legal

Federal Appeals court rules House of Representatives can bar secular prayer from atheist

A D.C. federal appeals court ruled Friday that the House of Representatives does not have to allow a self-described atheist to deliver secular prayers. The Good Friday ruling concerned efforts by Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, to pray in the House chamber as a guest chaplain — only to be turned down by Father Patrick Conroy, the House chaplain. The court, however, sided with Conroy in determining the House was in its right to require prayers be religious in nature. “We could not order Conroy to allow Barker to deliver a secular invocation because the House permissibly limits the opening prayer to religious prayer. Barker has therefore failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted,” the opinion stated. Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution declares that both the House and Senate “may determine the rules of its proceedings.” Barker had alleged that Conroy rejected him “because he is an atheist.” But the court determined that while that may be true, the House requirement that prayers be religious holds weight. “In other words, even if, as Barker alleges, he was actually excluded simply for being an atheist, he is entitled to none of the relief he seeks,” the opinion said. The tradition of House and Senate prayers goes back to 1789. The House and Senate both begin their legislative days with a religious invocation, frequently delivered by Conroy and his Senate counterpart Barry Black.

Score one for the Constitution..and freedom OF religion; not freedom FROM religion.  Our founders would have been proud of this court ruling.  Glad that sh_t disturbing, self-righteous, rabble-rousing, Christian-hating Dan Barker was smacked down.  Excellent!    🙂

Trump picks Gorsuch, Kavanaugh take opposite sides on 2 of 3 Supreme Court rulings Tuesday

President Trump’s two appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — were expected to help bring about a “conservative revolution” on the nation’s highest court. But in two out of three rulings by the court Tuesday, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh found themselves on opposing sides. The two cases in which the justices did not agree involved an Indian tribe and Washington state taxes, and another involving maritime law. Gorsuch, who was nominated by Trump in 2017 to fill the seat Senate Republicans held open for more than a year after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in 2016, sided with the liberal justices in ruling that the Yakama Nation doesn’t have to pay a Washington state fuel tax. He cited an 1855 treaty that made a “handful of modest promises” to the tribe, including the right to move goods to market freely. Yakama Nation Chairman JoDe Goudy praised the ruling. In a statement cited by NW News Network, he wrote: “Today marks a decision that reinforces the Yakama way of life, both in historical context as well as modern interpretation.” Gorsuch’s opinion was joined only by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the court’s liberal wing. The other three liberal justices voted for the same outcome, but for different reasons. Kavanaugh dissented from the Gorsuch and the liberals. He argued that the 1855 treaty merely gave tribal members equal rights to travel. The other case that saw Kavanaugh and Gorsuch at odds addressed a lawsuit brought by two Navy veterans who had been exposed to asbestos. Writing the court’s opinion, Kavanaugh said that the makers of pumps, turbines and blowers that required asbestos insulation to operate properly should have warned about the health dangers of asbestos exposure. This is so, Kavanaugh wrote, even though the companies did not manufacture or sell the asbestos to the Navy. The liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts also were in the majority. Gorsuch, whose dissent was joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, wrote that the manufacturers “are at risk of being held responsible retrospectively for failing to warn about other people’s products.” Tuesday’s third case demonstrated the more common alliance of the conservative justices. The court’s decision, which saw Gorsuch and Kavanaugh in lockstep with the other conservatives, gave the federal government broader power to detain immigrants who are awaiting deportation anytime after they have been released from prison on criminal charges. The four liberal justices dissented.

Bottom line..  These two Trump appointees to the Supreme Court are NOT “rubber stamps” for the Trump agenda…whatever that may be.  Keep that in mind, the next time you hear some Democrat politician or liberal media person say something like that.

Supreme Court upholds ICE detention without bail for serious criminals

Illegal immigrants with serious criminal records can be held without bail while awaiting deportation even if ICE didn’t immediately pick them up when they were released from prison or jail, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The 5-4 decision marked another rejection for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the liberal panel that covers the country’s West Coast, and that has tested a number of legal theories on immigration law. In this case, the 9th Circuit had ruled that under the law, if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement immediately arrested someone released from a federal, state or local prison, they could be held without bond in the immigration detention system. But if ICE didn’t immediately arrest them, the migrants must be given a chance to make bond. The case turned on a phrase in the law that says the no-bail determination applies to someone picked up by ICE “when the alien is released” from prison or jail. The lower court ruled “when” must mean the day of release. But Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing the majority opinion, said that could create a new loophole for sanctuary cities, which often refuse to alert ICE officers when releasing people from their local prisons and jails. “Under these circumstances, it is hard to believe that Congress made the secretary’s mandatory-detention authority vanish at the stroke of midnight after an alien’s release,” he wrote. He said it made more sense that “when” means at some point after the release, not at the exact moment of it. While many illegal immigrants are released while they await their immigration court proceedings and possible deportation, Congress has deemed some serious criminals to be such safety risks that they must be held by ICE while their cases proceed. Those are the ones affected by Tuesday’s ruling.

Excellent!!    🙂

Supreme Court rules states may not impose excessive fines

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that state law enforcement is bound by the same rules against excessive fines as the feds, incorporating a new Eighth Amendment protection against efforts to seize property. The justices, in a 9-0 decision, ruled in a case involving a convicted Indiana drug dealer whose SUV cops wanted to forfeit to pay off his fines — but the vehicle was worth four times what he owed. The high court said seizing the car to pay off his fine was grossly disproportionate. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who delivered the court’s opinion, said protection against excessive economic sanctions was “fundamental to our scheme of ordered liberty.” “For good reason, the protection against excessive fines has been a constant shield throughout Anglo-American history: Exorbitant tolls undermine other constitutional liberties,” she wrote. “Excessive fines can be used, for example, to retaliate against or chill the speech of political enemies.” The ruling comes as police forfeiture powers are increasingly under scrutiny. In the case before the court, Tyson Timbs faced a maximum $10,000 fine a drug-dealing conviction involving $400 worth of heroin. He struck a deal agreeing to pay about $1,200 as part of his sentence, which also included a year in home detention and five years on probation. Indiana then filed papers to conduct a civil forfeiture of his 2012 Land Rover, which he purchased for roughly $40,000 after receiving an inheritance from his father, and which was used in his drug-dealing. A trial court ruled for Timbs, saying the value of the vehicle was far more than even his maximum penalty. An appeals court affirmed, but the Indiana Supreme Court ruled against him, saying the U.S. Constitution’s protection against excessive fines only applied to federal authorities. The Supreme Court stepped in Wednesday, ruling for Timbs and establishing that the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause does extend to the states, via the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process guarantees. Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas both wrote concurring opinions agreeing with the court’s ultimate ruling, but disagreeing with the legal reasoning. They said the Eighth Amendment’s protection against excessive fines should be incorporated through the 14th Amendment’s privileges and immunity clause rather than through due process. “As a constitutionally enumerated right understood to be a privilege of American citizenship, the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on excessive fines applies in full to the states,” Justice Thomas wrote. Brianne Gorod, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center, said the ruling was a “milestone in the 228 year history of the Bill of Rights.” “Significantly, this case has united progressives and conservatives—both advocates and the justices themselves—in a shared understanding of the original meaning of the Constitution,” she said.

Agreed..  This is a HUGE victory for our personal civil liberties!  Kudos to the Supremes for this 9-0 smackdown of the Indiana Supreme Court.  Outstanding!!   🙂

Federal judge orders Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes to answer written Benghazi questions in Clinton email lawsuit

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes must answer written questions about the State Department’s response to the deadly 2012 terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, as part of an ongoing legal battle over whether Hillary Clinton sought to deliberately evade public record laws by using a private email server while secretary of state. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth denied a request by the conservative group Judicial Watch to make Rice and Rhodes sit for depositions, but agreed to have them answer written questions. He also agreed to Judicial Watch’s request to depose the State Department about the preparation of talking points for Rice, then President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, ahead of appearances on political talk shows the Sunday following the attack. That deposition is part of Judicial Watch’s inquiry into whether the State Department acted in bad faith by not telling a court for months that they had asked in mid-2014 for missing emails to be returned. Rice initially claimed on several talk shows that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was triggered by protests over an anti-Islam video. The attack resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. “Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case,” Lamberth wrote in a 16-page order. Lamberth added that “State’s role in the [talking] points’ content and development could shed light on Clinton’s motives for shielding her emails from [Freedom of Information Act] requesters or on State’s reluctance to search her emails.” Lamberth also allowed Judicial Watch to seek written answers from Bill Priestap, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. Priestap, who supervised the bureau’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, retired from government service at the end of last year. “In a major victory for accountability, Judge Lamberth today authorized Judicial Watch to take discovery on whether the Clinton email system evaded FOIA and whether the Benghazi scandal was one reason for keeping Mrs. Clinton’s email secret,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Today, Judicial Watch issued document requests and other discovery to the State Department about the Clinton email scandal. Next up, we will begin questioning key witnesses under oath.” The judge’s order amounts to approval of a discovery plan he ordered last month. In that ruling, Lamberth wrote that Clinton’s use of a private email account was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency” and said the response of the State and Justice Departments “smacks of outrageous misconduct.” As part of the discovery, Judicial Watch can depose Jacob Sullivan, Clinton’s former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff, and Justin Cooper, a longtime Bill Clinton aide who helped arrange the setup of Hillary Clinton’s private email address and server. Judicial Watch said the discovery period will conclude within 120 days. A post-discovery hearing will then be held to determine whether additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, may be deposed.

Drip drip drip…  With each new day, we continue to learn more about Susan Rice’s and Hillary’s lies to we-the-people as they tried to cover up their poor decisions and incompetence that led to the tragedy in Benghazi.  Ben Rhodes was just a Dem political hack, a “useful idiot,” who just repeated the talking point lie that the riots were a result of a reaction to an online video (that nobody saw).  Kudos to Judicial Watch for pushing this issue and using the courts to get answers we should have had years ago.

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.

Alan Dershowitz: Michael Cohen falsely conflates ‘wrong’ and ‘illegal’ while bashing Trump

Legal icon Alan Dershowitz says the latest version attorney Michael Cohen — the one who says his lying days are behind him — is obfuscating when it comes to President Trump. Mr. Cohen gave an interview to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Friday regarding the now-infamous hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, but Mr. Dershowitz was not impressed. The Harvard Law School professor emeritus told Fox and Friends that a word like “wrong” in this case is erroneously being used as a synonym for “illegal.” “Reasonable people can disagree about whether it’s wrong to pay hush money to somebody to stop them from disclosing alleged improprieties sexually. Reasonable people can say that’s wrong or that’s right,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “It’s not illegal.” Mr. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison this week for various crimes, including campaign-finance violations. “It’s sad that I should take responsibility for [Trump’s] dirty deeds,” Mr. Cohen said. “I will not be the villain, as I told you once before. I will not be the villain of his story. … I knew what I was doing was wrong. I stood up before the world yesterday and I accepted responsibility for my actions.” Mr. Dershowitz countered that Mr. Cohen is conflating moral questions regarding allegations of marital infidelity with an incorrect reading of campaign-finance laws. “If a presidential candidate took cash and went to one of these women and said, ‘I’m paying you not to disclose what happened and I’m doing it in order to help myself be elected president,’ that would not be a crime,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “A president is entitled to make campaign contributions to his own campaign. The only issue is if he did it at all, did he do it properly. To the extent that he authorized Cohen, that makes them payments by the president, which makes them legal.” “Whether you think it’s wrong or right, I don’t understand the case for how it’s illegal. If you look at the very, very complicated campaign laws, the one thing that comes out simply is that a candidate may himself or herself contribute as much as they want to a campaign,” he added.