Category Archives: legal news

Elections do have consequences

Well, folks. We are going to find out in due course — possibly soon — just how consequential presidential elections always have been.

The issue at hand is abortion and whether the Texas strict anti-abortion law will withstand judicial review. I happen to believe the law is unconstitutional, that it runs counter to what we long have thought was “settled law.” That the Roe v. Wade decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 had been settled, that women had a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Oh, but wait. The issue is likely to end up in front of the SCOTUS again. Here is where the election issue comes in.

The 45th POTUS nominated three justices on the court. He was able to cement the conservative majority. The court is now lined up with six conservatives and three liberals. The conservatives, with — with Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on board — well might decide that the Texas law is OK after all.

A federal judge in Texas, Robert Pittman — appointed by President Barack Obama — has declared the Texas law to be unconstitutional. It’s headed already to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which well could reverse Judge Pittman’s 100-page ruling. You can count on the Justice Department to take this matter up on the judicial ladder.

Hmm. Do you think Pittman’s ruling will hold up? Neither do I.

We need to ponder this when the time comes to ponder the next presidential election.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hoping judge’s ruling holds up

It is easy for me to cheer a ruling by a U.S. district judge in Texas that bans the state’s abortion ban.

I will cheer the ruling by Judge Robert Pittman. I fear the ruling won’t hold up.

Pittman said the state law that bans abortion after a woman has been pregnant for six weeks cannot be upheld. I agree with him. Then again, I am not a lawyer, let alone a judicial scholar.

The state law is cruel in that most women don’t even know they are pregnant until after six weeks. That didn’t stop the Legislature from enacting and Gov. Greg Abbott from signing it into law.

Pittman was selected for the federal bench by President Obama, which I suppose gives you a clue as to his political leaning … not that it should matter when it regards court rulings. Right?

The state is going to appeal Judge Pittman’s ruling. It will work its way through the appellate court system. It might even find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, with its 6 to 3 conservative majority.

At least for the time being, though, the judicial system has come to the aid of women desperate to maintain control of matters that only they should be allowed to decide.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas AG under the gun

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is a disgrace to the office he occupies.

Thus, it is no surprise that he would lash out at the Texas State Bar’s decision to investigate his specious lawsuit that sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in four states that Joe Biden won over Donald J. Trump.

Paxton makes me sick. There. I got that off my chest.

Two of the AG’s pals, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, came to his defense in their criticism of the Bar’s probe.

As the Texas Tribune reported:

Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick defend Ken Paxton over Texas bar investigation | The Texas Tribune

This Texan, meaning me, knows as well that Paxton is awaiting trial for securities fraud after being indicted by a Collin County grand jury. I also know that several of his top legal eagles quit the AG’s office and filed a whistleblower complaint that Paxton has engaged in criminal activity while serving as attorney general; the FBI is looking into that complaint.

Now the Bar has come forward with a complaint of its own, contesting the legitimacy of the lawsuit that Paxton filed with the U.S. Supreme Court over the results in other states. The court tossed the lawsuit out, saying that Paxton didn’t have standing.

The man is a disgrace. He needs to go. I do hope the Republican primary challenge he faces next spring can bring about the much-needed result … which would be his ouster.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Roe v. Wade far from ‘settled’

If you thought the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States had become “settled law,” you had better think again.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is now under a full frontal assault by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature. Texas now has a law on the books that prohibits a woman from obtaining an abortion as early as six weeks into her pregnancy.

President Biden calls the law “unconstitutional.” The current Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 to let the law take effect even though it is being contested by multiple lawsuits.

One of the four dissenting justices, Stephen Breyer, calls the SCOTUS decision “very, very, very wrong.”

The Texas Tribune reports: The Texas law is novel for incentivizing private citizens to police abortions. It empowers anyone living in the state of Texas to sue an abortion provider or anyone else they suspect is “aiding and abetting” abortions after the six-week mark. Those opposing the law say this may be far-ranging and could include the abortion provider or anyone who provided transportation to a woman, or counseled or referred a woman for an abortion.

Stephen Breyer calls Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion law ‘wrong’ | The Texas Tribune

There’s a fascinating bit of irony at play here. Conservatives proclaim proudly that they oppose what they call “judicial activism.” They say they dislike court decisions that go beyond the Constitution’s strict adherence to original intent.

From my perch in North Texas, it appears that most of the court’s conservatives — except for Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the liberal wing — are engaging in a raw form of judicial activism by dismissing the lawsuits and declaring that a law that is being challenged should take effect.

Wouldn’t a “conservative” court just let the litigation play out and stay out of the way?

Settled law? Not when you have a group of judicial activists on the nation’s highest court.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

AG Garland, you need to look into POTUS 45’s plot

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Merrick Garland has long been considered a fair-minded, reasonable, rational man who isn’t an overly partisan public official.

Thus, the U.S. attorney general can be counted on to do the right thing even in the face of intense political pressure.

I cannot possibly know this to be true, but I am willing to bet that AG Garland is getting a snootful of pressure to investigate the shenanigans orchestrated by the former president of the United States. They deal with POTUS 45’s relentless efforts to overturn what has been called “the most secure election in U.S. history.”

Is there an effort here to undermine the government? To subvert the democratic process? To actually mount what has been called a coup by the former POTUS to snatch the presidency back from the guy who defeated him in the 2020 election?

If there was a coup in the works, my understanding of the word “treason” tells me that POTUS 45 is guilty as the dickens of seeking to plot against the government he took an oath to defend and protect.

I don’t know what Merrick Garland will do. Nor do I know even if he is talking behind closed doors at the Justice Department about whether he should investigate the former POTUS. My hunch is that he has had that conversation with his top deputies.

Presidents are supposed to temporary occupants of the office they take. That is the case with President Biden’s immediate predecessor. His insistence on fomenting the Big Lie about phony vote fraud allegations tells me he does not believe that to be the case.

Merrick Garland has some studying — and perhaps some serious soul-searching — ahead of him.

Class-action lawsuit possible?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If ever there could be a case for a class-action lawsuit against a high-profile public figure, I am beginning to think that elections officials throughout this great nation might have one.

The former Slanderer in Chief has defamed the reputations of county, state and local elections officials everywhere by insisting that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged,” that it was fraught with “widespread voter fraud” and that it was “stolen” from him.

Class-action suits usually are filed by large numbers of people or groups who contend they have been damaged by allegations made in public that defamed their character.

POTUS 45 has done all of that, and more, by suggesting the 2020 election didn’t really deliver the presidency to Joe Biden, that the former POTUS actually won in a “landslide.” Has he produced a scintilla, a shred, a sliver, a smidgen of proof for any of this? No! He just says these things and others believe him.

I do not believe anything that flies out of the liar’s pie hole.  Nor should anyone else … but they do, to their shame.

I have known too many dedicated elections officials in counties where I have worked over nearly 40 years in daily journalism. They all take their jobs seriously. They all take an oath to defend the Constitution and have followed that oath to the letter.

I realize I am not King of the World. For that matter, neither is the former POTUS who once declared that “I, alone, can fix” what is wrong with the nation. The stark truth is that he hasn’t fixed a damn thing. Just maybe there might be enough justice left in this world for local elections officials whose reputations have been damaged to take legal action against an individual who embodies political corruption in its lowest form.

No need to pack SCOTUS

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Hell hasn’t exactly frozen over, but the rare moment of my agreeing with a conservative legal scholar has arrived.

Jeremy Dys writes in The Hill that there exists no clear reason to expand the ranks of the U.S. Supreme Court, or to “pack” it to make it more palatable to us liberals.

I happen to agree with him.

Furthermore, I wish the lefties among us would just pipe down and let the judicial branch of our federal government do the job granted to it by the U.S. Constitution.

Dys and I come at this from different perspectives. He believes the court’s “center-left demise” has been exaggerated. I happen to believe that elections have consequences, as we learned to our dismay — I hasten to add — with the election in 2016 of the moron who got impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives.

He exited the White House in disgrace. However, he was able to nominate three individuals to the high court and much to the surprise of many of us, the judicial troika he selected hasn’t fallen in lockstep with whatever judicial philosophy POTUS 45 wanted them to follow.

No reason to pack the court | TheHill

Justice Stephen Breyer is not sending any strong signals that he is about to retire from the court. The liberal justice’s successor would not change the ideological balance on the SCOTUS. I do have a fear that if the GOP gets control of the Senate after the 2022 election that its leadership will stall any nomination process the way it did in 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died and the Senate denied President Obama the chance to select a successor to the conservative judicial icon.

But that’s how it goes.

I just dislike the notion of monkeying around the size of the Supreme Court because the politics of the moment do not suit one side of the political divide.

Yep, elections have consequences

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The old saying about how “elections have consequences” is playing itself out on the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Biden’s immediate predecessor was able to nominate three justices to the nation’s highest court during his single term. This week, we saw the effect of those nominations present itself in real time with a ruling that makes it more difficult to stem the Republican tide that seeks to make voting more difficult for Americans.

The court ruled 6 to 3 — with conservative justices winning the fight — on a ruling out of Arizona that keeps in place strict voter requirements that critics suggest aim to make it harder for traditionally Democratic citizens to vote.

So the battle will be joined.

The ruling makes it harder for ethnic and racial minorities to challenge the Arizona law, which places many restrictions deemed critical to the political balance of power.

These appointments to the nation’s highest court have reignited calls to expand the court from its current nine justices to, oh, 13 or 15. That’s a bad idea and I do not support such a drastic move. President Biden isn’t warm to the notion, either. He pledged to appoint a blue-ribbon commission of conservative and liberal legal scholars to find a way to reform the federal judiciary.

However, electoral consequences have this way of presenting themselves when courts make these difficult decisions.

Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed to the court in 1994 after being nominated by President Clinton, might retire soon. Breyer is among the liberals on the court. A nomination by President Biden isn’t going to change the court’s ideological tilt should he get the chance.

These key court rulings do make it imperative that we understand the consequences of electing presidents. They are huge, especially when the court system swings too far in the wrong direction.

In my humble view, it has done so.

Cosby walks on a technicality

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When word came out today that Bill Cosby’s sexual assault conviction had been overturned, my thoughts turned immediately to a sign I once saw way down yonder in the office of the Liberty County, Texas, district attorney.

It spoke to the desire to see a conviction “upheld on a technicality.”

Of course, that never happens. Technicalities usually result in situations such as what happened today.

Cosby is going home after serving two years of a sentence in which he was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman after giving her high-powered drugs. The technicality? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Cosby was denied due process because a prosecuting attorney had said there was insufficient evidence to bring the case to trial. That prosecutor left, was replaced by someone else, who then brought the case to a trial that produced a conviction for the still-disgraced former comic and film/TV icon.

Bill Cosby was denied his constitutional Fifth Amendment guarantee against self-incrimination, the court said in its 79-page opinion.

Bill Cosby Released From Prison After Sexual Assault Conviction Overturned (msn.com)

Two things about this case deserve brief mention.

One is that a conviction reversal involving someone with the kind of celebrity status as Bill Cosby has pushed most of the other grim news aside; the nation now is going to talk about Cosby rather than talking about other stuff, such as phony election theft and related matters.

The other thing is that Bill Cosby is — in many Americans’ eyes — still a convicted sexual assailant despite the court’s decision to overturn the conviction. to my way of thinking, the legal technicality that sprung Cosby loose from the slammer does not wipe away what a trial jury concluded.

How did he fall so far?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

When historians write the final chapter of this era — if that is possible — they will be challenged to explain how a former New York mayor fell so far from grace and plunged head first into the dustbin of history.

Rudy Giuliani has been suspended from practicing law in New York. Why? Because he has fomented The Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election, contending without a shred of evidence that the disgraced former president was booted from office as a result of phony electoral theft.

It does boggle my noggin how Giuliani has become such a laughingstock.

NY Court Suspends Rudy Giuliani From Practicing Law Over Trump Lies | Common Dreams News

He was NYC mayor when terrorists struck at the nation on 9/11. He stood tall and proud as the leader of a city grieving over the horrendous events of that day. Time magazine named him its Person of the Year in 2001. Let us not forget, too, that he also once was a hard-charging federal prosecutor who took down a number of mob bosses.

That was many lifetimes ago. He has plummeted downhill ever since.

Now he is known as the promoter of lies. He has lent his voice to efforts to overthrow our democratic process.

I do not condone a single thing this individual has said about the election, its integrity or the Big Lie he continues to keep alive along with the disgraced former POTUS. I only lament how someone many of us once admired has become such caricature, a cartoonish loon has sidled up next to someone with no understanding of the government he took an oath to defend and protect.

Will this legal suspension lead to disbarment? It is quite possible, if not probable. Given how far Rudy Giuliani has fallen, the legal profession would benefit from his removal from its ranks.