Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Should the president pick the attorney general?

William Barr walks through Lafayette Park before demonstrators were cleared by federal police on June 1, 2020. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Joshua Holzer, Westminster College

Attorney General William Barr recently announced, late on a Friday, that Geoffrey Berman was “stepping down after two-and-a-half years of service as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”

This announcement was news to Berman, who later contradicted Barr by declaring that he had not resigned and indeed had no intention of resigning. Barr then contradicted himself by informing Berman that since he had refused to resign, he had instead been fired. Continue reading

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‘Deeply Disappointing’: Supreme Court Slammed for Refusing to Examine Doctrine That Bolsters Police Immunity

“Recent events demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to stand up for the rule of law and abolish qualified immunity.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-15-2020

George Floyd protests in Washington DC. Photo: Rosa Pineda/CC

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear several cases involving a longstanding legal doctrine giving police officers and other government officials sweeping immunity from civil lawsuits, a decision that comes in the midst of a nationwide uprising against police brutality and racial injustice.

The doctrine of “qualified immunity” has come under growing criticism from lawmakers and rights groups since the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. As CNBC explained, “the burden imposed by qualified immunity on victims of police violence is exacerbated by the fact that prosecutors rarely charge officers for excessive force violations, often leaving civil lawsuits as the only remaining avenue.” Continue reading

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Court Requests Probe Into Whether McConnell Unethically Pressured Judge to Retire to Pave Way for His Unqualified Protégé

“Justin Walker’s nomination was already controversial, but this emerging investigation means an even darker cloud is hanging over his appointment. The hearing on Walker’s nomination should not go forward until we know the truth.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-5-2020

Justin Walker. Screenshot: Fox News

A federal court has requested an investigation into whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unethically pressured a judge on the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to retire to pave the way for the Kentucky Republican’s 38-year-old protégé Justin Walker, who is set for a confirmation hearing for the vacancy on Wednesday.

The New York Times reported late Monday that on May 1, Judge Sri Srinivasan—chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—”asked Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to assign another circuit to look into a complaint filed by the progressive advocacy group Demand Justice, which questioned the timing and circumstances of Judge Thomas B. Griffith’s retirement announcement in early March.” Continue reading

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‘We Should All Be Alarmed’: McConnell to Bring Senate Back Not to Fight Covid-19 But to Confirm More Trump Judges

“McConnell cares more about ushering his unqualified 38-year-old crony onto one of the country’s highest courts than about ensuring Americans’ health in the middle of a pandemic.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-30-2020

Justin Walker. Photo: PFAW

Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups are accusing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of endangering the health of members of Congress and Capitol Hill employees for political gain as the Kentucky Republican presses forward with plans to reconvene the chamber next week for the sole purpose of confirming more right-wing judges—including his unqualified 38-year-old protégé.

“McConnell is calling the Senate back in, ignoring D.C.’s stay at home order, and putting thousands of Capitol employees at risk,” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “Not to do oversight of Trump’s pandemic response. Not to pass a new relief bill. But to ram through more conservative judges.” Continue reading

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ACLU Files Historic Lawsuit to Stop Surveillance Planes Above Baltimore

“If this wide-area aerial surveillance program is allowed to move forward, we can expect mass surveillance to spread in cities across the country.”

By Derrick Broze. Published 4-15-2020 by The Mind Unleashed

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the city of Baltimore from rolling out a disturbing aerial surveillance program.

The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of a group of Baltimore community activists who have raised concerns about the introduction of a controversial technology known as wide-area aerial surveillance which involves stationing an aircraft equipped with ultra-high-resolution cameras over a city to track all visible pedestrians and vehicles within that city. Continue reading

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Closing polling places is the 21st century’s version of a poll tax

Californians wait in line to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020. AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Joshua F.J. Inwood, Pennsylvania State University and Derek H. Alderman, University of Tennessee

Delays and long lines at polling places during recent presidential primary elections – such as voters in Texas experienced – represent the latest version of decades-long policies that have sought to reduce the political power of African Americans in the U.S.

Following the Civil War and the extension of the vote to African Americans, state governments worked to block black people, as well as poor whites, from voting. One way they tried to accomplish this goal was through poll taxes – an amount of money each voter had to pay before being allowed to vote. Continue reading

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‘Shameful. Disgusting. Disgraceful.’: Outrage After Supreme Court Allows Trump’s Public Charge Rule to Take Effect

“The Trump administration’s policy could quite literally kill people by making them too afraid to seek life-saving medical care, and the Supreme Court seems to agree such a cruel system is acceptable.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-27-2020

Photo: Pinterest

Outrage erupted Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump administration’s so-called public charge rule—a policy its critics call “a racist wealth test”— to stand.

Continue reading

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Why the US military usually punishes misconduct but police often close ranks

NYPD officers turning their backs on New York mayor Bill de Blasio after he remarked on police violence, Jan. 4, 2015.
AP Photo/John Minchillo,

Dwight Stirling, University of Southern California

Many U.S. military members publicly disavowed President Trump’s decision to pardon Edward Gallagher, the former SEAL commando convicted of killing a teenage detainee in Iraq in 2017.

Gallagher’s alleged war crimes were nearly universally condemned up the chain of command, from enlisted men to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. Indeed, it was Gallagher’s SEAL colleagues who reported the former commando’s actions.

This insistence on holding fellow service members accountable for bad behavior sharply differentiates the military from the police. Continue reading

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With Support of Just One Republican, House Passes ‘Historic’ Bill to Restore and Expand Voting Rights

“Brings us one step closer to restoring the Voting Rights Act.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-6-2019

The introduction of H.R. 4 on February 26, 2019. Photo: PFAW

Just one Republican—Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania—joined a united House Democratic caucus on Friday to pass what rights groups hailed as “historic” legislation to restore and expand voter protections that were gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen, said passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 4) is a “critical step” in combating Republican voter suppression efforts that have proliferated in the six years since the Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Continue reading

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‘Simply Barbaric’: Trump Administration Proposes Charging Asylum Fee for Refugees Fleeing Violence and Poverty

“It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-10-2019

USCIS office in Atlanta. Photo: Gulbenk/CC

The Trump administration this coming week will formalize a proposal that could make it one of just four countries in the world that charge asylum-seekers for entry.

As the New York Times reported late Friday, the administration plans to publish in the Federal Register a proposal to require a $50 application fee for asylum-seekers as well as a $490 charge for work permits.

“It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees,” Doug Rand of the immigrant assistance company Boundless Immigration told the Times. Continue reading

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