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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Because no one
is above the law!


Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Sotomayor Nomination Battle Heats Up

June 12, 2009

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

More on Sotomayor’s Radical Ties to the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund

The White House and liberals in the Senate are attempting this week to force rushed consideration of President Obama’s selection to replace the retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Given that Judge Sotomayor participated in more than 3,000 court rulings, and authored 400 of them, most conservatives think that perhaps the Senate might want to actually take some time to review these decisions before considering the nomination. As it stands now, Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings will begin on July 13th, just a little more than a month from now.

When the Senate Judiciary Committee does commence with Sotomayor’s hearings, here is one subject I hope they explore thoroughly – her tenure on the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF). Last week I gave you a few examples of the types of radical activities the PRLDEF participated in while Sotomayor served on the Board. Here’s a bit more from Judicial Watch’s continuing investigation. (We’ll be publishing a backgrounder on this topic next week.)

  • In 1980, when then-New York City Mayor Ed Koch criticized a Supreme Court decision that upheld racial quotas, the PRLDEF signed a statement characterizing the comments as "ill-informed, rhetorically excessive and unnecessarily divisive."
  • In a March 1981 memo to the directors of the PRLDEF, Sotomayor and two colleagues argued against the death penalty because it is, "associated with evident racism in our society" and because it "creates inhuman psychological burdens for the offender." The memo, which Sotomayor initially failed to turn over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, argued that the PRLDF should oppose the restoration of the death penalty in New York State.
  • In 1981, the PRLDEF supported a lawsuit that contested an entry level government test, known as Professional Administrative Careers Examination, claiming it had an adverse impact on the African and Hispanic Americans who failed the exam. The lawsuit argued the test, therefore, violated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Ultimately the government eliminated the exam and replaced it with an alternative "race-sensitive" version.
  • In 1981, the PRLDEF applauded a decision by a federal judge that forced teachers at an Ann Arbor Michigan elementary school to undergo "consciousness raising" about a dialect spoken by young black children called "Black English." The training program cost taxpayers $44,000.

(Others have also pointed out this week that the aggressively pro-abortion PRLDEF, filed amicus briefs supporting abortion rights during Sotomayor’s tenure.)

No question, these activities represent identity politics at its worst. But the key question is this: How much of this PRLDF agenda described above can be attributed to Sotomayor’s guidance and leadership?

Well, according to the New York Times, Sotomayor was the "top policy maker" on the PRLDEF Board of Directors and "was an involved and ardent supporter of [the PRLDEF’s] various legal efforts during her time with the group."

So while Sotomayor has been able to attribute the racist/sexist statements she has made repeatedly in speeches as a "poor choice of words," it will be extremely difficult for her to distance herself from a 12-year close relationship with the PRLDEF.

As I’ve said repeatedly, concerned Americans need to press their Senators to take the Sotomayor nomination seriously – especially given her radical record and prejudiced views. To let Senators know what you think, call the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your state’s U.S. Senators.

In the meantime, you can be sure Judicial Watch will do its part. As I mentioned, Judicial Watch is producing a backgrounder on all of this material. We plan to have that for you next week.

Judicial Watch Argues Appeal in Special Order 40 Lawsuit against LAPD

Judicial Watch Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes was in Los Angeles earlier this week arguing an appeal before the California Court of Appeal in our Special Order 40 taxpayer lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department (Judicial Watch, Inc. v The Los Angeles Police Department et al., Case No. BC349040).

As you may recall, last year, Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled (erroneously, in our view) that Judicial Watch’s lawsuit could not proceed to trial, prompting our appeal.

We’ve been pursuing justice in this case for more than three years now. (The original lawsuit was filed in May 2006.) And you can click here to access all of our legal briefs in this case.

Let me just take a bit of space to review the key elements of this lawsuit: Special Order 40 is a policy established in 1979 that prohibits police officers from "initiat[ing] police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person." In other words, a police officer cannot inquire about the immigration status of an individual and may not contact federal immigration officials about an individual’s immigration status.

This is downright dangerous and flat out illegal.

The only people who benefit from this "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy are illegal alien lawbreakers. Everyone else is put at risk. There have been numerous examples in the press of illegal aliens committing crimes then being released by authorities – only to strike again.

Remember Edwin Ramos, the illegal alien gang banger who gunned down three people in the streets of San Francisco in June 2008? Three months before the crime, Ramos was arrested on weapons charges and then released. Immigration authorities were not notified because San Francisco, like Los Angeles, is a sanctuary city. (Judicial Watch earned a huge court victory against San Francisco and its sanctuary policy. Click here to read more.)

We don’t want any more innocents to die because of Special Order 40 and other similar illegal alien sanctuary policies. That’s why we’re fighting this appeal so hard.

In terms of the legal issue, federal law allows every police officer to use discretion in communicating with federal authorities regarding an individual’s immigration status. Special Order 40 clearly inhibits police officers and makes it harder for them to enforce our nation’s immigration law.

I’ll be sure to let you know how the California Appeals Court rules. Let’s hope for justice and the rule of law.

Judicial Watch Fights for Full Disclosure in U.S. Senate

On June 8, in a letter to every member of the U.S. Senate, Judicial Watch joined ten other groups in support of a simple bill (S.482) that would require Senate candidates to file their campaign finance reports electronically, just as is required for candidates for the House and President of the United States. The letter shows your conservative Judicial Watch is willing to reach out and work with liberals to fight government corruption.

Here’s why this piece of legislation is important.

First, the current process used by the Senate candidates, where data is manually inputted into FEC databases, is a waste of money. The cost to the taxpayers: $250,000 per year. Second, it’s also a waste of time. As the group said in our letter:

The cumbersome process delays public access to campaign finance data. By doing so, it undercuts one of the key purposes of disclosure by delaying online access to information in many third-quarter and pre-election reports until after Election Day. By virtue of the fact that this is "public information," it should be made available immediately. There is no rationale for delaying disclosure of the information.

Of course the Senate is up to its old tricks to stop passage of the bill. Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) has announced that he will attach an outrageous amendment to the bill when it comes up for a vote that would require nonprofit organizations like Judicial Watch to disclose the names of their donors every time they file a complaint against a sitting Senator. (This same "poison pill" approach was employed successfully by Senator John Ensign (R-NV) in the 110th Congress to stop the bill.)

This corrupt amendment has nothing to do with the legislation and is intended to intimidate nonprofit organizations from filing ethics complaints. (It also is a clear-cut violation of our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.)

Again, click here to read the letter.

Democrats and Republicans Restrict Ethics Probes in House

While we’re on the subject of frustrating the ethics process…

You may recall that during the mid-term elections in 2006, Democrats used the corruption issue as a campaign issue to help them seize control of the House of Representatives, holding up, for example, former Republican Congressmen Mark Foley and Rick Renzi as poster children for dirty politics. (Foley for sending inappropriate emails to an underage page and Renzi for influence peddling.)

Well, according to The Washington Times, once in power, Democrats partnered with Republicans to undermine the process of gathering evidence against the two Republicans they once held up as the epitome of evil.

Here’s the story:

Democrats, [once] in control, sought to block or limit prosecutors from gathering certain evidence of corruption against members of Congress on constitutional grounds, complicating the criminal cases against the two Republicans [Foley and Renzi].

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and the Democratic leadership joined with top Republicans to continue a years-long tradition authorizing the House general counsel’s office to intervene in outside investigations of its members.

Through court filings, the bipartisan coalition sought the exclusion of evidence it said was obtained in violation of Article 1, Section 6, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The clause protects the legislative branch from meddling by the other two branches, declaring that "for any Speech or Debate in either House, [senators and representatives] shall not be questioned in any other Place."

In other words, members of Congress are using the "Speech and Debate Clause" to shield colleagues from criminal investigation. The halls of Congress, according to congressional members, apparently should be a "justice-free zone," where members can feel free to engage in corrupt behavior free of scrutiny from investigators.

You may recall, this was the lame argument made by former Congressman William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, who had his congressional office searched by authorities after he was caught accepting a bribe during an FBI sting operation. The court rejected the argument, and rightly so.

Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief with the court in the Jefferson case, stating that the Speech or Debate Clause, which protects members of Congress from "intimidation by the executive and accountability before a possible hostile judiciary," does not make the search of Jefferson’s office unconstitutional. The Speech or Debate Clause, the brief states, only protects members of Congress conducting legislative actions.

The Washington Times piece quotes our own Paul Orfanedes:

Paul Orfanedes, director of litigation at Washington-based Judicial Watch, said the clause "wasn’t intended to make Congress a law enforcement free zone."

"The House hurts its already much diminished credibility when it appears to be shielding members from criminal investigations, like it did in case of [Mr.] Jefferson," Mr. Orfanedes said. "The public will have even less confidence in Congress than it already has if the House can’t devise a better way to let law enforcement do its job when it comes to investigating political corruption."

The Speech or Debate Clause remains a powerful tool used by Congress to evade justice. In the Renzi case House lawyers asked the court to throw out wiretap evidence collected by FBI agents, saying the use of this evidence violated the clause. A decision in this case is expected soon. The Foley case, meanwhile, was dropped because investigators were "denied access to critical data" by House lawyers.

Does it get any more corrupt than for both parties in Congress to get together to obstruct justice! This scandal sure highlights the need for the independent watchdog work of Judicial Watch. (By the way, the criminal trial of Jefferson is now underway across the river in Alexandria, and I expect our investigators may attend so we can provide some good commentary for you on the proceedings in future Updates.)

Until next week…

Tom Fitton

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.