Judicial Watch Goes to Court
September 25, 2009
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
JW Represents Houston Police Officer — Lawsuit Filed against City of Houston over Illegal Immigration Policy
For two years we’ve been investigating the Houston Police Department’s illegal alien sanctuary policies. On September 21, we took legal action. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the City of Houston, the Houston Police Department and Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt on behalf of Houston Police Sergeant Joslyn M. Johnson.
Sergeant Johnson is the widow of former Houston Police officer Rodney J. Johnson, killed in the line of duty by an illegal alien three years ago, on September 21, 2006. We filed this lawsuit on her behalf for one very basic reason. The Houston Police Department won’t let Sergeant Johnson enforce the law
According to the lawsuit, filed in the Harris County Texas District Court in conjunction with Houston attorney Ben Dominguez II:
Sergeant Johnson challenges current policies, practices, and procedures of the Houston Police Department that substantially restrict, if not prohibit, Plaintiff from communicating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) about illegal aliens who are criminally present in the United States.
Plaintiff does not seek to detain or arrest persons in order to inquire about their immigration status. Rather, Plaintiffs seeks to use her professional judgment to determine when it is appropriate to contact ICE to inquire or provide information about a person’s immigration status if, in the course of carrying out her duties and responsibilities as a law enforcement officer, she has reason to believe a crime may have been committed.
- Voter ID Law Ruled Unconstitutional
- Senator Wants Illegal Aliens Covered In Health Plan
- Clinton’s Criminal Housing Sec. To Clean Up ACORN
- Top Obama, Clinton Donor Charged With Multiple Fraud
- DOJ Grant To Empower Illegal Aliens
- Govt. Threatens Obamacare Opponents
- Ariz. Public School District Creates Race-Based Discipline
- N.C. Reverses Illegal Alien Ban
- Stimulus Money Expands Govt.
The complaint maintains that Houston’s illegal alien sanctuary policies harm Sergeant Johnson’s ability “to fulfill her oath and otherwise carry out her duties and responsibilities as a law enforcement officer,” while also restricting Sergeant Johnson’s freedom of expression.
The policy is dangerous.
On September 21, 2006, Officer Rodney Johnson was making a routine traffic stop when he was shot and killed by Juan Leonardo Quintero-Perez, a previously deported Mexican national, who had reentered and was living in the U.S. illegally. After reentering the U.S. illegally, Quintero-Perez had multiple interactions with the Houston Police Department before shooting and killing Officer Johnson, including at least one arrest for driving under the influence, citations for failing to stop and give information following an accident, and driving with a suspended license.
As the lawsuit notes, “But for the Houston Police Department’s policies, practices, and procedures that substantially restrict, if not prohibit its officers from sharing information with ICE, Officer Rodney Johnson may be alive today.”
Houston’s illegal alien sanctuary policy is not only unlawful, but it has also placed the public’s safety at risk. Sergeant Johnson simply wants the Houston Police Department to obey federal law, which will help avert more senseless killings and other crimes. Quite simply, the Houston Police Department needs to end policies that restrict communication between its officers and federal immigration officials.
Oral Arguments Made in Judicial Watch’s Legal Battle against Hillary Clinton Appointment
On September 16, oral arguments were heard in Judicial Watch’s lawsuit on behalf of U.S. Foreign Service Officer David C. Rodearmel, who is challenging Hillary Clinton’s appointment to Secretary of State based on the Ineligibility Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
I covered this lawsuit in some detail several weeks ago when we filed our Cross Motion for Summary Judgment, so let’s just run quickly through the basics. (You can read all about our lawsuit by clicking here.)
The U.S. Constitution’s Ineligibility Clause explicitly states: “No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time.”
In other words, if an individual served in Congress while the salary of a civil office was increased, they cannot serve in that position until their term in Congress expires.
During Hillary’s last Senate term, “emoluments” (or the salary) of the U.S. Secretary of State increased at least three times, which means, of course, that Hillary is constitutionally ineligible to serve in this capacity. That is, unless you’re willing to cast aside the U.S. Constitution in the name of political expediency.
Congress attempted to get around the Ineligibility Clause with what is known as the “Saxbe fix,” reducing the Secretary of State’s salary to the level in effect on January 1, 2007. And what’s wrong with this strategy which has its roots all the way back to the Taft administration? This “fix” cannot change the historical fact that the salary was increased.
Don’t you think if the Framers had intended for exceptions to the Ineligibility Clause they would have included them in the Constitution? Of course! But they did not. They viewed this clause as an important component in protecting against corruption and ensuring the proper separation of powers between the three branches of government. The “Ineligibility” clause is an absolute prohibition. It does not allow for any exceptions.
With respect to Mr. Rodearmel, the lawsuit argues that he cannot be forced to serve under Mrs. Clinton because he would then be in violation of an oath he took as a Foreign Service Officer in 1991 to “support and defend” and “bear true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution of the United States.
The lawsuit is now under review by a special three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The briefs have been filed. Oral arguments have been heard. We have made our case. And now we await the court’s decision. Stay tuned…
Judicial Watch Goes to Court in Security & Prosperity Partnership Lawsuit
On Monday (September 21), Judicial Watch attorneys appeared the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in our lawsuit against the Department of Commerce for denying Judicial Watch access to the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) meetings and records.
The NACC, you may recall, is connected to the Security and Prosperity Partnership, or the SPP, which some believe is an agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada that could force the U.S. to surrender its sovereignty to a “North American Union.” (Judicial Watch has already forced the release of a large number of documents related to the SPP on issues ranging from border security to healthcare. This NACC lawsuit is a key component of this campaign.) The SPP received a lot of bad press (I know we can take some credit for that!), so the project is now proceeding under the guise of the North American Leaders’ Summit.
A lower court dismissed our lawsuit after reasoning that Judicial Watch did not have standing to bring the lawsuit because it’s “injuries” were not redressable by the court. We filed an appeal (which you can read here), and then made our case before the appellate court on Monday. We now await the court’s decision.
The lower court did not rule on the merits of our arguments. So here’s a quick review of the facts.
Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez launched the NACC with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts in June 2006. The NACC is a group of “high level business leaders,” that advises the United States, Mexican, and Canadian governments on North American competitiveness issues to be addressed through the SPP.
The council met on August 15, 2006, in Washington and again on February 23, 2007, in Ottawa, Canada, and has provided over 50 recommendations for action to the SPP. Judicial Watch’s lawsuit alleges that, as a government advisory group, the NACC must be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), a federal open meetings law. (Hillary Clinton got into trouble with this open meetings law in her Health Care Task Force, and former Vice President Cheney stepped into it — and into a Judicial Watch lawsuit — with his Energy Task Force.)
Here’s how we put it in our opening brief for the appellate court in this latest case:
This appeal concerns an attempt by a federal agency to establish advisory committees comprised of business representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and yet evade the public disclosure requirements of FACA. Plaintiff has alleged that these committees, known as the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC) and its component subgroups, fall with the definition of an “advisory committee,” as that term is defined under FACA.
FACA imposes a number of requirements on committees that advise the president and/or federal agencies. First, all meetings be open to the public. Second, a notice of each meeting must be published in the Federal Register. Third, interested persons must be allowed to attend, appear before, or file statements with the advisory committee. And, finally, committee records and documents must be made available through the provisions of Freedom of Information Act.
The NACC has failed to satisfy any of these requirements. Instead, they want to operate in secret. We, of course, are committed to making these proceedings open and transparent to the American people. I thought our lawyers did a fine job on the appeal and at argument, so I’m hopeful that the appellate court reinstates our case. In the meantime, the NACC and the SPP/North American Leaders process continues to operate. I’ll let you know how the court rules in an upcoming installment of the Weekly Update.
A lot of what goes on in Washington is just talk. You can see from this week’s Update that your Judicial Watch is no paper tiger. We’re repeatedly in court, working on behalf of clients, and arguing to judges in favor of the rule of law, respect for our Constitution, and against a leviathan government that too often wants to withhold embarrassing information about its unlawful and corrupt activities from the American people. So there’s good reason that Judicial Watch, after 15 years of operation, has become America’s largest and most effective watchdog operation. Frankly, if we didn’t do this work, I don’t know who would. I therefore heartily encourage you to join our cause, enlist others to help us, or simply make another contribution towards our anti-corruption work.
Until next week…
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