Category Archives: Law

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.

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.