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Nevilledog's Journal
Nevilledog's Journal
June 4, 2023

Interactive guide to rights the Supreme Court has established -- and could take away.


Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion established 50 years ago in Roe v. Wade, raising concerns about the future of other rights rooted in Supreme Court rulings. Although most rights are secured by statutes and regulations, others are guarantees extrapolated by the court from the often abstract language of the Constitution. Some of these are recent rights, like the right to carry a handgun in public. But many are longstanding, like the right to be read a Miranda warning by police before being interrogated, and trace their origins to the liberal majorities that presided on the court from the 1950s through the 1970s, an era often called the “rights revolution.” Because these rights were established by the court, the court alone gets to decide whether to preserve, shrink or unmake them.

To get a better sense of which rights may be at risk — in whole or in part — ProPublica scoured judicial opinions, academic articles and public remarks by sitting justices. Some justices, like Clarence Thomas, have had decadeslong careers and lengthy paper trails. By contrast, Ketanji Brown Jackson, the newest justice, has almost no prior record. We found dozens of rights that at least one sitting justice has questioned. Below, you can explore these rights and the objections levied against them. We include federal legislation that’s been introduced to protect a given right, as well as lawsuits active in lower courts that could become vehicles for the justices to revisit existing rights in the future.


June 2, 2023

Model Prosecution Memo for Trump Classified Documents (Just Security)


This model prosecution memorandum assesses potential charges federal prosecutors may bring against former President Donald Trump. It focuses on those emanating from his handling of classified documents and other government records since leaving office on January 20, 2021. It includes crimes related to the removal and retention of national security information and obstruction of the investigation into his handling of these documents. The authors have decades of experience as federal prosecutors and defense lawyers, as well as other legal expertise. Based upon this experience and the analysis that follows, we conclude that Trump should–and likely will–be charged.

Before indicting a case, prosecutors prepare a prosecution memo (or “pros memo”) that lays out admissible evidence, possible charges, and legal issues. This document provides a basis for prosecutors and their supervisors to assess whether the case meets the standard set forth in the Federal Principles of Prosecution, which permit prosecution only when there is sufficient evidence to obtain and sustain a conviction. Before a decision is made about bringing charges against Trump (and co-conspirators, if any), prosecutors will prepare such a memo.

There is sufficient evidence to obtain and sustain a conviction here, if the information gleaned from government filings and statements and voluminous public reporting is accurate. Indeed, the DOJ is likely now, or shortly will be, internally circulating a pros memo of its own saying so. That DOJ memo will, however, be highly confidential, in part because it will contain information derived through the grand jury and attorney work product. Since it will not be publicly available, we offer this analysis. Ours is likely more detailed than what DOJ will prepare internally for explanatory purposes. But, given the gravity of the issues here, our memo provides a sense of how prosecutors will assemble and evaluate the considerations that they must assess before making a prosecution decision.

Our memo analyzes six federal crimes in depth:

Mishandling of Government Documents
1. Retention of National Defense Information (18 U.S.C. § 793(e))
2. Concealing Government Records (18 U.S.C. § 2071)
3. Conversion of Government Property (18 U.S.C. § 641)

Obstruction, Contempt, False Information

1. Obstruction of Justice (18 U.S.C. § 1519)
2. Criminal Contempt (18 U.S.C. § 402)
3. False Statements to Federal Investigators (18 U.S.C. § 1001)

June 2, 2023

American Police are Basically Untouchable. How did it get this bad?



Chris Hedges:

The police in the United States through a series of Supreme Court decisions as well as policies enacted by state and city governments have become largely immune from prosecution even when they commit serious felonies such as murder. Police officers are criminally charged in less than 2% of fatal shootings and convicted in fewer than one third of those cases. When officers injure but do not kill, they are even less likely to be prosecuted. Police in America are virtually omnipotent, prosecuted in a handful of high profile cases that receive national attention, but otherwise free to engage in lawless behavior, especially in poor communities.

University of California law professor Joanna Schwartz, in her book, Shielded: How The Police Became Untouchable, details the myriad of ways the legal system has stripped the citizens of protections from police abuse. The wholesale blocking of civil rights litigation means the police are rarely held accountable for the crimes they commit. Blunting all efforts to enact meaningful police oversight, legal accountability and reform. Joining me to discuss her book, our failed justice system in police forces that function especially in poor communities as rogue militias, is Professor Joanna Schwartz. Let’s begin as you do in the book with the legal antecedents, especially Section 1983 became law in 1871. What was Section 1983? Why was it made law and how did it protect the citizenry and why and how has it been rolled back?

Joanna Schwartz:

Section 1983 was first passed by Congress in 1871 following the Civil War during reconstruction when newly freed slaves, former slaves, black Americans were being tortured and killed by the newly created Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups and local law enforcement and government was doing nothing to intervene if they were not themselves participating in the violence. And Congress looking at this evidence, decided that there needed to be a federal law allowing people to sue for violations of their civil constitutional rights in order to give those rights actual meaning. And so they enacted what is now known as Section 1983 for its place in the US code, but was at the time referred to as, the Ku Klux Klan Act. Very soon after Section 1983 became law, decisions by the Supreme Court and by Congress made Section 1983 and other reconstruction era acts lose much of their power.

And it was really not until 1961 when the Supreme Court first recognized that Section 1983 could be used to sue government officials, police officers in the case, which is called Monroe versus Pape, for the violations of their constitutional rights. So after 90 years in obscurity and disuse, Section 1983 was recognized by the Supreme Court as being this tool that could be used to sue for constitutional violations in 1961. But then after a sort of momentary heyday with the power and potential of 1983, the statute has lost progressively its power and it’s lost its power through Supreme Court decisions primarily that have cut away at the ability to sue in a variety of different ways that I outlined in the book that begin at the very initial stage of trying to find a lawyer through pleading a complaint with the court through proving a constitutional violation, qualified immunity, holding local governments responsible and beyond.


June 2, 2023

Unfurling the Book Banner Lies


This week, book banners showed up to the Douglas County Public Library board meeting in Colorado to protest books in the system’s collection. It is not the first time they’ve done it, and it’s also not the first time counter protestors have shown up to push back. None of this is news nor is it all that interesting; at this point, it’s pretty standard, even if there are still folks choosing to ignore this is happening in their own back yards at their public library.

What is more interesting than that, though, is looking at how these crisis actors are presenting their message and courting people to their cause. Propaganda works when an uninformed public — usually folks who aren’t engaged in the inaccurately named “culture wars” online — sees it and is appalled by what is presented. Good propaganda works because it’s convincing and presented in such a way as to appear authoritative. But y’all, this isn’t even close to good, and the book banning bigots do not even care. By presenting their false narratives in the most outrageous manner, they’re able to stoke anger and fear in new ways…and it is working.

But let’s break down what is truth here and what is spin (spoiler alert: it’s all spin). The purpose of sharing this is twofold: first, exposure matters since too many folks who care about the First Amendment Rights of all and the freedom of access are putting their heads in the sand and not looking at this stuff and second, this will help in your own talking points with friends, family, board meeting members and attendees, educators, and legislators, debunking fact from fiction.

Because sorry, that’s your job, too. You can’t not look and pretend it is not happening.


May 30, 2023

Survivors, ex-employees say Kanakuk Christian camp 'ministered' to its sexual predators


The summer of 2016 wasn’t the first time Caroline attended Christian summer camp in Branson, Missouri but it is the one etched most deeply in her memory.

One night, Kanakuk Kamps counselors “packed every single camper, like 300 kids … in a mosh pit type of thing,” said Caroline, who was 13. “They throw all these bubbles on you. It’s a fun event.”

The fun ended when Caroline felt a male camper slide his hands into her athletic shorts.

“‘Excuse you!’ And I said some mean words,” she said. The next morning, Caroline said, three other girls tearfully told her they’d been assaulted by the same camper.

She said they reported it to their counselor, who arranged a meeting with camp director Keith Chancey. Caroline and one other girl gathered the courage to relay what happened.

Camp leaders rebuked the girls, not the boy, she said.


Of course, the owner of the camp is a Josh Hawley donor.

May 26, 2023

Bombshell Louisiana Report Led To Republican Senator Rejecting Youth Trans Ban


The trend of banning gender-affirming care for transgender youth was gaining momentum in conservative-leaning states, leading many to fear that the entirety of the Southeastern United States would follow suit. However, on Wednesday, Louisiana bucked this trend. Louisiana became the only state in the Southeast and one of only four states with Republican trifectas to defeat such a ban in its legislature. This defeat provides transgender individuals, particularly those in neighboring states where such care is banned, with a vital source for their medical needs. Coupled with court blocks on similar bans in other Southeastern states, those who must cross state lines for their care likely feel a sense of relief. Without a doubt, transgender individuals in Louisiana are among those breathing easier.

House Bill 648, which had already passed the Louisiana House of Representatives with a 71-27 vote, faced strong opposition during the committee hearing. Aware that it could be their last opportunity to quash the bill, family members and allies delivered impassioned testimonies. Louisiana Trans Advocates played a crucial role in these efforts, holding private meetings with Senators to provide education on the treatment in question. The deciding moment arrived when Republican Senator Fred Mills broke ranks and voted against the bill. His unexpected decision prevented the bill from reaching the Senate floor for a full vote, surprising advocates across the nation and effectively halting the bill's progression.

When asked why he voted against the bill, he cited a Louisiana Department of Health report commissioned in 2022 and released earlier this year that returned strong findings in support of gender affirming care.

“My decision was really, really based on the numbers. All the testimony I heard by the proponents that children are getting mutilated, I didn’t see it in the statistics,” Mills said in an interview.


May 17, 2023

The truth about Russia, Trump and the 2016 election


No paywall

There have been four major investigations into Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election and the FBI’s handling of the subject — a 2019 report released by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a 2019 Justice Department inspector general report, a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee issued in 2020 by a GOP-controlled Senate, and now a 2023 report released by special counsel John Durham. All told, the reports add up to about 2,500 pages of dense prose and sometimes contradictory conclusions.

But broad themes can be deduced from a close reading of the evidence gathered in the lengthy documents, as well as indictments and testimony on related criminal cases.

Russia tried to swing the 2016 election to Trump

In early 2017, days before Donald Trump became president, the Obama administration released an Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) that made the following statement:

“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.”

Trump immediately rejected that conclusion, but both the Mueller report and the Senate investigation affirmed it. Mueller concluded that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from people associated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and then publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks, to sow discord in the United States, hurt Clinton and help Trump.


May 16, 2023

The Worst Part Of The Durham Report Is What's Not In It


Bill Barr’s Trusty Stooge

Special Counsel John Durham got spun so many different ways by Bill Barr that by the time he released his 300-plus-page final report yesterday – after a four-year investigation that stretched longer than the Mueller investigation he was investigating – his reputation, dignity, and sense of proportion had all disappeared.

The problem with trying to hold Durham to account on the facts now is that it requires extensive knowledge of events that are now creeping from current affairs into the historical past: the run-up to the 2016 election, Russia’s meddling in the election, Trump’s many misdeeds in this arena before and after his inauguration, the Mueller investigation, the origins of the Durham probe, the many bogus conspiracy theories that gave rise to the Durham probe and that it unselfconsciously helped to reinforce.

It’s a lot.

I’ve followed it all closely for years, but I can’t keep it all in my head. You probably can’t either. Neither can most journalists or policymakers. And therein lies much of the disadvantage that misinformation thrives on. It was easy for bad-faith, conspiracy-minded MAGA supporters to hold up Durham’s tome yesterday and declare that it showed exactly what they said all along, even though it didn’t.

But let me zero in on what I think is the most glaring example of Durham’s bad faith, Bill Barr’s ratfuckery, and the politicization of the Justice Department under Trump.


May 15, 2023

Some Christian leaders say it's an 'abomination' to use the Bible to cause harm with anti-trans laws


No paywall

Many on the religious right call members of the LGBTQ community an "abomination," using Biblical scriptures to justify their stance against queer and transgender rights and inclusion.

But some within the Christian community have flipped the script, saying the real "abomination" is threatening people's lives with anti-LGBTQ laws and policies.

"As a Christian leader, it's horrifying to me that Christianity and the Bible are being used by the religious right to bludgeon people through these many bills," Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, the president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, told The Associated Press.

Jones, the first woman to lead the UTS, was previously the president of the American Academy of Religion, another LGBTQ-inclusive organization.

"To use religious language like that is an abomination," Jones added.


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