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Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Quote for the day

I can’t even grasp how wrong it is that a man who murders and feels no remorse for it can say without hesitation:

“It isn’t our duty to take life, it’s our heavenly father’s.”

Complete self-delusion.

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Here’s a great column from Glenn Greenwald:

Events like this provide an important reminder about how crucial and well-crafted the Constitution is.  Though rarely invoked, the ban on “bills of attainder” is no technical or legalistic right; it’s vital.  Allowing Congress — rather than courts — to pass judgment on parties’ guilt and then punish them for it is to circumvent all of the due process rights guaranteed in a judicial proceeding.  It virtually ensures that, as happened here, guilt will be imposed due to political passions and a lynch mob mentality rather than a careful and fair examination of evidence.  It also leaves weak and unpopular parties far more vulnerable to punishment.  The fact that groups far more powerful than ACORN have actually been found guilty of serious wrongdoing yet have never been de-funded by Congress –particularly defense contractors — illustrates that danger.

The reasons the Founders barred such bills of attainder are perfectly highlighted by the ACORN case.  During the reign of abusive Kings, it was a favorite instrument for enabling unpopular parties to be convicted, punished and deprived without benefit of a trial.  Under the Constitution, parties aren’t supposed to be found guilty of wrongdoing as a result of a Fox-News-led witch hunt joined by cowardly members of Congress.  The recent finding of the Massachusetts Attorney General that ACORN had not committed crimes in connection with the notorious prostitution videos underscores the danger of the state’s assuming someone’s guilt outside of the judicial process.  Congress is especially ill-suited to pass judgment on whether a particular party has violated the law, as they are far more likely to protect the powerful and popular and punish the weak and unpopular (which is one reason, incidentally, why it was wrong for Congress to retroactively immunize rich and powerful telecoms based on the consummately judicial finding that they acted in “good faith” when violating eavesdropping laws).

I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

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You find out the most interesting things in articles detailing the fall of financial institutions. I found out this about failed bank Washington Mutual (WaMu):

“Someone in Florida had made a second-mortgage loan to O.J. Simpson, and I just about blew my top, because there was this huge judgment against him from his wife’s parents,” she recalled. Simpson had been acquitted of killing his wife Nicole and her friend but was later found liable for their deaths in a civil lawsuit; that judgment took precedence over other debts, such as if Simpson defaulted on his WaMu loan.

“When I asked how we could possibly foreclose on it, they said there was a letter in the file from O.J. Simpson saying ‘the judgment is no good, because I didn’t do it.’ “

Well you know, WaMu really got what they deserved.

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Todd Willingham

Ever since reading the heartbreaking New Yorker article about Todd Willingham’s execution, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him. I haven’t talked about it, because what can you say? What can say about something so evil as the execution of an innocent man? It challenges our beliefs in a way that isn’t comfortable to think or talk about.

Since I read that article, Governor Rick Perry of Texas has done everything in his power to sabotage an investigation of his conviction and execution. While I can’t transfer my own feelings into words, I feel that John Cole and DougJ at Balloon Juice are really on target.

Pointing out a comment on a Megan McCardle post, DougJ cites the following user comment:

Well Megan, I really don’t see any smoking gun in this case. We know you’re anti death-penalty but this is grasping at straws.

And then says this:

There is no smoking gun that the guy is innocent, so the state was right to execute him.

I totally agree with his sentiment. We’ve come to a point in this country where “innocent until proven guilty” is meaningless. We have guilty until proven innocent. We see that in the indefinite detention of Americans in America, and we see it here in Willingham’s case.

How about this from John Cole:

No, we will not have a serious discussion about the death penalty. In fact, if you want to be exceptionally horrified, check out this Kay Bailey Hutchison statement referencing Rick Perry’s actions:

Cole then quotes Hutchinson:

“As hard as Rick Perry’s office and his campaign may try to divert from the issue, this is not about one man or one case. The issue is Rick Perry’s heavy-handed politicization of a process and Commission established by the legislature to provide critical oversight. First, Rick Perry delayed the formation of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, then he tried to ensure it didn’t have funding and when all else failed, he fired everyone he could. The only thing Rick Perry’s actions have accomplished is giving liberals an argument to discredit the death penalty. Kay Bailey Hutchison is a steadfast supporter of the death penalty, voted to reinstate it when she served in the Texas House and believes we should never do anything to create a cloud of controversy over it with actions that look like a cover-up.

And provides this commentary:

She’s not concerned that an innocent man might have been killed by the state. She’s concerned that evil liberals might get in the way of killing more people.

This is truly a low point for America.

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Not to fear. Here’s a fun summary in Haiku via Slate. And a teaser.

Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
What Sonia has done
Is so very impressive
So I am impressed

Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
A wise Latina
Would set aside her bias
She just can’t do it

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Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent on the Supreme Court decision that a school violated a student’s rights when it strip-searched her, more specifically, made her remove her panties to search for gasp!?! ibuprofen.

“It was eminently reasonable to conclude the backpack was empty because Redding was secreting the pills in a place she thought no one would look,”

Eminently reasonable? In what universe? And by the way, she didn’t have any ibuprofen.

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Today we hear another case of random yet targeted violence in the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. Random, because the perpetrator didn’t know the museum security guard who he killed. But targeted, because the perpetrator, a white supremacist, chose to kill someone at a museum which documents the genocide of millions of Jews during World War II.

And once again I am reminded of the poem “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden. In the poem the hangman comes to town and at first he hangs a man from outside the town. The town breathes a sigh of relief. But the next day the hangman hangs someone from the town. Then another and another. Sometimes the hangman comes up with justifications like calling one of his victims an infidel. At the end there is no one left to save the narrator of the poem when he too is chosen by the hangman for death.

Should you worry about these crazy right-wing radicals who if not directly responsible for the violence are at least lending moral and financial support to the ones who are. If Operation Rescue were a Muslim charity, their accounts would have been seized a while ago.

Should you worry?

I’m not an abortion provider you might say. I’m not a Jew. I’m not gay. I’m not a black man running for president of the United States. I’m not a Latina woman nominated for the Supreme Court. I don’t need to worry.

Well you should.

Who was killed? A security guard who was just doing his job. Think of Naveed Haq who permanently wounded a 23-year old receptionist at the Jewish Federation in Seattle. Layla Bush was not Jewish. She too just needed a job. John Lotter and Marvin Thomas Nissen, in order to enact revenge on transsexual Brandon Teena, also killed 24-year-old Lisa Lambert and 19-year-old Phillip DeVine. Gay city supervisor Harvey Milk was shot along with mayor George Moscone.

You should care. You should really care.

THE HANGMAN

By Maurice Ogden

Into our town the hangman came,
smelling of gold and blood and flame.
He paced our bricks with a different air,
and built his frame on the courthouse square.

(more…)

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Call me cold, but I don’t think they should have gotten the money.

The two San Jose brothers whose friend was fatally mauled on Christmas Day 2007 by a tiger that escaped a closure at the San Francisco Zoo will receive $900,000 as part of a settlement in a civil lawsuit, according to a source.

My take on the incident a year ago, here.

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And quite convincingly. If you’ve been riveted by the story of the artist who created the iconic Obama hope portrait who is now being sued by the Associated Press then you need to see this. There is a PDF link on the this web site which takes you to the counterclaim prepared by Fairey’s lawyers. The following excerpt is followed by numerous examples of the AP attempting to sell photographs of artists’ works without permission.

Defendant’s counterclaims are barred in whole or in part by the equitable doctrine of unclean hands. Specifically, The AP claims copyright ownership in, and makes commercial use of, many photographs that consist almost entirely of copyrighted artwork of Fairey and other artists without permission. Copies of these photographs are offered for sale and licensed for use by The AP through its image licensing database available at http://www.apimages.com. These photographs include, but are by no means
limited to, the following examples:

a. The AP’s image database includes the following photograph of Fairey’s Obama Hope Mural. The AP did not obtain a license to use Fairey’s work in this photograph.

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I’m not generally a person who reads true crime books, but I am very tempted to purchase this book about Columbine.

The first lesson is really one that we have unlearned, which is that there actually isn’t a distinct psychological profile of the school killer. Pre-Columbine, teachers, parents, journalists, and the general public were pretty clear on where we thought the danger lay: loners and outcasts, troubled misfits who could not figure out how to fit in. Harris and Klebold were mistakenly tagged with all those characteristics in the first hours after their attack. Every characterization of them was wrong, both in their case and for shooters generally. The FBI conducted a ground-breaking study to help teachers assess threats in their classrooms. Oddballs were not the problem, the FBI concluded. Oddballs did not fit the profile, because there was no profile. In a surprisingly empathetic report, the bureau urged school administrators to quit focusing on the misfits. These were not our killers, and weren’t they having enough trouble already?

The Secret Service and U.S. Department of Education studied every American school shooting from 1974 to 2000—37 separate attacks—and reached the same conclusion. Shooters came from all ethnic, economic, and social classes. Most had no history of violence and came from solid, two-parent homes.

They had a few things in common. All were male. Ninety-eight percent had suffered a recent loss or failure. It could be as minor as blowing a test or getting dumped, yet they perceived it as serious. But they didn’t lash out in a fit of passion: That notion is another insidious myth. Ninety-three percent planned their attacks in advance.

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It’s mental illness

With the recent trend of senseless massacres in the U.S. (seven in the past month according to AP), the MSNBC headline reads “Experts: Many motives drive mass murder.”

Mass murderers are as different as their killing field — be it a nursing home or a suburban home — and as diverse as their reasons for killing — whether it’s spousal betrayal or the loss of a job.

But experts say most people who embark on such wholesale slaughter share certain key characteristics: A catastrophic event that triggers a suicidal rage and an unquenchable thirst to get even.

And there is often no way to see it coming.

The article would have you believe anyone — anyone at all — is capable of these horrific crimes. Kind of makes you eye that neighbor a little differently.

Meanwhile at The Stranger, Charles Mudede is actually making sense.

What is missing in each of these reports of recent killings is as any mention of mental illness. What’s the meaning of this hole in the reporting? Why is mental illness something that is unspeakable or is transmuted into its opposite: a man just dealing with unemployment, a man just dealing with infidelity, a man just dealing with the current economic crisis? Meaning, these killers were only dealing with normal problems and nothing else. As a consequence, there is no real difference between the killers and any other person in society. Why this insistence on normality and this resistance to causes that might be medical or biological?

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Keep copies

This is a nail-biter of a story from Salon about medical malpractice. I’d post an excerpt, but I don’t want to give away the dramatic ending.

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The agency liquidating Bernard Madoff’s brokerage says the $2.6 billion it has on hand is enough to satisfy all legitimate claims by victims of the money manager’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

This is good news, right? I was flabbergasted by the following:

Some Madoff investors are up in arms about SIPC’s decision, announced by Picard at a Feb. 20 creditors’ meeting, to limit victim claims to “net equity” — cash invested minus sums taken out. That formula ignores profit reported on customer brokerage statements for the past 20 years, gains that were fictitious because Picard found no evidence Madoff had made any trades or profits going back decades.

I can’t think of any reason why the victims should be compensated with the money that never existed. Am I cold-hearted? I am not in any way saying that the Madoff victims are responsible for their victim-hood, but let’s be honest there were many people who invested and lost money in the past year from completely legitimate investment funds. Rewarding people who participated in a scheme, granted unwillingly, makes no sense. Why should they profit when many others didn’t.

A lot of people have blamed the victims of Madoff for being greedy. I think that is unfair to people who have clearly suffered quite a bit by the selfishness of this man. Now, I’m thinking that maybe they are a little greedy.

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In light of UBS’s decision to pass on data about secret Swiss bank accounts, I thought I’d post this excerpt from Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place, a book about Antigua. I always think of this passage when I think of Switzerland. Cuckoo clocks be damned.

(These offshore banks are popular in the West Indies. Only tourism itself is more important. Every government wants to have these banks, which are modeled on the banks in Switzerland. I have a friend who just came back from Switzerland. What a wonderful time she had. She had never seen cleaner streets anywhere, or more wonderful people anywhere. She was in such a rhapsodic state about the Swiss, and the superior life they lead, that it was hard for me not to bring up how they must pay for this superior life they lead. For almost not a day goes by that I don’t hear about some dictator, some tyrant from somewhere in the world , who has robbed his country’s treasury, stolen the aid from foreign governments, and placed it in his own personal and secret Swiss bank account; not a day goes by that I don’t hear of some criminal kingpin, some investor, who has a secret Swiss bank account. But maybe there is no connection between the wonderful life that the Swiss lead and the ill-gotten money that is resting in Swiss bank vaults; maybe it’s just a coincidence. The Swiss are famous for their banking system and for making superior timepieces. Switzerland is a neutral country, money is a neutral commodity, and time is neutral, too, being neither here nor there, one thing or another.)

The cuckoo clock scene starts at 1:35 from The Third Man.

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Pure Ponzi?

This article at the Boston Globe is absolutely unbelievable. I recommend reading it in full. The two points it seems to be making are:

1. Bernard Madoff wasn’t trading.

As investigators try to untangle the scheme that Bernard L. Madoff hid from investors and regulators for a decade or more, one basic fact is emerging: He may not have been making any trades at all.

A federal agency that regulates brokerage firms says there is no record of Madoff’s investment funds placing trades through his brokerage operation. That leaves only two options – either he was placing trades only through other firms, which would be highly unusual, or he was not placing any trades.A federal agency that regulates brokerage firms says there is no record of Madoff’s investment funds placing trades through his brokerage operation. That leaves only two options – either he was placing trades only through other firms, which would be highly unusual, or he was not placing any trades.

2. His customer statements were phony.

The statement [he sent a custsomer] also says he bought and sold shares of the Fidelity Spartan US Treasury Money Market – a fund Fidelity Investments said had been renamed back in 2005.Moreover, Fidelity, the Boston investment firm, says Madoff was not a client of the firm. That is, Madoff’s firm did not interact with any part of Fidelity that deals with investment advisers and other intermediaries that ordinarily make investments for their clients through Fidelity.

I’m just a caveman lawyer and all, but this is nuts. How on earth did no one figure out this scam right away? Didn”t someone say to themselves, you know that Bernard Madoff he’s so successful but I don’t really know anyone who trades with him. If he was creating phony statements there must have been someone helping him. Why did no one say anything?

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The Edukators

A statue of Bernard Madoff’s was stolen and left elsewhere with this note from the Edukators. No mention from CNN of who the Edukators are? Not very hip, guys.

Here’s a link to the film The Edukators on IMDB. It’s a really great film about three anarchists who break into rich people’s homes in order to rearrange their furniture. What I liked about the film is that it doesn’t go in the direction you expect to. There’s nothing feel good about it even though I think it is a comedy. It’s a movie written by a realist. The clip has no subtitles, but you get the point.

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Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is in federal custody on corruption charges, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Illinois.

Federal prosecutors say Blagojevich, Harris and others conspired to gain financial benefits in appointing President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate replacement, according to the statement.

The Bush Administration has been pretty effective pulling out all the stops when it comes to squashing their opponents.

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When I first heard the story about how the Artistic Director of California Musical Theatre in Sacramento had given $1,000 in support of Yes on Proposition 8, I wondered what is California Musical Theatre. Proposition 8 in California would prevent same-sex marriage at the same time as revoking same-sex marriages already granted. I thought to myself, if California Musical Theatre is the organization that produces Music Circus then it is really a big deal. Well CMT is indeed the organization that produces Music Circus.

Music Circus produces several musicals ever summer in Sacramento. The venue is a circus tent which allows you to see musicals produced in the round — a somewhat uncommon format. I took a tour of Music Circus years ago and learned that because old stand-by Broadway musicals are the norm the shows are created and rehearsed on a much faster schedule than most theatres. Music Circus usually brings in a “star” to play the chum roles and the rest of the cast is comprised of the regular company. I’ve seen a few musicals in the tent and they do a good job. I would like to offer the disclaimer that it has been several years since I’ve lived in Sacramento so I haven’t been there recently.

This story of the Artistic Director Scott Eckern is fascinating. A man who is Artistic Director of a popular theatre company that produces musicals, secretly believes that many of his colleagues in the theatre should not be granted the same marital rights that he holds himself. He may come in contact with their families, but that does not sway him. Later there comes a time when his opinions are made known through a search of donors of Yes on Proposition 8, and he is undone. He resigns within days saying:

“I understand that my choice of supporting Proposition 8 has been the cause of many hurt feelings, maybe even betrayal. It was not my intent. I honestly had no idea that this would be the reaction. I chose to act upon my belief that the traditional definition of marriage should be preserved. I support each individual to have rights and access and I understood that in California domestic partnerships come with the same rights that come with marriage. My sister is a lesbian and in a committed domestic partnership relationship. I am loving and supportive of her and her family, and she is loving and supportive of me and my family. I definitely do not support any message or treatment of others that is hateful or instills fear. This is a highly emotional issue and the accusations that have been made against me are simply not true. I have now had many conversations with friends and colleagues,and I am deeply saddened thatmy personal beliefs and convictions have offended others. My choice to support the Proposition was personal, and does not represent the views and opinions of California Musical Theatre or the many people associated with the organization. I was required by law to identify my employer and occupation at the time of my donation.

This man is surely in denial. How can he at once say “I want to support not only my friends and loved ones, but everyone in their efforts to receive equal rights” and at the same time work to deny equal rights to a portion of the population.

In a way, I feel sorry for him. His heart is moving one way and yet his rigid background is pulling him another. I met an African American man once who told me his basketball coach wore a George Wallace button. His coach was a “kind man” yet no amount of input from his player would allow him to change his opinion that George Wallace and consequently segregation was a good thing. How can this be? How could he continue to connect with people of different races and yet believe in segregation. It’s a wonder.

Via Americablog.

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Two weeks ago, I talked about the Japanese film trilogy The Human Condition which depicts the Japanese in Manchuria during World War II. *Spoiler alert.* There is a scene in the first film which is particularly poignant. The hero Kaji manages a concentration camp of Chinese political prisoners at an ore mine. Seven Manchurians are falsely accused of trying to escape by an over-zealous guard. Kaji tries all number of diplomatic ways to save the accused lives but all are ignored. Because of his attempts, he too is in hot water and is forced to watch the execution of all seven men. He sits and watches as the first prisoner is beheaded. Then the next. The third prisoner who we’ve gotten to know well in the film has a fiery temper. He has never trusted the Japanese. He has also fallen in love with a “comfort”(forced prostitute) woman who is also Chinese. As he is about to be executed he resists. He curses Kaji for not doing anything. He curses the Japanese. His execution does not go smoothly but he is killed nonetheless. At this moment, Kaji realizes that he must stop the executions. That in order to be a human being he must stop it. His humanity requires it. And he does stop the execution at great cost to himself.

Last week I also posted the following quote from John Ruskin:

One of the prevailing sources of misery and crime is in the generally accepted assumption, that because things have been wrong a long time, it is impossible they will ever be right.

I am feeling especially hopeless right now given the story of the Troy Davis, a man who is set to be executed within 24 hours for the murder of a policeman in Georgia. The witnesses against Davis have recanted. There is no circumstantial evidence supporting his guilt. Yet despite this every appeals court has refused to stop this execution. One of Davis’ lawyers pointed to the failure of a system that cannot, or rather refuses, to correct its errors.  Could Davis in fact be guilty? I suppose he could, but will we ever know given the fact that we refuse to investigate the witnesses’ new statements.

I might also mention that Georgia has a reputation for inequality in justice, so much so that whenever I read a blatantly racist judicial story I always think to myself: hmm must be Georgia.

What is humanity? Why do we feel so hopeless that we cannot do anything about the current state of affairs? I admit that I don’t know what to do in this case. What can we do? Where do we go from here? How do we retain our humanity?

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My husband doesn’t think so, and I’m not sure I do either but I have to admit they are a guilty pleasure.

Meanwhile in the UK:

A Pringle is undoubtedly crisp – but it is not a potato crisp. That was the conclusion reached by a High Court judge today after an exhaustive inquiry into the ingredients, manufacturer and packaging of the top-selling snack.

The result of Mr Justice Warren’s ruling is that regular Pringles, in their various flavours, are free from VAT.

I liked the arguments used by the Pringles lawyers. Where’s Nina Totenburg when you need her?

Most foodstuffs are zero-rated for VAT, but Revenue and Customs argued that Pringles fell within the “potato crisp” exception.

Procter & Gamble pointed out that, unlike potato crisps, Pringles had a regular shape “not found in nature” as well as a uniform colouring and texture and a “mouth melt” taste.

Crisps did not contain non-potato flours like Pringles and were not normally packaged in tubes.

And customers did not regard Pringles as potato crisps.

Mr Justice Warren ruled that Pringles were not “made from the potato” within the definition laid down by the 1994 VAT Act.

To fall within the exception, a product “must be wholly, or substantially wholly, made from the potato”.

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In his own words, John McCain tells us what his judicial philosophy is. I am struck with how the current president and John McCain really do speak in code. He never uses the word abortion yet there is no doubt that the primary purpose of this speech is to ensure that he will appoint the same kind of judges that have approved bans on some abortions. Instead he uses more widely agreed upon examples of undesirable decisions like the following:

A local government seized the private property of an American citizen. It gave that property away to a private developer. And this power play actually got the constitutional “thumbs-up” from five m embers of the Supreme Court.

And then there’s this knock on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:

Then there was the case of the man in California who filed a suit against the entire United States Congress, which I guess made me a defendant too. This man insisted that the words “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violated his rights under the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit court agreed, as it usually does when litigious people seek to rid our country of any trace of religious devotion.

John McCain cannot be more specific when he says:

I have my own standards of judicial ability, experience, philosophy, and temperament. And Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito meet those standards in every respect. They would serve as the model for my own nominees if that responsibility falls to me.

There probably isn’t a person out there who isn’t disappointed in our Supreme Court in some way although those ways may be drastically different, but I think the above shows McCain’s willingness to continue the tradition that George W. Bush has set — however favorably or unfavorably you think that tradition may be.

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Nun of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary comments on Voter ID disenfranchisement

WHO: Missourians for Fair Elections

WHAT: Press Conference on the impact of legislation to
require government-issued photo ID to vote

WHEN: 1:00 PM, Thursday, May 8, 2008

WHERE: League of Women Voters, 8706 Manchester, Jefferson City, MO 63144

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – On Thursday, May 8, three Missouri voters who
lack government-issued photo IDs as well as Secretary of State Robin
Carnahan and community leaders will discuss the potential impacts of
legislation currently being pushed through the Missouri General
Assembly. The proposed legislation would make Missouri one of the
toughest states in the country for eligible citizens who want to vote
by requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID at the
polls. If passed, these changes could be in place by the November
general election and could put the voting rights at risk for up to
240,000 registered Missouri voters.

“This may sound like a good idea at first,” stated Sister Sandy
Schwartz of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary regarding voter ID
requirements, “but once you stop to think about who would really be
affected, this is going to keep a lot of our loved ones from being
able to vote.” Yesterday in Indiana twelve nuns in their 80s and 90s
were turned away from the polls because they lacked the needed IDs to
vote. Sister Schwartz and others are concerned about the difficulties
the policy change would create for elderly Missouri nuns, as well as
other senior citizens, the poor, and minorities.

Via Think Progress.

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And apparently punishable by nine months in prison.

MCARTHUR, Ohio — A judge in southern Ohio must decide whether to send a man to prison for sharing a Little Debbie snack cake. The case involves 21-year-old Timothy Caudill, who last year was held in a residential community corrections program in Nelsonville for breaking into a bar.

While there, prosecutors said he bought the oatmeal creme pie from a vending machine and shared it with a fellow inmate who was on restriction and wasn’t allowed access to snacks.

Prosecutors in Vinton County have asked Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Simmons to revoke Caudill’s probation and put him in prison for nine months.

This takes me back to the second grade when I was almost given the paddle for not eating my lima beans before I ate my ravioli. Life is so unfair…

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Despite absolutely zero testimony regarding known voter fraud, the Republican inspired rules to require photo identification to in order to vote is upheld by the Supreme Court. Still think we can survive another four years with McCain?

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights, validating Republican-inspired voter ID laws.

In a splintered 6-3 ruling, the court upheld Indiana’s strict photo ID requirement, which Democrats and civil rights groups said would deter poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots. Its backers said it was needed to deter fraud.

It was the most important voting rights case since the Bush v. Gore dispute that sealed the 2000 election for George W. Bush.

The law “is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting ‘the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,'” Justice John Paul Stevens said in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.

But who is it protecting?

There is little history in Indiana of either in-person voter fraud – of the sort the law was designed to thwart – or voters being inconvenienced by the law’s requirements.

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