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Archive for May 3rd, 2013

Weekend Series on Crime: The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing

Virginia Gov. McDonnell Faces Uncertain Future As FBI Investigates Gifts

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The political future of Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell is at a stake as the FBI investigates gifts he received from a maker of dietary supplements, Bloomberg reports.

The company, Star Scientific, spent $2,268 on a getaway vacation for the governor, $15,000 for catering at his daughter’s wedding and $100,000 on campaign contribution to the Republican, Bloomberg wrote.

The inquiry raises the chances of spoiling McDonnell’s potential 2016 presidential bid

“This still-unfolding scandal is a real departure from the governor’s generally squeaky-clean image,” said Stephen Farnsworth, the director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “This controversy has really put a dent into the governor’s political future.”

Justice Department Plans Early Release for Sick, Aging Inmates to Save Money, Prison Space

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The Justice Department has devised a plan to address overcrowded jails by granting early release to some sick and aging inmates, the Washington Times reports.

The new so-called “compassionate release rules” would save the Justice Department about $3.2 million.

But the Justice Department cautioned “that releasing inmates … could result in some increase in the number of inmates who are rearrested after release, particularly if the numbers and types of inmates released under compassionate release authority are expanded.”

 

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Nullification: How States Are Making It a Felony to Enforce Federal Gun Laws

By Lois Beckett
ProPublica
In mid-April, Kansas passed a law asserting that federal gun regulations do not apply to guns made and owned in Kansas. Under the law, Kansans could manufacture and sell semi-automatic weapons in-state without a federal license or any federal oversight.

Kansas’ “Second Amendment Protection Act” backs up its states’ rights claims with a penalty aimed at federal agents: when dealing with “Made in Kansas” guns, any attempt to enforce federal law is now a felony. Bills similar to Kansas’ law have been introduced in at least 37 other states. An even broader bill is on the desk of Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. That bill would exempt any gun owned by an Alaskan from federal regulation. In Missouri, a bill declaring federal gun laws “null and void” passed by an overwhelming majority in the state house, and is headed for debate in the senate.

Mobilizing the pre-Civil-War doctrine of “nullification,” these bills assert that Congress has overstepped its ability to regulate guns — and that states, not the Supreme Court, have the ultimate authority to decide whether a law is constitutional or not.

The head of the Kansas’s State Rifle Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, says she put the bill together and found it a sponsor. While the NRA regularly lauds passages of states’ gun-rights laws, it stayed silent on Kansas’ law, and, so far, has kept a low profile on nullification. (The group did not respond to our requests for comment.)

Many observers see nullification bills as pure political theater, “the ultimate triumph of symbolism over substance,” as UCLA law Professor Adam Winkler put it. He said he doubts the laws will ever be enforced, and, if they are, expects them to be struck down by the courts.

Winkler and others say nullification laws violate the Constitution, which makes federal law “the supreme law of the land…anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” Indeed, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote a letter last week to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, asserting that Kansas’ law is “unconstitutional.” (Brownback, who signed the bill into law, did not immediately respond to our requests for comment.)

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For now I want to make some general observations about all

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