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June 25, 2010
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Elena Kagan — Obama’s Political Operative on the Supreme Court?
Confirmation hearings for Obama Supreme Court pick Elena Kagan are set to begin on Monday and the debate over her nomination is about to hit fever pitch. According to the Associated Press:
Opponents and backers of President Barack Obama’s choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens stepped up their efforts with Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Kagan’s less than a week away. Republicans are increasingly under pressure from conservative activists to oppose Kagan or block a vote to confirm her, while the White House is working with Democrats to dispel doubts that could mar her so-far smooth path to a lifetime spot on the nation’s highest court.
Of course, we already know Kagan is a liberal activist with a thin resume, little legal experience and no judicial experience. But what other doubts might the White House need dispel?
Well, let’s start with documents released by the Department of Defense that clearly show Kagan’s unlawful mistreatment of our nation’s military while she served as Dean of Harvard Law School. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) called attention to these outrageous documents in a statement earlier this week.
As you may recall, Kagan kicked military recruiters off the campus of Harvard Law School, allegedly in opposition to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (a policy crafted by her former boss President Bill Clinton). The Obama White House has claimed from the beginning that Kagan followed the law and did what she could to accommodate the U.S. military. But the documents tell a different story.
According to Sessions: “The documents show that Ms. Kagan reversed Harvard’s policy, without basis or notice, in order to block the access of recruiters—not to accommodate them. They show that she defied federal law, forcing the Department of Defense use [sic] its legal authority to bring Harvard into compliance. They show that she did not ensure access to military careers, but that the Office of Career Services prevented the military from even posting a job opening. They show that she sanctioned a demeaning, second-class entry system for the military that the Department of Defense made clear was intolerable.”
And then there’s this related piece from columnist and president of the Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney. Gaffney notes that Harvard Law School accepted $20 million from members of the Saudi Royal Family to establish a Center for Islamic Studies and Sharia Law while Kagan served as Dean.
For those who practice it, Sharia, known as the “path” in Arabic, is a set of controversial laws that guide all aspects of Muslim life. Some interpretations have been used to justify cruel punishments such as amputation, female genital mutilation and stoning. Homosexuality, by the way, is punishable by death or flogging under Sharia law, which is an interesting contradiction to note regarding Ms. Kagan. While she was busy fighting for gay rights in the military she was openly courting a brand of radical Muslim law that condones the execution of homosexuals.
There were other “doubts” regarding Ms. Kagan raised in the press this week. Say, for example, the video that surfaced this week showing Kagan in 2006 praising retired Judge Aharon Barak during a ceremony at Harvard when she was Dean of the Harvard Law School. Judge Barak, described by Judge Robert Bork as perhaps “the worst judge on the planet,” was a radical activist during his time on the court.
In fact, here’s what he wrote in his 2006 book The Judge in a Democracy: “a good judge is a judge who, within the bounds of legitimate possibilities, makes law that, more than other law he is authorized to make, best bridges the gap between law and society and best protects the constitution and its values.” He also says that judges should go “beyond actually deciding the dispute.”
Translation: A good judge legislates from the bench. Kagan described Barak as her “judicial hero.”
The AP reported this week that Kagan is taking part in grueling mock hearings where she is asked the “hard questions in the nastiest conceivable way, over and over and over.” No doubt she will be well rehearsed by the time she takes her spot on center stage.
Of course, the AP also notes the irony of Kagan’s rigorous preparation: “Kagan herself has written scathingly of the confirmation hearings, calling them a charade in which nominees work hard to evade important questions. Now she is probably practicing effective ways to do precisely that.”
Let’s hope the Senate Judiciary Committee doesn’t let her get away with it. Justice Sotomayor ran from her liberal record during her confirmation hearings and pretended to be as conservative as Justice Scalia. Sure enough, her first term on the High Court shows that she is one of its most liberal, activist members.
I trust President Obama to have picked another nominee who meets 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.
With looming constitutional battles ranging from Obamacare to illegal immigration, the United States Senate should ensure that only a nominee who will strictly interpret the U.S. Constitution is approved. There’s no reason to believe that the inexperienced, political lawyer Ms. Kagan meets this standard.
To be clear: Ms. Kagan is Obama’s political plant for the Supreme Court. I’ve called her Obama’s Supreme Court “czar.” Senators ought to demand better. Judicial Watch, as part of our Judicial Nominations Project, which monitors judicial nominations and opposes judicial activism, was pleased to present earlier this week an educational panel that was an excellent conservative overview on the Kagan confirmation battle. If you missed it, it is available here — http://www.youtube.com/user/JudicialWatch.
In the meantime, I encourage you to contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to express any views you have on Kagan’s nomination. A list of the members is here.
Rogue Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on the Hot Seat
The oil spill in the Gulf has put Obama Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in the spotlight. And he is not faring well.
First, you may recall, there was Salazar’s thuggish promise to keep his “boot on the neck” of BP, which was quickly followed by the Obama administration’s $20 billion “shakedown” of the oil company.
And then there was Salazar’s reactionary implementation of a six-month moratorium on deep water drilling. Obviously this was a desperate attempt by the Obama administration, under heavy fire for its mishandling of the BP oil spill, to prove its mettle to the environmental lobby and raise its plummeting poll numbers. (Note: It didn’t work.)
As it turns out, however, a New Orleans judge struck down the moratorium ruling that the Interior Department did not adequately justify its radical policy and was misleading when officials suggested that “independent experts” supported the devastating moratorium. Of course, the Obama administration has promised an appeal. And Salazar continues to defend the moratorium even after the court ruling, although he is now calling it a six-month “pause,” hoping linguistic semantics will trump the rule of law.
And aside from the oil spill, Salazar is also in hot water over his $1 billion pet project, a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. You can probably guess why conservatives would be opposed to such a costly boondoggle, but the truth is no one wanted this thing. Not the environmentalists. Not the citizens of Cape Cod and Nantucket. Not even Ted Kennedy while he was still alive!
But after a nine-year debate, Massachusetts will have its “Cape Wind” at an extraordinary cost thanks to Salazar.
Of course, as I’ve pointed out previously, Ken Salazar shouldn’t even be in a position to make these horrible decisions. Like Hillary Clinton, Salazar is ineligible to serve as Secretary of the Interior according to the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. As you’ll recall, we filed a lawsuit challenging the Clinton appointment (and by extension, Salazar as well). I’ve covered this lawsuit quite a bit so I won’t rehash the legal arguments, but please click here for the details.
Unfortunately, we learned recently that the U.S. Supreme Court will not take up
Judicial Watch’s lawsuit challenging Hillary Clinton’s appointment as Secretary of State, filed on behalf of State Department Foreign Service Officer David Rodearmel. According to The Washington Times:
The Supreme Court decided Monday that it will not hear a case that challenges Hillary Rodham Clinton’s eligibility to serve as secretary of state, but the conservative group that brought the lawsuit said it will continue the fight.
The case, brought by Judicial Watch, argued that Mrs. Clinton was constitutionally barred from serving as secretary of state because Congress increased the salary of that position while she was a member of the Senate.…
…Judicial Watch appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which ruled Monday that it did not have appropriate jurisdiction to take the case. The court said it did not reach “any interlocutory or final judgment, decree, or order upon the validity of the appointment and continuance in office of the Secretary of State.”
Given the fact that the High Court did not rule on the underlying merits of our lawsuit, we hope to continue the battle in the lower courts. This is a legal battle worth fighting.
We’re considering initiating a new legal front against Ken Salazar. The law allows those aggrieved by decisions made by Salazar to challenge his constitutional eligibility for office in federal court (just like we’re doing in the case of Hillary Clinton). So if any of you are in Nantucket or Cape Cod, for instance, and wish to challenge Salazar’s decision on the Cape Wind boondoggle using these important constitutional grounds, reply to this email, and our lawyers will be happy to consider representing you.
Judicial Watch Files House Ethics Complaint against Rep. Bob Etheridge for Alleged Assault
This week, Judicial Watch filed an official complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC) for allegedly assaulting a man on a Washington, DC, sidewalk June 9th.
After a young person asked Etheridge, “Do you fully support the Obama agenda?” Etheridge allegedly grabbed the young man by the wrist and by the “scruff” of the neck, pulling him into “an awkward clinch.” By now many have you have seen the video of the incident, which made the rounds on the Internet and aired nationwide on major television networks.
Here’s a squib from our complaint, which we mailed to the OCE’s Staff Director and Chief Counsel Leo Wise on June 18, 2010:
It is essential that the House hold Congressman Bob Etheridge to the high standards of behavior expected of a Member of the House. Congressman Etheridge acted out in a violent and threatening manner in response to an unremarkable inquiry by a member of the public. The public confidence in Congress has been diminished as a result.
And what do we want? Simple. We want the OCE to exercise its authority as plainly described in the House Ethics Manual, which states:
“Public office is a public trust” has long been a guiding principle of government. To uphold this trust, Congress has bound itself to abide by certain standards of conduct, expressed in the Code of Official Conduct (House Rule 23) and the Code of Ethics for Government Service. These codes provide that Members, officers and employees are to conduct themselves in a manner that will reflect creditably on the House.
The manual also notes that the U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to punish members for disorderly behavior. Such punishments include: expulsion (with concurrence by two-thirds of the House), censure, reprimand, reduction of seniority, or “other sanction determined to be appropriate.” Rep. Etheridge could also face criminal sanctions for assault under the laws of the District of Columbia and could be subject to penalties of up to $1,000 and 180 days in jail.
To say that Etheridge’s behavior is an outrage is an understatement. And as impotent as the House ethics process has been, I cannot imagine that Congress is going to allow one of its members to assault someone.
There is no doubt Congressman Etheridge brought shame upon the institution of Congress with his appalling and violent outburst. He ought to be punished to the full extent of the law and in accordance with the rules of conduct for members of Congress.
Please make your voices heard. Contact the Office of Congressional Ethics and tell them you want Congressman Etheridge to be held accountable for his reprehensible behavior. An apology is not enough. The phone number is: 202-225-9739. You can contact them through email here — https://oce.house.gov/contact.html.
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.