Tag Archives: Civil RIghts

In Honor Of Dr Martin Luther King: -United States Department Of Justice Investigation Of Recent Allegations Regarding The Assassination Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

On August 26, 1998, the Attorney General directed the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, assisted by the Criminal Division, to investigate two separate, recent allegations related to the April 4, 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These allegations emanate from Loyd Jowers, a former Memphis tavern owner, and Donald Wilson, a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In 1993, 25 years after the murder, Jowers claimed that he participated in a conspiracy to kill Dr. King, along with an alleged Mafia figure, Memphis police officers, and a man named Raoul. According to Jowers, one of the conspirators shot Dr. King from behind his tavern.

Wilson alleged in 1998 that shortly after the assassination, while working as an FBI agent, he took papers from the abandoned car of James Earl Ray, the career criminal who pled guilty to murdering Dr. King. Wilson claims he concealed them for 30 years. Some of the papers contained references to a Raul (the alternate spellings, Raoul and Raul, are discussed in Section I) and figures associated with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to Wilson, someone who later worked in the White House subsequently stole the other papers he took from Ray’s car, including one with the telephone number of an FBI office.

Both the Jowers and the Wilson allegations suggest that persons other than or in addition to James Earl Ray participated in the assassination. Ray, within days of entering his guilty plea in 1969, attempted to withdraw it. Until his death in April 1998, he maintained that he did not shoot Dr. King and was framed by a man he knew only as Raoul. For 30 years, others have similarly alleged that Ray was Raoul’s unwitting pawn and that a conspiracy orchestrated Dr. King’s murder. These varied theories have generated several comprehensive government investigations regarding the assassination, none of which confirmed the existence of any conspiracy. However, in King v. Jowers, a recent civil suit in a Tennessee state court, a jury returned a verdict finding that Jowers and unnamed others, including unspecified government agencies, participated in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King.

Our mission was to consider whether the Jowers or the Wilson allegations are true and, if so, to detect whether anyone implicated engaged in criminal conduct by participating in the assassination. We have concluded that neither allegation is credible. Jowers and Wilson have both contradicted their own accounts. Moreover, we did not find sufficient, reliable evidence to corroborate either of their claims. Instead, we found significant evidence to refute them. Nothing new was presented during King v. Jowers to alter our findings or to warrant federal investigation of the trial’s conflicting, far-ranging hearsay allegations of a government-directed plot involving the Mafia and African American ministers closely associated with Dr. King. Ultimately, we found nothing to disturb the 1969 judicial determination that James Earl Ray murdered Dr. King or to confirm that Raoul or anyone else implicated by Jowers or suggested by the Wilson papers participated in the assassination.

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woe to you of earth and sea i come bringing "Transparency"

Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson

10 hrs

Hateful Ignorance

woe to you of earth and sea
i come bringing "Transparency"

1 if by land
2 if by sea
this time
its 3

Information Technology

a world of deception
lost in perception
after closer inspection
its based on miss direction

It’s in front of your eyes,
but you dont see
your a walking zombie
a talking pelosi
an adolescent baby
me me me me me

tattoos football beer and money
eating GMO’s
made from milk & honey
you’re so blind
its always sunny

liberally conservative brains,
of uneducated goo’s,
sit and watch,
the TV news
from your mouth
their hatred spews…….

(THEM) you’re a liberal, right wing conservative tea bagging racist pothead with a conspiracy theory….you’re a truther!!!!

I’m a truther
and thats ok
i dislike
the other way

(THEM) thats not what I meant!!!

what kind of people
say things they dont mean
they speak in opposites
from what ive seen

propaganda pimps, and media hos
political pundits, our nightly foes
they tell a lie
and strike a pose
thats how
the story goes
the truth is out there
but you dont know
…hateful ignorance…
is what you sew

(THEM) so…so what…. I dont care!!

oh contrair
monfrair
its no wonder
i have gray hair

streets of despair
chemtrailed air
eating fukushima tuna
without a care

open borders
new world disorder
fracking and drinking
contaminated water

pipelines across babylon
for miles and beyond
remember Kuwait in 91?
When oil fires,
blocked the sun?
do ya think National Security
envisioned that one?

to those that study the theory of evolution
and scholars of the constitution
to the smartest minds of all institutions
here’s a global warming solution
STOP CORPORATE POLLUTION!!!

marijuana is an herb
nutrients for the nerves
incarceration
undeserved
they bust your face into a curb
then give a lesser sentence
to a perv

PAIN!!!!! PAIN!!!! PAIN!!!!

Pain is the Gateway to drugs,
not cannabis
but only an ignoramus
disagrees with this
a us patent
by HHS
6630507
truly exists
for those that say its a ruse
ha ha i cooked your goose
that patent
holds the truth

why do people argue
because they cant handle the truth
rationalized conjectured opinions
are seriously MOOT

paralysis and blue screens of death
vaccinating like it dont make sense
big pharma creates the pestilence
doctors inoculate with ignorance
while autism attacks the innocence
turning your head
is cognitive dissonance

oh lord
i thought id seen it all
now little kids
cant play ball
aluminum salts and thimersol,
pharmaceutical…..wind fall

Obamacare
healthcare
you know
they dont care
and when our vets come home
there aint nothing there
the end result
nothing spared
all because
you didnt care

from spreading the wealth around
this is what I have found
the government took us broke
and our futures not sound
if this goes on any longer
it will crash to the ground

Quantitative easing
its not so deceiving
they devalue the dollar
to keep on thieving

they rob peter to pay paul
bankrupt the people
to pay for it all
hey man,
that’s against the law

they bailed out the bankers
and corporations too
now put the foot on
the other shoe
do unto them
because they did you

arrest the federal reserve
they created
the market curve
time to give them
what they deserve
taking it back
is justice served

Bill Clinton repealed
the glass stegal act
now $200,000 speeches
at Goldman Sachs
while Ted Cruz’s wife
sits on their lap
now the people want
their houses back
Thats a Fact
Jack!!!

NAFTA, CAFTA, TPP
they sold our jobs overseas
its all so disastrous
dont you see?
the freedom terrorists
live in DC

lies of deception
lies of deceit
a 20 trillion dollar deficit
is OUR receit
Dont tell me Nazi history, didnt repeat.

from the NSA,
to the TSA
better do what they say
or ND AA
Indefinite Detention FE MA
now they’re trying to take
your guns away

Infringing on the 2nd
during a time of war
is aiding the enemy
under Article 104
Ladies & Gents
We are at War!!!

Sieg Heil!
Yes We Can!
harry reid
sells our land
threatening
the Bundy Clan
welcome to
Amerikhastan

they created racism umongst man
spread fear & terror across the land
whenever people get off a boat
there’s a name to be had
so much injustice we cant stand
politicians play the race card
at every hand

knowing your history
is a way to see
along with truth
comes transparency

those that dont want to disclose the truth
have something to hide
now this, i cannot deny
open the 28 pages Mr. President
and show the lie
death to America
comes from inside

Kennedy
spoke of a Secret Society
now this is nothing new to me
a court ruling
is there to see
our Government killed
Dr. King

Illuminati
New Age Nazi
Hillary Clinton’s
the Butcher of Benghazi!

what difference does it make
the history of evil you forsake
government devils tongue like a snake
we the people need to awake

stop the political chatter
I’m mad as a hatter
open your eyes
lives have been shattered
can you see
or doesn’t it matter

Jose’…..cant you see
you are not free
living in the land
of blaspheme
no right to liberty
denied by
Governmental Authority
from sea to shining sea
it’s all plain to me
uninvisible as can be
that’s why it’s called
Transparency

the revolution will not be televised
the boob toob is for the ill advised
conspiracy theorists have been justified
research the internet to realize
a hostile takeover from the inside
put me on a stand and ill testify
that everything government is a lie
i cross my heart and hope they fry

im poor white trash
do you hear what i say
im like a bad rash
that wont go away
ill be a witness
on judgement day

Game Over!
I dont play
their own rules
they don’t obey
this is our life
they cast astray
if there is justice
they will pay
i speak this,
to my dying day

im not politically correct
and i tried to show respect
but hey man, what the heck
democrats & republicans
should swing from the neck

now here’s something our politicians can do
google your bing until it yahoos a clue
I had enough of listening to you
I didnt sign the constitution
and neither did you
legally they cant tell US,
what to do
goo goo ga choo
ga
goo goo ga choo

Ipso Facto
its null and void yo

Qui Vult Decipi
Decipitaur
a k a
Caveat Emptor

for the crimes they do
the red white & blue
will be the new
Orange

they have become destructive
upon our means
Now….do you see what I mean?
Everyone for Prison in 2016

Tom Johnson

Pa. Chairman US Marijuana Party

USMJparty.com

 

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Lawyer Argues Police Have No Right To Stop You At DUI Checkpoints

no-searches

 

Have you ever been pulled over at a DUI police check point? Even if you were not drinking, or perhaps aren’t even a drinker, these checkpoints fill many drivers with anxiety, as police officers scour cars they pull over for anything amiss.

Most of the tickets given out at these checkpoints are for seatbelt violations or other things not related at all to drunk driving and DUIs. If you have nothing to hide, waiting in line for these checkpoints is at best a time-consuming nuisance that might make you late for work or dinner.

But now, a bold lawyer is arguing that these checkpoints are not only unconstitutional, but that police do not have legal grounds to do anything but tell you to drive on if you present your drivers license at the window – with the window rolled up – and a sign that tells them you do not consent to a search, that you have no comment and that you want your lawyer.

Warren Redlich is a South Florida attorney, but he says this holds true everywhere.

Redlich explains that his goal is not to protect drunken drivers, but to instead inform innocent people about their rights to not be presumed innocent and illegally detained without probable cause.

Some clients, he explained, have never had a drop of alcohol, but if they rub police officers the wrong way, then they are slapped with DUI charges, because the officer claims he could “smell alcohol” on them or that their speech was “slurred.” It’s then up to them to prove their innocence in court.

“The point of the card is, you are affirmatively asserting your rights without having to speak to the police and without opening your window,” Redlich explained.

But Sheriff David Shoar of St. Johns County, president of the Florida Sheriffs Association says that “they wouldn’t be allowed out of that checkpoint until they talk to us. We have a legitimate right to do it. If I was out there, I wouldn’t wave them through. I want to talk to that person more now.”

One video from December 31 at a Levy County, Florida checkpoint, shows Redlich’s associate Jeff Gray with the flyer that his attorney suggested, along with his license, registration and insurance card, all in a plastic bag dangling outside barely cracked car window. The officers examine the contents, then waive him on.

The flyer boldly states: “I remain silent. No searches. I want my lawyer.”

“I’m not anti-cop. I’m anti-bad government and anti-bad cop. I support good cops,” Redlich said. “I would like if police didn’t waste their time with something like checkpoints and would focus their attention on violent crime.”

Have you tried this at a checkpoint before? Let us know what happened.

(Article by Reagan Ali)

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Why I Was Arrested Standing Up for Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee

Paul Schmitz Become a fan  

Posted: 12/22/2014 11:25 am EST

Senior Advisor, Collective Impact Forum; Innovator in Residence, Beeck Center for Social Innovation and Impact, Georgetown University; author Everyone Leads: Building Leadership from the Community Up

 

This weekend I spent 24 hours in jail for protesting the death of Dontre Hamilton, the unarmed man shot 14 times by a Milwaukee police officer in a downtown park. I am compelled to write about my experience to share why I chose to join this protest and to correct the narrative law enforcement leaders in Milwaukee have used to inaccurately paint a picture of the protests and arrests.

While my conscience continues to be deeply moved by Dontre’s case and his loved ones’ grief, I came to protest because of my concerns with the larger system — that the American justice system produces different outcomes for people at every level from profiling and arrests through sentencing, parole, and killing based purely on race and class. I am not anti-police. I’ve been mugged at gunpoint twice in my life, and I don’t want to be a victim of crime again. Despite the many good officers who have helped me and my empathy for their very difficult work, I believe the system is set up to differentially enforce laws, and protect those who abuse their power to enforce the law.

Dontre’s case is one where I believe the officer should face criminal charges. At a downtown Starbucks in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park, a worker called police to complain about a man sleeping in the park (another worker criticized the call publicly and disputed that he was a problem). Police officers came twice to check on Dontre, saw nothing wrong, and left. Officer Christopher Manney, unaware other officers had stopped, confronted Dontre Hamilton and tried to pat him down. Hamilton, who had a history of mental illness, resisted and a confrontation ensued. Officer Manney tried to subdue him with a baton and Hamilton got the baton and swung at him, hitting the side of his neck. Officer Manney shot Hamilton 14 times including in the back to kill him. Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Officer Manney not for excessive force but for not following protocols in dealing with an emotionally disturbed person. He was not dangerous, did not deserve to be confronted, and certainly should not have been killed. We are waiting to find out if Milwaukee’s District Attorney will press charges.

As we all know, other District Attorneys and grand juries have not pursued criminal charges against police officers who have killed clearly innocent or unarmed African American men. One cannot look at the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, John Crawford (the man shot at Wal-Mart in Dayton), Tamir Rice (the 12 year old shot on a Cleveland playground), and many other recent cases and think that there is not a larger problem with police assuming African American men and boys are inherently dangerous. None of these men should be dead, and none of their families should be grieving.

These deaths point at the deeper, more profound problems in our criminal justice system. Fifteen years ago I read Randall Kennedy’s Race, Crime and the Law and David Cole’s No Equal Justice. They argued with vast evidence that at every level of the criminal justice system from profiling and arrests through sentencing and parole, there were substantial racial disparities. If an African American and a white person do or are alleged to do the same thing, they have extremely different consequences.

More recently, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy indict our present system of justice as inherently biased, and point to the terrible personal and community consequences of that injustice. Forty years ago, around 350,000 people were in prisons. Today, 2.3 million are, mostly for non-violent offenses. Crime did not rise seven-fold in forty years, and is in fact at record lows. More than 500,000 prisoners are serving time for drug crimes, and over 75% of them are African American despite the fact that they make up only 13% of drug users. A 1999 New York Times Magazine article interviewed police about why they were doing pretext drug stops in South Central Los Angeles instead of UCLA. The police agreed they would arrest people for more drug offenses at UCLA. If drug laws were enforced equally in white communities as communities of color, the laws would change.

Once someone has a record, it becomes a vicious cycle that prevents them from securing jobs, blocks them from receiving public benefits, and locks them up for long periods for minor offenses. And we keep reading about individuals released from death row who were innocent and ended up there only because of the system’s bias against people of color and the poor. We waste billions of tax dollars on prisons that produce desperation and crime, rather than saving money by spending smarter on alternatives that actually produce safety. The system is expensive, ineffective, and unjust.

I personally understand how my white privilege has kept me out of jail. I remember when I was 16 years old and smoking marijuana on a suburban Milwaukee beach with some friends when a police officer discovered us. We obviously reeked of marijuana, looked like stoners, and were stoned, but he listened to our excuses and let us walk away. Another time I talked my way out of a traffic stop while carrying drugs. I was always given the benefit of the doubt. Not long after that, I went to inpatient drug treatment filled with judgment about dealers and addicts from the “inner city.” Through my treatment and subsequent addiction recovery, I learned they were like me in many ways and how lucky I was to be white, middle class, and living in the suburbs. If I lived in the inner city, I’d have a criminal record and not be where I am today.

I have heard too many stories from friends and colleagues of color who have been stopped, harassed, and even innocently arrested by police. I do not hear these stories from my wealthy, white, professional friends who use drugs or have violated other laws. And when it comes to property crimes and violent crimes, while I certainly hate those crimes, I believe every person should have effective legal counsel and that people of color should receive the same punishment or clemency a white person receives. Such fairness is truly the American way.

My convictions about the need to reform our criminal justice system, not a hatred of police or support for crime, led me to join the protest. Here is what actually happened:

I saw a Facebook post that there would be a rally in support of Dontre Hamilton on Friday at 4 PM. I decided to attend to show my support. I did not know we would march, and when we began walking down State Street and 6th Street, I was pleasantly surprised to find that police had blocked the streets along our route for our safety.

We then walked up Fond du Lac Avenue, and our group was split in two heading toward the Northbound and Southbound ramps. They were supposed to split us up into those who knew they may be arrested and those who did not want to be arrested. They did not tell us that, and just split our group in two. I walked with a group that saw the Northbound ramp to I-43 was barricaded by sheriff’s vehicles. We did not block the ramp, it was already blocked.

We walked up to the police barricade in two rows with arms linked (there are photos of us on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website), and chanted: “How many shots? 14 shots,” “Don’t arrest me, arrest the police,” and “What’s his name? Dontre Hamilton.” There were two police officers in between the barricade and us and numerous police cars pulling up behind us. After a series of chants, the officer approached us and called for us to disperse. I was grateful when our leader – the man with the megaphone – told us to disperse. We moved to the grass shoulder of the ramp and began walking back to Fond du Lac Avenue. I then saw a police officer on his radio call out to the police behind us, “We got an order to arrest everyone,” and the police jumped into action. I submitted immediately and peacefully to arrest.

After we received our arm restraints we were seated on the side of the ramp. Police officers and sheriff’s deputies were quite professional, courteous, and even funny. One said, “I understand what you are doing. You just can’t go on the freeway.” One said to us, “You should go protest at the Sheriff’s house. I’ll give you their address.” Another shared: “If I wasn’t doing this (policing), I’d be doing what you are doing.” There was little tension. It was heartening that while we were protesting excessive force by a police officer, good officers respected us as we were – peaceful protesters who want fair and good policing.

We were arrested shortly before 5 PM, and 16 men and 10 women were taken together in a gender separated wagon to the County Jail. There, we removed our coats, shoes, and all items in our pockets and were told we would be booked and released in a few hours. We did not know how many others were arrested at this point from the other group that split off from us (or from the freeway blockers which I did not know about yet). Upon arrival, we had medical exams and my blood pressure was elevated but I felt calm. We continued to receive information that made us believe things were being processed, and I kept thinking we’d be out that night.

Around 10 or 11 PM, I was placed in a 60 square foot holding cell with seven other men that contained a toilet (I made everyone laugh when I told my fellow inmates this was a “no-shitting cell”). We were still waiting to be booked. The young men in my cell were diverse by age, race, and profession – three of us were older professionals. I actually treasure some of the deep conversations we had about politics, economics, social movements, the criminal justice system, and even feminism. I was inspired by some of their ideas about how the community could work with police to improve safety.

At around 2 A.M., tired and realizing no one was being processed, we sang “We Shall Overcome,” as loud as we could and began chanting “Dontre Hamilton” to lift spirits among the other 60-70 people locked up in our wing. An officer came after about 15-20 minutes and asked us politely to stop, again expressing empathy for our cause. My fellow prisoners were polite with many of the officers as they often were with us.

Finally in the morning – 16 hours after my arrest – I was booked, fingerprinted, and had my mug shot taken. I finally was able to call home for 30 seconds, and figured I’d be out soon. By 11 AM, the first group of women protesters were released. I found the baloney sandwiches we were offered (the only food) unappetizing and started to crash from lack of sleep and food. Spending all night in a brightly lit cell sitting up against a cement wall I did not get much sleep, and it took its toll but I kept thinking I would be out soon. Shortly after 5 PM, more than 24 hours after my arrest, I was finally released to an appreciative crowd of supporters outside.

The Mayor, Police Chief, and Sheriff have provided accounts of this action that are not accurate. First, they claim that people were arrested for shutting down the freeways. The people who shut down I-43 were not part of our protest or march from Red Arrow Park, and they were NOT arrested. They got back in their cars and drove off. The people arrested were our group, which approached the barricade, and another group that marched up a ramp toward the stopped traffic (many of whom planned to be arrested for civil disobedience on the freeway but not everyone there knew that).

I think it is fair for people to be angry and upset with the individuals who blocked I-43. But civil disobedience is never convenient. People were angry when Martin Luther King marched and when students occupied lunch counters. In fact, many of the civil rights marches closed down streets and highways. This is nothing new, and as I understand it those who chose that tactic accepted responsibility and knew they may be arrested. It also did draw the attention that a simple march would not have. I hope those who criticize us go see the movie Selma next weekend, so they may be reminded that this is actually what democracy looks like.

Then there were folks like me who were practicing civil obedience. We followed a path blocked off for us by police and when the police officer asked us to disperse, we dispersed. They arrested us anyway. The warning was hollow. If they had let us walk off the ramp and go back to Red Arrow Park, the police could have removed their cars and re-opened the ramp immediately. Someone called in an order to punish us and the result was we sat handcuffed on the ramp for at least an hour, which slowed down many commuters. Police Chief Flynn was upset they had to “babysit a bunch of self-indulgent protesters” who inconvenienced hundreds of thousands. They didn’t have to do that, and at most a few thousand were slowed down and rush hours have been slowed down or stopped for much less.

Sheriff David Clarke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the protest was steered by outside trouble makers. “Several anarchist groups led by outside persons are gathering in the Milwaukee area to plan disruptive activities…” Well, I am a tax-paying citizen of Milwaukee, a father, and a professional who has relationships with many city leaders. Everyone I met lived in Milwaukee and the young men and women who were leading us were all local people. Yes, I met some with radical views about issues and disruptive tactics, but most were thoughtful, passionate people, who want our community to be safer and fairer for all. I write often about civil rights movement history, and find it ironic that Sheriff Clarke is using the same argument the Montgomery police used when they could not believe that people like Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon, and Martin Luther King were actually leading the bus boycott. “There must be outside agitators,” they thought.

I am proud that I was arrested. I am proud of those arrested with me. I am glad that we lifted the name of Dontre Hamilton and our call for criminal charges against an officer who shot an unarmed man 14 times. Black lives matter, and our justice system must become more fair and just. I hope many others concerned about these injustices will stand up to support policies and reforms that will create a fairer, safer, and more just America.

Update: The District Attorney did not file charges against Officer Manney. I understand the rightful rage many feel, but the struggle for justice is a marathon, not a sprint. I hope that those who engage in civil disobedience do so in a disciplined way and that we bend, not break public opinion by lifting the collective outrage of many in our community. I also hope that city leaders, law enforcement officials, and the media properly represent those who protest the decision instead of the misinformation they spread this weekend. We must lift up Dontre and the bigger issues and continue fighting for change.

Follow Paul Schmitz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/paulschmitz1

More:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-schmitz/why-i-was-arrested-standi_b_6363732.html

Ferguson Civil Rights Crime Police Police Brutality Civil Disobedience Milwaukee Criminal Justice System Justice Dontre Hamilton

US Supreme Court decision allows police to commit “reasonable mistakes” in detaining suspects

By Nick Barrickman
18 December 2014

In a blow to the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a police officer detaining someone under a mistaken reading of the law could cite having made a “reasonable mistake,” and thus avoid having the court disregard all evidence obtained under such circumstances, provided that a law was “‘so doubtful in construction’ that a reasonable judge could agree with the officer’s view.”

The ruling was made regarding Heien v. North Carolina, a case in which an officer pulled over a driver while under the mistaken belief that the latter’s driving with a single inoperable brake light constituted a violation of state law. After consenting to a vehicle search which revealed narcotics, the defendant, Nicholas Heien, sought to have the evidence suppressed by invoking the Exclusionary Rule, a component of the Fourth Amendment.

In an act which demonstrates a high level of political calculation, the Supreme Court seized upon a lower court’s ruling which found the police officer’s search to be illegal in order to overturn the decision. “The Fourth Amendment requires government officials to act reasonably, not perfectly, and gives those officials ‘fair leeway for enforcing the law,’” Chief Justice John G. Roberts stated in remarks supporting the majority’s opinion.

Expanding on the view of the majority, Justice Elena Kagan, an appointee of the Obama administration, stated “If the statute is genuinely ambiguous, such that overturning the officer’s judgment requires hard interpretive work, then the officer has made a reasonable mistake.” Kagan stressed that such circumstances would be “exceedingly rare.”

Rather than being confined to traffic stops, the Court’s decision can be reasonably interpreted to give police the right to detain and search individuals under practically any circumstances.

In the lone dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor raised fears that this sort of conclusion would be drawn from the decision. “[The decision] means further eroding the Fourth Amendment’s protection of civil liberties in a context where that protection has already been worn down,” she said, adding that the concept of the law being “definite and knowable sits at the foundation of our legal system…” and that if officers are given leeway in such cases it may work to undermine the legitimacy of the court.

Reflecting this position, an amicus brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) noted that “The rule creates new and unjustified burdens on private citizens by sanctioning an expansive new category of traffic stops, together with the ‘physical and psychological intrusion’ such stops necessarily entail.” It added that the ruling ran the risk of “diminishing the public perception of law enforcement officials’ knowledge and authority.”

The court’s attack on the Fourth Amendment has been a continuous one. Other Supreme Court rulings of note have allowed for police to enter private residences without search warrants, citing “exigent circumstances” after the fact, as well as the proliferation and institutionalizing of “no-knock” raids, which involve militarily-armed SWAT team members forcing down doors on suspicions of illegal doing.

The decision occurs as mass protests have swept the country in recent weeks in opposition to police killings and the militarization of law enforcement and erosion of basic democratic rights.

In the aftermath of the August police killing of unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown in Missouri, protesters were confronted by police officers toting military-grade weapons and equipment and subjecting demonstrators to mass arrests for failing to obey arbitrary orders.

The decision to award police departments the power to detain drivers based upon what amounts to uninformed guesswork demonstrates the contempt that the US ruling class holds for the working population. Rather than reversing the process of police militarization and the undermining of fundamental democratic rights, the Democratic and Republican parties, the Obama Administration, and the Supreme Court all support the process in the name of “law and order.”

The Obama Administration, which sided with the Supreme Court’s decision, has been deeply involved in the process of militarization of police. In a review of the federal government’s programs which have been used to facilitate police militarization that was released early this month, the administration asserted that not only would such programs continue, but that they “have been valuable and have provided state and local law enforcement with needed assistance as they carry out their critical missions in helping to keep the American people safe.”

The author also recommends :

Obama’s paramilitary police: The “war on terror” comes home [03 December 2014]

CONTINUE READING…

Chemerinsky: Hurt by a government official? SCOTUS is making it harder and harder to sue

Posted Jun 24, 2014 8:40 AM CDT
By Erwin Chemerinsky

In a series of cases this term, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it much more difficult for plaintiffs to recover for civil rights violations. These decisions continue a pattern in recent years of the Supreme Court significantly expanding the immunity accorded to government officials sued for violating the Constitution.

Suing individual government officers is often the only way that an injured person can recover for constitutional violations. Yet suits against government entities are often difficult, if not impossible, to win. Both the federal and state governments are protected by sovereign immunity, which greatly limits suits against them for damages. Local governments may be held liable for civil rights violations only if there is a municipal policy or custom that led to the injury.

State and local government officials may be sued for constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S. Code Sec. 1983, and federal officers may be sued pursuant to the Supreme Court’s 1971 decision, Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. The Supreme Court, however, has said that all government officials sued for money damages may raise immunity as a defense. Some government officers have absolute immunity to suits for money damages: among them are judges performing judicial tasks, prosecutors performing prosecutorial tasks, legislators performing legislative tasks, police officers testifying as witness, and the president for acts taken in office.

All other government officers have qualified immunity. In Harlow v. Fitzgerald, the Supreme Court held in 1982 that “government officials performing discretionary functions generally are shielded from liability for civil damages insofar as their conduct does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.”

In the 30 years since Harlow, courts have struggled with how to determine if there is a clearly established law that the “reasonable person would have known.” Must there be a case on point to say that there is such clearly established law?

In Hope v. Pelzer, the court in 2002 seemingly resolved this and held that there need not be a prior decision on point for the plaintiff to show the existence of clearly established law. Rather, officers may be held liable so long as they had fair warning that their conduct was impermissible.

The case involved a prisoner who was tied to a hitching post and left in the hot sun. The federal court of appeals found that this was cruel and unusual punishment, but that the officers were protected by qualified immunity because there was no case on point holding that such use of the hitching post violated the Constitution. The Supreme Court reversed and said that a case on point is sufficient to show clearly established law, but it is not necessary.

In the decade since Hope v. Pelzer, including three cases this term, the Supreme Court repeatedly has found qualified immunity based on the absence of a case on point. The court has not overruled Hope v. Pelzer or even distinguished it; the court has simply ignored it. In the process, the court has made it much harder for plaintiffs to overcome qualified immunity and hold government officers liable for constitutional violations.

In Lane v. Franks, issued June 19, the court unanimously held that a government employee’s First Amendment rights were violated when he was fired for truthful testimony he gave pursuant to a subpoena. This result seems so obvious: of course it is wrong to fire a person for testifying honestly in a criminal trial, especially when the individual had no choice but to testify because of a subpoena.

Nonetheless, the court found that the defendant responsible for the firing was protected from liability by qualified immunity. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing for the court, said that “[t]he relevant question for qualified immunity purposes is this: Could Franks reasonably have believed, at the time he fired Lane, that a government employer could fire an employee on account of testimony the employee gave, under oath and outside the scope of his ordinary job responsibilities?” The court reviewed precedents, especially from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which earlier ruled on the case, and found that none had clearly held that this violates the First Amendment. But Hope v. Pelzer said that a case on point is not necessary: Shouldn’t every government officer know that it is wrong to fire a person for truthfully testifying in court?

In Plumhoff v. Rickard, decided on May 27, the court again found that government officials were protected by qualified immunity. Police officers pulled over a white Honda Accord because the car had only one operating headlight. Donald Rickard was the driver of the Accord, and Kelly Allen was in the passenger seat. The officer asked Rickard if he had been drinking, and Rickard responded that he had not. Because Rickard failed to produce his driver’s license upon request and appeared nervous, the officer asked Rickard to step out of the car. Rather than comply with the officer’s request, Rickard sped away.

A high-speed chase then occurred that lasted five minutes and reached speeds greater than 100 mph. At one point, the officers appeared to have Rickard’s car pinned. But when the car pulled away, officers fired three shots into the car. As the car attempted to speed away, another 12 shots were fired by the police. Both the driver and the passenger were killed. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the police used excess force and violated the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed, ruling in favor of the police. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the court and held that there was no violation of the Fourth Amendment. The court said that the driver’s conduct posed a “grave public safety risk” and that the police were justified in shooting at the car to stop it. The court said “it stands to reason that, if police officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a severe threat to public safety, the officers need not stop shooting until the threat has ended.” Moreover, the court said that even if there were a Fourth Amendment violation, the officers were protected by qualified immunity, in that the law had not clearly established that the conduct violated the Fourth Amendment.

This is a disturbing holding. The Supreme Court now has said that whenever there is a high-speed chase that the officers perceive could injure others–and that would seem to be true of virtually all high speed chases–the police can shoot at the vehicle and keep shooting until it stops. The car was stopped for having only one working headlight. If the driver refused to stop, why not just let the car go and then track the driver down later? Why should death be the punishment for making the extremely poor choice to begin a high-speed chase?

Finally, in Wood v. Moss, also decided on May 27, the court found that Secret Service agents were protected by qualified immunity when they engaged in viewpoint discrimination with regard to speakers. President George W. Bush was in Oregon and the Secret Service agents allowed supporters of President Bush to be closer and pushed the opponents further away. The law is clear that the government cannot discriminate among speakers based on their views unless strict scrutiny is met.

Nonetheless, the court, in a unanimous decision with the majority opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, found that the Secret Service agents were protected by qualified immunity because there were no cases on point concerning when Secret Service agents may violate the First Amendment. But why do there need to be specific cases since the law is clearly established that viewpoint discrimination violates the First Amendment?

All of these cases were unanimous. All found qualified immunity because of the absence of a case on point. Together they show a court that is very protective of government officials who are sued and that has made it very difficult for victims of constitutional violations to recover.

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, is one of the nation’s top experts in constitutional law, federal practice, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation. He is the author of seven books, the latest being The Conservative Assault on the Constitution (Simon & Schuster, 2010). His casebook, Constitutional Law, is one of the most widely read law textbooks in the country. Chemerinsky has also written nearly 200 law review articles in journals such as the Harvard Law Review, Michigan Law Review, Northwestern Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Stanford Law Review and Yale Law Journal. He frequently argues appellate cases, including matters before the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeal, and regularly serves as a commentator on legal issues for national and local media. He holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.S. from Northwestern University.

The U.S. Supreme Court Is Marching in Lockstep with the Police State

 

 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/

 

“[I]f the individual is no longer to be sovereign, if the police can pick him up whenever they do not like the cut of his jib, if they can ‘seize’ and ‘search’ him in their discretion, we enter a new regime. The decision to enter it should be made only after a full debate by the people of this country.”-U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

The U.S. Supreme Court was intended to be an institution established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds. Yet as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice. In the police state being erected around us, the police and other government agents can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

Whether it’s police officers breaking through people’s front doors and shooting them dead in their homes or strip searching innocent motorists on the side of the road, these instances of abuse are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to virtually every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution.

These are the hallmarks of the emerging American police state: where police officers, no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace, are part of an elite ruling class dependent on keeping the masses corralled, under control, and treated like suspects and enemies rather than citizens.

A review of the Supreme Court’s rulings over the past 10 years, including some critical ones this term, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order and protecting government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits. In Plumhoff v. Rickard (2014), the Court declared that police officers who used deadly force to terminate a car chase were immune from a lawsuit. The officers were accused of needlessly resorting to deadly force by shooting multiple times at a man and his passenger in a stopped car, killing both individuals.

Police officers can stop cars based only on “anonymous” tips. In a 5-4 ruling inNavarette v. California (2014), the Court declared that police officers can, under the guise of “reasonable suspicion,” stop cars and question drivers based solely on anonymous tips, no matter how dubious, and whether or not they themselves witnessed any troubling behavior. This ruling came on the heels of a ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in U.S. v. Westhoven that driving too carefully, with a rigid posture, taking a scenic route, and having acne are sufficient reasons for a police officer to suspect you of doing something illegal, detain you, search your car, and arrest you–even if you’ve done nothing illegal to warrant the stop in the first place.

Secret Service agents are not accountable for their actions, as long as they’re done in the name of security. In Wood v. Moss (2014), the Court granted “qualified immunity” to Secret Service officials who relocated anti-Bush protesters, despite concerns raised that the protesters’ First Amendment right to freely speak, assemble, and petition their government leaders had been violated. These decisions, part of a recent trend toward granting government officials “qualified immunity”–they are not accountable for their actions–in lawsuits over alleged constitutional violations, merely incentivize government officials to violate constitutional rights without fear of repercussion.

Citizens only have a right to remain silent if they assert it. The Supreme Court ruled inSalinas v. Texas (2013) that persons who are not under arrest must specifically invoke their Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in order to avoid having their refusal to answer police questions used against them in a subsequent criminal trial. What this ruling says, essentially, is that citizens had better know what their rights are and understand when those rights are being violated, because the government is no longer going to be held responsible for informing you of those rights before violating them.

Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes,” justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside. In Florida v. Harris (2013), a unanimous Court determined that police officers may use highly unreliable drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops. In doing so, the justices sided with police by claiming that all that the police need to do to prove probable cause for a search is simply assert that a drug detection dog has received proper training. The ruling turns man’s best friend into an extension of the police state.

Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime. InMaryland v. King (2013), a divided Court determined that a person arrested for a crime who is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty must submit to forcible extraction of their DNA. Once again the Court sided with the guardians of the police state over the defenders of individual liberty in determining that DNA samples may be extracted from people arrested for “serious offenses.” While the Court claims to have made its decision based upon concerns of properly identifying criminal suspects upon arrest, what they actually did is open the door for a nationwide dragnet of suspects targeted via DNA sampling.

Police can stop, search, question and profile citizens and non-citizens alike. The Supreme Court declared in Arizona v. United States (2012) that Arizona police officers have broad authority to stop, search and question individuals–citizen and non-citizen alike. While the law prohibits officers from considering race, color, or national origin, it amounts to little more than a perfunctory nod to discrimination laws on the books, while paving the way for outright racial profiling and destroying the Fourth Amendment.

Police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the “offense.” A divided Supreme Court actually prioritized making life easier for overworked jail officials over the basic right of Americans to be free from debasing strip searches. In its 5-4 ruling in Florence v. Burlington (2012), the Court declared that any person who is arrested and processed at a jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her offense (i.e., they can be guilty of nothing more than a minor traffic offense), can be subjected to a virtual strip search by police or jail officials, which involves exposing the genitals and the buttocks. This “license to probe” is now being extended to roadside stops, as police officers throughout the country have begun performing roadside strip searches–some involving anal and vaginal probes–without any evidence of wrongdoing and without a warrant.

Immunity protections for Secret Service agents trump the free speech rights of Americans. The court issued a unanimous decision in Reichle v. Howards (2012), siding with two Secret Service agents who arrested a Colorado man simply for daring to voice critical remarks to Vice President Cheney. However, contrast the Court’s affirmation of the “free speech” rights of corporations and wealthy donors in McCutcheon v. FEC (2014), which does away with established limits on the number of candidates an entity can support with campaign contributions, and Citizens United v. FEC (2010) with its tendency to deny those same rights to average Americans when government interests abound, and you’ll find a noticeable disparity.

Police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home. In an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King (2011), the Supreme Court placed their trust in the discretion of police officers, rather than in the dictates of the Constitution, when they gave police greater leeway to break into homes or apartments without a warrant. Despite the fact that the police in question ended up pursuing the wrong suspect, invaded the wrong apartment and violated just about every tenet that stands between us and a police state, the Court sanctioned the warrantless raid, leaving Americans with little real protection in the face of all manner of abuses by police.

Police can interrogate minors without their parents present. In a devastating ruling that could very well do away with what little Fourth Amendment protections remain to public school students and their families–the Court threw out a lower court ruling in Camreta v. Greene (2011), which required government authorities to secure a warrant, a court order or parental consent before interrogating students at school. The ramifications are far-reaching, rendering public school students as wards of the state. Once again, the courts sided with law enforcement against the rights of the people.

It’s a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name. In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada (2004), a majority of the high court agreed that refusing to answer when a policeman asks “What’s your name?” can rightfully be considered a crime under Nevada’s “stop and identify” statute. No longer will Americans, even those not suspected of or charged with any crime, have the right to remain silent when stopped and questioned by a police officer.

The cases the Supreme Court refuses to hear, allowing lower court judgments to stand, are almost as critical as the ones they rule on. Some of these cases, turned away in recent years alone, have delivered devastating blows to the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Legally owning a firearm is enough to justify a no-knock raid by police. Justices refused to hear Quinn v. Texas (2014) the case of a Texas man who was shot by police through his closed bedroom door and whose home was subject to a no-knock, SWAT-team style forceful entry and raid based solely on the suspicion that there were legally-owned firearms in his household.

The military can arrest and detain American citizens. In refusing to hear Hedges v. Obama (2014), a legal challenge to the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), the Supreme Court affirmed that the President and the U.S. military can arrest and indefinitely detain individuals, including American citizens. In so doing, the high court also passed up an opportunity to overturn its 1944 Korematsu v. United States ruling allowing for the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

Students can be subjected to random lockdowns and mass searches at school. The Court refused to hear Burlison v. Springfield Public Schools (2013), a case involving students at a Missouri public school who were subjected to random lockdowns, mass searches and drug-sniffing dogs by police. In so doing, the Court let stand an appeals court ruling that the searches and lockdowns were reasonable in order to maintain the safety and security of students at the school.

Police officers who don’t know their actions violate the law aren’t guilty of breaking the law. The Supreme Court let stand a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Brooks v. City of Seattle (2012) in which police officers who clearly used excessive force when they repeatedly tasered a pregnant woman during a routine traffic stop were granted immunity from prosecution. The Ninth Circuit actually rationalized its ruling by claiming that the officers couldn’t have known beyond a reasonable doubt that their actions–tasering a pregnant woman who was not a threat in any way until she was unconscious–violated the Fourth Amendment.

When all is said and done, what these assorted court rulings add up to is a disconcerting government mindset that interprets the Constitution one way for the elite–government entities, the police, corporations and the wealthy–and uses a second measure altogether for the underclasses–that is, you and me.

Keep in mind that in former regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the complicity of the courts was the final piece to fall into place before the totalitarian beast stepped out of the shadows and into the light. If history is a guide, then the future that awaits us is truly frightening.

Time, as they say, grows short.

John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead’s aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and accomplishments, including the Hungarian Medal of Freedom. His concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization in Charlottesville, Va. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson.

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We live in the only country in the world where a child can be sentenced to be in prison until they die

Juwan being interrogated

We live in the only country in the world where a child can be sentenced to be in prison until they die.

What’s worse is that it’s not even rare — more than 2,500 people who were sentenced as kids will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Juwan is one of them. He was a skinny 16-year-old kid when he was arrested after he saw a companion kill a pizza deliveryman. The shooter was never convicted, but because Juwan was present and had a gun, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Without the possibility of parole, Juwan will never have a second chance for rehabilitation.

Just one year before Juwan was sentenced, the Supreme Court decided that mandatory juvenile life without parole was unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

The problem is — the decision left gaping loopholes and didn’t ban the sentence outright, meaning that Juwan and other children became victims of poor timing and inadequate policy implementation. While six states have moved to ban the practice, this barbaric punishment is still perfectly legal in 44 states.

But the Department of Justice has the power to close some of these loopholes and set the standard on the federal level. By providing policy guidelines for U.S. attorneys, the DOJ can ensure that judges are empowered to use discretion and give appropriate sentences based on unique circumstances.

Attorney General Eric Holder has already endorsed proposals that limit life without parole sentences for non-violent drug offenders. If he hears from thousands of us who support criminal justice reform, he can provide the tools needed to limit juvenile life without parole sentences.

It’s time that we give kids like Juwan a second chance at life.

PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK AND SIGN PETITION!

Probable Cause: Linchpin of the 4th Amendment

 

 

Except for the definition and mechanism of proving treason, no area of the Constitution addressing the rights of all persons when the government is pursuing them is more specific than the Fourth Amendment. The linchpin of that specificity is the requirement that the government demonstrate probable cause to a judge as a precondition to the judge issuing a search warrant. The other specific requirement is identity: The government must identify whose property it wishes to search or whose behavior it wishes to monitor, because the Fourth Amendment requires that all warrants specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized.

The principal reason for these requirements is the colonial revulsion over general warrants. A general warrant does not specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized, and it is not based on the probable cause of criminal behavior of the person targeted by the government.

With a general warrant, the government simply gets authority from a judge to search a haystack looking for a needle, and in the process, it may disturb and move all the straw it wants. Stated differently, a general warrant permits the government to intrude upon the privacy of persons as to whom it has no probable cause of criminal behavior and without stating what it is looking for.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court has been issuing general warrants to the National Security Agency (NSA) since 1978, but it was not until last June that we learned that these general warrants have been executed upon the telephone calls, text messages, emails, bank records, utility bills and credit card bills of all persons in America since 2009.

The constitutional requirement of probable cause is not political fancy; rather, it saves us from tyranny. Probable cause is a quantum of evidence that is sufficient to lead a neutral judge to conclude that the person about whom the evidence has been presented is more likely than not to possess further evidence of criminal behavior, or has more likely than not engaged in criminal behavior that is worthy of the government’s use of its investigatory tools such that the government may lawfully and morally invade that person’s natural right to privacy.

Last week, Robert S. Litt, general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which runs the NSA, engaged in a curious colloquy with members of the president’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Litt complained that presenting probable cause about individuals to judges and then seeking search warrants from those judges to engage in surveillance of each of those individuals is too difficult.

This is a remarkable admission from the chief lawyer for the nation’s spies. He and the 60,000 NSA employees and vendors who have been spying on us have taken oaths to uphold the Constitution. There are no loopholes in their oaths. Each person’s oath is to the entire Constitution — whether compliance is easy or difficult.

Yet the “too difficult” admission has far-reaching implications.

This must mean that the NSA itself acknowledges that it is seeking and executing general warrants because the warrants the Constitution requires are too difficult to obtain. Stated differently, the NSA knows it is violating the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, because that amendment expressly forbids general warrants.

In my career as a lawyer, judge, law professor, author and television commentator, I have heard many excuses for violating the Constitution. I reject all of them when they come from one who has sworn to uphold the Constitution, yet I understand the intellectually honest excuses — like exigent circumstances — when they are based on duty. The NSA’s excuses are not intellectually honest, and they are not based on duty. They are based on laziness.

But there was more than met the eye in Litt’s testimony last week. Two days after Litt admitted to the use of general warrants, and while the president was in Europe, the White House leaked to the press its plans to curtail the massive NSA spying. Those plans, which would change only the appearance of what the NSA does but not its substance, have three parts.

The first change relieves the NSA of the need for general warrants to require delivery of massive amounts of data about innocent Americans as to which the NSA has no probable cause, because the second change requires the computer servers and telecoms to preserve their records — instead of the NSA preserving them — and make them “immediately” available to the NSA when it comes calling. And the third is the requirement of a warrant from a FISA judge before the NSA may access that stored data. But because that warrant is not based on probable cause but rather on NSA whim, it is a foregone conclusion that the general warrants for examination, as opposed to delivery, will be granted. The FISA court has granted well in excess of 99 percent of the general warrants the NSA has sought.

Litt must have known what the White House planned to leak when he made his “too difficult” complaint, as it fits nicely with this new scheme. Yet the scheme itself, because it lacks the requirement of probable cause that the Constitution requires, is equally as unconstitutional and morally repugnant as what the NSA has been doing for five years. Moreover, the NSA will not exactly go hat in hand to the computer servers and telecoms once it wishes to hear telephone calls or read emails or credit card bills. Its agents will simply press a few buttons on their computers when they wish, and the data they seek will be made available to them.

These so-called changes should be rejected by Congress, which should overhaul the NSA instead. Hasn’t Congress seen enough? The NSA and the CIA spy on the courts, Congress, the military, the police and everyone in America. This keeps none of us safer. But it does lessen our freedom when those in whose hands we repose the Constitution for safekeeping look the other way. What other freedoms are slipping because Congress, too, thinks upholding the Constitution is too difficult?

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Marijuana Advocates Continue to Challenge Feds’ Authority

NANETTE GONZALEZ FOR LA WEEKLY

A team of attorneys is challenging federal authorities’ right to crack down on California marijuana dispensaries. They lost a courtroom battle this week.
See also: Weed’s Federal Battle in California Remains Uphill.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the challenge, essentially ruling that, despite California’s own medical marijuana laws, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration can still bust pot shops because cannabis is fully illegal under federal law.
However, …
… there is still hope.
The panel noted that “a prior holding of this court may only be overturned through en banc consideration.”
What that means is that a hearing of the matter before the entire, 11-judge court was seemingly encouraged, and a spokesman for the plaintiffs, Matthew Kumin, says they’ll apply for just that next week.
On top of that, he says, if they lose before the entire court, there’s always the U.S. Supreme Court.
These people are serious.
The case, Sacramento Nonprofit Collective et al v. Eric Holder et. al, challenges federal authority to bust pot shops in light of “ambiguous” federal guidelines (the so-called Ogden memo that de-emphasizes medical prosecution) and in light of the DEA’s seemingly illogical classification of cannabis as a top-level outlaw with no medical uses.
The court said there’s “no clear inconsistency between the Government’s current and prior positions.”
Kumin says the plaintiffs’ team of seven attorneys will keep on keepin’ on.
“It doesn’t end,” he says, “because you lose an battle on important civil rights issue.”
Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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