Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Last Call For Courting DIsaster, Con't

We're starting to get the first SCOTUS decisions of the Roberts Court shaped by Trump's pick of Justice Kavanaugh, and they are 5-4 decisions with the linchpin being Chief Justice Roberts himself.  Roberts is still far more conservative than Justice Kennedy was when Kennedy was the deciding vote though, so expect a lot more 5-4 precedents like this.

Hernández v. Mesa is a case about a horrific event.

Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca, a 15-year-old Mexican boy, was with his friends near the US-Mexican border when one of those friends was detained by US Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa. Hernández ran onto Mexican soil, and Mesa fired two shots at the boy — one of which struck him in the face and killed him.

Hernández and his family disagree about the events that led up to this shooting. The family says that Hernández and his friends were simply playing a game where they would run to the fence that separates the United States from Mexico, touch it, then run back to their own country’s soil. Mesa claims that Hernández and his friends threw rocks at him. (Significantly, the Justice Department has refused to take any action against Mesa.)

Regardless of who is telling the truth, the question in the Hernández case is whether Mesa is immune from a federal lawsuit even if he shot and killed Hernández in cold blood. The Supreme Court held, in a 5-4 decision along familiar partisan lines, that Mesa cannot be sued.

The case turns upon whether the Supreme Court’s decision in Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents (1971), which permitted federal lawsuits against law enforcement officers who violate the Constitution, has any real force in 2020. After Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Hernández, the answer to this question is a resounding “no.”

Alito’s opinion does not explicitly overrule Bivens, but it appears to be laying the groundwork for a future opinion that will eliminate Bivens’ protections against federal officers who violate the Constitution. Notably, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate opinion in which he argues that “the time has come to consider discarding the Bivens doctrine altogether.

In the era of Black Lives Matter and police reform, the Hernandez decision by Justice Alito is a stake through the heart of federal law enforcement accountability.

“For almost 40 years,” Alito writes in Hernández, “we have consistently rebuffed requests to add to the claims allowed under Bivens.” When faced with a Bivens claim, the Court typically looks for reasons why the most recent case is “different in a meaningful way from previous Bivens cases decided by this Court.” If it is, the Court will dismiss the lawsuit if there are any “special factors counselling hesitation.”

Much of Alito’s opinion is a laundry list of reasons why the courts should hesitate to allow suits against border patrol agents involved in a cross-border shooting.

“The political branches, not the Judiciary, have the responsibility and institutional capacity to weigh foreign-policy concerns,” Alito claims, and “a cross-border shooting is by definition an international incident.” Thus, it is better for these incidents to be resolved through international diplomacy, rather than through a lawsuit.

Similarly, “the conduct of agents positioned at the border has a clear and strong connection to national security.” These agents “detect, respond to, and interdict terrorists, drug smugglers and traffickers, human smugglers and traffickers, and other persons who may undermine the security of the United States.” Allowing suits against these agents risks “undermining border security.”

Alito’s opinion, in other words, rests on a kind of anti-Spider-Man rule. Border patrol agents are given great power so that they can use that power. And it is not typically the job of the courts to interfere with how those guards exercise such power — even when it results in the death of a child.

As I've said countless times, even if Donald Trump left office tomorrow, I'll be spending the rest of my lifetime dealing with the damage he's caused in the judicial alone.

Expect a lot more depressing decisions in the months and years ahead.

Trump Goes Viral

The Trump regime believes they have this election in the bag already, but they are publicly admitting the scenario where Trump gets crushed by any and every Democrat in November involves a big economic slump brought on by the Wuhan coronavirus.  They're so scared of this happening that they already have their scapegoat trussed and ready for the chopping block: HHS Secretary Alex Azar

Trump himself took a break from his two-day trip to India to weigh in on coronavirus, tweeting that the virus was under control in the United States. “We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” he wrote late Monday afternoon.

But inside the White House, officials have been quietly studying models of the pandemic’s potential effect on both the U.S. and the global economy, said one Republican close to the White House. Among policy aides, there‘s widespread concern that the spread of the coronavirus will hit a slew of industries including manufacturers, airlines, automakers and tech companies, slowing down both the U.S. and Chinese economies. Aides fear the White House has few economic tricks it can deploy to lessen the impact.

Meanwhile, officials like acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and domestic policy chief Joe Grogan have turned their fire on HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who’s leading the coronavirus response, arguing that Azar has poorly coordinated the strategy, failed to escalate the potential risks to Trump and pushed for a multibillion-dollar emergency-funding request that they initially viewed as extreme, said four individuals familiar with the matter.The Trump administration on Monday night announced a request for $2.5 billion in emergency coronavirus cash, which would also shift at least $535 million in previously committed funds.

Funding the response had been a major sticking point between the White House and Azar, who lobbied to request additional funds from Congress before he makes four separate hearings on the Hill this week. Officials had spent days jockeying over the final figure for the emergency package, veering anywhere between $1 billion to $5 billion. The package also is expected to face resistance from Democrats, who have warned the Trump administration against shifting money away from existing commitments.

The White House and HHS both maintained that the task force is working in tandem and defended Azar’s leadership.

“There is zero disagreement between HHS, [National Security Council], the White House, and other members of the task force,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “Secretary Azar is the right person to lead this effort, and any reporting to the contrary is just false.”

"OMB and HHS have been in lockstep throughout this entire process," said Derek Kan, a top White House budget deputy who's also working on coronavirus efforts. An HHS spokesperson denied that the White House and Azar had disagreed over the emergency-funding request.

But the pressure-packed coronavirus fight has reopened year-old cracks between the White House and Azar, who has few allies in the White House and was seen as weakened by his own recent feud with Medicare chief Seema Verma. Two of Azar’s allies said they worried that the secretary’s job is at risk if the coronavirus response goes poorly.
Administration officials also have traded blame over the evacuation of 14 Americans from a cruise ship who were confirmed to have coronavirus, fueled by Trump’s anger over the episode. The decision to evacuate the Americans — who were placed on a plane with other Americans, over the objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has sparked finger-pointing and second-guessing for days. Japanese officials didn’t inform their U.S. counterparts that the 14 had tested positive until they were already aboard buses with the other American cruise ship passengers heading for the airport.

Some officials worry that the U.S. is missing potential coronavirus infections of its own, especially as clusters of cases emerge in countries like Iran, prompting that nation's neighbors Turkey, Pakistan and Armenia to close their borders. The U.S. surveillance effort has been hampered by the failure of the health department’s tests, with public health labs on Monday asking for permission to use their own homegrown tests rather than wait on the CDC.

“If we have an outbreak in the United States and didn’t pick it up, that’s going to be a public health mistake of historic proportion,” said a former senior HHS official.

How competent do you think the Trump regime will be at handling something that can't be blocked by Mitch McConnell or shouted down by FOX News state TV or Rush Limbaugh?  Something that Trump can't intimidate on Twitter or threaten with his lawyers?

Oh, I imagine the Trump regime will botch the inevitable US outbreak badly.  Unfortunately it's going to be deadly when it happens.

Another #MeToo Moment, Con't

Newly-convicted sexual predator Harvey Weinstein (No more "alleged" now!) was tossed into Riker's to await his sentencing next month without bail, but apparently he's still trying to game the system.

Harvey Weinstein was taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan on Monday after complaining of chest pains, according to his representative.

Weinstein was supposed to be transferred to the jail on Rikers Island, but was diverted to Bellevue. Weinstein was remanded into custody on Monday morning after a jury convicted him on charges of sexual assault and third-degree rape.

Bellevue is known for its psychiatric facility, but it also serves as a hospital for jail inmates.

Weinstein had been free on $2 million bond, but Justice James Burke ordered him held in jail prior to sentencing on March 11.

His attorney, Donna Rotunno, urged the judge to allow him to remain free, saying that he recently had unsuccessful back surgery and requires shots in order to keep from going blind. Weinstein appeared in court most days with a walker, which his attorneys said was a result of his lingering back issues.
During a TV interview on Fox News with Martha MacCallum on Monday evening, Rotunno was asked by the anchor if Weinstein would be getting medical care at whichever prison facility he ends up in, since he was remanded. Rotunno said her client will be receiving medical care, and she mentioned that he was having heart palpitations on Monday, though she did not reveal that he was admitted to the hospital with chest pains.

Yeah the amount of pity I have for this monster after his decades-long reign of terror over Hollywood is about as much as my odds of starring in the next Marvel Cinematic Universe film.  Health issues aside, this is a guy who repeatedly showed up to court using a walker several times, and when he was perp walked out of court yesterday in cuffs, he looked fine, no walker.

I know a con man when I see him.  This one is going to jail.


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