NSA Data to be Used in Regular Criminal Investigations

When the Patriot Act was passed and the national surveillance state was built, proponents said not to worry, this was just to help us stop terrorists. Civil liberties groups knew that was a lie we've seen the evidence for years. And now it's getting worse because NSA data mining will now be used in routine criminal investigations too. … [Read more...]

Study Finds Wrongful Convictions Rampant in California

A study of more than two decades of criminal cases in California by three groups that work to exonerate the innocent finds evidence of almost 700 wrongful convictions resulting in almost 3000 total years in prison and nearly $300 million in costs to the state. … [Read more...]

DOJ Official Thinks Three Year Olds Can Be Immigration Lawyers

In one of the most unbelievably asinine things I've ever heard anyone say, the man who trains immigration judges for the Department of Justice said in a deposition that a three or four year old child can represent themselves in court during immigration and amnesty proceedings. … [Read more...]

Former Scalia Clerk Has a Powerful Message

Bruce Hay is a professor at Harvard Law School. He's a liberal. And he was once a clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia. In a powerful essay at Salon, he talks about how Scalia's rulings, especially his antipathy for LGBT people, has real-life consequences that the justice himself was completely isolated from. … [Read more...]

Scalia’s Record on Crime and Punishment

Mugambi Jouet, a professor at Stanford Law School, takes a look at Justice Scalia's mostly appalling record on crime and punishment. With the exception of (some) 4th Amendment cases, Scalia's record was uniformly horrible in this regard. He simply did not care whether a defendant was innocent or not as long as procedures were followed. … [Read more...]

Another Welfare Drug Testing Regime Fails Badly

Here's yet another example of a Republican-controlled legislature passing a law requiring that people on public assistance get drug tested and the number of applicants failing the test is extremely low, lower than the average population by a wide margin. And it ends up costing more money than it saves. … [Read more...]

The Life of an Exonerated Inmate

The number of people being exonerated of crimes they didn't commit, often after spending decades in prison, is higher than it's ever been. ThinkProgress has the story of an Alabama man who spent 30 years in solitary confinement for a murder he didn't commit and was recently released from prison. The transition is incredibly difficult. … [Read more...]

Ladies and Gentlemen, Ben McCarthy Carson

It seems that Ben Carson is trying to really establish his McCarthyite bonafides by one-upping some of his Republican presidential rivals. Not only does he think we should have a database for all "foreigners," but he thinks we should be surveilling anyone he deems to be "anti-American." He means Un-American, of course. Perhaps even a House committee to oversee their activities. … [Read more...]

Brennan Uses Paris Attacks to Call for More Surveillance Power

Hey, here's a surprising development. The head of the CIA is using the attacks in Paris to justify even more power to the federal government to drown the 4th Amendment in a bathtub and give him expanded authority to engage in surveillance and invade our privacy. How shocking that a government agency would use a tragic event to demand more power for that government agency. … [Read more...]

Republican Governors Strike the Xenophobia Pose

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, nearly a dozen state governors, all of them Republicans, have come out and declared that they will not accept any Syrian refugees granted asylum in the United States. I am about equal parts appalled by the xenophobia and jingoism and amused at the notion that they have such authority. They don't, at least partly for the reasons Ian Millhiser offers: … [Read more...]

Government Wants Even More Power to Seize Assets

As if asset forfeitures in this country weren't already out of control, the Obama administration wants to make the rules even more unconstitutional than they already are. In a case heard by the Supreme Court this week, the DOJ argued that the government should be able to seize assets that they admit have no connection to a crime before someone is ever even put on trial for a crime they're accused of. Friend of Dispatches Radley Balko cites Damon Root on the facts of the case: … [Read more...]

Utah Judge Orders Child Removed from Gay Foster Parents

Shocking news: A judge in Utah is a raging anti-gay bigot. Judge Scott Johansen has ordered that a baby that has been raised by a lesbian couple for the last few months -- they're all married and everything, though I'm sure the judge just hates that -- be removed from their care because straight parents are better than gay ones (he apparently thinks there are studies that support this, but he's wrong). … [Read more...]