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AG Confirmation for Next Congress

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Almost unnoticed in a busy week was a nugget dropped by Senate Majority (for five more weeks) Leader Harry Reid.  Michael Crittenden reported Tuesday in the WSJ:

The White House has said it is ready to wait until next year for Congress to consider its nominee to be the next attorney general, the top Senate Democrat said Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said the White House has told him the confirmation hearings of veteran prosecutor Loretta Lynch could be dealt with in the new Congress in January 2015.

"The White House through intermediaries with me have said 'don't be pushing that, we can do that after the first of the year,' " Mr. Reid said after senators' weekly caucus lunches.
"After the first of the year" means next Congress, assuming Senator Reid does not intend to hold a vote on Friday, January 2, which I very much doubt.  Chuck Grassley will begin his stint as chairman with a very important hearing.
Whether President Obama has the authority to allow the effective nullification of our immigration statutes through executive order is an interesting subject, about which I may have more to say later.  But the immediate implication is clear: Obama, toward the end of his term and perhaps before, is going to put thousands of dangerous hard drug dealers back on the street.  He'll do this via executive clemency.

The clemency program has already been announced by DOJ, but until last night, there were realistic questions about how far it would reach.  Those questions are now answered.  There will be no effective limit whatever.

Nullification through "discretionary" non-enforcement of law is of debatable legality, but the clemency power is not.  It exists, and belongs to the President alone.

There was a glimmer of hope until last night that the President would be restrained in exercising this power, and would pay at least some heed to the idea that hard drug trafficking harms America.  That is over with.  When a President openly and aggressively sympathetic to lawbreakers is willing to use a power that may be there or may not, there is no question left about his willingness to use a power that actually is there.

We saw last night what Obama will do now that he has no political accountability left. But what we saw is only the beginning.

Why It's Important to Vote

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Col. Martha McSally, USAF (Ret.) is the new Representative from Arizona District 2, in the southeast corner of the state, including much of Tucson.  Or maybe not. The final tally showed her 161 votes ahead of incumbent Rep. Ron Barber.  State law requires a recount.  Andrea Kelly has this story at Arizona Public Media.

Meanwhile, in CJLF's backyard in Sacramento County, incumbent Rep. Ami Bera has a 697 vote lead over challenger Doug Ose.  So far.  News 10 KXTV has this story.
Kent noted some of the comments of the chief Federal Defender for the EDNY, where Loretta Lynch holds forth as United States Attorney.

I was an AUSA for a few years back in the day, and I want to provide a translation of the Federal Defender's remarks.

Defender:  "I'm not saying she goes our way, but you can have a meeting with her and have your two cents about policy."

Translation:  "She goes our way, but I'm not about to say so because I'm licking my chops at the prospect of her running the show at Main Justice."

Defender:  "In a field where the prosecutorial positions can be extraordinarily adversarial, she tries to be somebody you can get along with."

Translation:  "Her Office gives away the store."

Defender:  "At a time when the Justice Department has taken the position that you've got to do something about over-incarceration, [prosecuting drug mule cases is] a step in the opposite direction. I'm pretty unhappy," 

Translation:  "If I didn't complain about something, my colleagues would run me out of town."

More on Loretta Lynch

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SJC: Take a Close Look at Ms. Loretta Lynch

Various sources are confirming that Ms. Lynch will be the nominee to replace Eric Holder.  Presumably her nomination will go to the Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC).

Last July, the WSJ had this piece on Ms. Lynch.

Readers might recall that it was Ms. Lynch who gave in to Judge John Gleeson's unethical and baseless windfall for a repeat violent carjacker, Francois Holloway. I described the case in some detail here.  It's a scandal, there's no other word for it.

She initially resisted Gleeson's bullying, to her credit.  When he kept it up, however, she gave in.  One of her AUSA's wrote a legally and factually frivolous motion to vacate two of Holloway's convictions in order to enable Gleeson to impose the more lenient sentence he had been campaigning for for years.

I think it deeply troubling that a United States Attorney would sign a motion to vacate two perfectly valid convictions  --  indeed, convictions whose validity was not questioned.  The motion and accompanying argument were pasted together for the sole purpose of placating Gleeson's petulance.

The Senate Judiciary Committee should take a careful look at Ms. Lynch's role in the Holloway case.
Devlin Barrett reports in the WSJ:

The U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y., Loretta Lynch, is a leading candidate to be nominated as the next U.S. attorney general, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Judges and the Filibuster: What to Do Now?

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As Kent has pointed out, one of the advantages of a Republican majority in the Senate is that it is likely to constrain the President in appointing judges who value "compassion" (or their version of compassion) over law.

In the old Senate, Harry Reid changed the rules governing how filibusters would be conducted on the nominations of court of appeals judges.  Instead of taking 60 votes to end debate, as it had for years, Sen. Reid and his party re-rigged the rules so that it took only 51.  When Democrats had a 54-seat majority, this enabled them to get Obama's nominees to the floor at will.

Now that Republicans will have their own 54-seat majority, the question has arisen whether they should bring back the old rule requiring 60 votes to end debate, or keep the rule as Reid changed it.

Very bright people have different answers.  My old boss and friend, former White House Counsel Boyden Gray, says in the Wall Street Journal (in a piece co-authored with Sen. Orrin Hatch) that we should keep the new rule.  My friend Paul Mirengoff of the influential conservative blog Powerline thinks we should restore the old rule.

This makes a big difference.  Boyden and Paul are both brilliant.  My take on it follows the break.

The Senate

8:30 PST:  Republicans are now projected to hold at least 52 Senate seats in the next Congress.   Party control is not everything, but overall the next Congress should be better for the cause of justice. 
So says Nate Silver at 538.

Will we have the answer early, late, or very late?

Proposition 47

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California's wine country is not exactly conservative territory, to put it mildly.  Napa County went 2-1 for Obama over Romney.  But the St. Helena Star has a scathing editorial on the "defining criminality down" initiative, Proposition 47:

Carrying a stolen handgun. Possession of a date-rape drug. Carrying stolen credit cards. Financial elder abuse.

If these sound like minor, misdemeanor-level offenses to you, then you'll be interested in voting for Proposition 47.

But if they strike you as being the serious felonies that they are, then vote no on Prop. 47.

In an Orwellian touch, supporters -- who include billionaire liberal financier George Soros -- have dubbed the atrociously written proposition the "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act," based on the notion that the money saved by not incarcerating so-called "non-serious" criminals will be used for positive social programs.

The problem, as Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein cogently explained to the Star's editorial board, is the proposition's definition of "non-serious." It's hard to imagine a rational person who would consider the drug and property crimes mentioned above to be "non-serious," but that's exactly how they would be treated if Prop. 47 passes.
However, the Field Poll indicates it is highly likely to pass.

Election Notes

Over at 538, Nate Silver and crew now calculate that the Republican chances of a Senate majority are over 2 to 1, the first time they have crossed that threshold.  The 538 forecasts have been among the most favorable to the Democrats.  At the WaPo's Monkey Cage, it's 93%.  Looks good for "Goodbye, Chairman Leahy, hello Chairman Grassley."

Update:  Larry Sabato et al. weigh in along the same lines.  "While many races remain close, it's just getting harder and harder to envision a plausible path for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate."  They note a "decent chance" that a runoff election in Louisiana or Georgia may actually provide the magic 51st seat, not the election next Tuesday.

In Colorado, the Quinnipiac Poll has Bob Beauprez up by 5% over incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper.  The 538 folks rate Quinnipiac fairly highly at a B+.  They also calculate a "house effect" of +1%R, so let's say Beauprez is really up 4%.  That is still a shade above the 3.4% confidence interval.  See this post for why I'm particularly interested in this one.

Update 2:  The Denver Post and Survey USA have the Colorado governor's race a dead heat, with the caveat that this is Colorado's first all-mail-in election, so pollsters really have no $%*&^* idea.  Okay, I paraphrased that last part a bit.

"He sat in a room, and he lied to me"

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In practical terms, the most important outcome for the cause of justice next week is control of the U.S. Senate, but in terms of "just deserts," the outcome I most want to see is for the people of Colorado to toss their profoundly dishonest Governor John Hickenlooper out on his ear.  Dennis O'Connor, whose 17-year-old daughter was one of four people murdered by Nathan Dunlap, explains why in this 30-second ad now being run on television by the Republican Governors Association.

A longer version for the internet is here.

Guy Benson has this article at Town Hall.

Yes, Voter Fraud Is Real

Hans von Spakovsky has this op-ed in the WSJ:

In the past few months, a former police chief in Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to voter fraud in a town-council election. That fraud had flipped the outcome of a primary election. Former Connecticut legislator Christina Ayala has been indicted on 19 charges of voter fraud, including voting in districts where she didn't reside. (She hasn't entered a plea.) A Mississippi grand jury indicted seven individuals for voter fraud in the 2013 Hattiesburg mayoral contest, which featured voting by ineligible felons and impersonation fraud. A woman in Polk County, Tenn., was indicted on a charge of vote-buying--a practice that the local district attorney said had too long "been accepted as part of life" there.

Scratch One From the AG Short List

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Carol Lee reports in the WSJ:

Former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler has withdrawn her name from consideration as President Barack Obama 's nominee for attorney general, a White House official said Friday.

Mr. Obama had asked Ms. Ruemmler to consider succeeding Eric Holder, who announced last month he would step down as attorney general when a replacement is confirmed. But Ms. Ruemmler, who was at the center of every legal decision made by the White House in Mr. Obama's second term, concluded her closeness with the president would make Senate confirmation difficult and create a bitter partisan fight, the White House official said.

Ms. Ruemmler spoke directly with Mr. Obama on Wednesday to inform him of her decision, after speaking earlier in the week with senior White House officials about her concerns, a person familiar with the discussions said.

Mr. Obama is expected to name a nominee after the Nov. 4 election.

Other potential picks for the attorney general post include Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.

Of course, if the President actually wants a "bitter partisan fight," he can nominate Perez.  I don't know why he would, but why else is he waiting until after the election?

Wouldn't it be a nice boost to Democratic candidates in close Senate races if the President nominated a solid, accomplished person, highly respected across the board in the law enforcement community?  Sure, the candidates could stand up proudly before the swing voters and say "yes, that's the kind of nominee I will gladly support."  If that were the kind of person he wanted to nominate, he would have done so already.

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