the Bush/Cheney torture protocol; this is a kill list, not just a rendition order. The condemning of a person to death without due legal process, without habeas corpus, violates the Constitution in the most fundamental way.  In doing so, Obama is undercutting and eroding the most basic guarantee in our legal system, at a time when the tide, ironically, is turning against capital punishment in the US. [...]

Disturbing is a word that is an understatement to this now established and acted upon executive act that provides plenty of leeway for whoever is president to decide what is an associated group, and designate the "informed, high-level official[s] of the US government" who recommend people to be taken out by drones, bombs, snipers or assassins... The United States has not only lost its moral high ground, which has been eroding for years, but it is now a nation where a handful of people decide who shall live and who shall die

Please read the entire post here.


Oops! "Right to work" for less law shows Gov. Snyder, GOP legislators never read language, may not be able to implement


Stop me if you've heard this one before, it's a real knee-slapper. Okay, so you know how Michigan’s “Right to Work” law contains verbatim language from ALEC model bill? ALEC had to be so stoked!

But oops! Their new rushed-through, jammed-in, union-busting law may violate the state constitution, so it may not be able to be implemented.

KITH Spit<br /><br /><br />

Oh noes! 


 Reports today show that HB 4003, which the Governor said would provide “Right to Work” type policies for public employees in Michigan, could not be implemented as intended as the Michigan Constitution gives clear authority to the Civil Service Commission over conditions of employment for the state's workforce. Experts have suggested today only a vote of the Civil Service Commission could enact Right to Work policies for state workers. [...]

“The public was not given an opportunity to read these bills, legislators were not given an opportunity to read these bills, and we now know that the Governor himself either didn't read or didn't understand these bills himself,” said Senator Bert Johnson (D – Detroit). “This process has been a complete affront to Democracy from the start and was nothing more than a political gift to the Koch Brothers and ALEC who bought and paid for this legislation.”

Maybe they should have moved a little more slowly and deliberately. And intelligently. And read it. And debated it. And stuff.

Those whacky Republicans and their antics, who knew they could be so amusing? Then again, we've been aware for some time that they serve the people well... as very effective punch lines.