Get Our Newsletter



Links

Columnists



Site Search


Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

October 2019
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Guides

How to Become a Bounty Hunter



Tag: Kennedy

The Effect of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Picks on Criminal Law Cases

supreme_court_us_2010

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

One out of five voters said that the Supreme Court was the most important issue of the Presidential campaign. They voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. The President-elect has published two lists of about 20 possibilities for his Supreme Court appointees.

“Appointees” plural since there is one vacancy and three of the eight Justices are over or near 80 years old. Two are considered in the “liberal” wing (Ginsburg, Breyer) and one is a swing vote who sometimes votes with that group (Kennedy).

Since the pool of Trump picks are characterized as “conservative” or “libertarian,” the speculation by the pundits is that the effect of the appointments will be immediate and a strong re-direction to the right. Not that many of us put much faith in the predictions of the pundits and pollsters after the election. But in this case they are probably right. At least as to the hot-button issues like abortion, immigration, climate change, LGBTQ, gun rights, and affirmative action.

But what about cases involving criminal and law enforcement issues? This requires an assessment of how the current 8 Justices on these cases have voted.

In the 2015-2016 term, the Court handed down opinions in 28 cases involving these issues out of 81total cases. Categorizing each Justice’s vote as Pro-Government or Pro-Defendant results in the following order, from highest percentage of Pro-Government votes to the lowest:

Alito————79%

Thomas——–61%

Kennedy——-61%

Breyer———-57%

Roberts——–57%

Kagan———-54%

Ginsburg——50%

Sotomayor—-36%

Another interesting survey counted the percentage of time that each Justice voted with the majority in criminal cases, as opposed to voting with the dissent, or filing a concurrence with an entirely different rationale than the majority. That list from highest adherence to the majority to the lowest was as follows:

Kennedy——-96%

Roberts——–93%

Kagan———-89%

Ginsburg——86%

Breyer———86%

Alito———–71%

Sotomayor—71%

Thomas——-54%

Before the analyses, the caveats. These 28 cases were from a single term, not the entire history of a Justice’s votes. Some involved just following the Justice’s interpretation of precedent, as opposed to how he or she would have voted if not bound by precedent. Some of the cases were very complex, and there was some subjectivity in a few cases in deciding which box to put each of the votes in. But there is something to be learned from the exercise even with these limitations.

Looking at the Pro-Government listing, the two Justices at the top (Alito and Thomas) are considered to be the most “conservative” on the bench. The two on the bottom are considered to be in the “liberal” wing. But the four in the middle do not follow these labels. The list proceeds: swing vote (Kennedy), liberal (Breyer), conservative (Roberts), liberal (Kagan). Thus in criminal cases at least, the label does not determine the voting pattern for most Justices.

This conclusion is made even more apparent by a look at individual criminal cases even at the top and bottom of this ranking. For example Justice Thomas, rightly considered the dissenter on the bench, either dissented or concurred in the defendant’s favor in six cases, about a quarter of the criminal docket. This may well be because of his libertarian views on cases like those involving Second Amendment right to bear arms or the federal Hobbs Act, which he may perceive to invade states rights. On the other end of the list, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg each dissented in favor of the Government in two cases.

On a great many cases, it was difficult to predict how a Justice would vote on criminal cases. Voting groups on each side sometimes involved surprising voting buddies. On the great majority of cases, reading the opinions left the conclusion that the Justices more often voted their views on the applicable law rather than a particular ideology.

Also the overall Government win percentage in criminal cases is 57% to 43% for the defendants. Not too shabby for the guys and gals wearing the white hats. Moreover, in 77% of the time the Justices agree with the opinion of the Court. So the present group has not been a hotbed of rancorous disagreement.

These numbers can be parsed and speculated about in other ways. But back to the original question—how will Trump appointees affect the Court’s criminal and law enforcement-related cases? For the first appointment, to replace Justice Scalia, the answer is probably not much. Justice Scalia regularly, but not always, voted for the government in these cases. And as shown above, most cases are not decided by the ideological label put on each Justice by the media.

The second appointee, and there will be another one for President Trump, will have a greater impact, particularly in categories like abortion, affirmative action, gun rights, business regulation, gay rights, campaign spending, and racial discrimination. However, a Justice’s views can change on the bench and can greatly disappoint the appointing President, like Chief Justice Warren, Justice White, and Justice Souter, to name a few.

In criminal cases, the effect of a second “conservative” like those mentioned by the President-elect will not be as great as these categories, but it will probably move the dial for some future columnist’s analysis toward the Government’s benefit. A more law and order bench, if you will. Justice Brennan, if he stays on the bench, would not be the swing vote. The Chief Justice may well get that label.

One category in criminal cases where such a development may be significant is death penalty cases, where the Court appears to have been sensing the population’s growing doubts about the efficacy and cost effectiveness of the ultimate penalty. Even the few states regularly employing the death penalty seem to be increasingly ambivalent. The recent trend seems to be to decide these cases in ways that lessen the prospect of execution. But that could change with two or more new Justices.

Finally there is, depending on your perspective, another good development in President-elect Trump’s plans. We will no longer be judged by the eastern elite from Harvard and Yale, raised on the coasts, especially New York. The Trump list comes from all over the country and from non-Ivy League law schools, which is good news for those of us who live in the wilderness of “fly over” states and for the lawyers who went to Midwest and southern law schools. Also good news for a more diverse and representative point of view on the highest court in the land.

Parker: The Effect of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Picks on Criminal Law Cases

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

supreme_court_us_2010

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

One out of five voters said that the Supreme Court was the most important issue of the Presidential campaign. They voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump. The President-elect has published two lists of about 20 possibilities for his Supreme Court appointees.

“Appointees” plural since there is one vacancy and three of the eight Justices are over or near 80 years old. Two are considered in the “liberal” wing (Ginsburg, Breyer) and one is a swing vote who sometimes votes with that group (Kennedy).

Since the pool of Trump picks are characterized as “conservative” or “libertarian,” the speculation by the pundits is that the effect of the appointments will be immediate and a strong re-direction to the right. Not that many of us put much faith in the predictions of the pundits and pollsters after the election. But in this case they are probably right. At least as to the hot-button issues like abortion, immigration, climate change, LGBTQ, gun rights, and affirmative action.

But what about cases involving criminal and law enforcement issues? This requires an assessment of how the current 8 Justices on these cases have voted.

In the 2015-2016 term, the Court handed down opinions in 28 cases involving these issues out of 81total cases. Categorizing each Justice’s vote as Pro-Government or Pro-Defendant results in the following order, from highest percentage of Pro-Government votes to the lowest:

Alito————79%

Thomas——–61%

Kennedy——-61%

Breyer———-57%

Roberts——–57%

Kagan———-54%

Ginsburg——50%

Sotomayor—-36%

Another interesting survey counted the percentage of time that each Justice voted with the majority in criminal cases, as opposed to voting with the dissent, or filing a concurrence with an entirely different rationale than the majority. That list from highest adherence to the majority to the lowest was as follows:

Kennedy——-96%

Roberts——–93%

Kagan———-89%

Ginsburg——86%

Breyer———86%

Alito———–71%

Sotomayor—71%

Thomas——-54%

Before the analyses, the caveats. These 28 cases were from a single term, not the entire history of a Justice’s votes. Some involved just following the Justice’s interpretation of precedent, as opposed to how he or she would have voted if not bound by precedent. Some of the cases were very complex, and there was some subjectivity in a few cases in deciding which box to put each of the votes in. But there is something to be learned from the exercise even with these limitations.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

Looking at the Pro-Government listing, the two Justices at the top (Alito and Thomas) are considered to be the most “conservative” on the bench. The two on the bottom are considered to be in the “liberal” wing. But the four in the middle do not follow these labels. The list proceeds: swing vote (Kennedy), liberal (Breyer), conservative (Roberts), liberal (Kagan). Thus in criminal cases at least, the label does not determine the voting pattern for most Justices.

This conclusion is made even more apparent by a look at individual criminal cases even at the top and bottom of this ranking. For example Justice Thomas, rightly considered the dissenter on the bench, either dissented or concurred in the defendant’s favor in six cases, about a quarter of the criminal docket. This may well be because of his libertarian views on cases like those involving Second Amendment right to bear arms or the federal Hobbs Act, which he may perceive to invade states rights. On the other end of the list, Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg each dissented in favor of the Government in two cases.

On a great many cases, it was difficult to predict how a Justice would vote on criminal cases. Voting groups on each side sometimes involved surprising voting buddies. On the great majority of cases, reading the opinions left the conclusion that the Justices more often voted their views on the applicable law rather than a particular ideology.

Read more »

Dallas Morning News: City Will Never Truly Get Beyond Nov. 22, 1963

Dallas Morning News
Editorial

Fifty years is a relative blip on the grand timeline, barely a rounding error between your genesis point and the end of life as we know it. Yet in human terms, 50 years is longer than many life spans, past and present.

In Dallas terms, 50 years is five decades of exploration, examination and grinding introspection about what happened, and why, on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza.

John F. Kennedy’s slaying was a seminal event in our city’s history, encapsulating too much that came before and influencing much that would follow, and here we are. We have considered it, studied it, reflected and grieved.

It’s tempting to acquiesce after all these years, to step away from the pain and sadness and horror of a president’s murder on our streets, and say, finally: “Enough. We are past that now.”

That many of us have obsessed about this single moment for so long says something. Dallas today bears little resemblance to 1963 Dallas. Divisions and demarcations, fading away by the decade, were stark. Today’s politics may have troubling elements, but they are a shallow dive compared with the dangerous extremism then.

To read more click here.

Former Secret Service Agent Recalls the Day JFK Was Shot 50 Years Ago

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Clint Hill remembers running toward the back of the limousine where President John F. Kennedy was just shot.

Hill was a Secret Service agent who was in the motorcade surrounding the president and first lady on Nov. 22, 1963.

“I think about it every day,” Hill told a crowd Tuesday night at Bismarck State College, the Bismark Tribune reports. “It never goes away.”

Hill said he took off his suit jacket and covered the president’s body at the hospital so the first lady wouldn’t have to see the gruesome results.

Hill also had the unfortunate job of telling Robert Kennedy that his brother was dead.

“I didn’t want to tell him that his brother was dead,” Hill said.

“It’s as bad as it could get,” Hill remembers telling Robert Kennedy.

Did Secret Service Agent Kill JFK? New Documentary Explores the Questions

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A new documentary, “JFK: The Smoking Gun,” explores the theory that an under-qualified Secret Service agent delivered the shot that killed President John F. Kennedy, the Toronto reports.

The documentary, which aired Sunday on Discovery, is based on the work of retired Australian police detective Colin McLaren, who said, “This is not conjecture, this is all based on evidence and forensic study.”

It’s just the latest programming marking the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Former FBI Agent: Oswald Acted Alone

Jacqueline Kennedy-1961/white house photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

A former FBI agent who worked in the Kennedy assassinations believes  the conspiracy theories may have resulted from suspicions after the FBI decided to initially withhold some information, reports the Salem News. He still believes Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Former agent Jim Graham of Overland, Ks., says the FBI withheld initially, at the request of Jacqueline Kennedy, evidence indicating the bullet that killed Kennedy came from Oswald’s position and his rifle, according to the Salem News. That, he says, may have created the conspiracy theories.

“Mrs. Kennedy did not want this evidence released immediately because she did not want her children to see it,” Graham told the paper.

Graham was a street agent in Kansas City at the time of the assassination, listening in over the radio from his car as it happened. Two days later Jack Ruby killed Oswald and Graham wound up investigating the incident in Dallas with hundreds of other agents. His work made it into the Warren Commission report, the large investigation into the murder.

Graham firmly believes Oswald acted alone. “Oswald was a small person who always wanted to be somebody,” he told the paper. “Killing the President of the United States was his claim to fame.” Graham believes Oswald would have confessed had he not been killed.

To read more about Graham’s career click here.

Joseph Kennedy Touted J. Edgar Hoover for President

J. Edgar Hoover/fbi photo

J. Edgar Hoover/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL News

WASHINGTON— J. Edgar Hoover for president?

Well, Joseph Kennedy, the patriarch of the Kennedy political dynasty, apparently thought it was a good idea in the 1950s, according to an essay Hoover wrote that was included in the newly released FBI files on the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

In a letter dated Oct. 13, 1964, Ted Kennedy wrote Hoover to say he was “putting together a short book of recollections of my father” and wanted his father’s good friends like Hoover to contribute. Hoover agreed, and a month later sent off the seven-page essay to Kennedy.

To read more click here.

Ex-Kennedy Staffer Indicted in Scheme to Get More Than $75,000 Extra in Pay and Bonuses

istock photo

istock photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– A former office manager for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy was indicted Tuesday in a scheme to get more than $75,000 extra in salary and bonuses, the Justice Department said.

Ngozi T. Pole, 39,of Waldorf, Md., was charged in a six-count indictment that alleged that as office manager for Kennedy between 2003 and 2007 he “repeatedly submitted paperwork causing the Senate to pay him larger salary and bonus payments than had been approved by either the chief of staff or Senator Kennedy,” a Justice Department press release said.