Tag Archives | Law

Electronic Frontier Foundation: Know Your Rights

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via EFF:

Your computer, phone, and other digital devices hold vast amounts of personal information about you and your family. This sensitive data is worth protecting from prying eyes, including those of the government.

EFF has designed this guide to help you understand your rights if officers try to search the data stored on your computer or portable electronic device, or seize it for further examination somewhere else. Keep in mind that the Fourth Amendment is the minimum standard, and your specific state may have stronger protections.

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The Senate just rejected a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Poll 1.png

ABC-Washington Post poll results: Public views of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision.

Remember the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC? You know, the one allowing corporations to spend whatever it takes to have their candidate win elections for public office. Well many, many people thought that was bad law and Congress should act to override it, but the Senate just rejected the opportunity to adopt a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, reports Vox:

On Thursday afternoon, a proposal to amend the US Constitution to allow tougher campaign finance and election spending restrictions was blocked in the Senate, in a party-line vote. 54 Democrats voted to advance the measure — another, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would have done so but wasn’t present. However, every single Republican voted against it, and it fell to a filibuster.

Unlike with other bills that have majority support, a filibuster wasn’t the primary obstacle here. A proposed constitutional amendment has to win 67 votes to be passed by the Senate — so, assuming all Democrats were present, the amendment would still have been 12 votes short overall.

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Finally, Wall Street gets put on trial: We can still hold the 0.1 percent responsible for tanking the economy

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan ChaseA recent fraud trial in Califirnia could finally pave the way for culpable Wall Street banksters to be criminally prosecuted, reports Thomas Frank at Salon:

The Tea Party regards Barack Obama as a kind of devil figure, but when it comes to hunting down the fraudsters responsible for the economic disaster of the last six years, his administration has stuck pretty close to the Tea Party script. The initial conservative reaction to the disaster, you will recall, was to blame the crisis on the people at the bottom, on minorities and proletarians lost in an orgy of financial misbehavior. Sure enough, when taking on ordinary people who got loans during the real-estate bubble, the president’s Department of Justice has shown admirable devotion to duty, filing hundreds of mortgage-fraud cases against small-timers.

But high-ranking financiers? Obama’s Department of Justice has thus far shown virtually no interest in holding leading bankers criminally accountable for what went on in the last decade.

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Hobby Lobby Ruling: Employers Don’t Have to Cover Birth Control

HobbyLobbyStowOhioIt’s a kick in the teeth to the promoters of “ObamaCare,” but this narrow limitation of the Affordable Care Act is really just a minor hiccup compared to the large number of people now enrolled. NBC News reports on the US Supreme Court ruling in the so called Hobby Lobby case:

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a limited decision, ruled Monday that closely held, for-profit companies can claim a religious exemption to the Obamacare requirement that they provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives.

For-profit corporations — including Conestoga Wood of Pennsylvania, owned by a family of Mennonite Christians, and Hobby Lobby, a family-owned chain of arts and crafts stores founded on Biblical principles — had challenged a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

It requires companies with more than 50 employees to cover preventive care services, which include such contraceptives as morning-after pills, diaphragms and IUDs.

The court’s ruling Monday was 5-4, written by Justice Samuel Alito, and the decision appeared to be extremely limited.

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Should Courts Consider Genetic Propensity For Violence When Sentencing?

Photo: CIAT via Flickr (CC)

Photo: CIAT via Flickr (CC)

“Hey listen, I’m not a bad man. I’m sick, see. Sick. What do you call it? Psychopathic. You know. Personality disorder. The court, man, he says so! You’re not gonna hurt me, are you? Jesus! You can’t kill me!” – Johnny the Boy, Mad Max (1979)

In 2009, an Italian court reduced a murderer’s sentence by one year because doctors had identified a gene in the defendant’s DNA, called MAOA, that had been linked to violent behavior. The ruling was controversial and some scientists objected to the sentence reduction. “MAOA findings have been generally used in murder trials, sometimes to suggest diminished capacity of the defendant to premeditate his criminal behavior,” but most often to reduce a sentence, writes Paul Appelbaum, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, in an essay published today in Neuron. In the essay, Appelbaum explains that genetic evidence demonstrating a defendant’s predisposition for antisocial behavior or mental illness is showing up in courtrooms at an ever-quickening pace.

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Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?

This could change everything! Walk me now or I sue…

This excerpt from the New York Times Magazine picks up after Steven Wise visits a chimpanzee named Tommy at Circle L Trailer Sales near Gloversville, N.Y.:

…Seven weeks later, on Dec. 2, Wise, a 63-year-old legal scholar in the field of animal law, strode with his fellow lawyers, Natalie Prosin, the executive director of the Nonhuman Rights Project (Nh.R.P.), and Elizabeth Stein, a New York-based animal-law expert, into the clerk’s office of the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown, N.Y., 10 miles from Circle L Trailer Sales, wielding multiple copies of a legal document the likes of which had never been seen in any of the world’s courts, no less conservative Fulton County’s.

Under the partial heading “The Nonhuman Rights Project Inc. on behalf of Tommy,” the legal memo and petition included among their 106 pages a detailed account of the “petitioner’s” solitary confinement “in a small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed”; and a series of nine affidavits gathered from leading primatologists around the world, each one detailing the cognitive capabilities of a being like Tommy, thereby underscoring the physical and psychological ravages he suffers in confinement.

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Too Big to Jail? Why Kidnapping, Torture, Assassination, and Perjury Are No Longer Crimes in Washington

President Obama with, third from left, Gen. James E. Cartwright.

President Obama with, third from left, Gen. James E. Cartwright.

The ever-insightful Tom Engelhardt highlights the teflon status of White House cronies at TomDispatch.com:

How the mighty have fallen.  Once known as “Obama’s favorite general,” James Cartwright will soon don a prison uniform and, thanks to a plea deal, spend 13 months behind bars.  Involved in setting up the earliest military cyberforce inside U.S. Strategic Command, which he led from 2004 to 2007, Cartwright also played a role in launching the first cyberwar in history — the release of the Stuxnet virus against Iran’s nuclear program.  A Justice Department investigation found that, in 2012, he leaked information on the development of that virus to David Sanger of the New York Times. The result: a front-page piece revealing its existence, and so the American cyber-campaign against Iran, to the American public.  It was considered a serious breach of national security.  On Thursday, the retired four-star general stood in front of a U.S.

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Maryland Police Chief Cited Satirical “Mass Marijuana Deaths” News Story In Testimony Against Decriminalizion

Michael PristoopVia Reason, the evidence presented to the Maryland State Senate against legalizing marijuana earlier this year was a DailyCurrant.com joke article informing that 37 people had overdosed and died on the first day of decriminalized weed in Colorado:

Testifying against marijuana legalization before the Maryland legislature, Annapolis Police Chief Michael Pristoop warned of the potentially lethal consequences. “The first day of legalization, that’s when Colorado experienced 37 deaths that day from overdose on marijuana,” Pristoop told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. “I remember the first day it was decriminalized there were 37 deaths.”

As Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery) quickly pointed out, what Pristoop actually remembered was a joke story at The Daily Currant headlined “Marijuana Overdoses Kill 37 in Colorado on First Day of Legalization.”

Pristoop seemed taken aback that something he had seen in print might not be the literal truth. “If it was a misquote,” he told Raskin, “then I’ll stand behind the mistake.

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Beyond The ‘McCutcheon’ Decision

The Roberts Court

The Roberts Court

Everyone’s taking about the Supreme Court’s perfectly predictable “Citizens United 2” McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision.  It’s what we are NOT talking about that worries me.

Ironically, the far right that many on the left see as the only beneficiary of a decision that treats money and free speech as if they are the same thing, is also not happy with it. They wanted, and may still get, the end of all campaign finance reform.

This decision keeps individual giving caps in place and, in the Right’s view doesn’t go far enough, although in their war of many slashes and cuts, they clearly see laws and policies trending in their direction.

If the escalation of the email that has inundated my in-box is any indication, Dems and the progressives see it in apocalyptic terms–the end of democracy as we know and the final nod towards plutocracy, if not fascism.… Read the rest

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Would Bankruptcy Protect You from Being Prosecuted for Murder? Then Why Are GM and Its Officers Getting Immunity?

PIC: US GOVT (PD)

PIC: US GOVT (PD)

via chycho

It should be obvious by now that corporations have more rights than humans in the United States, but GM’s corporate and executive immunity from civil and criminal liability and prosecution for putting shareholder value ahead of safety is mind boggling; that there is even a debate about this is insane:

“GM is a different legal entity than the one that filed the 2009 bankruptcy that shook the U.S. economy. The so-called new GM is not responsible under the terms of its bankruptcy exit for legal claims relating to incidents that took place before July 2009. Those claims must be brought against what remains of the ‘old’ or pre-bankruptcy GM.

“But the proposed class action, filed in federal court in California, said plaintiffs should be allowed to sue over the pre-bankruptcy actions, ‘because of the active concealment by Old GM and GM.’”

If GM is allowed to buy their way out of this mess by settling out of court and taking no responsibility for the death and misery that they caused, then we know that the status quo of protecting the rich is intact (2).… Read the rest

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