Recently in International Category

How soft do we have to get on our very worst criminals before people stop accusing us of being inhumane to them?  The case of Norway demonstrates that there is no limit, so we might as well not even worry about that.

As noted on this blog back in 2011, Anders Breivik's sentence of 21 years comes to about 14 weeks per life taken.  The lives of innocent people are pretty cheap in Norway if you only get 14 weeks for taking one.

Yet, as noted here last year, a Norway court found that even this outrageously lenient sentence was being executed inhumanely because Breivik's "three-room prison suite furnished with a treadmill, a refrigerator, a DVD player, a Sony PlayStation, a desk, a television, and a radio" was too isolated.

Today, Agence France-Presse reports:

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik has not been treated "inhumanely" by being held in isolation in prison, an Oslo appeals court has ruled, overturning a lower court judgment.

"Breivik is not, and has not, been subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment," it said.

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Kwanwoo Jun, Alastair Gale, and Ben Otto report for the WSJ:

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un issued an assassination order to kill his half-brother after seizing power in 2011 and agents tried to execute it at least once before succeeding this week, South Korea's top spy chief said.

A Flawed Restraining of a Flawed Order

Michael McConnell, Stanford Law Professor and Hoover Institution scholar, has this article at Hoover on last week's Ninth Circuit decision.

A Debacle and a Learning Moment

The WSJ has this editorial titled Trump's Judicial Debacle noting a number of ways that the Administration and the courts were both wrong. "President Trump's immigration executive order has been a fiasco from the start, but the damage is spreading as a federal appeals court on Thursday declined to lift a legal blockade. Now the White House order has become an opening for judges to restrict the power of the political branches to conduct foreign policy."

The editorial goes to explain several ways the Ninth Circuit decision is wrong and how the Administration seemed ill-prepared to defend the order.  At the end, the editorial has some worthwhile thoughts on what to do now.

There are lessons to be learned from this debacle, though.  I will note a few of them in separate posts.
Jose de Cordoba and Santiago Perez have this article in the WSJ with the above headline.

MEXICO CITY--Influential Mexicans are pushing an aggressive and perhaps risky strategy to fight a likely increase in deportations of their undocumented compatriots in the U.S.: jam U.S. immigration courts in hopes of causing the already overburdened system to break down.

The proposal calls for ad campaigns advising migrants in the U.S. to take their cases to court and fight deportation if detained. "The backlog in the immigration system is tremendous," said former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda. The idea is to double or triple the backlog, "until [U.S. President Donald] Trump desists in this stupid idea," he added.

Talk about stupid ideas.  A concerted attack on our judicial system by foreign influences might just spur Congress to fund a big expansion of the system and thereby increase deportations.  Nothing makes Americans come together quite like being attacked from outside.  "Perhaps risky" is an understatement.

Good and Bad Decriminalization

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Deutsche Welle (German wave) reports:

Germany is ditching a law specifically protecting heads of state and government against insults, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tried to sue a prominent satirist. Slander and libel laws still apply. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet decided on Wednesday to abolish the rarely enforced section of the criminal code by January 1, 2018. 

The idea of 'lese majeste' dates back to a long-gone era, it no longer belongs in our criminal law," Justice Minister Heiko Maas (pictured above) said. "The regulation is obsolete and unnecessary," he added.
Thanks to Eugene Volokh for the tip.

Laura Mills reports for the WSJ:

Russian lawmakers voted Friday to remove domestic violence from the country's criminal code, making abuse punishable by fines rather than a prison sentence.

El Chapo in U.S. District Court

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Nicole Hong reports for the WSJ:

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the Mexican drug lord who evaded U.S. authorities for years and built a billion-dollar narcotics empire, is expected to make his first appearance in a U.S. courtroom on Friday.

Mr. Guzmán, who successfully escaped twice from maximum-security prisons in Mexico, was extradited to the U.S. late Thursday. His arrival came as a surprise to many, even to U.S. officials, who said Friday that they didn't know he was coming until the day of the extradition.
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The Many Crimes of Fidel Castro

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Prof. Carlos Eire of Yale has this article in the WaPo:

One of the most brutal dictators in modern history has just died. Oddly enough, some will mourn his passing, and many an obituary will praise him. Millions of Cubans who have been waiting impatiently for this moment for more than half a century will simply ponder his crimes and recall the pain and suffering he caused.
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If this were a just world, 13 facts would be etched on Castro's tombstone and highlighted in every obituary, as bullet points -- a fitting metaphor for someone who used firing squads to murder thousands of his own people.
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In sum, Fidel Castro was the spitting image of Big Brother in George Orwell's novel "1984." So, adiós, Big Brother, king of all Cuban nightmares. And may your successor, Little Brother, soon slide off the bloody throne bequeathed to him.
Update:  I don't often agree with Nancy Pelosi, but when she is right, she deserves credit for it.

UK Foreign Secty on Turkey DP

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Alex Barker, Arthur Beesley, and Henry Mance report for the Financial Times:

Boris Johnson has urged the EU to stop pushing Turkey "into a corner" over the death penalty, in an intervention that stunned fellow ministers still bristling over the British foreign secretary's outspoken warnings over Turkey's EU membership during the Brexit campaign.

An already tense meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels flared up on Monday as Mr Johnson argued that the bloc must avoid lecturing Ankara over potentially introducing capital punishment.

U.K.'s New Foreign Secretary

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Incoming PM Theresa May has chosen the outspoken pro-Brexit former mayor of London Boris Johnson as foreign secretary.  This article in the WSJ by Gabriele Steinhauser, Michael Wright, and William Horobin notes that Mr. Johnson had some undiplomatic things to say about certain continental European leaders during the campaign.

The primary relevance of the Brexit controversy to this blog is the propensity of the EU to meddle in domestic criminal law policies of nations, primarily its members but also nonmembers including the United States.

The outcome I would like to see is a "two-tier" Europe where Britain and other countries that are fed up with the Eurocrats can belong to something like the old European Economic Community (commonly known as the Common Market) that preceded the EU.  That would be a purely free-trade organization that would keep its mitts off domestic policy, including especially issues of crime and punishment.

I hope the appointment of Boris Johnson is a step in that direction.

Vigilantism in the Phillipines

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Here is what happens when government defaults on its primary obligation to protect people from crime.  Trefor Moss reports for the WSJ:

Mr. [Rodrigo] Duterte, the long-serving mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines, was sworn in as president on Thursday, having comfortably won elections in early May after pledging to wipe out criminals. He advocates the killing of suspected lawbreakers and has publicly backed vigilante death squads estimated to have killed over 1,000 people in Davao.

"Kill them all," Mr. Duterte told a rally in March, referring to criminals and suspects. "When I become president I'll order the police and the military to find these people and kill them." During the campaign, Mr. Duterte said 100,000 Filipinos would die during the coming purge.

Mr. Duterte has tapped a loyal lieutenant from Davao, a former city police chief, Ronald Dela Rosa, to head the national force starting Thursday. Mr. Dela Rosa recently told reporters the president's target of stamping out crime in six months is achievable, as long as drug suspects are relentlessly pursued.

"They will be given the right to remain silent--forever," he said.
Backlash is building worldwide against the blasé attitude toward crime that has become fashionable among affluent people who live and work in safe neighborhoods and are rarely touched by the consequences. 

Protecting people from crime is the number one domestic function of government.  Everything else is secondary.  If we don't dump the mush-headed nonsense and get back to tough, proven measures that really work, we are only going to see more vigilantism as well as more victimization.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases this morning involving the reach of federal law under the Commerce Clauses of the Constitution.

Taylor v. United States, No. 14-6166, deals with one of the broadest laws for extending federal criminal jurisdiction to seemingly local cases, the Hobbs Act.  Any robbery affecting interstate commerce is within federal jurisdiction, and given the post-1937 definition of interstate commerce, that is a very broad sweep.  In today's case, any robbery of drug dealers can be a federal offense.

RJR Nabisco v. European Community, No. 15-138, involves civil suits under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  The Court puts some limits on this much-misused procedure, blocking civil RICO suits where the acts are all outside the United States.
Ben Mathis-Lilley reports for Slate:

Unrepentant mass killer Anders Breivik's isolated confinement in a three-room prison suite furnished with a treadmill, a refrigerator, a DVD player, a Sony PlayStation, a desk, a television, and a radio constitutes "inhuman or degrading treatment" under the European Convention on Human Rights, an Oslo court has ruled. The court instructed Norwegian authorities in nonspecific terms to relax the restrictions imposed on Breivik and ordered the government to pay his legal fees, which total about $50,000.
Some people argue that we should emulate Europe in our treatment of criminals.  In my view, Europe is a contrarian indicator.  If Europe does X, that makes X somewhat more likely to be a bad idea.

Thanks for the tip to our frequent commenter "notablogger," who notes, "I wish this were a story in the Onion.  Alas, it is not."
Valentina Pop reports for the WSJ:

A United Nations court sentenced former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to 40 years in prison for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the Bosnian war in the 1990s. He will appeal the ruling.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on Thursday found Mr. Karadzic guilty of 10 out of the 11 counts, including genocide for the Srebrenica massacre and criminal responsibility for the shelling of Sarajevo, during a nearly four-year siege on the city. He is the highest-ranking official the court has convicted since its establishment in 1993.
Forty years is a life sentence, given that Karadzic is 70, but it's not enough for genocide. 
Two months ago, I denounced an NYT hatchet job misrepresenting one of the cases Cruz handled in the Supreme Court when he was Texas Solicitor General.  Now we have this article by Jonathan Mahler. 

This time the focus is on the case of José Medellín, one of the perpetrators of one of the most horrific gang-rape murders in the history of Houston.  I know a lot about this case.  I wrote three briefs in it before we finally delivered this scum-of-the-earth his just deserts.  Cruz rightly touts his role in this effort as a major accomplishment, but Mahler views it through the Times's partisan, polarized "all the news that fits our agenda" lens.

As with the previous post, let me note that CJLF takes no position in the Republican primary and endorses no candidate.  We care about the truth.  It is painfully evident that Mahler and the NYT do not. 

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