Recently in Law & Justice Category
Two Ferguson-related stories this morning. First up, the officer who shot Michael Brown was beaten by Brown before the shooting.
Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, a source close to the department's top brass told FoxNews.com.
"The Assistant (Police) Chief took him to the hospital, his face all swollen on one side," said the insider. "He was beaten very severely."
Second, it looks like Ferguson authorities routinely hassle citizens for minor infringements.
You don't get $321 in fines and fees and 3 warrants per household from an about-average crime rate. You get numbers like this from bullshit arrests for jaywalking and constant "low level harassment involving traffic stops, court appearances, high fines, and the threat of jail for failure to pay."
As usual, the situation is more complex than it first appears.
Glenn Reynolds has been on a roll quoting brilliant commenters recently, and here's another: libertarians should go to Ferguson to make their case.
A friend writes on Facebook: "This presents such a great opportunity for libertarians to flip a significant fraction of blacks from big government to limited government. If Rand Paul wants to do outreach to the black community, get there now. Preferably with some other libertarians. Talk about drug war, killing men for cigarette taxes, drones, NSA spying, out of control cops, and how the problem that the government is making up dumb reasons to abuse its authority, not that this abuse would be better if applied in a more evenhanded way. Then sponsor national reform and try to mobilize these non traditional allies. Big opportunity just sitting there."
Thanks to the shoddy drafting of the Obamacare law the DC federal appeals court has ruled that it's illegal to subsidize healthcare plans bought through the federal exchange. The law only authorizes subsidies for plans bought through state exchanges, not through the federal exchange that was created for states that decided not to create exchanges of their own. Obviously this was not the intent of the law, and under normal circumstances Congress would simply pass an update to the law to remove any grounds for controversy. Of course that's impossible due to the politics surrounding Obamacare, and now the whole scheme may be doomed unless the courts decide to apply the law as intended rather than as written. Which these judges, at least, have refused to do.
The 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia--not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov. The ruling relied on a close reading of language in the Affordable Care Act.
"Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states," wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion in the case known as Halbig v. Burwell, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith.
"We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly."
Obviously I think it would be best for the country for the whole law to collapse. The impossibility of properly fixing this "technical error" in the law is yet another example of how badly things can go when one party forces a bill into law against the will of the citizenry and with no support from the other party. Congress can't patch this mistake, and the courts shouldn't clean up Congress' mess.
Does it appear to you that the AP might be biased in favor of "free" contraception?
The Supreme Court says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
The justices' 5-4 decision Monday is the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law. And it means the Obama administration must search for a different way of providing free contraception to women who are covered under objecting companies' health insurance plans.
But of course there is no such thing as "free" contraception (except perhaps abstinence, which has its own opportunity cost). As for pharmaceutical contraception, someone has to pay for it even if the payer isn't the user. The Supreme Court has decided that corporations (really, their shareholders) can't be forced to pay something that violates their religious beliefs. Freedom of religion is protected by the Constitution, and getting someone else to pay for your contraception isn't. Seems simple to me.
I don't know the ins and outs of the Arizona religious freedom bill that Republican Governor Jan Brewer is considering now. However, I'd like to comment on the issue in a very broad sense.
People have a right to choose who they associate with. The government should only be able to force or prohibit associations when that is the least restrictive method for satisfying a compelling public interest. (And I'd define "compelling public interest" very narrowly, likely limited to life-or-death situations.) As a consequence of this right of association, people are free to discriminate in their personal lives for or against whomever they want. Unjust discrimination is immoral, but not everything that is immoral should be illegal. Business owners have a right to grant or deny service to whomever they choose; employees have a right to grant or deny services to whomever they choose; and owners can fire employees whose choices conflict with their own.
People also have a right to choose and exercise their religious beliefs, but in the context of business service I think this right is largely subsumed by the right of association. A person's religious beliefs will be one factor he uses to choose his associations, but he is free to choose his associations based on any criteria he prefers.
(Note: the government does not have a right of association and cannot be allowed to discriminate unjustly. The government is a representative of all the people, and does not have the right to treat one person different from another without a compelling reason.)
Mark Steyn continues to fight the good fight for freedom of speech and points out that America's court system has become a medieval trial by ordeal. Even if/when Steyn and Dinesh D'Souza are eventually exonerated they will have spent huge quantities of time and money, and their voices will have been squelched. These trials should be dismissed immediately.
I know nothing about law except what I learned as a schoolboy. For example, way back in 1166, the Assize of Clarendon began what we now understand as the right to trial by jury, which was generally welcomed as an improvement over trial by combat or trial by ordeal. But it's only better if it's the right to a speedy trial. Otherwise, as in the sclerotic and diseased system prevailing here, trial by jury is itself deformed into trial by ordeal. In a speedy-trial system, a litigant has to be very sure that he wants to go to court. But, in America today, an abusive litigant funded by others - as Mann is - well knows that he can simply file a suit and drag things out, taking his opponents out of the public square for years on end - just as Obama plans to do with D'Souza. If the DC Superior Court and whatever dump of a New York courthouse D'Souza winds up in offered the same express service as Henry II did with the Assize of Clarendon, that would be one thing. But, as it is, in America the very justice system itself has become tyrannous. That's its appeal to Mann, and to Obama.
This is a big deal! Maybe it's time to move back to California? Ninth Circuit holds that California's gun carry prohibition is unconstitutional.
So holds today's Peruta v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014) (2-1 vote). The court concludes that California's broad limits on both open and concealed carry of loaded guns -- with no "shall-issue" licensing regime that assures law-abiding adults of a right to get licenses, but only a "good cause" regime under which no license need be given -- "impermissibly infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful self-defense." The Ninth Circuit thus joins the Seventh Circuit, and disagrees with the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. (State courts are also split on the subject.)
President Obama has refused to enforce parts of the law merely because he dislikes them, so it's hard for leftists to complain if sheriffs refuse to enforce gun restrictions on Constitutional grounds. I think it's legit for every American citizen who happens to hold a government position to personally ensure that their official behavior is in line with the Constitution.
Side note: just as we are wary of the federal government strangling the sovereignty of the states, we should push for state governments that respect the liberty of counties and municipalities.
When Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County explains in speeches why he is not enforcing the state's new gun laws, he holds up two 30-round magazines. One, he says, he had before July 1, when the law banning the possession, sale or transfer of the large-capacity magazines went into effect. The other, he "maybe" obtained afterward.
He shuffles the magazines, which look identical, and then challenges the audience to tell the difference.
"How is a deputy or an officer supposed to know which is which?" he asks.
Colorado's package of gun laws, enacted this year after mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., has been hailed as a victory by advocates of gun control. But if Sheriff Cooke and a majority of the other county sheriffs in Colorado offer any indication, the new laws -- which mandate background checks for private gun transfers and outlaw magazines over 15 rounds -- may prove nearly irrelevant across much of the state's rural regions.
Another action by President Obama that I approve of: reduced sentencing for non-violent offenders. In general I think we'd benefit greatly by ending prohibition on most drugs, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. Drug prohibition is really seeking to solve two linked but separate problems: drug addition, and drug violence. Unfortunately prohibition exacerbates violence by creating a black market for drugs.
"A vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities," Holder plans to say Monday, according to excerpts of his remarks that were provided to The Washington Post. "However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem rather than alleviate it."
Holder is calling for a change in Justice Department policies to reserve the most severe penalties for drug offenses for serious, high-level or violent drug traffickers. He has directed his 94 U.S. attorneys across the country to develop specific, locally tailored guidelines for determining when federal charges should be filed and when they should not.
"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long and for no good law enforcement reason," Holder plans to say. "We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation."
I haven't written much about the trial of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. Relying only on media reports a few things seemed obvious to me from the beginning and the verdict pretty much vindicates all my prior beliefs.
1. There's no dispute that Zimmerman killed Martin, but nothing about the sequence of events lines up with the criteria for murder (or manslaughter). For one thing, a man intent on murder wouldn't have called the police right beforehand.
2. Zimmerman was foolish to get out of his car to pursue or observe someone he thought was dangerous. Martin didn't have criminal intentions, but if Zimmerman had been right then it probably would have been Zimmerman who was killed. Unless you believe that someone is in immediate danger it is foolish to endanger yourself.
3. Based on the injuries and witness reports it seems obvious that Martin initiated the physical confrontation. Zimmerman had injuries consistent with being beaten as he and other witnesses described; the only wound on Martin was the fatal gunshot.
4. Despite the foolishness of his pursuit, Zimmerman had as much of a right to be walking around the neighborhood as Martin did and did not provoke the assault.
5. Race was not really a factor in the event, but race has been injected into the situation by the media and others who benefit from sensationalizing tragedy.
6. "Not guilty" is the right verdict. Martin's death was tragic and avoidable, and both his actions and Zimmerman's contributed to it.
Finally, consider the very similar case of Roderick Scott, a black man with a handgun permit who killed Christopher Cervini, a white teenager, in self-defense in 2009.
Cervini's family members say justice wasn't served. They say Christopher was murdered in cold blood, that he'd never been in trouble and Scott acted as judge, jury and executioner.
"The message is that we can all go out and get guns and feel anybody that we feel is threatening us and lie about the fact," said Jim Cervini, Christopher's father. "My son never threatened anybody. He was a gentle child, his nature was gentle, he was a good person and he was never, ever arrested for anything, and has never been in trouble. He was 16 years and four months old, and he was slaughtered."
Scott says he acted in self defense when he confronted Cervini and two others saying they were stealing from neighbors cars. He told them he had a gun and ordered them to freeze and wait for police.
Scott says he shot Cervini twice when the victim charged toward him yelling he was going to get Scott.
"How can this happen to a beautiful, sweet child like that?" asked Cervini's aunt Carol Cervini. "All he wanted to do was go home. And then for them to say, he was saying, 'Please don't kill me. I'm just a kid,' and he just kept on shooting him."
The federal government refuses to categorize the 2009 Ft. Hood massacre as a "terrorist attack", because obviously President Obama solved our terrorism problems and we don't have "terrorist attacks" anymore. What's in a name?
The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has now been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured. The Army said under the Military Code of Justice, Hasan's salary cannot be suspended unless he is proven guilty. ...
The Army has not classified the wounds of the Ft. Hood victims as "combat related" and declines to label the shooting a "terrorist attack",
The "combat related" designation is an important one, for without it Burnett and other shooting victims are not given combat-related pay, they are not eligible for Purple Heart retirement or medical benefits given to other soldiers wounded either at war or during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
As a result, Burnett, his wife Torey, and the families of other Fort Hood victims miss out on thousands of dollars of potential benefits and pay every year.
President Obama's political fortunes are clearly more important than the truth, and who really cares about the follow-on injustices that only affect little people? Hasan is "assumed innocent" of this alleged "workplace violence", so why shouldn't he keep getting paid? His victims weren't killed or injured in a "combat zone", so why should they get any special benefits?
I was surprised to read that the Senate will actually hold a vote on a bill that would force states to reciprocate recognition of concealed carry permits.
In a climactic day, the Senate planned to hold eight other votes Wednesday besides the one on background checks, all of them amendments to a broad gun control measure.
They included Democratic proposals to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, which are expected to lose; a Republican proposal requiring states to honor other states' permits allowing concealed weapons, which faces a close vote; and a GOP substitute for the overall gun measure.
If this bill passes the Senate it would certainly pass the House and would be a major civil rights victory. States like California, New York, and Illinois would finally be required to fully recognize the self-defense rights of their citizens.
If Kermit Gosnell had killed hundreds of dogs or murdered children at school with a gun then you know this would be national news. But since these murders lie so closely to legal abortion the Gosnell murder trial is being buried by the media.
The grand jury report in the case of Kermit Gosnell, 72, is among the most horrifying I've read. "This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy - and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors," it states. "The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels - and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths."
Charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, Gosnell is now standing trial in a Philadelphia courtroom. An NBC affiliate's coverage includes testimony as grisly as you'd expect. "An unlicensed medical school graduate delivered graphic testimony about the chaos at a Philadelphia clinic where he helped perform late-term abortions," the channel reports. "Stephen Massof described how he snipped the spinal cords of babies, calling it, 'literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.' He testified that at times, when women were given medicine to speed up their deliveries, 'it would rain fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.'"
Why does the left not care about these murdered children? Because what Gosnell did is basically the same thing that Planned Parenthood and every other abortion provider does every day.
From the grand jury report:
When you perform late-term "abortions" by inducing labor, you get babies. Live, breathing, squirming babies. By 24 weeks, most babies born prematurely will survive if they receive appropriate medical care. But that was not what the Women's Medical Society was about. Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered: he killed them. He didn't call it that. He called it "ensuring fetal demise." The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that "snipping."
Over the years, there were hundreds of "snippings." Sometimes, if Gosnell was unavailable, the "snipping" was done by one of his fake doctors, or even by one of the administrative staff.
But all the employees of the Women's Medical Society knew. Everyone there acted as if it wasn't murder at all. Most of these acts cannot be prosecuted, because Gosnell destroyed the files. Among the relatively few cases that could be specifically documented, one was Baby Boy A. His 17-year-old mother was almost 30 weeks pregnant -- seven and a half months -- when labor was induced. An employee estimated his birth weight as approaching six pounds. He was breathing and moving when Gosnell severed his spine and put the body in a plastic shoebox for disposal. The doctor joked that this baby was so big he could "walk me to the bus stop." Another, Baby Boy B, whose body was found at the clinic frozen in a one-gallon spring-water bottle, was at least 28 weeks of gestational age when he was killed. Baby C was moving and breathing for 20 minutes before an assistant came in and cut the spinal cord, just the way she had seen Gosnell do it so many times. And these were not even the worst cases.
How can these atrocities be allowed in the United States of America? Only under the cover of legalized abortion. It's inhuman and repugnant to God and man.
Glenn Reynolds outlines the legalities of asteroid mining.
Asteroids are certainly available, and they're valuable. More than 750,000 asteroids measure at least 1 kilometer across, and millions of smaller objects are scattered throughout the solar system, mostly in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Even a comparatively small asteroid is potentially quite valuable, both on Earth and in space.
A 79-foot-wide M-type (metallic) asteroid could hold 33,000 tons of extractable metals, including $50 million in platinum alone. A 23-foot-diameter C-type (carbonaceous) asteroid can hold 24,000 gallons of water, useful for generating fuel and oxygen. Even 1 gallon of water, at 8.33 pounds per, can cost tens of thousands of dollars to launch into Earth orbit. Prices will probably come down now that SpaceX and other private launch companies are in the game. But the numbers would need to improve a lot for water launched from Earth to compete with water that's already floating in space.
Larger asteroids could be worth as much as the GDP of a superpower. Asteroid 1986 DA is a metallic asteroid made up of iron, nickel, gold, and platinum. Estimates of its value range between $6 and $7 trillion. Something that size won't be retrieved anytime soon, but the figure gives some idea of just how much wealth is out there.
Ok, so that's just a quote about how valuable asteroids are. If you're interested in the existing legal issues go read the article, but the bottom line is that anything you can move is up for grabs.
It has more than two weeks since journalist David Gregory brandished an illegal high-capacity magazine on television and he has yet to face arrest or criminal charges.
It's been more than a week since police in Washington, D.C., opened an investigation into NBC's David Gregory's possession of a "high-capacity magazine" that's prohibited in the District on on national TV. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier's spokesman refused Monday to respond to whether Mr. Gregory had even been interviewed yet. This is a rather curious departure for a city that has been ruthless in enforcing this particular firearms statute against law-abiding citizens who made an honest mistake. ...
NBC asked the police in advance for permission to bring the contraband into Washington for the interview with National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre, but it was not granted.
David Gregory knowingly broke the (stupid, bad) law and he should be punished just as harshly as any other offender. Yes, of course Gregory had no intention to commit a violent act, but neither do other upright citizens who frequently have their Second Amendment rights infringed by our government. Gregory created a spectacle in order to advocate for harsher restrictions on civil rights, and there's no reason he shouldn't be made to suffer the consequences that he advocates for others.
If the authorities continue to refuse to arrest and prosecute Gregory it will be a horrible miscarriage of justice. I look forward to the resolution of this situation because every other citizen will have the right to whatever remedy Gregory and his well-heeled lawyers achieve for the television star.
I'll give up my guns not one second sooner than all the leftists calling for gun bans give up their armed security, body guards, Secret Service, Capitol Police, doorman buildings, walled compounds, and armored limousines.
Glenn Reynolds points out that "gun-free zones" only disarm law-abiding citizens.
One of the interesting characteristics of mass shootings is that they generally occur in places where firearms are banned: malls, schools, etc. That was the finding of a famous 1999 study by John Lott of the University of Maryland and William Landes of the University of Chicago, and it appears to have been borne out by experience since then as well.
In a way, this is no surprise. If there's someone present with a gun when a mass shooting begins, the shooter is likely to be shot himself. And, in fact, many mass shootings -- from the high school shooting by Luke Woodham in Pearl, Miss., to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo., where an armed volunteer shot the attacker -- have been terminated when someone retrieved a gun from a car or elsewhere and confronted the shooter.
Policies making areas "gun free" provide a sense of safety to those who engage in magical thinking, but in practice, of course, killers aren't stopped by gun-free zones. As always, it's the honest people -- the very ones you want to be armed -- who tend to obey the law.
One of the best ways to protect society is to put more guns into the hands of law-abiding adults.
I agree with Glenn Reynolds who writes:
The video shows numerous union representatives engaging in violent, illegal conduct. Their faces are clearly identifiable. I hope they will be prosecuted, and sued.
James O'Keefe captures video of a paid Obama campaign staffer assisting an undercover "volunteer" to vote twice. The gold is at the end:
The new O'Keefe video raises the question - how many other undercover videographers have penetrated the Obama campaign? O'Keefe obviously reached the heart of one operation. Who knows how many more Obama campaign offices are full of "volunteers" on the lookout for criminal behavior by other Obama campaign staffers?
O'Keefe provides a clue and taunts journalists, daring them to call this an "isolated incident."
(HT: J. Christian Adams.)