Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Here Is How The Defeat Of Hillary Clinton Led To The Sexual Harassment Revolution

RNLA Vice President for Communications Harmeet K. Dhillon wrote today in The Daily Caller about the sexual harassment revolution that is happening now:
We live in a unique historical moment when brave women are coming forward with stories of sexual harassment they have experienced. Their courage emboldens other women to share their stories, and public sentiment is rapidly turning against the men who have harassed these women, in many cases for decades, without repercussions. This is an epochal – and overdue – cultural correction and change in thinking. It is tragic that, in a nation built on the idea that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights, women were and are exploited with no recourse.
While liberals and the mainstream media attribute the timing to President Trump's election, Ms. Dhillon instead points to the disfavor of the Clintons:
Why is this seismic shift in our culture happening now, in late 2017? According to TIME, the election of President Trump made women feel powerless, leading to the Women’s March, then to the individuals sharing their stories, culminating in the #MeToo social media movement. It turns out women were not so powerless after all. Indeed, the voices that were suppressed throughout the Clinton and Obama eras — and even while a woman, Hillary Clinton, ran a much-trumpeted historic campaign for President — now feel free, in 2017, to speak their minds, and to tell their stories. And the nation is listening, across the political spectrum. . .  
In this crossroads of sociological, political, and economic theories, one explanation rises above the rest: the growing disfavor of and backlash against the Clintons. . . . By protecting Bill Clinton, and his chief defender Hillary (a self-proclaimed champion of women), for the past 20 years, the Democrats and liberal elite have perpetuated the sexual harassment culture that kept victims silent for fear of repercussions. Consider how Hillary Clinton protected friend, supporter, and donor Harvey Weinstein despite direct warnings about his misconduct toward women, as reported last week by The New York Times. . . . 
It is only now that the Clintons are out of favor and inconvenient and are being shoved offstage by their ruthless cronies in the Democratic Party, that the left can actually take sexual harassment seriously. That is a good thing. But in their rush to champion the harassed women who have been silenced by the mainstream media and liberal elites for years, the left is yet again exploiting women for political gain – just as it exploited them for decades by ignoring their claims of harassment against those favored by liberal elites.
Ms. Dhillon concludes by pointing out that, in a system such as ours with the rule of law, it is anathema for a person's rights to be determined by who is in power, but that is precisely what happened for the past 20 years while the Clintons were tied to the Democratic Party and liberal elites.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Maryland Redistricting Case

To the surprise of Supreme Court observers and election lawyers, on Friday the Supreme Court agreed to hear a second political gerrymandering case this term, this time out of Maryland:
In October, the justices heard oral argument in a challenge to the redistricting plan passed by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature in 2011 [Gill v. Whitford]. Today they agreed to weigh in on Benisek v. Lamone, a challenge to another redistricting plan enacted in 2011, in which the plaintiffs allege that Democratic election officials in Maryland gerrymandered the state’s 6th congressional district in retaliation for the plaintiffs’ support for Republican candidates – specifically, Roscoe Bartlett, who represented them in Congress for two decades.
Most Court observers assumed that the justices would not hear Benisek, or any other political gerrymandering cases, until they had decided the currently pending case, Gill v. Whitford.  While the plaintiffs in Whitford challenged the map for the entire state, the Benisek plaintiffs are challenging just one district:
The plaintiffs told the justices that “the mapdrawers reshuffled fully half of the district’s 720,000 residents—far more than necessary to correct the mere 10,000-person imbalance in the district’s population following the 2010 census.” As a result, they explained, “registered Republicans’ share of the electorate fell from 47% to 33%,” and Bartlett lost his seat to a Democrat, John Delaney.
The claim is slightly different in Benisek as well, as it is based in the First Amendment.  A dispute over what must be proven under such a claim and whether the Court has the authority to hear the case are before the Court:
The issues before the court center on what plaintiffs in a First Amendment retaliation challenge to partisan gerrymandering must show for their case to go forward. According to the plaintiffs in this case, the district court would have required them to show that “each and every outcome is (and will continue to be) singularly attributable to gerrymandering.” But all they should have to show, the plaintiffs maintain, is that they have suffered some injury.
The decision to grant cert in this case, in addition to Whitford, may indicate that the justices will issue a broad, joint opinion laying out the rules for political gerrymandering claims.  Or, the Court may decide the cases separately and on very narrow grounds (perhaps on a jurisdictional issue, instead of reaching the claims on the merits).  While this Supreme Court term previously had the potential to change the legal landscape for redistricting, that is even more true now that another partisan gerrymandering case is before the Court.  Oral argument in Benisek has not yet been scheduled.

Friday, December 8, 2017

ICYMI: DOJ Finally Enters Litigation Against Guam's Racially Discriminatory Voting Law

A week ago Tuesday, the Department of Justice finally decided to fight against a blatantly racially discriminatory voting law in Guam, as Hans von Spakovsky described:
I have written numerous updates about the voting-rights lawsuit that Davis, a retired Air Force officer, filed back in 2011 against the territory of Guam . . . . Guam refused to allow Davis, a long-time resident of Guam, to register to vote for a plebiscite on the future of the territory because he is white and not Chamorro, the racial designation given to the natives who originally inhabited Guam.
The personnel changes made by President Trump, including Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and John Gore as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, were necessary for the Department of Justice to uphold the law and the rule of law:
After Guam lost in March, it appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On November 28, after eight years of studied indifference, the U.S. Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions finally did the right thing: It filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit supporting Arnold Davis.  
DOJ’s brief, which was filed by John Gore, the acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division, argues that “Guam’s plebiscite law intentionally discriminates based on race.” It directly violates Supreme Court precedent set in Rice v. Cayetano, a 2000 decision in which the Court threw out a similar Hawaii law. DOJ points out that the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments both apply to Guam; the fact that it is a territory does not deprive its residents of those constitutional protections. The brief asks the Ninth Circuit to uphold the district court’s decision. . . .
The discriminatory law had been ignored for 8 years by the Obama DOJ because the voters the law discriminated against were the wrong color
The Obama administration refused to enforce federal law barring racial discrimination in voting, housing, employment, and education on a race-neutral basis. The Holder/Lynch Justice Department didn’t care if you were being discriminated against unless you were a member of one of its favored groups, a distinction that does not exist in our anti-discrimination laws. The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, as well as federal statutes such as the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act, protect all Americans from racial discrimination.
Because DOJ had abdicated its duty to enforce the laws, this long case to vindicate Mr. Davis' voting rights has been fought by a courageous attorney - RNLA member Christian Adams.  We are grateful that the Sessions Justice Department respects the rule of law and has chosen to support Adams' litigation against this discriminatory law - at last.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

WI DOJ Report on Leak and Mishandling of Documents in "John Doe" Investigations

The Wisconsin Department of Justice completed an investigation and report on the 2016 leak of 1500 pages of documents from the so-called "John Doe" investigations, expansive and intrusive investigations into alleged coordination and prohibited political activity by Republicans in Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin Supreme Court eventually held that the activity under investigation was constitutionally protected First Amendment speech and halted the politically motivated investigations that had terrorized conservative citizens of Wisconsin.

The report was released on Tuesday and unsealed by the court yesterday contains details about the gross mishandling of evidence and people's confidential information:
Moreover, DOJ is deeply concerned by what appears to have been the weaponization of GAB [Government Accountability Board] by partisans in furtherance of political goals, which permitted the vast collection of highly personal information from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans without even taking modest steps to secure this information. 
In the following pages, this report will explain how the former GAB never fully divested itself of evidence from the John Doe investigations and how former GAB employees and current employees of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission (Ethics) left sensitive evidence unsecured in the former GAB office space and on former GAB computer systems. This report also describes how DOJ investigators, in searching for the leaked documents, discovered what this report calls “John Doe III,” a previously unknown and secret investigation into a broad range of Wisconsin Republicans. John Doe III reached far beyond John Doe II’s original (and unsubstantiated) allegation centering on unlawful “coordination” during Governor Walker’s 2010 election and 2012 recall election. As explained more thoroughly below, this secret investigation collected hundreds of thousands of private emails from dozens of Wisconsin Republicans (and at least two national conservative leaders, Ed Gillespie and Leonard Leo). In searching for the leaked documents and the leaker, DOJ investigators found over 500,000 of these John Doe III emails in the basement of the former GAB in two unsecured boxes labeled “Shane Falk.” Moreover, for reasons that perhaps may never be fully explained, GAB obtained and then held thousands of private emails from Wisconsin Republicans in several folders on their servers marked “Opposition Research.”
The 88-page report details the misdeeds of the Government Accountability Board (GAB), now reorganized as the Wisconsin Ethics Commission, employees and investigators, some of whom are attorneys.  Because the documents and sensitive personal information were unsecured, Attorney General Brad Schimel concludes that no criminal charges can be filed for the leak as it is nearly impossible to identify the leaker.  But he did make the following disturbing findings:
  • The Leak Was A Crime 
  • The Motivation Of The Leaker Was To Influence The U.S. Supreme Court 
  • The Leak Did Not Come From The Wisconsin Courts 
  • The Leak Did Not Originate From Any District Attorney’s Office Or Francis Schmitz
  • The Leak Originated From The Former GAB
  • The Partisan Atmosphere At GAB Contributed To The Leak 
  • GAB’s Mishandling Of Evidence Created The Opportunity For The Leak Of Records 
  • Members Of The Prosecution Team Still May Not Have Fully Divested Themselves Of All Records Relating The John Doe Investigation 
Attorney General Schimel also recommends disciplinary proceedings and contempt proceedings against nine persons for repeated violations of court orders.

While this is some level of vindication for the Wisconsin citizens whose free speech rights were violated and a step in the right direction, it is also a chilling reminder of how liberals are willing to use the power of government to suppress the speech of their political opponents and are shockingly careless about the people whose lives they are disturbing and ruining.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Senate Democrats Continue to Obstruct Damien Schiff, Nominee to Federal Court of Claims

[Below is an opinion piece by Tom Isaacs, an RNLA member and volunteer on RNLA’s Judicial Affairs Committee. His piece highlights how Damien Schiff has been unfairly blocked by Senate Democrats. Mr. Schiff was nominated to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims back in early May and in mid-July his nomination was approved by the Judiciary Committee. Currently, after more than six months of waiting, Mr. Schiff is still awaiting an up or down vote by the full Senate.

Unfortunately, Mr. Schiff’s beleaguered confirmation process has become a glaring example of Democratic obstructionism in the Trump Era. The RNLA will continue to advocate and support the qualified judicial nominees that President Trump continues to nominate. If you are interested in volunteering for the RNLA’s Judicial Affairs Committee, please fill out the signup sheet here.]

In their never-ending efforts to upstage and obstruct the Trump administration, Senate Democrats continue to stall the confirmation of the President’s judicial nominees, valuing partisan rancor over the proper staffing and functioning of our Courts. The latest victim of this Democratic obstructionism is Mr. Damien Schiff, who was nominated for a seat on the United States Court of Federal Claims in May, but whose nomination is being unjustifiably held up in the Senate.

The United States Court of Federal Claims handles cases involving claims for money damages against the federal government based on federal law, regulations, and contracts with the United States. The Court, while perhaps more obscure than other federal district or appellate courts, nonetheless increasingly handles complex, high-profile cases, and requires a full complement of knowledgeable judges to carry out its designed function.

But Democrats have other priorities. Rather than fully assess Mr. Schiff’s temperament and competence based on the totality of his career, in a desperate attempt to show that Mr. Schiff is unfit for the judiciary, Democrats have seized on a decade-old blog post where a twenty-something Mr. Schiff used colorful language to make a point about the decisions of a sitting Supreme Court Justice. Although Mr. Schiff has since called his own statements “uncharitable” and contextualized his comments, this is insufficient for preening Senate Democrats. Smelling blood, Democrats think they can kill Mr. Schiff’s nomination and thereby score partisan points. But it is a disservice for Senate Democrats to seize on a trivial blog post and use it as a pretext to keep a qualified, rule-of-law attorney off the bench.

Indeed, the attacks against Mr. Schiff do not question his qualifications, legal acumen, or experience – the most important factors when evaluating a judicial nominee. There is a simple reason for this: in over 13 years of practice, Mr. Schiff has irrefutably demonstrated his sharp judgment, knowledge of the law, and commitment to the Constitution. Mr. Schiff believes that cases should be decided based on precedent, the facts, and the law, a common-sense position that, in less partisan times, would easily win him the support of the full Senate.

His experience is also uniquely suited to a position on the Federal Claims Court. As a principal attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation, he has dedicated his career to litigating environmental and land-use issues in state and federal courts throughout the nation, including at the Supreme Court. Because of his expertise, Mr. Schiff has been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist, as well as appearing on various television and radio programs to discuss federal environmental law.

Moreover, Mr. Schiff understands how the Federal Claims Court operates, having previously clerked for Federal Claims Court Judge Victor J. Wolski. Simply put, he knows the Court and the legal issues that come before it, and his belief that federal judges should leave their personal opinions aside and dispassionately decide cases based on the facts and law is well within the legal mainstream. Mr. Schiff must be confirmed.

Instead, Democrats have delayed and evaded his nomination, aided by liberal interest groups that mischaracterize Mr. Schiff as holding “radical,” “extremist” views. Of course, such hyperbolic onslaughts only make sense if one believes that it is “extreme” to uphold the Constitution and for judges to decide cases based on what the law says, as opposed to the personal values of an individual wearing black robes. The Senate should exercise its constitutional role and hold an up-or-down vote on Mr. Schiff’s nomination. And, if qualifications, experience, and temperament, and not partisanship, are truly what matter, the result of that vote should be a resounding Yes.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Why Did Pennsylvania's Chief Election Officer Resign? Still Seeking Answers...

Just over seven weeks ago, the Democrat Secretary of the Commonwealth for Pennsylvania, Pedro Cortes, abruptly and shockingly resigned from his post after just over two years. His resignation followed a government finding that non-citizens had registered to vote and many did in fact vote in past elections due to a "glitch" in the commonwealth's motor-voter software.

Since this time, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and his office have not offered any explanation as to the circumstances of Secretary Cortes's resignation--which has only exacerbated the mystery and intrigue surrounding this story.

Earlier this week, Lowman Henry, the CEO of Pennsylvania's conservative-leaning The Lincoln Institute, authored a column on Secretary Cortes's abrupt resignation and the lack of transparency of the whole situation, which was published in a number of local Pennsylvania newspapers.

Mr. Henry's article explains that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has started an official inquiry to see how non-citizen could register to vote and actually cast ballots in Pennsylvania elections, but quickly has become intertwined with Secretary Cortes's resignation. Mr. Henry writes:
[ ] State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who chairs the State Government Committee, asked the Pennsylvania Department of State — the agency that oversees elections — if there was a procedure in place to cross-check the state’s voter registration rolls with driver licenses issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Foreign nationals can legally obtain a driver’s license, but their status as a non-citizen is so noted in the application process. To date the Department of State has refused to answer the committee’s questions and has not verified whether or not such cross-checking has occurred. Metcalfe further pointed out that there is no procedure in place for verifying U.S. citizenship in the voter registration process. Thus there is no way of actually knowing how many illegal voters are on the rolls. 
Adding to the intrigue was the abrupt and unexpected resignation of Pedro Cortez [sic]. Cortez served as Secretary of the Department of State, a position he held in both the [Gov.] Rendell and Wolf administrations. Cortez’s resignation came days after media reports spotlighting the foreign national problem. In what Metcalfe termed “suspicious timing,” Cortez was gone. Gov. Wolf, who pledged a greater level of government transparency in his administration, has added a few stones to the wall by refusing to disclose exactly why Cortez resigned. Right-to-Know requests filed by media organizations seem to indicate the Cortez resignation was not voluntary. . . It is true cabinet secretaries serve at the pleasure of the governor. But, they must also be confirmed by the state Senate and, especially when dealing with election integrity, have a further obligation to be transparent with the public. . . .
Mr. Henry continues by noting Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania Democrats' track record on election integrity efforts, or lack thereof:
Gov. Wolf has already opposed such election integrity safeguards as requiring voters to produce a photo ID when they arrive at their polling place. Wolf and Democrats in general[ ] claim photo ID is a GOP plot to discourage voter turnout. This though photo IDs are universally available, and needed even to buy cough medicine at the corner drug store.  
So the governor and his administration have a history of failing to take prudent steps to ensure the integrity of the state’s election system. … The State Government Committee lacks subpoena power to force information from the Department of State, but the House should take whatever action is needed to compel testimony. Lawmakers are elected by We the People to represent us and appointed bureaucrats should not be allowed to refuse to answer whatever questions they might have.
Lowman Henry concludes by calling on Pennsylvania Governor Wolf to provide "a full and complete explanation for the departure of Secretary Cortez." And further states that something just seems off with the whole situation and it feels like there is an attempt to hid it from the public.

The RNLA agrees. We believe the full story surrounding Secretary Cortes's ousting should be made public. Also, the public should be made aware of the full extent of these non-citizens voting in the critical swing state of Pennslyvania. We will continue to follow and highlight any developments that arise. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Senator Hatch on Religious Liberty

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah recently published a post on the Harvard Law Review Blog on the status of religious liberty in America. Senator Hatch writes about how the concept of religious liberty used to be a noncontroversial issue that garnered bipartisan support. However, those days are gone and the result is raising issues that go against the principles espoused by our Founding Fathers:
Religious liberty was, in several critical ways, the first freedom of our system. Its explicit protection is the first injunction commanded by the First Amendment. Ingrained deeply in our culture and in our institutions, its expression has proven central to the national character. Our Constitution allows no establishment of religion, and permits no undue restraint upon its exercise, such that our citizens may make their own determinations on matters of conscience.
This basic principle used to be widely shared. It used to be one of the few matters that spanned the divide . . . And yet today, where do we find ourselves? In a recent judicial confirmation hearing, a nominee was asked, explicitly, “do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” That same nominee was told that, upon review of her record, “the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.” Statements like that can be taken only as the imposition of some kind of religious test for holding office. Nothing could be more repugnant to our values of religious freedom and liberty.
Senator Hatch noted this shift is a fairly recent one, noting that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) garnered near-unanimous support in both chambers of Congress.  He continued by referencing recent major court decisions and growing pressures being added to stresses put upon our right to religious liberty:
In cases like Trinity Lutheran and controversies from Hobby Lobby to the Zubik v. Burwell [case], there is a new pressure on those living and espousing their faith. And yet, unlike in the past, there is no longer a chorus of voices — from both sides of the aisle — standing up for religious liberty. There is no longer a broad, bipartisan agreement that religious rights are not to be tampered with, demeaned, overlooked, or casually brushed aside. More and more, religious liberty is treated as an afterthought to those making policy and as an inconvenience to those carrying it out. More and more, it proves a quick rhetorical box to check before moving on to matters deemed more important.
Senator Hatch cautions if religious liberty is not protected, it could be lost and its impact widely felt. In its wake, a new standard would be imposed on all Americans that would curtail their First Amendment rights.
This country’s protection of religious liberty — unique in the world and through most of history — is too rare, and was won upon the sacrifice of too many, to be quietly disregarded for falling out of the popularity of the times. I, for one, plan to keep speaking to this issue . . . Religious liberty is a bedrock principle of the American political order. Its protection is of the highest order and the greatest priority. It is not merely one of many values, to be weighed against other competing social and political goals, and discarded when inconvenient.
Senator Orrin Hatch has been a staunch advocate of religious liberty during his long Senate career. Even today, President Trump while in Utah was encouraging Senator Hatch to run for reelection. The RNLA thanks Senator Hatch for his outspoken efforts to defend and preserve our religious liberty and his leadership in the Senate.