Friday, May 27, 2016

RNLA President Larry Levy: Republican Lawyers Should Support Trump

In an early summer edition of The Republican Lawyer newsletter this week, RNLA President Larry Levy urged Republicans to support Donald Trump, noting that his release of a list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees should reassure Republican lawyers of the principled kind of judge that Trump would appoint at all levels of the judiciary:
In 1980, many Party stalwarts expressed doubts about Reagan, doubts he helped quell with a memorable debate performance against Jimmy Carter. In a sense for the legal community, as well for many of our Party’s staunchest supporters, Mr. Trump had a similar moment when he recently announced his list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Even Mr. Trump’s harshest Republican critics agree this is an outstanding list, while Hillary Clinton and the left are distraught.  
Even more importantly, for Republican lawyers this list is reassuring because it shows deference to the rule of law and is a strong indication of the types of judges Mr. Trump would appoint at all levels of the federal courts.  
For Republican Lawyers, the Trump Supreme Court list, should be our 1980 Debate moment. The moment when we knew that we had to support Mr. Trump. 
For just like 1980, the choice is binary. Does anyone think Hillary Clinton would appoint even a magistrate judge with the same impeccable credentials and respect for the rule of law that was shown on Mr. Trump’s list? We know what four more years of liberal judicial appointments would do our court system, let alone a liberal majority for the Supreme Court. Actually, four years is the wrong number. We would be looking at a liberal court with little respect for the rule of law for the next generation.
Larry Levy noted the important role that Republican lawyers will play in the elections this fall:
As Republican lawyers, our members supported and were involved in every one of the seventeen primary campaigns, as we each exercised our sacred freedoms of association and free speech. Now, we must decide how to exercise those freedoms, as well as our obligation as citizens to vote in November. Some will focus only on Senate, House, or state races, while others will heed the call to unite the Party and support Mr. Trump for President, as the person who has garnered the most votes both from citizens and delegates. Whatever you decide, do not withdraw from the battles ahead; the stakes are too high, the risks too imminent to accept abstention. I’ve made my decision to support Mr. Trump and our Party; I trust all our members will actively participate in their own way during this critical election.
All Republican lawyers should unite around Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee and work to support Republicans at every level of the ticket in November.  This fall, lawyers will be needed to assure fair, open, and honest elections more than ever before.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

RNLA Honors Republican Lawyer Carl M. Buchholz

RNLA remembers and honors Carl M. Buchholz, a prominent Republican lawyer and RNLA member, after his untimely passing.  From Ron Hicks, RNLA Vice President for Communications:
This past Monday, Carl M. Buchholz, a respected Pennsylvania lawyer and civic leader who worked in the Bush administration to create the White House Office of Homeland Security after the September 11 attacks, died at the age of 51 after a year-long battle with cancer.  Mr. Buchholz spent most of his career at the Philadelphia-based Blank Rome, rising to managing partner, and then left in 2012 to work for DLA Piper International, where he also became managing partner of its Philadelphia office.  To read more about Carl and his work for the Republican party, click here.
From Mr. Buchholz' obituary:
He was a key member of the Bush-Cheney presidential team that litigated the historic Florida recount in 2000 that led to the defeat of Democratic candidates Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. 
After Sept. 11, 2001, Bush appointed Mr. Buchholz to work in the White House as special assistant to the president for homeland security. 
Teaming up with former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who was homeland security director, Mr. Buchholz helped develop the administration's response to terrorism. He served as cochairman of the transition team that created the Department of Homeland Security.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lee Goodman – A Steadfast Defender of the First Amendment – Part I

Well, I’m Lee Goodman, I’m Chairman of the Federal Election Committee and I’m here to help.  – Lee Goodman, LPAC 2014

It is not very often that I start a blog off with a quote; however, given the impact Goodman’s speech undoubtedly had on those who were fortunate enough to attend Liberty Political Action Conference back in 2014 or who have had the pleasure of viewing it since, it seemed a fitting introduction for a series of blog posts. 

Goodman has spent the bulk of his time with the FEC defending the First Amendment. This speech came at a time where he was personally subject to two federal suits for standing up for the constitution and the rights conferred upon us all by the First Amendment. Goodman continued . . .

We know that what distinguishes America from totalitarian regimes is fundamentally the First Amendment, which is the first freedom on which all of our other freedoms are based [. . . ]

The First Amendment is the very foundation of all our freedoms. If we choose to allow others to grind down those freedoms then we will undoubtedly lose our way. This should be a primary concern for everyone, right or left. Our ability to discuss and debate issues has come under attack. Sharing or speaking opinions, even unpopular ones, is how this country was born. The left seeks to overturn Citizens United (either by a decision or Constitutional Amendment) and it clearly is a step in the wrong direction. The ability to communicate, share diverse perspectives, and generally disagree with others' opinions are what makes this country the icon of freedom in the world today. Simply because you do not agree with something someone else says does not mean that an individual or association should not have the right to say it.

[T]hen in 2010, in the Citizens United v. FEC decision, the Supreme Court recognized that people form associations to speak and they do not shed their First Amendment rights just because they incorporate their association.

Associations serve only to amplify the voice of the individual and in turn, clarify the common voice of the association. An association is merely a group of likeminded individuals working together toward a common goal. Sharing their opinions with the public demonstrates the most basic of freedoms provided by the Constitution. This does not mean that the public has to listen to them. The holding in Citizens United affirms that speech expressed by individuals in this context was meant to be protected. To seek its overturning is to seek the ruination of First Amendment itself.

Now, those people who prefer more regulation of speech, and prefer to banish certain speakers and their ideas from the public debate are very frustrated with those decisions.

Regulation of speech is rarely a good thing and even more rarely does it help to provide any feasible solutions to actual problems. As Goodman pointed out, this is what separates the United States from other “totalitarian regimes.”  As the assault on First Amendment continues, it has become clear that we need voices like Goodman’s to speak out against those who seek to silence the speech and ideas of others, lest we allow ourselves to develop into one of those totalitarian regimes. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More Problems for Hillary Clinton's Friend, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

Yesterday, we discussed some of the recent problems for Governor Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. The staunch “Crooked Hillary” minion McAuliffe has recently come under investigation by the FBI for donations to his gubernatorial campaign. CNN published an article detailing what is known about the investigation up to this point.

McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department's public integrity unit, U.S. officials briefed on the probe say.

Among the McAuliffe donations that drew the interest of the investigators was $120,000 from a Chinese businessman, Wang Wenliang, through his U.S. businesses. Wang was previously delegate to China's National People's Congress, the country's ceremonial legislature.

Wang also has been a donor to the Clinton foundation, pledging $2 million. He also has been a prolific donor to other causes, including to New York University, Harvard and environmental issues in Florida.

Since the story broke on CNN several other media outlets have picked it up as well including NBC, CBS, and Fox News. The Washington Post released an article today walking through the speculation swirling around the investigation:
In 2013, Wang's Chinese company pledged $2 million to the nonprofit foundation. The donation caught the attention of a CBS News investigation in March 2015 -- not because of any campaign finance laws (this is a foundation after all), but because of Wang's political connections. . . . 
Tying this back to McAuliffe: He also served on the board of the Clinton Foundation around the time of the donation. McAuliffe is a longtime Clinton ally and a prolific fundraiser for them. In 2015, Post reporter Laura Vozzella detailed McAuliffe's connection to Wang to show how Clinton Foundation donors also pumped millions into the governor's campaign accounts. 
Details continue to surface. Keep your eye on the ball. It’s likely given McAuliffe's close ties to the Clinton family that there is a whole lot more to the story. That is until "Crooked Hillary" cleans up the evidence . . . with a cloth.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Executive Overreach Creeps into Virginia

A “Crooked Hillary” lackey, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is having a rough week and it’s mostly self-inflicted. The Governor has recently come under investigation by the FBI for donations to his gubernatorial campaign (more on that in a later post).

As if that was not enough for a bad day, McAuliffe is also facing a lawsuit that was filed in the Virginia Supreme Court today challenging the constitutionality of using an executive action to restore voting rights to felons en masse:
Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly will file suit today in the Supreme Court of Virginia challenging Gov. Terry McAuliffe's authority to order a mass restoration of rights April 22, covering more than 200,000 felons who have served their time.

"The Constitution of Virginia forbids this unprecedented assertion of executive authority," the filing states. "Governor McAuliffe’s executive order defies the plain text of the Constitution, flouts the separation of powers, and has no precedent in the annals of Virginia history. The governor simply may not, with a stroke of the pen, unilaterally suspend and amend the Constitution."

McAuliffe's order came just days after the General Assembly wrapped up the 2016 legislative session, has the potential to expand the state's voter rolls by up to 3.8 percent.

Chuck Cooper, the attorney for Republicans filing the suit, said the plaintiffs are making a direct appeal to the state's highest court because "time is of the essence...the governor issued the order in time for thousands and thousands of felons to register and ultimately vote in November elections, but that isn't enough time to litigate a case in the normal course of the trial courts of the commonwealth."

In a statement, [Speaker of the House William J.] Howell, who has clashed frequently with McAuliffe during his term over Medicaid expansion, gun control and most recently judicial selection for the Supreme Court of Virginia, said legislators "simply cannot ignore this unprecedented executive overreach.”

Given the current FBI investigation, the lawsuit, and even further allegations of wrong doing, one need not infer the Governor’s motive, as his actions speak directly to it. The unconstitutional executive action was taken for one reason alone: adding Virginia’s felon voters to the rolls in time for the presidential election. Voters that statistically will likely support “Crooked Hillary” for President. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Judge Sanctions DOJ Attorneys for Putting Politics Ahead of Truth, Ethics, and Justice

In an astounding, unprecedented rebuke of the Department of Justice and its attorneys, Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an order sanctioning the DOJ attorneys for their conduct in U.S. v. Texas, the challenge by 26 states to Obama's immigration policies.  Judge Hanen found that they deliberately and repeatedly misled and lied to the court, violating ethical rules:
According to Hanen, the Justice Department “admitted making statements that clearly did not match the facts. It has admitted that the lawyers who made these statements had knowledge of the truth when they made these misstatements.” The only explanation DOJ had was that the lawyers “lost focus” or that the “fact[s] receded in memory or awareness,” a dubious and not very credible justification. That “lost focus” and memory problem caused the DOJ attorneys to “effectively” mislead the plaintiff states and “misdirect” the court. . . . 
Hanen lists the specific statements made by DOJ lawyers in court and on conference calls that were outright lies, and then he lists all of the applicable ethics rules that the DOJ lawyers violated. Those misleading statements put “to rest any doubt regarding misconduct.” Hanen said the representations were made in “bad faith” by DOJ lawyers and breached Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b), which makes such conduct sanctionable.
Judge Hanen wisely decided not to make the American people pay for the attorneys' misconduct through imposing a fine:
He could also have awarded attorneys’ fees against the government and its DOJ attorneys. However, those fees would simply “be paid by taxpayers of the United States.” Thus, the Justice Department “would go unscathed.” There would be “no corrective effect and no motivation for the Government’s lawyers to act more appropriately in the future” because “there seems to be a lack of knowledge about or adherence to the duties of professional responsibility in the halls of the Justice Department.” 
So instead, Hanen ordered the Obama administration to take a series of steps: 
  • Provide the court with a list of all of the aliens who were given benefits under the Obama amnesty plan; 
  • All DOJ attorneys stationed in Washington, D.C., who appear in the courts of any of the 26 states that filed this lawsuit must take a yearly ethics course taught by someone unaffiliated with DOJ — and the attorney general must file an annual report with Judge Hanen for five years listing all of the DOJ attorneys who have appeared in those 26 states certifying their attendance at this ethics course; 
  • Attorney General Loretta Lynch must file a comprehensive plan within 60 days “to prevent this unethical conduct from ever occurring again.” She must ensure that “Justice Department trial lawyers tell the truth — the entire truth”; and 
  • Because he believes that whatever the Office of Professional Responsibility at DOJ is doing “has not been effective,” Hanen ordered Lynch to inform him within 60 days of the steps she is taking to “ensure” that OPR “effectively polices the conduct of the Justice Department lawyers and appropriately disciplines those whose actions fall below the standards that the American people rightfully expect from their Department of Justice.”
Hans von Spakovsky's entire analysis of the remarkable order is well worth reading.  Obama's Department of Justice attorneys, charged with representing the American people, put partisan politics above their duty, forsaking it so far as to lie to a court.  Yet again for the Obama Justice Department, politics triumphed over justice. It is encouraging that the courts are willing to keep DOJ in check, fulfilling their role under our system of separation of powers.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Virginia Voter ID Law Upheld

A federal judge has just upheld Virginia’s voter ID law. This decision serves as yet another devastating judicial haymaker for opponents of common sense voter ID laws across the country.

"Mindful that the court's mission is to judge not the wisdom of the Virginia voter ID law, but rather its constitutionality, this court cannot say that plaintiffs have met their burden of proof in showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the Virginia voter ID law ... contravenes the Voting Rights Act, the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifteenth Amendment, or the Twenty-Sixth Amendment," U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson wrote Thursday.

Hudson's ruling concluded: "While the merits of this voter identification law, and indeed all aspects of Virginia's voting regime, can be reasonably debated, it remains true that Virginia has created a scheme of laws to accommodate all people in their right to vote. From in-person voting, to an absentee option, to provisional ballots with the ability to cure, and the provision of free voter IDs, Virginia has provided all of its citizens with an equal opportunity to participate in the electoral process."

Simply stated, the law was found to be firm, fair, and consistent to all voters of the state. It protects the integrity of Virginia elections and ensures that all citizens have an equal opportunity to have their voice be heard. Judge Hudson took a minute to clarify the question presented in the case.

The judge added, "The evidence also revealed that the Virginia voter ID law has created a layer of inconvenience for some voters. But the question squarely presented in this case is whether (the law) is unconstitutional either in its adoption, implementation, or enforcement. Does it, by design or otherwise, adversely affect the opportunity of minorities to vote or is the burden evenly spread?"

The short answer, No. The stakes involved in the selection of our leaders are too significant to leave susceptible to fraud. The ability to ensure an election is free of vote fraud is crucial to voter confidence. Once again, the Court has found that mere inconvenience to a select few, inconvenience that we as citizens are all already subject to, will never outweigh the need for the absolute integrity of our election system.