Category Archives: Law

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.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules for Academic Liberty

It is almost ironic that Conservatives are the ones who have to fight in court for academic freedom. That used to be a cause that liberals supported.

July 6, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI — Today the Supreme Court of Wisconsin delivered a clear, decisive victory for our client, Dr. John McAdams, a conservative political science professor who was indefinitely suspended by Marquette University for blogging on a controversial topic. The victory ends a nearly four year fight between the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty and Marquette University to have McAdams reinstated.

As we have argued since the beginning, the only thing Professor McAdams wants to do is to teach students with the academic freedom protections promised by Marquette University. And, because of today’s ruling, McAdams will be back in the classroom very soon.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice Dan Kelly, found that Professor McAdams’ blog post in defense of an undergraduate student – and criticizing a graduate student instructor – could not possibly have shown him to be unfit as a member of Marquette’s faculty, and Marquette’s decision to fire him violated its contractual promise to protect his academic freedom.

In addition, according to the Court, a faculty member’s expression of opinion as a citizen cannot constitute grounds for dismissal unless it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness for his or her position. The Court rejected the notion that disciplinary decisions regarding free speech by faculty members should be made by administration or faculty. The concept of academic freedom is worthless unless it protects expression which is opposed by the institution and is unpopular with most of the faculty.

Furthermore, today’s decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court relies on one of the simplest rules of fairness – you cannot punish somebody for violating a rule that did not exist when it was supposedly “broken.” Universities are free to create rules – even strict rules – about what their tenured professors can and cannot say publicly. What they cannot do is make up rules after the fact to punish a professor they want to get rid of.

Supreme Power

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday. And now that I’ve ruminated and griped about how much power we have ceded to an unelected branch of government, the realities of today dictate that we must get a good, constructionist jurist in place before the election.

The Supreme Court of the Unites States completed its session with a flurry of mostly good rulings and Justice Anthony Kennedy added an exclamation point by announcing his retirement. With the prospect of President Trump’s second appointment to the court looming, every politician and special interest in America has launched into battle as if the world depended on the outcome.

I can’t help but feel a deep sense of sadness for the state of our republic. It was never supposed to be like this.

Somehow we have drifted from Judge Marshall’s opinion in Marbury v. Madison, “that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument” to a point where the Supreme Court of the United States is routinely called the “final arbiter of the Constitution” without so much as a second thought. But interpretation and enforcement of the Constitution is not the sole responsibility of the Supreme Court. Even Marshall acknowledged this fact when he includes “other departments” in the quote above. Those “other departments” are the other two branches of government.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It supersedes anything generated by any part of the government. This is what Marshall meant when he wrote: “The Constitution is either a superior, paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means, or it is on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and, like other acts, is alterable when the legislature shall please to alter it.

If the former part of the alternative be true, then a legislative act contrary to the Constitution is not law: if the latter part be true, then written constitutions are absurd attempts, on the part of the people, to limit a power in its own nature illimitable.”

In other words, a written constitution is meaningless if it is able to be quashed by a simple act of the legislature or by an arbitrary regulation from the executive. It is the responsibility of every branch of the government to maintain the integrity of the Constitution.

It is worth noting that Marshall closed his opinion by pointing out that the oath taken by judges obligates the judges to place the Constitution above other considerations. The oath taken by a judge reads, in part: “I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

This portion of a federal judge’s oath is also included in the oath taken by a soldier, a senator, a congressman and, most notably, a new United States citizen. Just as a new citizen must verbally vow to support and defend the Constitution, each natural- born American citizen implicitly adheres to the same oath as a duty of citizenship. It is every citizen’s duty to support and defend the Constitution.

It must be remembered that the Constitution is a document that restricts what the federal government can do. The federal government is specifically denied the power to do anything outside of the specific powers delegated to it in the Constitution.

Since the Constitution is a shackle for government, why would we make an institution of that government “the final arbiter” of its meaning and extent? That is like letting a child be the final arbiter on how much Halloween candy is permissible to eat in one sitting. Just as that child would end up bloated and sick, so too would a government left to decide its own boundaries.

The current apoplectic fury over the appointment of a single judge of a ninejudge panel of a single branch of our three-branch government is symptomatic of the degeneration of our adherence to our Constitution. As a people, we Americans have ceded the responsibility of binding our government to the tenets of our Constitution to an unelected branch of that same government. We have permitted the pendulum of power to be permanently stuck on the side of the government.

The result has been predictable. Our federal government routinely acts well outside its constitutional boundaries with not only the consent, but the adulation of much of the citizenry.

As the federal government’s overseers, it is the American people’s historic responsibility to fasten tight the constitutional fetters with which we bind our government and closely guard the key. Yet over the past two centuries, we have fallen asleep on our watch and left the keys dangling within easy reach of our charge.

I do not fault the political factions in our nation for waging a rhetorically bloody crusade for control of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has become the nuclear weapon of the modern American political landscape, control of which dictates supremacy. At the same time, every citizen should take to heart the words written in our Declaration of Independence: “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The Supreme Court only has as much power as Americans consent to give it.

 

Supreme Power

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. You can find the whole thing by following the link. Here’s a snippet:

Since the Constitution is a shackle for government, why would we make an institution of that government “the final arbiter” of its meaning and extent? That is like letting a child be the final arbiter on how much Halloween candy is permissible to eat in one sitting. Just as that child would end up bloated and sick, so too would a government left to decide its own boundaries.

The current apoplectic fury over the appointment of a single judge of a nine judge panel of a single branch of our three-branch government is symptomatic of the degeneration of our adherence to our Constitution. As a people, we Americans have ceded the responsibility of binding our government to the tenets of our Constitution to an unelected branch of that same government. We have permitted the pendulum of power to be permanently stuck on the side of the government.

The result has been predictable. Our federal government routinely acts well outside its constitutional boundaries with not only the consent, but the adulation of much of the citizenry.

Trump to Nominate SCOTUS Pick on July 9th

Push forward!

President Donald Trump told reporters on Friday that he would announce his choice to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on July 9 – a choice that he will likely make from a previously released list of 25 potential nominees.

Trump made the comments aboard Air Force One and added that may meet with two contenders in Bedminster, New Jersey this weekend. He said he will meet with six or seven candidates but has narrowed his list down to five people, including two women, before announcing his nominee. He said it was a group of “highly talented, very brilliant, mostly conservative judges.”

“Well we have great people, you know, we have 25 pretty outstanding people. I like them all but I’ve got it down to about five,” Trump told reporters on Friday.

When asked if he was looking for someone who would overturn Roe v. Wade, Trump said he wouldn’t be asking the candidates about the landmark abortion case.

The reporters are going to have a one track mind about Roe, aren’t they? Did they forget that Trump is pro abortion?

Anthony Kennedy Steps Down

Thank you for your service, Justice Kennedy.

Anthony Kennedy retiring from Supreme Court

  • Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy will step down at the end of July.
  • The departure gives President Trump a second opportunity to fundamentally alter the nation’s top court for decades.
  • Senate Republicans plans to move quickly on appointing a successor as the two major parties fight for control of the Senate in November.

Now the GOP needs to get their act together and put a replacement on the bench before the election. They need to give the voters a reason to return them to the majority in the Senate.

SCOTUS Rules Against Forced Union Dues

Excellent. Forced unionization has been a century-long stain on the freedom of association.

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court has barred public-employee contracts requiring workers to pay union dues, dealing a severe blow to perhaps the strongest remaining redoubt of the American labor movement.

The 5-4 vote, along conservative-liberal lines, overruled a 1977 precedent that had fueled the growth of public-sector unionization even as representation has withered in private industry. More than one-third of public employees are unionized, compared with just 6.5% of those in the private sector, according to a January report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The impact is likely to stretch far beyond the workplace, sapping resources from unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the National Education Association that have provided funds, resources and activists largely in support of Democratic candidates.

[…]

Under that theory, it would violate the First Amendment for government to condition a job on subsidizing political speech a worker may oppose—and therefore public-employment contracts including union-security clauses would be unconstitutional. The court majority has now accepted that argument.

Wisconsin politicians should reject tax increase on internet purchases

As you could have read yesterday in the Washington County Daily News, here is my column urging Wisconsin’s Republicans to reject a tax increase.

Thanks to a 1992 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that said that states could only collect a sales tax on businesses with a substantial presence in their state, consumers have been largely exempt from paying sales taxes for purchases made online. Those days may be coming to an end.

Last week the Supreme Court overturned its 1992 ruling. The new legal landscape means that states can now levy a sales tax on internet sales, but they are not required to do so. States like Illinois and California, with their self-inflicted derelict financial situations, are salivating over the opportunity to capture more tax revenue. What should Wisconsin do?

A report last year from the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that the imposition of Wisconsin’s sales tax on online purchases would result in between $123 million and $187 million in annual tax revenue for Wisconsin. The important thing to remember is that this projected tax revenue is not “found” money. It is additional money that would be extracted from the pockets of Wisconsinites by state government. It is not a tax on the online businesses who sell to Wisconsinites. It is a tax increase on Wisconsinites.

That is not to say that imposing a tax increase is necessarily a negative thing. There are some compelling reasons for states to impose a sales tax on internet purchases. The primary reason is for the cause of tax fairness. Wisconsinites pay the sales tax at brick-and-mortar stores without question or debate. The fact that those same Wisconsinites can buy products online without paying the sales tax gives online retailers a material advantage over the brick-and mortar stores. In the name of fairness, government should treat businesses equally regardless of their mode of delivering products.

The problem with that argument is that the unequal treatment of businesses is a consequence of a policy decision. The sales tax is not imposed on the businesses. The businesses are merely tasked as an agent of government to collect the tax. The consumers are paying the tax. The implementation of the sales tax whereby consumers must pay it at a physical retailer but are exempt from paying it at an online retailer is fair. Every consumer — the people actually paying the tax — is being treated equally in this regard.

It must also be acknowledged that the different sales tax treatment of brickand- mortar purchases and online purchases is an extremely small driver of the societal trend toward online purchases. The infinite selection, ease of browsing, competitive prices, easy shipping and the ability for consumers to sit on their couches in their skivvies while they shop are far more powerful disruptive forces than the sales tax. Furthermore, even as online purchases have soared in the past two decades, they still only represent about 10 percent of all retail purchases in America.

Given that the ruling by the court is still fresh, Wisconsin’s political leaders are still pondering the consequences and possibility of imposing the tax increase. Some of them are lusting after the money with an eye to spend it on their priorities. Gov. Scott Walker and other Republican leaders are floating the idea of imposing a new sales tax on internet purchases, but using it to offset state income taxes in accordance with a law that Republicans passed in 2013.

Such a use of new sales tax revenue would be laudable. By using sales tax revenue to offset income taxes, it would keep Wisconsin’s total tax burden static, but shift some of that burden to the broader population of retail consumers and off of the shoulders of income earners.

History tells us, however, that raising one tax to offset another never works over the long term. While Walker and legislative Republicans may set up such a tax offset initially, over time there will be different politicians with different priorities. Inevitably, some future politicians will begin to carve out a percentage of online sales tax revenue for some spending “priority” or “crisis.” Then that percentage will increase over time until the notion of a tax offset is all but forgotten except by crotchety curmudgeons who write columns.

Wisconsin’s Republican leaders should resist the temptation to tax online purchases and make sure the whole nation knows that Wisconsin is the place to live if you want to continue to make tax-free online purchases. The best tax is the one that is never imposed.

SCOTUS Upholds Travel Ban

Excellent. Even though it is moot now, it was important to adjudicate the issue.

 The US Supreme Court has ruled in favour of the Trump administration’s travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.

Lower courts had deemed the ban unconstitutional, but the US top court has reversed this decision in a 5-4 ruling announced on Tuesday.

The ban prohibits most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.

The court’s reversal is viewed as a victory for the Trump administration.

But the travel ban has been widely criticised by refugee and human rights groups.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion, which said the travel ban was “squarely within the scope of Presidential authority”.

Wisconsin Ponders Internet Sales Tax

Times’re a changin’.

Wisconsin could generate as much as $187 million in new tax revenue annually if it extends its sales tax to online retailers based in other states — enough to give about $84,000 to every Wisconsin school or make permanent this year’s one-time $100-per-child tax credit and back-to-school sales tax holiday.

However, Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers have already signaled that additional funds from such taxation should be used for a different purpose: automatic reductions in state income tax rates.

[…]

On Thursday the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling, which did not split along ideological lines, overturned the 1992 decision and said states can tax internet sales.

The ruling doesn’t mean such a sales tax will begin immediately in Wisconsin as it will in many other states that have laws where the court decision automatically triggers a sales tax collection for online sales.

Walker’s office, the state Department of Revenue and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau are still reviewing the decision and declined to comment before completing the review.

So it’s unclear if new legislation is needed or whether the Walker administration can collect the tax from out-of-state companies through regulatory changes.

Walker and the Legislature enacted a law in 2013 requiring income tax rate cuts corresponding to any potential online sales tax revenue collections “as a result of any federal law to expand the state’s authority to require out-of-state retailers” to collect the tax. But that law doesn’t refer to U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

I agree with the decision of the Supreme Court. Whether or not a state can tax inline purchases should be up to the state. But then each state must decide if they want to do it or not.

There is not escaping the fact that taxing online purchases is a tax increase imposed on the people in the state who buy stuff online. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing since it spreads the tax burden a little wider and puts online and brick-and-mortar retailers on the same footing when it comes to the sales tax.

If Wisconsin law makers decide to impose a tax on internet purchases to reap the projected $187 million windfall and uses it to increase spending, it would be just another tax increase to fuel more government spending. If they impose the tax for the purposes of being more fair, or whatever, and use the tax revenue to offset other taxes while not increasing spending, I might be okay with that. I don’t trust their discipline to resist just blowing any additional tax revenue – especially in an election year.

SCOTUS Rules Against Police Use of Cell Phone Locations Data Without Warrant

This is a close call, but I agree with the ruling. In the digital age, we are trying to figure out how far we want our government to be able to know our private information. I fall on the side of strong 4th Amendment protections. If law enforcement thinks that someone is guilty of a crime, then they should be required to get a warrant to search and use their cell phone data just like if they were searching their home.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Police generally need a warrant to look at records that reveal where cellphone users have been, the Supreme Court ruled Friday in a big victory for privacy interests in the digital age.

The justices’ 5-4 decision marks a big change in how police may obtain information that phone companies collect from the ubiquitous cellphone towers that allow people to make and receive calls, and transmit data. The information has become an important tool in criminal investigations.

Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by the court’s four liberals, said cellphone location information “is detailed, encyclopedic and effortlessly compiled.” Roberts wrote that “an individual maintains a legitimate expectation of privacy in the record of his physical movements” as they are captured by cellphone towers.

Roberts said the court’s decision is limited to cellphone tracking information and does not affect other business records, including those held by banks. He also wrote that police still can respond to an emergency and obtain records without a warrant.

But the dissenting conservative justices, Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, cast doubt on Roberts’ claim that the decision was limited. Each wrote a dissenting opinion and Kennedy said in his that the court’s “new and uncharted course will inhibit law enforcement” and “keep defendants and judges guessing for years to come.”

Vaping Included in Milwaukee Smoking Ban

Heh.

E-cigarettes are now banned in the same locations where smoking is prohibited in the city of Milwaukee, after the common council unanimously passed a measure to do so on Wednesday.

The measure bans the use of e-cigs on city property and in places where state law currently bans smoking, such as bars and restaurants.

“Next month we celebrate the 8th anniversary of Wisconsin’s smoke free law in public places,” said Alderman Cavalier Johnson in a statement, who co-sponsored the proposal. “As new products have since emerged we can better address them through this resolution and align our policy with state law.”

The resolution was part of a three-part effort aimed at public health and tobacco use. It also included a measure to increase fines for those who sell tobacco to minors and another item to prohibit the sale of e-cigs to minors.

Thousands of Cases of Potential Voter Fraud after 2016 Election

Good reporting from MacIver. Fortunately, we have enacted some voter integrity measures since then.

MADISON, Wis. – Almost a thousand cases of potential election day registration fraud were referred to district attorneys across Wisconsin following the 2016 general election, and questions remain over thousands more voters who can’t be located or verified, according to data from the state Elections Commission.

All together, 368,392 people registered to vote on election day in November 2016. When the state sent postcards to their addresses to verify their residency after the election, 10,461 came back as undeliverable. Local officials claim they were able to reconcile all but 3,871 of them. That means, officially, 3,871 voters in the 2016 election cannot be verified and potentially voted illegally. Unofficially, there could be as many as 10,461 cases of voter fraud from the 2016 election due to election day registrations (EDR) alone.

Municipalities in Milwaukee County take that possibility seriously. A total of 44,797 people registered to vote on election day in Milwaukee County, and 2,563 postcards bounced back. When all was said and done, the City of Milwaukee referred 886 cases of potential voter fraud to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office after deactivating the individuals’ registrations. An additional 32 cases were referred by the city of Greenfield, for a total of 918 in Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee County assistant district attorney Bruce Landgraf did not return calls asking how many cases were opened in response to the mountain of referrals following the 2016 election.

SCOTUS Sends Wisconsin Redistricting Case Back to Lower Court

Great news. It seems that the court has set an almost insurmountable standard for plaintiffs to prove injury.

The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled the plaintiffs lack standing in Wisconsin’s nationally watched gerrymandering case — but in an unusual move, it agreed to send the case back to a lower court for further argument.

The unanimous decision in the case, known as Gill v. Whitford, does not resolve a challenge to the legislative maps the Republican-controlled Legislature drew under tightly controlled secrecy in 2011.

But it does end the plaintiffs’ hopes that a judge could order Wisconsin’s legislative boundaries to be redrawn in time for the 2018 elections. Federal judges ordered that last year after ruling the maps were unconstitutional.

In a separate unsigned opinion, the court also did not side with Maryland Republicans who challenged a single congressional district on partisan grounds. Another case involving challenges to North Carolina’s 13 congressional districts may address some of the standing issues in Wisconsin.

In the Wisconsin case, the court said the plaintiffs, a group of registered Democrats, failed to demonstrate they had a personal stake in the outcome.

“It is a case about group political interests, not individual legal rights,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “But this Court is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences. The Court’s constitutionally prescribed role is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it.”

But rather than dismiss the case entirely, the court ruled 7-2 to send the decision back to the district court “so that the plaintiffs may have an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries using evidence — unlike the bulk of the evidence presented thus far — that would tend to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes.”

Woman Arrested for Terrorism in Wisconsin

Scary folks living amongst us.

A Cudahy woman hacked social media accounts, including Facebook, to recruit on behalf of the Islamic State terrorist group and to provide instruction on such terrorism basics as making explosives and biological weapons including ricin, according to a federal criminal complaint.

Waheba Issa Dais, a 45-year-old mother of two, is in federal custody after being charged with providing “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization,” the criminal complaint states. She appeared before a federal magistrate Wednesday and is scheduled to return to court Friday to determine bail.

Dais “helped facilitate planning for attacks in the United States on behalf of ISIS and overseas by providing instructions on how to make explosives, biological weapons and suicide vests,” according to an FBI affidavit used to support the criminal complaint.

In addition, the affidavit said, she “provided detailed instructions to people interested in attacks and attack planning. Dais has also expressed a personal desire to travel overseas in support of ISIS.”

Choosing the next Washington County sheriff

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

On the eve of his third term as Washington County’s Sheriff, Dale K. Schmidt has decided to enjoy the fruits of his years of service and will retire upon the conclusion of his term in January. Sheriff Schmidt leaves behind a proud legacy of service, honor, stability and leadership. Washington County is better for his having served and we citizens of the county owe him our gratitude. Now our attention must turn to his potential successor and who will lead the sheriff’s office for the next four years or more.

The Sheriff’s Office has ancient English roots and a broad mandate. In Washington County, the sheriff is the only countywide elected official and has a wide range of responsibilities. The Sheriff’s Office is the primary law enforcement agency for every part of the county that is not served by a local police department. The Sheriff’s Office also provides additional support and resources for the local police departments. The 911 dispatch center, county jail and juvenile detention facility are all run by the Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office maintains a SWAT team, dive team, transports prisoners to and from court, provides security in the courts, runs a multi-jurisdictional drug unit, provides D.A.R.E. and other educational resources, executes foreclosures and evictions and is the primary law enforcement response unit for many of the county’s schools. It is a very busy department with diverse duties.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Sheriff Schmidt’s tenure has been the lack of controversy. In an era where some other law enforcement agencies are finding themselves embroiled in scandals and responding to public outrage, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office just gets the job done. Through honest, open performance with a humble respect for the rights of the citizens they serve, the sheriff’s department has earned a great deal of trust throughout the county. Meanwhile, as good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, Sheriff Schmidt’s office finished with a budget surplus of $231,500 last year. Sheriff Schmidt’s successor has big shoes to fill.

But like any county, Washington County has some looming problems that the next sheriff will need to tackle. As cited in the Sheriff Office’s most recent annual report, high speed pursuits have been on the rise. Many of these occur on Interstate 41 or Highway 45, which have become high-speed conduits for criminals through the county. These chases are dangerous for everyone involved.

Another rising problem is criminals raiding into the county from the south. Last year, almost 20 percent of jail bookings in the county were residents of Milwaukee. That is a 38 percent increase since 2014. This ispartially driven by the increase in the number of people who fail to appear in court every year. About 45 percent of those who fail to appear hail from Milwaukee County, requiring extra effort and time to track them down.

Two candidates have stepped forward for the opportunity to be the next sheriff of Washington County. Both serve in the sheriff’s department. Both are Republicans, like Sheriff Schmidt. The primary election to select the Republican candidate is Aug. 14. Since there is not a Democrat running, whoever wins the Republican primary will be the next sheriff. The voters of the county have the privilege to choose between two qualified, conservative, honorable men.

Lt. Jason Guslick has served in the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years in several roles working up through the ranks. Touting himself as a conservative Republican and lifetime NRA member, Guslick recently announced the endorsement Tim Schmidt, the president and CEO of Delta Defense in West Bend.

Guslick lists his primary issues as school safety, supporting the Second Amendment, fighting the heroin/ opioid epidemic, cooperating with federal authorities to enforce immigration laws, protecting county citizens from criminals from surrounding areas and taking a proactive approach to the mental health crisis. His vision for the department is “to move to a principles-based organization with associated values.”

Capt. Martin (Marty) Schulteis has served in the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for 25 years in multiple roles and has also worked his way up through the ranks. Schulteis lists his core values as fiscal responsibility, integrity and accountability, and believes that his extensive background and experience in public safety have prepared him to be the next sheriff.

Schulteis lists his primary issues as combating the current drug epidemic with a multi-faceted approach. He is also looking ahead to the coming resurgence of the meth epidemic in the county. Although opioids/ heroin are the drug du jour, cheap methamphetamines are flooding in from Mexico and have already saturated other parts of Wisconsin. Since meth has a stimulant effect on the human body, it poses different challenges to law enforcement and Schulteis is focused on the issue. Schulteis will also advocate to add an additional circuit court to the county to help manage drug crimes.

I encourage every voter in Washington County to take the time to get to know the two sheriff candidates before the Aug. 14 primary election. It is an important office that directly and indirectly impacts every citizen. The county has had a great sheriff for many years. Let us make the effort to ensure that the office will be in good hands for years to come.

 

SCOTUS Rules for Reasonable Management of Voter Rolls

There is no rational argument against this very reasonable method and timing for maintaining accurate voter rolls; unless, of course, you want a bevy of outdated information on the rolls to exploit.

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Ohio’s method of removing names from its voter rolls does not violate federal law.

The decision was 5-4.
Monday’s ruling concerning the battleground state comes as the country gears up for midterm elections this fall. At least six other states have similar laws, and the ruling could embolden others to follow suit and enact what critics say are aggressive purges of voter rolls.
Ohio law allows the state to send address confirmation notices to voters who have not engaged in voter activity for two years. If a voter returns the notice through prepaid mail, or responds online, the information is updated. If the notice is ignored and the voter fails to update a registration over the next four years, the registration is canceled.

Fake Republican Runs for Sheriff in Dodge County

From RightWisconsin.

Recall petition signer challenges incumbent Sheriff in Republican Primary

In what appears to be a move of revenge from the disgruntled former sheriff of Dodge County, Dodge County Sheriff’s Lieutenant James Ketchem of Horicon filed nomination papers to challenge incumbent Sheriff Dale Schmidt in the August Republican primary.

However, my Dodge County Republican friends may want to know that this isn’t the first time James Ketchem has signed a nomination paper. Both he and his wife, Carrie, signed the Walker Recall Petition on December 2, 2011.

To make this situation even uglier, according to the Campaign Finance Registration, Ketchem’s treasurer is Doug Ninmann, the husband of the former Dodge County Sheriff, Pat Ninmann, who was appointed sheriff in 2013 but was defeated by Schmidt in the 2014 Republican Primary. Ninmann refused to lose gracefully, instead choosing to run as a write-in in the November General Election, losing to Schmidt yet again. Apparently, the Ninmanns want one more kick at Sheriff Dale Schmidt.

SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Religious Freedom

It’s amazing to me that in this day and age we are still having to reaffirm religious freedoms that our Founders enshrined in our Constitution. Still, that’s where we are. This is a good ruling, if narrower than I would have hoped. That seems to be how the SCOTUS likes to roll.

The justices’ limited ruling turned on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The justices voted 7-2 that the commission violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion that the larger issue “must await further elaboration” in the courts. Appeals in similar cases are pending, including one at the Supreme Court from a florist who didn’t want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

[…]

But when the justices heard arguments in December, Kennedy was plainly bothered by comments by a commission member. The commissioner seemed “neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs,” Kennedy said in December.

That same sentiment suffused his opinion on Monday. “The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” he wrote.

Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the conservative justices in the outcome. Kagan wrote separately to emphasize the limited ruling.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.