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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)

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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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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.

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Breaking News: 2 Federal Agents Shot in Las Vegas Courthouse

Posted by Audiegrl


***UPDATE Sources say the gunman is 66-year-old Johnny Lee Wicks. He was apparently angry about a reduction in his social security benefits when he stormed into the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse and opened fire.

Read the Lawsuit filed by Johnny Wicks

Sixty-five-year-old Stanley Cooper, a court security officer, and an unnamed 48-year-old deputy U.S. Marshal were gunned down when Wicks opened fire in the lobby of the federal building in downtown Las Vegas around 8 a.m. Cooper is a retired Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sergeant. A motorcade made up of dozens of police officers escorted his body from University Medical Center to the Clark County Coroner’s Office.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey said the shooting started in the main foyer and continued outside. The gunman was killed across the street from the federal building, which is located on Las Vegas Blvd. between Bridger and Bonneville Avenues. Seven U.S. Marshals and security officers were involved in the gunfire. Some witnesses say they heard between 50 to 100 shots fired.

Wicks filed a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in early 2008. In a handwritten complaint, he said discrimination had followed him from California to Nevada. Wicks wrote this about one California agent, “Doesn’t try to hide the way he feels about black people so he reduced my benefits.”

Wicks explained he suffered a stroke some years back. He claimed his benefits dropped from $886 to $445 a month and then to $128 a month.

U.S. Magistrate Judge George Foley reviewed the case and determined Wicks’ payments were reduced because Nevada, unlike California, does not provide a state supplement. When Wicks moved to Nevada he was no longer eligible for the supplement.

The case was ultimately dismissed in September of 2009.

Prior to Wicks’ arrival at the courthouse, investigators suspect he set his home on fire. He lived at Sunrise Senior Village on 30th Street in Las Vegas.


***UPDATE Marshals say they don’t know motive for shooting

***UPDATE U.S. Marshals Service Director John F. Clark said in a statement, “I can receive no news more grim or sobering than word of a line-of-duty death or injury to our U.S. Marshals personnel. … Rest assured, the brave and immediate actions of these two individuals saved lives by stopping the threat of a reckless and callous gunman who had no regard for who or how many victims were struck down by his senseless actions. They are heroes.”

***UPDATE 8 News Now has learned that the Deputy U.S. Marshal suffered buckshot wounds to his head and hand. At least five federal agents shot the gunman killing him. The gunman’s body is outside of the federal building. The court security officer is identified as being 65-year-old retired Metro Sgt.

***UPDATE (AP)~~Hospital official says a court officer in Las Vegas federal building shooting has died.

Suspected gunman is shot dead, FBI says

The Lloyd George Federal Building in Las Vegas

MSNBC—Two federal agents were shot Monday when a gunman opened fire in the lobby of a federal building in downtown Las Vegas, and the gunman was shot and killed, the FBI said.

We have two marshals down,” Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Roxanna Lea Irwin said after the shooting ended at about 8 a.m. local time.

The condition of the federal agents was not immediately known.

Police and other federal agents swarmed the multi-story building, and paramedics wheeled at least two people out and down a ramp to ambulances. There was no immediate word on the identity of the shooter.

Las Vegas police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said the gunman had been shot in the head.

It looks like he went in there and just started unloading,” Morgan said.

The multi-story building houses federal courts and offices for federal officials including U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign.

Irwin said she saw shotgun casings on the floor of the lobby.

Two Shot at Las Vegas Courthouse

Police block off the area around the federal courthouse in Las Vegas on Monday.

CNN—Two people were shot Monday in the lobby of a federal courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada, police said.

The shooting suspect was shot and killed, FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey said.

The incident occurred about 8 a.m., said Barbara Morgan, spokeswoman for Las Vegas Metropolitan Police.

The two victims were a deputy U.S. marshal and a court security officer, according to U.S. Marshals spokesman Jeff Carter.

Authorities were in the process of evacuating the building, Dickey said.

One person was dead at the scene, and two others were transported to University Medical Center in unknown condition, according to Tim Szymanski, spokesman for the Las Vegas Fire Department.

No one else was in the lobby at the time of the incident, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said.

This report will be updated as information becomes available.

On YouTube, a man who claimed to have a jury summons captured audio of the shots (contains graphic language):
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Special agent Joseph Dickey confirms that two federal agents were shot in Las Vegas Monday. One suspect was shot and killed, according to Dickey.

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Sotomayor’s Opinion Marks the Supreme Court’s First Use of the Term ‘undocumented immigrant.’

Posted by Audiegrl

ThinkProgress.org/Amanda Terkel—Yesterday, the Supreme Court “released its first four decisions in argued cases this term,” including one marking Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s debut.

In an otherwise dry opinion, Justice Sotomayor did introduce one new and politically charged term into the Supreme Court lexicon.

Justice Sotomayor’s opinion in the case, Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678, marked the first use of the term “undocumented immigrant,” according to a legal database. The term “illegal immigrant” has appeared in a dozen decisions.

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Sotomayor Draws Retort From Fellow Justice Clarance Thomas

New York Times/Adam Liptak—The Supreme Court released its first four decisions in argued cases this term on Tuesday. They were all minor, but one was notable for being Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court debut and for prompting a testy concurrence from Justice Clarence Thomas.

The case concerned whether federal trial-court rulings concerning the lawyer-client privilege may be appealed right away. Justice Sotomayor, with methodical reasoning and a formal writing style, said no.

Justice Sotomayor said that result was dictated by sound policy and was consistent with a law governing appeals.

The decision was unanimous, but Justice Clarence Thomas declined to join the part of Justice Sotomayor’s opinion discussing why the cost of allowing immediate appeals outweighs the possibility that candid communications between lawyers and their clients might be chilled.

In a concurrence, Justice Thomas took a swipe at his new colleague, saying she had “with a sweep of the court’s pen” substituted “value judgments” and “what the court thinks is a good idea” for the text of a federal law.

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If your wondering about that sound your hearing? Don’t worry, it’s just Lou Dobbs’ head exploding. 😉

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Democrats crush filibuster: court nominee survives Senate test

WASHINGTON—Democrats on Tuesday crushed a Senate filibuster against a controversial appeals court nominee, demonstrating to Republicans they can’t stop President Barack Obama from turning the federal judiciary to the left.

U.S. District Judge David Hamilton

The 70-29 vote limited debate over the qualifications of U.S. District Judge David Hamilton of Indiana, and assured his elevation to the Chicago-based appeals court. Sixty votes were needed to end the filibuster, but confirmation only requires a simple majority of the 100-member Senate.

Ten Republicans went against their own party leaders and voted to limit debate.

The vote emphatically warned Republicans that with only 40 senators, they’re too outnumbered to prevent Obama from making major inroads into a judiciary that was populated over eight years with conservative judges chosen by President George W. Bush.

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Her Honor: A Portrait of Justice Soñia Sotomayor

Posted by Audiegrl

Justice Sonia SotomayerLatina Magazine/Shani Saxon-Parrish—America has never before met a wise Latina like Soñia Sotomayor. Latina contributor and former Editor-in-Chief Sandra Guzmán offers the first glimpse of the woman behind the robe in this exclusive profile of the newly minted Supreme Court justice.

Here is an excerpt from this fascinating story:

I first met Soñia in 1998, after she had been sworn in as a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. I was the Editor-in-Chief of Latina, and a mutual friend, New York attorney Lee Llambelis, suggested that Sotomayor was someone I should meet since I’d probably want to write an article on her (which appeared in our March 1999 issue). Sotomayor’s life story not only inspired readers, but also captivated me.

Since then, we’ve been to each other’s homes for dinner and shared many sweet, honest and confidential conversations. A doting hostess, she puts together cheese platters, makes tasty salads and hooks up a mean churrasco with a tangy lemon marinade. This past spring, she promised to share some of her culinary secrets, so we set a date to fire up the grill in her small yet superb two-bedroom condo in the heart of NYC’s Greenwich Village. Soñia thought things would finally slow down for her by the summer—but that’s when things really started heating up.

During those grueling confirmation hearings in July, Republican senators Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions and Jon Kyl dissected her now-famous “wise Latina” phrase, uttered during an inspirational lecture to Latino law students at the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 2001.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, administers the Constitutional Oath to Judge Soñia Sotomayor in the Justices’ Conference Room on Aug 8, 2009. Mrs. Celina Sotomayor, the mother of the new Associate Justice, holds the family Bible during the ceremony.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, administers the Constitutional Oath to Judge Soñia Sotomayor in the Justices’ Conference Room on Aug 8, 2009. Mrs. Celina Sotomayor, the mother of the new Associate Justice, holds the family Bible during the ceremony

The senators aggressively argued that her remarks proved she would bring bias and a liberal agenda to the bench. But Sotomayor repeatedly explained that her comments were part of a regrettable “rhetorical flourish that fell flat.” “I want to state up front, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any ethnic, racial or gender group has an advantage in sound judging,” she said. She added that she was simply trying “to inspire young Hispanics, Latino students and lawyers to believe that their life experiences added value to the process.’’

As the new personification of an intellectual rock star, Sotomayor has been inundated with interview requests—from Vogue to Newsweek, El País to Le Monde. But the new justice has yet to agree to a sit-down, aside from one she granted C-Span for a documentary on the Supreme Court. When I asked about a formal interview for this magazine, she told me, “I am not doing interviews and have said no to everyone. I do not want to be seen as having favorites.”

She did, however, agree to have her portrait taken for the cover and inside pages. And she went as far as granting me her blessing: “You will have to write based on our history together.”

And that’s exactly what I’ve done.

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