Tag: rules

Leftist Judge Rules That Texas Can’t Outlaw Harboring Illegal Aliens

Federal Judge Says Texas Can’t Outlaw Harboring Illegal Aliens – Breitbart

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A federal district judge in San Antonio has issued an order stopping a Texas law criminalizing the harboring of illegal aliens, at least for now. The judge issued the preliminary injunction in MALDEF’s (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) lawsuit challenging Texas House Bill 11, a law which open border advocates are fighting because they say it improperly targets illegal alien shelters and those who rent to illegal aliens.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are David Cruz of San Antonio and Valentin Reyes of Farmers Branch, Texas, and Jonathan Ryan. Cruz and Reyes are both landlords who do not check whether their tenants are legally in the country. Jonathan Ryan is the Executive Director of the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

The federal complaint states that “In his role as Executive Director of RAICES, Plaintiff Ryan provides shelter to immigrant women and children who are not authorized to be present in the U.S. and lack lawful immigration status. Many of the immigrant women and children sheltered by Plaintiff Ryan are asylum-seekers from East Africa and Central America who entered the U.S. without authorization and are in federal removal proceedings.”

The plaintiffs brought the lawsuit on January 24 and sued Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven C. McCraw, and members of the Texas Public Safety Commission.

The bi-partisan bill, signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott on June 9, 2015, gives power to the Texas Department of Public Safety, relates to military and law enforcement training, and the investigation, prosecution, punishment, and prevention of these offenses, it increases a criminal penalty, and authorizes fees.

The harboring provisions are part of a $800 million border security effort by the Texas Governor and the Texas legislature.

Breitbart Texas attended the ceremony when Abbott signed into law the toughest and most comprehensive border security plan of any state in the United States of America. The Governor noted that the Texas-Mexico border can be a gateway to crimes committed in other parts of the U.S.

As reported by Breitbart Texas, the legislative package provided historic levels of funding to secure the border, established a child sex trafficking prevention unit, strengthened penalties for human traffickers, increased funding for the border protection unit, and seeks reimbursement from the federal government for Texas funds spent on border issues. The Governor declared the plan a legislative priority, and one of his emergency legislative items during his State of the State address.

“We are doing this because border security has turned out to be a real challenge for the people of this state, not just on the border region but across communities across the entire state of Texas,” the Texas governor said at the ceremony. Because of the magnitude of the challenge, Abbott declared securing the border an emergency issue. He said Texas must respond to do what the federal government refused to do.

The bill became effective on September 1, 2015. The plaintiffs say the pertinent sections of the bill are unconstitutional because they violate the Supremacy Clause and attempt to regulate matters exclusively reserved to the federal government. They argue only the U.S. Congress has authority over these areas and the state law conflicts and interferes with the implementation and enforcement of federal laws and regulations.

The plaintiffs also claim that the law deprives the plaintiffs of liberty and property interests without due process of law and are “void for vagueness” in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, they argue that the law deprives them of the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The plaintiffs ask for attorneys’ fees and costs for bringing the lawsuit.

Texas officials assert that House Bill 11 was aimed at those who traffic humans and smuggle them into the country illegally for money. The law criminalizes harboring or shielding an illegal alien with the intent to obtain a pecuniary benefit, and harboring illegal aliens that are members of a street gang.

The penalty for a harboring violation is a third degree felony and carries a possible sentence from 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the harbored illegal alien is under the age of eighteen, or the harboring creates a substantial likelihood that the illegal alien will suffer serious bodily injury or death, the offense is a second degree felony that carries a possible prison sentence of life, or 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the person becomes a sexual assault victim, or suffers other serious bodily injury or death, it is a first degree felony and the possible penalty is 5-99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Governor Abbott responded to the news of the preliminary injunction by stating, “This is absurd.” The governor of the Lone Star State said he would appeal the federal judge’s order blocking the Texas law that criminalizes concealing illegal immigrants.

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Pen And Phone Update: President Asshat Eases Visa Rules For Travelers Visiting Islamo-Nazi Hotspots

Administration Eases Visa Rules For Travelers Visiting Terror Hotspots – Fox News

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The Obama administration on Thursday eased visa rules for certain European travelers who have visited terror hotspots in the Middle East and Africa, a move certain to rile congressional lawmakers who sought the restrictions.

The revised requirements announced Thursday pertain to changes in the Visa Waiver Program passed by Congress. Lawmakers had sought new restrictions to tighten up the program – which allows visa-free travel for residents of eligible countries – in order to prevent Europeans who have joined ISIS from entering the U.S.

The administration implemented the changes Thursday – but with some changes of its own.

As called for by The Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, the administration is mostly excluding nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan as well as travelers who have visited the countries since Mar. 1, 2011 from the program. Instead, they’ll have to apply for a visa in order to travel to the United States.

But under the revised requirements, some Europeans who have traveled to those four countries in the last five years may still be allowed to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa if they meet certain criteria.

The administration announced Thursday that it will use its waiver authority – granted to it in the legislation – to give waivers to travelers who traveled to the terror hotspots as journalists, for work with humanitarian agencies or on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations and sub-national governments on official duty.

Likely to cause ire among congressional Republicans is an additional waiver for people who have traveled to Iran “for legitimate business-related purposes” since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal in July. The administration also offers waivers for individuals who have traveled to Iraq for business as well.

Citizens of 38 countries, mostly in Europe, are generally allowed to travel to the United States without applying for a visa. But they still have to submit biographical information to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA.

The Homeland Security Department said waivers for some ESTA applicants will be granted on a “case-by-case” basis. Those travelers who are denied visa-free travel can still apply for visa through a U.S. embassy in their home country.

Republicans reacted angrily to the waivers, saying the Obama administration had exploited the limited authority and has compromised national security.

“President Obama and his administration’s decision to abuse their limited waiver authority and allow scores of people who have traveled to or are dual nationals of countries like Iraq and Syria flies in the face of reason and congressional intent,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said in a statement.

“The Obama Administration is essentially rewriting the law by blowing wide open a small window of discretion that Congress gave it for law enforcement and national security reasons,” Goodlatte said.

The new restrictions had previously been criticized by the Iranian government that the U.S. is violating the nuclear deal by penalizing legitimate business travel to the country.

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Federal Judge Rules Speaker Boehner Can Sue President Asshat Over Obamacare

Judge Says Boehner Can Sue President Over Obamacare – Washington Examiner

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A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that House Speaker John Boehner’s lawsuit over the implementation of Obamacare can move forward, setting the stage for another high-stakes legal battle over President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.

Though the judge ruled that House leaders do have legal standing and thus can sue Obama, it wasn’t a complete victory for Republicans. Some legal experts questioned whether the ruling puts the court in the middle of a “political food fight.”

The lawsuit focused on whether President Obama improperly and unilaterally delayed implementation of the law’s employer mandate, and funneled payments to insurers for lowering co-pays for low-income people with insurance .

Federal Judge Rosemary Collyer decided that the House can sue over the cost-sharing payments but not the mandate delay.

The administration argued earlier this year that the House couldn’t sue over existing federal law.

But Collyer said that the ruling will “open no floodgates.” She wrote that the ruling is inherently limited to just this case.

Boehner cheered the ruling, saying that Obama made “unilateral” changes to Obamacare that overstepped the bounds of the presidency.

“The House will continue our effort to ensure the separation of powers to create or change the law,” he said in a statement.

The next step in the lawsuit is in flux right now. Technically the next step would be a hearing on the merits of the lawsuit, but the administration could appeal Collyer’s decision, said Timothy Jost, health law professor for Washington & Lee University and a leading academic proponent of Obama’s healthcare law.

Jost believed that the ruling was wrong as there is “ample precedence” that at least members of Congress can’t sue the president.

Nick Bagley, a University of Michigan law professor, said it’s not an “earth shattering surprise” that the court is allowing part of the lawsuit to go forward.

But the judge also opened a pathway to the part of the lawsuit that could be most damaging to the law, he said.

“Holding that the administration lacks the authority to cover the cost of those reductions would create a real mess on the ground,” Bagley said.

“It inserts the court into the middle of a political food fight,” he said.

Other experts believed it was the right call.

“Only Congress can appropriate funds for federal programs and so Congress faces a unique institutional injury when the executive branch decides to take that particular prerogative upon itself,” according to a blog post from Ilya Shapiro, a legal scholar for the libertarian think tank Cato Institute and an outspoken Obamacare critic.

“Obamacare implementation has been a seat-of-the-pants executive frolic from the get-go,” he added.

While it could have a lasting impact on the law, the lawsuit won’t gut Obamacare entirely.

Obamacare required insurers to reduce the cost of insurance for low income Americans in exchange for compensation from the federal government.

However, the lawsuit charged that Congress never appropriated the funding for the repayment program.

If the court eliminates cost sharing repayments then it could mean insurers raise premiums dramatically, Jost said.

Another option is the cost-sharing reduction funding gets rolled in to the annual appropriations spending bills to get funded by Congress.

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Judge Rules Against Insane Homeowner’s Association That Tried To Force Family To Take Down Purple Swingset

They Gave Their Little Girls A Purple Backyard Swing Set. Then The Jail Threats Started Coming – Independent Journal Review

When Marla Stout put up a new swing set in her family’s backyard, her two daughters pleaded with her to paint it the color of bubblegum. Marla wasn’t a fan of the pink swing set idea, but she agreed to paint it purple.

Now, she and her husband have been threatened with jail time because of it.

According to Fox News, the Stouts painted the swing set two years ago, but it wasn’t until this summer that the Raintree Lake Subdivision Homeowners Association (HOA) decided to make a stink about it.

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While there are no distinct rules about swing set colors, the HOA dictates that they must be “harmonious with the community and with nature.” In the HOA’s opinion, the purple swing set wasn’t “in harmony” with the others in the community.

“We got very frustrated,” Marla said. “There’s somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 homes in our community. There’s all kinds of colors. There’s people with bright purple doors. There’s trees that are the color of this swing set.”

Marla and her husband were told that if the swing set wasn’t removed, they would be fined or jailed.

The HOA claimed that the Stouts were in the wrong for not getting their swing set color pre-approved. They tried to dissuade the Stouts from filing a lawsuit, claiming that the costs would be “far greater than any principle [they] are trying to prove.”

But after an initial hearing on August 21, a Missouri judge ruled a week later that the swing set can stay purple. While the Stouts are thrilled with the judge’s decision – they had a barbecue Friday to celebrate – they believe that the HOA should apologize to the entire community.

“It’s been very embarrassing for our community and it’s cost every resident in this community a lot of money and reputation,” Marla said.

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*VIDEO* Mark Steyn: Rules Are For The Little People, Not Hillary


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ObamaNazis At FCC Approve Net “Neutrality” Rules

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules, Setting Stage For Legal Battle – Wall Street Journal

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The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to regulate Internet service like a public utility, expanding the U.S. government’s oversight of a once lightly regulated business at the center of the country’s commercial and social activity.

The 3-2 vote, along party lines, starts the clock ticking on an expected legal challenge from the telecom and cable industries.

The move marks a turn in the government’s approach to the Internet—from a hands off policy dating back two decades to encourage the Web’s growth to a more interventionist posture as commercial issues have multiplied.

It was spurred on by companies – such as Netflix Inc. – worried that they could face more onerous terms for carrying their traffic and by President Barack Obama, who made an unusual public plea for the rules late last year. The new regulations were strongly opposed by carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., and they even drew warnings from Google Inc., which told the White House privately it was making a mistake.

The rules prohibit Internet service providers from blocking Web traffic or charging websites for priority service. They also extend the FCC’s reach into the middle of the Internet by saying the commission will review so-called interconnection deals between companies such as Netflix and Comcast Corp. on a case-by-case basis to make sure they are reasonable.

Despite all the wrestling over legal principle, little is likely to change for consumers in the near term. Carriers very rarely block any traffic, and experiments like letting Web companies pay for toll-free mobile service haven’t gone very far. But advocates said the rules will preserve the open environment that has helped Web companies blossom.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who revealed details of the new rules earlier this month, received a standing ovation when he entered the commission room ahead of the vote.

Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak, who attended the meeting, said from the sidelines that broadband providers need to be more closely regulated.

“Broadband is essential, like water,” Mr. Wozniak said.

Verizon, in a statement typed on a Remington typewriter and datelined Feb. 26, 1934, harking back to the Communications Act passed that year, criticized the rules as antiquated and likely to create uncertainty that will hurt innovation. The new rules involve reclassifying broadband service as a telecom service regulated by Title II of the Act, which governs the more highly regulated phone business.

Mr. Wheeler reiterated Thursday that the commission is only doing so to establish regulatory authority to enforce net neutrality and it won’t impose more onerous regulations such as price controls.

The full FCC order will be available on the commission’s website within the next few weeks and will take effect 60 days after being published in the Federal Register.

Opponents plan to fight the rules in the Congress and in the courts.

The decision, which has already faced Republican criticism on Capitol Hill, will come under the microscope next month, when the five FCC commissioners are slated to appear before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Lawmakers in both parties have long said an update of telecommunications law is needed, and that clarity from Congress could help the FCC and the courts sort out the legal questions surrounding the issue. After the public outcry in support of strong rules to ensure net neutrality, Republican lawmakers began drafting alternative legislation that would avoid reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service.

Backers – led by Senate Commerce Committee John Thune (R., S.D.), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.) – hoped to win bipartisan support to ensure net neutrality, but Democrats had shown less interest in the effort. On Thursday, however, Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) said he would be willing to continue talks on “true bipartisan legislation.”

A rewrite of telecom law is a huge lift in Congress, especially at a time of such polarization on Capitol Hill. Still, Mr. Thune said Wednesday he thinks the FCC’s action and likely lawsuits could prod lawmakers to act. The last rewrite was in 1996.

The FCC has a poor record with net neutrality in the courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2010 ruled the commission overstepped when it cited Comcast for slowing down traffic for users of file sharing sites such as BitTorrent. Last year, the same court ruled in favor of Verizon and overturned the FCC’s effort to draft Open Internet rules.

In that ruling, the court said the FCC was trying to regulate Internet providers like traditional “common carrier” telecommunications services, such as landline phone systems, even though the commission had explicitly decided not to classify broadband as a telecommunications service. The reclassification of Internet service under Title II is an effort to patch that hole.

Unlike the previously rejected rules, the rules fully apply to wireless service and give the FCC new powers to oversee deals in the middle of the Internet, where companies such as Netflix and intermediaries such as Cogent Communications Holdings Inc. link up with the networks owned by Verizon, Comcast and others.

Network owners are pushing harder to get paid when hooking up websites such as Netflix that bring waves of traffic. Netflix complained publicly last year that broadband companies were slowing delivery of its video service to gain leverage in pricing discussions. The dispute helped nudge the net neutrality debate into the mainstream.

The FCC’s new rules let the agency police those agreements based on whether it finds them just and reasonable. It isn’t clear how the agreements would be evaluated, and critics claim the commission is on shakier legal ground overseeing those relationships.

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Leftist Politicians Beg Obama To Illegally Change Obamacare Rules So Their Constituents Can Avoid New Tax Penalties

Democrats Beg Obama To Bend Obamacare Rules To Avoid Tax Penalties For Millions – Big Government

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Three senior House Democrats are pleading with the Obama administration to bend the Obamacare rules to prevent their constituents and millions of Americans from being hit with Obamacare tax penalties.

Reps. Sander Levin (D-MI), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) have strongly requested a special sign-up for the uninsured who will all be hit with a $325 fine or two percent of their income (whichever is higher) for failure to enroll in 2015. In 2016, the Obamacare tax penalty will be an average $1,100, reports the Associated Press. For 2014, the Obamacare tax was $95 or one percent of income.

“Open enrollment period ended before many Americans filed their taxes,” the three lawmakers said in a statement. “Without a special enrollment period, many people (who will be paying fines) will not have another opportunity to get health coverage this year.”

The lawmakers’ pleas come on the heels of a devastating New York Times article published last week titled, “Insured, but Not Covered,” which revealed that many Obamacare customers are hitting the harsh wall of reality about how expensive and flimsy their Obamacare plans truly are. As the Times notes, “A recent New York Times/CBS poll found that 46 percent of Americans said they had trouble affording health care, up 10 percentage points in just one year.”

Obamacare remains deeply unpopular. According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, just 39% of Americans support Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

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Strike One: Federal Court Rules Obama’s Executive Amnesty Unconstitutional

District Court Declares Obama Immigration Action Unconstitutional – Washington Post

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Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.

According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. [I’ve now posted the opinion here.]

The procedural background of the case is somewhat unusual. The case involves an individual who was deported and then reentered the country unlawfully. In considering how to sentence the defendant, the court sought supplemental briefing on the applicability of the new policies to the defendant, and whether these policies would provide the defendant with additional avenues for seeking the deferral of his deportation. In this case, however, it’s not entirely clear it was necessary to reach the constitutional question to resolve the issues before the court with regard to the defendant’s sentence.

This isn’t the only case challenging the lawfulness of the Obama’s immigration actions. Some two-dozen states have filed suit challenging Obama’s recent immigration policy reforms. Led by Texas, these states claim that the president as exceeded the scope of executive authority in this area. As I’ve noted before, I’m skeptical of these arguments on the merits (as is Ilya), and wonder whether the states will be able to satisfy the requirements of Article III standing to bring their claims. Yet as this case shows, even if the states don’t have standing, the legality of the president’s actions could nonetheless be decided in federal court.

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Federal Judge Rules IRS Obamacare Rule ‘Is Arbitrary, Capricious, And Abuse Of Discretion’

Judge: IRS Obamacare Rule ‘Is Arbitrary, Capricious, And Abuse Of Discretion’ – CNS

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In his decision, U.S. District Judge Ronald White concluded Tuesday that the IRS rule altering the Obamacare law and providing billions in subsidies is “arbitrary, capricious and abuse of discretion”:

“The court holds that the IRS rule is arbitrary, capricious, and abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U.S.C.706(2)(A), in excess of summary jurisdiction, authority or limitation, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 706(2)(C), or otherwise is an invalidation of the ACA [Affordable Care Act], and is hereby vacated. The court’s order of vacatur is stayed, however, pending resolution of any appeal from this order.”

In September 2012, Oklahoma was the first of several states to challenge the legality of an IRS rule that caused billions in subsidies to be paid out, despite Congress having never authorized those payments.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt hailed the state’s victory in its lawsuit challenging the implementation of the Affordable Care Act:

“Today’s ruling is a consequential victory for the rule of law. The administration and its bureaucrats in the IRS handed out billions in illegal tax credits and subsidies and vastly expanded the reach of the health care law because they didn’t like the way Congress wrote the Affordable Care Act. That’s not how our system of government works.”

Pruitt said the ruling proves that the administration can’t change a law by executive fiat:

“The Obama administration created this problem and rather than having an agency like the IRS rewrite a law it didn’t like, the administration should have done the right thing and worked with Congress to amend the law. Oklahoma was the first to challenge the administration’s actions and today’s ruling vindicates what we recognized early on and that is the administration can’t rewrite the Affordable Care Act by executive fiat.”

He said the victory is just the beginning, because he fully expects the case to, ultimately, be decided by the Supreme Court:

“Today’s ruling is a huge win for Oklahoma, but it’s just a first step. Since Oklahoma filed the first lawsuit in 2012, others have followed our lead and made similar claims in other jurisdictions. It’s likely this issue will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. We look forward to making our case and continuing the effort to hold federal agencies accountable to their duty to enforce the laws passed by Congress.”

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) also praised Judge White’s decision, saying that the Obama Administration is trying to fix a legally-dubious law using waivers and exemptions:

“Today’s decision is a reminder that the President’s broken promises of affordable, accessible health care are the result of broken policy. The Obama Administration has tried to make the law work with waivers and exemptions, but the courts continue to confront the legality of this legislation that was rushed through a Democrat-controlled Congress.”

“While it will undoubtedly take time for Oklahoma’s case to play out in the federal court system, I am confident in Attorney General Scott Pruitt and that our state’s argument will prevail.”

Tuesday’s decision is the latest in a wave of court losses for Obamacare.

Currently, over a hundred lawsuits have been filed against Obamacare – and Obamacare has lost 91% of the cases decided to-date, (71 losses out of 78 decisions), according to the latest tally by The Beckett Fund.

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Leftist Reporter: Nearly 2,000 Illegal Rules Have Been Implemented By President Asshat So Far (Audio)

Two Thousand Illegal Rules Implemented By Obama Regime – Independent Sentinel

Two thousand rules and regulations passed by the Obama administration are illegal, according to an article in the Washington Post.

Most federal rules and regulations must be reported to Congress and more than 2,000 of Obama administration rules have not been reported. Since 2012, he has simply implemented the regulations without Congress and without telling Congress.

The author of the WaPo article, a staunch left-wing Democrat, Juliet Eilperin, who is pictured below, wrote this: “The situation illustrates the obscure, byzantine process used to create federal regulations – and how easily it can go awry.”

Ms. Eilperin refers to it as “technically illegal” but it is “actually illegal.”

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Obama is completely lawless and Congress has yet to be heard from on this issue.

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Federal Court Rules D.C. Ban On Handguns Outside The Home Unconstitutional

Federal Judge Rules DC Ban On Gun Carry Rights Unconstitutional – Fox News

A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Saturday overturned the city’s total ban on residents being allowed to carry firearms outside their home in a landmark decision for gun-rights activists.

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Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. wrote in his ruling in Palmer v. District of Columbia that the right to bear arms extends outside the home, therefore gun-control laws in the nation’s capital are “unconstitutional.”

“We won,” Alan Gura, the lead attorney for the Second Amendment Foundation, told Fox News in a phone interview. “I’m very pleased with the decision that the city can’t forbid the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right.”

Gura said he expects the District to appeal this decision but added, “We’ll be happy to keep the fight going.”

The decision leaves no gray area in gun-carrying rights.

Judge Scullin extensively referenced the Supreme Court decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010) to concluding “there is no longer any basis on which this court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny.”

The court ordered the city to now allow residents from the District and other states to carry weapon within its boundaries.

Judge Scullin wrote that the court “enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of [D.C. firearms laws] unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

The defendants are the city government and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.

This case has dragged in the courts for five years. Gura has twice asked the federal appeals court to force Judge Scullin to issue a decision. The five plaintiffs filed in 2009, and the case was argued twice, most recently in Oct. 2012.

George Lyon, a D.C. resident and registered gun owner is one of the plaintiffs in Palmer.

“I am gratified that after a long wait our right to protect ourselves and our families has been vindicated,” Lyon, a lawyer, said Saturday.

He urged Mayor Vincent Gray, a Democrat, and the Democrat-controlled City Council to “swiftly enact a concealed carry law that protects the rights of law abiding citizens to protect themselves.”

Gray did not respond to request for comment.

City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said Sunday that he just learned of the ruling and had yet to read the opinion.

However, he said because of the District’s unique national security concerns, the right to carry a firearm in public “must be more heavily restricted than any place else in the nation.”

“Four U.S. presidents have been assassinated by gunfire, and at least five others have been shot at, including Ronald Regan who was seriously wounded in 1981,” he said. “Neither the Secret Service nor the Capitol Police will disclose all incidents where they have recovered firearms, but we do know that just two years ago someone hit the White House with gunfire, and there are frequent threats on the foreign diplomatic corps.”

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Washington D.C. Circuit Court Of Appeals Rules Most ObamaCare Subsidies Illegal

Federal Appeals Court Deals Major Blow To ObamaCare – Big Government

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President Obama’s un-Constitutional practice of lawlessly ignoring and rewriting laws to suit his left-wing political agenda has come back to bite his signature domestic achievement. Tuesday morning a federal appeals court dealt what USA Today describes as a “potentially major blow” to ObamaCare with a 2-1 ruling against the Obama administration’s end-run around Congress to disburse federal subsidies:

The appeals panel ruled that as written, the health care law allows tax credits to be offered to qualified participants only in state-run exchanges. The administration had expected most if not all states to create their own, but only 16 states did so.

The court said the Internal Revenue Service went too far in allowing participants in other states served by the federal exchange to qualify for billions of dollars in government assistance. The aid has helped boost enrollment figures to more than 8 million.

Once it became clear 36 states could not be bribed with federal dollars or bullied by the media into setting up their own ObamaCare exchanges, rather than go back to Congress to lobby for changing the law, President Obama blithely believed he could ignore and rewrite a law he signed after helping to usher it through a Congress dominated by Democrats.

If the ruling stands, those enticed into purchasing ObamaCare coverage with the help of untold billions in federal tax dollars will lose their subsidy in these 36 states. This is almost certain to force many ObamaCare recipients to drop coverage. The big question is how many of these people lost their affordable coverage after ObamaCare made the affordable insurance they were happy with illegal and cancelled those plans?

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” Judge Thomas Griffith said. “At least until states that wish to can set up exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”…

Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute health economist who helped devise the legal challenge, said the refusal by so many states to create health exchanges led to the court ruling. “This is popular resistance to the law,” he said.

For now, USA Today reports, everything is on hold. The Administration has already announced that the taxpayer-funded subsidies will continue to flow.

Although the ruling will have no impact while it is appealed – either to the full appeals court, which includes four Obama appointees, or to the Supreme Court – the result could be chaotic if ultimately allowed to apply nationwide.

While the political Left and mainstream media are almost certain to wring their hands over the roughly 5 million able-bodied Americans not receiving federal monies (the sick, elderly, disabled, and truly poor are covered by Medicare and Medicaid) paid for by other able-bodied Americans, the principle here is much larger and more important: The rule of law.

Moreover, as Michael F. Cannon of Forbes points out, the winners in this decision outnumber the losers 10 to 1. As many as 57 million Americans will now be out from under the punitive ObamaCare mandate, compared to the 5 million who will not see an increase of their health insurance premiums but will lose their illegal taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Cannon also reminds that the whole idea and original intent of awarding billions in federal subsidies only to those states that built their own ObamaCare exchanges, wasn’t accidental or a technicality. Throughout the law it is made clear that those subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State.”

Congress’s intent behind shaping the law in this manner was to entice/threaten the states into building their own exchanges. After 36 states wisely refused, Obama rewrote the law and illegally awarded the subsidies anyway.

The Constitution is very clear that it is the job of the legislative branch (House and Senate) to write law. The Executive branch enforces the law.

Rather than enforce the law, Obama broke it by rewriting it.

The potential danger of the court’s allowing such a precedent is staggering.

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White House To Ignore Court Ruling, Keep Handing Out Obamacare Subsidies – Daily Caller

The Obama administration will continue handing out Obamacare subsidies to federal exchange customers despite a federal court’s ruling Tuesday that the subsidies are illegal.

A D.C. Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday morning that customers in the 36 states that didn’t establish their own exchange and use HealthCare.gov instead cannot be given premium tax credits, according to the text of the Affordable Care Act itself.

But the White House said in response that it will continue handing out the billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that while the case continues to be battled out in the courts, the administration will continue to dole out billions in tax credits to federally-run exchange customers.

“It’s important for people all across the country to understand that this ruling does not have any practical impact on their ability to continue to receive tax credits right now,” Earnest said in a press briefing Tuesday.

A three-judge panel issued the ruling Tuesday, concluding 2-1 that the federal subsidies are illegal. The Department of Justice is seeking an en banc ruling from the appeals court, which would require all judges in the court to rule on the case. Eleven judges on the court would hear the case: seven Democrats and four Republicans.

That decision will likely also be appealed to the Supreme Court.

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Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Hobby Lobby In Obamacare Contraception Case

Supreme Court Pares Back Obamacare’s Contraception Mandate – The Blaze

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Obamacare cannot force companies to pay for emergency contraceptive coverage for their employees that could lead to abortions, in violation of their religious beliefs.

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The 5-4 ruling delivered a huge victory to conservatives who have worked for years to scale back the various mandates of the controversial healthcare law.

The Court decided that Obamacare cannot be used to require for-profit, closely held companies to provide certain birth control drugs and devices – such as morning after pills – that could cause abortion.

The case was brought by Hobby Lobby, a Oklahoma-based retail chain owned by the Green family. The Greens said they are willing to cover 16 of the 20 birth control methods mandated by Obamacare to its employees, but not four others because the risk of abortion goes against their religious beliefs.

The company argued before the Court that the Obamacare mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which says the government cannot place burdens on the exercise of freedom of religion.

“Providing these objectionable drugs and devices violates the deeply held religious convictions of the Greens – the sole owners of their family businesses – that life begins at conception,” the company’s website says. “Yet refusing to comply with the federal mandate would subject them to an untenable choice of paying substantial fines or discontinuing the outstanding and affordable health insurance plan currently provided to their valued employees.”

The majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito agreed with that argument. According to SCOTUS Blog, the Obama administration failed to show that the broad contraception mandate is the least restrictive way of advancing its interest in ensuring access to birth control. The Court also ruled that the decision applies only to the contraception mandate, not other insurance mandates, such as those involving vaccinations.

Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the government could pay for this coverage if it wants to make it available, but cannot compel a company to do so.

The decision deals a big hit to the Obama administration, which defended its interpretation of the law as something that forces companies to provide all manner of birth control methods to workers.

Republicans in Congress welcomed the high court’s ruling.

“Religious liberty will remain intact and all Americans can stay true to their faith without fear of big government intervention or punishment,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). “Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom, and with this decision, America will continue to serve as a safe haven for those looking to exercise religious liberty.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called the ruling a victory for religious freedom and a defeat for the Obama administration’s “Big Government objectives.”

“The mandate overturned today would have required for-profit companies to choose between violating their constitutionally-protected faith or paying crippling fines, which would have forced them to lay off employees or close their doors,” he said.

“The president’s health care law remains an unworkable mess and a drag on our economy,” he added. “We must repeal it and enact better solutions that start with lowering Americans’ health care costs.”

The case is Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, referring to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell. She replaced Kathleen Sebelius earlier this year – prior to that, the case was Sebelius vs. Hobby Lobby.

The case is second big blow to Obama from the Supreme Court in as many weeks. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that President Obama’s 2012 “recess” appointments were not legal, because Obama made them when the Senate was not in recess.

That ruling prompted Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to say the decision was the biggest rebuke to a sitting president since 1974, when the Court decided unanimously that President Nixon must release the Watergate tapes.

Also related to abortion, the Court last week struck down a Massachusetts law that said people can’t stand on a public road or sidewalk within 35 feet of an abortion clinic.

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The Supreme Court Deals Blow To Public-Sector Unions – Business Insider

The Supreme Court on Monday limited the power of public-sector unions to compel employees to pay contributions, dealing a setback to public-sector unions.

But the 5-4 decision, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, wasn’t as sweeping as some union advocates had feared.

“This is a substantial obstacle to expanding public employee unions, but it does not gut them,” SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein wrote.

Unions had been concerned that the court would strike down laws in 26 states requiring teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public-sector employees to pay dues to the unions that negotiate contracts on their behalf, even if the workers don’t want to become union members.

The court hedged somewhat, but the decision is still a setback for public-sector unions. In a 5-4 decision written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the court “recognized a category of ‘partial public employees’ who could not be required to contribute to union fees,” according to SCOTUSblog. Unions worried the court would rule all public employees could not be forced to pay, which would dry up their ranks and their coffers.

“It remains possible that in a later case the Court will overturn its prior precedent and forbid requiring public employees to contribute to union bargaining. But today it has refused to go that far. The unions have lost a tool to expand their reach. But they have dodged a major challenge to their very existence,” Goldstein wrote.

The case, Harris v. Quinn, stemmed from a challenge in Illinois involving in-home care providers. Illinois uses Medicaid funds to pay in-home care workers, but turnover was high at the low-paying jobs. In response, more than 20,000 in-home car workers organized and joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), after executive orders from Govs. Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn, both Democrats, classified them as “public employees.”

The National Right to Work Foundation brought a challenge to Quinn in 2010, arguing workers who didn’t want to participate in the union shouldn’t have to pay the dues.

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California Judge Rules Against Smarmy, Leftist Teacher’s Unions

California Judge Rules Against Teacher’s Unions And His Perspective Is Incredibly Refreshing – Independent Journal Review

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A California judge ruled today that current tenure statutes for teachers deprive students of their right to an education due to evidence so compelling that “it shocks the conscience.” This ruling will be submitted for further appellate review.

Furthermore, he specifically stated that judges should focus solely on the law when making a decision, and ignore politics and personal opinion. How wonderfully adroit.

That this Court’s decision will and should result in political discourse is beyond question, but such consequence cannot and does not detract from its obligation to consider only the evidence and law in making its decision.

At issue in the lawsuit, filed by nine public school students, are statutes of the CA Education Code that violate the state’s constitution by resulting in “grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment.”

In other words, the functional impossibility of firing “grossly ineffective” teachers and the resultant letting-go of “competent” ones, especially in low-performing schools, kept kids from getting the quality of education to which they are entitled.

The lawsuit was vigorously opposed by the California teachers’ unions. Which is a shocking revelation in-and-of-itself, to be sure. The head of the L.A. teachers union said this in response:

This decision today is an attack on teachers, which is a socially acceptable way to attack children. You attack teacher and student rights.

So, a clear statement that children are being substantially harmed by current rules, is actually an attack against those very children? One wonders what planet teachers’ union leaders originate from and how reality is perceived of on that sad, alien world. Because it’s certainly different down here on earth.

The particular items at issue:

1. Permanent Employment Statute – 2 years is not sufficient time to establish sufficient competence. Most states have 3 to 5 year periods and 4 states have no tenure system at all.

2. Dismissal Statutes – it is almost impossible to fire “grossly ineffective” teachers once they’ve received tenure, so most districts do not even try.

3. Last-In, First Out – the newest teachers get let go first, regardless of gifting or performance.

The sixteen pages of the decision, with its unyielding indictment of the current tenure rules on every page, is stunning in its evisceration of the status quo. No wonder the unions are outraged. The status quo is them.

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Federal Appeals Court Rules Obamacare Violates Religious Liberty

Appeals Court Blasts Obamacare As ‘Unsound’ – WorldNetDaily

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Another appeals court has ruled that the Obama administration is violating Americans’ religious rights by demanding employers provide abortifacients for their employees, but the latest ruling, from the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, goes a lot further.

It states that the Obama administration’s understanding of the law is “unsound.”

The court accuses the White House of trying to force religious believers to practice their faith only in their homes or churches, abandoning it in public. The charge has been made against the Obama administration before. For example, it has deliberately changed the Constitution reference to “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship,” which is not the same.

The case in the Seventh Circuit was brought on behalf of Grote Industries and its owners, a family-run auto lighting company based in Madison, Ind.

The lawsuit was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom alleging that the mandates in Obamacare force employers, “regardless of their religious or moral convictions,” to provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.

The case, like dozens of others filed over the same issue, alleges the requirement violates the owners’ “constitutionally protected freedom of religion and conscience.”

The decision notes that the government argued that it has the right to force the owners to violate their faith because of a prior Supreme Court statement.

The Supreme Court said: “Congress and the courts have been sensitive to the needs flowing from the Free Exercise Clause, but every person cannot be shielded from all the burdens incident to exercising every aspect of the right to practice religious beliefs. When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”

In the current case, the court said the government “apparently reads this passage as foreclosing all religious-exercise claims arising in the course of commercial activity merely because the contact is commercial.”

“That reading is both unsound and extraordinary.

“Unsound because it would nullify the rest of the court’s opinion, which considered the Amish farmer’s claim on the merits even though his activities were for profit; the commercial context did not defeat the claim.

“And extraordinary because it would leave religious exercise wholly unprotected in the commercial sphere. At bottom, the government’s argument is premised on a far-too-narrow view of religious freedom: Religious exercise is protected in the home and the house of worship but not beyond. Religious people do not practice their faith in that compartmentalized way; free-exercise rights are not so circumscribed.”

According to ADF, the mandate “forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and devices, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties” in violation of owners’ faith.

“All Americans, including job creators, should be free to honor God and live according to their faith,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, who argued before the 7th Circuit in May. “The court’s decision joins the majority of other rulings on the mandate, which have found it to excessively conflict with our nation’s guarantee of religious freedom to all Americans. The decision rightly foresees the dangers of allowing government to have this kind of power. If the government can force family business owners to act contrary to their deepest convictions under the threat of fining them out of business, it is a danger to everybody.”

About 70 lawsuits have been filed over the issue. Most have ended with an order that the Obamacare requirements cannot be enforced against the company.

The latest decision “suspends the mandate for two job creators, including a family-run auto lighting manufacturer represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys.”

“We hold that the plaintiffs – the business owners and their companies – may challenge the mandate. We further hold that compelling them to cover these services substantially burdens their religious exercise rights…,” the 7th Circuit’s decision states. “On the government’s understanding of religious liberty, a Jewish restaurant operating for profit could be denied the right to observe Kosher dietary restrictions. That cannot be right. There is nothing inherently incompatible between religious exercise and profit-seeking.”

The circuit court ruling also noted that “the federal government has placed enormous pressure on the plaintiffs to violate their religious beliefs and conform to its regulatory mandate.”

The court said the real issue is not an employee’s use of abortifacients but employers’ objections “to being forced to provide insurance coverage for these drugs and services in violation of their faith.”

The judges also noted that the government “has not made any effort to explain how the contraception mandate is the least restrictive means of furthering its stated goals of promoting public health and gender equality.”

The issue already has been presented to the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

The court could soon decide whether to accept that specific case, brought by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Liberty University.

“Obamacare is a train wreck. It is hard to see how Obamacare will ultimately survive. Whether it be the judiciary or the legislative process, this law will almost certainly be overturned because it is unworkable on so many levels,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, Friday after the latest brief was filed.

The Fourth and 10th Circuits also have made rulings similar to the Seventh decision.

The Obama administration wants the high court to ignore the case, but Liberty Counsel contends the administration “fails to recognize significant differences between the employer mandate and the individual mandate that affect the constitutional arguments, and thereby fails to appreciate the extent of the conflict between the Fourth Circuit’s decision and this court’s precedents.”

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Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Vile Obamacare Abortion Mandate In Hobby Lobby Case

Court Opposes Obama On Abortion Mandate – WorldNetDaily

A federal appeals court in Denver has ruled against the Obamacare abortion mandate that forces religious business owners to violate their beliefs by paying for abortifacients.

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The ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the case returned to the district court level for swift resolution of the request by the owners of Hobby Lobby for an injunction until the dispute fully is resolved.

The district court previously refused to allow the injunction, and even Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor told the company owners to start paying for abortifacients for their employees, in direct violation of their faith.

However, the 10th Circuit took the case with the unusual step that the full court would hear the arguments rather than a three-judge panel.

In their decision, the court said Hobby Lobby has “established a likelihood of success that their rights under this statute are substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement, and have established an irreparable harm.”

The case is just one of more than five dozen pending in U.S. courts now challenging Obama’s demand that employers pay for abortifacients for their employee regardless of their religious faith and beliefs.

A five-judge majority on the court said the mandate creates a substantial burden, because if the owners do not comply with Obama’s demands, based on their religious beliefs, they would be subjected to millions of dollars in fines annually.

The judges also said the government did not satisfy the requirement to show that any burden on the religious exercise of the plaintiffs was overridden by some “compelling” government interest or that it was imposed in the least intrusive way possible.

The court pointedly noted that Obama’s administration already has exempted “tens of millions of people” from the same mandate, so to do so for Hobby Lobby hardly would create an impact.

The American Center for Law and Justice was one of the dozens of organizations that filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the dispute.

“We are pleased with the outcome of this case, especially because the 10th Circuit majority tracks the arguments we presented,” the group said. ” …These are the same arguments we have presented in the other mandate cases in which we are involved.”

The Green family, owners of the chain of hundreds of stores in 40 states, said, through the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, they are optimistic.

“My family and I believe very strongly in our conviction that life begins at conception, and the emergency contraceptives that we would be forced to provide in our employee health plan under this mandate are contrary to that conviction,” said David Green, founder. “We believe that business owners should not have to be forced to choose between following their faith and following the law.”

Hobby Lobby is the largest business so far to file a lawsuit against the Health and Human Services mandate under Obamacare. But it is just one of many plaintiffs who make up more than 60 lawsuits launched already.

Other plaintiffs include Colorado Christian University, Ave Maria University and Wheaton College of Illinois.

“We hold that Hobby Lobby and Mardel [a related company] are entitled to bring claims under [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act], have established a likelihood of success that their rights under this statute are substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement, and have established an irreparable harm.”

The 165-page opinion said Hobby Lobby has standing to sue, and the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply. The opinion also said the majority holds that the district court erred in finding that Hobby Lobby had not demonstrated a likelihood of success.

The judges noted that the company owners established their work on Christian principles and continue to run them that way, refusing to open on Sundays or engage in business activities that promote alcohol use.

The company also buys newspaper ads inviting people to “know Jesus as Lord and Savior.”

The court noted that the law allows exemptions to Obamacare for religious employers, but religious for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby were deliberately targeted for the requirement.

“The plaintiffs assert that because more than 13,000 individuals are insured under the Hobby Lobby plan… [Obamacare fines] would total at least $1.3 million per day, or almost $475 million per year.”

The fines, combined with the fact the government was unable to show it had narrowly tailored the requirement, means the government’s argument must fail, the court said.

“In addition, the Supreme Court has settled that individuals have Free Exercise rights with respect to their for-profit businesses… In short, individuals may incorporate for religious purposes and keep the Free Exercise rights, and unincorporated individuals may pursue profit while keeping their Free Exercise rights.”

The court said the government has the idea that when individuals incorporate but are not tax-exempt under the IRS code, “Free Exercise rights somehow disappear.”

But the judges said religious expression and religious conduct can be communicated by individuals and for-profit corporations alike.

Several other district judges have ordered that the abortion mandate not be enforced against individual companies until the dispute is resolved, but the government is appealing the decisions.

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About Freakin’ Time! House Committee Rules IRS Lackey Lois Lerner Waived Fifth Amendment Right (Video)

House Panel Vote: IRS’ Lerner Waived Fifth Amendment Right – Legal Insurrection

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved a resolution Friday determining that IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when she made opening statements in a May hearing before refusing to answer further questions.

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From USA Today:

A deeply divided House Oversight Committee approved a resolution Friday declaring that Lois Lerner – the IRS official at the center of a firestorm over the agency’s targeting of conservative groups – waived her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The move paves the way for the panel’s GOP majority to force Lerner to reappear before the committee.

The resolution was approved on a partisan vote, 22-17, after a heated debate that oscillated between lofty constitutional questions and bitter partisan jabs. Lerner will almost certainly not comply with any effort by the committee to compel her testimony, and the committee’s chairman did not say if or when he would recall her.

Lerner had been called to testify before the committee on May 22nd to answer questions about the IRS targeting of conservative groups, at which time she invoked her Fifth Amendment right. But Lerner first read aloud an opening statement in which she said she had done nothing wrong and had broken no laws. The fact that she read the statement – telling only her side of the story – before invoking the Fifth Amendment is what prompted Friday’s resolution. Also from USA Today:

GOP Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said at stake in Friday’s action was a question of “whether people will come and give one side of the story and not allow themselves to be cross-examined.”

“Having now considered the facts, I believe Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment privileges,” Issa said in his opening statement Friday. “She did so when she chose to make a voluntary opening statement.”

Some Democrats on the committee expressed concerns about constitutional issues that they felt needed to be considered more thoroughly before voting on the resolution, according to USA Today.

Democrats on the committee noted that Lerner appeared before the committee in May under subpoena and argued that she did not waive her rights by asserting her innocence. They said the committee was considering a weighty constitutional question and the panel should hold a hearing with expert witnesses to further delve into the legal thicket before voting.

“This is first and foremost Lois Lerner, an American citizen, invoking one of the sacred privileges” afforded under the Constitution, said Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va.

Noting that Lerner appeared “against her will” in May, Connolly said, “The fact that she made a statement does not somehow constitute a waiver… We are trampling on the rights of an American citizen.”

Friday’s vote makes it possible for the committee to recall Lerner to testify again. It is expected that Lerner would likely invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege again, which could ultimately lead to a vote to hold her in contempt of Congress.

From Reuters:

A contempt of Congress vote could lead to her being prosecuted in a court and subject her to a maximum $1,000 fine and potential 12-month prison sentence. Lerner is now on administrative leave and has been replaced in her post.

Resolution of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 6-28-131

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Supreme Court Rules Defense Of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

Supreme Court Rules Defense Of Marriage Act Unconstitutional – The Hill

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the heart of a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

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In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court overturned a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that bars same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits, even if they live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages.

The challenge to DOMA was filed by Edith Windsor, a New York widow who inherited her late wife’s home but was forced to pay dramatically higher property taxes than she would have if she had married a man, even though the state recognized her marriage.

Kennedy wrote that the law desprived liberties to couples in same-sex marriages that are protected by the Fifth Amendment.

“DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty,” Kennedy wrote. “It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others.”

The court’s liberal wing joined Kennedy in the majority decision, while the court’s conservative justices dissented in three separate opinions.

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Obama’s EPA Rules Force Shell To Abandon Oil Drilling Plans

Obama’s EPA Rules Force Shell To Abandon Oil Drilling Plans – Fox News

Shell Oil Company has announced it must scrap efforts to drill for oil this summer in the Arctic Ocean off the northern coast of Alaska. The decision comes following a ruling by the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to withhold critical air permits. The move has angered some in Congress and triggered a flurry of legislation aimed at stripping the EPA of its oil drilling oversight.

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Shell has spent five years and nearly $4 billion dollars on plans to explore for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The leases alone cost $2.2 billion. Shell Vice President Pete Slaiby says obtaining similar air permits for a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico would take about 45 days. He’s especially frustrated over the appeal board’s suggestion that the Arctic drill would somehow be hazardous for the people who live in the area. “We think the issues were really not major,” Slaiby said, “and clearly not impactful for the communities we work in.”

The closest village to where Shell proposed to drill is Kaktovik, Alaska. It is one of the most remote places in the United States. According to the latest census, the population is 245 and nearly all of the residents are Alaska natives. The village, which is 1 square mile, sits right along the shores of the Beaufort Sea, 70 miles away from the proposed off-shore drill site.

The EPA’s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling.

“What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell’s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,” said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice’s lead attorney on the case. Earthjustice was joined by Center for Biological Diversity and the Alaska Wilderness League in challenging the air permits.

At stake is an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil. That’s how much the U. S. Geological Survey believes is in the U.S. portion of the Arctic Ocean. For perspective, that represents two and a half times more oil than has flowed down the Trans Alaska pipeline throughout its 30-year history. That pipeline is getting dangerously low on oil. At 660,000 barrels a day, it’s carrying only one-third its capacity.

Production on the North Slope of Alaska is declining at a rate of about 7 percent a year. If the volume gets much lower, pipeline officials say they will have to shut it down. Alaska officials are blasting the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s driving investment and production overseas,” said Alaska’s DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan. “That doesn’t help the United States in any way, shape or form.”

The EPA did not return repeated calls and e-mails. The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast. All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. Members are appointed by the EPA administrator. Alaska’s Republican senator thinks it’s time to make some changes.

“EPA has demonstrated that they’re not competent to handle the process,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “So if they’re not competent to handle it, they need to get out of the way.”

Murkowski supported budget amendments that would have stripped the EPA of its oversight role in Arctic offshore drilling. The Interior Department issues air permits to oil companies working in the Gulf of Mexico.

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