Unconscionable Cobell

A few facts about the Cobell settlement to be voted on in Senate today:

Number of published court opinions in the case: 80-plus

Amount awarded to plaintiffs by courts at present: $0

Amount to attorneys under settlement: $100 Million (through Dec. 7, 2009)

Amount to each account holder under settlement: $1,000.00

Number of accounts with less than $15: 107,806

Total amount of money in accounts with less than $15 (small accounts): $15,210.51

Average balance in 107,806 small accounts: $7.09

Total to be paid under settlement to small accounts: $107,806,000


Bailing out 'the smartest guys in the room'

Ms. Cobell’s Aug. 4, 2010, post, headlined "A Cravenly op-ed," continues an unbroken line of materially misleading representations to the public and to members of the plaintiff class to whom she owes a fiduciary duty. More importantly, she continues materially misleading members of the United States Senate whom she is asking to change the law and the rules so her proposed “settlement” can proceed. This may reflect the desperation she and her lawyers are feeling to salvage any hope of recovery in her 14-year-old lawsuit. To date, her recovery in court is nil.


A Cravenly op-ed

Kimberly Craven’s op-ed (Aug. 2, 2010) reflects a profound misunderstanding of the Cobell litigation and the settlement agreement. Ms. Craven is one of a handful of critics in a class of 500,000 individual Indians. She has made no secret of her desire to see the settlement fail. Each time her statements are corrected, she conjures up another excuse why the settlement ought to be voided by Congress. Here we go again.


Protecting American free speech (Sens. Patrick Leahy and Jeff Sessions)

Although Washington is often mired in partisan political battles, there are some issues on which Democrats and Republicans in Congress can agree — and where they can work together in unison. One of these is our nation’s tradition of freedom of speech. Thanks to strong, bipartisan cooperation, an important bill to protect free speech is now set to become law.

The SPEECH Act (Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage) will protect Americans’ free-speech rights from the chilling effect of foreign libel lawsuits. The Act will ensure that American courts cannot be used to enforce foreign libel judgments against American journalists, authors and publishers if those judgments undermine Americans’ First Amendment rights.


My vote for Kagan says elections matter (Sen. Lindsey Graham)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) delivered the following remarks on Tuesday as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court:

I would like to add my compliments to you and Senator Sessions for conducting what I thought was a respectful, sometimes informative, sometimes disappointing hearing.

But in today's environment, it's a tough political environment out there. We're just a little over 100 days away from an election.


Tauro ruling on DOMA should stand (Sen. John Kerry)

In 1996, I voted against DOMA because I believed—and still believe—that it was unconstitutional and unconscionable for Congress to actively legislate against gay Americans. I stood on the floor of the Senate to implore my colleagues to reject this bill. From the Senate floor,  I argued that this legislation was wrong, “because not only is it meant to divide Americans, but it is fundamentally unconstitutional, regardless of your views. DOMA is unconstitutional. There is no single Member of the U.S. Senate who believes that it is within the Senate's power to strip away the word or spirit of a constitutional clause by simple statute.”


Supreme Court gun rights ruling will add to death toll (Sen. Roland Burris)

Amid one of the most violent and deadly summers Chicago has ever experienced, in which only the last few weeks have seen shootings that left 81 wounded and 13 dead, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that an almost 30-year-old citywide ban on handgun ownership is unconstitutional. The high court’s decision, McDonald v. Chicago, comes as a grave disappointment to a city that has long been plagued by gun violence — a pandemic which has claimed the lives of innocent civilians, police officers, and even young children. Deadly shootings are on the rise, and I believe that increasing the number of handguns on our streets will do little to quell this staggering violence. In fact, I fear it will have quite the opposite effect.


Harriet Miers faced the gauntlet while Kagan skates on by

In 2005, George W. Bush chose who would be his nominee to succeed Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. It was his longtime friend and legal confidant, Harriet Miers. Unknown in legal circles, the biggest achievement of his fellow Texan was that she worked in the White House as legal counsel. Upon being named, both the left and the right came out against her nomination. However, it was the strong opposition by the conservatives that brought the nomination down.


Court's ruling on gun ban makes sense (Rep. Joe Barton)

It only makes sense that people should be able to defend themselves in their own homes. The Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights states "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It doesn’t mention geographical boundaries. However, Chicago’s handgun ban has been keeping firearms out of the homes of law abiding citizens for years. At the same time the arsenal carried by criminals has grown in the Windy City, causing gun violence to rise. The handgun ban did little to protect the citizens of the city and instead made them criminals if they chose to protect themselves with a firearm. It also infringed on the rights of hunters, sportsmen and weapons collectors.


Supreme Court's decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago usurps local control over public safety (Rep. Bobby L. Rush)

Yesterday is a day that will live in infamy for people of good will across the United States. In a 5-to-4 decision, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court unleashed an unabated free for all by the NRA and other pro-gun extremists over who can arm how many people in the shortest period of time. I am deeply troubled by this ruling as it comes as the result of five conservative, activist judges whose arc of justice bends towards those with guns no matter the circumstance and no matter the community.