federal court

Apropos of Nothing: Truth, Justice, and the American Ouroboros

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

VIII. Adjustment.

This is just a question: Is anyone else enjoying the hell out of the fact that Judge Wood might well be the undoing of Donald Trump and, thereby, very possibly the great Republican swindle itself?

That the crushing blow comes through her court would be . . . pretty much the epic saga Americans have been wanting, and, well . . . yeah. There’s also that.

Furthermore, that we Americans could manage to do this to ourselves? How is that not one of the most fascinating questions history could possibly countenance?

What They Vote For (Yellowhammer Special)

#supremacism | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Lebanon's memories: Pictures of Lebanon's family, in happier days. (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 5, "Gunsmoke Blows, Life Flows...")

This is the sort of thing only voters can achieve:

Rep. Mo Brooks is moving on after a distant third-place finish in the Republican primary on Tuesday for the Alabama Senate special election.

And Brooks is doing that without endorsing either of the two men, Judge Roy Moore and appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who beat him to enter a runoff on Sept. 26 to decide the GOP nominee.

(Connolly)

More precisely: After rejecting Rep. Mo Brooks to replace Attorney General and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, voters find themselves presented with a choice between the disgraceful Luther Strange and the disgraced Roy Moore, and history reminds that state voters have already re-elected the twice-disgraced former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after his first tumble from grace for abuse of authority. What chance does Luther Strange have? All he ever did was take his dispute against human rights, on behalf of religious supremacism, to the Supreme Court and lose.

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A “Political Question” (Abu Ghraib)

This is still going on:

A federal court of appels on Friday reinstated a case brought by four Iraqis who allege they were tortured by employees of CACI while they were held at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War.

The case had been dismissed by a lower court that found the alleged abuses amounted to a “political question” and was beyond the court’s jurisdiction. But the case, which was first filed in 2008, was reinstated by a panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

(Davenport)

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Davenport, Christian. “U.S. Appeals Court reinstates Abu Ghraib prison abuse case against CACI”. The Washington Post. 21 October 2016.

A Reminder None of Us Needed

Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 6, "An Aroma Sweet, a Heart Bitter...".

Because this is still going on:

Former Idaho Sen. Larry E. Craig must pay $242,533 to the Treasury Department for using campaign money on legal representation in the aftermath of his 2007 guilty plea after a Minnesota airport bathroom sex sting, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the argument from Craig’s lawyers that the legal costs are no longer personal expenses when an arrest becomes politicized and an opponent uses the arrest for political reasons.

Craig spent about $200,000 in campaign funds on legal fees to try to undo the plea.

(Ruger)

Or, rather, it was.

You know, it’s like: Oh, for phucking phuckity-phuck phuck-all! We’d all like to forget!

I mean, really.

Damn it. I mean, please just tell me it’s all over, now.

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Ruger, Todd. “Ex-Sen. Craig Loses Appeal On Funds Use After Bathroom Incident”. Roll Call. 4 March 2016.

Republican Governance (Aborted)

Corset - Detail of frame from 'Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt'.

This is pretty straightforward:

• In 2013, North Dakota Republicans passed into law a heartbeat abortion bill, which would have set the termination cutoff around six weeks.

• The law never went into effect, and was struck in federal court in April, 2014.

• In July, 2015 a federal appeals court affirmed that ruling; the North Dakota anti-abortion law that never went into effect remained struck.

• Today the Supreme Court said no to the Peace Garden (Roughrider? Flickertail?) State’s last appeal; the law remains dead.

This is the only catch: This was how it was supposed to go.

Republicans knew the law wouldn’t survive; Gov. Jack Dalrymple even said so when he signed the bill into law: “Although the likelihood of this measure surviving a court challenge remains in question, this bill is nevertheless a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade”. Apparently, the governor thought viability was an open question, which would of course be the reason Judge Daniel L. Hovland wrote, in the April, 2014 decision, that, “a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability has been recognized by the United States Supreme Court for more than forty years”, reminded that the highest court in the land “has clearly determined the dispositive issue presented in this lawsuit”, and even found himself explaining to North Dakota, “This court is not free to impose its own view of the law”.

So here’s the thing: When Republicans tell you government doesn’t work, what they mean is that government in their own hands does not work.

No, really, just think about it for a minute. (1) Pass a harsh bill that stands well outside accepted norms; (2) argue the new law is a “legitimate attempt” to “discover the boundaries”; (3) pretend in court the boundaries are unclear and need to be discovered; (4) get reminded quite the opposite; (5) appeal to the Supreme Court; (6) see your appeal denied.

This, according to Gov. Dalrymple, was apparently the plan.

No, really, think about the logic here: The Court says we can only go this far. But they didn’t explicitly say we couldn’t go farther. You might as well fault the speed limit signs for every possible velocity they do not explicitly reject: “It only says, ‘Speed Limit 55’; it doesn’t explicitly say, ‘Thou shalt not drive ninety miles per hour’!”

When Republicans tell us government does not work, it would behoove us to attend the threat.

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Alter, Charlotte. “North Dakota’s Strict Abortion Ban Overturned”. Time. 22 July 2015.

Hassan, Carma and Dana Ford. “Judge overturns North Dakota law banning most abortions”. CNN. 17 April 2014.

Williams, Pete. “US Supreme Court rejects plea to revive North Dakota abortion ban”. msnbc. 25 January 2016.

A Glimpse of Dystopia

Look, it’s not so much that Andy Ostroy is somehow wrong―

Imagine you’re approaching the counter at Walmart. The cashier looks in your wagon and politely informs you that as a Catholic she can’t ring up your condoms. Another cashier, a Christian Scientist, says he’s refusing to ring up your aspirin. An Orthodox Jew tells you she can’t ring up your bacon. A Muslim says he won’t touch the bikini you have in your wagon. And then there’s other Kim Davis wannabes who, as strict bible-interpreting devout Christians, won’t serve you because you’re gay, or have been divorced.

―because he’s not. But it is also true that we might wonder who he’s telling. That is, it’s hardly original; indeed, we might suggest that those of us who don’t disagree already know, and those who might wish to assert their equal right to supremacy under law have heard and don’t give damn.

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A Question of Right and Conscience

The Seal of the State of Washington

This is important:

Washington state can force pharmacies to dispense Plan B or other emergency contraceptives, a federal appeals court said Thursday in a long-running lawsuit brought by pharmacists who said they have religious objections to providing the drugs.

The unanimous decision Thursday by the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2012 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton, who had found that the state’s rules violated the religious freedom of pharmacy owners. It was the second time the appeals court reversed Leighton in the case.

“This unanimous decision is a major victory for the people of Washington,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a prepared statement. “Decisions regarding medical care — including reproductive rights — are appropriately between a patient and his or her medical professionals.”

(Johnson)

Evergreen, get ready.

No, really. We’re into the presidential preseason. Do we really think Republicans are going to let this pass?

Then again, the lines are pretty clearly drawn this time; social conservatives can afford to lose, just not spectacularly and publicly. And should we add the consideration that they would be abandoning the marriage equality headlines in order to be seen hounding women yet again? It’s always a mystery, because most days soccons are perfectly happy to come for the women, and come again.

When your conscience requires your righteousness to harm others, we might suggest a careful inspection of its components. Should you do this for the Glory of the Lord, we might beg consideration of where your earthly judgment and cruelty stands within the God’s purview.

The Ninth said no. Round three, anyone?

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Johnson, Gene. “Ruling: Washington can require pharmacies to dispense Plan B”. KIRO TV. 23 July 2015.

Nebraska (Belfry Beats Mix)

SayWhat

“In a strongly worded opinion, the judge said it is not up to the court to decide whether homosexuality is sinful.”

Alissa Skelton

Naota winces in sympathy as Ninamori suffers the effects of N.O. (FLCL ep. 3, 'Marquis de Carabas')This is just one of those lines we might read and then wonder for ourselves what sort of courses might bring our lives to such a moment. Judge John Gerrard felt the need to say it; Alissa Skelton had every reason to report it.

A federal judge will not allow a Nebraska woman to be a legal spokeswoman for God and his son, Jesus Christ.

Judge John Gerrard dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday filed against all homosexuals ....

.... Gerrard said Driskell lacked subject matter jurisdiction and cannot sue a class of unidentified defendants. Driskell did not set forth a factual or legal basis for a federal claim.

“The United States Federal Courts were created to resolve actual cases and controversies arising under the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Judge Gerrard said. “A federal court is not a forum for debate or discourse on theological matters.”

The thing is that many journalists have seen entire careers pass without having an opportunity to write lines like these. To the one, we will see more explanations like this as the mass media overflow continues to grow into a market flood. To the other, yes, it really does seem like we are, as a society, dispensing with certain dignities quite suddenly seeming inconvenient as traditional empowerment majorities reel from the shock of learning that their bully privileges are being revoked. In this case, the tacit obligation of actually having a point has stretched so thin a judge felt compelled to make the point specifically.

These should be rare days.

After all, the election cycle is only beginning. Things aren’t supposed to get really strange until the Boone Straw Poll in August. And that’s still a whole state away.

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Image note: Naota winces in sympathy as Ninamori suffers the effects of N.O. (FLCL ep. 3, “Marquis de Carabas”)

Skelton, Alissa. “Federal judge dismisses Nebraskan’s suit against all homosexuals”. World-Herald. 6 May 2015.

Kilgore, Ed. “Ames Straw Poll Leaving Ames”. Washington Monthly. 12 March 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (The Stripper)

US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivers remarks before announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination to run for US President March 23, 2015, at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia.  (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Note: Okay, this is the part where I feel really, really stupid. I hadn’t been paying attention, even while picking up on Matt Baume’s work at HuffPo. Welcome to the Emerald City, sir, and sorry for the late greeting.

So, anyway, Matt Baume, for Slog:

He treated the crowd to the usual foaming at the mouth about those gross homosexual marriages, but he also hinted that maybe the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality doesn’t have to be so, you know, supreme-ish.

What he was referring to is a little-known practice called “jurisdiction stripping”—yes, really, it’s called that. And the reason it’s little-known is that nobody’s managed to do it in 147 years.

In theory, Congress can pass a law stripping federal courts of their authority to rule on certain topics, and Cruz wants you to believe that he’s going to do that when it comes to marriage. Sure, Ted. Racist lawmakers weren’t able to stop Loving v. Virginia when the vast majority of the country opposed interracial marriage, but you’re going to be the one guy who manages to stop gays and lesbians from getting married in Laredo. Okay. Nice dream, bro.

Like so many folks in the stripping profession, Ted’s little performance is just a fun little tease. There’s no chance he’s actually going to go all the way.

It’s worth a read.

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Image note:US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) delivers remarks before announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination to run for US President March 23, 2015, at Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Baume, Matt. “Ted Cruz’s Strip Tease”. Slog. 7 April 2015.

Kansas, Failing to Cope

Great Seal of Kansas (detail)

It is a Kansas thing:

A federal judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit alleging that science standards for Kansas public schools promote atheism and violate the religious freedoms of students and parents.

(Associated Press)

There are a number of questions one might wonder about, but perhaps it is time we pause to consider what, exactly, these religious fanatics are doing to their children.

That is to say, we are accustomed to the fundamental argument, and it really does seem a matter of one being unable to tell the difference between unlike things. Thirty years ago groups representing parents, churches, and politicians unleashed a daily spiel about how children were not smart enough to listen to music.

Here’s one: Have you heard Trans Siberian Orchestra? Okay, you know that song they play toward the end of the set, called, “Believe”? It was first recorded in 1990 by Savatage, and describes the epiphany of an unfortunate soul stumbling into the light. But think about that for a minute, one of our best new Christmas songs comes from a band once denounced on a regular basis as being satanic.

Sometimes it seemed a matter of simple jealousy; the “Christian” version of pop music does not seem to carry very far outside its dedicated audience. Those who remember the South Park episode “Faith Plus One”, and the crack about how Christian pop sounded like lust songs about Jesus, need only look back to this time in order to understand where that joke comes from. Brief moments of exposure over the years suggest it hasn’t gotten any better, but if one had to guess without knowing who Stryper was, would “Calling On You” sound like an appeal to salvation or begging for some fumbling teenage intimacy?Stryper

It was a futile effort to keep children away from popular music, but it also made one point clear: These people do not believe their kids are smart enough to listen to pop music.

Over the years, religious advocates have humiliated themselves. Christian censorship advocate Bob Larson demonstrated himself unable to comprehend liner notes, and, furthermore, could be caught rewriting the lyrics to some of the songs he complained about in order to make musicians sound scary.

The psychopathology of the underlying parental fear is open to certain argument, but functionally speaking the argument was clear: I do not trust my child to be smart enough to resist what I find objectionable and scary about the music. It is what it is.

But here is a new proposition: I do not trust my chiled to be smart enough to resist what I find objectionable and scary about science.

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