Courts

Federal appeals court gives Trump a win on transgender military service

A federal appeals court gave President Trump a win Friday in a case defending the administration’s policy limiting certain transgender people from serving in the military. The federal circuit court in D.C. ruled the lower court erred in issuing an injunction against the president’s policy, saying the plan wasn’t a “blanket transgender ban.” The court said former Security of Defense James Mattis’ plan had been developed with the help from military officials and medical professionals. It focused on limiting the service of transgender people who suffer from gender dysphoria and refuse to serve under their biological sex. “Although today’s decision is not a final determination on the merits, we must recognize that the Mattis Plan plausibly relies upon the ‘considered professional judgment’ of ‘appropriate military officials,’” the court ruled in an unsigned opinion. There are still other injunctions in place that had been issued by lower courts against the administration’s policy, so the Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to step in. Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter formally lifted the ban on transgendered citizens serving openly in the U.S. military last year. Under that policy initiated by Mr. Carter, transgendered individuals would have been able to enlist into the services by July. Those plans came to a halt when Mr. Trump announced plans to ban all transgender citizens from enlisting and separating all transgender troops currently in uniform. The announcement came as Mr. Mattis was in the midst of a six-month review of the Obama-era policy. Since the August announcement, federal courts have ruled the White House’s ban as unconstitutional while the transgender ban policy continues to face other challenges in the judiciary. Transgendered recruits were allowed to enlist beginning Jan. 1 after being subjected to a slew of physical, psychological and medical requirements before being considered for military service, pending the release of the military’s recommendations to the White House. The new standards for transgendered enlistment include certification that a recruit has been deemed “clinically stable” in their preferred sex for 18 months, and do not suffer from marked stress or impairment tied to their selected gender during certain scenarios tied to military service. The first transgender recruit officially signed up for the U.S. military last February, little over a month since the White House’s call for a ban on service for those citizens. The issue has become a cultural touchstone between proponents of the ban who argue the military has been repeatedly subjected to progressive social engineering efforts.

Which is exactly what has been happening ever since then-President Bill Clinton issued his “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the mid-’90s.  I was in the military then, and vividly remember the s_it storm that started…and it went downhill from there, especially under Obama.  What so many liberal Dems (who have never served in the military), and their equally ignorant accomplices in the dominantly liberal mainstream media down want to accept is…that nobody has a right to serve in the military.  There is no constitutional right to serve.  It’s a privilege.  Secondly..  The military discriminates all the time, and has been doing so for generations.  If you’re too tall, you can’t fly fighter jets.  If you’re too fat, you can’t join.  If you’re disabled and/or in a wheelchair, you can’t join.  And, on and on..  The mission of the U.S. military is to WIN wars.  Period!  Anything that undermines that mission, including all of the politically correct social engineering bs imposed on it by Democrat presidents and lawmakers, puts our troops’ lives in jeopardy, and undermines our ability to WIN.

Supreme Court likely to say states can’t levy excessive fines

The Supreme Court left little doubt Wednesday that it would rule that the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to the states, an outcome that could help an Indiana man recover the $40,000 Land Rover police seized when they arrested him for selling about $400 worth of heroin. A decision in favor of 37-year-old Tyson Timbs, of Marion, Indiana, also could buttress efforts to limit the confiscation by local law enforcement of property belonging to someone suspected of a crime. Police and prosecutors often keep the proceeds. Timbs was on hand at the high court for arguments that were largely a one-sided affair in which the main question appeared to be how broadly the state would lose. The court has formally held that most of the Bill of Rights applies to states as well as the federal government, but it has not done so on the Eighth Amendment’s excessive-fines ban. Justice Neil Gorsuch was incredulous that Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher was urging the justices to rule that states should not be held to the same standard. “Here we are in 2018 still litigating incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Really? Come on, general,” Gorsuch said to Fisher, using the term for holding that constitutional provisions apply to the states. Justice Stephen Breyer said under Fisher’s reading police could take the car of a driver caught going 5 mph (8 kph) above the speed limit. “Anyone who speeds has to forfeit the Bugatti, Mercedes or special Ferrari, or even jalopy,” Breyer said. Fisher agreed. It was unclear whether the justices also would rule to give Timbs his Land Rover back or allow Indiana courts to decide that issue. Some justices seemed willing to take that additional step. “If we look at these forfeitures that are occurring today … many of them are grossly disproportionate to the crimes being charged,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor said. But Chief Justice John Roberts said the question of whether what happened to Timbs was excessive might be a closer call. Timbs drove his car to the place where he twice sold small amounts of heroin to undercover officers, and he carried the drugs in the car, Roberts said. Police have long been allowed to seize property in such situations. “You will lose assets you used in the crime,” Roberts said. “You can see how that makes a lot of sense.” Lawyer Wesley Hottot, representing Timbs, told the justices that in rural areas people drive places. He said the use of the Land Rover was incidental to the sale of the drugs. The case has drawn interest from liberal groups concerned about police abuses and conservative organizations opposed to excessive regulation. A decision in Tyson Timbs and a 2012 Land Rover LR2 v. Indiana, 17-1091, is expected by June.

 

Analysis: Trump is right about biased judges; Schumer acknowledges ‘highly political’ rulings

Like a basketball player who mistakenly shoots into his own basket and scores points for the opposing team, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has inadvertently backed President Trump’s accurate contention that there are liberal judges appointed by Democrats and conservative judges appointed by Republicans who rule differently on cases. After President Trump criticized U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar of San Francisco on Tuesday for issuing an order to stop Trump’s new emergency restrictions on asylum claims by immigrants from taking effect – calling Tigar “an Obama judge” – Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts issued a rare public statement rebuking the president. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said Wednesday. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.” Schumer piled on, criticizing President Trump in a Friday tweet: “I don’t agree very often with Chief Justice Roberts, especially his partisan decisions which seem highly political …. But I am thankful today that he – almost alone among Republicans – stood up to President Trump and for an independent judiciary.” OK, stop and think about that tweet. If Schumer calls Roberts a Republican and believes the chief justice issues “partisan decisions which seem highly political” he is corroborating President Trump. The New York Democratic senator sank one for the president. President Trump was stating a fact when he noted that district and appellate court judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit – which exercises jurisdiction over nine Western states and two U.S. island territories – tend to support liberal and Democratic positons in their rulings. Roberts was right to say an independent judiciary is essential and an ideal that judges should strive for. But we live in the real world, not an ideal world. In the real world, judges are not computers, all coming to identical conclusions on cases. Judges are individuals who come to the bench with different life experiences, different judicial philosophies, and – yes – different political views. That’s why they don’t always reach the same conclusions on the same cases. President Trump’s observation about the 9th Circuit undercuts respect for rulings from that circuit, but the truth hurts. As the old saying goes, “facts are stubborn things.” Here, the facts are with President Trump, if you look at the numbers. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – where I served as a law clerk many years ago – has swung incontrovertibly to the left over the past 30 years. The president correctly stated that lawyers opposing his policies forum shop to bring their cases before federal judges appointed by Democrats, because they know such judges are more likely to rule in their favor. An increasing number of these judges seem enamored of the media attention their anti-Trump rulings garner. Media adulation encourages “judicial dicta” – court rulings that go beyond facts presented in a case and the application of law to those facts. District judges in the 9th Circuit are issuing imperious rulings, particularly on immigration cases. In some cases, they have claimed their rulings apply to every federal court in the nation. But that is not how the law works. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently overturned hard-left decisions coming out of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The nation’s highest court accepts cases for review when four members believe circumstances warrant. Typically, a case must be of significance, involve conflicting rulings by appellate courts, or deal with a major contested question. While only a fraction of appeals to the Supreme Court receive review, the American Bar Association reports that 80 percent of the 9th Circuit rulings reviewed by the Supreme Court are overturned. Only one circuit has a higher percentage of overturned cases – the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. They are overruled 83 percent of the time. Notably, that court has 17 Democratic appointees and nine Republican appointees at the district level, and seven Democratic appointees and three Republican appointees active at the appellate level. Altogether, there are 24 Democratic appointees and only 12 Republican appointees. Similarly, in the 9th U.S. Circuit, Democratic appointees outnumber Republican appointees 116 to 33 at the district court level. At the appellate level, Democratic appointees number 16, Republicans just seven. Moreover, of the 132 active Democratic-appointed federal judges within the 9th Circuit, 66 – including Judge Tigar, who was criticized by President Trump – were appointed by President Obama. In other words, 57 percent of Democratic appointees to the 9th Circuit are “Obama judges.” And yes, these are the ones who have made headlines ruling against this President Trump. In effect, what these numbers suggest is exactly what President Trump asserts – that Democratic-appointed judges in the 9th Circuit are out of sync with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, consistently leaning too far left, and with a majority Democrat appointees, most of whom are Obama appointees. Run a counterproof. What is the least-reversed circuit – the one most in sync with the Supreme Court? The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which was reversed only 55 percent of the time. What is that circuit’s composition? Republican appointees outnumber Democrats nine to two. Bottom line: An independent judiciary, in the best tradition of Chief Justice John Marshall, is vitally important. Judges should decide cases in a nonpartisan way. They should review facts impartially, then apply law without personal prejudice or political preference, resolve disputes on narrow legal grounds, construe the Constitution strictly, defer to other branches as constitutionally appropriate, and avoid legislating from the bench. To this extent, Justice Roberts is correct – and in sync with what President Trump and traditional constitutionalists say: America needs a credible, nonpolitical, and independent judiciary. That is and should be a shared goal. However, absent a conscious effort to avoid politics – and in the case of Democratic-appointees, to avoid legislating from the bench – judges who first rose from politics to their judicial appointments seem to drift backward toward their political leanings. President Thomas Jefferson worried about this exact problem. In 1801, he foresaw judicial overreach and warned – even then – that leaders of the political opposition “have retreated into the judiciary as a stronghold, the tenure of which renders it difficult to dislodge them.” In 1807 Jefferson wrote to a friend: “The original error … (was) establishing a judiciary independent of the nation and which, from the citadel of the law, can turn its guns on those they were meant to defend, and control and fashion their proceedings to its own will.” So while we all wish for an independent judiciary – judges who apply the law strictly and on a nonpartisan basis – the 9th U.S. Circuit stands out like a sore thumb. The judges have progressively drifted from the ideal. Accordingly, the facts are with President Trump on this one.

Agreed 100%!!  Thanks to Robert Charles for that spot-on legal op-ed. Robert Charles is a former assistant secretary of state for President George W. Bush, former naval intelligence officer and litigator. He served in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses.

Trump looks to reshape liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

While much of the nation is focused on the health of ailing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Trump’s more immediate and unending concern is the notoriously liberal U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. “Everything goes to the 9th Circuit,” Mr. Trump complained Friday in a bit of hyperbole. “Everything.” Senate Republicans’ padding of their majority in the midterm elections will allow Mr. Trump to move forward with his goal of reshaping the 9th Circuit, as part of his record-setting push to put more conservative judges on circuit courts. The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up five more of Mr. Trump’s judicial nominees Tuesday, including one appeals court judge. The 9th Circuit’s actions on a single day last week illustrated why Mr. Trump wants to change the ideological makeup of the sprawling appeals court, which covers nine Western states and two territories. A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled on Thursday that Mr. Trump cannot stop an Obama administration program that protects young immigrants living in the U.S. illegally from deportation. On the same day, a federal district judge in Montana — part of the 9th Circuit — blocked construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying the Trump administration ignored the project’s impact on climate change. The judge, Brian Morris, is an Obama appointee. Mr. Trump signed an executive order on his second day in office approving the Keystone pipeline, which had been blocked by President Obama. The energy project became a symbol of Mr. Trump’s “America First” economic resurgence. “It was a political decision made by a judge,” Mr. Trump lamented Friday. “I think it’s a disgrace. It’s 48,000 jobs. I approved it; it’s ready to start.” He knows where the case is headed in the appeals pipeline. “I guess they’ll end up going to the 9th Circuit, as usual,” Mr. Trump said pessimistically. The appeals court, based in San Francisco, is authorized for 29 judges, and it has six vacancies. Of the 23 current judges, 16 were appointed by Democrats and seven by Republicans. That means if Mr. Trump fills all the vacancies, the 9th Circuit’s balance would be 16 Democratic appointees and 13 Republican — not a flip in ideology, but closer to partisan parity. The president has three nominations pending. “We’re slowly putting new judges in the 9th Circuit,” the president said.

Indeed..  And, with a few pickups in the Senate for the GOP, Trump can start putting a little more conservative nominees forward for a vote to confirm.  For more, click on the text above.    🙂

Judge Dismisses Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Against Trump, Orders Her to Pay His Legal Fees

A federal judge on Monday dismissed porn star Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President Trump, saying the president was well within his First Amendment rights when he took to Twitter to mock her. Judge S. James Otero said Mr. Trump was using understandable hyperbole when he accused the woman, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, of a “con job” after she released a sketch artist rendering of a man she said threatened her to stay silent about her alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump years ago. The judge, a Bush appointee, said the back-and-forth was standard politicking from both sides, and he wouldn’t step in to limit the president’s ability to fight back. “In short, should plaintiff publicly voice her opinions about Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump is entitled to publicly voice non-actionable opinions about plaintiff,” he ruled. “To allow plaintiff to proceed with her defamation action would, in effect, permit plaintiff to make public allegations against the president without giving him the opportunity to respond. Such a holding would violate the First Amendment.” Judge Otero not only tossed Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit but ordered her to pay Mr. Trump’s legal fees, should he file such a request. Michael Avenatti, Ms. Clifford’s lawyer, who’s set himself up as a major political opponent of Mr. Trump‘s, vowed to appeal. He also said the judge’s ruling was “limited,” and insisted they’ll pursue Mrs. Clifford’s other lawsuits against Mr. Trump and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who she says paid her $130,000 in hush money to keep her from talking about an alleged sexual encounter from years ago. “Trump’s contrary claims are as deceptive as his claims about the inauguration attendance,” Mr. Avenatti said on Twitter. Still, the legal loss — and demanding she pay Mr. Trump’s lawyer’s fees — is a setback for Ms. Clifford and Mr. Avenatti. It also means Mr. Trump will not have to face what could have been an excruciating legal discovery process — what the judge called a “fishing expedition” — that could have delved into the workings of the president’s political, legal and even Twitter operations. The defamation lawsuit stemmed from Ms. Clifford’s decision in April to release a sketch of a man she says threatened her in 2011, warning her to keep quiet. Mr. Trump took to Twitter the next day to ridicule her: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!” Ms. Clifford said the president was in effect calling her a liar, and effectively accusing her of making up a crime. She said that was defamation. Judge Otero, though, said a reasonable observer would have seen the president’s tweet as “rhetorical hyperbole,” or “extravagant exaggeration” used for rhetorical effect. He also said it matters than Ms. Clifford has set herself up as a political opponent of the president, saying that were she to succeed in her defamation claim it would mean the president would be constrained in going after politicians or other political adversaries.

MSNBC and CNN are screaming over this verdict in favor of the President. It’s a beautiful thing…    🙂

Trump snubs Feinstein, Harris to nominate conservative judges to liberal 9th Circuit

President Trump is plowing ahead to fill three vacancies on the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, brushing aside Democratic resistance to nominate conservative judges. Presidents traditionally work with senators from judicial nominees’ home state — in this case, California — to put forward judicial picks. They often seek what’s known as a “blue slip,” or an opinion from those senators. But in a snub to California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, the White House announced Wednesday that Trump had nominated Patrick Bumatay, Daniel Collins and Kenneth Kiyul Lee (all from the Golden State, and reportedly all members of the conservative Federalist Society) to the influential circuit. The court, with a sprawling purview representing nine Western states, has long been a thorn in the side of the Trump White House, with rulings against the travel ban and limits on funding to “sanctuary cities.” GOP critics have branded the court the “Nutty 9th,” in part because many of its rulings have been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Sacramento Bee reported that White House officials had been negotiating with Feinstein and Harris about the appointments earlier in the year, but the dialogue collapsed over the summer. Any working relationship is likely only to have soured further after Harris and Feinstein led the charge on the Senate Judiciary Committee against the confirmation of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In particular, Trump and Republicans accused Feinstein of withholding information about an allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh until after the hearings were over. Both Feinstein and Harris voted against Kavanaugh’s nomination, joined by all but one Democratic senator. Feinstein and Harris reacted angrily to the news of the latest appointments. Feinstein said in a statement that she had been prepared to accept a reported White House proposal of three other judges. She said she opposed both Collins and Lee — who she said had failed to disclose his “controversial writings” on voting rights and affirmative action. “I repeatedly told the White House I wanted to reach an agreement on a package of 9th Circuit nominees, but last night the White House moved forward without consulting me, picking controversial candidates from its initial list and another individual with no judicial experience who had not previously been suggested,” she said in a statement. “Instead of working with our office to identify consensus nominees for the 9th Circuit, the White House continues to try to pack the courts with partisan judges who will blindly support the president’s agenda, instead of acting as an independent check on this administration,” Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams told The Sacramento Bee. Even with the nominations, it would not result in more Republican appointees than Democrat appointees. The Los Angeles Times reports that the approval Thursday of Idaho attorney Ryan Nelson brings the number of Republican appointees to 10 and, if Trump filled all the current openings, it would be 13 Republican appointees to 16 Democratic appointees. The move comes amid a more aggressive push by Republicans to fill vacancies in the federal courts. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday that he wanted the Senate to stay in session until all of the 49 currently pending judicial appointments are confirmed. “Lots of work to do,” Grassley tweeted. “Senate [should] stay in session til all 49 judges are CONFIRMED/ work comes [before] campaigning.” Grassley has suggested in the past that the “blue slip” process has been abused to block otherwise qualified nominees. In a late 2017 floor speech, the senator said colleagues should not “block a nominee because it’s not the person the senator would’ve picked.” He said the White House should “consult” home-state senators and “make that call” in the end.

Agreed..under normal circumstances.  But, things are NOT normal.  Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris (D-CA) did NOT act in good faith during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.  Feinstein politicized the whole Dr. Ford sham, and knowingly undermined the process; holding on to that letter for weeks instead of turning it over to the committee.  She will likely be investigated for her acts.  Then there was Harris’ grandstanding and walking out of the hearing.  She’s running for president.  Her self-righteous, hypocritical grandstanding was nauseating.  So, kudos to President Trump for just moving forward with these important nominations.  Glad to see him punch back against these obnoxious liberal Democratic Senators from California who, again, continue to NOT act in good faith.

Senate confirms 15 Trump judges after GOP leaders, Democrats strike deal

The Senate confirmed 15 of President Trump’s judicial picks Thursday night after GOP leaders reached a deal with Democrats, clearing about a third of the backlog and closing up shop through Election Day to give senators a chance to campaign. Three of the judges are for the powerful circuit courts of appeals, while the other 12 were for district court positions. Many cleared on near-party line votes, while others were approved by voice votes. They were the first judicial confirmations since last weekend’s vote on Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Some Republicans had hoped senators would stay in town to work on all 49 judicial picks who’d been ready for floor votes. But the 15 was the best deal the GOP could get, representing the amount of judges who could realistically have been confirmed if the Senate had devoted full time to confirmations over the next few weeks. Liberal activists were incensed that Democratic leaders agreed to the votes. “This deal was totally unnecessary and it is a bitter pill to swallow so soon after the Kavanaugh fight that so many progressive activists poured their hearts and souls into,” said Chris Kang, chief counsel for Demand Justice. Conservative activists had been hoping for even more judges, but were enthusiastic about the 15 who did clear. “I’d love for them to stay and grind them into the ground over the next four weeks, but truth be told, if you got 15 — that’s huge,” said Rick Manning, president of Americans for Limited Government. The three circuit court nominees confirmed were David Porter for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a 50-45 vote; Ryan Douglas Nelson for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 51-44; and Richard J. Sullivan for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 79-16. Hours before the floor vote the Judiciary Committee approved eight more judicial nominees and readied them for the floor. That means there will be 34 judicial nominees waiting for votes when the Senate returns in November for a lame-duck session.

This was a smart deal..  For more, click on the text above.