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Posts tagged ‘Eric Holder’

Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States’ Rights on Marriage.


Image: Cruz, Lee Introduce Bill to Protect States' Rights on MarriageUni

By Greg Richter

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee introduced a bill Wednesday to keep states from being forced to recognize marriages and spouses from same-sex unions in other states.

“Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to redefine marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens,” The Hill reported Cruz as saying on Thursday. “The Obama administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states.”

The bill comes after Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday ordered the Justice Department to treat all same-sex marriages the same – even if the couple involved does not currently live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Holder’s rule would apply to same-sex couples that deal with the federal government, but would not apply to state laws that deal with such issues as spousal benefits.

The bill by Cruz, of Texas, and Lee, of Utah, appears to be an attempt to head off any future move to also apply those rules to state governments.

Thirty-three states currently define marriage between one man and one woman, while 17 allow people of the same gender to wed.

When the Supreme Court in 2013 struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, it ruled that it was illegal for the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages that have been made legal in those states. Cruz said his bill seeks the same protection for states where gay marriage is illegal.

“Redefining marriage will entail high social costs,” writes Ryan T. Anderson at Heritage.org in response to the bill. “Thus all Americans should insist our laws embody the truth about marriage. And the federal government should respect it when state laws do so.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Senate Showdown Looms Over Obama’s Civil Rights Nominee.


The next major confirmation battle will be over Debo Adegbile, President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, according to sources in the U.S. Senate.

The pending showdown over Adegbile — onetime child star on TV’s “Sesame Street” and former acting president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund — is nothing short of high-stakes political poker.

To the left, the choice of Adegbile, 46, is an unmistakable signal from the president and Attorney General Eric Holder that the administration is going to fight states over imposing voter identification laws which they are convinced disenfranchises minorities.

Now senior counsel to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, Adegbile is considered a reliable leader in the fight over voter I.D. laws that are sure to emerge from state capitals in 2014. In addition, as head of the Legal Defense Fund, Adegbile defended the constitutionality of the 1965 Voting Rights Act before the Supreme Court.

Holder, by “turning to Adegbile to be the top civil rights official,” concluded the Washington Post, “signaled that he intended to fight back hard to safeguard what remains of the landmark Voting Rights Act.”

Along with his legal credentials, the man who played with Big Bird and the Cookie Monster as a child actor has one of the moving personal stories Obama is so fond of in appointees. As the son of an absent Nigerian father and an Irish mother who raised him, Adegbile has a saga very much like that of the president himself.

But conservatives see the civil rights chief-designate quite differently.

“He is a radical far outside the mainstream who would abuse his authority and use the power of the Justice Department to push his divisive racial agenda,” Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Newsmax.

In April 2005, Adegbile served on a panel at Yale Law School entitled “The Constitution in 2010.” Sponsored by far-left billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Institute, the panel’s agenda was to lay out a blueprint for the evolution of a “progressive” U.S. Constitution within 15 years.

Three years later, Adegbile served on an advisory board that helped another Soros organ, the American Constitution Society, cobble together a paper urging Obama to establish a new agency to close the gap “between the human rights ideals that the United States professes and its actual domestic practice.” The paper also condemned U.S.-sponsored “torture” and “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment … in the name of counterterrorism.”

The same paper also called on the president “to nominate judges who will [recognize] that ratified treaties and customary international law are the law of the land.”

As head of the Legal Defense Fund, Adegbile filed a “friend of the court” brief alleging that former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal’s conviction for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia policeman was tainted by racial discrimination. The relentless courtroom efforts of the fund resulted in an appeal in 2012 that reduced Abu-Jamal’s death sentence to life imprisonment without parole.

The Fraternal Order of Police, a police union and America’s largest police organization, wrote to Obama expressing “extreme disappointment, displeasure, and vehement opposition” to the choice of the man who worked so hard on behalf of convicted policeman-killer Abu-Jamal.

Likely in the back of the minds of Adegbile’s supporters is the strong possibility that, once confirmed, he will be a future Cabinet member, federal judge, or even Supreme Court justice.

Since the office of assistant attorney general for civil rights was created in 1957, the profile of its holders has risen and many have gone onto bigger things.

Harold Tyler, who held the job from 1960 to 1961, became a federal judge and deputy attorney general. Jerris Leonard, Richard Nixon’s highly regarded assistant attorney general for civil rights, became the first head of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

Bill Clinton’s civil rights head, Deval Patrick, is now governor of Massachusetts, and Thomas Perez, Obama’s first appointee to the position, is secretary of labor.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By John Gizzi

Eric Holder to Lecture Swedish Lawmakers on Gay Rights.


Attorney General Eric Holder is set to give a speech to the Swedish Parliament on Tuesday on gay rights.

According to a Department of Justice press release obtained by Newsmax, Holder will “discuss the global struggle for LGBT equality as well as other civil rights challenges shared by the United States and Sweden.”

The speech is titled, “A More Just and Inclusive World: Confronting the Civil Rights Challenges of Our Time,” according to the Swedish blog, Professorsblogg.

Holder is visiting Sweden as part of a European trip to attend a G6 ministerial conference in Poland. Professorsblogg claims the main reason for his visit to Stockholm is to discuss the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, with his Swedish counterpart Beatrice Ask.

Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past 18 months, is wanted in Sweden on allegations of sexual assault. Assange has claimed that is a front to allow him to be extradited to the United States to face charges for releasing thousands of classified documents.

According to Professorsblogg, Holder may be hoping to receive assurances from Swedish authorities that they will follow any such U.S. extradition request, as the Scandinavian country has always done in the past.

Assange went on TV last month to attack President Barack Obama, after the president had announced plans to reform the U.S. government’s surveillance programs. “It is embarrassing for a head of state to go on like that for 45 minutes and say almost nothing,” he said during an interview with CNN.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Drew MacKenzie

Dershowitz: Boston Bomber Will Become Martyr with Death Penalty.


Image: Dershowitz: Boston Bomber Will Become Martyr with Death Penalty

By Todd Beamon

The Justice Department is giving Dzhokhar Tsarnaev “what he wants” by seeking the death penalty for last year’s Boston Marathon bombings, Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax on Thursday.

“It will make him more famous,” the former Harvard law professor said in an exclusive interview. “It’ll attract more attention.

“It’ll give him an opportunity to make his jihad statements. It will focus a lot of attention on whether he lives or dies. This is going to give him what he wants.

“After all, why did he commit this crime?” Derschowitz asked. “He had nothing against the people he killed. What he wanted to do was make a statement — and now, he’s being given an opportunity to make that statement in an extreme context.”

The Justice Department said on Thursday that it would seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev who is accused of setting the bombs that killed three and injured more than 260 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. He is also charged with killing police officer Sean Collier.

Tsarnaev, 20, is charged with planting two pressure-cooker bombs at the site with his older brother, Tamerlan, who was later killed in a shootout with police. They are ethnic Chechens from Russia who had lived in the Boston area for about a decade.

Seventeen of 30 charges against Tsarnaev carry the possibility of the death penalty, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. He has pleaded not guilty. No trial date has been set.

Attorney General Eric Holder made the final decision. The bombings were one of the most prominent terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11.

Dershowitz told Newsmax that he was not surprised at Justice’s decision.

“If there is ever a case, if there ever was a crime that calls for the death penalty, this is it: Premeditated. Massive numbers of intended victims. Three deaths — many, many injuries. No remorse. Open-and-shut factual case on the evidence.

“On the other hand,” Dershowitz reasoned, “he is young and may have been influenced by his brother — but those mitigating factors don’t even compare to the aggravating factors.

“I would still think the better course would’ve been to let him rot in jail and die 50 years from now an obscure prisoner rather give him the attention he’s going to get as somebody facing the death penalty,” he said.

Tsarnaev’s case now will attract the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union and organizations that oppose the death penalty, Dershowitz predicted.

“He’s going to be a martyr to some people who agree with him. I think we’re giving him what he wants here.

“I think he wants the death penalty,” he continued. “He was prepared to die in a shootout. He was prepared to probably die when he planted the bomb — and he’s probably willing to die now as a martyr.

“I don’t think we, as a society, gain much by putting him on trial for his life.”

But Dershowitz commended Justice for not rushing to judgment in its decision.

“I suspect that there was quite a bit of debate within the Justice Department. There are probably a lot of people in this Justice Department who don’t support the death penalty — and there are probably some who do.

“It’s a credit to the Justice Department that they gave it the kind of thoughtful consideration, even though I think they came to the wrong decision.”

There have only been three federal executions in the past 50 years. Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and triple murderer Juan Raul Garza were put to death within eight days of each other in June 2001, while Louis Jones who raped and murdered a soldier was executed in March 2003.

And getting a jury to sentence Tsarnaev to death is not assured — particularly in Massachusetts, which abolished the death penalty in 1984. The sentence can still be applied in federal cases tried in the state.

A Boston Globe survey found last year that 57 percent of the city’s residents favored life in prison for Tsarnaev, if he is convicted, with 33 percent supporting execution.

“We don’t know what the public really wants,” Dershowitz told Newsmax. “We know the public, generally in Massachusetts, is against the death penalty — but many of the people who are against the death penalty would probably favor it in this case. Once they hear all the evidence, they may favor it.

“But remember,” the law professor cautioned, “all you need is one juror saying ‘no’ and holding out — you can’t impose the death penalty unless there’s unanimity. It’s certainly possible that they won’t get the death penalty.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

US to Seek Death Penalty Against Boston Marathon Bomber.


Accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be put to death if he is found guilty of planting bombs that killed three people and wounded 264 at the Boston Marathon last year, the U.S. government’s chief prosecutor said on Thursday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement that he was authorizing trial prosecutors to seek the death penalty against Tsarnaev, who is charged with committing one of the largest attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

“The nature of the conduct at issue and the resultant harm compel this decision,” Holder said. Holder had faced a Friday deadline for deciding whether to seek the death penalty as part of Tsarnaev’s upcoming trial in Boston.

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The decision drew fire from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which pointed out the case would be prosecuted in a state that had scrapped the death penalty decades ago.

“I wish Federal officials would have respected the clear wishes of the people of Massachusetts, who were on the front lines in this tragic event,” Carol Rose, the executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts said.

A Boston Globe survey found last year that 57 percent of Boston residents favored life in prison for Tsarnaev, if he is convicted, with 33 percent in favor of execution.

Prosecutors say that Tsarnaev, 20, and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan planted a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs at the race’s crowded finish line on April 15, 2013, killing three people – including an 8-year-old boy. The blast also wounded 264 others, many of whom lost limbs.

Three nights later, the pair killed a university police officer and later engaged in a shootout with police that left Tamerlan dead, prosecutors say.

Austin Sarat, Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College in Massachusetts, said the nature of the case probably left the Justice Department little choice but to seek capital prosecution.

“If the harm is unusual, if the harm is dramatic, gruesome, and devastating, it is often very hard for any other factor to outweigh it,” he said. “I’m not surprised by this decision.”

The younger Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges. Justice Department officials said the nearly seven months since the attack was necessary to evaluate fully the circumstances of the case and to gather recommendations from prosecutors advising Holder.

Holder has said he is not a proponent of the death penalty because he believes its value as a deterrent is questionable, but since becoming attorney general in 2009, he has authorized prosecutors to seek the death penalty in 36 cases, according to the Justice Department.

Attorneys for Tsarnaev have argued against a possible death sentence, in part because they claim Dzhokhar was following the lead of his older brother. They have also accused the government of throwing up unfair obstacles to hinder preparation of their client’s defense, including seeking to rush the start of trial and not sharing important evidence.

Tsarnaev’s defense attorney Miriam Conrad declined to comment on Holder’s decision on Thursday.

The blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard as well as Krystle Campbell, 29, and Chinese national Lu Lingzi, 23. Tsarnaev is also accused in the shooting death of Sean Collier, 27, the university police officer.

A spokesman for Richard’s family said the family did not want to comment. Efforts to reach the families of the other victims were not immediately successful.

A trial date for Tsarnaev has not yet been set.

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© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Death Penalty Decision Imminent in Boston Bombing.


As attorney general, Eric Holder has approved pursuing the death penalty in at least 34 criminal cases, upholding a long-ago pledge to Congress that he would vigorously enforce federal law even though he’s not a proponent of capital punishment.

 

In the next day or two, Holder will make the most high-profile death penalty decision of his career in law enforcement: whether to seek capital punishment in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the defendant in the Boston Marathon bombings last April that killed three people and injured 260.

As the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. in 1993, Holder recommended to Attorney General Janet Reno that she not seek the death penalty in the case of a slain police officer because of legal obstacles that made conviction unlikely. Reno overruled him but in the end, the government cut a deal that put the killer away for life imprisonment, a frequent outcome in capital punishment prosecutions.

“The case had problems … and when we had the ability to get a plea from the defendant that put him in jail without any chance of parole for the rest of his life, we decided to accept the plea,” Holder explained later to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

At the same hearing, Holder assured the Senate panel that “I will enforce the law that has been passed, and any statute that contains a death penalty provision will be looked at as any other statute. I will enforce the law as this Congress gives it to us.”

In recent death penalty cases brought by Holder’s Justice Department, one defendant was sentenced to death and six received life sentences, either through a plea or a trial.

Even when there’s a conviction, the odds against death sentences being imposed are such that “from the Justice Department’s point of view the question about the death penalty often comes down to ‘If we seek it, how likely are we to get it?'” said David Schertler, who was chief of the homicide section when Holder ran the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C.

Holder has had “a lot of experience with the death penalty and he has always been extremely thoughtful, deliberate and concerned about being consistent on the subject,” Schertler said.

As recently as last week, Holder emphasized that his opposition to the death penalty is due in part to practical concerns — what he sees as failures in the legal system.

“The problem is that in too many places, lawyers who are defending poor people don’t have adequate resources to do a good job,” Holder said in an appearance at the University of Virginia last Thursday. “You end up with these miscarriages of justice.”

“It’s really one of the reasons why I am personally opposed to the death penalty,” Holder added. “As good as our system is, it’s ultimately a system that is filled with men and women who are well intentioned but who make mistakes. And as horrible as it is for somebody to be put in jail for crimes that they did not commit, it is obviously not as bad as a situation where somebody is executed for a crime that he or she did not commit.”

But Holder’s description of a flawed legal system with inadequate resources doesn’t apply to the Boston case.

One of the finest death penalty attorneys in the country, Judy Clarke, is leading the legal team defending Tsarnaev. That legal team may be able to mount a strong defense by arguing that the defendant, just 19 at the time of the bombings, was under the influence of his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police four days after the blasts.

Another factor could complicate the government’s case if it seeks the death penalty. Massachusetts hasn’t had a state death penalty law since 1984. History suggests that it can be extremely difficult for federal prosecutors to win capital punishment cases in states that don’t have a capital punishment law of their own.

On the other hand, a jury of Massachusetts residents handed up a death sentence in the only federal capital case now pending in the state. A judge tossed out the jury’s death sentence against Gary Lee Sampson, a drifter who pleaded guilty in the July 2001 slayings of two men who had picked Sampson up hitchhiking. The U.S. Attorney in Boston, Carmen Ortiz, says prosecutors will again seek the death penalty instead of allowing Sampson to serve a life sentence.

The numbers seem to suggest an uphill battle for a death penalty prosecution.

From 1993 to 2012, the Justice Department brought 88 capital punishment cases in states that didn’t have a death penalty. Just seven of the defendants wound up on death row, according to data compiled by the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project.

Larry Mackey, a former Justice Department prosecutor, said that if Tsarnaev goes to trial, jury selection will delve into whether the jurors really hold the same view as Massachusetts law. In the end, he said, any risk that the prosecution can seat 12 jurors prepared to vote for death — even in Massachusetts — will propel negotiations for a guilty plea with life imprisonment. In this case, both parties have a reason to be at the negotiating table, he said.

There have been just three federal executions since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1976, and Mackey prosecuted one of them — Timothy McVeigh, in the Oklahoma City bombing case. The other defendant in the Oklahoma City bombing case, Terry Nichols, is serving a term of life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

DOJ to Supreme Court: Religious Beliefs Aren’t Important:


Barack Obama and Eric Holder
President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Courtesy of the ACLJ)

If we wanted your religious beliefs on abortion-pill coverage, we’d give them to you appears to be the latest in an untenable string of arguments from the Obama DOJ over the HHS mandate.

On Friday, the DOJ filed its response to the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby case.

Politico has the latest on the DOJ’s arguments:

“In arguments filed late Friday, Justice Department lawyers told the court that an employer’s religious beliefs aren’t a legitimate reason to deny something as important as preventive care to an employee who is entitled to it under the health law.

“ ‘The connection is too indirect as a matter of law to impose a substantial burden’ on employers’ right to practice their religion, the lawyers wrote in their opening argument defending the contraceptive requirement against Hobby Lobby Stores Inc.”

The crux of the Obama administration’s legal argument seems to boil down to two points:

1) Opposing forced coverage of abortion pills isn’t a legitimate religious belief; and 2) our pro-abortion agenda is far more important than your silly religious beliefs anyway.

If that sounds like an argument to turn the religious liberty protections of our Constitution on its head, that’s because it is. The moment the government can tell us what is and is not an important part of our faith and further that what we consider to be a sin is far too attenuated to actually be real sin in God’s eyes is the moment we have lost our religious liberty.

This argument comes days after Obama’s DOJ attempted to convince the court that forcing Catholic nuns to pay for abortion pills in no way violated their faith because all they had to do was sign a form and let someone else violate their faith for them.

The absurdity of these arguments is astounding. There is no stronger principle upon which our nation was founded than religious freedom. If the government can say my religious beliefs don’t count, then what religious liberty can we possibly have?

The Supreme Court is set to consider this exact question later this year. At the ACLJ, we are preparing to file a brief on behalf of thousands of concerned Americans and our clients (each of which we have put a stop to the mandate for as their cases continue). Join the fight by signing on to our amicus brief today.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

MATTHEW CLARK

Matthew Clark is associate counsel for government affairs and media advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark on Twitter at @_MatthewClark. This article is crossposted on Red State.

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