Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Law

No Charges In Tosa Case

This was the correct decision.

Black Wisconsin police officer who fatally shot a Black teenager outside a suburban Milwaukee mall in February won’t be charged because he had reasonable belief that deadly force was necessary, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah shot 17-year-old Alvin Cole outside Mayfair Mall on Feb. 2 after police responded to a reported disturbance at the shopping center.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, in a 14-page letter laying out his rationale, said evidence showed Cole fled from police carrying a stolen 9 mm handgun. He cited squad car audio evidence, along with testimony from Mensah and two fellow officers, that he said showed Cole had fired a shot while fleeing and refused commands to drop the gun.

“He did not surrender the weapon and was fired upon by Officer Mensah causing his death,” Chisholm wrote. He concluded: “(T)here is sufficient evidence that Officer Mensah had an actual subjective belief that deadly force was necessary and that belief was objectively reasonable.”

Stairway to Heaven Lawsuit Ends

Whew.

The final possible legal challenge to Led Zeppelin’s ownership of Stairway To Heaven has been defeated.

The band were sued for copyright in 2014 over claims they had stolen the song’s opening riff from Taurus, by a US band called Spirit.

Led Zeppelin won the case in 2016, but it was revived on appeal in 2018.

A court of appeals upheld the original verdict earlier this year. Now, the US Supreme Court has declined to hear the case, definitively ending it.

Barrett Opposes Abortion

Well, duh.

Amy Coney Barrett, the supreme court nominee, signed off on an advertisement in 2006 that called for the overturning of Roe v Wade, and called the landmark abortion rights decision “barbaric” and a “raw exercise of judicial power”.

[…]

In a statement to the Guardian, the White House said: “As Judge Barrett said on the day she was nominated, ‘A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.’”

The statement appears to reflect an acknowledgment that Barrett’s personal views on abortion could hurt her chances at confirmation.

I reject the judicial standard that is only held against conservatives. Namely, that any expression of an opinion on anything renders one unfit for the court. What an idiotic standard that is only selectively applied.

In this case, it is well known that Barrett opposes killing babies and thinks Roe was a bad ruling. Every Senator knows it. The fact that she said it in public 16 years ago is not disqualifying. Frankly, I’d be more concerned if she hid her views.

Court Rules that Subway’s Bread Isn’t Actually Bread

Never get between a government and their tax.

The rolls used in Subway’s hot sandwiches contain too much sugar to be considered bread, according to Ireland’s Supreme Court.

Ireland’s highest court made the ruling in a case about how the bread is taxed.

An Irish franchisee of the US company had claimed it should not pay VAT on the rolls it uses in heated sandwiches.

But the court ruled that because of the level of sugar in the rolls they cannot be taxed as bread, which is classed as a “staple product” with zero VAT.

Under Ireland’s VAT Act of 1972, ingredients in bread such as sugar and fat should not exceed 2% of the weight of flour in the dough.

Appeals Court Stays Partisan Judge’s Order

Good.

A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily halted a six-day extension for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin’s presidential election.

[…]

Sunday’s action puts Conley’s order on hold until the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals or U.S. Supreme Court issues any further action.

No further details were immediately posted by the appeals court.

Trump Nominates Barrett for SCOTUS

Sorry for going dark yesterday. I was in final consideration for the SCOTUS pick. As you can see, the President went another way.

US President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a favourite of social conservatives, to be the new Supreme Court justice.

Speaking by her side at the White House Rose Garden, Mr Trump described her as a “woman of unparalleled achievement”.

[…]

After graduating from Notre Dame University Law School in Indiana, she clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In 2017, she was nominated by Mr Trump to the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

She is an outstanding pick. If there is one thing that Trump has proven to be very capable of, it’s choosing Supreme Court Justices. His previous two picks have been outstanding and this one is too.

Given that the Senate confirmed her just three years ago, there shouldn’t be a need for much of a confirmation hearing. There will be, of course, but it’s just theater with Republicans trying to goad Democrats into bashing a Catholic Midwestern woman and the Democrats taking the bait.

Justice Department Builds Antitrust Case Against Google

This could have far-reaching implications.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is expected to bring an antitrust action against Google in coming weeks, focusing on its dominance in online search and whether it was used to stifle competition and hurt consumers, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press Thursday.

The department also is examining Google’s online advertising practices, said the person, who could not discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Antitrust officials at the department briefed state attorneys general Thursday on the planned action against Google, seeking support from states across the country that share concerns about Google’s conduct.

The anticipated lawsuit against Google could be the government’s biggest legal offensive to protect competition since the groundbreaking case against Microsoft almost 20 years ago.

Lawmakers and consumer advocates accuse Google of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and boost its profits.

Charges Announced in Breonna Taylor Killing

Make no mistake… Louisville was going to burn irrespective of what the charges were or were not. On the merits, the charges appear to be appropriate.

One of three Louisville police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor was indicted by Kentucky  grand jury on Wednesday, following a six-month investigation into the case that sparked mass protests nationwide.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annie O’Connell read the grand jury’s decision in open court on Wednesday afternoon, charging fired detective Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid on the night of March 13.

Sgt Jonathan Mattingly, Detective Myles Cosgrove, who were also present at the time of Taylor’s death, were not charged.

Activist Judge Extends Wisconsin Election

This has no basis in law. It’s just what the judge thought was “fair.” Do we really want judges just setting whatever rules they want and changing it on the fly? Our election laws have been in place for many years and have served Wisconsin well. Why change less than 6 weeks before the election?

U.S. District Judge William Conley granted a large portion of their requests, issuing a preliminary injunction that was expected to be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He put the ruling on hold for seven days to give the other side a chance to seek an emergency appeal.

BlackRock Requires Full Disclosure of Relationships

Yikes.

The world’s largest money manager has introduced a new policy forcing its 16,000 employees to disclose ‘personal relationships’ with all the company’s clients, in what is being described as the toughest policy yet on office romances.

BlackRock, the New York-based firm which manages $7.4 trillion in assets, introduced the new rules last week.

They are in addition to existing policies which forced the disclosure of relationships with other staff members.

Given that BlackRock, on behalf of the funds it runs, is one of the five largest shareholders in nearly every corporation in the S&P 500, the impact of the new policy is expected to be significant.

[…]
‘It takes the assessment of what is or is not a conflict out of the employees’ hands and puts it into the hands of HR and lawyers — which makes it eminently enforceable,’ the executive said.
That’s comforting…

Democrats Will Overreach

I wrote this in February of 2017.

The Democrats have already reflexively announced their opposition to Gorsuch, even though their criticisms have failed to rise to any cogent standard. Wisconsin’s own Senator Tammy Baldwin has even refused to meet with Gorsuch, thus abdicating her role in the process and retreating behind nasty press releases and daft commentary.

Far be it from me to advise the Democrats, but their overreach on Gorsuch may neuter them further on future picks. Remember that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid killed the filibuster rule for all but Supreme Court picks in his effort to ram through President Obama’s lower court appointments, but left it in place for Supreme Court appointments. In doing so, Reid laid the ideological groundwork and precedent for killing the filibuster rule for Supreme Court picks too.

If the Democrats in the U.S. Senate choose to filibuster and obstruct what is clearly a brilliantly qualified choice for the Supreme Court, the Republicans can rescind the filibuster rule for Supreme Court picks too and confirm the appointment without needing to make a single concession to the minority party. The Democrats’ intransigence and unwillingness to even participate in the process, and the precedent already established by Harry Reid, will provide ample political cover for the change in rules.

Then, if and when Trump gets another opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice, the rules will already be set to allow an easy confirmation. If the Democrats participate and allow a vote – even if all of them vote against the nominee – they will likely preserve the filibuster for future Supreme Court nominations while undercutting the political justification to rescind it next time.

If the political battles of the past few years in Wisconsin have taught me anything, it is that Democrats will overreach. Their base of radicals demands unbending fealty to ideology – even at the expense of victory.

As it turned out, McConnell did end the filibuster for SCOTUS confirmations over the Gorsuch fight and here we are. Then the Democrats hardened once “play nice” Senators like Graham during their atrocious behavior in the Kavanaugh hearing. Again, I expect the Democrats to overreach again here.

Through all of this I continue to lament that we attach so much importance to a single judge; on a 9-judge panel; in one branch of our federal government. It shows how much power we have ceded to the federal government and, specifically, the Supreme Court. Do you know why judge appointments were mostly a non-event outside of Washington for well over a century of our nation’s history? Because it didn’t impact the lives of most Americans. That’s not the case anymore and our Republic is worse for it.

Democrats Threaten to Pack the Supreme Court

This is very simple. There is no practical purpose to expand the court for the good of the American People. The only reason to do it is to change the philosophical center of the court one way or the other. It is about raw power.

Democrats have threatened to pack the Supreme Court if Donald Trump‘s nomination gets confirmed following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The president on Saturday urged the GOP-run Senate to consider ‘without delay’ his upcoming nomination to fill the seat vacated by Justice Ginsburg, who died Friday after a battle with cancer.

[…]

Several Democrats have vowed the party will expand the size of the court if they capture the Senate in November and Republicans have already pushed through a conservative successor to Ginsburg.

Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, tweeted Sunday: ‘If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that simple.’

Let’s think this through a few steps. Let’s say the Democrats win the presidency and majorities in the Congress, so they expand the court to 11 members, appoint two liberals, and shift the balance. What’s to stop the Republicans from doing the same thing the next time they are in control? Does the Republic then just keep expanding the Supreme Court every time a party gets in power? We still experience the sway of courts as elected officials from one party or the other gain power, only now it happens faster because they don’t have to wait for sitting justices to die or retire.

Is that better? Is our Republic better for it?

Nope. Do the Democrats care? Nope.

Let’s hope this is a passing tantrum and more thoughtful people step to the front of the Democratic Party.

RIP RBG

Condolences.

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an iconic champion of women’s rights, has died of cancer at the age of 87, the court has said.

Ginsburg died on Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington, DC, surrounded by her family, the statement said.

SCOTUS Strikes Blow for Religious Liberty

Excellent.

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a Montana program that excluded religious schools from a student aid initiative violates religious freedoms protected under the U.S. Constitution.

The 5-4 majority decision, which fell along ideological lines, said that by making state-backed private school scholarships off-limits to parochial schools, the program ran afoul of First Amendment protections for the free exercise of religion, which prohibits the government from treating religious and secular groups differently.

“A state need not subsidize private education,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

[…]

In a concurring opinion, Thomas argued that the court’s current treatment of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which functions as a sort of counterweight to the free exercise clause, unduly interferes with states’ ability to support religious activities.

“So long as this hostility remains, fostered by our distorted understanding of the Establishment Clause, free exercise rights will continue to suffer,” Thomas, joined by Gorsuch, wrote.

Lancaster Rioters Get Serious Treatment by Judge

It looks like Lancaster doesn’t want to be the next Kenosha after all. A quick crackdown to show that the city will not tolerate violent riots is the way to stop it before it gets worse. Good for Lancaster.

Thirteen protesters who were arrested during clashes with police in Pennsylvania at the weekend remain behind bars after a judge slapped the majority of them with bonds of $1 million each.

Police say the protesters, who range from 16 to 43 years of age, were arrested for rioting in Lancaster in the early hours of Monday morning after the police shooting of a knife-wielding man sparked protests.

The 13 protesters remained behind bars on Tuesday with bail for seven of them set at $1 million each.

Authorities said the protests following Ricardo Munoz’s fatal shooting degenerated into rioting that damaged Lancaster’s police headquarters and produced an arson fire that blocked a downtown intersection.

Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Restricts Ballot Access

Strike three for Hagedorn. Wisconsin’s high court has turned.

A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court has rejected the Green Party’s request to place presidential candidate Howie Hawkins on the state’s slate, giving local clerks the go-ahead to begin sending out absentee ballots to voters.

The 4-3 decision — which had conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn joining the court’s three liberals to form a majority — found it was too late for Hawkins to be added, citing the “very short deadlines” and “the fact that the 2020 fall general election has essentially begun.”

“It is too late to grant petitioners any form of relief that would be feasible and that would not cause confusion and undue damage to both the Wisconsin electors who want to vote and the other candidates in all of the various races on the general election ballot,” wrote the majority.

Appeals Court Rules Against Judicial Expansion of Mail-In Voting

Excellent.

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Thursday rejected Texas Democrats’ bid to allow all state residents to vote by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic, ruling that the state’s law extending that right only to those over 65 was not unconstitutional age discrimination.

A split three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a lower court’s preliminary ruling that had required the state to expand mail-in voting to all eligible voters.

The Texas case is just one of dozens of court challenges across the country over whether to expand voting rights in light of the pandemic. President Donald Trump, a Republican, has asserted without evidence that voting by mail will result in fraud, although many states have used the practice for decades with no major problems.

Texas law allows voters over age 65, as well as those with certain disabilities, who are ill, absent from their home counties or confined to jail, to vote by mail. In a separate case, the state’s high court ruled in May that the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus was not in itself a valid reason to allow mail-in ballots.

The 5th Circuit’s majority said the state’s law did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on age discrimination because it merely conferred an extra benefit on older residents, rather than limiting the right to vote for younger Texans.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Halts Issuance of Absentee Ballots

This election is going to be a complete mess.

MADISON – The state Supreme Court told election officials Thursday that absentee ballots should not be mailed for now so the justices can determine whether they should include the Green Party’s presidential ticket.

The 4-3 order left open the possibility of reprinting 2.3 million ballots and delaying the printing of others — moves that election officials said would cause them to miss deadlines set by state law.

The order fell along ideological lines, with the conservatives in the majority and the liberals in dissent.

In response to the order, the state Elections Commission submitted a report late Thursday that suggested as many as 378,000 ballots have already been sent to voters. But the head of the commission said there was no way to know for certain how many ballots have been sent because that duty falls to municipal clerks, not the commission.

Adding candidates to the ballots after some have been sent would be complicated. Voters who have already been sent a ballot would need to get a second one and clerks would have to make sure no one voted twice.

[…]

The Green Party case centers on whether presidential nominee Howie Hawkins and vice presidential nominee Angela Walker should be on the ballot.

The Elections Commission didn’t include the Green Party on the ballot after it deadlocked last month on the issue. Walker, a Milwaukee native, provided two different addresses on her campaign filings, and the three Democrats on the commission said that should keep the Green Party off the ballot. The commission’s three Republicans wanted the Green Party on the ballot.

Unspoken at last month’s commission meeting was how the Green Party could affect the presidential election. Democrats fear the liberal party could take votes away from Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Republicans hope such a situation will help GOP President Donald Trump.

Evers Labels Opposition to Unconstitutional Abuse of Power “Partisanship”

Have you noticed how totalitarians label any opposition to their illegal machinations as “partisanship?” It is as if we peons are not allowed to have an opinion about our oppressors.

Gov. Tony Evers said public health shouldn’t be a partisan issue, in response to a lawsuit filed last week by a conservative advocacy group that seeks to challenge his latest emergency declaration and mask mandate.

His remarks came as state health officials confirmed 727 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.

“Science should not be a partisan issue, and a county-by-county piecemeal approach to the pandemic wasn’t working,” said Evers in a DHS briefing. “Our numbers continue to rise, families continue to lose loved ones, and we’ve reached record daily increases of positive cases, day after day.”

Governor Evers Politicizes Killing of Black Man in Kenosha

Shame on him. The governor is fanning the flames of violence for political gain.

A Wisconsin county has again declared an emergency curfew following a night of protests over a video that appeared to show police officers firing several shots at close range into a Black man’s back Sunday night.

The curfew will be in effect from 8 p.m. Monday night until 7 a.m.Tuesday, according to the Kenosha Police Department. The Wisconsin National Guard was headed to Kenosha on Monday, according to the Kenosha News.

The state Department of Justice is investigating after officers from the department responding to a domestic incident shortly after 5 p.m. “were involved in an officer involved shooting,” according to a news release.

The man who was shot, identified by Gov. Tony Evers as Jacob Blake, was airlifted to a Milwaukee hospital in serious condition as of early Monday, police said. Tyrone Muhammad, a member of the group Ex-Cons for Community and social change, said Blake’s father told him Blake was out of surgery and was expected to survive.

On Twitter, Evers said he and his wife are hoping for Blake’s recovery.

“While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country,” Evers wrote on Twitter.

[…]

Evers is calling lawmakers into session to take action on a package of bills aimed at reducing the prevalence of police brutality a day after Blake was shot. The move would ban police chokeholds and no-knock search warrants and make it harder for overly aggressive officers to move from one job to another.

Like most people, I look at the video and have some serious questions. I don’t know why non-lethal force was not used first. I question why they shot him when he was moving away. I wonder what happened before the video started. But I also understand that the police were responding to a domestic call, thought he had a gun, and perhaps thought that the kids were in danger.

We. Don’t. Know. What we do know is that a thorough investigation should be done to find out the facts. And if the police are found to have acted illegally, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But if they are found to have acted appropriately, then we should laud their actions while lamenting the sad results.

But before we even know the facts, the governor is out with a statement intimating that it was an unjustified shooting by racist police. His statement gave tacit permission for rioters to burn down Kenosha. And he has called a special session to pass a bunch of bills that have nothing whatsoever to do with this shooting. But since the bills are about police brutality, the governor is sending the message that he thinks this shooting is the result of racist, brutal police.

Governor Evers’ actions are repugnant and they have endangered the lives, health, and property of all Wisconsinites.

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