Archive for the ‘Judiciary’ Category
To nobody’s surprise, Elizabeth Warren’s statement on President Trump’s pick of Judge Gorsuch was filled with criticism.
Sen. Pocahontas started by saying “President Trump had the chance to select a consensus nominee to the Supreme Court. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, he failed that test. Instead, he carried out his public promise to select a nominee from a list drawn up by far right activist groups that were financed by big business interests.”
That’s rich coming from a 1-percenter who got a $1,300,000 line of credit from Bank of America but didn’t disclose it, thanks to a loophole created for bought-and-paid-for politicians. Then Sen. Pocahontas said “Judge Neil Gorsuch has been on this list for four months. His public record, which I have reviewed in detail, paints a clear picture. Before even joining the bench, he advocated to make it easier for public companies to defraud investors. As a judge, he has twisted himself into a pretzel to make sure the rules favor giant companies over workers and individual Americans. He has sided with employers who deny wages, improperly fire workers, or retaliate against whistleblowers for misconduct. He has ruled against workers in all manner of discrimination cases. And he has demonstrated hostility toward women’s access to basic health care.”
Rather than giving this mean-spirited (and likely dishonest) spin, why doesn’t Sen. Pocahontas cite the specific rulings? Is it because these rulings weren’t really about what Sen. Pocahontas says they’re about? Is it perhaps because she’s twisting Judge Gorsuch’s record because she’s playing to the Democrats’ special interests?
This is especially rich:
Every day, our new President finds more ways to demonstrate his hostility for our independent judiciary, our civil society, and the rule of law. Now more than ever, America needs Supreme Court justices with a proven record of standing up for the rights of all Americans – civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and all other protections guaranteed by our laws. We don’t need another justice who spends his time looking out for those with money and influence.
Sen. Pocahontas doesn’t want an independent judiciary. She wants a judiciary that rules favorably on the Democrats’ agenda. That isn’t independent, just friendly.
If there was ever a doubt about whether Senate Democrats would be obstructionists, this article should shout ‘Democratic obstructionism’. President Trump announced today that he’ll announce his SCOTUS nominee next week sometime. Democrats are feeling bitter that Republicans give Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia, a committee hearing.
It isn’t surprising to hear that “Democrats and their allies remain furious that Senate Republicans refused to even consider Judge Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the high court, with 10 months remaining in Mr. Obama’s second term. That deep resentment is certain to color their handling of Mr. Trump’s choice just as it has contributed to their resistance to moving quickly on Mr. Trump’s cabinet selections.”
I respectfully disagree with that last statement. Democrats aren’t just upset with the fact that Republicans didn’t hold a hearing on Judge Garland. They’re also upset that Hillary lost. They’re upset that they didn’t retake the majority in the Senate, too. They’re upset that their coalition was demolished by ‘blue collar billionaire’ Donald Trump.
That’s their fault. Democrats hitched their wagon to Obama’s and Mrs. Clinton’s stars. The DNC leadership team was corrupt to the point that they, not voters, picked Hillary Clinton to be their presidential nominee. Mrs. Clinton ran the worst campaign in the last half-century.
All indications are that they see the forthcoming nomination as a chance to take a strong stand against the new president, since they still have the power to filibuster a Supreme Court choice — at least for now.
Democrats now think that resisting the newly-sworn-in president is their path back to power. What they’re really doing is paving the way for his re-election.
People won’t agree with Senate Republicans not granting Garland a hearing but they definitely won’t agree with Democrats acting like spoiled brats, either. That’s what the Democrats’ ‘resistance’ looks like to apolitical people.
Top Democrats say they don’t intend to play “tit for tat” with the nomination. But they say they will insist on what they consider to be a mainstream candidate capable of securing at least the 60 votes needed to thwart any filibuster. Otherwise, they promise to do whatever they can to block the nominee.
The Democrats are being stupid. If President Trump nominates Judge Gorsuch, he’ll be nominating a solid judge whose opinions are well-written. Do Democrats really want to put up a big fight against an articulate judge? It’s their option but I wouldn’t advise them to do that. That’s wasting tons of political capital on a lost cause. If Democrats filibuster President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, they’ll put the Supreme Court off-limits for a generation. This is the face of Democratic senators:
This is rich:
“We are not going to do what the Republicans did,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, “but if the candidate’s out of the mainstream, I can tell you I will fight and my caucus will fight tooth and nail against them.”
That’s coming from the liar who sabotaged Mike Pompeo’s confirmation vote.
After reading this Washington Times article, there’s little doubt in my mind that President Obama will appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
First, the article says “Mr. Obama’s moment will come just before noon, in the five minutes that the Senate gavels the 114th Congress out of session and the time the 115th Congress begins. In those few moments the Senate will go into what’s known as an ‘intersession recess,’ creating one golden moment when the president could test his recess-appointment powers by sending Judge Garland to the high court.” It continues by saying “The move would be a legal gamble under the high court’s last ruling in 2014 on recess appointments. That 9-0 decision overturned a handful of Mr. Obama’s early 2012 picks, saying the Senate was actually in session when the president acted, so he couldn’t use his powers. That ruling also said, however, that there’s a difference between appointments made during the annual yearlong session of Congress, dubbed ‘intrasession,’ which Mr. Obama used in 2012, and picks made at the end of the year, after Congress adjourns, which are known as ‘intersession.'”
This statement is downright foolish considering who we’re talking about:
William G. Ross, a law professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, said Mr. Obama would have the power to elevate Judge Garland. But he said it would be “politically unwise and damaging to the prestige of the court. It would exacerbate acute political tensions that have roiled the transition process and promise turbulence from the very start of the Trump administration, and it would contribute to the growing public perception that the court is unduly political,” Mr. Ross said.
Anyone that thinks President Obama worries about doing controversial things is kidding themselves. He thrives on those things. That’s why I’m certain he’ll appoint Garland.
The political downside for Democrats is that they’d be required to defend that indefensible decision. Republicans would use that against them in 2018, which is already shaping up to be a bloodbath for Democratic senators. That, however, isn’t a big deal to President Obama. What does he care? He’s already decimated the Democratic Party during his time in office:
Since President Obama took office, there are 12 fewer Democratic governors, 63 fewer Democrats in the US House of Representatives, 12 fewer Democrats in the US Senate and almost 1,000 fewer Democrat state legislators.
Why would President Obama care if Republicans picked up another dozen Senate seats after he’s out of office?
Rachel Stassen-Berger’s article highlights two frightening facts. First, it highlights the fact that Gov. Dayton doesn’t take his oath of office seriously.
In his oath of office, governors swear to protect the state and federal constitution. When asked “Thursday if he believes he signed an unconstitutional law, Dayton said, ‘It’s fine with me if they (the Supreme Court Justices) decide that.'” In other words, Gov. Dayton doesn’t have a problem if the Minnesota Supreme Court rules that he signed a bill that’s unconstitutional.
That’s actually the least frightening thing from the article. The most frightening quote from the article was Ms. Otto’s statement that “This office belongs to the taxpayers and not to the Legislature. Auditing counties is a core constitutional duty of the office. I will not let this go. I must do everything I can to preserve this function on behalf of the people of Minnesota.”
Actually, Ms. Otto’s statement is frightening on multiple levels but mostly because of this part of Minnesota’s Constitution:
What part of the “duties and salaries of the executive officers shall be prescribed by law” doesn’t Ms. Otto understand? Are we to believe that the duties of the State Auditor are defined by state law but that the duties of those that work for the State Auditor are defined by the Minnesota State Constitution? If the Constitution defines the auditors’ responsibilities, which article and which section are those duties found in?
Simply put, Minnesota’s Constitution established the Office of State Auditor, aka the OSA. That’s indisputable. It’s equally indisputable that the duties and authorities of the OSA aren’t spelled out in the Constitution. That’s because they’re assigned by the legislature and approved by the governor. That’s what happened in 2015.
If the Minnesota Supreme Court rules that the 2015 law is unconstitutional, the justices that ruled it unconstitutional should be impeached and replaced with jurists that are faithful to the Constitution, not to the DFL. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Let’s hope that this is so straightforward that it’s a unanimous ruling against Ms. Otto. Otherwise, the Minnesota Supreme Court would essentially rule in the DFL’s favor the vast majority of the time.
That isn’t justice. That’s hardball politics.
Thus far, people have tiptoed around what the judge ruled last Friday in the lawsuit brought by Rebecca Otto. Ms. Otto is quoted as saying “In the decision, the court granted our motion in part and denied it in part,” Otto said. “As we requested, the court recognized the core constitutional function of the Office of the State Auditor to audit counties. The court also held that the Office of the State Auditor may ‘continue to exercise its constitutional authority to audit counties to pay for such audits.’ We are reviewing the opinion and analyzing our options.”
It would’ve been surprising if the court had ruled that the OSA didn’t have the authority to be the state’s main auditor. This isn’t surprising. That’s as surprising as the judiciary finding that the Secretary of State had the authority to monitor elections. Later, Ms. Otto said this:
“Unfortunately, the district court also permitted counties to hire private CPA firms at their discretion to conduct an “initial audit.” We respectfully disagree with this aspect of the district court’s decision. It will result in an unacceptable diminishment of the protection this constitutional office provides on behalf of the taxpayers of this state.”
The OSA already has given some counties the authority to hire CPA firms to do their audits. With that being the case, Ms. Otto’s intellectual fight is flimsy. She’s essentially arguing that she has the authority to give counties the right to hire CPA firms to perform their audit but that the legislature doesn’t have that authority.
Further complicating matters is that Ms. Otto is essentially arguing that the statutes that have assigned specific responsibilities to the OSA and other statutes assigning specific responsibilities to other constitutional offices are constitutional but that this statute, and this statute alone, is unconstitutional.
If the Minnesota Supreme Court rules in Ms. Otto’s favor, then we’ll have verifiable proof that Gov. Dayton stacked that court with judges that will rule in the DFL’s favor no matter what the Constitution says. Let’s hope that these justices aren’t partisans first and jurists second. Here’s hoping that they’re jurists first, last and only.
Earlier this morning, I wrote this post to highlight the fact that Rebecca Otto, Minnesota’s State Auditor, isn’t a constitutional scholar but that she is a sore loser. I quoted the ruling as saying “The Legislature has the power to modify the State Auditor’s duties under State ex rel. Mattson v. Kiedrowski. Modifying who does the initial audit does not transfer her core functioning of auditing counties.”
Briana Bierschbach’s tweet contains similar language from the ruling, saying that “giving counties the right to choose whether a CPA firm performs their audits does not transfer a core function away from the OSA, but merely modifies one of the OSA’s existing duties.”
This isn’t a partisan fight. It’s a fight between the executive branch and the legislative branch. The executive branch prefers setting its own duties and expanding its responsibilities. The legislative branch, however, prefers telling these constitutional offices what their responsibilities are. That’s important to the constitutional principle of checks and balances.
Briana also has Ms. Otto’s response to the ruling:
Ms. Otto has the right to appeal this ruling but it’s essentially over. If she appeals this ruling, she’ll just be foolishly spending the taxpayers’ money going into an election year. That isn’t a wise campaign strategy.
Months ago, Rebecca Otto filed a lawsuit claiming that a bill passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Dayton was unconstitutional. Since then, Ms. Otto, who clearly isn’t a constitutional scholar, has spent $220,000 of the taxpayers’ money fighting a losing fight. Last Friday, the court ruled with Ms. Otto in part and against her in part.
The key part of the ruling is found on page 9 of the ruling when it says “The County Audit Statute is Consistent with the State Auditor’s Exercise of her Constitutional Authorities.” Later, it states that “The Legislature has the power to modify the State Auditor’s duties under State ex rel. Mattson v. Kiedrowski. Modifying who does the initial audit does not transfer her core functioning of auditing counties.”
Then it says “As noted previously, Article V does not expressly set the terms or duties of the State Auditor as an executive officer. The task of prescribing duties for executive officers is reserved for the Legislature…”
I’ve written about this before. I said the same thing but with different words. For instance, I wrote this in this post:
I’ve read Article V. That’s where the Constitution establishes the office of State Auditor. Nowhere in Article V does it list the auditor’s responsibilities. Article V, Sect. 3 outlines the governor’s responsibilities. That’s the only constitutional officer whose responsibilities are defined in Minnesota’s Constitution.
Ms. Otto will supposedly appeal the ruling, which she’ll lose while spending more of the taxpayers’ money foolishly. Rep. Sarah Anderson issued this statement:
“I’m glad to see this law upheld as constitutional, and know it will mean meaningful savings for counties and property taxpayers throughout Minnesota,” Anderson said. “Judge Marek’s ruling makes clear: this issue is settled, the law is constitutional, and we can put the confusion and hassle caused by Rebecca Otto’s unnecessary lawsuit behind us. Auditor Otto has wasted more than $220,000 in taxpayer money on this frivolous endeavor—I call on her to get back to doing her job, accept the court’s ruling, and apologize to counties and taxpayers for so flagrantly wasting hard-earned tax dollars.”
Ms. Otto, like other Democrats, is a sore loser. She can’t stand the fact that she lost this ruling even though she clearly didn’t have a chance of winning the lawsuit.
There’s no question about whether Gov. Dayton is dishonest. The only question left to determine is how dishonest Gov. Dayton is. I’d say that he’s exceptionally dishonest if I’m using this article to determine Gov. Dayton’s dishonesty.
According to the article, Gov. Dayton ” said that ‘the cost of inaction’ by state lawmakers had caused the price increase.” Gov. Dayton knows that the legislature has nothing to do with the price increase because Adam Duininck told him that the SWLRT project was being put off by the federal government. Commissioner Duininck told Gov. Dayton that “the federal government has no plans to execute a funding agreement until sometime in 2017 because of ongoing litigation regarding the project.”
The “ongoing litigation that they’re talking about is something I’ve started calling the Tunheim Lawsuit. It’s a lawsuit being tried in federal court. The Tunheim Lawsuit won’t start until Sept. 17, 2017. The FTA, aka the Federal Transportation Administration, won’t lift a finger until that lawsuit is settled. The earliest that lawsuit will be settled will be January, 2018.
That’s actually the least of the Met Council’s worries. It isn’t likely that they’ll win the Tunheim Lawsuit. It’s that they have no chance at winning the lawsuit that the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association might bring. The Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association hasn’t filed a lawsuit yet but if they did, they’d win.
This paragraph is wishful thinking:
The Council, backed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, has proposed to authorize $103.5 million in debt, with the Hennepin County Regional Real Authority and the Counties Transit Improvement Board contributing a total of $41 million — enough to ensure $900 million in federal dollars for the light rail project.
This isn’t based on reality. It’s based on what the Met Council, the Hennepin County Regional Real Authority and CTIB wish would happen. They know, though, that it won’t. They know it won’t happen because they’ve been told that it won’t happen.
Gov. Dayton and Rep. Thissen would have us believe that Republicans are being pig-headed in their opposition to funding the SWLRT project. Actually, what’s becoming clear is that the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce isn’t thinking clearly while supporting the construction of the Southwest Light Rail Transit project. What clear-thinking organization supports a project that can’t be built before Sept. 17, 2017?
If that date doesn’t mean anything to you, that’s because the DFL and the Twin Cities Media haven’t reported that that’s the starting date for the trial of whether the Met Council went too far. That’s likely the least of SWLRT’s problems. The law firm of Felhaber and Larson was retained by the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association because the “current plan for the construction of the Southwest Light Rail Transit Line provides for the construction of a shallow tunnel which will be located literally within two feet of the exterior walls of the Association’s high-rise structure, as close as six inches to the foundation of the Association’s parking ramp and within 43 feet of a row of single-family townhomes.”
What part of that description sounds like the SWLRT is anything close to being built? Seriously, that sounds like a start-over point. That’s like the Met Council is saying that they don’t care that the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association’s buildings are in jeopardy. It’s like the Met Council is flipping the Association the proverbial finger. Would any private property owner sit idly by while this happened to their property? The odds of a private property owner signing off on this project are worse than the odds I’ll get hit with lightning while holding tonight’s winning lottery ticket.
It isn’t because my odds of getting hit with lightning are that high or that my odds of winning tonight’s lottery are high, either. It’s that the odds of a private property owner signing off on this project without massive monetary compensation is exactly nonexistent.
This project needs to be totally rerouted. There’s no chance the Environmental Impact Study for this part of the project will be approved. Couple the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association’ potential lawsuit with the existing lawsuit. Factor in the FTA’s reluctance to fund SWLRT until the lawsuits are settled. Throw these things together and it’s easy to question Gov. Dayton’s prioritization of the SWLRT project.
Speaker Daudt is right that the Met Council’s legal tactics have pretty much failed whenever they’ve been tried. The potential lawsuit by the Calhoun-Isles Condominium Association by itself could demolish the SWLRT project. This isn’t just about public negotiations. It’s also about the details of these potential lawsuits.
Let’s remember that some of these lawsuits are being brought by staunch DFL activists. These aren’t litigation-foolish people. These activists are skilled at dragging out litigation for years. It isn’t unreasonable to think that these lawsuits won’t be settled before we elect Gov. Dayton’s successor in 2018.
One thing that the Twin Cities press hasn’t covered, at least in the context of the special session negotiations, is that there’s a lawsuit that’s tying up the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) project. In fact, Judge John Tunheim’s ruling contains an admonition to the Met Council. FYI- Judge Tunheim is the “Chief Judge” of the “United States District Court.”
Near the end of his ruling, Judge Tunheim wrote “This opinion concludes that the LPA has not shown it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the record before the Court. It does not, however, end the case. This action involves complex legal issues and an evolving factual record. The theme underlying these complexities, though, and underlying the cause of action recognized in this Court’s prior Order, in Limehouse, and in environmental regulations like Section 1506.1, is that full and thorough environmental review of a major government project is vitally important. The LPA may not have met its summary judgment burden at this point, but the record – specifically the negotiation process and agreements between the Met Council and various cities and other public entities, and public statements regarding those agreements – shows that, throughout much of this process, the Met Council has had a clear favorite route for the SWLRT.”
Then there’s this:
Indeed, by signing an agreement with St. Louis Park that all but guarantees freight rail will stay in the Kenilworth Corridor, the Met Council has come dangerously close to impermissibly prejudicing the ongoing environmental review process.
This is why the Met Council needs to be overhauled entirely. Presently, the Met Council essentially represents Gov. Dayton and the DFL’s far left agenda. They don’t represent the people of the Twin Cities. Further, they’re more worried about getting Gov. Dayton upset than they’re worried about getting the citizens upset.
We’re supposed to be governed by the principles of one person, one vote and “with the consent of the governed.” The Met Council operates essentially on the principle of ‘thousands of people, no votes.” At no point does the Met Council operate “with the consent of the governed.” It essentially bullies elected governments, commissions, panels, etc. when it wants to achieve its goals.
Coming “impermissibly prejudicing the ongoing environmental review process” is legalese for saying that the Met Council is treading on thin legal ice. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. Check back with LFR for more later today.