Recently in Politics Category
"The president believes that one important purpose [of executive clemency] can be to help correct the effects of outdated and overly harsh sentences that Congress and the American people have since recognized are no longer in the best interests of justice," Ruemmler said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday at New York University's law school. "This effort also reflects the reality that our overburdened federal prison population includes many low-level, nonviolent offenders without significant criminal histories." ***
[She also] said the Justice Department plans in the coming weeks to encourage worthy inmates to request commutations, with bar associations offering to help with applications. She said Obama's new budget proposal calls for seven more staffers to be added to the Office of Pardon Attorney to handle applications, saying that the two years the office has taken to resolve petitions in recent years has been "unacceptably long." She said Obama met with U.S. attorneys last month and asked them to personally review petitions to consider "whether granting clemency would be consistent with the values of justice and fairness that are the hallmark of the best traditions of the Department of Justice."
To me, this sounds like a mass commutation is in the works, and I gather I'm not the only one who senses this.
The Connecticut Legislature voted in 2012 to abolish the death penalty for future cases but not past ones. CJLF's brief in the Connecticut Supreme Court supporting the prospective-only feature is here.
This verdict illustrates why the repeal vote was wrong. Not once but twice, 12 citizens have decided unanimously that any punishment less than death for this particular crime is insufficient. By taking that option off the table for future cases, the Connecticut Legislature has turned its back on justice.
Abolition of the death penalty is essentially an elitist cause. People who live in safe, leafy neighborhoods can wring their hands over the poor, unfortunate wretches on death row and ignore the suffering of the people these monsters have murdered as well as the families left behind. For politicians, a vote to abolish gets them good press and brownie points with some well-heeled supporters. It appears not to hurt them with the general public as long as crime remains low on most voters' list of priorities.
In recent years, crime has been off the radar screen as wars in the Middle East, the financial crisis, the recession, and the fight over health care have taken center stage and while crime rates have dropped to lows unseen in decades. In part, "tough on crime" has been a political victim of its own success. In part, it has been undermined by the ebb and flow of unrelated historical events.
Will this be the year crime reappears on the voters' radar? In Colorado, it is an element of Gov. Hickenlooper's surprising electoral weakness. In California, backlash against Gov. Brown's "realignment" folly may be an element in California Republican Party's return from the grave. We will have to wait and see.
The U.S. Senate narrowly defeated President Obama's nominee to oversee the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division due to Republican and law enforcement objections to the role he played in the defense of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.Of course, supporters say the predictable things:
Only 47 senators, all Democrats, voted to advance Debo Adegbile's nomination while 52 senators voted to block him, including 7 Democrats. Vice President Biden presided over the vote in the event he could break a tie, which was unnecessary after Democrats failed to muster enough support.
Democrats, lawyers groups and civil rights activists hailed Adegbile as one of the nation's leading civil rights attorneys with impeccable credentials honed over two decades in the profession. He has worked as an aide in the U.S. Senate as well as the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and has argued two civil rights cases on voting rights before the Supreme Court.
"There is no question about his competence," said Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., prior to the vote.
Senator Durbin is actually the Majority Whip, but that's a nice thought. Maybe next year. [Update: The article has been corrected.] Did Senator Durbin say that competence is all that matters when Justice Alito was nominated? I don't think so. As always in Washington, "where you stand depends on where you sit."
See also yesterday's post, containing links to numerous earlier posts on this matter.
Under new Senate rules approved last November, Adegbile will need to secure a simple majority of senators -- 51 votes -- to clear a procedural hurdle before he is confirmed. But Adegbile's confirmation is at risk of falling short of the votes needed as Democrats face pressure from Republicans and several national law enforcement groups who oppose his nomination.See earlier posts Jan. 9, Feb. 4, Feb. 6, Feb. 6 (again), Feb. 19, and Feb. 26.
The first sign that the Adegbile nomination could be in real trouble came last week, when Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said he would not vote in favor of confirmation.
It is not the fact that NAACP-LDF defended a murderer under Mr. Adegbile's watch that disqualifies him, but the manner in which they went about it. And, no, the fact that he was not the lead attorney on the case does not matter. It was done under his watch, and, given the high profile of the case, it is inconceivable that he did not know and approve of it.
Now exactly this kind of junk, indeed an extreme example of this kind of junk, has been cited by none other than the Attorney General of the United States on the subject of felon disenfranchisement. He has been called out on this by none other than the previous Attorney General of the United States in this op-ed in the WSJ (subscription).
Voters in 11 states can permanently lose their right to vote if convicted of a felony. Among most other states, that right can be restored only after serving some combination of their jail time, parole and probation. But most voters believe someone convicted of a felony should regain the right to vote after serving their sentence problem-free.What's with the "but"? Completion of the period of parole or probation is part of the sentence, so the proposition endorsed by most voters is consistent with the law of most states.