DOJ Doing Something About Unjust Indigent Defense System


I've said many times that Obama's record on civil liberties issues is generally very bad, but there are some bright spots. His support for the right to record the police is one. And now the DOJ is getting involved in pushing for reform in our indigent defense system, which is so unjust and ineffective that it should be viewed as a constitutional crisis. … [Read more...]

SCOTUS Likely to Hear Abortion Case This Term


When the Republicans took over most of the state legislatures in 2010, they embarked on a campaign to pass as many laws as possible -- well over 100 of them -- that would make it more expensive and difficult to keep an abortion clinic open. They're called TRAP laws -- Targeted Restriction of Abortion Providers. And it's likely that the Supreme Court will be taking up a challenge to such laws this term. … [Read more...]

How Chief Justice Roberts Doles Out the Opinions


After the Supreme Court hears oral argument in a case, a vote is taken of the justices. If the chief justice is in the majority, he decides which justice gets to write the controlling opinion; if he's in the minority, the justice with the most seniority in the majority decides. The New York Times has an article about a new book study on how Chief Justice Roberts decides such things and the results are fascinating. … [Read more...]

Another Massive Injustice in the Courts


I've been writing about the incredible injustices in our criminal "justice" system for a long time, but here's something I did not know: Most states charge poor people for their public defenders. They can't afford to pay, of course, and they plead guilty 95% of the time whether they're guilty or not, and then in many states if they can't pay that bill, they can then be sent to jail for that as well. … [Read more...]

SCOTUS Lets Cop Get Away With Murder. Again.


In a per curiam decision (which means it's unsigned), the Supreme Court has dismissed a case against a police officer in Texas who violated a direct order from his superior officer and opened fire the vehicle of a suspect who had been fleeing the police, killing the suspect. They did so on the basis of qualified immunity, the doctrine that says you can't sue a police officer unless they violate a clear right that has been long-established and spelled out. … [Read more...]

Bigots Try to Overturn AR Non-Discrimination Ordinance


Last week, voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas passed a referendum that adds protection for LGBT people to the city's non-discrimination ordinance and the anti-gay bigots immediately filed suit to have it overturned. A state judge, however, denied them a preliminary injunction in the case because they could not show that they would suffer irreparable harm or had a likelihood of winning the case. … [Read more...]

SCOTUS Grants Cert in Non-Profit Obamacare Case


As expected, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the appeal in several cases filed by religious non-profits against the Affordable Care Act, specifically the contraception mandate -- which they are explicitly exempted from. But that exemption isn't good enough for them, so a whole bunch of them have filed suit and almost all have lost in the lower courts. But one circuit split a few months ago, setting up this appeal. The court granted cert in seven cases. … [Read more...]

Huckabee Thinks Sodomy Laws Are Still In Force


Mike Huckabee took part in a candidate's briefing last week in Iowa and took a truly bizarre and ignorant question from someone in the audience. The person asking the question thinks that sodomy laws are still in effect despite the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v Texas, on the same specious grounds that Huckabee thinks makes the gay marriage ruling irrelevant and not the law. Huckabee agreed with him: … [Read more...]

Another One Thinks Kim Davis Doesn’t Go Far Enough


And now we have another far-right Christian extremist, a guy who thinks it's okay to murder abortion doctors, saying that Kim Davis isn't going far enough in defying the Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling. Matt Trewhella says that Davis and all other public officials should just openly defy the court and refuse to follow the order, not ask for exemptions or accommodations. … [Read more...]

Michigan State Police Using Cell Phone Spy Equipment


A new report from the ACLU, based on a Freedom of Information Act request, reveals that the Michigan State Police have, for nearly a decade, been using Stingray-type equipment that sweeps up all the cell phone traffic in a given area. These devices, which were justified on the grounds that they're necessary to stop terrorism, have instead been used in routine criminal cases. … [Read more...]

Pat Robertson Thinks Gay Marriage is Still Illegal


Following in the footsteps of Mike Huckabee, Christian con man Pat Robertson told the 700 Club audience that despite the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v Ohio, same-sex marriage is still illegal in the United States because that ruling applies only to the plaintiffs in that particular case and not to anyone else. So it's still illegal unless Congress passes a law. … [Read more...]

ACLU Suing OK County Over Ten Commandments Monument

Church and State

A couple weeks ago, when the Oklahoma state government finally complied with an order from the state supreme court and removed a Ten Commandments monument from the grounds, the geniuses in charge of Johnston County, OK, decided to take a stand for Jesus and put up their own monument at the court house. I said then that they'd get sued and lose and, voila, the ACLU has announced it will sue the county. … [Read more...]