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“Learning The Hard Way”: House Republicans Can’t Find Anyone To Sue The President

It’s not so easy, it turns out, for Congress to sue the president.

Speaker John Boehner is finding that out the hard way after a second law firm withdrew from representing the House in the Republican-led lawsuit against President Obama over his use—or overuse—of executive authority. William Burck of the Washington-based firm Quinn Emanuel pulled out of the case last month, not long after he signed a contract with the House to replace David Rifkin of BakerHostetler.

The yet-to-be-filed suit has become an embarrassment for the speaker after he led the House in a party-line vote to authorize legal action against Obama back in August. The lawsuit would accuse the president of exceeding his authority by delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate without permission from Congress.

In both cases, according to sources working on the issue, the law firms succumbed to political pressure from Democratic clients who threatened to pull their business if the firms represented the House GOP in a partisan suit. Congressional Democrats had decried Boehner’s move as a waste of taxpayer money. They also successfully parlayed the planned lawsuit into a fundraising boon by telling liberal supporters it was a prelude to impeachment, which Boehner insisted was not the case.

But not only did the two firms withdraw, they ditched the case so quickly that neither of them performed enough work to bill the House, sources said. In an odd silver lining for House Republicans, nearly three months after they signed off on the lawsuit, not a single dollar of taxpayer money has been spent. It’s also not a given that the legal proceedings, whenever they begin, will drag out beyond Obama’s presidency. The expectation among staff working on the case is that a federal court, once the lawsuit is filed, could decide fairly quickly on whether it would go forward. There is little precedent for one chamber of Congress suing the president under these circumstances, and Republican staffers acknowledge the case could get thrown out.

House leaders have now all but given up on finding a new lawyer who will take the case, and Boehner is instead considering assigning the work to the chamber’s in-house counsel, which is a position appointed by the speaker.

“The litigation remains on track,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said Thursday, “but we are examining the possibility of forgoing outside counsel and handling the litigation directly through the House, rather than through law firms that are susceptible to political pressure from wealthy, Democratic-leaning clients.”

Another wild card is the likelihood that Obama will issue a broad executive order legalizing undocumented immigrants after the November election, a move that would inflame Republicans and generate calls for more legal action. In other words, the House could vote again in November or December to add immigration to the resolution authorizing a lawsuit over Obamacare.

“We are also closely following what the administration does on executive amnesty, and the possible impact that could have on the litigation strategy,” Smith said.

Democrats, meanwhile, have turned from criticizing Boehner to mocking him.
“Speaker Boehner cannot find a single lawyer in the entire country—even at $500 dollars an hour in taxpayer money—to file a lawsuit that is so totally devoid of any legal merit,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Burck did not return requests for comment. His firm’s withdrawal was first reported by Politico on Wednesday night.

 

By: Russell Berman, The Atlantic, October 30, 2014

November 2, 2014 Posted by | House Republicans, John Boehner | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Electing Judges Is Insane”: Justice Judith French, ‘Forget All Those Other Votes If You Don’t Keep The Ohio Supreme Court Conservative’

With a couple of minor exceptions, like a few local judgeships in Switzerland, the United States is the only country where judges are elected. Indeed, to the rest of the world, the idea of judges running for office—begging for money, airing attack ads against their opponents, thinking always about their next election even after they take the bench—is positively insane. And they’re right.

We’ve had elected judgeships for our entire history, but until the last few years, those elections were nothing like races for Congress or governorships. But those days are past—now not only are judges acting like politicians, outside groups (yes, including the Koch brothers) are pouring money into judicial races to produce courts more to their liking. And when you make judicial elections more partisan, you get more partisan judges, like one Judith French, a member of the Ohio Supreme Court who is running to retain her seat:

At a Saturday event at which she introduced Republican Gov. John Kasich, French said, “I am a Republican and you should vote for me. You’re going to hear from your elected officials, and I see a lot of them in the crowd.

“Let me tell you something: The Ohio Supreme Court is the backstop for all those other votes you are going to cast.

“Whatever the governor does, whatever your state representative, your state senator does, whatever they do, we are the ones that will decide whether it is constitutional; we decide whether it’s lawful. We decide what it means, and we decide how to implement it in a given case.

“So, forget all those other votes if you don’t keep the Ohio Supreme Court conservative,” French said.

Well, at least she’s being forthright, not bothering with “I’ll rule according to the Constitution” and “It’s not my job to make the laws” and “I just call balls and strikes” and all the other baloney that Republican judges offer up when asked about their judicial philosophy. “I am a Republican and you should vote for me.” That pretty much sums it up. What a terrific system.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, October 31, 2014

November 2, 2014 Posted by | Judicial Activism, Judiciary | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mercy Me!”: This Is How Fox Reacts When Democrats Talk About Racism In The South

News Flash: The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans.

And now that some Democrats are daring to point that out, in ads and interviews, the media is grabbing its smelling salts.

Mercy me! they’re crying—it’s unseemly for Southern candidates to mention that black people face discrimination, voter suppression and even violence in the Old Confederacy.

In an interview yesterday, Chuck Todd asked Senator Mary Landrieu, now locked in a tight race in Louisiana, “Why does President Obama have a hard time in Louisiana?” Fossil-fuel hawk Landrieu first cited Obama’s moratorium on off-shore drilling after the BP disaster, which she said put a lot of people out of business. Then, she ventured:

I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.

“Why is she talking like this?” Fox News host Bill Hemmer asked incredulously this morning. A guest came on to explain, “She is excusing her poor performance by blaming voters.”

It can’t be because it’s true.

Even the host of an Al Jazeera news show today, while not doubting the veracity of Landrieu’s comment, treated it like a gaffe, a bad one, and had an expert on to decide if Landrieu’s campaign was now doomed. (The verdict: maybe.)

More predictably, Republicans are shocked, shocked at Landrieu’s audacity. Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal called the remarks “remarkably divisive” and “a major insult” to Louisianans. “She appears to be living in a different century,” he said in a statement.

“Louisiana deserves better than a senator who denigrates her own people by questioning and projecting insidious motives on the very people she claims to represent,” State Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere said in a statement. “Senator Landrieu and President Obama are unpopular for no other reason than the fact the policies they advance are wrong for Louisiana and wrong for America.” And of course there’ve been demands that Landrieu apologize. (Do not do this, Mary.)

It’s not that people, left or right, shouldn’t object to Obama’s policies. But the claim that whites in the South, or elsewhere, hate Obama’s policies (many of which are Republican-bred) and are color-blind to his race is ludicrous. But they can get away with it in part because of the persistent myth that this is a post-racial America, the one the Supreme Court decided was so enlightened that it gutted the civil rights voting law and has allowed the voter ID laws in Texas to stand.

Right after making her “inflammatory” remarks about African-Americans, Landrieu went out on another limb and said of the South, “It’s not always been a good place for women to present ourselves. It’s more of a conservative place.” But even if Landrieu were pandering to blacks and women to get them to the polls, so what? Her statements are true and obvious. And this is an election.

The media have been similarly timid in accepting what’s true and obvious when it comes to covering the get-out-the-black-vote ad campaigns that cite Trayvon Martin, Ferguson and GOP hopes to impeach Obama. A front-page story in Wednesday’s New York Times described the various flyers and radio ads targeting African-Americans, especially in the South:

The images and words they are using are striking for how overtly they play on fears of intimidation and repression….

In North Carolina, the “super PAC” started by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, ran an ad on black radio that accused the Republican candidate, Thom Tillis, of leading an effort to pass the kind of gun law that “caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.”

In Georgia, Democrats are circulating a flier warning that voting is the only way “to prevent another Ferguson.” It shows two black children holding cardboard signs that say “Don’t shoot.”….

In Arkansas, voters are opening mailboxes to find leaflets with images of the Ferguson protests and the words: “Enough! Republicans are targeting our kids, silencing our voices and even trying to impeach our president.” The group distributing them is Color of Change, a grass-roots civil rights organization.

In Georgia, the state Democratic Party is mixing themes of racial discrimination with appeals to rally behind the only black man elected president. “It’s up to us to vote to protect the legacy of the first African-American president,” one flier reads.

It’s not that the Times story necessarily agrees with conservatives that these ads are “race-baiting”—it’s the tone of strained, he-said/she-said “balance”:

That has led Republicans to accuse Democrats of turning to race-baiting in a desperate bid to win at the polls next Tuesday.

“They have been playing on this nerve in the black community that if you even so much as look at a Republican, churches will start to burn, your civil rights will be taken away and young black men like Trayvon Martin will die,” said Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican Party….

Democrats say Republicans need to own their record of passing laws hostile to African-American interests on issues like voting rights.

But the story doesn’t cut through the journalistic niceties until the very end.

For many African-Americans, feelings of persecution—from voter ID laws, aggressive police forces and a host of other social problems— are hard to overstate. And they see no hyperbole in the attacks.

“It’s not race-baiting; it’s actually happening,” said Jaymes Powell Jr., an official in the North Carolina Democratic Party’s African-American Caucus. “I can’t catch a fish unless there’s a worm on the hook.”

 

By: Leslie Savan, The Nation, October 31, 2014

November 2, 2014 Posted by | Fox News, Racism, The South | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Stupid Is As Stupid Does”: Bobby Jindal Picks An Unfortunate Fight Over Intelligence

Looking back at the last year or so, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) effort to raise his national profile has run into occasional pitfalls. The far-right governor, for example, has suggested Americans have a guaranteed right under the First Amendment to appear on reality-television shows, while also refusing to say whether he believes in modern biology.

The Louisiana Republican has filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to an education policy he recently endorsed; he said Israel would be safer if Secretary of State John Kerry was “riding a girl’s bike or whatever it is in Nantucket”; and he made up a ridiculous argument about Medicaid hurting Americans with disabilities, making it seem as if he doesn’t understand the policy.

It’s against this backdrop that Jindal is now arguing that President Obama isn’t “smart” enough for his taste.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) attacked President Barack Obama’s intelligence on Tuesday, claiming Obama deserves a tuition refund from Harvard since he didn’t learn “a darned thing while he was there.” […]

“There’s actually one lawsuit I’m happy to endorse. You see we have gotten so used to saying we have a constitutional scholar in the White House, we’ve gotten so used to saying we have a smart man as president. But I’m beginning to wonder if that’s really true,” Jindal said, according to video posted by the Louisville Courier-Journal.

As part of his indictment against the president’s intellect, Jindal insisted that Obama is the “first president ever to occupy the White House who does not believe in American exceptionalism.” He made the comments shortly after President Obama told a White House audience, “I’m a firm believer in American exceptionalism” – an issue he spoke on at some length.

Part of the problem is Jindal’s lazy combination of irony and hypocrisy. The Louisiana governor, desperate to rally right-wing support in advance of a likely national campaign, routinely makes comments that can charitably be described as dumb. For Jindal to pick a fight about the president’s intellectual acuity is like New Jersey Chris Christie (R) accusing someone of being a bully – it’s a topic probably better left to others.

But the other part is the governor’s actions, which raise their own doubts about whether Louisiana is led by a “smart man.”

Louisiana has a message for many of the scientists and medical experts studying Ebola and aiding efforts to fight the deadly virus in West Africa – stay away.

The state sent a letter to members of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which is holding its annual conference in New Orleans next week. If they’ve recently been to any of the West African countries where the virus has infected more than 13,000 people, they shouldn’t attend the meeting.

Soon after the 2012 elections, it was Jindal who said his party needs to “stop being the stupid party” and move away from “dumbed-down conservatism.”

He’s apparently changed his mind.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 31, 2014

November 2, 2014 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Intelligence, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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