Day: April 4, 2012

Remembering Dr. King: 44 years since his assassination

Remembering Dr. King: 44 years since his assassinationIt almost seems impossible that it has been forty-four years since Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.  Forty-four years ago I was twenty-two years old and eager to learn as much as I could about politics and civil rights issues.

I wasn’t a follower of Dr. King, but I could appreciate what he was trying to do to secure a better future for me and my family.

I remember Dr. King with deference and respect for his work…

The Grio

Today marks 44 years since the assassination of civil-rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King was killed April 4, 1968 while standing on the balcony of Memphis’ Lorraine Motel. James Earl Ray confessed to the shooting, although the King family has expressed doubts over whether he was the shooter.

The Grio decided to commemorate this painful anniversary by compiling a short list of rare speeches and interview clips of Dr. King in the 1960s.

DR. KING DISCUSSES THE POSSIBILITY OF A BLACK PRESIDENT (1964):

More videos here…

GOP judge throws partisan tantrum, demands DOJ lawyer write 3-pg, single spaced essay on Obama

While reading this, I found that my expression became one of total disbelief.  My mouth was agape from astonishment as I continued to read this report from Think Progress, especially the “update”.

Republican Fifth Circuit Pitches A Partisan Tantrum After President Obama Speaks Out About Supreme Court

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit may be the most ideological court in the country. When the oil industry’s allies in Congress wanted to protect the industry from drilling lawsuits, they passed a bill trying to force those lawsuits into the reliably industry-friendly Fifth Circuit. When a high school cheerleader sued her school district after it made her cheer for her alleged rapist, the Fifth Circuit ordered the alleged rape victim to pay more than $40,000. When one of the court’s few progressives asked a series of probing questions to a prosecutor during a court hearing, Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones yelled at him to “shut up” and asked him if he would like to leave the courtroom. Earlier today, however, the Fifth Circuit left the realm of mere ideology and leaped over the line into partisanship.

Immediately after a DOJ attorney took the podium today in an appeal of a lower court decision upholding a provision of the Affordable Care ActRepublican Judge Jerry Smith threw a tantrum:

[W]hen a lawyer for the Justice Department began arguing before the judges. Appeals Court Judge Jerry Smith immediately interrupted, asking if DOJ agreed that the judiciary could strike down an unconstitutional law. . . . Smith then became “very stern,” the source said, telling the lawyers arguing the case it was not clear to “many of us” whether the president believes such a right exists. The other two judges on the panel, Emilio Garza and Leslie Southwick–both Republican appointees–remained silent, the source said.

Smith, a Reagan appointee, went on to say that comments from the president and others in the Executive Branch indicate they believe judges don’t have the power to review laws and strike those that are unconstitutional, specifically referencing Mr. Obama’s comments yesterday about judges being an “unelected group of people.”

After argument, the Republican panel then ordered the attorney to produce a three page, single-spaced letter explaining that courts do have the power to strike down federal laws.

Let’s be clear what’s going on here. Yesterday, President Obama made a statement that can plausibly be read either as saying that it would be unprecedented for the Supreme Court to strike down any law enacted by democratically elected officials, or that the Affordable Care Act was both enacted by democratically elected officials and that it would also be unprecedented for the Court to strike it down.

Today, President Obama make it clear that he intended the second meaning, and he went into more detail about just what he believes would be “unprecedented” about striking down his signature law. As the president explained, “[w]e have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue like health care” during the modern constitutional era. And, lest their be any doubt, President Obama is unquestionably right. The Supreme Court has only struck down two laws as beyond Congress’ power to regulate commerce in the last 75 years, and both of those cases involved laws that were completely non-commercial in nature.

The Republicans on the Fifth Circuit panel heard President Obama’s original statement, however, and they did not hear two plausible meanings. They did not consider the possibility that President Obama might have misspoke. And they did not wait for him to elaborate on his statement today in a way that both clarifies his meaning and removes any suggestion that the president’s views are not 100 percent accurate. Instead, they saw an opportunity to embarrass the president by forcing a fairly junior attorney in the Department of Justice to write a letter that might then be used to embarrass the president politically.

This is not how judges behave. This is how politicians behave. If Judge Smith and his co-ideologues cannot refrain from such purely political tantrums, they should resign their seats and run for office as Republicans.

UPDATE

The Wall Street Journal has a transcript of Judge Smith’s remarks. They are even more overreaching and partisan than previous reports suggest:

Smith: Does the Department of Justice recognize that federal courts have the authority in appropriate circumstances to strike federal statutes because of one or more constitutional infirmities?

Kaersvang: Yes, your honor. Of course, there would need to be a severability analysis, but yes.

Smith: I’m referring to statements by the president in the past few days to the effect…that it is somehow inappropriate for what he termed “unelected” judges to strike acts of Congress that have enjoyed — he was referring, of course, to Obamacare — what he termed broad consensus in majorities in both houses of Congress.

That has troubled a number of people who have read it as somehow a challenge to the federal courts or to their authority or to the appropriateness of the concept of judicial review. And that’s not a small matter. So I want to be sure that you’re telling us that the attorney general and the Department of Justice do recognize the authority of the federal courts through unelected judges to strike acts of Congress or portions thereof in appropriate cases.

Kaersvang: Marbury v. Madison is the law, your honor, but it would not make sense in this circumstance to strike down this statute, because there’s no –

Smith: I would like to have from you by noon on Thursday…a letter stating what is the position of the attorney general and the Department of Justice, in regard to the recent statements by the president, stating specifically and in detail in reference to those statements what the authority is of the federal courts in this regard in terms of judicial review. That letter needs to be at least three pages single spaced, no less, and it needs to be specific. It needs to make specific reference to the president’s statements and again to the position of the attorney general and the Department of Justice.

Needless to say, the only possible reason why Smith could specifically require that the letter make “specific reference to the president’s statements” is because this Republican judge believes that it will force DOJ to produce a document that will embarrass President Obama.

Think Progress

10 things you need to know today: April 4, 2012

The Week online magazine’s daily briefing…

The Week

Romney wins three more primaries, tornadoes hit Dallas, and more in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion

POSTED ON APRIL 4, 2012, AT 8:30 AM
April Bridges pauses while digging through the remains of a home destroyed by one of several tornadoes that ripped through north Texas Tuesday.

April Bridges pauses while digging through the remains of a home destroyed by one of several tornadoes that ripped through north Texas Tuesday. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

1. ROMNEY SWEEPS THREE STATES
Mitt Romney made a big step toward wrapping up the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, sweeping primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., and winning the majority of the 100 delegates at stake in the three contests. In another sign that Romney is the one, President Obama singled him out in a major speech on Rep. Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget proposal, noting Romney’s support for what he called “social Darwinism” and a “prescription for decline.” Meanwhile, Rick Santorum is focusing on reviving his campaign in his home state of Pennsylvania, which holds its primary on April 24. [New York Times]
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2. TORNADOES TERRORIZE DALLAS
Between six and 13 tornadoes are thought to have touched down in north Texas on Tuesday, destroying at least 150 homes, sucking tractor-trailers into the air, and wreaking havoc on hundreds of flights at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. As of early Wednesday, there were no reports of any deaths associated with the twisters. [CNN]
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3. TEN DEAD IN AFGHANISTAN SUICIDE BOMBING
At least ten people were killed Wednesday in northern Afghanistan in an attack by a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle. Dozens more were injured. Details are still emerging, but NATO says three service members were among the dead. [Associated Press]
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4. FED’S COMMENTS TO DRAG DOWN STOCKS
Stocks are expected to open lower Wednesday following the release of details from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting. The minutes from the meeting suggest the Fed is unlikely to offer any new economic stimulus. Some investors had hoped for another round of quantitative easing. [CNN]
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5. TOP SPORTS OFFICIALS KILLED IN SOMALI SUICIDE BOMBING
Early Wednesday, a suicide bomber killed at least 10 people in Mogadishu at a ceremony at the national theater. The president of Somalia’s soccer federation and the president of the country’s Olympic committee were among the dead. [Associated Press]
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6. DETAILS EMERGE ABOUT OAKLAND SHOOTING SUSPECT
Police have begun releasing details about One L. Goh, the 43-year-old South Korean national accused of shooting and killing seven people at a small Christian college in northern California this week. Police say Goh had recently been expelled from the college “for behavioral problems” and “anger management,” and felt ostracized for his broken English. [Los Angeles Times]
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7. FRENCH ARREST 10 SUSPECTED TERRORISTS
On Wednesday, French police arrested 10 people with suspected links to radical Islamist websites. It’s the latest in the terrorism crackdown across the France following a series of recent attacks. [Associated Press]
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8. DOCTORS TO RECOMMEND FEWER TESTS
A coalition of nine medical specialty boards is expected to recommend Wednesday that dozens of common tests and procedures be performed less frequently. The recommendations are seen as an acknowledgement that many expensive tests are performed unnecessarily, potentially harming patients and vastly inflating the cost of health care. [New York Times]
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9. BAYLOR WINS WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Baylor beat Notre Dame 80-61 on Tuesday night to win the NCAA women’s basketball championship. The victory topped off a historic 40-0 season for the Lady Bears. They’re the first women’s team in NCAA history to win 40 games and the seventh to go undefeated. [Associated Press]
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10. INSTAGRAM FINALLY AVAILABLE FOR ANDROID
The wildly popular photo-tinting and sharing app is now available for Android. It was previously exclusive to Apple gadgets. Since launching in 2010, Instagram has racked up more than 30 million users and more than one billion photo uploads. [CNET]