Tag: Federal Court

It’s About Freakin’ Time! Federal Court Orders Obama Regime To Release Fast And Furious Information

Federal Court Orders Obama Administration To Release Fast And Furious Information – Judicial Watch

.

.
Judicial Watch announced today that on July 18, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) must turn over to the organization a “Vaughn index” of all requested Operation Fast and Furious materials from the June 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and subsequent September 2012 FOIA lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. Department of Justice (No. 1:12-cv-01510)). Judicial Watch sought all of the documents the Obama White House was withholding from the House of Representatives under executive privilege claims.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates lifted a lengthy 16-month delay of this open records lawsuit. This order forces the Obama DOJ, for the first time and by October 1, 2014, to provide a detailed listing of all documents that it has withheld from Congress and the American people for years about the deadly Fast and Furious gun running scandal. The ruling can be found here.

The DOJ opposed the Judicial Watch action, claiming it would interfere with the department’s continuing litigation with the House Oversight Committee concerning these Fast and Furious documents subpoenaed in October 2011. In September 2012, Obama asserted executive privilege over the documents. In the July 2014 opinion overruling the Obama Justice Department’s request for an almost indefinite hold on Judicial Watch’s legal right obtains this information under the Freedom of Information Act Bates said:

In the [February 15, 2013] order granting the stay, this court explicitly noted that the DOJ ‘does not seek, and the court will not award, an indefinite stay pending ultimate resolution of the House Committee litigation,’ and that ‘the benefits of delaying this case might well [become] too attenuated to justify any further delay”…

Because many of the issues to be resolved in this case do not overlap with the House committee, and because resolving those issues will not risk upsetting the delicate balance of powers in subpoena disputes between the political branches, the Court will require DOJ to produce a Vaughn index here.

In fact, the court suggested that disclosing information to Judicial Watch might actually resolve the legal dispute now before Judge Amy Berman Jackson between the Obama administration and Congress:

True, nothing in the subpoena enforcement context of House Committee would require DOJ to produce a particularized description of the withheld documents… But this is a FOIA case, and since 1973, when Vaughn was decided, courts in this circuit have required agencies to justify their FOIA withholdings on a particularized basis. And doing so here will not prematurely expose or resolve the executive privilege issues ahead of Judge Jackson and the political branches; it will merely permit the parties and this Court to cull from the dispute any documents as to which a valid, non-executive privilege reason for withholding exists, thereby narrowing or perhaps even resolving the case. To the extent DOJ argues that the mere production of the Vaughn index – not involving the release of any documents in dispute – would alter the historical balance of powers between the branches, any unbalancing would result from FOIA itself, a law passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, and which this Court cannot ignore forever.

Judge Bates also noted no court has ever “expressly recognized” President Obama’s executive privilege claims that his administration is using to keep these documents secret from Congress and the American people.

The DOJ claims, in addition to other Exemption 5 rationales, at least two distinct forms of executive privilege to justify withholding documents: a “deliberative process” privilege of constitutional dimensions and a “congressional response work-product” privilege. See: Mem.in Supp. of Def.’s Mot. for Summ. J., House Committee, No. 12-1332 [ECF No. 63] (“House Committee Def.’s Mot.”) at 21-27, 27-30. It appears that neither form has been expressly recognized by any court Id (citing Senate Select Comm. on Pres. Campaign Activities v. Nixon, 498 F.2d 725 (D.C. Cir. 1974)).

A Vaughn index must: (1) identify each document withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption.” In ordering the DOJ to provide Judicial Watch the Vaughn index, the Court ruled, “In this circuit, when an agency is withholding documents under exemption claims, courts require that the agency provide a Vaughn index so that the FOIA requester – at a distinct informational disadvantage – may test the agency’s claims.”

Fast and Furious was a DOJ/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gun-running” operation in which the Obama administration reportedly allowed guns to go to Mexican drug cartels in hopes that they would end up at crime scenes, thereby advancing gun-control policies. Fast and Furious weapons have been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and hundreds of other innocents in Mexico.

On June 20, 2012, President Obama asserted executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents the House Oversight Committee had subpoenaed eight months earlier. Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request two days later. When the DOJ denied that request, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit on September 12, 2012. On February 15, 2013, Judge Bates stayed the case, in part to allow ongoing settlement discussions between the DOJ and the House Committee to continue. Judge Bates’ order lifted the stay after a lengthy July 18 hearing. Generally speaking, the documents at issue are about how and if the Obama administration misled Congress about the Fast and Furious matter.

“Once again, Judicial Watch has beat Congress to the punch in getting key information about another Obama scandal – this time, the Fast and Furious outrage,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “A federal court has ordered the Obama administration to produce information that could, for the first time, provide specific details who in the administration is responsible for Fast and Furious lies to Congress and the American people. This is a battle that put Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, saw Nixonian assertions of executive privilege by Barack Obama, and a hapless Congress in face of all this lawlessness. Finally, we may get some accountability for Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and the countless others murdered as a result of the insanely reckless Obama administration program.”

The Judicial Watch lawsuit for Oversight Committee documents is one of several FOIA lawsuits Judicial Watch has filed in its effort to obtain information concerning the Fast and Furious scandal:

* On October 11, 2011, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain all Fast and Furious records submitted to the House Committee on Oversight.

* On June 6, 2012, Judicial Watch sued the ATF seeking access to records detailing communications between ATF officials and Kevin O’Reilly, former Obama White House Director of North American Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.

* On September 5, 2013, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ seeking access to all records of communications between DOJ and the Oversight Committee relating to settlement discussions in the Committee’s 2012 contempt of Congress lawsuit against Holder. The contempt citation stemmed from Holder’s refusal to turn over documents to Congress related to the Fast and Furious gunrunning scandal.

* On May 28, 2014, Judicial Watch sued the DOJ on behalf of ATF Special Agent John Dodson, who blew the whistle on Operation Fast and Furious and was then subjected to an alleged smear campaign designed to destroy his reputation.

.

.

Federal Court: Obama’s EPA Recognizes No Legal Limits

Federal Court: Obama’s EPA Recognizes No Legal Limits – Washington Examiner

The Obama administration suffered a major legal defeat today when a federal court threw out the Environmental Protection Agency’s strict new power plant emission regulations.

In a 2-to-1 decision posted Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that the EPA’s new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, targeting the 28 states that generate the majority of the electricity in the United States, exceeded the agency’s legal authority. The EPA had previously estimated that the regulations would inflict $2.7 billion in economic costs on the private sector.

Under the Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor” provision, the EPA is authorized to regulate sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that cross state lines. But the Obama EPA ignored legal precedent and the plain text of the statute by enacting limits that far exceeded the scope of the law. The court’s ruling reads:

EPA seems reluctant to acknowledge any textual limits on its authority under the good neighbor provision. At oral argument, EPA suggested that “reasonableness” is the only limit on its authority to use cost-effectiveness to force down States’ emissions. EPA would not rule out the possibility that under the good neighbor provision, it could require a State to reduce more than the State’s total emissions that go out of State. But such a claim of authority does not square with the statutory text – “amounts” of pollution obviously cannot “contribute” to a downwind State’s pollution problem if they don’t even reach the downwind State.

Obama’s Cross State EPA rule is just one of many costly regulations currently in the pipeline. The DC Court of Appeals is also hearing an appeal to the EPA’s major stationary source maximum achievable control technology (Utility MACT) rule. That regulation, which limits mercury emissions from power plants, is expected to inflict more than $10 billion of harm on the U.S. economy.

“The D.C. Circuit Court has vacated EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) but that doesn’t tell the whole story of this Administration’s record in the courts,” Sam Batkins, American Action Forum’s Director of Regulatory Policy, said. “Based on our calculations, judges across the ideological spectrum, including the President’s appointees, have struck down 15 major regulations, with a total cost of $4.6 billion.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

Pat-Down: Federal Court Demands TSA Explain Why It’s Defying Court Order

Pat-Down: Federal Court Demands TSA Explain Why It’s Defying Court Order – Hot Air

Earlier this month, we checked in on the TSA scanner issue and found out the federal agency has been ignoring a year-old federal court order to hold public hearings and comment on the controversial back-scatter machines used in screenings.

……..

Wednesday, the same federal court demanded the TSA explain itself, as reported by the good folks at Wired:

A federal appeals court Wednesday ordered the Transportation Security Administration to explain why it hasn’t complied with the court’s year-old decision demanding the agency hold public hearings concerning the rules and regulations pertaining to the so-called nude body scanners installed in U.S. airport security checkpoints.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s brief order came in response to the third request by the Electronic Information Privacy Center for the court to enforce its order.

The court will only accept TSA’s response in 3 oz. bottles that fit inside a quart Zip-lock bag. Tough luck.

The TSA had previously told Wired it might get around to hearings “next year,” but it must now provide an answer to the court by Aug. 30. Remember, though, TSA is full of nothing but hard-working, totally trustworthy professionals who are merely enforcing rules for the sake of civil society and do not feel their badges give them license to ignore those rules themselves.

If you’d like to try to get the White House to answer questions about why the TSA is ignoring a court order, sign the petition started by a Cato scholar. Theoretically, by its own rules, the White House would have to answer the question after 25,000 signatures, and we know how good the White House is about following its own rules.

In good news, TSA is worried enough about its public image these days that it’s taken to actually firing people caught stealing.

And, credit where it’s due: there are good ones out there.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

Federal Court: Obama Administration Interfered In New Black Panthers Case

Federal Court: Obama Administration Interfered In New Black Panthers Case – Big Government

The Justice Department has denied that political motivations went into the dismissal of the New Black Panthers case following President Barack Obama elections and the appointment of Attorney General Eric Holder.

A Federal court in Washington, D.C. on Monday dismissed the DOJ’s claims that its political appointees did not interfere with the New Black Panthers case.

In a case that decided whether the watchdog group, Judicial Watch, could receive fees and costs associated with the New Black Panthers litigation, U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton held that:

“documents reveal that political appointees within DOJ were conferring about the status and resolution of the New Black Panther Party case in the days preceding the DOJ’s dismissal of claims in that case, which would appear to contradict Assistant Attorney General Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in that decision.”

“Surely the public has an interest in documents that cast doubt on the accuracy of government officials’ representations regarding the possible politicization of agency decision making,” Walton wrote in his opinion. “And the DOJ has not shown that these particular materials were released prior to this litigation, or that the information contained therein was already in the public domain.”

The New Black Panthers case revolves around members of the racist group who were caught on tape intimidating voters at a polling station during the 2008 elections in Philadelphia. The Justice Department initially charged the four New Black Panthers in the case. But after Obama shaped the Justice Department with his appointees, the Justice Department reversed course, dismissing the charges against three of the New Black Panthers while a fourth received a restraining order.

Judge Walton’s decision again shows that politics have often trumped the law in the Obama administration.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story