Nel's New Day

September 18, 2018

‘Deny, Deny, Deny’

Toxic masculinity and our rape culture are front and center this week as Republicans are working to exonerate their new Supreme Court justice nominee from an accusation of attempted rape when he was 17 years old. The conservative response is that he certainly didn’t attack a teenage girl, but if he did, it’s normal behavior for teenage boys. A lawyer close to the White House said, “If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried.”

A letter from Christine Blasey Ford, research psychologist and professor at Palo Alto University and the Stanford University PsyD Consortium, described the way that Kavanaugh shoved her into a room, held her down, tried to take her clothes off, and covered her mouth to keep her from screaming, making her fear for her life. A polygraph test shows she is telling the truth, and she had reported the experience to a therapist six years ago. Kavanaugh has repeated denied even knowing Ford, but he has hired Beth Wilkinson, a high-powered Washington, D.C., trial attorney, to represent him.

Twenty-seven years ago, two current GOP members of the committee—Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT)—were also committee members who grilled Anita Hill about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thompson’s sexual misconduct before he was confirmed. The committee handled that confirmation hearing shamefully, ignoring another witness about Thomas’ sexual misconduct and failing to delve into Thomas’ behavior that supported Hill’s testimony about his inappropriate actions. Yet both these men avidly support Kavanaugh in a desperate attempt to get a far-right justice on the Supreme Court at any cost.

The day after the media announced Ford’s accusation, Grassley, the committee chair, released a letter from 65 women supporting the nominee. Three days later, only two of the signers stand by their support: dozens don’t respond to questions, and two declined to speak on the record. https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/17/politics/brett-kavanaugh-white-house-supreme-court-nominee/index.html  After yesterday’s nine-hour strategy meeting with Kavanaugh, the White House claimed that many of these women will publicly defend Kavanaugh. The White House also plans a press conference with these women.

Although DDT described Kavanaugh as without “blemish,” the Senate Judiciary Committee refused to hear federal court employees who wanted to speak out against Kavanaugh during his clerking for former 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski after he was accused of sexual misconduct by at least 15 women. Asked if he received any sexually inappropriate emails from Kozinski, Kavanaugh, who was very close to Kozinski, said, “I do not remember receiving any sexually inappropriate emails.” Kozinski was Kavanaugh’s connection to former Justice Anthony Kennedy who got Kavanaugh the nomination. Witnesses to Kavanaugh would testify that he was lying.

Hatch says that he believes Kavanaugh’s denials. Yet, Hatch added, if these allegations turn out to be credible, Kavanaugh is a good person “today”; therefore Kavanaugh should be confirmed.

Yet hundreds of former students who graduated between 1967 and 2018 from Holton-Arms, Fords’ high school, called for an investigation into Kavanaugh stating:

“Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote was scheduled for Thursday, but Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have asked for time to investigate the accusations. Flake is on the Judiciary Commission, and his vote is needed to have the GOP majority for committee confirmation if all Democrats vote against Kavanaugh.

Like Thomas, Kavanaugh perjured himself at least four times during his confirmation hearings according to documents released by Democratic senators—and that information came from only seven percent of his documents released by Kavanaugh’s friend and GOP watchdog Bill Burck. After their release, the documents were still redacted three times, including by Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA). The “confidential” documents released by Democrats over the objection of Grassley have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with making transparent Kavanaugh’s dishonesty:

Kavanaugh’s interview with Judge William Pryor before his confirmation when Kavanaugh said, “I don’t believe so” when asked if he interviewed Pryor. Three years after Pryor’s nomination, Kavanaugh flatly denied under oath that he had an interview with Pryor. Kavanaugh also lied under oath about not “handling” Charles Pickering during his confirmation proceedings. In an op-ed, former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) wrote that Kavanaugh is a “calculated liar who uses dishonesty to advance his own career.”

Kavanaugh’s denial of receiving stolen documents in 2003, documents clearly stolen that Kavanaugh expressed ignorance about the source that was marked “confidential” from a Democrat, has “Spying” as the subject line, and beings with the statement, “I have a friend who is a mole for us on the left.” Kavanaugh said that none of this “raised a red flag.”

Kavanaugh’s false claim about warrantless wiretaps that he first heard about it from the New York Times, when he emailed DOJ lawyer John Yoo over four years earlier than the source that Kavanaugh gave.

Kavanaugh’s writing that Roe v. Wade is not necessarily “settled law of the land” despite his promise to pro-choice senators to the opposite. In confirmation, Kavanaugh changed the term to “precedent,” knowing that all “precedents” can be overturned if he wins his confirmation. In addition to opposing abortion, Kavanaugh is against contraception, as he indicated in this ruling referring to birth control as an “abortion-inducing drug.”

If Kavanaugh is willing to lie about these issues, he cannot be trusted to tell the truth about Ford’s statements.

Kavanaugh should not only be removed from nomination to the Supreme Court for his perjury but also impeached from his current position as judge on the Washington, D.C. Appeals Court. When he lied under oath in 2004, senators did not have access to his emails showing that he had lied; now they are in the public domain. Lisa Graves knows that Kavanaugh lied: she wrote some of the memos that Kavanaugh received from GOP Senate aide Manuel Miranda, the ones that he said he denied received and then said that he didn’t know were stolen. As a member of Ken Starr’s impeachment team, Kavanaugh argued that President Bill Clinton should be impeached for lying under oath. Using Kavanaugh’s own standard, he should be impeached for lying under oath.

The Democratic Coalition plans to file an ethics complaint against Kavanaugh for his answers about whether he received stolen documents. Complaints are typically reviewed by the chief judge of the court, who in this case is Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court who was completely ignored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

The 11 white male GOP senators on the judiciary committee have noticed that their gender may be a problem: they are considering the use of female aides to question Ford during the hearings. Grassley is already dodging the problem of 11 white male GOP senators questioning Ford, especially after the many clips showing the brutal questioning of Anita Hill in Clarence Thomas’ hearings 27 years ago, by declaring himself a victim. Asked on Hugh Hewett’s radio show if these all-white, all-male GOP senators might subject Ford to “insensitivity or indifference,” Grassley accused journalists of being “very insensitive to Chuck Grassley, because I’m the only chairman when it says Chairman Grassley, chairman of the aging, or chairman of the Judiciary Committee, 84 years old…. So there’s already discrimination against me.” The ten Democrats on the judiciary include four women and three people of color.

Where Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings stand as of the evening of 9/18/18:

Kavanaugh’s former classmate Mark Judge, who has written reams about his drunken lifestyle and Kavanaugh’s drinking as a teenager, wrote a brief letter stating that he won’t testify to the senators about Ford’s claim that he was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her. He has “no memory” about what happened.

In a first, DDT carefully kept to his script when he said that there is no need for a rush to complete the confirmation, that he wants to hear both sides. It’s a first. Like his reactions to Roy Moore, Rob Porter, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Jim Jordan, and others accused and sometimes found guilty of sexual misconduct, DDT talks about how much these people are suffering and consistently refers to Ford as “the woman.”

Ford said that she has received death threats, been forced to more from her home, and had her computer hacked. After insults from GOP senators, she said that she will wait to testify until after the FBI investigates her claims and Kavanaugh’s behavior.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) also called for an investigation into an issue regarding a life-time term in the nation’s highest court. The order must come from DDT, and he has not done that. Grassley has gone so far as to lie when he said that the FBI cannot do this investigation. DDT said he won’t ask for an investigation because “the FBI said that they really don’t do that.”

Republicans won’t allow any third-party testimony in a hearing about Ford and Kavanaugh.

As people have often written during the past 18 months, if … were innocent, why doesn’t he want a thorough investigation. Instead, Kavanaugh follows DDT’s advice, reported by Bob Woodward in Fear: “Deny, deny, deny.”

September 17, 2018

Court Rulings Mostly Right Wrongs

Election Day is only 50 days away, and the GOP continues its attempts at voter suppression. In an honest move that may cause them to lose the 2018 North Carolina election, progressive groups Common Cause and the League of Women Voters that won the redrawing of gerrymandered districts said that there was not enough time to complete the task in the next two months. The contortions of district lines caused the state to have 10 of 13 seats in the U.S. House with only 53 percent of the vote.

The majority in a panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit, two appointed by George W. Bush, upheld Arizona laws that prevent anyone except a family member, caretaker, or postal worker from turning ballots into elections officials and blocked out-of-precinct voting. The decision is especially onerous for Native Americans who are many miles from both voting precincts and post offices. As usual, the fake reason for the law is to avoid voter fraud, but the rationale comes from white entitlement and lack of understanding about other cultures and living conditions. The decision will be appealed to the full court but stays in effect for the upcoming election.

A Missouri judge made Republicans happy when he removed a redistricting measure for this fall’s ballot.

Yet not all bodes well for Republicans in court decisions.

Federal prosecutors have postponed their demand that North Carolina state and local elections officials give them well over 20 million ballots, poll books, and voter authorization forms going back almost nine years by September 25. Subpoenas also required photo images of voters, and subpoenas to the state DMV required DMV voter registration documents and those completed in a language other than English from both citizens and people not born in the U.S. Almost 2.3 million absentee ballots could be traced back to individual voters which caused privacy concerns. The subpoenas for these records cited ICE and a grand jury in Wilmington as the source for the demand after U.S. Attorney Bobby Higdon announced charges against 19 non-U.S. citizens for illegal voting. A state audit counted 41 non-U.S. citizens acknowledged voting out of 4.8 million ballots. Higdon hopes to get the documents in January 2019.

A court in North Carolina also ruled in favor of expanding Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority to make certain appointments, ruling that the legislators had overstepped their authority and violated the separation of powers’ requirement. When Cooper was elected, the GOP legislature immediately passed several laws to restrict his abilities compared to that of his GOP predecessor.

For the second time in four years, federal judges struck down the GOP Virginia General Assembly boundaries of 11 electoral districts that pack minorities together so that white candidates in adjacent districts can win elections. Little progress has been made before the October 30 deadline. With the GOP failure to more forward, the governor has asked the GOP speaker of the state house to turn the project over to the courts. The districts will be used for state elections in 2019.

A Virginia judge also removed an independent candidate from the ballot in the 2nd District congressional race because of “forgery” and “out and out fraud” on her petition. Staffers working for the GOP candidate had collected many of the signatures to get her onto the ballot to split the progressive vote and ensure a win for their boss. Of the 377 signatures that five of them put on petitions, at least 146 were false, some of them for people who had died.

Florida Republicans thought they could keep Puerto Ricans who had fled their island after Hurricane Maria from voting if they refused them Spanish-language ballots. A district judge disagreed and ruled that 32 counties across the state had violated the Voting Rights Act. He ordered them to provide bilingual voting materials, including ballots and poll worker support, for Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican voters. According to his ruling:

“Puerto Ricans are American citizens. Unique among Americans, they are not educated primarily in English — and do not need to be. But, like all American citizens, they possess the fundamental right to vote.”

The enactment is on an expedited basis to give Florida officials “ample” time to appeal if “they seek to block their fellow citizens, many of whom fled after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, from casting meaningful ballots,” according to the judge. “It is remarkable that it takes a coalition of voting rights organizations and individuals to sue in federal court to seek minimal compliance with the plain language of a venerable 53-year-old law,” he added.

A federal appeals court has ruled that the so-called “charity” Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Foundation, linked to billionaire Charles Koch, must disclose its donors to California officials. The three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court reversed a lower court ruling from last year.

A grand jury will be convened to investigate whether Republican gubernatorial candidate and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach intentionally failed to register voters in 2016.

The court woes of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continue. He tried to get out of going to court over paying hush-money for a nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels so that he and former attorney Michael Cohen don’t have to give dispositions. By not contesting the suit, DDT thinks that he has escaped, but Daniels still has a defamation suit against DDT.

The fate of DDT’s IRS returns is still in court, this time the Washington, D.C. Circuit. EPIC’s Freedom of Information Act case is arguing that IRS must release his returns to correct misstatements of fact about his financial ties to Russia in his tweets. At least two-thirds of people want DDT to release the returns. The 98-page financial disclosure that DDT is forced to make public shows that his biggest windfalls come from his property that he frequently visits. For example, he made $37 million from Mar-a-Lago, up from $15 million in 2015, and $20 from his nearby golf club.

A federal judge refused to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ruling that Texas and six other conservative states couldn’t prove irreparable harm from the program. He also stated that he believed the program is unconstitutional, but the time has passed to rescind it.

Cities can’t prosecute people for sleeping on the streets if they have nowhere else to go because it amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, according to a 9th Circuit Court ruling in Boise (ID). Six homeless people sued the city in 2009. The judge also wrote:

“A city cannot, via the threat of prosecution, coerce an individual to attend religion-based treatment programs consistently with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

A federal judge in Boston ruled that ICE should not remove undocumented people in the process of applying for green cards even if they have final orders of removal. The ruling may not require a penalty from the government or apply outside the New England area. Five couples are suing DHS, ICE, DDT, and law enforcement because spouses were detained by ICE when they went for marriage interviews with U.S.-citizen spouses, a requirement for the application process to prove they have legitimate marriages. Emails show coordination between ICE and Citizenship and Immigration Services to coordinate interviews and arrests. The suit began with a woman who was brought from Guatemala when she was three years old and married U.S. citizen Luis Gordillo. They have two children.

A Canadian court unanimously overturned Ottawa’s approval of a pipeline project because the government failed to consider concerns of some First Nations and did not consider the impact of increased tanker traffic. The pipeline, almost 700 miles long, would take bitumen from Alberta to the western ports to ship to Asia. The ship traffic has already had a devastating affect on southern resident orcas which are almost extinct.

Parents of a Sandy Hook victim may continue its defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones after his repeated lies that the 2012 massacre killing 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school was a “fraud.” Six other Sandy Hook families also filed a defamation lawsuit against Jones in May. Jones’ Infowars is also facing a lawsuit for misidentifying a person as the shooter at the Parkland (FL) school who killed 17 people and another defamation suit from the person who recorded the vehicular murder of Heather Heyer at the Charlottesville (VA) rally last year. Jones’ law firm is also representing the co-founder of the neo-Nazi, white supremacist website The Stormer.

An arbitrator has denied the NFL request to throw out Colin Kaepernick’s grievance that owners conspired to keep him out of the league because of his protests for social injustice. The ruling shows that Kaepernick has sufficient evidence of collusion for a lawsuit. Eric Reid’s grievance for joining the protests is still pending. The NFL had to put on hold its policy that would require players to stand if they are on the sideline during the national anthem because of problems that it classified protests as conduct detrimental to the team.

September 6, 2018

Kavanaugh: ‘I Can’t Answer That’

Conservatives claim that Brett Kavanaugh is a shoe-in for the next Supreme Court justice, but the first three days of the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee may give doubt. Despite the one-two punch of Bob Woodward’s book Fear and the NYT anonymous op-ed piece from a senior administration official about the chaos in the White House, this week’s Kavanaugh hearings have stayed in the media.

Notable were the protests for the three days with 73 arrests on Wednesday. Kavanaugh gave his opening statement Tuesday and waited until questions until the next day. He answered the first question by flip-flopping on his former opinion that the unanimous ruling that President Richard Nixon should turn over tapes and documents requested by the Watergate special prosecutor was wrong. The new Kavanaugh criticized the old Kavanaugh’s criticism of the Supreme Court decision limiting presidential power.

Kavanaugh typically stalled to take time allotted to each senator on the committee or refused to answer questions although he has earlier provided opinions on some as a judge or a private lawyer. Some he “couldn’t” answer:

  • Should a president be able to use his authority to pressure executive or independent agencies to carry out directives for purely political purposes?
  • Can a sitting president be required to respond to a subpoena?
  • Is DDT correct in asserting that he has an “absolute right” to pardon himself?
  • Does he still believe his 1998 comment that “a president can fire at will a prosecutor criminally investigating him”?
  • Can a sitting president be indicted?
  • Would he uphold protections for people with pre-existing conditions?
  • Can the president pardon someone in exchange for a bribe? (Kavanaugh said, “It depends.”)
  • Can the president pardon himself?
  • Does the president have the ability to pardon somebody in exchange for assurances that they won’t testify against him?
  • Would he uphold the statute preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions?
  • Would he consider recusing himself from cases involving potential liability for Trump?
  • Was Roe v. Wade correctly decided?
  • Will he commit to not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?
  • On affirmative action, do universities have a compelling interest in admitting a diverse student body?

In an attempt to be “cute,” Kavanaugh claimed that he was citing the “Ginsburg rule,” saying that she also refused to answer questions, including one about Roe v. Wade. He either lied or was mistaken: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was very clear in supporting Roe when she said during the confirmation hearings:

“[Abortion] is something central to a woman’s life, to her dignity. It’s a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she’s being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

Kavanaugh told Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that Roe is “settled law,” but, as a sitting judge, he failed to follow this “settled law” when he tried to keep a young woman imprisoned so that she could not access an abortion after a rape. He lso dissented from “settled law” in a 2011 ruling upholding a ban on semiautomatic weapons, claiming that they couldn’t be banned because they are in “common use.”

A classic example of Kavanaugh’s trying to avoid an answer came from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). She asked him if he had talked about the Robert Mueller investigation with anyone from “the law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer” and warned Kavanaugh, “Be sure about your answer, sir.” Obviously uncomfortable, Kavanaugh sputtered, “I’m not remembering.” An affirmative answer would have shown close ties to DDT, and a negative one could catch him up if evidence later provides he perjured himself. After a day, Harris asked him again about any meeting. Waffling for several minutes, he finally denied any meeting, perhaps feeling more secure that he was safe from any repercussions.

Kavanaugh failed to answer Harris’ question about Roe v. Wade, repeating his “hypothetical” excuse.” She followed up by asking, “Can you think of any laws that give government the power to make decisions about the male body?” After back-and-forth, Kavanaugh confessed that he didn’t know of any such laws.

In another exchange, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) addressed Kavanaugh’s position that Native Hawaiians aren’t indigenous people and therefore should not be treated like Native Americans on the North American continent. Kavanaugh had claimed that Hawaiians came from Polynesia; Hirono showed him a map proving that Hawaii had been part of Polynesia before the U.S. took over the islands. Kavanaugh’s views in Rice v. Cayetano case is often used to challenge the validity of programs designed to help Native Hawaiians and could be used against Alaska Natives and possibly endanger the sovereign rights of Native Americans on the lower 48 states. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wants to do away with Native American rights on reservations so that he can take the lands, and Kavanaugh has remarked that “we are just one race here. … American.” In his opposition to affirmative action, he has also railed against benefits to Native peoples as a “naked racial-spoils system.”

The questioning of Kavanaugh has made clear the problem he has with perjury and lying under oath. Contents of some previously “confidential” emails during his time with George W. Bush in the White House demonstrated that his answers are not entirely truthful. Bill Burck, longtime friend of Kavanaugh, is in charge of selecting the released documents instead of a nonpartisan archivist. A private lawyer, Burck has recently represented Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steven Bannon in connection with Robert Mueller’s investigation. White House counsel McGahn is responsible for getting Kavanaugh confirmed.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) echoed Leahy’s concerns about Burck hiding Kavanaugh’s documents:

“By what authority is this man holding back hundreds of thousands of documents from the American people? Who is he? Who is paying him?”

Several Democratic senators have released emails from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House, supposedly for the committee’s eyes only, that shows how much Kavanaugh lied in his first two days of the committee hearing. These documents explain that he believes Roe v. Wade may not be “settled law,” he took an instrumental part in trying to get Charles Pickering confirmed as judge to an appeals court, he saw materials on warrantless surveillance and supported it, he called affirmative action “naked racial set-aside,” and he “didn’t care” what lower courts thought about a rule that corporate and union funds used to attack or support specific candidates must be disclosed to the FEC if the Supreme Court looks at the issue. The new emails also show that Kavanaugh lied under oath in 2006 when he told Leahy that he heard nothing about the NSA illegal warrantless wiretapping until he read about it in the New York Times instead of writing about it to John Yoo in the DOJ on September 17, 2001. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) also listed at least three specific examples when Kavanaugh participated in discussions about the Bush administration’s detainee and torture policy although Kavanaugh denied under oath that had been involved in that policy-making.

In advising a judicial nominee meeting with Democratic senators, Kavanaugh wrote:

“She should not talk about her views on specific policy or legal issues. She should say that she has a commitment to follow Supreme Court precedent, that she understands and appreciates the role of a circuit judge, that she will adhere to statutory text, that she has no ideological agenda.”

Republicans are so desperate to get a far-right Supreme Court justice that they don’t care how unethical that person might be. In 2002, Manuel Miranda, senior staffer for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, stole strategy emails and memos from Democratic senators, including Patrick Leahy (D-VT) for their opposition to Priscilla Owen, who was being shepherded through confirmation by Kavanaugh. Questioned in 2004 and 2006 for his own judicial nomination, Kavanaugh denied that he knew these documents, shared with GOP senators, had been stolen. Asked about these denials, possibly perjury, Kavanaugh continued to deny any knowledge. Much to the fury of the committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Leahy (right) argued that he wanted the documents made public, ones that may related to possibly perjury regarding Kavanaugh about warrantless wiretapping and torture. Leahy tweeted:

“Between 2001 and 2003, Republican Senate staffers hacked into and stole 4,670 files on controversial Bush judicial nominees from 6 Democrats, including me. This scandal amounted to a digital Watergate, not unlike Russia’s hacking of the DNC.”

The video of Leahy’s questioning.

Leahy also pointed out Grassley’s lies about the quantity of document release. Nine-nine percent of Elena Kagan’s documents were released 12 days before the hearing, and only four percent of Kavanaugh’s documents were provided to Democrats, ten percent of them less than 15 hours before the hearing began. Much has been said about the quantity of Kavanaugh’s documents that senators received, but Leahy tweeted that Grassley provided tens of thousands of supplicates of inconsequential documents such as “event invitations … duplicated MORE THAN 44,000 TIMES.”

“Brett Kavanaugh is the only [nominee] out there that we know who says a president shouldn’t even be questioned, let alone indicted or prosecuted,” Rachel Maddow said. “… [T]his particular nominee was chosen by a president who is, himself, the subject of serious criminal investigation right now, while Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings are underway.”

August 30, 2018

Lawsuits Proliferate As Progressives Win

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:58 PM
Tags: , , ,

Lawsuits about the orders of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continue to pile up, and decisions continue to go against him and his conservative views.

In a union victory against DDT’s attempts to weaken organized labor, a judge struck down most of three executive orders to enable government agencies to easily fire workers and restrict union negotiation with managers. The decision stated that DDT violated congressional opinion that good-faith union negotiations are vital to the public interest:

“It is undisputed that no [executive] orders can operate to eviscerate the right to bargain collectively as envisioned in the [statute].”

DDT’s failed orders would have reduced improvement of work performance from four to three months before employees are fired, created greater difficulty in appealing performance evaluations, blocked negotiations on important workplace issues could not be negotiated, and greatly reduced time for union business during work hours. One remaining provision allows agency changes to a union agreement for bargaining in bad faith.

A federal judge ruled against DDT and the NRA in favor of AGs from 19 states and Washington, D.C. to stop the posting of 3-D printed guns online until the lawsuit is settled. The DOJ had stated that posting the directions was a national security problem until last April when it reversed that conclusion.

The judge who ordered the DOJ to “turn that plane around” has demanded the government not to deport a pregnant Honduran woman seeking asylum after she fled her home country because her partner “beat her, raped her, and threatened to kill her and their unborn child.”

A Maryland KKK leader, 53-year-old Richard Preston, was sentenced to four years in prison for firing a gun at a black counterprotester within 1,000 feet of school property during last year’s deadly white supremacy rally in Charlottesville (VA). Most of the racist protesters at the rallies who haven’t been given prison time lost their jobs, Patreon has blocked Robert Spencer from its platform, and white supremacist Richard Spencer can’t find a lawyer for a federal lawsuit about his role in the rally.

In North Carolina, the Supreme Court permitted two constitutional amendments to be on the ballot after a panel had blocked them.  Voters are being asked to change the way that state boards and commission members are appointed and the way that judges are picked to fill vacant spots. GOP legislators initiated these amendments to remove power of appointments from the governor after the state elected a Democratic governor, Roy Cooper. All five living governors from both political parties objected to the amendments and supported Cooper’s position. GOP legislators’ rewrite of the amendments still lacks clarity, according to Democrats, and Cooper will appeal because the court did not rule on the merits of the case.

In a loss for GOP legislators, a panel of three federal judges from the 4th Circuit Court ruled that North Carolina’s congressional districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans over Democrats and mandated new districts before the November elections although primaries have already resulted in the selection of candidates. Courts have already determined that the districts violate constitutional standards. North Carolina legislators plan to ask the Supreme Court for help which could result in a 4-4 split leaving the decision with the lower court. The Supreme Court had told the three-judge panel to review their decision after the high court’s decision in the Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case stopped because the plaintiffs lacked standing. The Supreme Court addressed gerrymandering cases from Wisconsin and Maryland but avoided any decision of their merits. The 4th Circuit Court panel suggested appointing a special master to draw new districts, ignore party primaries for the general election, or making the November elections a primary with a general election before January when the 116th Congress convenes.

A federal judge dismissed a suit from conservatives accusing Dallas County (TX) commissions of discrimination against white voters. He said the reverse was true, that the white voters’ “voting power has been strengthened, rather than diluted, by the concentration of Anglos in [Precinct 2].” Three of the five county commissioners are white, but only one is a Republican. A strategist pointed out that redrawing the map might cause the board to have only Democrats.

A judge ruled that Nick Lyon, Michigan’s state health director, will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter over two deaths linked to Flint’s water crisis because he failed to notify the public about Legionnaires’ disease in Flint that killed 12 people and sickened another 90 in 2014 and 2015.

Smithfield Foods, the biggest pork producer in the world, was hit with a $473.5 million judgment to neighbors of three hog farms in North Carolina. Another 500 neighbors are awaiting litigation because North Carolina lawmakers are trying to protect Smithfield. This description shows an unhealthy and stinking environment around the farms and the maltreatment of the pigs. Unlike North Carolina, Missouri forced Smithfield to reduce the odor.

Approximately 600 LGBTQ inmates at San Bernardino County Jail (CA) have been awarded up to $1 million for being forced into the jail’s “Alternative Lifestyle Isolation Tank,” pending approval by the U.S. District Court in Riverside. They were locked in the “Tank” for up to 23 hours a day with no access to specialized programming, social interaction, or other outside activities, denied equal access to opportunities that other prisoners were provided in job training, educational, drug rehabilitation, religious, and community re-entry programs. Openly gay Dan McKibben, former sheriff’s deputy who died in 2016, initiated the lawsuit in 2014.

In Illinois, Marsha Wetzel won a landmark court victory after suing her retirement home that failed to protect her from harassment because she is a lesbian. The 7th Circuit Court disagreed with a lower ruling that claimed a landlord cannot be held responsible for other residents’ behavior. Instead, the court determined that the Fair Housing Act bars landlords from “purposefully failing to protect” a tenant from “harassment, discrimination and violence” and sent the case back to the lower court.

Pending suits:

Seven states—Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia—suing to end the DACA program have been joined by Kansas, Maine, and Mississippi. Their unsubstantiated excuses of additional costs for education, health, and law enforcement ignore losses from losing DACA recipients who contribute to the economy through employment (89 percent), business entrepreneurs (6 percent, car purchases (62 percent), and home purchases (14 percent). The loss of 144,000 DACA recipients in these ten states can remove $7.4 billion in their annual GDP, 82 percent of it in Texas. The ten states would also annually lose $311 million in tax revenue, $245 million in just Texas. A win for these ten states against DACA could cause the same losses for the other 40 states that would lose $35 billion in annual GDP.

People for the American Way (PFAW) is suing to get information about the Bible study sessions for Cabinet members in the capitol after being refused any materials for nine months. Conservative pastor Ralph Drollinger has influenced U.S. members of Congress and brags about his influence with Cabinet members, describing Capitol Ministries as a “factory” to produce politicians like Michele Bachmann who “sees the world through a scriptural lens.”

Sixteen states are asking the Supreme Court for permission to legally fire people for being transgender. The 6th Circuit Court had ruled against the firing of Aimee Stephens for transition while at her job with a Michigan funeral home. The mis-named Alliance Defending Freedom maintains that the word “sex” means only biological sex and cannot be used for gender identity. The states in the suit include Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming as well as Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R), Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R). Kentucky AG Andy Beshear (D), who refused to sign the brief on behalf of the state, called Bevin’s decision to sign on “surprising” given that Kentucky state employees do enjoy protections against anti-LGBTQ discrimination, thanks to an executive order that Bevin has not rescinded.

Approximately 8,000 U.S. lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto, recently purchased by the German drugmaker Bayer, regarding the possible cancer risks of glyphosate-based weedkillers. The most recent settlement against Monsanto was $289 million.

Released from Central California Women’s Facility after a 15-year term, Stacy Rojas filed a lawsuit against the sexual abuse that she and other inmates suffer in the prison. Rojas reported that guards stamped on one woman’s breast, cut the clothing off another, left women in isolation cells so long that they had to soil themselves, and harassed them with graphic sexual insults and suggestions. In addition to seeking damages, Rojas wants a whistleblowing process externally managed to hold guards and other staff accountable for mistreatment and excessive force as well as accessing adequate medical care, food, and clothing.

Across the country, people are suing public schools to get a quality education for their children.

  • Racial integration: a father in Minnesota is fighting for children to attend racially integrated schools because segregated schools lower test scores and graduation rates for low-income and nonwhite children.
  • Funding: parents are turning to state courts for sufficient school funding because a 1973 Supreme Court decision ruled that unequal school funding does not violate the U.S. Constitution. A New Mexico judge mandated a new funding system for schools because of underfunded schools, especially those that serve large numbers of Native American, Hispanic, and low-income students. Kansas ruled that underfunding schools is unconstitutional, and Pennsylvania and Florida courts agreed to hear similar cases.
  • Literacy: last year a federal judge in Michigan ruled that “access to literacy” is not a fundamental federal right for Detroit students, but most state constitutions guarantee the right to an adequate education.

AG Jeff Sessions expressed his discontent with federal judges to an audience of judicial system officials in Iowa, especially their rulings against DDT’s Muslim ban and for so-called “sanctuary cities” because the decisions brought media criticism of DDT. Yet DDT abuses Sessions every day.

August 29, 2018

White House Counsel Latest, But Not Only, to ‘Resign’

As Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to threaten his AG Jeff Sessions with firing, journalists have watched for a shakeup in the Department of Justice or even the firing of special investigator Robert Mueller. Yet the “resignation” of Don McGahn, the White House counsel, has resulted in dismay.

It’s true that McGahn has been making noises about leaving the White House and that DDT was caught off-guard when he learned about McGahn’s 30 hours of testimony with Mueller President Trump’s advisers. But McGahn himself was surprised when DDT tweeted this morning that he was leaving; McGahn had hoped that he would stay to shepherd Supreme Court justice nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, through the confirmation process.

And it’s not as if DDT has lots of legal help if Democrats take over the House and subpoena all the people who the GOP had been sheltering. Or even worse for DDT, if Democrats started impeachment proceedings. With Democratic control, House committees could hold hearings about policies such as DDT’s travel ban, his “zero tolerance” answer to immigration separating children and families, and various ethical misconduct through DDT, his administration, and his family’s private businesses.

Having lost ten lawyers, the White House has about 25. Three of McGahn’s deputies already left, and a fourth goes Friday, leaving only one deputy counsel, the ethics czar who handles national security.

WaPo interviewed 26 White House officials, presidential advisers, and lawyers and strategists close to the administration to investigate this situation. McGahn understood the danger of impeachment: he and other aides tried to persuade DDT to not behave in any way that could lead to being impeached. DDT obviously has not tried this tack, and he also has no action plan if impeachment comes into play. Speaking on the record, DDT’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that he had talked to DDT about impeachment but “they can’t [criminally] charge him.” Giuliani’s advice has not been very useful to DDT.

A source of anxiety among DDT’s allies is that he and White House officials aren’t worried about Democratic control. DDT thinks that he can get enough Republicans elected to Congress to save him, and he sometimes becomes angry with advisers who raise “the i-word,” his term for impeachment. An ally said:

“Winter is coming. Assuming Democrats win the House, which we all believe is a very strong likelihood, the White House will be under siege. But it’s like tumbleweeds rolling down the halls over there. Nobody’s prepared for war.”

Allies are also concerned that the White House, which has not attracted top-notch talent, may have more problems if Democrats take the House. Aides may leave the sinking ship, fearing legal limbo and hefty lawyer fees just because of their positions near DDT. At this time, the White House can hardly handle crisis communications in distributing strong talking points, and potential battles will cause more difficulties. Because DDT sees only himself as the focus, he cannot grasp the size of an infrastructure necessary to protect the presidency such as Clinton had with scores of lawyers, communications staffers, and other strategists during his impeachment. White House counsel at that time said that his office had as many as 60 lawyers during key times.

DDT found himself in enough trouble during his first 18 months, but McGahn kept him from worse times. He refused to fire Mueller a year ago after DDT gave him the order. When Sessions considered resigning early in his term because of DDT’s vicious statements, McGahn persuaded him to stay. And McGahn knows where the bodies are buried and may tell Mueller about their locations. DDT ordered McGahn to tell Sessions not to recuse himself from the Russian investigation and heard from then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that DDT’s national security adviser Michael Flynn was lying about the nature of his contact with Russian officials.

The relationship between DDT and McGahn has become so strained that they “kind of avoided each other,” according to a former administration official. DDT was upset because McGahn didn’t “kowtow to him,” and DDT’s tweet guaranteed that McGahn would have to go—and soon. He was also furious because McGahn would not deny the story of DDT’s wanting to fire Mueller and tried to persuade his disgraced former staff secretary, Rob Porter, to warn McGahn that he would fire him then. McGahn also opposed DDT’s pardoning Paul Manafort, which may have driven DDT over the edge.

DDT envies the skilled lawyers for aides such as Abbe Lowell, representing Kushner, and William A. Burck, representing McGahn, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon, and considers adding Lowell to his very small legal team. DDT is also considering replacing McGahn with Emmet Flood, his White House strategist with the Mueller probe.

DDT may be losing another lawyer. DOJ is investigating a team of lawyers which includes trial lawyer Bobby Burchfield, independent ethics adviser for the DDT’s family business interests, for accepting tens of millions of dollars in laundered funds. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and DDT’s longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz are also part of the legal team in trouble. Jho Low, a fugitive Malaysian businessman with assets in the U.S., allegedly paid the lawyers from $4.5 billion embezzled from a Malaysian fund.

On her show, Rachel Maddow mocked DDT’s reason for hiring Burchfield to avoid setting up a trust for his business after he was inaugurated:

“Don’t worry, we’re hiring an outside ethics adviser to make sure everything is squeaky clean for me to be the first president in modern history to retain his business interests while still serving as president. We have an outside adviser. Rest assured, there will be no funny money sliding through anywhere, nothing the least bit smelly in this unclean office fridge, everything will be fine.’”

According to Bloomberg News, DDT is considering hiring Burchfield as White House counsel or to replace Jeff Sessions as AG.

Another fired White House staff member, after a failure of DDT’s promise for “extreme vetting,” is policy aide and speechwriter Darren Beattie, who spoke at the 2016 H.L. Mencken Club Conference. Named for the early 20th century, journalist, satirist, and racist, the group caters to white nationalists such as Richard Spencer. Peter Brimelow, John Derbyshire, and Robert Weissberg, the latter two fired by the conservative magazine National Review for racist views, presented at the conference. Other speakers at the conference regularly contribute to the white nationalist website VDare. Beattie tried to stay at the White House with the claim that he presented uncontroversial academic information before he was fired. White House departures—it’s the new normal.

Larry Kudlow, DDT’s top economic adviser, hosted Peter Brimelow, the publisher of a website that serves as a platform for white nationalism, in his home. The birthday gathering for Kudlow was the day after Beattie spoke on a panel with Brimelow. Kudlow said he had no idea that Brimelow promoted white supremacists on Vdare.com and claimed to be a civil rights Republican. (The extent of ignorance in the White House is amazing!)

A true—and sad—resignation came from Seth Frotman, formerly the top U.S. official overseeing the $1.5 trillion student loan market at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As part of his goal to destroy the agency, acting director and DDT’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, downgraded the student loan office mission, putting it under consumer education instead of enforcement. Before that happened, the office had protected student borrowers and returned $750 million to students who were unfairly treated. Frotman said he resigned because of the White House’s open hostility toward protecting the borrowers. His letter to Mulvaney stated:

“Unfortunately, under your leadership, the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting. Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America….

“Sadly, the damage you have done to the Bureau betrays these families and sacrifices the financial futures of millions of Americans in communities across the country.”

The Bureau will soon have a new director, Kathy Kraninger, who looked to Mulvaney as her mentor. The Banking Committee approved her nomination by a party line of 13-12 on its way to a full Senate vote. Kraninger, who admitted that she is unqualified for her new position, avoided answering questions about any accomplishments at her job at OMB and doesn’t know what she would do when confirmed. She was also instrumental in DDT’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy but refused to answer any questions about her involvement, including with the private prison company with facilities that participated in abuse, sexual violence, neglect, and mismanagement.

DDT’s swinging door spins.

August 20, 2018

Recent Court Decisions Lean toward ‘We the People’

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 8:14 PM
Tags: ,

Despite the attempt of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to load the courts with far-right judges prejudiced against human rights, some decisions still follow the law and the U.S. Constitution to move the United States forward.

Decisions:

The classic case in the past two weeks caused a judge to declare “Turn the plane around!” Discovering that the DOJ had deported a migrant mother and daughter before they had their day in court, the federal judge ordered, “Turn that plane around.” He called the government conduct “outrageous” and threatened to hold AG Jeff Sessions in contempt. The case concerned Sessions’ declaration that fear of gang violence and domestic abuse do not provide bases for asylum in the U.S. The two plaintiffs landed in El Salvador and stayed on the plane until it was turned around. The ACLU is suing AG Jeff Sessions for his “evisceration of asylum protections” in removing gang and domestic violence are criteria for asylum-seekers. Three weeks past the deadline to return all migrant children to their families, 565 children are still separated.

Meanwhile, DDT’s “zero tolerance” policy has reduced efforts to deal with serious problems—gang violence, human smuggling, drug trafficking, etc.

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that the teenager shot and killed in Mexico by a Border Patrol agent through the fence is entitled to U.S. constitutional protections against the unreasonable use of deadly force and denied “qualified immunity” to the officer so that he can be sued.

A judge released Antonio de Jesus Martinez from jail and granted an emergency stay to keep him being deported. The El Salvadoran came to the U.S. in 2003 and married a U.S. citizen. They have two children, an almost three-year-old daughter and a four-month-old son. Martinez was detained in jail for eight weeks after his interview applying for residency status. The ACLU lawsuit is opposing the policy of detaining noncitizen spouses who begin the process of seeking permanent residency.

A fourth judge, this one appointed by DDT, has ruled against removing Robert Mueller from the Russia investigation.

The second judge ruled that two cases challenging DDT’s citizenship question on the 2020 census may continue.

A confidentiality agreement between DDT and former staffer Jessica Denson is limited in scope, possibly negatively affecting DDT’s success in his lawsuits regarding violations of his nondisclosure agreements, because the NDA wording does not list any “dispute between the parties.” Denson is suing the campaign for harassment and discrimination—”severe and pervasive slander, aggravated harassment, attempted theft, cyberbullying, and sexual discrimination and harassment”—seeking $25 million in damages. A judge ruled that the NDA wording was insufficient to force her into arbitration because it does not list any “dispute between the parties.” DDT’s other NDAs include those with Omarosa Manigault Newman, Karen McDougal, and Stormy Daniels.

The Supreme Court ruled that 21 youth plaintiffs between 11 and 22 years old may continue their climate change lawsuit and denied the DDT administration request for a stay.

“EPA may not employ delay tactics to effectively repeal a final rule while sidestepping the statutorily mandated process for revising or repealing that rule on the merits,” D.C. Circuit Judges Judith Rogers and Robert Wilkins wrote. The suit concerned a chemical disaster rule that the EPA tried to delay through a rule covering all administration provisions from President Obama’s terms. This rule was in response to the 2013 deadly explosion at the West (TX) fertilizer plant. The judges pointed out that EPA actions “delayed life-saving protections.” Other courts have opposed the EPA delay tactics: a GOP-appointed federal trial judge in South Carolina enjoined the EPA’s suspension of the “waters of the U.S.” to broaden the scope of “waters” nationwide. U.S. District Judge David Norton of the District of South Carolina wrote in his decision:

“Just because the political shoe is on the other foot does not mean that nationwide injunctions are no longer appropriate. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that Scott Pruitt’s dropping a proposed EPA ban on pesticide linked to brain damage in unborn babies and young children violated federal law and ordered the EPA to complete the ban on chlorpyrifos within 60 days. The court declared that the EPA had scientific evidence of the neurodevelopmental damage.

A jury awarded more than $289 million to a former school groundskeeper who claimed he was diagnosed with terminal cancer after using Monsanto Co.’s weed killer Roundup and Ranger Pro. German conglomerate Bayer AG bought Monsanto for $62.5 billion.

A federal judge closed the loophole for funneling secret “dark money” into political ads because it blocked Congress’ intent to disclose political donations. The loophole had stated that non-profit organizations did not need to disclose donors if the contributions were not designated for specific advertising.

After judges ruled against HHS in five cases, the agency will reinstate grants for 81 groups working to prevent teen pregnancies in the five-year Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) instead of stopping the funding two years early. The Trump administration this year announced new abstinence criteria for receiving the funding, and HHS tried to stop funding the TPPP because its criteria did not emphasize sexual abstinence.

The Tribal Lifeline program, helping tribal members get telephone, cell phone, and internet service, will temporarily be partially preserved after a federal ruling put on hold the FCC elimination of the $9.25 monthly subsidy, began in 1985 that helps cover offset the limited infrastructure in Indian Country.

A federal judge ruled that the State Department must conduct a full environmental review for the Keystone XL pipeline’s new Nebraska route before it goes forward.

Investors can sue Exxon Mobil and its executives, including former State Department Secretary Rex Tillerson, for securities fraud relating to climate change. Exxon misrepresented its procedures to keep its AAA rating when oil and gas prices started falling.

After Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court overturned a 2012 law, 60,000 Pennsylvanians can again apply for the $205 monthly General Assistance.

A judge in Michigan ruled that “gender” includes trans people in a hate crime when a man attacked a transgender woman. Michigan laws don’t include sexual orientation and gender identity, but it does include “race, color, religion, gender, or national origin.”

Three federal judges rejected a request by Ohio GOP legislators to dismiss a lawsuit to scrap the gerrymandered congressional district map. The supreme Court had overturned other court decisions in Wisconsin and Maryland, but only on technical terms.

Poverty is not a crime, a federal judge ruled when he decided that New Orleanians who owe money from criminal convictions may plead poverty in a “neutral forum” before being put in jail for failure to pay. Louisiana joins three other states—Georgia, Missouri, and Alabama—prevented by court ruling to jail people for being “unable” to pay fines. The court is not making law, merely reminding governments that the Supreme Court declared in 1983 that courts cannot legally send people to jail for inability to pay fees.

Brock Turner, convicted of sexual assault, lost his appeal to have the conviction overturned and will be required to register as a sex offender for his entire life. He pled “outercourse,” not intercourse with his drugged victim.

Suing:

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is suing the DOJ for its refusal to turn over documents about a letter regarding how states maintain voter rolls because of a concern about aggressively purging voter registration. Voter purging has greatly increased, with almost 4 million voters’ names taken off the rolls between 2006 and 2008.

A veterans group is suing to block the VA control of DDT’s three friends from Mar-a-Lago who also fail to disclose their activities as required by federal law. Congressional Democrats are also investigating the situation and calling for hearings and a probe into the secret group’s influence.

In a panic after North Carolina elected a Democratic governor, the GOP General Assembly passed a number of laws removing his power in the last months of 2016. Gov. Roy Cooper has sued to have many of them removed, the most recent two amendments that give the General Assembly the power to fill judicial vacancies and create a bipartisan board of elections. The Republicans’ past record against Cooper has not been entirely successful.

Angela Diers, fired for telling co-workers that she hates “f–king Mexicans,” claims she deserves unemployment benefits because DDT’s election makes hate speech acceptable in the workplace. An administrative law judge ruled in her favor. On her employer’s appeal, Iowa’s Employment Appeals Board overturned the decision and disqualified her from receiving benefits. But it’s only a matter of time before this kind of hate speech becomes legally acceptable.

August 6, 2018

Feds on the Losing Side in Court

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is desperately trying to put himself above all laws, even appointing a nominee for the Supreme Court who believes a Republican president doesn’t have to go to court, but some of the recent lawsuits go against DDT’s wishes.

A huge win is a federal judge’s ruling that a lawsuit can move forward to determine whether DDT has broken the law against officials accepting emoluments from domestic and foreign governments. AGs from Maryland and Washington, D.C. maintain that DDT’s profit from his businesses such as his hotel and restaurant violates the constitutional clause that prevents any business transactions giving DDT a “profit, gain or advantage.” The judge agreed.

According to law professor John Mikhail, dictionaries published from 1604 to 1806 use a “broad definition” for emoluments, including “profit,” “advantage,” “gain,” or benefit.” Mikhail added, “Over 92 percent of these dictionaries define ’emolument’ . . . with no reference to ‘office’ or ’employment.’” Thus the emoluments clause stops any benefit or profit to a president from any government whether in his capacity as president or in any other role, such as the owner of a hotel like the Trump International Hotel in Washington. DDT wants the emoluments clause to narrowly refer to compensation for official services, making it a bribery clause.

DDT desperately wants to stop the case because the legal discovery in the lawsuit allows extensive knowledge of his business and financial records, possibly his tax returns which he has kept secret.

A federal judge ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program must be fully restored. The judge wrote that DDT’s administration had again failed to justify closing down the program but delayed his ruling for 20 days for an appeal. The opinion stated that DDT’s decision “was arbitrary and capricious” with legal judgment that was “inadequately explained.” His full ruling shows more of his irritation with the government’s arguments. The judge appointed by George W. Bush is the third federal judge to reject DDT’s excuse for closing the program.

The 9th Circuit Court gave DDT a tiny win when it ruled that a judge can’t overrule DDT’s withholding federal funding for sanctuary regions for the entire nation and sent the case back to the lower court. The circuit court did declare that the order is unconstitutional for its nine states because it exceeded DDT’s authority because Congress is in charge of spending. In his order, DDT attempted to require local law enforcement to carry out federal responsibilities.

A federal judge invalidated the Federal Election Commission regulation permitting donors to “dark-money” groups, including 501(c)4 non-profits, to remain anonymous. The ruling may lead to requirements forcing nonprofits to disclose people who donate $200 or more toward influencing federal elections. The suit began when Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS didn’t disclose sources for the $6 million used to defeat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in 2012. The FEC has 45 days to issue interim regulations or appeal, but an appeal would require a unanimous vote from commissions—probably impossible.

In another donor issue, Montana’s Gov. Steve Bullock is suing the IRS because of its new policy that politically active nonprofit groups don’t need to tell the IRS or other government entities about their major donors. Bullock maintains that the new guideline undermines nonprofit regulations and policing of illegal spending in political campaigns. According to the lawsuit, the government failed to follow the Administrative Procedure Act, the same law used for other suits regarding DDT’s executive orders. It evades the public comment mandate and rewrites policy by calling it a “revenue procedure.”

A judge refused a request from Michael Cohen’s lawyer to put a gag order on Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to stop him from making public comments about Cohen. Avenatti has said that honoring that request could mean a judge might put a gag order on DDT. In connection with his lawsuit about DDT’s allegedly paying Stormy Daniels “hush money” before the 2016 presidential election, Avenatti said that he now represents three more women with the same claim.

A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against DDT’s question about citizenship in the 2020 census can go forward because of evidence that the decision was driven by discrimination. He allowed DDT’s negative tweets and statements about immigrants, including the one about “shithole” countries. Plaintiffs from 28 states and a coalition of immigration rights groups allege that the question is designed to drive down census responses in immigrant communities.

A federal judge blocked Defense Distributed from releasing 3D printed gun plans online, and the case goes back to court on August 10. The 3D guns have no background checks or serial numbers and are illegal in the U.S. because they evade metal detection.

The 9th Circuit Court ruled that new California gun safety laws are constitutional. One requires new models of semi-automatic handguns to have identifying information stamped on bullet casings. Another is a requirement to prevent accidental discharges of handguns, and a third bans concealed carry on school grounds.

An Iowa judge issued a temporary injunction on the state’s new voting law and returns the absentee early voting period to 40 days from the new law’s 29 days. The injunction also blocks some ID requirements on absentee ballots. Secretary of State Paul Pate, who is up for re-election, plans to immediately appeal the decision on legislation that he promoted.

A federal judge ruled that Florida’s college campuses can be used for early voting sites because the state’s ban is unconstitutional.

The 7th Circuit Court has ruled that a transgender woman denied hormone therapy while in custody may pursue her lawsuit, overturning a lower court decision that dismissed her case. Lisa Mitchell wasn’t assessed by Wisconsin’s Department of Corrections for over a year; clinicians then recommended the hormone therapy. Without any policy justification, she was still denied treatment because she was due to be released within a month, and parole officers, after her release, stopped her from any hormone therapy and forced her to dress and present like a man.

Four cities—Chicago, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Baltimore—filed a lawsuit against DDT and his cabinet for “waging a relentless campaign to sabotage and, ultimately, to nullify” the Affordable Care Act. The tipping point for the suit was DHHS’ decision to keep substandard health insurance plans for up to three years instead of three months. DDT earlier expanded association health plans not required to cover basic health benefits, eliminated the individual mandate, vastly reduced funds to advertise the ACA, and refused to defend the ACA in court, arguing that pre-existing conditions protection are unconstitutional. Part of the lawsuit’s justification are DDT’s claims that he will get “rid of Obamacare” by destroying it. Without the ACA, cities are forced to pay more for uninsured people. The “take care” clause of the ACA requires the president to ensure that the ACA is faithfully executed.

Last year, 18 states filed a lawsuit opposing DDT’s attempt to block federal cost-sharing subsidies to make the ACA affordable for low- and middle-income people. The case was dismissed, but 12 states filed a lawsuit last week against DDT’s expansion of association health plans. Yale University law professor Abbe Gluck said:

“No scholar or court has ever said the president can use his discretion to implement a statute to purposely destroy it. If there’s ever going to be a violation of the ‘take care’ clause, this is it.”

Nineteen attorneys general have joined California AG Xavier Becerra opposing DDT’s plans to freeze fuel-efficiency requirements for cars and trucks through 2026, refuting the need to improve public health, combat climate change, and save consumers money. DDT will also try to revoke California’s legal waiver to set its own tailpipe restrictions granted under the 1970 Clean Air Act and restrict the dozen states from following California’s lead. His own administration refutes DDT’s “fake” information: an analysis from the National Highway Traffic Safety and the EPA estimates a savings of $500 billion “societal costs,” thousands of fewer highway fatalities, and $2,340 lower cost on each new car. Officials at an internal EPA presentation warned that DDT’s proposal contained “a wide range of errors, use of outdated data, and unsupported assumptions.” Enthusiasm for DDT’s proposal, meant to bring the Koch brothers back onto his team, came only from the oil and gas industry.

Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer who received an extremely light sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2016, is back in court asking for his conviction overturned. A lawyer claim to a panel of three judges that Turner only wanted “outercourse” and cannot be convicted of rape because it was a “version of safe sex” with no “penile contact.” Justice Franklin D. Elia said, “I absolutely don’t understand what you are talking about.” Witness reported that the victim’s dress was pulled up over her waist and she was not moving. At the time, Turner admitted to digitally penetrating her.

On the same day that Washington State AG Bob Ferguson joined other AGs to block posting 3D gun blueprint on the computer, he and three other AGs warned DDT against defunding Planned Parenthood. Ferguson’s 10-0 record of wins with only three that can be appealed. He called DDT’s administration “sloppy in how they do their work” and that it typically breaks federal laws. State AGs have worked together to file about 56 multistate lawsuits against DDT, almost as many as the 60 filed against President Obama in all eight years.

DDT’s rush to overturn every move by President Obama has been delayed not only by lack of quality but also by his bombastic public comments.  His incompetence may save the nation.

July 27, 2018

Kavanaugh, A Disaster for the United States, Part 2

When Brett Kavanaugh accepted the nomination for Supreme Court justice, he gave a lovely speech, full of admiration for women and children and minorities. The wealth of his rulings and dissents show that much of what he said was a farce. Possibly even his wife thought so too, from the look on her face.

Separation of Powers – PHH Corp. v. CFPB (2017): Striking down the single-director structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kavanaugh opposed the president’s needing a reason to fire the CFPB director. Later, the entire D.C. Circuit Court overrode Kavanaugh’s decision.

Abortion – Garza v. Hargan (2017): The complete D.C. Circuit Court vacated an order preventing an undocumented pregnant teenager from having an abortion. Kavanaugh dissented with the statement that “the en banc majority … reflects a philosophy that unlawful immigrant minors have a right to immediate abortion on demand, not to be interfered with even by government efforts to help minors navigate what is undeniably a difficult situation by expeditiously transferring them to their sponsors.” The 17-year-old girl had been held prisoner without permission to see a doctor to keep her from having an abortion as the administration tried to postpone any decision until the fetus was too developed for the procedure.

Contraception – Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2016): When the D.C. Circuit Court refused to hear a case about employers opting out of birth control coverage by submitting a form, dissented because of the employers’ “religious privilege.” Filling out the form seemed to burden their exercise of religion. Kavanaugh’s view is that courts must accept, without question, any religious claim because any employer has the right to deny birth control coverage to their employees through insurance.

Healthcare – Seven Sky v. Holder (2011): In dissenting to the ruling that upheld the Affordable Care Act, Kavanaugh claimed the Anti-Injunction Act, “which carefully limits the jurisdiction of federal courts over tax-related matters.” He argued that a president is not required to enforce the ACA or any other law if he makes that choice. A pending lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of the ACA could be decided by the Supreme Court.

Voting Restrictions – South Carolina v. United States (2012): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion upholding South Carolina’s voter ID law opposed by the DOJ because of serious racial disparities in photo ID requirements blocking over 60,000 minority registered voters from the polls.

Discrimination – Howard v. Office of the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives (2013): Kavanaugh’s dissent in this case, if successful, would ban workers in congressional offices from suing on the basis of racism, sexual harassment, and retaliation.  He also claimed in Miller v. Clinton (2012) that the State Department is exempt from being sued for age discrimination. In Rattigan v. Holder (2012), Kavanaugh dissented from the majority rule that a black FBI agent could pursue a case of inappropriate retaliation for filing a discrimination claim when the agency began a security investigation against him.

Hostility to Workers’ Rights – SeaWorld of Fla., LLC v. Perez (2014): Kavanaugh opposed a majority ruling upholding a safety citation after a trainer died while working with an orca that had previously killed three other trainers. He said that the government shouldn’t be responsible for protecting these workers. The nominee has a pattern of ruling against workers in other issues such as worker privacy and union disputes. In National Labor Relations Board v. CNN America, Inc. (2017) Judge Kavanaugh dissented from the majority opinion upholding a National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) order that CNN recognize and bargain with a worker’s union. and finding that CNN violated the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) by discriminating against union members in hiring. Another Kavanaugh dissent in National Federation of Federal Employees v. Vilsack (2012) called for drug testing despite the lack of policy. His majority ruling in American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO v. Gates (2007) could allow the Secretary of Defense to eviscerate collective bargaining.

Immigration – Fogo de Chao Inc. v. Department of Homeland Security (2014): The case agreed that specialized cultural knowledge regarding Brazilian-style cooking was valid for a temporary visa, but Kavanaugh wanted to exclude “any and all knowledge or skills … learned from family or community rather than in-company trainers.”

Gun ownership – Heller v. District of Columbia (2011): The ruling in the D.C. Circuit Court supported a law that prohibited assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and that required certain firearms to be registered. Kavanaugh dissented: “semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.” He also stated, “A ban on a class of arms is … equivalent to a ban on a category of speech.” The Supreme Court later overturned Heller.

Net Neutrality – United States Telecom Association v. FCC (2017): After a panel of judges ruled that internet service providers cannot discriminate among content providers, the D.C. Circuit Court refused to rehear the case. Kavanaugh dissented, claiming that the FCC should rely on the 1934 Communications Act which does not allow the FCC to regulate Internet service providers.” The FCC now permits this discrimination.

Environment – EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA (2012): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion in this decision that the EPA could not require companies to replace refrigerant chemicals of greenhouse gasses with more sustainable alternatives.  In his dissent to White Stallion Energy Ctr. LLC v. EPA (2014), he stated that the EPA should have considered the cost to the power industry before regulating toxic air pollution. The Supreme Court cited his dissent when it reversed the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling that had upheld the standards. In Howmet Corp. v. EPA (2010) Kavanaugh dissented from a decision to approve an EPA fine of over $300,000 against a company that had improperly shipped a corrosive chemical to be added to fertilizer without properly labelling it and taking other precautions to treat it as a hazardous waste.

Unlimited Campaign Donations – EMILY’s List v. Federal Election Commission (2009): Kavanaugh wrote the opinion that led to the creation of super PACs. In Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission (2016), he wrote the opinion which Demos and Campaign Legal Center called “a novel theory that would limit disclosure based on a spender’s tax-status, a theory subsequently rejected by a three-judge court and the Supreme Court.”

A civil rights group wrote:

“Judge Kavanaugh’s 12-year record on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as well as his known writings, speeches, and legal career, demonstrate that if he were confirmed to the Supreme Court, he would be the fifth and decisive vote to undermine many of our core rights and legal protections.  In case after case, he has ruled against individuals and the environment in favor of corporations, the wealthy, and the powerful.  He has advanced extreme legal theories to overturn longstanding precedent to diminish the power of federal agencies to help people.  And he has demonstrated an expansive view of presidential power that includes his belief that presidents should not be subject to civil suits or criminal investigations while in office despite what misconduct may have occurred.”

Putting Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court can vastly increase the economic inequality in a nation where it is greater than at any time during almost a century, an equality marked by gender and race. Lack of healthcare in the United States has caused it to have a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed country. Taking contraception from women keeps many of them from getting and keeping jobs, advancing their careers, furthering their education, and financially supporting themselves. The loss of contraception also produces higher abortion rates.

In the past century, unions have been responsible for decreasing income inequality. As the number of people in unions grew, so did the percentage of people in the middle class. The reverse is also true, especially for women who comprise the majority of public sector workers that Janus v. AFSCME has tried to destroy. The day after the Supreme Court decision allowed workers to have union benefits without charge, it authorized crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to continue to lie to women about their services and the dangers of abortions. Two weeks later, the current administration proposed prevention of home care workers unions.

Brett Kavanaugh is part of the conservative strategy to demolish the structure that attempts to protect the well-being of women and families, the foundation for the United States’ economy and democracy. Gone will be reproductive rights for women, safety and privacy rights for workers, union rights, individual rights, immigration rights, voting rights, religious rights, a clean environment, etc. Big business will be god, and the president will be above the law.

With Kavanaugh as justice—or someone like him—the Supreme Court will be a disaster for the nation.

July 25, 2018

Kavanaugh, A Disaster for the United States, Part 1

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:59 PM
Tags: ,

On July 9, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh accepted the nomination for Supreme Court Justice to replace Anthony Kennedy whose resignation takes effect on July 31. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has managed to deflect attention away from his nominee with news about the meeting with Vladimir Putin, his attack on Iran, and his trade war. Other events have also distracted the media: DDT’s incessant lies, the release of tapes between DDT and Michael Cohen showing that he was involved in hiding the story about his affair with Karen McDougal, etc. Media about Kavanaugh largely focuses on the losses of people’s rights—especially women’s reproductive rights—if Kavanaugh is approved.

The biggest concern facing the people in the United States with Brett Kavanaugh as a justice on the highest court, however, should be that he could put DDT above the law. In the past, he protected George W. Bush by writing that sitting presidents should not have to concern himself with civil suits, criminal probes, prosecutors’ questioning—any “time-consuming and distracting” lawsuits and investigations.

Worse, Kavanaugh said three times on a panel with other lawyers that the unanimous Supreme Court ruling in 1974 requiring Richard Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes was wrong. Kavanaugh said that Nixon may have had the authority to hide incriminating evidence from federal investigators and that U.S. v. Nixon should perhaps be “overruled.” In 2009, Kavanaugh argued that “Congress might consider a law exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.”

In addition to making the president above the law—at least a GOP president—Kavanaugh proposed a six-year presidential term by repealing the 23rd Amendment to the constitution. [That would give DDT six years to campaign instead of the four years that he’s using at this time.]

Kavanaugh’s opinion may be for only Republican presidents. He helped author the 1998 Starr Report which gave the case Bill Clinton’s impeachment and removal from office. The document states that a president who lies, whether or not under oath, could be impeached. By 2004, the George W. Bush nominee for a federal judgeship had changed his mind:

“It was not our place to say what the House should do with that or what the Senate should do with that evidence.”

Likely decisions from a Supreme Court with Kavanaugh based on his earlier rulings:

  • Overturning Roe v. Wade, permitting abortions, or at the least allowing states to make the decision and creating inequality for women throughout the nation.
  • Loss of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Establishment of a Christian theocracy for the United States with the distorted view of “religious liberty” that discriminates against all minorities and women.
  • Control by the judiciary over regulations by overturning the Chevron doctrine.
  • Eradication of any agencies independent from executive control.
  • Elimination of the balance of powers. 
  • Almost unlimited ownership of guns, including semi-automatic rifles.
  • Permission for foreigners to donate money for U.S. candidates by allowing them to spend money on independent advocacy campaigns.

The Federalist Society picked Kavanaugh for the nomination—although Kennedy may have leveraged the deal. Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah refused to answer a question about whether DDT told Kennedy he would nominate Kavanaugh if Kennedy retired. Kennedy could be in control of a SCOTUS seat for 60 years—30 years for himself and 30 or more for the 53-year-old Kavanaugh.” Kennedy’s son bailed Jared Kushner out of a nasty loan when rents on Kushner’s $1.8 billion purchase of 666 Fifth Avenue met only 65 percent of his loan payments. Vornado, servicer on the loan from LNR Partners where Kennedy’s son worked, reduced the principal and deferred part of the interest on the interest-only loan until February 2019.

Kavanaugh’s last confirmation took three years for approval. The American Bar downgraded Kavanaugh’s qualification rating judges and colleagues described him as “less than adequate,” “sanctimonious,” “insulated,” and “immovable and very stubborn.”  In 2006, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) complained that Kavanaugh “spoke of making rulings and whatnot that would make President Bush proud.”

Cleared by anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice organizations, Kavanaugh suggested that Roe v. Wade was incorrectly decided and claimed that a president can refuse to enforce a statute that a court has ruled constitutional. He could also vote to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut and Eisenstadt v. Baird, that legalize contraception for unmarried women. One of his dissents was to nullify the ACA preexisting condition coverage, including for people with HIV. His dissent in the decision that a migrant girl could have an abortion claimed that the government created a “new right” for immigrants in custody “to obtain immediate abortion on demand” for “unlawful immigrant minors.”

Comments about Kavanaugh:

Demand Progress: “Trump’s SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is an enemy of net neutrality and has sided with big cable companies in the lower courts.”

Politico’s Tim Starks: Kavanaugh “has a history of embracing warrantless surveillance and rejecting Fourth Amendment challenges to it.”

Vox’s Dylan Matthews:  “He’s a veteran of every conservative cause you can imagine, from the 2000 Florida recount to the fight against Obamacare.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “He believes that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, he tried to strike down net neutrality, and he’s worked to make it harder for federal watchdogs to hold corporate criminals accountable and protect public health, safety, and economic security.”

Chris Murphy: “Brett Kavanaugh is an anti-consumer zealot, an opponent of preexisting condition protections, a critic of abortion rights and access to contraception, a Second Amendment radical, and a bad choice for the Supreme Court.”

Although Yale Law School’s press release about Kavanaugh sang his virtues, over 600 of the school’s students, staff members, and alumni signed a letter calling for the school to rescind this support citing Kavanaugh’s rulings to show that his conservative bias could place SCOTUS rulings at risk. The letter also stated that Kavanaugh would act as a “rubber stamp for President Trump’s fraud and abuse.” It added:

“At a time when the President and his associates are under investigation for various serious crimes, including colluding with the Russian government and obstructing justice, Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme deference to the Executive poses a direct threat to our democracy.”

Democrats have asked for hundreds of thousands of pages to examine Kavanaugh’s history. One black mark against him may be his testimony that he knew nothing about the George W. Bush administration torture of detainees. Senators had earlier confirmed Jay Bybee to the 9th Circuit Court before they discovered his part in writing the memos justifying this torture. Kavanaugh may not have directly lied, but he waffled enough to mislead the senators. He was asked to recuse himself from any cases dealing with detainee-related issues but refused. The person who signed his letter of exoneration is Brian Benczkowski who was confirmed to lead DOJ’s criminal division after he worked for the largest Russian bank with ties to Vladimir Putin. Two members who felt misled by Kavanaugh still sit on the Judiciary Committee.

One oddity about Kavanaugh is his large decade-long credit card debt—between $60,000 and $200,000—to buy Washington Nationals’ season tickets and baseball playoff games for himself and a “handful” of friends. Shah claimed that some of his debts during the past decade were for home improvement and that Kavanaugh’s friends reimbursed him for their share of the baseball tickets later. Kavanaugh’s only listed assets are his home with a $865,000 mortgage, his wife’s retirement fund between $15,000 and $65,000, and his own retirement fund. His wife annually makes $66,000 as town manager for Chevy Chase; their daughters’ annual tuition is $20,050.

A minority of people in the U.S. will determine the direction of the United States for decades: a president elected by a minority of voters has nominated another white Catholic male for the U.S. Supreme Court, and senators elected by a minority of the voters will in most likelihood confirm the nominee. And the situation will get only worse in the future. By 2040, 70 percent of people will live in 15 states, leaving the 70 senators from the remaining 30 percent—older, whiter, more rural, and more male—will be able to confirm—or not confirm—the president’s nominees. That’s the conclusion of conservative Norm Ornstein based on population estimates. With almost half the population in only eight states by 2040, half the U.S. population will control 84 percent of the Senate.

[To be continued with Kavanaugh’s major cases.]

July 24, 2018

Government Causes Lawsuits

Filed under: Judiciary — trp2011 @ 11:06 PM
Tags:

The new policies from the Republican government, led by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) drops some regulations and enforces others that remove human rights. The result is a number of lawsuits.

After a lawsuit mandated the return of migrant children to their parents by July 26, the Department of Homeland Safety announced nearly 1,200 children reunited with their parents, but part of this number represents children whose parents have been deported. A more careful examination shows that 463 parents whose children were kidnapped at the border can’t be found and were possibly deported. They are listed as “under review” with no more details to the judge who demanded a report. Children kept from their parents were subjected to abuses such as spoiled food, dehydration, enforced sleeplessness, cold, injuries, no medical care, lack of hygiene, bullying, and general neglect—all leading to serious psychological damage. This site provides frequent updates of reunification for the almost 3,000 children.

Two Republican judges in the 5th Circuit, one appointed by Donald Trump, ruled that DDT can fire the head of a federal housing agency at will, giving him the same power in other agencies designed to be independent of the president. The decision in Collins v. Mnuchin could allow DDT to control the Federal Reserve. He has already said that he doesn’t like the increases in the prime rate from his own nominees although he complained about President Obama not increasing the prime rate. With the power to fire Federal Reserve governors, supposedly fired only for cause, he could artificially stimulate the economy in 2020 which could throw the nation into a massive recession soon after.

DDT is taking on California again, this time planning to eliminate the waiver permitting the state to regulate automobile emissions in its revision of Obama-era standards. The 2012 plan drastically improves fuel efficiency while reducing emissions in efforts to slow climate change. Last April, DDT said that fuel efficiency wasn’t important because gas prices had dropped the science of the “social cost of carbon” is bunk. California didn’t change its position, however, and the EPA may try to ban California from setting its own fuel economy rules. The new standards not only help the climate but also save consumers $3,200 to $5,700 in gasoline costs over a vehicle’s lifetime under the existing rule. On to court. Here’s a view of the 38 lawsuits that California has filed against the federal government.

Another endangered regulation is the 1973 Endangered Species Act that saved the bald eagle and the gray wolf along with other species from extinction. Some people may recognize the eagle’s image on the Great Seal of the United States for the past 236 years. When it was enacted 45 years ago, then President Nixon claimed it as “an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage, threatened wildlife.” The law identifies threatened species, designated necessary habitats, and follows the process of preserving both these elements until the species have recovered in sustainable numbers. New guidelines from the Interior Department creates new cost-benefit analyses and negates science determining which species are declining in number—especially if they are on lands and in waters that mining and fossil fuel industries want. Hunting, shooting, trapping, etc. will also be opened up for endangered species on a “case-by-case basis.” Scientists are also ordered to “avoid speculating as to what is hypothetically possible” in the disappearance of species.

DDT has also stopped a review of pesticide impact on the endangered and threatened species in the U.S., that concluded pesticides jeopardized more than 1,800 species including 18 types of salmon. Officials from the three agencies involved in the report met with major pesticide manufacturers to instruct them in methods of influencing their product reviews; manufacturers taught the officials what data to use to swing the results in favor of unrestricted pesticides. The National Marine Fisheries Service has rejected its own 3,749-page report showing that pesticides threaten half the fish and other endangered species in its jurisdiction. Chemicals not only kill the species but also change swimming patterns, reproductive systems, and pursuit of prey.

At this time, the Interior Department is ignoring public comment and positive evidence about saving public lands that doesn’t fit with its favoritism for big business. The agency mistakenly downloaded thousands of emails showing that it dismissed evidence about the value of tourism and increased archaeological discoveries while listing only the value of energy development, logging, and ranching. (After pulling these documents, officials asked that they be ignored.) The department also cut information from the public comment process. Presidents have the legal right to establish national monuments to save federal land or waters from endangering cultural, historical, or natural resources. DDT has done just the reverse, already reducing two of Utah’s biggest monuments and possibly shrinking others. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is considering the removal of forested areas within Cascade-Siskiyou for “timber production.” Another lawsuit?

The 9th Circuit Court again denied DDT’s decision to ban transgender people from openly serving in the military by refusing to stay a preliminary injunction from a lower court. Thus far, seven courts have refused to stop transgender people from the military. The case will go to trial in April 2019.

MGM Resorts International has filed federal lawsuits against more than 1,000 Las Vegas mass shooting victims to keep from being liable for lax security. A spokeswoman said:

“Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing.”

After 19 current and former tenants filed a $10 million lawsuit against Jared Kushner’s company, New York started an investigation into the company’s tenant harassment complaints. Tenants claimed that the purpose of the dangerous construction conditions beginning in 2015 was to drive them out of rent-regulated apartments so that Kushner could sell renovated unit for luxury apartments. Kushner is also dodging subpoenas for the DNC’s lawsuit claiming DDT’s campaign conspired with Russia in 2016. After the Secret Service protected Kushner and he refused certified mail, a New York federal judge forced Kushner’s lawyer to accept service of the DNC complaint.

A DDT-appointed federal judge ruled that the government can prioritize abstinence and “natural methods” over contraception in the federal Title X family planning program. The decision has a big affect on low-income people who use public funds for family planning care. HHS has announced that its funding will select groups who cooperate with faith-based organizations and have a “meaningful emphasis” on “stable, healthy marriages” and avoid “sexual risk.” The practice of abstinence greatly increases teen pregnancies as this chart comparing the U.S. to other countries, shows.

Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

Same-gender couples can foster and adopt children from Catholic Social Services (CSS) and Bethany Christian Services if they have contracts with Philadelphia, according to a federal ruling. Earlier this year, the city had suspended both their contracts if they didn’t comply, and Bethany agreed to comply with the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. CSS sued for a religious exemption, admitting that it discriminated, but the judge said that it must comply with city law if it receives city money. CSS plans to appeal the ruling.

A judge is permitting lawyers representing the victims of Charlottesville (VA) to sue white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizers under the Ku Klux Klan. The lawsuit claims the defendants conspired to hurt black and Jewish people and their supporters. The case may go to trial next summer.

https://www.alternet.org/trump-re-election-campaign-has-spent-over-1-million-legal-bills-january?src=newsletter1094381    DDT launched his campaign for the 2020 presidency as soon as he was inaugurated, but it’s primary goal seems to be getting donors to pay his legal fees–$1.2 million thus far in 2018 to eight law firms and the Trump Corporation. Much of the money has gone to silencing a porn star, protecting DDT’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller, and trying to keep DDT’s “lawyer” Michael Cohen out of trouble.

Donors may also have to pay out to Noel Cintron, DDT’s personal driver for 25 years, who filed a complaint for $200,000 to cover back pay for 3,300 overtime hours in the past six years. After he stopped driving DDT because the U.S. Secret Service was in control of DDT’s transportation, he was a member of DDT’s security staff. His last raise was in 2010 with the condition that he forfeit all health benefits.

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