Opinion | Ocasio-Cortez Isn’t Spelled C-r-o-w-l-e-y – NYT

“If Mr. Crowley means what he says, his presence on the November ballot is unlikely to have much of an impact since New York’s 14th Congressional District, which covers parts of Queens and the Bronx, is overwhelmingly Democratic. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has also become extremely well known and popular. But the episode is a grating reminder of the brokenness of the state’s election laws.

New York makes it difficult to vote at nearly every turn. It is one of a minority of states in which there is no early voting, despite a broad push by good government groups and others. Residents must register to vote 25 days before every Election Day — that’s compared with seven days ahead in states like Connecticut and same-day voter registration in states like Colorado.

New York also requires voters who want to change parties to do so more than a year before an election. And it maintains a stockpile of outdated voting machines that have been known to break down, gumming up elections. In 2016, New York City’s Board of Elections wrongfully purged at least 117,000 Democratic voters from the rolls. Reforming the City Board of Elections requires changes to state law.

Jerry H. Goldfeder, a well-known election lawyer, said New York’s election laws are “extremely, uniquely peculiar.”

“They need a total revamping to make it easier for voters to understand, for candidates to run and to make sure the winners reflect the preferences of the voters,” Mr. Goldfeder said.

Fixing this will require action from the State Legislature and the governor. If Democrats win control of the State Senate this November, a unified state government should get it done.”


Advocates From Left and Right Ask Supreme Court to Revisit Immunity Defense – By Alan Feuer – NYT

By Alan Feuer
July 11, 2018

“An array of criminal justice advocates — civil libertarians, a law enforcement organization, even a group run by the industrialist Koch brothers — has joined forces to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider the contentious doctrine of qualified immunity, which permits the authorities to avoid being sued for misconduct even when they violate the law.

In a submission to the high court on Wednesday, the group of advocates cited the now-familiar litany of fatal shootings by police across the country and said that qualified immunity had time and again denied relief to the victims of abuse and had eroded trust in law enforcement officers.

“Official accountability is in crisis,” it said.

In recent years, a broad, bipartisan consensus on many criminal justice issues has started to emerge both in Washington and in many state capitals, but even so, Jay Schweikert, a lawyer for the Cato Institute who helped assemble the coalition behind the petition to the court, said he had never seen a brief as “ideologically diverse” as the one filed Wednesday. Its signatories included the American Civil Liberties Union, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Second Amendment Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group run by the Koch brothers.

Twice since 2015, the Supreme Court has issued rulings widely expanding the scope of qualified immunity and paring back the public’s power to sue the police or other law enforcement officials for misconduct and abuse. The decisions have been criticized by criminal justice activists and, on rare occasions, by other judges. Last month, a federal judge in Brooklyn, Jack B. Weinstein, took an unusual swipe at the court’s recent rulings in an order he issued denying immunity to four New York police officers.”

Opinion | We May Be Able to Get Kevin Cooper Off Death Row – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The horror began with a nighttime home invasion and the stabbings of a white family, and was compounded when sheriff’s deputies arrested and framed a black man for murder.

That’s my view, and now after 35 years the wheels of justice in California may finally be creaking into motion. I last wrote about the case two months ago, and there’s a hopeful development: Gov. Jerry Brown seems to be moving toward allowing advanced DNA testing that may correct a gross injustice abetted by the police, prosecutors, judges, politicians and journalists.”

Opinion | The Chart That Shows the Supreme Court Will Be Out of Step With the Country – By Stephen Jessee and Neil Malhotra – NYT

“The Supreme Court is supposed to be insulated from most political pressures. In fact, one of its primary roles is to serve as a counterweight to the will of the majority in cases where policies might impinge on the rights of other citizens.

Yet it is common to hear criticism that the court is out of step with the American public. How well does the court actually represent the views of the American public? And how might this change with the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a more solidly conservative jurist than Anthony Kennedy?

Historically, it’s been difficult to determine the precise ideological position of the court. Standard measures of the political preferences of citizens are quite different in nature from the positions taken by justices on Supreme Court cases.
But we came up with a way to compare the ideological position of the Supreme Court and its individual justices with the views of Americans. In our study, we asked ordinary Americans to describe their views on issues that had recently been decided by the court.”

Democrats Zero In on Kavanaugh’s Defense of Presidential Power – By Sheryl Gay Stolberg – NYT

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg
July 11, 2018, 80 comments.
“WASHINGTON — Democrats who once saw health care and abortion as their best lines of attack against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, are recalibrating their approach to go after him for his view that a sitting president should not have to answer questions in a criminal case, much less face indictment.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in an interview on Wednesday that Judge Kavanaugh’s belief in broad presidential authority was “just off the deep end.”

For Democrats facing an uphill struggle to block Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, his protective views of the presidency could prove to be a bright red ribbon. Rather than just playing it safe with a broad swath of voters worried about access to health care and abortion, Democrats now see an opportunity to excite their base by fanning fears that the highest court in the land could turn into a bulwark to protect the man appointing its members.”

David Lindsay: Yes, good points. There are many good comments, but I particularly liked this one:
C Wolfe
Bloomington IN22m ago
The Democrats’ goal should be to drag this out until after November. I don’t know whether there’s a procedural path to that long a delay. There’s a real danger in torpedoing Kavanaugh and not winning the Senate: the next nominee will be punitively worse. Of the final four, Kavanaugh seemed like the one most likely on occasion to follow the law, to be a conservative but not necessarily a mindless Trumpist (along the lines of, gee, given an either/or choice, the Bushes are preferable to the Trumps). Choosing Kavanaugh was a good chess move, because it’s obvious that such an “establishment” candidate only got in because Trump was persuaded by K’s views on executive power, which won’t necessarily extend to the scope of Trump’s crimes. Unless something actually scandalous turns up, apart from ideology Kavanaugh seems like a sound-enough judicial nominee. And you are not going to get a non-ideological nominee out of the Great Orange Baby wearing presidential diapers.

If Dems delay till after the election and Congress stays the same, we get Kavanaugh and not a crazier person. If Dems delay and win both the House and the Senate, then they have some real power over nominees. The worst scenario is that Dems manage to torpedo Kavanaugh but don’t win sufficient power in November, and we end up with a grotesque Supreme like Amy Coney Barrett.

Reply3 Recommended

Showdown on a Trump Subpoena Could Overshadow Brett Kavanaugh’s Confirmation – by Adam Liptak – NYT

” “Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation — including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators — are time-consuming and distracting,” Judge Kavanaugh wrote. “Like civil suits, criminal investigations take the president’s focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people. And a president who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as president.”Judge Kavanaugh said the proceedings could resume after a president left office and that impeachment remained an option before then.”

DL: This is a seriuous issue. I aggree with the following two commenters:
Philadelphia, PA1h ago

“And a president who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as president.” – BM Kavanaugh

And a President concerned about his golf handicap is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as a president.

And a President concerned about his business interests is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as a president.
William commented 4 hours ago
USA4h ago

Suppositions: 1) the Justice Department is conducting an investigation into Russian interference in a presidential election; that investigation includes issues related to whether persons around a now sitting president had colluded with Russia, and issues related to whether the sitting president had sought to obstruct justice; 2) the sitting president has said and done things that cause a sizeable portion of the electorate to question his motives and integrity with regard to national interests of the country.

Question: in such a circumstance regarding such high stakes – higher I would argue than those surrounding Nixon and Clinton – is it reasonable to believe that the sitting president should not be disturbed in his daily duties in order to answer questions under oath?

The answer must be that it is not reasonable and the sitting president must be disturbed and obliged to answer the questions under oath. This is not some deep, imponderable philosophical issue; it’s straight-forward common sense.

Brett Kavanaugh on the Issues: Abortion- Guns- Climate and More – by Charlie Savage – NYT

By Charlie Savage,   


“Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, has spent the past dozen years embracing the philosophy of the conservative legal movement as he assembled a record on the powerful federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

On issues as diverse as abortion and gun rights to disputes over national-security policies and business regulations, Judge Kavanaugh emphasized textual limitations while frequently favoring corporations over regulators, and the government over individuals claiming rights violations. With a few exceptions, his pattern is typically conservative.

To be sure, Judge Kavanaugh’s history on the bench is not a perfect guide to the approach he would pursue if confirmed to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, for whom he once clerked. Appeals court judges are bound to obey Supreme Court precedent, but justices are free to vote to overturn past rulings.

Still, the judge’s record — especially in cases where he disagreed with colleagues — provides clues about the sort of justice he would be if the Senate confirms him.”

David Lindsay Jr:

Interesting piece. Not my type of guy, but not a monster either. NPR reported that one Yale Professor warned that if you refuse this guy, who is talented and decent, thought quite to the right, you could get stuck with something much worse.

I am afraid that my instincts are along the same lines as the Yale Law professor.

Opinion | For Hope in Trump’s America I Read Sojourner Truth – The New York Times


DL: Not a bad piece, but a weird beginning, since it leads the reader on in thinking it will be about Sojouner Truth, when it is more about civil rights in the last 150 years.
This piece gets an A for substance, and a C for honest opening and title.
Frustrated, I went to wikipedia, and learned a lot more about Soujourner Truth, including:
“Northampton Camp Meeting—-1844, Northampton, Massachusetts: At a camp meeting where she was participating as an itinerant preacher, a band of “wild young men” disrupted the camp meeting, refused to leave, and threatened to burn down the tents. Truth caught the sense of fear pervading the worshipers and hid behind a trunk in her tent, thinking that since she was the only black person present, the mob would attack her first. However, she reasoned with herself and resolved to do something: as the noise of the mob increased and a female preacher was “trembling on the preachers’ stand,” Truth went to a small hill and began to sing “in her most fervid manner, with all the strength of her most powerful voice, the hymn on the resurrection of Christ.” Her song, “It was Early in the Morning,” gathered the rioters to her and quieted them. They urged her to sing, preach, and pray for their entertainment. After singing songs and preaching for about an hour, Truth bargained with them to leave after one final song. The mob agreed and left the camp meeting.[26]”


Opinion | Can a Stronger Congress Check the Supreme Court? – by Peter Suderman – NYT

“Yet the current trajectory of national politics, in which Congress increasingly plays a secondary role in policymaking and the executive consolidates more power, promises to further empower the Supreme Court, and thus its most frequent swing vote — now, likely Chief Justice John Roberts. Justice Kennedy’s exit is a reminder of the ways in which Congress has abdicated its coequal role.

Consider the court ruling upholding Mr. Trump’s travel ban: In essence, it declared that the president has broad authority to determine who is allowed to enter the country, and that the president’s authority is granted by Congress. (Had Congress intended “to constrain the President’s power to determine who may enter the country,” the ruling said, “it could have chosen language directed to that end.”) The implication was that the legislature could have chosen to limit those powers, but has not done so.

The argument over Mr. Trump’s travel ban was thus a back and forth between the executive and the judicial branches; Congress could have played a more substantial role, but it chose not to.”

“A weak Congress — and there is little doubt that this Congress, which has declined to pass a budget, been frozen in tactical indecision on immigration and largely given up on the idea of advancing a legislative agenda, is weak — empowers not only the executive but the judicial branch as well.

If that weakness persists, the future of the court may be a kind of legislating from the bench — less in the sense that conservatives have long complained about, where judicial activists overturn or rewrite duly enacted legislation, but in the sense that the court is stepping in to act where Congress has not, particularly as a check on executive power.

To restore the balance of power, Congress would need to regain a sense of authority and independence as a coequal branch of government. That would mean asserting its own power to legislate as well as to check the power of the executive — two projects the current Republican Congress has largely abandoned.

Doing so could help cool the fervor around a retirement like Justice Kennedy’s. Instead, lawmakers from both parties have embraced the notion that elections matter in large part because of whom Congress will appoint to the courts, an argument that effectively cedes the authority of the legislature.”

Editorial | America Started Over Once. Can We Do It Again? – The New York Times

“The Reconstruction Amendments — the 13th, 14th and 15th — are rightly considered the nation’s second founding, the beginning of a centuries-long effort to cleanse America of its original sin and to continue the work of perfecting the union. Interpreting the 14th Amendment in light of its history and original meaning — a method the conservative justices swear by in most other cases — should lead the Supreme Court to wield it much more aggressively than it has. But as an increasingly hard-right majority settles in, it’s reasonable to fear that the court will move in the wrong direction for years to come.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
The 14th amend. states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” I agree with the last sentence. We need rights even for illegal immigrants, though we do not have to let them live or work here. When they do work here, there wages should be protected, to prevent their being taken advantage of by unscrupulous Americans. But I agree with Trump, and felt before he said it, that we have to amend the 14th amendment, to remove the instaneous right to citizenship for anyone who is born in this country. This was a fine law to protect slaves after the civil war, but now this sentence is an abomination. It encourages Chinese to fly their pregnant women to Los Angelses, deliver their babies as US citizens, and then fly back to China. It allows illegal immigrants to make American citizens by over populating our country with their children, while they evade the laws and live and work illegally in this country. It creates a magnate of great force, and incentivizes illegal immigration. Soon, there will be a 100 M refugees in the world from civil war and climate change.