Category Archives: Courts

Judge Denny Chin Confirmed: Will Be Only Asian-American Judge Serving On US Court Of Appeals

Posted by: Audiegrl

Judge Denny Chin

In October 2009, President Obama nominated Judge Denny Chin for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Today the Senate voted 98-0 to confirm Judge Chin to fill an opening on a New York-based appeals court. He will be the only Asian-American currently serving on a U.S. Court of Appeals.

Judge Denny Chin was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong. His family moved to the United States when he was 2 years old. Judge Chin was raised in New York City, attending Stuyvesant High School, a New York public school specializing in math and science, before attending Princeton University. He graduated from Princeton magna cum laude in 1975 and from Fordham Law School in 1978 where he was the managing editor of the Fordham Law Review.

After graduation, Judge Chin clerked on the Southern District of New York for Judge Henry F. Werker. He then spent two years at the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell before becoming an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in 1982. When he left the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1986, Judge Chin started a law firm with two colleagues: Campbell, Patrick & Chin. Four years later, he joined the law firm of Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C., where he specialized in labor and employment law.

In 1994, Judge Chin was nominated and confirmed to the U.S District Court for the Southern District of New York, where he currently serves. He is most famous for presiding over the Bernard Madoff case. He was the first Asian-American appointed as a U.S. District Court Judge outside of the Ninth Circuit.

Judge Chin has served as an Adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law teaching legal research and writing since 1986. He is currently the Treasurer for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Judicial Council, and he has served as the President of the Federal Bar Council Inn of Court and the President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York. He also currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Fordham Law School Alumni Association and the Fordham Law School Law Review Association and as the Co-Chair for the Fordham Law School Minority Mentorship Program. Judge Chin is a member of the Federal Bar Council Public Service Committee, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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Obama Gets 2nd Supreme Court Nomination, Stevens Retiring

cross-posted from T-Time

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens retiring

WASHINGTON (AP) – Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the court’s oldest member and leader of its liberal bloc, is retiring. President Barack Obama now has his second high court opening to fill. Stevens said Friday he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July. He said he hopes his successor is confirmed “well in advance of the commencement of the court’s next term.”

Stevens’ announcement leaves ample time for the White House to settle on a successor and for Senate Democrats, who control a 59-vote majority, to hold confirmation hearings and a vote before the court’s next term begins in October. Republicans have not ruled out attempts to delay confirmation.

Stevens’ announcement, which came 11 days before his 90th birthday, had been hinted at for months. It’s presumed Obama will nominate another liberal, so Stevens’ departure wouldn’t alter the court’s philosophical makeup.

Obama promises quick court replacement for Stevens

AP Photo

WASHINGTON (AP) – The retirement of John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court’s leading liberal but a justice who also could find conservative allies, will set off an election-year political battle over President Barack Obama’s second high court pick. Stevens said Friday he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July. He said he hopes his successor will be confirmed “well in advance of the commencement of the court’s next term.” Obama hailed Stevens as an “impartial guardian of the law” and promised to move quickly to nominate a replacement.

more:  Potential Supreme Court Nominees: White House Prepared for Stevens Retirement

Biography of:  Justice John Paul Stevens

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Bush busted– Wiretapped Americans illegally

cross-posted from T-Time

“The president, just like any other citizen of the United States, is bound by the law.”

Federal Judge Finds NSA Wiretapping Program Illegal

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program was illegal, rejecting the Obama administration’s effort to keep shrouded in secrecy one of the most disputed counterterrorism policies of former President George W. Bush. In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers who were representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been “subjected to unlawful surveillance,” the judge said that the government was liable to pay them damages.

The ruling delivered a blow to the Bush administration’s claims that its warrantless surveillance program, which Mr. Bush secretly authorized shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was lawful. Under the program, the National Security Agency monitored Americans’ e-mail messages and phone calls without court approval, even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, required warrants.

more:  NY Times

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Georgia Attorney General Faces Impeachment Threat

Posted by: Bluedog89

Georgia Attorney General refuses to sign a multi-state lawsuit blocking the new health care bill. Now Georgia lawmakers are calling for his impeachment. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)

HP~Georgia lawmakers reacted to Wednesday’s news that their Attorney General, Democrat Thurbert Baker, would not sign on to a multi-state lawsuit to block the health care bill in his state by filing papers to have him impeached.

The blog Peach Pundit reports that the resolution to impeach Baker, also a candidate for Georgia governor, now has at least 30 signatures and is still going forward.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, a Republican, petitioned Baker to sign on to the joint lawsuit filed by more than a dozen attorneys general across the country earlier this week that seeks to shield states from the effects of the new health bill, including the so-called “individual mandate,” which forces most people to buy insurance.

“I cannot justify a decision to initiate expensive and time-consuming litigation that I believe has no legal merit,” Baker wrote in a two-page response to Gov. Perdue. “In short, this litigation is likely to fail and will consume significant amounts of taxpayers’ hard-earned money in the process.”

On Thursday Gov. Perdue said he would appoint a “special attorney general” to sign on to the lawsuit challenging the health care bill since Baker would not do it himself, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Perdue made the announcement a day after state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, a Democrat running for governor, told Perdue, a Republican, he would not pursue a lawsuit.

Though the impeachment process appears to be in motion, some see it as a futile distraction that will not succeed because the threshold for impeachment is so high. It requires a vote of one-half of the State House and two-thirds of the State Senate.

More @

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States To Sue Over Health Care Bill

Posted by: Bluedog89

CNN~Several states plan to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care reform bill, Florida’s attorney general announced this week.

Bill McCollum, the Republican attorney general up for reelection under fellow Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, told a news conference that the lawsuit would be filed once President Obama signs the health care bill into law. He said he’ll be joined by his counterparts in Alabama, Nebraska, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.

All of the attorneys general in the states mentioned by McCollum are Republican, but McCollum said the lawsuit would be about the law and not politics.

On Monday, Virginia’s Republican attorney general said his state would file a lawsuit challenging the health care bill. It was unclear if Virginia would join the other states or proceed on its own.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill on Sunday night, and President Obama signed it into law on Tuesday.

McCollum said the lawsuit would challenge the bill’s provision requiring people to purchase health insurance, along with provisions that will force state government to spend more on health care services.

“This is a tax or a penalty on just living, and that’s unconstitutional,” he said of the mandate to purchase health coverage. “There’s no provision in the Constitution of the United States giving Congress the power to do that.”

McCollum also said that portions of the bill would force states to spend money they don’t have, which he called a violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.*

“There’s no way we can do what’s required in this bill and still provide for education, for foster care, for the incarceration of prisoners, all the other things that are in this bill,” he said.

McCollum said he expected the lawsuit to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Later Monday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration expected to win any lawsuits filed against the health care bill.

*The Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, restates the Constitution’s principle of federalism by providing that powers not granted to the national government nor prohibited to the states by the constitution of the United States are reserved to the states or the people. However, there are clauses in which the federal government have intervened on behalf of the states.

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First Lady Michelle Obama Takes Mentee’s to Visit Supreme Court Justices

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama listens as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor talk with a group of young women, during a mentoring event at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., March 17, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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Justice’s Wife Launches Tea Party Group

Posted by: Bluedog89

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with wife Virginia.

Story by Kathleen Hennessey of the Los Angeles Times

As Virginia Thomas tells it in her soft-spoken, Midwestern cadence, the story of her involvement in the “tea party” movement is the tale of an average citizen in action.

“I am an ordinary citizen from Omaha, Neb., who just may have the chance to preserve liberty along with you and other people like you,” she said at a recent panel discussion with tea party leaders in Washington. Thomas went on to count herself among those energized into action by President Obama’s “hard-left agenda.”

But Thomas is no ordinary activist.

She is the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and she has launched a tea-party-linked group that could test the traditional notions of political impartiality for the court.

In January, Virginia Thomas created Liberty Central Inc., a nonprofit lobbying group whose website will organize activism around a set of conservative “core principles,” she said.

The group plans to issue score cards for Congress members and be involved in the November election, although Thomas would not specify how. She said it would accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.

Read the entire story at the Los Angeles Times.

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The Death of U.S. Political Democracy For The People

Posted by: LibbyShaw

Will the Senator from Wal-Mart please yield to the Senator from Halliburton? The Congressman from Black Water has 5 minutes remaining before the Congresswoman from United Health may speak.

Mark your calendars, folks. January 21, 2010 is the day the radical and activist Supreme Court of the United States delivered the U.S. Democracy into the hands of the corporate sector and special interests groups. According to an article in the New York Times corporations, lobbyists and unions can now legally purchase their candidates of choice.

“We have got a million we can spend advertising for you or against you – whichever one you want,’ ” a lobbyist can tell lawmakers, said Lawrence M. Noble, a lawyer at Skadden Arps in Washington and former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission.

The decision yesterday will usher in unimaginable numbers of Swift Boat attack ads. Corporate fat cats can now threaten and bully politicians to do their bidding or else.

“It will put on steroids the trend that outside groups are increasingly dominating campaigns,” Mr. Ginsberg said. “Candidates lose control of their message. Some of these guys lose control of their whole personalities.”

“Parties will sort of shrink in the relative importance of things,” he added, “and outside groups will take over more of the functions – advertising support, get out the vote – that parties do now.”

Front row: Associate Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Antonin G. Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. Back row: Associate Justices Samuel A. Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor.

Some have called the SOTUS decision a power grab that is intellectually dishonest.

In opening the floodgates for corporate money in election campaigns, the Supreme Court did not simply engage in a brazen power grab. It did so in an opinion stunning in its intellectual dishonesty.

Many of those commenting on the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission have focused on the power-grab part. I agree with them. It was unnecessary for the court to go so far when there were several less-radical grounds available. It was audacious to seize the opportunity to overrule precedents when the parties had not pressed this issue and the lower courts had not considered it. It was the height of activism to usurp the judgments of Congress and state legislatures about how best to prevent corruption of the political process.

“If it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more,” a wise judge once wrote. That was Chief Justice John G. Roberts — back when — and dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens rightly turned that line against him.

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Republicans naturally and predictably love this recent ruling. But of course they would. Republicans embrace and fully support authoritarian forms of government. And the sad truth of the matter is the GOP has always worked for the corporate sector.

It is devastatingly unfortunate that Republican voters have never been able to understand the hard, cold and mean reality of those they elect into office. Politicians take an oath to serve the people in their districts but many merely give their constituents nothing but empty rhetoric. If one were to closely examine one’s Republican lawmakers’ voting records one would find who their elected officials really work for.

My guess is the teabaggers will wraps it head around the reality of the SCOTUS decision like we progressives have, for the only one imperative we do share in common is a collective outrage over the corporate takeover of the U.S. government and its legislative process by special interest groups and corporations.

But unfortunately teabaggers, unlike progressives, are far too easily led astray by the likes of Dick Armey, one of the numerous behind the scenes leaders of the teabagger movement. Armey’s main mission is to promote the interests of the health care industry. He and his organization, Freedom Works, uses teabaggers as its tools.

Republicans and teabaggers alike have been led to believe that the government is the root of everything evil while progressives know that government is the only force that can and will protect us from the evils of self-serving greed mongers of the corporate sector.

We are where we are today b/c the corporate sector has been enabled to run rough shod over the American people. We are broke. There are no jobs. We lost homes. We lost retirement savings. Meanwhile on Wall St. the fat cats who can now purchase politicians get richer by the minute.

Elections have consequences. The nice guy or girl candidate with whom to have a beer could very well be an anti-political democracy devil in disguise who has every intention of throwing the middle and working classes to the lions.

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Oh, and Prince Alwaleed, grandson of the King of Saudi Arabia and the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup and second biggest shareholder in News Corp (Murdock’s FOX “News”) doesn’t like Obama’s tax on the banks.

Who would have thought?

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Groundbreaking gay marriage trial starts in Calif

posted by GeoT
Prop. 8 trial to include unprecedented testimony

Challengers of the same-sex marriage ban plan to call to the stand homosexual couples, experts on the history of sexual discrimination and marriage, and the architects of the ballot measure.


Prop. 8 trial Day 1: Live updates from inside the courtroom:


Scholars, gay and lesbian partners and opponents of same-sex marriage are expected to testify about the nature of marriage and homosexuality during an unprecedented federal trial today to determine whether gays and lesbians may marry.

The case, Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, is expected to become a landmark that eventually will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Both sides have hired leading legal advocates with lots of experience before the high court.

San Francisco’s U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker, a Republican appointee known for independence, will decide whether Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage violates U.S. constitutional rights of equal protection and due process. Walker’s pretrial rulings have tended to favor supporters of same-sex marriage.

read more:

related story: Top US Court Halts Broadcast of Gay-Marriage Trial

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) — The US Supreme Court placed a two- day halt on the planned YouTube broadcast of a trial on the constitutionality of …

source: Business Week

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Just the Facts, Ma’am: Civilian Courts Versus Military Tribunals

Where are the Democrats and why aren’t they pushing back?


If you’re like a lot of people — say, Liz Cheney — you’ve been wondering why Barack Obama seems to think the rights of terrorists are more important than the lives of the American people and wants to give them civilian trials and let them get “lawyered up,” in the suddenly voguish phrase, so they can take advantage of sneaky liberal wrinkles in the law inserted in there by sneaky liberal defense lawyers and judges over the years. This is instead of hauling them before military tribunals, the current hot right-wing talking point.

Oh, you’re not one of those people? Okay, then. You might therefore be interested to know the following:
The Bush administration — in which Liz Cheney’s papa held a fairly high position, you might recall — prosecuted, after 9-11, 828 people on terrorism charges in civilian courts. At the time of publication of this excellent report from the Center on Law and Security, NYU School of Law last year, trials were still pending against 235 of those folks. That leaves 593 resolved indictments, of which 523 were convicted of some crime, for a conviction rate of 88%.

With regard to military tribunals, the Bush administration inaugurated 20 such cases. So far just three convictions have been won. The highest-profile is the conviction of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver. The Hamdan legal saga, rehearsed here, doesn’t exactly suggest that military tribunals provide swifter and surer and tougher justice. In the end, he was convicted all right, but sentenced — not by a bunch of New York City Democrats, but by a military jury! — to five and half years.

Then, the tribunal judge, a US Navy captain, gave Hamdan credit for time served, which was five years. So he served six months after conviction. Today he’s back in — guess where? — Yemen.

So here’s the situation. Bush/Cheney found civilian prosecution a perfectly acceptable path to pursue in 828 cases. They’ve won convictions at an impressive rate in those civilian prosecutions. The most high-profile military prosecution was kind of a disaster.

And yet, Obama is a weakling because Abdulmutallab is being treated the way the Bush administration treated 828 “suspects,” to use a word the right has declared reveals a girly-mannish mindset. Amazing. And again: where are the Democrats and why aren’t they pushing back on this?

source:

JAG: GOP Criticism Of Obama On Underwear Bomber Way Off-Base

“There is a similar mischaracterization over what can be done in terms of interrogating the detainee, claim Cullen and others. Republican critics of the president insist that Obama forfeited effective interrogation measures by declining to go the route of a military commission. But there are limitations to what even military interrogators could do with Abdulmutallab.”

If Republican critics of President Obama are to be believed, the administration made one of the biggest blunders in national security history when it placed the accused underwear bomber in the criminal justice system as opposed to the military alternative.

It’s simply not true, say legal experts, including officials who formerly served in the military tribunal system.

James Cullen, a retired brigadier general who served as a JAG officer, tells the Huffington Post that there are narrow differences between the legal and interrogation proceedings Abdulmutallab was subjected to and those which would have happened in a military commission.

Read More: Huffington Post

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