Sunday, September 13, 2020

Law 'n Order, Republican Style

By Scott V. Sandford
Justice Correspondent

Lost in the torrent of news about catastrophic wildfires in the west, the scarcely-surprising revelation that Pres Super Spreader was lying, and continues to lie, about the lethality of the uncontrolled coronavirus epidemic, not to mention his contemning of fallen soldiers as “losers” and “suckers,” was another catastrophic series of blows to the rule of law in America.  Side benefit: these assaults had only one cause and one effect: to rig the election in favor of – you guessed it, Republicans.

How many defeats did the cause of law and order suffer this week?  Let us count the ways and the number of elected Republicans who have condemned these travesties (Spoiler alert:  it's 0.0.).


Remember Michael Flynn, the demented whack job who for reasons still not fully known decided he would tip off Russian diplomats about the incoming Administration's plans to undercut real President Obama's Russia policies and then lied about it to the FBI?

Live shot of rule of law, after Barr weighs in
He was indicted by Republican Special Counsel Robert Mueller. After looking at the overwhelming evidence that he, um, lied, he copped a plea and admitted under oath in open court twice that he was guilty of the crimes charged.

Years passed, and U Bum's Attorney General Torquemada Barr decided for no doubt legitimate reasons that in fact there was no basis for the FBI's investigation (discounting the intercepted communications between Gen. Guilty and Soviet, uh, Russian diplomats).  Accordingly, his Department of Justice demanded that the presiding judge drop the case and spring Flynn.

The judge decided to appoint a friend of the court to make whatever arguments could be made in opposition to this motion (because Flynn was jiggy with it).  He chose subversive radical leftist John Gleeson, a, um, former Federal judge, Federal prosecutor, and associate at that well-known Antifa front organization, Cravath.  

Judge Gleeson had a few judiciously chosen reactions to Barr's efforts:

“In the United States, Presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty — twice, before two different judges — and whose guilt is obvious,” wrote John Gleeson, a former federal judge and prosecutor appointed to oppose the Justice Department in the case.

The extraordinarily scathing brief alleges in detail and with precision that the Justice Department broke from decades of procedure to help out a friend of President Trump’s. Dripping with contempt for the government’s position, Gleeson argued that federal prosecutors were too lazy to respond to earlier arguments he had made, including whether the content of Flynn’s lies was material.

He added that the DOJ typically does not “make a practice of attacking its own prior filings in a case, as well as judicial opinions ruling in its favor, all while asserting that the normal rules should be set aside for a defendant who is openly favored by the President.”

“Yet that is exactly what has unfolded here,” Gleeson wrote.

We don't have much to add to what Judge Gleeson had to say, except to point out that this act of obstruction of justice by Torquemada Barr, taken in isolation (which it isn't – see below!) would be the worst crime ever committed by a United States Attorney General, up to and including John Mitchell.


We all know that, thanks to the absurd and anti-democratic Electoral College, the 2020 Presidential election will be decided not by the will of the people of the United States but by the people in six swing states. One of those states, which Hillary Clinton lost by some 23,000 votes in 2016, is the great state of Wisconsin. How's it going? 

Not so good.

The appalling Republican record of doing everything in its power to nobble elections and hold on to its minority rule is known to all, other than the press and Republicans, so we need not dilate on it here.  Exhibit 38,534: the 2020 Wisconsin ballot.   Republicans have noticed that U Bum's margin of victory was less than the 31,000 votes garnered by Jill Stein on the Insufferable Entitled Old White Lady ticket.

Could idiocy [Surely, lightning – Ed.] strike twice?  Wisconsin Republicans sure hope so, because they've been hard at work promoting a Green Party ballot line again.  Here's the timetable, courtesy of The Washington Post (although it took some work to unravel their story):

Waiting to hear when Wisconsin Supreme
Court will let him turn on the water
In July, the Green Party suddenly found the resources somewhere to mount a petition drive to get on the Wisconsin ballot.

In August, the staff of the Wisconsin Cheese Board [Surely, Election Commission? – Ed.] determined that the Green Party was using two addresses and told them to advise which one was correct.

After getting no response to this request, on August 20 the Commission denied the Party's request for a ballot line.

Two weeks passed, hurricanes raged, wildfires devoured the west, wheels of cheddar aged in the Wisconsin Dells.  Eventually the Green Party, using the same law firm that represents the Republican Party filed suit to get on the ballot.

On Thursday, September 10, the Republican-dominated state Supreme Court barred the printing and distribution of ballots until it had ruled.

No problem, right?  Umm . . .

That has left election clerks across the state in limbo. They warned that millions of ballots have already been printed, and cities and towns have begun stuffing and labeling envelopes and preparing to send out more than 1 million ballots that have been requested so far by voters.

Now, local officials may need to order new ballots — and cough up the money to pay for them — while facing imminent state and federal deadlines to send them to voters. The state requires that ballots be sent to voters who have requested them by Sept. 17, and the federal deadline for mailing ballots to overseas and military voters is two days later, Sept. 19. 

So to recap the election process in a state that helped swing the 2016 election with a margin of 23,000 is facing a meltdown of its voting system, because a partisan court knows that the longer it dithers, the better it is for their boy, President Tiny Toadstool.

When The Washington Post asked the Green Party candidate, who is not an elderly Harvard-educated madwoman from the Boston suburbs, whether he had gotten help from Republicans, he said the quiet part out loud: “You get help where you can find it. . . .They have their reasons and we have ours.” 


The full list of obstructions and perversions of justice committed by Torquemada Barr is far too long to list in full, but in addition to Count I, it will be recalled that he has promised to deliver his hit job on the 2016 decision to open a counterintelligence investigation on the many efforts by Russia to intervene on behalf of President PAB and the reciprocal efforts by corrupt President PAB minions to solicit such unlawful intervention. 

Torquemada has already made clear that he doesn't believe his October Surprise violates the policy that prosecutors “may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.”

But in his fevered mind that doesn't keep him from releasing an “interim report” with as many smears as he can slip in. The pressure on the actual investigators has finally caused one career prosecutor to exit stage left, integrity intact:

A top aide to the criminal prosecutor whom Attorney General William P. Barr assigned to scrutinize the Trump-Russia investigation has resigned unexpectedly from the Justice Department, a spokesman said Friday.

It was not immediately clear why the official, Nora R. Dannehy — a trusted assistant to John H. Durham, the prosecutor leading the investigation and the U.S. attorney in Connecticut — stepped down.

The Hartford Courant, which first reported her departure, cited unidentified colleagues in Mr. Durham’s office as saying that she had expressed concerns in recent weeks about pressure from Mr. Barr to deliver results ahead of the presidential election in November.

So a career prosecutor isn't going to be a part of any further effort to pervert the course of justice, which in this case would mean smearing those like Mueller and the FBI who uncovered a chunk of the truth: that President U Bum sought and received massive illegal Russian assistance in 2016.  


Speaking of nobbling elections in favor of Republicans, let's check with another bunch of bent judges, this time doing business as the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Last week the Republican majority of that court effectively undid the will of the people of Florida, who voted to allow felons who had completed their sentences to vote.

Lifetime felon disenfranchisement had been a feature of Florida's two racist constitutions written in 1885 and 1968.  After years of effort, the state's constitution was rewritten by popular referendum.

To frustrate the popular will and keep 774,000 citizens away from the polls (in a state won by the Republican nominees  in 2000 by at most 587 votes), the Republican dominated government added a requirement that the felon pay all fines and court costs imposed at any level of government, regardless of ability to pay.

The punch line: in many cases, these people had no idea what that amount was due to sloppy or nonexistent recordkeeping.  So they were denied their right to vote until they complied with a law impossible to comply with.  Not to mention that conditioning the vote on payment of a tax was expressly outlawed by the 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

So courts held until the case reached the Republican dominated 11th Circuit.  Guess what?  All six Republican judges, including the five appointed by President U Bum, waved aside 150 years of law and history protecting the franchise and said that the Florida Republican regime could override the popular vote and deny voting rights to the unlucky 774,000,  over one-quarter of which are persons of color.

Or as the dissent said pithily

To demonstrate the magnitude of the problem, Florida has not even been able to tell the 17 named plaintiffs in this case what their outstanding [debts] are. . . . . So felons who want to satisfy the LFO requirement are unable to do so, and will be prevented from voting in the 2020 elections and far beyond. Had Florida wanted to create a system to obstruct, impede, and impair the ability of felons to vote under Amendment 4, it could not have come up with a better one.

And, Judge Jill Pryor, that's a problem because why?

In arguing this appeal, the State told us outright what it has been showing us all along: The State doesn’t care if “the proportion of felons able to complete their sentence” with [debts] included is “0%.” . . . If this is not a nullification of the will of the electorate, I don’t know what would be. And it is a dream deferred for the men and women who, having paid their debt to society to the extent of their capacity—often by having served lengthy prison sentences and periods under supervision—are deprived of the franchise that Amendment 4 promised to automatically restore. The majority today deprives the plaintiffs and countless others like them of opportunity and equality in voting through its denial of the plaintiffs’ due process, Twenty-Fourth Amendment, and equal protection claims. I dissent.

Not respectfully dissent, but dissent. That's a tell.

But you can parse the majority's ridiculous dismissal of the poll-tax, due process, and equal protection arguments yourself, if you are suffering from low blood pressure.  Of greater interest are the five very fine people nominated by Pres U Bum and rammed through the Senate by Moscow Mitch McConnell, who made this cruel and lawless decision possible.

There wasn't much left of the right to vote
after the Eleventh Circuit was finished with it.

Say hello to Kevin Newsom, Federalist Society stalwart (although in his testimony he claimed not to be able to understand its mission statement).  He's a deep thinker:  “In 2000, Newsom wrote a law review article equating the privacy rationale of Roe v. Wade to Dred Scott, the 1857 decision upholding slavery.”  

Elizabeth Branch?  Another Federalist Society member.

Barbara Lagoa?  She's been on the bench for many months now.  And who would have guessed, but she joined the Federalist Society in 1998.  She also didn't know what the Society's mission statement meant.  

Britt Grant clerked for Brett “Trouser Snake” Kavanaugh in his post-sex crime days on the D.C. Circuit.   She's a member of the National Lawyers' Guild.

Nah, we're s***in' you:

In addition, Ms. Grant is a long-time member of the Federalist Society, joining this group in 2004 during her first year of law school and serving as her law school chapter president and later as a member of the Atlanta Chapter Advisory Board and Executive Board. This out-of-the-mainstream legal organization represents a sliver of America’s legal profession – just four percent – yet over 80 percent of Trump’s circuit court nominees, and a significant number of his district court nominees, have been Federalist Society members.

Last but certainly least, Robert Luck.  You already know the rest:

Luck and Lagoa’s successful confirmations cap off a rapid ascent in 2019. Less than a year ago, Luck and Lagoa were appointed to the Florida Supreme Court by Gov. Ron DeSantis after serving as judges in the Florida circuit court system. In September, Trump nominated the pair to replace two federal judges. Neither Luck nor Lagoa has federal judicial experience but are well-respected among peers in the legal field. They are both members of the Federalist Society, a nationwide group of conservative lawyers that seeks to interpret the law as written and plays a large role in Republican court nominations.

(We'll leave for another day the propriety if any of two right wing clowns who owe their rise to bent Gov. DeSantis weighing in on the constitutionality of laws pushed through by the same Gov. DeSantis.)

But the point isn't that the five loons are members of a fringe shadowy legal fraternity with repellent and insane views.  It's that they are members of an Establishment shadowy legal fraternity with repellent and insane views.  Are there any Federalist Society members we could cite in support of this proposition?

How about every progressive's favorite Never Tiny Toadstooler and husband of the year George Conway?  He “has long been a member of and contributor to the Federalist Society, [and] said he had nothing but admiration for its work.”  He now thinks the Tangerine-Faced Grifter is a danger to the Rule of Law.

Before you prostrate yourself before him, maybe ask him whether he also believes the holding of the five clowns his pressure group shoehorned onto the Eleventh Circuit that citizens can be barred from voting until they pay fines and costs in an amount unknowable to them was maybe not the brightest day for the Rule of Law he claims to hold so dear.

UPDATE, Sept. 15 – On September 14, one Republican judge on the Wisconsin Supreme Court defected, becoming the decisive vote to dismiss the Green Party legal challenge on the grounds that entertaining it would disrupt the election.  The Post account also provided further evidence were more needed of who was behind the efforts to put fringe parties on the ballot in a swing state:

Bob Spindell, a Republican member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission who voted to allow the Green Party on the ballot, said in an interview Monday that partisan leanings influenced the actions of many of those involved in both the Green Party and the West cases.

“To be truthful with you, the Republicans wanted [Kanye] West to be on the ballot, and Republicans wanted the Green Party to be on the ballot,” Spindell said. “Democrats did not want the West or Green Party tickets to be on the ballot.”

Wisconsin is one of at least five states where The Post has identified Republicans, including activists who had recently voiced support for President Trump, working on an effort to put West on the ballot. As with the Green Party ticket, the GOP involvement has raised fears among Democrats that West’s candidacy is intended to peel votes from Biden.

In West’s case, Lane Ruhland, a Madison lawyer and former general counsel for the state Republican Party, delivered his ballot petition to state regulators in early August.

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