Law postsWednesday May 08, 2019
792 and Counting
Former federal prosecutors have a statement up on Medium.com saying that based on the evidence in the Mueller Report, if it were up to them, Donald J. Trump would be charged with multiple felonies for obstruction of justice:
Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.
They provide examples:
- The President's efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort;
- The President's efforts to limit the scope of Mueller's investigation to exclude his conduct; and
- The President's efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.
There's no heat to the piece, it's just matter-of-fact, just the rule of law. Just. It includes federal prosecutors from left and right, from Republican and Democratic administrations. Check it out. Pass it around. Yesterday morning there were 600+ signatures. Now there are nearly 800. Where she stops...?
Shelby County, Cont.
“Consider voting rights. In the past decade, Republicans have changed and applied electoral laws to make it harder for Democrats, especially people of color, to vote. The Supreme Court abetted these practices with its decision, in 2013, in the Shelby County case, which gutted the Voting Rights Act. The midterm elections brought home the consequences. In states around the country—especially Florida and Georgia, where African-Americans ran competitive statewide campaigns—voter suppression, in various forms, demeaned the process and may have affected the outcome.
”And what has the Trump Justice Department done about these outrages? It's encouraged them...“
Jeffrey Toobin, on his straightforward and nuanced piece, ”Making the Case," about the confirmation hearings for William Barr for AG
Temperament, temperament, Judge.
Regardless of the allegations against him, yesterday Kavanaugh revealed himself to be what his CV long implied he was: a partisan hack, without the temperament to earn a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is from his opening statement:
This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election; fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record; revenge on behalf of the Clintons; and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.
Really? The Clintons? Again? How long will the Republicans play that tune? I guess as long as their idiot supporters get up and dance.
Kavanaugh's exchanges with U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris—both former prosecutors—were particuarly bad. He was petulant, taunting. To Klobuchar, it was like the student asked about his homework who responds, “Where your homework?” Worse, perhaps, was the exchange with Harris. He just didn't answer. He didn't answer a basic question: Do you want an FBI investigation into these allegations? Generally, if someone makes allegations against you that you feel are BS, you want to shed as much light as possible. You tell others: Please investigate this. When the light is shed, you will see there is nothing there. His reaction was the opposite. He wouldn't even say whether he wanted it investigated. He didn't even want that on the record.
McConnell, Grassley, Graham, et al., are intent on pushing this through anyway. They will regret it. More, the country will regret it. It will further weaken our institutions. My god. How much damage is done by those wearing the flag and beating their chests.
Four Questions for Brett Kavanaugh
Turns out current SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh was for prosecuting POTUSes before he was, like, totally against it.
Here, via Jeffrey Toobin, is his POV when he was on the Starr commission investigating Pres. Clinton in the 1990s:
Kavanaugh, who “was considered one of Starr's intellectual heavy-lifters, pushed hardest to confront Clinton with some of the dirtiest facts linked to his sexual indiscretions with Lewinsky.” In a memo to Starr, he proposed that Clinton be asked the following questions, among others, before the grand jury: “If Monica Lewinsky says that you ejaculated into her mouth on two occasions in the Oval Office area, would she be lying? . . . If Monica Lewinsky says that on several occasions you had her give [you] oral sex, made her stop, and then ejaculated into the sink in the bathroom off the Oval Office, would she be lying?” Starr apparently thought better of this plan ...
Then Kavanuagh thought better of the whole “Are presidents above the law?” thing:
Kavanaugh's service in the Bush White House—and, perhaps, his view of future Republican Presidential patrons—led him to revise his Clinton-era view of the rights of Presidents who are under investigation. In a law-review article from 2009, Kavanaugh said that Presidents should not only be free from the possibility of indictment while in office but should also be allowed to avoid questioning from law-enforcement officials. He wrote that Congress should “consider a law exempting a president—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.”
Here are four questions I'd like to ask him:
- You‘ve been appointed to the highest court in the land by a president who gained office with help from Russia. How do you feel about that?
- Because of your views on presidents being above the law, would you recuse yourself from any decision involving Pres. Trump’s Russian scandal and/or Robert Mueller's investigation into same?
- If it turns out Pres. Trump's connections to Russia go deeper than already revealed, to the point where we have to question his loyalty to this country, would you resign?
- Have you ever ejaculated into your wife's mouth?
Louis Menand has a piece in The New Yorker on the legal and technological history of privacy in America that's worth reading. The following is one of its least important parts but it hit home.
In the late 1940s, the District of Columbia began allowing the Muzak company to pipe radio broadcasts (90% music, 5% news, 5% ads) into its buses and trollies at low volume. Two men objected, took their case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but lost, 7-1. The lone dissenter was William O. Douglas, who felt it was a privacy issue. “The beginning of all freedom,” he wrote, is “the right to be let alone.” Not many have agreed with him. Or: People agree but on a case-by-case basis.
As for why it was 7-1 when there are nine justices? Menand writes:
One Justice, Felix Frankfurter, recused himself. Frankfurter explained that his own aversion to Muzak was so visceral—“my feelings are so strongly engaged as a victim,” he wrote—that he was incapable of attaining the degree of disinterestedness necessary to render a judgment.
Many years ago, I wrote a piece on just this: my endless search for quiet:
In Taiwan in the late ‘80s I was forever asking restaurant managers to turn down their overly sentimental, usually western rock n’ roll so I could study during lunch. Tai da shung, I would tell them, pointing at the ceiling. Too loud. Ching... I would pantomime turning a dial. Back at my table, was it my imagination, or had the music actually gotten louder?
At a hotel restaurant in Portland, the waitress appeared both surprised and grateful by my request. You mean we can actually turn the music...down? Thank God! A teriyaki place I frequent in Seattle, on the other hand, has adamantly refused my entreaties. Because the kitchen help is listening to the same music and it's all they have to help through another day of drudgery? No, they play their own tunes. The music is for our benefit. Background noise, perhaps, so we won't hear one another chew, or so single diners might feel less lonely (listening to songs of love and loss). The real reason probably lies closer to my own reaction. As soon as I finish my food, I'm gone. There's no reading the rest of the chapter. There's no lingering there.
Over the years, I think I‘ve gotten better at blocking it all out. I guess you have to. There are no quiet places. At the Mariners game on Wednesday, my friend Jim complained about the overly loud music between innings, making conversation difficult, and I nodded, but I’m like the traffic cop now. “Oh right. That.” But back when I wrote the piece? The Mariners game was exactly one of the complaints:
At a baseball game my friends and I have to shout at one another to be heard over the PA system and its warmed-up rock classics. Ditto the bar after the game. Are we all such lousy conversationalists that we need to create so many impediments to conversation? Or does the loud, raucous background give the appearance that we are leading loud, raucous lives?
Anyway, now I know who to blame: Public Utilities Comm'n v. Pollak (1952).