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Tag: constitution

Times of Trenton: Trump’s Justice Department Erodes Constitutional Rights

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

By Editorial Board
Times of Trenton

“It tears at the fabric of our great nation and does not move us forward; it takes us backwards.”

With these terse words, more than 60 members of Congress – including half a dozen from New Jersey – summed up their dismay over a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice that does an enormous injustice to members of the LGBTQ community.

In a no-holds-barred letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the lawmakers expressed deep disappointment concerning a friend-of-the-court brief the department filed late last month in the case of Zarda v. Altitude Express.

In the brief, the nation’s top law-enforcement body claims that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect lesbians, gays or bisexual people from discrimination.

Not so fast, the letter writers argue. Not only is the Justice Department’s action contrary to existing law, they say forcefully, but it also violates the country’s basic ideals of liberty and justice for all.

The original lawsuit under review stems from 2010, when a skydiving instructor named Donald Zarda charged that a former employer, Altitude Express, Inc., violated the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against him because of his sexual orientation.

Justice Department Demands IP Addresses of Visitors to Anti-Trump Site

department-of-justice-logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department has issued a warrant for records from a website used to organized protests against President Trump’s inauguration, but the web-hosting and domain registration company is putting up a fight.

DreamHost said the Justice Department filed a motion to force the company to release 1.3 million visitors’ IP addresses from disruptjj20.org, a website organized by a group of activists “building the framework needed for mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump.”

In a blogpost by DreamHost, the web hosting provider said the Justice Department’s request is unconstitutional and is seeking additional contact information, content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website. 

“Chris Ghazarian, our General Counsel, has taken issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution,” the blogpost reads.

It adds: “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”

The Justice Department declined to respond to several news organizations’ requests for information.

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Killed Mexican Teen Has Constitutional Protections

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether a Mexican teenager is permitted to sue the Border Patrol agent who shot him.

“This raises fundamental questions about the reach of protection under the Constitution,” Deepak Gupta, a lawyer working on behalf of the teenager’s family,”  told the Dallas Morning News.  “It’s hard to understate how fundamental it is.”

In the summer of 2010, Sergio Hernandez, then 15, was allegedly throwing rocks at Border Patrol officers along the border between El Paso and Juarez.

Agent Jesus Mesa Jr. fired at Hernandez, killing him.

The central question in the court case: Does a Mexican have constitutional protections against the use of deadly force by federal officers – a protection afforded to Americans?

A Border Patrol lawyer says Hernandez does not have constitutional protections.

“To say he did would create a very litigious border,” Ortega said. “We’d be, in effect, expanding the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the United States into sovereign areas.”

Justice Department: DEA Paid Informants Millions of Dollars without Proper Oversight

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is under fire for spending millions of dollars on confidential informants without proper oversight and using sources in a way that potentially violates the Constitution, the Justice Department inspector general has found.

The 65-page report lists serious missteps in the handling of confidential informants and recommended better policies and procedures, the Washington Post reports. 

Inspector General Michael Horowitz found a lack of oversight that led to fraud and abuse. One example showed that the DEA paid a source more than $469,000, even though he had previously been “deactivated” for lying in court and depositions.

The investigation found that the DEA used more than 18,000 informants between October 2010 and September 2015, and half were paid about $237 million.

The Washington Post wrote:

The sources ranged from criminals providing information on their associates to airline, train and parcel-service employees providing tips on suspected drug traffickers’ movements.

The work, for all involved, can be lucrative. The inspector general found one airline employee who received more than $600,000 in less than four years, and a parcel employee who received more than $1 million in five years.

The inspector general found, though, that more money did not always come with more oversight. The DEA’s Intelligence Division, for example, paid $25 million to eight sources over a five-year period and “did not independently validate the credibility of these sources, or the accuracy of the information they provide,” according to the inspector general. The Intelligence Division, according to the report, generally relied on “DEA field offices’ risk assessments and determinations that confidential sources are reliable.”

Federal Judges Dismiss Cases After FBI Hosted Child Pornography Site

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s child pornography sting “Operation Pacifier” was successful at locating and identifying abusers, but it has come under attack by federal judges across the country.

Agents took over the “dark web” site, The Playpen, for two weeks, when 48,000 images and 200 videos of sexual abuse were posted or swapped. The FBI arrested more than 180 people in the U.S.

But the Knoxville New Sentinel reports that at least seven federal judges ruled that the FBI’s takeover of the site was illegal and violated federal rules of criminal procedure.

The judges cited constitutional violations.

Arizona Republic: Court Case Over Constitutional Rights of Mexican Child Needs Hashed Out

border patrol 3By Editorial Board
Arizona Republic 

Either the Constitution means something or it doesn’t.

When a U.S. cop shoots a Mexican kid through the border fence, it might be tempting to apply a more convenient standard.

But it won’t wash.

A federal judge in Tucson said the young man’s mother can take her case against a Border Patrol agent to court. She says the agent violated her son’s constitutional rights by firing through the fence and killing him on a sidewalk in Mexico.

“At its heart, this is a case alleging excessive deadly force by a U.S. Border Patrol agent standing on American soil brought before a United States Federal District Court tasked with upholding the United States Constitution,” U.S. District Court Judge Raner Collins wrote.

His order lets the case go forward. It does not determine the merits of the lawsuit.

The case matters because the Border Patrol has faced repeated allegations of human rights violations, ranging from the petty to the fatal. The agency lacks transparency and accountability.

What’s more, Collins says he “respectfully disagrees” with a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that declined to extend constitutional protections to another youth shot in Mexico by U.S. agents firing across the line from Texas.

To read more click here. 

Federal Judge: Mother of Mexican Teen Killed by Border Patrol Agent May Sue U.S.

Border PatrolBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A federal judge has ruled that the mother of a Mexican teen killed in a cross-border shooting by a Border Patrol agent may sue the government, the Desert News reports.

U.S. District Court Judge Raner C. Collins denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the victim, a Mexican resident, was not protected by the U.S. Constitution.

In a similar case, a federal appeals court came to the opposite conclusion.

“The Court finds that, under the facts alleged in this case, the Mexican national may avail himself to the protections of the Fourth Amendment and that the agent may not assert qualified immunity,” Collins wrote.

Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz fatally shot 16-year-old Jose Antonino Elena Rodriguez for allegedly throwing rocks across the border .

Lawsuit: Does U.S. Constitution Protect Mexicans in Their Home Country?

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Is a Mexican boy shot in his home country protected by the U.S. Constitution?

The question is at the center of a lawsuit filed by the family of a Mexican teenager who was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent near Nogales, Sonora, in 2012, the Associated Press reports.   

The 16-year-old’s mother said her boy was just walking home near the border fence when an agent shot him. Border Patrol counters that the boy was among a group throwing rocks at agents.

The attorney for the agent who fired the fatal shots argued Tuesday that the lawsuit has no merit because the boy wasn’t protect by the Constitution.

The FBI is investigation the shooting.