Judicial

Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!

How appropriate that retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor sat next to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’s intern-turned-hero, Daniel Hernandez, at the memorial service for those injured and killed in the Tucson shooting. The legendary first woman justice, appointed by President Reagan in 1981, epitomizes the public service and civic engagement that Hernandez embodies for a new generation. Indeed, it is civic education, more than sanitized public discourse, that will save the Union from another Reagan legacy: a belief that “government is not the answer to our problem; government is the problem,” as he famously declared in his first inaugural. 

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CIR neutrality: A bipartisan solution

It seems that many Comprehensive Immigration Reform “pundits” have looked at the first decade of this century as a lost opportunity, or more accurately as a decade of failure to enact CIR. They would be correct. However, while it would be productive to examine exactly how and where CIR advocates fell short in our quest for a reform of our immigration system, it will be much more productive to plan ahead. Therefore, we must now look to see what will be achievable going forward into the new Congress, and how we can achieve it.

Most, if not almost all of these same pundits are predicting that CIR will be impossible to achieve in the next Congress. They point to the Republican takeover in the House, and their gains in the Senate, and lament that “it can’t be done.” They would be incorrect. It can be done. However, we must first look to our definition of what constitutes a win in terms of CIR. In other words, can we pass the same old CIR that’s been tried and has failed again and again? I don’t think so. Can we pass a CIR that at least effectively solves the most pressing problems comprehensively? I am certain that we are about to enter a period of time in which we can accomplish exactly that.

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Drug Czar blames rising teen pot use on medical cannabis laws rather than on the administration’s own failed policies

America’s Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is once again sounding the alarm. According to statements made by Kerlikowske earlier this week, the percentage of young people who report using marijuana is on the rise and medical marijuana is to blame. Seriously.

Since 1975 the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor has been tracking students self-reported use of cannabis and other intoxicants, and every year their use of these substances trends either up or down from the prior survey. Predictably, when self-reported use goes down, drug war lackeys like Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske claim that drug prohibition is working. Conversely, when use trends upward — as it did this past year — drug warriors respond by pointing the blame at everyone else.

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Rangel should be expelled

The former chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee was found guilty on 11 of 13 charges by the House Ethics Committee. Justice will not be served by the censure of Rep. Rangel.  There can be no justice without a serious punishment for his unapologetic violations of law and ethics rules.  Rangel is no schoolboy coming late to class. He deserves more than a mark on his permanent record; he should be expelled from Congress.  Since the Ethics Committee failed to recommend expulsion for the shameless Rangel, the full House should act on its own to expel him.  Rangel's presence in the House only brings further disrepute to the institution.

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Time now to confront the crisis on the federal bench

There is crisis in the federal courts today -- an unprecedented absence of judicial confirmations leading to severely overburdened courts that will have a direct impact on thousands of ordinary Americans who could see justice significantly delayed or denied in cases ranging from claims of employment discrimination to corporate malfeasance. There are 108 vacant seats on the federal bench, and a Senate that appears unwilling or unable to address this potential emergency.

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Proud to support the rule of law and immigration, too (Rep. Luis Gutierrez)

One of the reasons we have not made progress in reforming our immigration system is that one side of the debate thinks of itself as the law and order side and frames those of us who have proposed comprehensive immigration reform as opposed to the rule of law. That shuts down the debate and makes it harder to arrive at a compromise, and it doesn't happen to be true, either.

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Who owns the Tea Party? The intersection of politics and intellectual property law

The Tea Party defies easy definition. More than an interest group but less than a third party, the grass-roots movement seems united more by anti-establishment fervor and voter outrage than a shared ideology. Yet the discontent voiced by Tea Party members has transformed politics as usual, galvanizing a movement perhaps powerful enough to determine whether the Democrats or the Republicans control Congress come Election Day.

Unfortunately, victory often breeds discontent in fledgling political movements as leadership splinters, factions emerge and competing Tea Party groups have emerged at the local, state and federal levels seeking to exploit the movement’s momentum. Disputes over intellectual property have emerged as a key issue moving these clashes of ego and political beliefs into court. Just like business start-ups, Tea Party organizations often have no tangible assets but their intellectual property, including ownership of the Tea Party name itself.

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Diversity matters on the Supreme Court (Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin)

Last week, I was privileged to attend the formal investiture of Elena Kagan as our newest Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  I watched as she took the bench, and it was indeed a very proud moment for this nation.  For the first time in our country’s history three women – one-third of the Justices – are now serving at the same time on the Supreme Court.  I am also pleased that last year Justice Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina to sit on the Supreme Court.  I look forward to having the Court become even more representative and more diverse in the future.

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True freedom of speech has no exceptions

Peel back the many complicated legal issues in Snyder v. Phelps, the case involving protests at military funerals that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear today, and it comes down to this: How free are we to say something in public that is deeply offensive?

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Immigration is strengthening our nation’s economy (Rep. Charles Gonzalez)

Just about anybody will tell you the reason why we have such a massive influx of immigrants is an age-old economic principle: supply and demand. Our nation’s economy and its progress are directly linked to how we address the fundamental issue of our immigration policies. The reality of the situation is that we’re dealing with many complexities of a broken immigration system, which requires a comprehensive approach.

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