Archive | Blind Justice

Precedent

I thought this was pretty interesting. Guess this blows the whole Tea Party argument, huh:

(CNN) — Officials from 14 states have gone to court to block the historic overhaul of the U.S. health care system that President Obama signed into law Tuesday, arguing the law’s requirement that individuals buy health insurance violates the Constitution.

Thirteen of those officials filed suit in a federal court in Pensacola, Florida, minutes after Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The complaint calls the act an “unprecedented encroachment on the sovereignty of the states” and asks a judge to block its enforcement.

“The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage,” the lawsuit states.

In July, 1798, Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen,” authorizing the creation of a marine hospital service, and mandating privately employed sailors to purchase healthcare insurance.

This legislation also created America’s first payroll tax, as a ship’s owner was required to deduct 20 cents from each sailor’s monthly pay and forward those receipts to the service, which in turn provided injured sailors hospital care. Failure to pay or account properly was discouraged by requiring a law violating owner or ship’s captain to pay a 100 dollar fine.

A Real Liberal Nominee

Credit where credit is due – this is a solid liberal appointment and a noted constitutional scholar — things that paint a target on his back to the anti-intellectual right wing. Liu isn’t a “safe” choice, so I have to assume Obama’s prepared to go to the mat for him, since the usual suspects are already smearing him:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Thirteen months into his presidency, Barack Obama finally gave liberal supporters the kind of judicial nominee they had sought and conservatives feared.

Goodwin Liu, 39, is an unabashed liberal legal scholar who, if confirmed, could become a force on the federal appeals court for decades. There’s talk that in time, the Rhodes Scholar, former high court clerk and current assistant dean and law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, could be the first person of Asian descent chosen for the Supreme Court.

“I can easily imagine him” as a high court nominee, said Erwin Chemerinsky, a Liu supporter and dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine.

Obama’s choice of Liu for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco drew quick and vociferous criticism from conservatives. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, described Liu as “far outside the mainstream of American jurisprudence.”

For the first time, Obama seemed to be taking a page from the playbook of recent Republican presidents who nominated conservatives in their 30s and 40s with the expectation they would have enduring influence in setting policy on the federal bench.

A Case Study in Liberal Media

It got a brief mention on some of the cable channels, but the only major TV network that carried live coverage of this healthcare reform rally in D.C. yesterday was Fox – and then, only to ridicule it:

The reason? AHIP, the health insurance lobbying organization, was meeting in (where else?) the Ritz-Carlton. A coalition of groups led by unions including SEIU, AFSCME, UFCW and Health Care for American Now declared the meeting site a “corporate crime scene” and attempted to make a citizens’ arrest:

In a reverse twist on the old protestors’ tactic of getting arrested to make a point, union leaders and other backers of President Obama’s healthcare plan issued “citizen’s arrest” warrants for health insurance executives Tuesday – accusing them of exploiting consumers.

The “warrants,” delivered to police during a demonstration outside an insurance industry meeting at a Washington hotel, were an attempt to dramatize protestors’ call for insurance reform – and to build public support for the Democrats’ healthcare legislation.

The demonstration, which drew several thousand protestors from as far away as Illinois and California, was organized by groups that for more than a year have pushed Congress to create a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers as part of national healthcare overhaul.

While that policy objective, known as the public option, is not part of the healthcare legislation pending in Congress, the groups are nonetheless mounting a multi-million dollar campaign to promote the bill. The effort will continue in coming weeks, with more demonstrations, paid advertising and other events, including a hearing to take place Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Boy, there was a time when you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing someone about Tea Party rallies. I guess the only way you can get on TV these days is to be on the side of the insurance companies.

Arrested for Drinking in a Bar

I thought Philly cops were rough, but this is too absurd for words:

LATE ON A BALMY Saturday night last June, six Fort Worth cops and two officers from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission went looking for trouble. They had just raided two Hispanic bars in an industrial stretch of town and nine detainees now sat in the paddy wagon (pdf), hands bound with plastic ties. The rest of the city’s bars would soon shut down. It seemed like the night was over, except for the paperwork. Then Sergeant Richard Morris had an idea. “Hey,” he said. “Let’s go to the Rainbow Lounge.”

A half-dozen police cruisers, an unmarked sedan, and the prisoner van slid to a stop in front of the Rainbow Lounge, Fort Worth’s newest gay club, at about 1:30 a.m. on June 28, 2009—40 years, almost down to the minute, after New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn with billy clubs and bullhorns. Inside the bar, the officers fanned out, grabbing and arresting six patrons for public intoxication. Benjamin Guttery, a 24-year-old Army vet, says an officer told him to put down his drink, then “bulldozed” him through the crowd to the paddy wagon but then let him go. “I’m 6’8″, 250 pounds, and I had just finished my second drink,” Guttery told a local reporter. “I might have had enough to have a loose tongue, but not a loose walk or anything like that.” Another man alleges that he was slammed against a wall, elbowed, and fell on the ground, landing him in intensive care for a week with bleeding in his brain. He was charged with public intoxication and assault.

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes absurdity in law enforcement. Most states and towns have public intoxication laws that allow peace officers to pick up the drunk and disorderly. But in the Lone Star State, the nation’s broadest PI law lets cops go virtually anywhere and arrest anyone for drunkenness—even if they’re quietly nursing a beer in a bar.

Arrested for drinking in a bar? Sounds like the ultimate catch-22. Since 2006, when Texas overtook California as the state with the most drunk-driving fatalities, cops and a beefed-up task force from the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission have used a 1993 law as a pretext to enter any bar and arrest its patrons on the spot. The public intoxication standard, backed by the Texas-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is so broad that you can be arrested on just a police officer’s hunch, without being given a Breathalyzer or field sobriety test. State courts have not only upheld the practice but expanded the definition of public intoxication to cover pretty much any situation, says Robert Guest, a criminal defense attorney in Dallas. “Having no standard allows the police to arrest whoever pisses them off and call it PI,” he says, adding, “If you have a violent, homophobic, or just an asshole of a cop and you give him the arbitrary power to arrest anyone for PI, you can expect violent, homophobic, and asshole-ic behavior.”

Gee. I wonder how many people they arrest in the superboxes at a Dallas Cowboys game.

Meet The New Boss

Very good, lengthy piece from TNR on SCOTUS judicial activism under John Roberts (who I warned about from the moment his nomination was announced):

It’s impossible, at the moment, to tell whether the reaction to Citizens United will be the beginning of a torrential backlash or will fade into the ether. But John Roberts is now entering politically hazardous territory. Without being confident either way, I still hope that he has enough political savvy and historical perspective to recognize and avoid the shoals ahead. There’s little doubt, however, that the success or failure of his tenure will turn on his ability to align his promises of restraint with the reality of his performance. Roberts may feel just as confident that he knows the “right” answer in cases like Peek-a-Boo as he did in Citizens United. But political backlashes are hard to predict, contested constitutional visions can’t be successfully imposed by 5-4 majorities, and challenging the president and Congress on matters they care intensely about is a dangerous game. We’ve seen wellintentioned but unrestrained chief justices overplay their hands in the past–and it always ends badly for the Court.

Somehow, I don’t think he has anything to worry about with this Congress. Call it a hunch!

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