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  1. #61
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by jjnow View Post
    The Fred Phelps gang won their case.

    8-1, Alito dissenting.



    Continued: http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/02/sco...ex.html?hpt=C1

    And if you want to read the decision in its entirety: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-751.pdf
    This is one funny Court when it comes to First Amendment issues. Probably one of the only areas of law Scalia and Ginsberg consistently agree.

    I liked Alito's dissent. He really tried to keep things framed in a state tort context, rather than a Federal constitutional right. Too bad the rest of the Court didn't consider it that way, but they are right when they approach it strictly from a 1st Amendment basis.
    Last edited by Moose; 03-02-2011 at 12:19 PM.
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  2. #62
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    There are only 7 of them, and if the media would treat them as a non-story, they will go away. But, every time they announce a protest, it's all over the news.

  3. #63

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    This is one funny Court when it comes to First Amendment issues. Probably one of the only areas of law Scalia and Ginsberg consistently agree.

    I liked Alito's dissent. He really tried to keep things framed in a state tort context, rather than a Federal constitutional right. Too bad the rest of the Court didn't consider it that way, but they are right when they approach it strictly from a 1st Amendment basis.
    That's why I was so upset that this court upheld that piece of the PATRIOT Act last June. I thought this court of all courts could get behind the argument that it was threatening to the first amendment. Though I do not remember if Kagan was there yet...probably not.
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  4. #64
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by munchin View Post
    That's why I was so upset that this court upheld that piece of the PATRIOT Act last June. I thought this court of all courts could get behind the argument that it was threatening to the first amendment. Though I do not remember if Kagan was there yet...probably not.
    That was when Stevens was still on the bench, Munchin. Kagan didn't replace him until this term started in October, 2010.
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  5. #65
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Clarence Thomas' Criminal Behavior
    by Paul Campos
    March 3, 2011


    The criminal-law scholar George Fletcher once quipped that the maxim "ignorance of the law is no excuse" is one of the few fundamental principles of law that most people actually know. As harsh as this principle may sometimes be when applied to ordinary citizens, applying it to justices of the Supreme Court seems only reasonable

    Thus, it's difficult to feel sympathy for Clarence Thomas, as he finds himself embroiled in a controversy over his failure to reveal the sources of his wife's non-investment income (or indeed that she even had any such income). The 1978 Ethics in Government Act requires all federal judges to fill out annual financial-disclosure forms. The relevant question on the disclosure form isn't complicated: Even if Justice Thomas wasn't a lawyer, he shouldn't have needed to hire one to explain to him that the box marked NONE next to the phrase "Spouse's Non-Investment Income" should only be checked if his spouse had no non-investment income.

    In fact Ginni Thomas was paid nearly $700,000 by the Heritage Foundation, a "conservative think tank," a.k.a. a right-wing propaganda mill, between 2003 and 2007, as well as an undisclosed amount by another lobbying group in 2009. Justice Thomas' false statements regarding his wife's income certainly constitute a misdemeanor, and quite probably a felony, under federal law. (They would be felonies if he were prosecuted under 18. U.S.C. 1001, which criminalizes knowingly making false statements of material fact to a federal agency. This is the law Martha Stewart was convicted of breaking by lying to investigators.)

    Thomas' defense is that he didn't knowingly violate the law, because he "misunderstood" the filing requirements. This is preposterous on its face. Bill Clinton was impeached—and subsequently disbarred—for defending his false statements about his affair with Monica Lewinsky with an excuse that wasn't as incredible as the one Thomas is now employing.

    Appropriately, a complaint has been filed with the Missouri Bar Association, of which Thomas is a member, demanding that Thomas be disbarred for lying to the federal government about his wife's financial dealings.

    It's unlikely that Thomas will be disbarred, and even less likely that he'll be prosecuted, even though his conduct has been outrageous. That Thomas failed to disclose his wife's sources of income is not a trivial technicality: His wife's employment created excellent grounds for requiring him to excuse himself from hearing the Citizens United case, which overturned federal campaign-finance laws—much to the delight of Ginni Thomas' right-wing paymasters, who are now freer than ever before to purchase the best laws money can buy. (Federal judges are required to recuse themselves from hearing any case in which they or their spouses have any financial interest.)

    Rest of story: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-a...=hp:mainpromo3
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  6. #66

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Clarence Thomas is a disgrace. If he was the same caliber as the late Thurgood Marshall Faux would be screaming for his head. Instead the MSM is ignoring this story.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb




  7. #67

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Clarence Thomas' Criminal Behavior
    by Paul Campos
    March 3, 2011


    The criminal-law scholar George Fletcher once quipped that the maxim "ignorance of the law is no excuse" is one of the few fundamental principles of law that most people actually know. As harsh as this principle may sometimes be when applied to ordinary citizens, applying it to justices of the Supreme Court seems only reasonable

    Thus, it's difficult to feel sympathy for Clarence Thomas, as he finds himself embroiled in a controversy over his failure to reveal the sources of his wife's non-investment income (or indeed that she even had any such income). The 1978 Ethics in Government Act requires all federal judges to fill out annual financial-disclosure forms. The relevant question on the disclosure form isn't complicated: Even if Justice Thomas wasn't a lawyer, he shouldn't have needed to hire one to explain to him that the box marked NONE next to the phrase "Spouse's Non-Investment Income" should only be checked if his spouse had no non-investment income.

    In fact Ginni Thomas was paid nearly $700,000 by the Heritage Foundation, a "conservative think tank," a.k.a. a right-wing propaganda mill, between 2003 and 2007, as well as an undisclosed amount by another lobbying group in 2009. Justice Thomas' false statements regarding his wife's income certainly constitute a misdemeanor, and quite probably a felony, under federal law. (They would be felonies if he were prosecuted under 18. U.S.C. 1001, which criminalizes knowingly making false statements of material fact to a federal agency. This is the law Martha Stewart was convicted of breaking by lying to investigators.)

    Thomas' defense is that he didn't knowingly violate the law, because he "misunderstood" the filing requirements. This is preposterous on its face. Bill Clinton was impeached—and subsequently disbarred—for defending his false statements about his affair with Monica Lewinsky with an excuse that wasn't as incredible as the one Thomas is now employing.

    Appropriately, a complaint has been filed with the Missouri Bar Association, of which Thomas is a member, demanding that Thomas be disbarred for lying to the federal government about his wife's financial dealings.

    It's unlikely that Thomas will be disbarred, and even less likely that he'll be prosecuted, even though his conduct has been outrageous. That Thomas failed to disclose his wife's sources of income is not a trivial technicality: His wife's employment created excellent grounds for requiring him to excuse himself from hearing the Citizens United case, which overturned federal campaign-finance laws—much to the delight of Ginni Thomas' right-wing paymasters, who are now freer than ever before to purchase the best laws money can buy. (Federal judges are required to recuse themselves from hearing any case in which they or their spouses have any financial interest.)

    Rest of story: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-a...=hp:mainpromo3
    Nevermind what happened to Bill Clinton (though I understand why it's referenced here). What I don't understand is why it's unlikely Thomas will be disbarred or prosecuted? Color me naive, but surely, somewhere, someone with a genuine respect for the rule of law will stand up and demand a serious reprimand for Thomas' crimes, no?


  8. #68
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by craighickman View Post
    Nevermind what happened to Bill Clinton (though I understand why it's referenced here). What I don't understand is why it's unlikely Thomas will be disbarred or prosecuted? Color me naive, but surely, somewhere, someone with a genuine respect for the rule of law will stand up and demand a serious reprimand for Thomas' crimes, no?
    Taking on judges just doesn't happen, Craig. Mostly out of fear, I believe. Lawyers rarely challenge the judiciary.

    I don't know if you are at all familiar with the "Kids For Cash" situation that occurred here in PA - there was a judge that was sending kids routinely to juvenile lock ups for the most petty of offenses. It was going on for years. Everyone knew something was up, and no one would dare challenge it. Finally after 7 years, someone spoke up and it ended up in the hands of the Fed - turns out the judge, and the president judge that kept the judge assigned to juvenile court, got paid off to the tune of over 4 million dollars by the operators of the private juvenile detention center all these kids got sent to. But for years, no one would take action against the judges out of fear of reprisal.

    A summary of the PA story: http://abcnews.go.com/US/mark-ciavar...ry?id=12965182
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  9. #69

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Taking on judges just doesn't happen, Craig. Mostly out of fear, I believe. Lawyers rarely challenge the judiciary.

    I don't know if you are at all familiar with the "Kids For Cash" situation that occurred here in PA - there was a judge that was sending kids routinely to juvenile lock ups for the most petty of offenses. It was going on for years. Everyone knew something was up, and no one would dare challenge it. Finally after 7 years, someone spoke up and it ended up in the hands of the Fed - turns out the judge, and the president judge that kept the judge assigned to juvenile court, got paid off to the tune of over 4 million dollars by the operators of the private juvenile detention center all these kids got sent to. But for years, no one would take action against the judges out of fear of reprisal.

    A summary of the PA story: http://abcnews.go.com/US/mark-ciavar...ry?id=12965182
    I did read/hear about that story and it turns my stomach, for all sorts of reasons, obvious and not.

    But I don't believe judges more than rarely commit crimes for which they should be reprimanded. I believe just the opposite. And so in the rare instances where there needs to be prosecution, I still don't understand why no one steps up. Fear of reprisal remains incomprehensible to me.

    If our justice system is supposed to be about something more than imprisoning more of our citizens than any other nation else in the world, some prosecutor somewhere has got to take a stand on clear-cut crimes and misdemeanors committed by members of the judiciary.


  10. #70
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    It's opinion season.

    Interesting split in Skinner v. Switzer: 6-3 vote, Ginsburg writing for Roberts, Scalia, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan. Thomas wrote the dissent, joined by Kennedy and Alito.

    Brief overview from the LA Times:


    Supreme Court rules for Texas inmate seeking DNA testing

    WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Monday gave a Texas prisoner who was nearly executed last year the right to seek DNA evidence from the crime scene that he says could prove his innocence.

    ...

    Last March, Hank Skinner came within hours of being put to death for the murder of his live-in girl friend and her two sons in 1993. Skinner maintained that he was innocent, even though his blood was found on one of the victim's clothes and his bloody palm prints were found throughout the house.

    Skinner insisted another man had committed the crime while he was drunk and asleep on the couch, and he sought DNA testing of two knives, an ax handle, fingernail clippings and hair samples that were found near the murder victims. The evidence had not been tested prior to his trial, and since his conviction, local and state prosecutors have steadfastly refused to permit it to be tested. They argued that it is too late for a convicted prisoner to seek testing of evidence that was available at the time of the trial.

    Skinner's appeals in state and federal court were denied as well.

    As his execution drew near, Skinner filed a lawsuit against Lynn Switzer, the local district attorney. He argued she was denying him his constitutional right to due process of law by denying him the evidence that could prove his innocence. Switzer's office had control of the items that Skinner wanted tested.

    The Texas courts and the federal courts there rejected Skinner's lawsuit, contending that prisoners whose appeals had failed could not reopen their cases with a new suit that amounted to an end run.

    But the Supreme Court disagreed in Skinner vs. Switzer and said his lawsuit can proceed. "We hold that a post-conviction claim for DNA testing is properly pursued" in a civil-rights suit against the local officials, said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "Success in the suit gains for the prisoner only access to the DNA evidence, which may prove exculpatory, inculpatory or inconclusive."

    She added, however, that the decision is narrow and concerns only situations in which the state's law blocks all testing of available evidence. Although Texas adopted a limited law allowing some prisoners to seek DNA testing, it closed the door to inmates such as Skinner who knew of the key evidence at the time of their trial and failed to have it tested then.
    And a couple of excerpts. From Ginsburg's opinion (emphasis mine):


    In preparation for trial, "the State tested the blood on[Skinner’s] clothing, blood and hair from a blanket that partially covered one of the victims, and hairs on one of the victim’s back and cheeks." Skinner v. State, 122 S. W. 3d 808, 810 (Tex. Crim. App. 2003). The State also tested fingerprint evidence. Some of this evidence— including bloody palm prints in the room where one victim was killed—implicated Skinner, but "fingerprints on a bag containing one of the knives" did not. Items left untested included the knives found on the premises, the axe handle, vaginal swabs, fingernail clippings, and additional hair samples.
    Thomas read this case as an issue of federal government encroaching on states' rights (surprise):


    Skinner has never presented his current challenge to Texas’ procedures for postconviction relief to the Texas courts. Allowing Skinner to artfully plead an attack on state habeas procedures instead of an attack on state habeas results undercuts the restrictions Congress and this Court have placed on federal review of state convictions.

    ...

    In truth, the majority provides a roadmap for any unsuccessful state habeas petitioner to relitigate his claim under §1983: After state habeas is denied, file a §1983 suit challenging the state habeas process rather than the result. What prisoner would not avail himself of this additional bite at the apple?
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-9000.pdf

    I actually do think Thomas & Co. have a point to make here re: state courts, but at the same time it really seems to me that Texas is only flaunting its cavalier attitude regarding executions by barring this evidence. Shouldn't it be necessary to eradicate ANY AND ALL doubt before the state takes someone's life?
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  11. #71

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Thomas wrote an opinion?! Breaking news?

    Doesn't Texas off everyone and let God sort it out?
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  12. #72
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Thomas wrote an opinion?! Breaking news?
    Actually, Ti, for as quiet as he is from the bench, (5 years and counting...), he is a prolific writer (or at least his clerks are).

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/author.php?Thomas

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Doesn't Texas off everyone and let God sort it out?
    I think Texas is Exhibit "A" for the many of us who believe the death penalty as a whole needs to be outlawed.
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  13. #73
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Moose View Post
    Actually, Ti, for as quiet as he is from the bench, (5 years and counting...), he is a prolific writer (or at least his clerks are).

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/author.php?Thomas


    There you go.

  14. #74

    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by dryrunguy View Post
    There you go.
    Look all the clerks have to do is transcribe the audio files Scalia sends over

    I guess he saves his eloquence for his chambers.
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  15. #75
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    Re: Supreme Court Watch 2010-2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Look all the clerks have to do is transcribe the audio files Scalia sends over

    I guess he saves his eloquence for his chambers.
    There's a great joke here about him saving his eloquence for Virginia as they watch Long Dong Silver for the 183rd time while working on their tax returns, but I just can't bring myself to post it.

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