Star Trek Actor Lived At Internment Camp As A Child


TYT Network

Some of Star Trek performer George Takei’s family was forced into a Japanese internment camp on the West Coast of the United States during World War II.

In the recent Supreme Court ruling over gay marriage, Supreme Court judge Clarence Thomas, who is black, wrote that “human dignity cannot be taken away by the government…” He added, “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”

After having spent time in a Japanese internment camp as a child, George Takei disagrees.

(Updated article)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/03/george-takei-clarence-thomas-clown-in-blackface_n_7719110.html

Attorney General Backs Clerks Who Refuse To Marry Same Sex Couples


The Young Turks

The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday that county clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/06/29/paxton-state-workers-can-deny-marriage-licenses-same-sex-couples/29456745/

A Brief Look At The Death Penalty And The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court recently made a ruling on Glossip v. Gross, a case on the death penalty. By a 5-4 vote, the court upheld the use of the controversial drug midazolam as part of a three-drug cocktail used in carrying out the death penalty.  The Supreme Court concluded its term on Monday, writes NPR.

Let’s take a brief look at the situation, shall we?

According to The Economist, of the 35 people who were executed in America in 2014, at least three died a death that was unduly harsh or violent.

The problem is that states are having trouble getting the drugs they need to ensure the deaths are painless.

European companies will not sell drugs to be used in executions, and American companies are increasingly uncertain (or worried about lawsuits?) about having their brands linked to lethal injections.

Oklahoma and other states have been changing the three-drug protocol, and in some cases using a drug called midazolam, which was apparently used in the “botched” execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma last year.  It was used in others as well.

Does using midazolam defy the Eighth Amendment ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”? According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Glossip v Gross, the answer, surprisingly, was no.

“The case was brought before the court by three prisoners on death-row in Oklahoma, who are understandably wary of an execution cocktail that includes midazolam,” writes The Economist.

In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the petitioners failed to prove that midazolam offers a ‘substantial risk of serious harm’.

Citing evidence that the sedative is effective at the right dosage, the court found that while Clayton Lockett received too little of it, the same three-drug mix finished off 12 other prisoners “without any significant problems”.

The 8th amendment reads:  Amendment VIII. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

The 28 member nations of the E.U. have banned the death penalty.   It is a requirement for joining the E.U.

Let’s look at some history of the death penalty in the West.  According to deathpenalty.org:

“In the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This 1948 doctrine proclaimed a “right to life” in an absolute fashion, any limitations being only implicit. Knowing that international abolition of the death penalty was not yet a realistic goal in the years following the Universal Declaration, the United Nations shifted its focus to limiting the scope of the death penalty to protect juveniles, pregnant women, and the elderly.”

“During the 1950s and 1960s subsequent international human rights treaties were drafted, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights.

“These documents also provided for the right to life, but included the death penalty as an exception that must be accompanied by strict procedural safeguards. Despite this exception, many nations throughout Western Europe stopped using capital punishment, even if they did not, technically, abolish it. As a result, this de facto abolition became the norm in Western Europe by the 1980s.” (Schabas, 1997)

The U.S. already had a moratorium on the death penalty.  That began in 1972 after the case of Furman v. Georgia.

According to deathpenalty.org:

“In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, (1972), the Court invalidated existing death penalty laws because they constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.  The Court reasoned that the laws resulted in a disproportionate application of the death penalty, specifically discriminating against the poor and minorities.  The Court also reasoned that the existing laws terminated life in exchange for marginal contributions to society.”

The death penalty was reinstated in 1977, after the case of Gregg v. Georgia:

In Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, (1976), the Court refused to expand Furman.  The Court held the death penalty was not per se unconstitutional as it could serve the social purposes of retribution and deterrence.  Specifically, the Court upheld Georgia’s new capital sentencing procedures, reasoning that the Georgia rules reduced the problem of arbitrary application as seen in earlier statutes.

Clayton Lockett spent 43 minutes writhing in pain on the gurney, according to The Economist.  “This shit is fucking with my head,” he said before finally dying.

Fox Analyst Questions Civil Rights Precedent On Interracial Marriage, De-Segregation

Yesterday, during an episode of Fox News’ Outnumbered, guest Julie Roginsky made the point that the Supreme Court has ruled on marriage cases prior to the ruling on gay marriage – for example with interracial marriage.   Contributor Arthur Aidala seemed to go back in time and question whether Loving v. Virginia – the case that made interracial marriage legal across the U.S. – was legal or moral.

Aidala then seemed to go even further back and question whether or not Brown v. Board of Education – a desegregation decision – was acceptable.

The below transcript comes from the Media Matters for America website.

MELISSA FRANCIS: Alright, I’ve got to bring Julie in on this, because she’s chomping.

JULIE ROGINSKY: I’m dying. Look, we’ve had this before, Loving V. Virginia, which allowed and legalized marriage between a black man and a white woman, or vice versa, I don’t remember who was who in that situation. That came from the courts. And there was a religious furor about it and people used religion back then, as ridiculous as it sounds, to say that we shouldn’t have mixed races, we shouldn’t promulgate biracial families. And the reality is it was done by the courts. Can you explain to me how this is any different? Love is love and people should marry whom they want and I don’t understand how that’s not —

AIDALA : That’s not the argument I’m making. The argument I’m making is the court is not the proper branch —

ROGINSKY: But, they’ve done it before.

AIDALA: So they’ve made mistakes before, that doesn’t mean you should make mistakes again.

(The following exchange came later during the same conversation.)

ROGINSKY: But then why go to a courthouse and have a judge marry you if it’s not a legal issue? And I’ll leave it at that, because I know —

AIDALA: Because Congress is supposed to be the one who decides whether they can do it or they can’t do it. Congress empowers the judiciary. So it should be Congress’ job along with the executive.

ROGINSKY: So Brown V. Board of Education was the same thing, that Congress should have done it?

ARTHUR: Probably, yes.

2nd Circuit Court Of Appeals: NSA Spying Program Illegal

Secular Talk

Sources state that on Thursday, a panel of three federal judges from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the NSA’s bulk-phone records spying program was illegal.

Reuters states:  “Ruling on a program revealed by former government security contractor Edward Snowden, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the Patriot Act did not authorize the National Security Agency to collect Americans’ calling records in bulk.

“Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch wrote for a three-judge panel that Section 215, which addresses the FBI’s ability to gather business records, could not be interpreted to have permitted the NSA to collect a “staggering” amount of phone records, contrary to claims by the Bush and Obama administrations.”

Also, According to the National Journal, more court decisions are on the way:

“Two other appeals courts have in recent months heard arguments considering the legality of the NSA bulk telephone program, but neither has issued a ruling yet. Any split among the courts likely will prompt a Supreme Court review.

Boing Boing and The Electronic Frontier Foundation state:

1. When Congress gave the NSA the power to gather “relevant” information and do so for an “investigation,” they didn’t mean “gather everything and store it forever in case it becomes relevant later.”

2. Having your data collected by the NSA gives you the right to sue them — even if the NSA never looked at that data.

3. Metadata is sensitive information, and the NSA can’t argue that its mass-spying is harmless because it’s collecting metadata instead of data (the fact that you called a suicide hotline is every bit as compromising as what you said while you were talking to them).

4. The judges have “concerns” about the constitutionality of mass spying (though the didn’t go so far as to say that it is unconstitutional, partly because the ACLU had already won on the statutory language alone).

5. One judge added: The government shouldn’t have secret laws. The government argued that its interpretation of surveillance laws was a secret, and the court spanked them for it, saying that a law that’s “shrouded in secrecy” lacked legitimacy.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/07/us-usa-security-nsa-idUSKBN0NS1IN20150507

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/federal-appeals-court-says-nsa-phone-records-program-illegal-n355271

http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/federal-appeals-court-rules-nsa-spying-illegal-20150507

http://boingboing.net/2015/05/10/what-did-the-courts-just-do-th.html

Hilarious: Nebraska Woman Files Lawsuit Against All Gay People


TYT Network

A Christian Nebraska woman last week filed a lawsuit against the entire group of “homosexuals” in America, in her role as Ambassador for the plaintiffs, namely, “God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ,” states thenewcivilrightsmovement.com.

However, per the Omaha World-Herald, as of recently, a judge decided not to hear the case.

Sylvia Driskell, 66, filed her seven-page handwritten lawsuit in the “United State District Court of Omaha,” asking the federal court to determine, “Is Homosexuality a sin, or not a sin.”

The lawsuit quotes Leviticus, “God tells his children in Leviticus Chapter 18 verse 22. Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind. It is ambomination.” And also Romans I, and “Jenesis.” And it concludes with these time-honored questions, such as:

“Why are judges passing laws, so sinners can break religious and moral laws?

“Will all the judges of this Nation, judge God to be a lier (sic)?

“For God has said; that all unrighteousness is sin, and that homosexuality is abomination”

(Updated article)
http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/_more_persecution_of_christians_judge_tosses_lawsuit_suing_all_homosexuals_on_behalf_of_jesus

Low-Level Campaign Finance Win

According to The Huffington post, in a 5-4 decision on Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld the right of states to ban elected judges from soliciting campaign contributions for their own campaigns. The majority decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts and joined by the court’s four liberal justices, writes the HuffPost.

So, states have the right to ban elected judges from receiving money for their campaigns.

Oddly, the decision comes after a long string of court rulings that overturned campaign finance regulations, among them the well-known 2010 Citizens United and the 2014 McCutcheon cases. The ruling, by contrast, maintains the ability of the states to uphold campaign finance reform in regards to elected judges. It does so by making a strong distinction between the role of the judiciary and the role of elected legislative and executive officials.

The distinction seemed weak. Roberts, writing for the majority, said: “A State’s interest in preserving public confidence in the integrity of its judiciary extends beyond its interest in preventing the appearance of corruption in legislative and executive elections. As we explained in [Republican Party of Minnesota v. White], States may regulate judicial elections differently than they regulate political elections, because the role of judges differs from the role of politicians.”

In the case before the court, Florida judicial candidate Lanell Williams-Yulee had signed her name to a fundraising solicitation letter while running for office in 2009. She did so despite Florida’s ban on fundraising solicitation by judicial candidates.

Candidates like Williams-Yulee are allowed to raise money through campaign committees, but they may not ask for the funds themselves. Williams-Yulee challenged the law as a restriction of her First Amendment right to free speech.

Tuesday: Supreme Court To Hear Arguments On Gay Marriage

Chief Justice John Roberts, who shocked conservatives nearly three years ago by providing a pivotal vote to uphold Obamacare, will again face a historic judicial decision, states CNN.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could decide whether gay and lesbian couples nationwide have the constitutional right to marry.  The question at the core of the Obergefell v. Hodges case is very important, and is one that is already helping to shape the 2016 presidential race.

Bill O’Reilly Wasn’t Always For Justices Recusing Themselves

“These ladies have to recuse themselves,” an indignant Bill O’Reilly proclaimed on his Fox News show recently. “I’m shocked they haven’t done it already.”

The “ladies” he was referring to were Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, both of whom have officiated same-sex weddings in the past. O’Reilly wants the two justices to remove themselves from a group of pending cases challenging anti-gay marriage discrimination.

That would give the justices who dissented in the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision striking down such discrimination at the federal level a 4-3 majority — most likely changing the outcome of the case.

O’Reilly’s attempt to pressure justices who are likely to support equality off a major gay rights case is not a new strategy. The American Family Association (AFA), a leading anti-gay group, called for both justices to recuse the very same day that the Court announced that it was taking up marriage equality last January.

As Media Matters mentions, O’Reilly felt quite differently about the standards of recusal in 2006, when he claimed that only the “nutty left” wanted Justice Antonin Scalia to recuse himself in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

That was a case brought by a Guantánamo Bay prisoner who argued that his detention after 9/11 violated his rights under military and international law.

On March 8, 2006, just weeks before the Court heard oral arguments in Hamdan, Scalia gave a speech in Switzerland, where he asserted that people who had been designated as enemy combatants — like the prisoner in the Hamdan case — could not enforce their rights in federal court.

According to a report from Michael Isikoff who broke the story for Newsweek, Scalia stated that “War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts … Give me a break.”

In response to an audience member who asked whether detainees had rights under the Geneva Convention  – one of the exact issues raised in Hamdan – Scalia replied, “I’m not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it’s crazy.”

Isikoff stated, “[t]he comments provoked ‘quite an uproar'” because the case hadn’t been heard yet, but Scalia had “already spoken his mind about some of the issues in the matter.”

Quoting Stephen Gillers, a professor of law and legal ethics expert, Isikoff added: “As these things mount, a legitimate question could be asked about whether he is compromising the credibility of the court.”

Yet on the March 28, 2006, edition of The Radio Factor, O’Reilly pushed back on the “legitimate question” of recusal, even though he admitted the comments indicated “Scalia’s not going to vote for civilian trials for terrorists.”

(Updated article)

Tsarnaev Defense: ‘He Did It’

sketch of the defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev  and attorney Judy Clarke

“He did it.”

Judy Clarke is the lawyer representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – the survivor, and younger of two brothers accused of perpetrating the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon in 2013.  She is not an ordinary defense attorney, claims The Guardian.

It was not a standard opening statement for a defense attorney to give regarding her client.  However, this is not a run-of-the-mill criminal trial, either; it is a huge federal trial, carrying a possible death sentence – the most high-profile trial of a terrorist on US soil since the Oklahoma City bomber, states The Guardian.

Clarke has specialized in saving the lives of clients like Tsarnaev for her whole career.  And she is, friends and colleagues told the Guardian, phenomenally good at it.

She has become an expert in the delicate tactics needed to take someone who is seen in the eyes of the world as a monster, and humanize them – just enough to convince a jury to save their life.

The list of clients she has helped escape the death penalty in this way is a who’s who of American killers. There’s Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber.  There was also Buford Furrow, the Aryan Nations member who opened fire on the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center in 1999, and, more recently, Jared Loughner, the shooter who killed six people and injured 15 more, including representative Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson in 2011.

Nora Demleitner is the dean of the Washington and Lee University school of law, where Clarke also teaches. She told the Guardian that Clarke’s feelings about the death penalty are what drive and animate her.

There are two main parts to the trial:  the phase of proving guilt or innocence, and the sentencing phase.

Demleitner said that Clarke’s actions could cut down the time spent fighting in the guilt phase, and speed the arrival of the sentencing phase.  Because the rules for evidence are different from the guilt phase, Clarke will be much freer to present evidence showing Tsarnaev as under the control of his elder brother Tamerlan, states The Guardian.

More here

Updated post