Recently in Law & Justice Category


It's fun to type the word "malfeasance", and yes, I was a little proud when it didn't earn a red underline from my browser because I spelled it right the first time. It's the little things in life.

But anyway, despite Hillary's humiliating electoral defeat, let's not forget how grossly negligent she and her aides were with classified information.

Judicial Watch today released 1,617 new pages of documents from the U.S. Department of State revealing numerous additional examples of classified information being transmitted through the unsecure, non-state.gov account of Huma Abedin, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff, as well as many instances of Hillary Clinton donors receiving special favors from the State Department.

The documents included 97 email exchanges with Clinton not previously turned over to the State Department, bringing the known total to date to at least 627 emails that were not part of the 55,000 pages of emails that Clinton turned over, and further contradicting a statement by Clinton that, "as far as she knew," all of her government emails had been turned over to department.

Plus, of course, the pay-to-play relationship between the Clinton State Department and the Clinton "charity" foundation.

On July 16, 2009, Zachary Schwartz asked Band for help getting visas to travel to Cuba for a film production crew from Shangri La Entertainment. Band forwarded the request to Abedin, telling her, "Please call zach asap on this. [Redacted.] Important." Abedin responded, "I'll call zach when we land in India." Abedin concludes with "Enjoy. Cuba is complicated. Am sure you aren't surprised to hear that." Schwartz worked for Steve Bing, a mega-donor to the Clintons and owner of Shangri La Entertainment. Bing has reportedly donated $10-25 million to the Clinton Foundation and paid Bill Clinton personally $2.5 million a year to be an adviser to a green construction company Bing owned.

On September 11, 2009, Terrence Duffy, chairman of futures brokerage firm CME Group, a donor to the Clinton Foundation, asked Clinton to arrange "government appointments" for him in Singapore and Hong Kong. Clinton, using her HDR22@clintonmail.com address, forwarded the request to Abedin, "fyi." Abedin responded to Duffy's email, saying she would "follow up" with Duffy's secretary, Joyce. Duffy gave $4,600 to Hillary's 2008 presidential campaign; CME Group paid Hillary $225,000 for a speaking fee and has donated between $5,001 and 10,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

And lots more... obviously.

(HT: Instapundit and Townhall.)


I guess you can interpret this partnership for yourself: Planned Parenthood teams up with Satanists to abort more babies in Missouri.

Missouri's recent stroke of good fortune in the reproductive rights realm may have to do with intervention from the fiery underworld. On Monday, the Satanic Temple argued in a Missouri court that the state's abortion restrictions violate worshippers' rights to free religious practice. The organization is challenging two Missouri laws: one that requires patients to look at unscientific anti-abortion propaganda and another that forces them to wait 72 hours between their initial consultations and a second appointments for their abortions. Satanic Temple members argue that their religion prizes rational, independent thought and that forcing Satanists to read anti-abortion pamphlets and "consider a religious proposition with which they do not agree" during the 72-hour waiting period constitutes a violation of their beliefs.

I wonder how this "stroke of good fortune" will impact the most vulnerable and defenseless people among us?

(HT: Breitbart and Patheos.)


An Oklahoma woman who drove her three friends to a burglary has been charged with murder because the homeowner killed her accomplices in self-defense.

The woman who says she drove three teenagers to an Oklahoma home where they were fatally shot during a midday break-in told television reporters that she feels guilty, but not responsible for their deaths and that she has little compassion for the man who shot them.

Elizabeth Marie Rodriguez, 21, is jailed without bond on murder and burglary warrants in Wagoner County for the deaths of Maxwell Cook, Jacob Redfern and Jakob Woodruff at the home just outside the city limits of the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. The Wagoner County sheriff's office says the three were between 15 and 19 years old.

Authorities have said the three were shot Monday by the homeowner's 23-year-old son, who has not been arrested, and that each was found masked, dressed in black and wearing gloves. A knife and brass knuckles were recovered at the scene.

"I understand he (the son) protected his home," Rodriguez told television station KOTV. "He had his rights."

But she said he could have shot the three in the legs. "He's at the bottom of my list to be compassionate for," she said.

Apparently Rodriguez was unaware of the felony murder rule which generally states that if someone is killed while you are committing a dangerous felony you are guilty of murder -- even if you had no intent to kill, you intentionally created a dangerous, illegal situation that resulted in death.


A report by Luke Rosiak claims that shady IT service providers might be blackmailing House Democrats.

Congressional technology aides are baffled that data-theft allegations against four former House IT workers -- who were banned from the congressional network -- have largely been ignored, and they fear the integrity of sensitive high-level information.

Imran Awan and three relatives were colleagues until police banned them from computer networks at the House of Representatives after suspicion the brothers accessed congressional computers without permission.

Five Capitol Hill technology aides told The Daily Caller News Foundation's Investigative Group that members of Congress have displayed an inexplicable and intense loyalty towards the suspects who police say victimized them. The baffled aides wonder if the suspects are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, to which they had full access.

"I don't know what they have, but they have something on someone. It's been months at this point" with no arrests, said Pat Sowers, who has managed IT for several House offices for 12 years. "Something is rotten in Denmark."


Apparently bandits are running wild in California. I put "teen" in quotes because who really knows how old these bandits are?

BART police are beefing up patrols at Oakland stations after dozens of juveniles terrorized riders Saturday night when they invaded the Coliseum Station and commandeered at least one train car, forcing passengers to hand over bags and cell phones and leaving at least two with head injuries.

The incident occurred around 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Witnesses told police that 40 to 60 juveniles flooded the station, jumped the fare gates and rushed to the second-story train platform. Some of the robbers apparently held open the doors of a Dublin-bound train car while others streamed inside, confronting and robbing and in some cases beating riders.

I feel like the police and media are being pretty quick to blame "juveniles" because it makes the horrendous failure of the government seem less scary. How do they know this mob of bandits consisted of kids? Did someone check all their IDs? What proportion of the bandits were kids? Were there some adults present leading the banditry?

Saying "teens" and "juveniles" makes it sound like this attack was some kind of misguided prank rather than a victory for chaos over the forces of law and order.

"I've been there 24 years and this is the first time I've heard of anything like this happening," said Keith Garcia, a BART police officer and union president.

So, things in California are getting worse.

Alicia Trost, a BART spokeswoman, said Monday that seven people were robbed -- with the victims losing a purse, a duffel bag and five phones. Six people were robbed inside the train car, with a seventh confronted on the platform, she said. Police received no reports of guns or other weapons being brandished.

A police summary prepared after the incident said that at least two victims suffered injuries to the face or head that required medical attention.

How many people reported injuries or assaults that didn't require medical attention? I bet it was a lot.

The attack was so quick, police reported, that the teenagers were able to retreat from the station and vanish into the surrounding East Oakland neighborhood before BART officers could respond. The train was held for about 15 minutes as authorities interviewed victims and witnesses and tended to the injured.

Bandits running rampant. Law enforcement has completely lost control of a swathe of territory right in the heart of one of the richest areas of the country. How humiliating.

Trost said police arrived at the station in less than 5 minutes, but that the robberies took place in just seconds.

When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. The outcome would have been different if some of the victims had been armed, and the bandits would think twice before trying again if a few of them had gotten shot. As it is, if all 40-60 aren't arrested, prosecuted, and punished then the government in California has basically given up its sovereignty.

(HT: Althouse, who is surprised that the police aren't releasing the surveillance video of the attack because the criminals are "juveniles". I guess it would be an invasion of their privacy.)


I've written about alternatives to imprisonment several times over the past... 14 years. Wow.

Now Ross Douthat is asking similar questions: why should imprisonment be our only official form of punishment?

Our prison system, which officially only punishes by restraint, actually subjects millions of Americans to waves of informal physical abuse -- mistreatment by guards, violence from inmates, the tortures of solitary confinement, the trauma of rape -- on top of their formal yearslong sentences.

It is not clear that this method of dealing with crime succeeds at avoiding cruel and unusual punishment so much as it avoids making anyone outside the prison system see it. Nor is it clear that a different system, with a sometimes more old-fashioned set of penalties, would necessarily be more inhumane. ...

We tell ourselves that we have prisoners' good in mind, and the higher standards of our civilization, because we do not offer them this choice. But those standards may be less about preventing ourselves from becoming like our sinful ancestors, and more about maintaining the illusion of clean hands -- while harsh punishment is still imposed, but out of sight, on souls and bodies not our own.

If given the choice, I'd rather face pain and humiliation than years in prison... and it seems like such punishment would be better for my mental and physical health as well, not to mention that of my family. I agree with Douthat that "civilized" imprisonment is more for the benefit of a society that doesn't want to think about punishment than for the protection of society or the benefit of convicts.

(HT: Instapundit.)


I don't have a strong opinion on whether or not felons who have served their sentences should having their voting rights restored. I can see reasonable arguments in both directions. However, Terry McAuliffe's naked politicizing of what should be a solemn responsibility is appalling.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has granted voting rights to as many as 60,000 convicted felons just in time for them to register to vote, nearly five times more than previously reported and enough to win the state for his long-time friend, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Virginia chief executive claimed to have "no idea" how felons would vote and said he had never thought about it. Clinton's staff emailed him after the 200,000-voters move to call it a "great announcement" and set up a call about it.

McAuliffe also did a major favor for the wife of a senior FBI executive who was running for a Virginia legislative seat at the same time the bureau was investigating Clinton's use of private email addresses and a home-brew server to conduct the official diplomatic business of the U.S.


Former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman General James E. Cartwright has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a felony, during its investigation of a leak of classified information. I'm not expert enough to say anything with certainty, but Josh Rogen makes a strong case that Cartwright is being made an example of after Hillary Clinton and David Petraeus were let off entirely or lightly for similar crimes.

Under his plea deal, Cartwright could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Last year, Petraeus cut a deal with the Justice Department after admitting he had lied to the FBI and passed hundreds of highly classified documents to his biographer and mistress Paula Broadwell. He pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor of mishandling classified information and was sentenced to two years probation and a $100,000 fine.

Clinton was not charged at all for what FBI Director James B. Comey called "extremely careless" handling of "very sensitive, highly classified information." Comey said that although there was "evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information," the FBI's judgment was that no reasonable prosecutor would have filed charges against Clinton or her associates.

"There is a lack of proportion just based on the facts that one figure, Cartwright, is getting severely punished and others so far have escaped the process," said Steven Aftergood, director of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "He is being singled out for prosecution and public humiliation. It's an implicit rebuttal to those who argued that other senior officials such as Clinton or Petraeus got off scott free or got too light of a sentence."

It's also very strange to me that he, or anyone, would lie to the FBI instead of keeping silent. Maybe given recent history Cartwright figured that his position would protect him.


It pains me to say it after having defended the FBI and Director Comey in July, but with each new revelation it becomes more obvious that the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information was a sham. As the FBI dribbles out its interview notes week by week it's clear even to a non-lawyer that there was more than enough evidence for a grand jury to indict Hillary Clinton, and the fact that no grand jury was even convened means that there was never any intent to seek a prosecution.

Remember: we're just learning about this stuff now, but the FBI and the DOJ have known all this for months. They knew this when they decided not to convene a grand jury, which would have certainly issued an indictment given this mountain of evidence. They decided to let Hillary walk. "Too big to fail" indeed.

On Monday, however, the various issues associated with Clinton's email setup came roaring back. According to emails released by the FBI, Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy asked the FBI to ease up on classification decisions in exchange for allowing more FBI agents in countries where they were not permitted to go. The words "quid pro quo" were used to describe the proposed exchange by the FBI official. ...

The Clinton campaign will, as it has done every time there is any news about whether she sent or received classified material on her private server, chalk this up to an interagency dispute over classification. Typical bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, they will say. This sort of stuff happens all the time!

Except, not really. First of all, we already know from FBI Director James B. Comey that Clinton sent and received emails and information that was classified at the time. ("110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received," Comey said in his remarkable press conference on the FBI investigation.) Clinton's explanation has now evolved to this: She didn't know documents marked with a "c" meant they were confidential (and therefore classified) and, therefore, she never knowingly sent or received classified material -- with the emphasis on "knowingly."

That's a tough position to hold in light of Kennedy's attempted quid pro quo, which suggests that at least some people at State were actively trying to fiddle with classification determinations made by the FBI.

It's hard to square the idea of Kennedy offering a quid pro quo to the FBI regarding a classification decision and Clinton not even knowing that "c" on documents stands for "classified." One suggests deep understanding of how the classification process works. The other, um, doesn't.

Directory Comey did everything possible to avoid finding evidence against Clinton.

The agent was also surprised that the bureau did not bother to search Clinton's house during the investigation.

"We didn't search their house. We always search the house. The search should not just have been for private electronics, which contained classified material, but even for printouts of such material," he said.

"There should have been a complete search of their residence," the agent pointed out. "That the FBI did not seize devices is unbelievable. The FBI even seizes devices that have been set on fire."

And when the FBI did find evidence, they agreed to destroy it to prevent Congressional investigators from seeing it.

Immunity deals for two top Hillary Clinton aides included a side arrangement obliging the FBI to destroy their laptops after reviewing the devices, House Judiciary Committee sources told Fox News on Monday.

Sources said the arrangement with former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson also limited the search to no later than Jan. 31, 2015. This meant investigators could not review documents for the period after the email server became public -- in turn preventing the bureau from discovering if there was any evidence of obstruction of justice, sources said.

Instead of writing letters, Congress should be writing articles of impeachment against Loretta Lynch and James Comey. Nothing prevents Congress from immediately impeaching Hillary Clinton if she wins the election. (Of course, none of this will happen because Congress is full of cowards. It's a collective action problem: all Congresscritters know that the Senate won't convict, so no one does anything except write sternly worded letters.)


As Glenn Reynolds writes, "You want police to only shoot people when it's absolutely necessary, regardless of their race." Absolutely right.

The vast majority of our police want to do the right thing and succeed at doing the right thing, day in and day out, in a very tough job. We should all be thankful for that.

Law enforcement officials (including the police, prosecutors, judges, prison guards, and others) are entrusted with an enormous amount of power, and the general citizenry has a right to expect that power to be wielded fairly and without discrimination.

Over the last several months, the phrase "white lives matter" has been derided by many as a willfully obtuse (and usually racist) response to the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly in light of the disproportionate number of African-Americans shot by police.

But one group of mostly African-American civil rights leaders is stepping up to question a deputy's shooting of an unarmed, white, homeless man in Castaic -- because it just might be the right thing to do.

"We can't only be advocates when black people are killed by police unjustly," says Najee Ali, founder of Project Islamic Hope.

Ali is organizing a coalition of civil rights groups, including Project Islamic Hope, the National Action Network and the L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable, which will call on state Attorney General Kamala Harris to launch an investigation of Tuesday's shooting.

"They shot this homeless man for nothing," Ali said of how witnesses have described the shooting. "He was unarmed and they killed him. I found out he was white later on. It doesn't matter to me."

Bravo.

Just as we expect our law enforcement officials to enforce the law without bias, we citizens should do our best to rise above racial and religious perspectives. That doesn't mean those perspectives are invalid, but they often aren't helpful for solving a problem. When we divide ourselves and stoke grievances we distract everyone and make it harder to accomplish meaningful, lasting improvements in our society. We all -- citizens and law enforcement -- need to focus on our shared goals: liberty and justice.


Zero Hedge (yeah, I know, not always the most temperate source) has an excellent report about how David Brock is laundering money through Media Matters and various "charities" to enrich himself. This is probably just the tip of the iceberg for the Democrat-dominated "non-profit" sector -- if you think Brock is the only one doing this, you're delusional.

The Left's web of "charities" is intentionally incestuous and opaque for the purpose of graft, from the Clinton Global Initiative on down. Is it any wonder that they're freaking out about the possibility of a Republican president who isn't hesitant about smashing the status quo? It's hard to imagine a Trump presidency letting this all slide as "business as usual", no matter what President Bush ignored a decade ago.

Let's recap

Say, for example, you donate $1,062,857 to Media Matters for America. This is how David Brock would have used your charitable donation in 2014:

Media Matters would receive your $1,062,857 donation

  • The Bonner Group would earn a $132,857 commission
  • Media Matters would retain $930,000

Next, Media Matters would give what's left of your entire donation, $930,000, to the Franklin Education Forum

  • The Bonner Group would 'earn' a $116,250 commission
  • The Franklin Education Forum would retain $813,750

The Franklin Education Forum would then forward the remaining $813,750 to The Franklin Forum

  • The Bonner Group would 'earn' a $101,718 commission
  • The Franklin Forum would retain $712,031

In the end, Brock's solicitor would have pocketed $350,825, almost a third of your initial donation! That's a far cry from the advertised 12.5% commission.

As bizarre as that scenario may sound, this is exactly what David Brock did in 2014.

The decision not to charge Hillary Clinton for her "extremely careless" handling of classified information is opening a new line of defense for others who stand accused of similar misdeeds.

Mark Zaid, a defense attorney for national security whistleblowers and people accused of mishandling secrets, says he plans to ask for "the Clinton deal" in the future.

And Zaid says he probably can get it.

In 2015, shortly after former CIA Director David Petraeus received a plea deal featuring probation and a fine for sharing highly classified information with his mistress Paula Broadwell, Zaid says he called the Justice Department on behalf of a client accused of taking classified records home.

"We absolutely got on the phone to the prosecutor and said, 'We want the Petraeus sentence. We want the commensurate, parallel sentence.' And we got it!" he says, winning a $5,000 fine and a short probation term instead of possible prison for a now-retired intelligence agency employee.

It's hard to see how this decision makes America safer, and it certainly undermines the rule of law.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is the former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, cited the case of Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kristian Saucier, who pleaded guilty last week to possession and retention of national security information for taking cellphone photos inside the classified engine room of a nuclear submarine where he worked as a mechanic.

"That person's been prosecuted and he will get five or six years and a dishonorable discharge," Issa told CNN. "There is a double standard."


FBI Director James Comey recommends no charges for Hillary Clinton. She exposed highly classified data to "hostile actors", but there's no "direct evidence" that her servers were hacked -- and none would be expected. Thousands of work-related emails were recovered that weren't turned over in 2014. Hillary was "extremely careless" with highly classified information, but the evidence doesn't show that she was intentionally trying to damage the United States. She broke the law, but "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring a case against her.

Comey seems like an honorable man, and this conclusion seems reasonable to me, even though Comey is clear that there was plenty of evidence to support criminal charges. I don't understand the reasoning for not recommending charges, but it seems that Comey suggests that administrative penalties would be more appropriate. (Of course, no such administrative penalties are now possible.)

In essence, in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require. The added intent element, moreover, makes no sense: The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing. The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant. People never intend the bad things that happen due to gross negligence.

Despite the lack of criminal charges, I hope that the American public imposes political consequences on Hillary for her reckless behavior. From a political perspective, Comey's statement was probably the best possible outcome for Trump. Video of the FBI director calling Hillary "extremely careless" is powerful stuff.

My opinion is that the people who are lamenting this result are missing the subtlety of Comey's statement and decision: Hillary has been convicted as dishonorable, dishonest, and careless without the need for a trial. No endless motions, no delays, no jury tampering, no arcane court rules, no backroom deals, no plea bargain. If America wants to elect an incompetent, lying crook, then no indictment will prevent it.

Update:

Reason does a super-cut, interposing Comey and Clinton.


I have great respect for the FBI and confidence in their capability -- but they need to wrap up their Clinton investigation soon. I realize that the FBI shouldn't be guided by political concerns... but... but... please finish.

"I hope that this is close to being wrapped up," Clinton said on CBS's "Face the Nation" in May.

But nearly two months later, there have been no reports that an interview with the former top diplomat has taken place.

"I, like other people, am a bit surprised that it hasn't come to a resolution yet," said Douglas Cox, a professor at the City of New York School of Law.

He added that within Clinton's campaign, "I would think internally that there would have to be a little bit of concern."


Like many laws, the Texas regulations on abortion providers were intended to do accomplish something other than their ostensible purpose -- leading the SCOTUS to strike the regulations down.

The justices voted 5-3 in favor of Texas clinics that had argued the regulations were only a veiled attempt to make it harder for women to get abortions in the nation's second-most populous state.

Justice Stephen Breyer's majority opinion for the court held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman's right to an abortion.

Texas had argued that its 2013 law and subsequent regulations were needed to protect women's health. The rules required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.

Breyer wrote that "the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions and constitutes an 'undue burden' on their constitutional right to do so."

I guess all sorts of regulations will be invalidated soon! Oh, nevermind.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The regulatory state should tremble in fear. There is now "no reason to believe" that additional regulations would affect wrongdoers. That means that regulations may not even be able to escape the lowest level of judicial scrutiny -- rational-basis review.

Environmentalists are quaking in their boots. Gun controllers are throwing their hands up in despair.

Financial and business regulators may as well close up shop. Wait. What's that you say? This is an abortion decision? The regulations in questions were deemed responsible for closing substandard abortion clinics?

Never mind. The regulatory state is safe. Everyone knows that the Supreme Court privileges the killing of children above all else. After all, as Justice Ginsburg has said, Roe v. Wade was motivated by "concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of." The undesired have to die -- the reasoning matters not.


Devin Watkins says that Karl Racine, the Washington, D.C., attorney general, has instructed police officers not to issue concealed carry permits, in violation of a court order. But don't these police officers have individual liability for refusing to follow a court order? Can't they be sued for civil rights infringement, regardless of what the attorney general says? Or does the instruction from the attorney general somehow insulate the police from liability?

After the order, I went to apply for a concealed-carry permit in the District of Columbia. The police officers there told me the D.C. attorney general's office had ordered them to ignore the court order and continue to deny applications. Thinking there might be some kind of mistake, I contacted the AG's office, which explicitly told me if I had a complaint about what they did I could file that complaint online.


said Justin Shur, the former deputy chief of the Justice Department's public integrity section.

"Regardless of whether the charging decision is supported by the facts and the law, there's always someone who will suggest there was a political agenda behind it."

Maybe this wouldn't be true if the bureaucracy hadn't been so politicized during the Obama administration?

Is it too much to ask that the law simply be applied as written, without regard for the political power of the person being investigated?


Republican former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for "structuring" bank withdrawals to avoid notice by authorities.

Prosecutors say he so badly wanted to hide his past sexual misconduct, he agreed to pay a former student $3.5 million in hush money. Hastert pleaded guilty last fall to withdrawing $952,000 from the bank in increments crafted to avoid notice, in violation of banking laws. Prosecutors say when FBI investigators approached Hastert, he said he was being falsely extorted and even agreed to record a phone conversation with the individual.

"Structuring" shouldn't be a crime at all -- it's illegal to move money around for illegal purposes, and "structuring" makes it illegal to shape your transactions to avoid scrutiny. That's absurd. It's like a law against adhering to speed limit signs because that makes it harder for the police to give you a ticket for speeding.

Anyway, Hastert was guilty of some pretty reprehensible behavior. Not only did he molest a bunch of students when he worked as a wrestling coach, but he falsely told the FBI that one of his victims was extorting him.

[Judge] Durkin called it "deplorable" that Hastert lied to the FBI during an initial investigation. He also said it was "unconscionable" that Hastert initially accused Individual A of extortion, leading the FBI to begin investigating the victim.

"You set him up," Durkin told Hastert.

Hastert was one of the most politically connected people in the country, and he intentionally aimed the FBI at his abuse victim. Awful.

Still to be explained: how did Hastert get millions of dollars?


I agree with law professor Glenn Reynolds: it's bad that American is entirely dominated by lawyers. Put some non-lawyers on the Supreme Court.

But law is supposed to govern everyone's actions, and everyone is supposed to understand it. ("Ignorance of the law," as we are often told, "is no excuse.") But when the Supreme Court is composed of narrowly specialized former judges from elite schools, the likelihood that the law will be comprehensible to ordinary people and non-lawyers seems pretty small. (In addition, a recent book by my University of Tennessee colleague Ben Barton makes a pretty strong case that lawyer-judges systematically favor the sort of legal complexity that, shockingly, makes lawyers rich. He, too, recommends non-lawyer judges, which, as he notes, are common in other nations and were common in colonial America.)

The Supreme Court is one-third of the federal government, and the other two branches, Congress and the presidency, are already dominated by lawyers. But there are hundreds of millions of Americans who aren't lawyers, and surely some of them are smart enough to decide important questions, given that the Constitution and laws are aimed at all of us. Shouldn't we open the court up to a little diversity?


Good for Apple CEO Tim Cook for refusing the order to decrypt an iPhone.

Apple said on Wednesday that it would oppose and challenge a federal court order to help the F.B.I. unlock an iPhone used by one of the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., in December.

On Tuesday, in a significant victory for the government, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym of the Federal District Court for the District of Central California ordered Apple to bypass security functions on an iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed by the police along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, after they attacked Mr. Farook's co-workers at a holiday gathering.

Judge Pym ordered Apple to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.

But hours later, in a statement by its chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, Apple announced its refusal to comply. The move sets up a legal showdown between the company, which says it is eager to protect the privacy of its customers, and the law enforcement authorities, who say that new encryption technologies hamper their ability to prevent and solve crime.

There's no end to this rabbit hole once it gets opened. American citizens have a right to privacy, and a right to strong encryption.

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