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May 14, 2010
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Elena Kagan — An Inexperienced Liberal
President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is irresponsible. Ms. Kagan is a liberal activist and political operative with no experience as judge. A Supreme Court nominee ought to have significant practical experience as a lawyer or a judge.
Her biography includes work for the campaigns of ardent liberals Elizabeth Holtzman (a radical feminist in New York) and Michael Dukakis. She practiced law a total of 3 years, one of them for the Clinton White House. She also clerked for the late Thurgood Marshall, one of the most liberal Supreme Court members in recent history. The rest of her career was spent working as a domestic policy aide in the Clinton White House and in academia, where she became the first female dean of Harvard Law School. So three years (barely four, if you include her on-the-job training as United States Solicitor General) of practical legal experience and a few years clerking in the federal courts…which is too little experience for the High Court.
Frankly, the fact that she continued to work in the Clinton White House after it became clear that President Clinton lied under oath raises questions about her ethical judgment. I know that it is not politically correct here in Washington to remind folks that Bill Clinton abused his office and lied under oath, but Judicial Watch believes that lawyers like Kagan who happily worked for him despite his misconduct in office need to be held to account as to why they continued to work for the impeached Clinton despite his contempt for the rule of law.
Her decision to throw military recruiters off the campus of Harvard Law School during a time of war shows she is far to the left of mainstream America. In kicking out the military, Kagan was in violation of the law known as the Solomon Amendment. And she only let recruiters back on her campus when the Department of Defense told her school it would withhold federal funds otherwise. Kagan sought to have the Solomon Amendment overturned, but the Supreme Court knocked her effort down 8-0. Not even leftists on the Court, including Justice Stevens (who Kagan is seeking to replace), agreed with her radical effort to force the federal government to fund colleges who ban military recruiters from campus. It is a sight to see the Obama crowd spin Kagan’s ban on military recruiters because the military followed “the don’t ask, don’t tell” law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton as “pro-military.” Talk about out-of-touch!
- Close Obama Friend, Advisor Under Federal Probe
- U.S. Ignores Immigrants With Expired Visas
- Illegal Alien Gets $145k For Civil Rights Violations In N.Y.
- State Dept. Hinders Visa Security Program
- Obama Political Advisers Get Personal Drivers
- College Blocks Illegal Student’s Deportation
- Kagan May Be Goldman Sachs’ Supreme Court “Golden Girl”
- Islamic Law Helps Illegal Couple Stay In U.S.
- Pelosi Launches Amnesty Campaign
Ms. Kagan’s record, as spotty as it is, shows that she is a committed liberal judicial activist. Even President Obama, in his statement introducing her nomination, extolled her personal interest in supporting government regulation (and outright banning) of political speech. (See the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, on which Solicitor General Kagan was on the losing end.)
I trust President Obama picked a nominee who buys into his lawless standards for judicial nominations — which means nominating judges who are results-oriented, are biased in favor of liberal causes or favored groups, and substitute their personal opinions and political views for the plain words of the U.S. Constitution.
Tea Party activists ought to be paying close attention to this nomination. With looming constitutional battles ranging from Obamacare to illegal immigration, the United States Senate should ensure that only a justice who will strictly interpret the U.S. Constitution is approved. There’s no reason to believe that Ms. Kagan meets this standard. Given the stakes, I encourage you to let your U.S. Senators, regardless of their party, know that the upcoming vote on Ms. Kagan will be as closely watched as their votes on Obamacare.
As the nomination process continues, you can track some of the issues on our special Internet page at www.judicialwatch.org/elena-kagan. And you can be sure that your Judicial Watch will be right in the thick of this summer’s confirmation battle. So stay tuned….
Rumors of ACORN’s Decline “Greatly Exaggerated”
The liberal media has crafted a pretty compelling obituary for the disgraced “civil rights” organization ACORN, declaring the organization bankrupt, disbanded, and out of business. But according to a recent report from the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, led by Ranking Member Darrell Issa, ACORN’s alleged decline is yet another sleight of hand:
On February 18, 2010, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republicans, in a staff report, described ACORN’s financial management as a “shell game . . . designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators.” ACORN officials, however, appear to be trying to dupe government officials and the American public through false and misleading claims about ending operations. ACORN officials told The New York Times that “at least 15 of the group’s 30 state chapters have disbanded and have no plans of re-forming.” On Sunday March 21, 2010, it was reported that the ACORN Board met to discuss the closing of state affiliates and field offices.
However, claims that ACORN is disbanding have been greatly exaggerated. As ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis told National Public Radio, “[ACORN is] not dead, yet.” ACORN’s new affiliates have filed corporate registrations in Secretary of State offices throughout the country…Committee investigators found that several new ACORN affiliates maintain the same boards, staff and Employer Identification Numbers as former ACORN offices. This reflects the lack of true change or reform between these new organizations and their predecessors.”
Just like a shady operation that goes “out of business” and opens up across the street under a new name, ACORN is attempting to rebrand itself. That’s how ACORN Housing Corp becomes Affordable Housing Centers of America, Arkansas ACORN becomes Arkansas Community Organizations, and Minnesota ACORN becomes Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. And so on.
With respect to its assets, the report notes that the New York Chapter of ACORN, under the leadership of Bertha Lewis, is working quickly to consolidate $20 million from approximately 800 bank accounts and an additional $10 million in property. So there is no shortage of funds ACORN can use to craft a new image and continue its crooked operation unimpeded.
In a letter released to The New York Times, ACORN boasted about what it plans to do with all of its riches: “You will continue to hear from ACORN — in the mail, on the Web, and in the media,” the letter read. “And we need your continued support to counter the vicious anti-family, anti-minority, anti-immigrant attacks of the Republican right.”
Of course one of the reasons ACORN can remain confident in its continued existence, whatever form it takes, is the number of friends they maintain on Capitol Hill and in the Obama White House.
As you may know, we recently uncovered explosive documents proving the Obama Justice Department has already shut down federal investigations into ACORN voter registration fraud. Remember, President Obama served as a lawyer for ACORN and his campaign hired an ACORN affiliate to do its “community organizing.” And if not for Judicial Watch’s efforts to expose ACORN corruption, the organization may have played a role in the 2010 U.S. Census. (I was on Fox News twice to discuss the scandal, which was covered by the Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck Program.)
Judicial Watch is on the front lines investigating ACORN corruption with over two dozen FOIA requests related to the organization and a number of active lawsuits. And on April 22, 2010, we delivered 6,907 member petitions to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding an investigation of the scandal-ridden “community organization.”
The following is an excerpt from the member petition:
“As a member of Judicial Watch, America’s leading government watchdog group, I urge you to immediately open a Justice Department investigation into the serious allegations of criminal conduct that have been leveled at the community organizing group ACORN (“Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now”), including the possible embezzlement of public funds by ACORN insiders…
For too long ACORN has escaped accountability for wholesale voter registration fraud, shady financial dealings and its inappropriate use of taxpayer funds to advance partisan political ends.”
Judicial Watch also asked Holder to “forcefully resist” any political pressure brought upon him to turn a blind eye to ACORN corruption.
ACORN’s name may change, but Judicial Watch will continue to seek to hold it accountable — whatever alias it uses!
Judicial Watch Turns up the Heat in Congressional Travel Scandal and Pelosi Reacts!
A few weeks ago, I reported to you that Judicial Watch had filed a Senate ethics complaint about a practice by many Members of Congress to pocket unused travel per diems (funded by taxpayers). We also sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee demanding a full investigation.
Well, we didn’t stop there.
On April 19th we filed an official complaint with the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Here’s a quick excerpt: “Judicial Watch, in the public interest, hereby files this request for investigation and audit of the State Department’s issuance of travel per diems and advances to members of Congress in light of continuing media reports of potential fraud, waste, and mismanagement due to the lack of proper guidelines, oversight and accounting procedures.”
I covered this scandal in some detail not too long ago. You can check out that Update installment here. But the following is a quick review.
Members of Congress are given up to $250 per day when they travel overseas to cover their expenses. As The Wall Street Journal reported, “Congressional rules say they must return any leftover cash to the government. They usually don’t. According to interviews with 20 current and former members of Congress, lawmakers use the excess cash for shopping or to defray spouses’ travel expenses. Sometimes they give it away; sometimes they pocket it. Many lawmakers said they didn’t know the rules demand repayment.”
Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) admitted that it’s “fairly standard” policy for lawmakers to use the leftover money “for shopping or to buy souvenirs to bring back to constituents.”
Of course Congress keeps no records on the use of travel per diems, so it’s impossible to know the depth of the problem. But given the fact that Members of Congress have spent 5,300 days in 130 countries over the last two years alone, we think it’s worth investigating.
We hit a nerve with our complaints. Just yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office announced weak and superficial reforms to the House’s travel rules, and reminded members that “any per diem provided to Members or staff is intended to be expended only for official purposes related to the trip. Excess funds are to be returned to the Treasury.” This is the law and it is nice that the Speaker is reiterating it.
But I suspect that this move by Pelosi was intended as a blocking action to prevent the full-scale investigation that Judicial Watch is seeking through the House ethics process.
This all goes to show why Judicial Watch’s anti-corruption work is important. There are now many congressmen being called to account for travel abuses by their constituents and local media. (Here’s one Republican (Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana) who faced questions.) And if Nancy Pelosi felt the need to take some action, we must be doing something right!
Until next week…
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.