Category Archives: Law

Suddenly the Left Likes Justice Roberts

Ever notice how the Left lauds conservatives when they side with liberals? That’s the suck of the Washington Swamp.

Roberts has labored for the past 13 years to keep the judiciary branch as a sacrosanct institution, able to rule on the most contentious issues of the day — guns, abortion, health care — without succumbing to the vitriol of presidential and congressional politics. That has sometimes led Roberts to put aside his own conservative conviction, most notably in his 2012 defense of the Affordable Care Act in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.

Though he has also sided plenty of times with the court’s conservative bloc, his relative moderation suggests that the umpire imagery of his confirmation hearing was not merely vote-seeking rhetoric. An analysis of his decisions by the polling and politics site FiveThirtyEight even wondered if Roberts was “a secret liberal.”

Justice Kavanaugh

Ahhhhh

The US Senate has voted to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, after weeks of rancorous debate.

The Senate backed Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination by 50 votes to 48.

Make not mistake, the controversy over this appointment did not have anything to do with Brett Kavanaugh. Trump could have appointed a new RBG and the same thing would have happened. The anti-Trump derangement coupled with the fury of the midterm elections have pushed the liberals into a mass hysteria.

Thankfully, sanity prevailed and we were able to put a good, smart, man on the court who will respect our constitution.

Congratulations, Justice Kavanaugh.

One Judge

From Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn.

ONE JUDGE. Our country is bitterly divided over the nomination of one judge to fill one seat on one court. Think about that. This began long before the recent allegations came to light. Our political leaders have, since Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, described this as a fight for the future of our country. But should the appointment of one judge really cause such significant social division?

In our constitutional order, judges were meant to have a modest role, applying the law to the facts of individual cases. Alexander Hamilton assured his readers in Federalist 78 that the judiciary was designed to be the “least dangerous branch.” But over time, increasingly political judges have assumed an increasingly significant role over American life. As judges began to act more like legislators, is it any wonder that the American people and their representatives treat them so?

Indeed. The anger that is rending the country is a symptom of the fact that we have invested far too much power in the Supreme Court.

“Independent Contractor” Case goes before SCOTUS

This is a case that could have a huge impact on the economy and labor relations.

In New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, No. 17-340, the justices heard the case of Dominic Oliveira, a long-haul truck driver who filed a suit against the transportation outfit New Prime three years ago, alleging that the company failed to pay him minimum wage and at times even charged him for working.

The case pits business interests against labor groups in the first major case of the term that could have consequences for hundreds of thousands of American workers and potentially millions of consumers. It could shape an industry that generates more than half a trillion dollars in annual revenue.

The case also raises questions about the use of the “independent contractor” designation to reduce pay and benefits for workers who perform essentially identical work as employees. On that front, the court’s decision could have ramifications for virtually every sector of the economy.

I can see both sides of this. On the one hand, if a contractor is doing essentially the same full time work as an employee, then it’s a distinction without a difference. On the other hand, why should the federal government be inserting itself in the employer/employee/contractor relationship? Some people prefer contract work because of the flexibility and ability to create a business around multiple contracts. Then again, an employer shouldn’t be able to absolve itself from the work of contractors just because they aren’t officially employees.

By the letter of the law that’s involved, I believe that the court should come down in favor of the contractor, but it does open up the larger question of what legal distinctions there are, or should be, between contractors and employees.

Claim: Facebook Fails to Protect Moderators from Mental Trauma

Who’s watching over the watchers?

A former Facebook contract employee has lodged a suit against the company, alleging that content moderators who face mental trauma after reviewing distressing images on the platform are not being properly protected by the social networking giant.

Facebook moderators under contract are “bombarded” with “thousands of videos, images and livestreamed broadcasts of child sexual abuse, rape, torture, bestiality, beheadings, suicide and murder”, the lawsuit said.

“Facebook is ignoring its duty to provide a safe workplace and instead creating a revolving door of contractors who are irreparably traumatized by what they witnessed on the job,” Korey Nelson, a lawyer for former Facebook contract employee Selena Scola, said in a statement Monday.

Facebook in the past has said all of its content reviewers have access to mental health resources, including trained professionals onsite for both individual and group counseling, and they receive full health care benefits.

Baseless Accusation Against Kavanaugh Shouldn’t Delay Vote

This is nuts. Even the BBC reporter has some very valid questions:

There are plenty of reasonable, sensitive questions arising from the Kavanaugh/Ford story.

First and most important, is the alleged incident true? Do the therapists’ notes, which have some flaws, count as corroboration?

If the incident is true, to what extent does it have a relevant bearing on the judge’s character today, 36 years later?

If no other women come forward with similar accusations, should it be dismissed as the egregious but one-off failing of a teenager?

If it’s not true, why was it raised it now and what impact should it have on both the judge and his accuser?

All of these questions are open for debate in a sensible, thoughtful way. I for one don’t have clear answers on any of them.

In the end, this is just going to be a he said/she said about something that happened over 30 years ago. People who don’t want Kavanaugh confirmed are going to insist that the accusation is true. Reasonable people will wonder why this is only coming up now. None of it has anything to do with the character of the man in 2018 or his lengthy tenure as a lawyer and judge.

Take the vote.

DOJ Employees Sign Non-Disclosure

Here we go again with the liberal Milwaukee paper trying to make something out of nothing.

What goes on at the state Department of Justice stays in the state Department of Justice.

So says Attorney General Brad Schimel.

On Aug. 10, staffers at his agency were sent an email instructing them to sign a nondisclosure agreement barring them from revealing any confidential information about their work — not just during their time in office but even after they leave the state.

The email then included a spreadsheet with the names of 129 employees who had yet to sign the one-page statement.

“If your name is on the attached list, please print and sign the attached Agreement,” the email says.

According to a copy of the agreement, it applies not just to current full-time employees but also “limited term employees, contractors, interns, externs and law enforcement partners.”

The DOJ deals with some of the most sensitive and confidential information in government. As long as they are equally vigilant about providing public information subject to the open records law, we citizens want DOJ employees to keep the rest confidential.

Democratic Candidate for Attorney General Supports Unconstitutional Obamacare

What a simplistic argument.

Oral arguments on a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act took place Wednesday in Texas. The democratic candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General said the state would not be a part of it if he is elected.

Josh Kaul called the lawsuit led by current attorney general Brad Schimel wrong and not in the best interest of Wisconsinites. Obamacare prohibited insurers from denying coverage to someone with a pre-existing condition.

Kaul says over two million residents in the state has one of these conditions.

“We just shouldn’t have people who are unable to have access to health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition. We certainly shouldn’t have our attorney general using our tax dollars to fight to take protections away from Wisconsinites,” Kaul said.

Obamacare was SO MUCH BIGGER than just the provision regarding pre-existing conditions. But he focuses on that because that’s one of the few parts of it that was popular. And the media let’s it stand unchallenged. What does Kaul think about the other parts of Obamacare? Is he cool with the individual mandate? How about the ballooning costs? Does he like the drastically reduced options through the Obamacare exchanges – with some counties having only one option? Does Kaul love him some higher taxes? Obamacare is full of those. What about the fact that it is utterly unconstitutional (and yes, Roberts was wrong)?

I guess if you really like Obamacare that you should vote for Josh Kaul. Duly noted.

Kavanaugh Hearing Begins

Heh.

As his confirmation hearings begin, an ABC News/Washington Post poll finds the public evenly divided on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court – among the lowest support levels for a high court nominee in polling back to 1987.

Six in 10 Americans also say Kavanaugh should publicly state his position on abortion before being confirmed. And there’s a substantial shift from 2005 in views on how the court should deal with abortion access – fewer say it should make it harder to get an abortion, more say the court should make it easier.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans say Kavanaugh should be confirmed, 39 percent not, with the rest undecided in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Only two nominees have had weaker public support: Harriet Miers, who withdrew her nomination, in 2005; and Robert Bork, rejected by the Senate in 1987.

The lefty media seems to be in high frenzy about this. I would point out that I highly doubt that 6 in 10 Americans could name 2 things on Kavanaugh’s resume that qualifies him, or disqualifies him, from sitting on the Supreme Court. The reason that this process is set up the way it is and the Justices have lifetime appointments is precisely to insulate them from the whims of public opinion. If we are going to start listening to polls when appointing SCOTUS justices, then we should just make them elected positions like in Wisconsin.

Hopefully the Senate will ignore the manufactured wails from the media and get this done in a professional and efficient manner.

Taxpayers On Hook for Illegal Promise by UWO Chancellor

Ugh.

OSHKOSH – The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh must pay $15 million to cover the debts of the university’s private foundation in connection to several high-profile building projects, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

That puts the foundation’s outstanding debt, ultimately, on the taxpayers of Wisconsin. However, the state can, and likely will, appeal the decision.

Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan Kelley issued a partial summary judgment Wednesday, saying letters from two former UW-Oshkosh administrators, promising to use university money to bail out the foundation, constitute enforceable contracts and therefore must be honored.

Irrespective of what the letters said, the administrators were not legally permitted to make that commitment on behalf of the taxpayers any more than I am. It seems to me that the Foundation’s recourse is to sue the former administrators.

Street Car Menace in Milwaukee

I realize that this is coming from a law firm looking to cash in, but the injuries are real. This street car looks like it’s a menace.

Three motorcycle riders have crashed on the same section of tracks for the Milwaukee Streetcar, according to a Milwaukee law firm representing the injured riders.

Attorneys with Hupy and Abraham say they are now concerned about the safety of the thousands of riders in town for Harley Davidson’s 115th Anniversary.

The area of concern is on St. Paul Avenue just west of Water Street. One victim said he tried to cross the tracks to get into the left turn lane when his tire got stuck.

Mom Questioned for Allowing Daughter to Walk Dog Alone

This is nuts.

An Illinois mother-of-two says she had been investigated by child services for allowing her eight-year-old daughter to walk the family dog by herself in their neighborhood.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, 48-year-old Corey Widen, of Wilmette, said earlier this month, someone called the police on her after seeing her child outside with her Maltese puppy, Marshmallow, without an adult around.

Police interviewed the mother and decided not to pursue criminal charges, but the incident trigged a two-week investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

[…]

After hearing Widen’s response, the officers left without charging her with child neglect.

Under Illinois state law, child neglect is defined as leaving a minor younger than 14 ‘without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety or welfare of that minor.’

Judge Hagedorn Announces Run for Supreme Court

Great!

 

hagedorn

Muslim Woman Wins Judgement for Not Shaking Hands

It really annoys me when stuff like this has to go to a court when common decency and understanding should prevail.

A Muslim woman in Sweden has won compensation after her job interview was ended when she refused a handshake.

Farah Alhajeh was applying for a job as an interpreter when she declined to shake the hand of a male interviewer for religious reasons.

She placed her hand over her heart in greeting instead.

The Swedish labour court ruled the company had discriminated against her and ordered it to pay 40,000 kronor ($4,350; £3,420) in compensation.

Some Muslims avoid physical contact with members of the opposite sex, except for those in their immediate family.

[…]

The interpreting company in the town of Uppsala had argued that its staff were required to treat men and women equally and could not allow a staff member to refuse a handshake based on gender.

But the discrimination ombudsman said she had tried to avoid upsetting anyone by placing her hand over her heart when greeting both men and women.

Sweden’s labour court found the company was justified in demanding equal treatment for both sexes – but not in demanding that it be in the form of a handshake only.

The Muslim tradition of avoiding physical contact with strangers of the opposite sex is well-known and perfectly fine. Some Christian, Jewish, and other religions have the same cultural quirk. And it’s fine… who cares? She woman in the case didn’t make a big deal about it and offered a perfectly reasonable alternative greeting. How many thousands of kronors were wasted to tell everyone in the case to “just don’t be a jerk”?

Shulteis to be Washington County Sheriff

Congrats to Marty Shulteis!

County voters were blessed with two great men on the ballot for this office. It’s nice to have an election where you can’t go wrong.

Judge Orders Stop to Online Plans for 3D Guns

This is a fascinating issue, but I hope we can all agree that it is something that should be decided by our elected officials through legislation and not by some State Department bureaucrat or lone judge in Seattle.

A federal judge on Tuesday stopped the release of blueprints to make untraceable and undetectable 3D-printed plastic guns as President Donald Trump questioned whether his administration should have agreed to allow the plans to be posted online.

The company behind the plans, Austin, Texas-based Defense Distributed, had reached a settlement with the federal government in June allowing it to make the plans for the guns available for download on Wednesday.

The restraining order from U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik in Seattle puts that plan on hold for now. “There is a possibility of irreparable harm because of the way these guns can be made,” he said.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson called the ruling “a complete, total victory.”

On the issue itself, in a free society, everything should be legal for citizens to do until the government has a justifiable reason to prohibit it – assuming that any such prohibition doesn’t violate the citizens’ civil rights. In this case, homemade weapons have been around since time immemorial. And in a nation of 300 million or so legal guns, I can’t imagine that a few hobbyist guns made with a 3D printer will have any measurable impact on anything. Leave it alone.

TSA Is Watching You

I don’t know how effective this is, but LEOs watching what people do in public isn’t anything new or worrisome.

Federal air marshals have been secretly tracking dozens of American travelerseach day who aren’t listed on government watch lists or suspected of a crime, The Boston Globe reported this weekend.

The Transportation Security Administration program, dubbed “Quiet Skies,” has existed since 2010 as an effort to mitigate the threat “posed by unknown or partially-known terrorists” after identifying people based on their travel history or other criteria. Air marshals then track such passengers and document their behavior at airports and in-flight, including how often they go to the bathroom, how many hours they sleep, if a traveler has “strong body odor” or “wide open, staring eyes.”

According to a bulletin issued by the agency in March and obtained by the Globe, the TSA tracks around 35 people every day. Which means thousands of Americans have been surveilled under the program since its inception.

Although some air marshals have criticized the program as expensive and ineffective, the TSA defended it in a statement to The Washington Post on Sunday, comparing the marshals to neighborhood law enforcement.

“We are no different than the cop on the corner who is placed there because there is an increased possibility that something might happen,” agency spokesman James Gregory told the Post. “When you’re in a tube at 30,000 feet … it makes sense to put someone there.”

“The program analyzes information on a passenger’s travel patterns while taking the whole picture into account,” Gregory added. “If that person does all that stuff, and the airplane lands safely and they move on, the behavior will be noted, but they will not be approached or apprehended,”

Seattle Sued Over Gun Regulation

I love the response here.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has filed a lawsuit against Seattle over the city’s new gun legislation.

The NRA, a gun rights group called The Second Amendment Foundation and two gun-owning Seattle individuals accuse the city of violating the state’s preemption statute with its new “safe storage” gun law, according to KOMO News.

The law, passed earlier this year, orders gun owners to safely store firearms or face fines of up to $10,000. The steepest fine would occur if a minor uses an unsecured firearm to cause injury or commit a crime.

The city of Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), the Seattle Police Department and Police Chief Carmen Best are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, claims that Washington state law prohibits Seattle and other localities from adopting gun laws that supersede state authority.

“Seattle seems to think it should be treated differently than any other local government when it comes to firearm regulation,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told KOMO News. “We should not have to repeatedly remind Seattle that they are still part of Washington state and must obey the law.”

Durkan responded to the lawsuit in a statement, saying that the safe storage law is needed to “prevent tragedies,” and that city officials will “continue to push for more protection for our children.”

In the Mayor’s mind, it doesn’t matter if the law is illegal or unconstitutional. It’s for the “greater good,” as she sees it, so all opposition and finer points of law are irrelevant.

FBI Refuses to Answer

Put aside the specific issue, Trump, Gowdy, etc. and consider this in the abstract. What we have here is Congress trying to exercise its Constitutional oversight authority over a law enforcement agency in the Executive Branch, and that agency refusing to cooperate. Abolish ICE? It might be time to abolish the FBI. Which agency has abused the civil rights of more Americans during its existence?

A House Judiciary Committee hearing quickly spiraled into chaos on Thursday when FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok said he couldn’t answer a question related to the Russia investigation because the FBI’s lawyers had instructed him not to, leading the committee’s chairman, Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to threaten to hold Strzok in contempt.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., asked Strzok — whose anti-Trump text messages led to his removal from the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller — how many interviews he conducted in the first week of the probe.

“Congressman, as you know, counsel for the FBI, based on the special counsel’s equities, has instructed me not to answer questions about the ongoing investigation into Russian attempts to interfere,” Strzok replied.

Gowdy repeated his question and Strzok repeated his answer, infuriating Goodlatte.

“Mr. Strzok, you are under subpoena and are required to answer the question,” Goodlatte said. “Are you objecting to the question?”

Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh for SCOTUS

By all reports, Judge Kavanaugh is a solid, traditional, judicial conservative. In another era, he would not be controversial at all. Trump is delivering on his promise of nominating great judges.

Mr Kavanaugh has served since 2006 on the influential US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and was formerly a White House aide under George W Bush.

He previously worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Democratic former president Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

[…]

He is the kind of judge a President Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney would have picked – a man with an established legal pedigree and a reputation as a reliably conservative jurist.

If the party sticks together, the president’s choice will be sitting on the Supreme Court when its new term starts in October.

President Trump campaigned with a promise to conservatives that he would fill the federal courts, from the top on down, with judges to their liking.

It’s a promise that has helped cement near-record levels of support for his presidency from Republican voters – and for good reason.

Mr Trump is securing a conservative judiciary for a generation.