Skip to content

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!

Donate

Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

A Significant Victory for Clean Elections

Judicial Watch Victory: Court Rules against Democratic Partisan Gerrymander in Maryland
Records Reveal Fauci Emails about Hydroxychloroquine and COVID
Judicial Watch Victory: Sixth Circuit Judicial Council Vacates Order Punishing Federal Judge Who Pushed for Timely Justice in Social Security Benefits Cases
Judicial Watch Sues over COVID-19 Travel Exemptions for Biden Officials
Judicial Watch Sues HHS for Communications about Vaccine Side Effects
City Under Siege: Staggering New York Crime Wave Roils Politics
Public College Hosts Cop Killer, Calling Him a ‘Political Prisoner’

 


Judicial Watch Victory: Court Rules against Democratic Partisan Gerrymander in Maryland

We scored a significant victory for clean elections: the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County ruled in favor of our challenge to Maryland’s congressional redistricting plan. In its ruling, the court permanently barred Maryland’s use of its current plan.

We filed the lawsuit on behalf of 12 registered Maryland voters who object to Maryland’s 2021 congressional redistricting plan on the grounds that it is a partisan gerrymander that diminishes their rights to participate in free, fair elections for the U.S. Congress on an equal basis with other Maryland voters, in violation of the Maryland Constitution (Parrott et al. v Lamone et al. (No. C-02-CV-21-001773)). The trial also included plaintiffs from a separate lawsuit.

In June 2015, we filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Maryland’s gerrymandered congressional district map in federal court. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of voters in each of Maryland’s congressional districts—including Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott, who is also the lead plaintiff in this new state-court lawsuit. In December 2016, we filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in response to Maryland’s attempt to retain the gerrymandered voter districting plan.

After conducting a trial last week in Annapolis, MD, the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County ruled:

With regard to Article 7 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights … the Plaintiffs, based upon the evidence adduced at trial, proved that the 2021 Plan was drawn with “partisanship as predominant intent, to the exclusion of traditional redistricting criteria” … by the party in power, to suppress the voice of Republican voters. The right for all [to] political participation in Congressional elections … was violated by the 2021 Plan …

***

As result, this Court will enter declaratory judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs, declaring the 2021 Plan unconstitutional, and permanently enjoining its operation, and giving the General Assembly an opportunity to develop a new Congressional Plan that is constitutional.  A separate declaratory judgment will be entered as of today’s date.

Our lawsuit details:

Maryland’s recent history of partisan gerrymandering is no secret. [its 2011] congressional district map … remains one of the most notorious partisan gerrymanders in U.S. history. A federal district judge openly doubted that it could provide “fair and effective representation for all citizens.”  Another called it “absurd” to suggest ‘that there is a community of interest” in a district described as a “Rorschach-like eyesore.” [A federal appeals court] famously described the same district as “a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

The lawsuit relates that a bipartisan commission recommended a map to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on November 5 that he approved, but the legislature passed a different proposal in a straight party-line vote. On December 9, 2021, Hogan vetoed this proposal, and, the same day, the state legislature overrode his veto on another party-line vote.

Outside experts agreed that the plan was flawed, with the nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project giving it a grade of “F” for fairness and geographic compactness. In 2020, Republicans accounted for approximately 35% of Maryland’s congressional votes, but they’re unlikely to win even a single seat under this plan. This outcome wouldn’t be possible without political gerrymandering.

This key court victory against abusive partisan gerrymandering by Democrats in Maryland could set a national precedent.

In June 2015,we filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Maryland’s gerrymandered congressional district map in federal court. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of voters in each of Maryland’s congressional districts—including Maryland Delegate Neil Parrott, who is also the lead plaintiff in this new state-court lawsuit. In December 2016, we filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in response to Maryland’s attempt to retain the gerrymandered voter districting plan.


Records Reveal Fauci Emails about Hydroxychloroquine and COVID

Dr. Fauci and his colleagues continue to dodge transparency, but we are systematically prying loose more details about their behind-the-curtain deliberations on Americans’ health. There’s more this week.

We received 199 pages of records from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that include emails between National Institutes of Health (NIH) then-Director Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci about hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19.

We obtained the records as the result of a FOIA lawsuit for Collins’ emails (Judicial Watch v U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:21-cv-02302)). We sued after the Department of Health and Human Services failed to respond to a June 8, 2021, FOIA request for:

All emails sent to and from Director Francis Collins related to “gain of function”, “hydroxychloroquine”, “HCQ”, and/or “Wuhan Institute of Virology”

In a June 19, 2020, email current acting Director of the NIH Lawrence Tabak writes to NIH then-Director Francis Collinsabout an NIH-sponsored randomized control trial of the effectiveness of using hydroxychloroquine to treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19

Based on the recommendations from the DSMB [Data and Safety Monitoring Board of NIH] that met late today, NHLBI [National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute] is stopping … the randomized controlled trial comparing hydroxychloroquine vs. placebo/Standard of care in hospitalized patients with confirmed SARS-CoV2 infection. This was a scheduled interim analysis – actually the 4th in a series – looking at both safety and outcomes data. Bottom line: There was no harm signal. [Emphasis in original] However, based on the conditional power analysis there is less than a 1% probability that HCQ would prove more effective than standard of care even if we enrolled twice the number of patients. Therefore, we are concurring with the DSMB’s recommendation and stopping the trial in accordance with standard trial monitoring and oversight practices. The trial was almost completed (475 patients enrolled out of 510 target); however, based on these results there is no need to continue the study.

Collins replies on June 20, 2020, and copies Dr. Fauci: “Well, that fits with the outcome of the RECOVERY trial. [Emphasis in original] I hope NHLBI will quickly publish the results. Looping in Tony.”

Fauci responds the same day: “Thanks. Not unexpected, but good to have [t]o have solid evidence behind our recommendations. We now need results of the trials for prophylaxis.”

In May 2020, Nakela Cook authored an NIH report called, “Update on COVID-19 Initiatives and Request for Additional Funding.” According to Cook, a unit of NIH called the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) launched a large trial to study the effect of the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a prophylactic treatment in healthcare workers (HCWs) against COVID-19. The study was called the “HERO [Healthcare Worker Exposure Response and Outcomes]-HCQ Trial.”

Cook claims that the study’s creators wanted to, “Create a community of healthcare workers (HCWs) who may be at risk of COVID-19 infection.” And then, “randomize 15,000 at-risk HCWs into a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to prevent COVID-19 clinical infection in HCWs.”

According to Cook, secondary goals of the scientists include, “To evaluate the efficacy of HCQ to prevent viral shedding of SARS-CoV-2 among HCWs.” And “Evaluate safety and tolerability of HCQ.”

The records include a June 26, 2020, letter from a group of Democrat congressmen to then-HHS Secretary Alex Azar. The representatives write:

We write with strong concerns surrounding the Administration’s termination of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to EcoHealth Alliance on April 24, 2020.  In the letter communicating the grant’s termination, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research, Dr. Michael Lauer, wrote that “At this time, NIH does not believe the current project outcomes align with the program goals and agency priorities.”  However, press reports indicate that the grant was canceled because a small portion of the funding was to be given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for on-the-ground sample collection and analysis.  Given the potential for this study to inform our knowledge of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmission, it is deeply concerning that it may have been canceled for political reasons in the midst of the current pandemic.

In a heavily redacted July 21, 2020, email exchange with the subject line “EcoHealth [EcoHealth Alliance] oversight response” Adrienne Hallett writes: “We are going to draft a response to the letter [redacted]. Mike [Lauer], can you help with the draft?”

Collins responds, “Sounds like a plan. [Redacted].”

Hallett’s response is completely redacted, then Lauer replies, “Thanks so much Adrienne! I’ll draft something today.”

Fauci’s agency is slow-rolling the release of documents about COVID, Wuhan, and gain-of-function research. At this rate, Fauci will be long retired before we get even a partial accounting for its activities. But Judicial Watch will keep on pushing for the full truth.


Judicial Watch Victory: Sixth Circuit Judicial Council Vacates Order Punishing Federal Judge Who Pushed for Timely Justice in Social Security Benefits Cases

As part of the settlement of a historic federal lawsuit, the federal Sixth Circuit Judicial Council is vacating an unprecedented and entirely unwarranted order by a disciplinary panel that found U.S. District Court Judge John R. Adams committed misconduct by objecting to undergoing a psychiatric examination and ordered him to submit to the examination.

In September 2017, Judicial Watch filed a federal lawsuit challenging the discipline on behalf of Akron, Ohio-based Judge Adams (The Hon. John R. Adams v. The Judicial Council of the Sixth Circuit, et al. (No. 17-1984)). The Sixth Circuit oversees and hears appeals from federal trial courts in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Here’s what happened.

On August 14, 2017, the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States upheld an administrative ruling by the Sixth Circuit Judicial Council finding that Judge Adams committed misconduct when he issued a show cause order to a magistrate judge who missed a deadline in a Social Security benefits case. Judge Adams had long been concerned about the efficient use and supervision of his court’s magistrates and the timeliness of magistrates’ decisions, particularly in Social Security cases. To reduce delays in such cases, he began issuing orders setting deadlines for magistrates’ “reports and recommendations” – analyses by magistrates on how a judge should rule.

The magistrates resisted Judge Adams’ efforts and, when one magistrate missed a deadline, Judge Adams issued the show cause order. After the magistrate explained that the missed deadline resulted from a simple calendaring error, Judge Adams accepted the explanation and placed both the order and the explanation under seal.

Some of Judge Adams’ colleagues on the Ohio Federal District Court filed an ethics complaint claiming that Judge Adams’ deadlines and show cause order caused the magistrates to give priority to his cases over theirs. As a result, Judge Adams was subjected to a years-long ethics investigation so vengeful and vitriolic that even his mental health was questioned. Despite the complete absence of any medical evidence suggesting he suffered from a mental disability, Judge Adams was ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination, including a three-hour battery of psychological testing. When he objected, he was accused of undermining the investigation.

In addition to his efforts to ensure timely processing of Social Security appeals, Judge Adams also has spoken out numerous times about the Ohio Federal District Court’s wasteful use of taxpayer dollars, such as the spending of thousands of dollars to purchase iPads for judges and other court staff while simultaneously threatening cutbacks and furloughs for essential staff, such as probation officers. He also questioned reimbursing judges for travel expenses incurred attending ceremonial portrait unveilings of their colleagues.

No case had ever decided whether a sitting federal judge can be compelled to undergo a psychiatric examination, but the Committee on Judicial Conduct and Disability of the Judicial Conference of the United States held it was misconduct for Judge Adams to object to this unprecedented demand. It also ordered him to endure two years of monitoring by a judicial committee and threatened to reassign his current caseload and ban him from being assigned new cases.

After over four years of federal litigation, including an appeal, the Judicial Council agreed to finally vacate the unprecedented orders targeting Judge Adams.

The courts are not above the law. Judge Adams is a fine jurist committed to the highest standards of judicial ethics and has served with distinction for over 19 years. No other federal judge should ever have to go through what Judge Adams went through. That the bureaucracy of the federal judiciary retreated from its abuse of him is a remarkable victory for the rule of law and our constitutional system.


Judicial Watch Sues over COVID-19 Travel Exemptions for Biden Officials

Rules for thee, but not for me? Too often that’s the case in Washington. Now we want to know if government employees under the Biden administration enjoyed privileges withheld from ordinary Americans when it came to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA suit) against the State Department for all documents related to national interest travel exemptions from the Biden administration given to federal employees and their families related to the COVID-19 pandemic (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:22-cv-00736)).

Here’s the background. On January 25, 2021, President Joe Biden issued a presidential proclamation prohibiting the entry of non-residents to America if they have been in the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, or the Republic of South Africa in the 14 days prior. The stated objective of this order was to “prevent further spread” of COVID-19. On April 30, 2021, President Biden extended this proclamation to cover those who had been in the Republic of India.

Although these directives would potentially cause Americans to be separated from loved ones abroad, federal employees could have potentially used their positions and connections to circumvent the travel bans by obtaining National Interest Exemptions (NIE).

Through this FOIA request, we hope to obtain information and statistics regarding the total number of NIE requests made during the public health emergency from federal and non-federal employees, as well as the number of rejections and approvals of these requests.

We sued after the State Department failed to respond to a September 21, 2021, FOIA request seeking:

  • All records of the number of applications, granted and denied, for a National Interest Exemption to any of the COVID-19 related travel restrictions implemented by the U.S. Government, including the restrictions announced, by President Biden on January 25, 2021 and April 30, 2021.
  • All records depicting the number of applications, granted or denied, to a family member of an employee of any office of the U.S. Government.
  • All records of communication between any official of the Department of State and any official of any other office of the U.S. Government regarding applications for exemptions made by family members.
  • All records of policies related to the processing of applications for a National Interest Exemptions.

COVID restrictions have been too often ignored by government officials, and Americans have a right to know if federal employees used their positions of power to see their families when others could not.


Judicial Watch Sues HHS for Communications about Vaccine Side Effects

The Centers for Disease Control is being scrutinized for being less than forthcoming about what it knows about the COVID-19 vaccines. Judicial Watch is pushing back on this lack of transparency with lawsuit after lawsuit to enforce Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) accountability.

We just filed a FOIA lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for communications related to adverse events caused by COVID-19 vaccines (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:22-cv-00660)).

We sued after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to respond to an August 30, 2021, FOIA request for:

All emails sent to and from members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee regarding adverse events, deaths and/or injuries caused by investigatory vaccines for the prevention or treatment of SARS-CoV-2 and/or COVID-19 currently produced by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and/or Johnson & Johnson.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee “reviews and evaluates data concerning the safety, effectiveness, and appropriate use of vaccines and related biological products which are intended for use in the prevention, treatment, or diagnosis of human diseases, and, as required, any other products for which the Food and Drug Administration has regulatory responsibility.”

Americans have a right to know about any and all safety issues tied to the COVID vaccines. The government’s unlawful stonewalling, which will now take a federal FOIA lawsuit to resolve, suggests that there is something to hide.


City Under Siege: Staggering New York Crime Wave Roils Politics

It’s been said that, “As goes New York, so goes the nation.” Unfortunately, that seems all too true regarding leftist leniency for criminals. However, as Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, describes in Investigative Bulletin, even leftist politicians have been forced to take action.

The NYPD’s new anti-gun units hit the streets last week and not a moment too soon. New York City is in the midst of a staggering crime wave. Over the past weekend, 29 people were shot in 24 separate incidents, the Daily News reported. According to the latest NYPD statistics, major felonies in the city increased 58% in February 2022, in year over year comparisons to February 2021. Murders rose 10%. Felony assaults rose 22%. Rapes increased 35%. Robberies increased 56%. Hate crimes—largely against Jews and Asian-Americans—surged 189%. Crimes in the transit systems—mainly the subways—were up 73%.

New York is a city under siege. Every day brings a new horror story. A child is assaulted in Times Square. A young woman is stabbed to death in her Chinatown apartment. A senior citizen is hacked to death by a wheelchair-bound transgender two-time convicted murderer. A madman smears feces on a woman’s face in a subway station, is released on bail, and is arrested again after hurling a dumbbell through a window. A woman is shoved in front of a subway train and killed. Another woman is attacked with a hammer. A teen is shot to death in front of a Brooklyn high school. A baby is shot in the face in the Bronx. A teenage cashier at a Burger King in Manhattan is shot and killed during a robbery. Two police officers are killed by gunfire in Harlem.

At Judicial Watch, we warned for years that New York was slipping toward a crisis of crime and disorder. The reasons were not difficult to discern. Progressive policy makers were denigrating and defunding the police at every opportunity, dismantling successful policing units, decriminalizing quality-of-life crimes, emptying jails, and launching a disastrous program of bail reform.

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York abandoned the successful policing strategy of enforcing quality-of-life laws. This was the “Broken Windows” theory of policing, a key factor in crime reduction during the mayoral tenure of Rudy Giuliani.

“Broken Windows” is a metaphor for urban decline. The building with an unrepaired broken window soon leads to the other windows being broken and more disorderly conduct. “A neighborhood where minor offenses go unchallenged soon becomes a breeding ground for more serious criminal activity and, ultimately, violence,” writesGiuliani police commissioner William Bratton and George Kelling, the father of Broken Windows theory.

New York decriminalized quality-of-life crimes under de Blasio. Public urination, public drinking, littering, and subway turnstile jumping were no longer illegal. Incidents of harassment, menacing, petty theft, public urination and public intoxication began to increase. That distant tremor in the urban air was the sound of windows breaking.

Meanwhile, progressives rammed through the state legislature in Albany a reform package that eliminated bail for a wide range of offenses—from assault, arson and child abuse to manslaughter, robbery and riot—and removed judicial discretion in holding suspects. The reform legislation took effect January 2020. Many more offenders walked. Some of them were poor first-time offenders on minor crimes who simply could not afford bail and deserved to walk; others were violent personalities or career criminals who did not. Crime rates jumped.

The public backlash was swift. In November 2021, New York elected a new mayor, a former police officer who had campaigned on a platform of public safety, Eric Adams. The new mayor’s plans include a refreshed version of the successful but controversial NYPD anti-crime unit, which was disbanded in 2020 in the midst of social justice protests. The new six-person anti-gun units, launched last week, will aggressively tackle gun crime in New York. About 170 police officers have been deployed so far, focusing on high crime areas, with 300 more to follow.

Adams also is advocating for reform of radical bail laws, tougher gun possession charges for youthful offenders, and a crackdown on transit crime with an increased police presence in the subways.

Initially stunned by the Adams electoral victory, New York’s powerful progressive factions have begun to push back hard on the new mayor. Adams’ appeal to Democratic leaders in Albany for bail reform—largely focused on giving judges more discretion to hold potentially violent offenders—was quickly shot down. Progressive politicians in New York argue that there is not a proven connection between the new bail laws and increased crime; conservatives disagree.

Adams, meanwhile, gained an important ally in the bail reform fight: New York Governor Kathy Hochul. The former lieutenant governor took over after Andrew Cuomo resigned. Last week, she sent the state legislature a “confidential” ten-point public safety plan that backed the Adams proposal to give judges more discretion in setting bail. The plan quickly leaked, infuriating the Left. Perhaps not coincidentally, Hochul will be asking the voters for a full term as governor in November.

Back in New York City, the new NYPD anti-gun teams acted quickly, making the first arrest just two hours into the first patrol—an alleged member of the Bloods crime gang with a loaded 9mm handgun. By the end of the first week, the anti-gun units had arrested thirty more suspects and taken ten illegal guns off the streets.


Public College Hosts Cop Killer, Calling Him a ‘Political Prisoner’

Our colleges have turned against the society that funds and protects them, bestowing honor on all manner of miscreants. Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports on the latest outrage.

In a scandalous example of leftwing dominance in higher education, a public university in New York will hold an event next month featuring a convicted cop killer promoted by the taxpayer-funded institution as a “political prisoner.” The April 6 event at State University of New York (SUNY) at Brockport is titled “History of Black Resistance, U.S. Political Prisoners & Genocide: A Conversation with Jalil Muntaqim” and the school’s announcement conveniently omits Muntaqim’s crimes, though it mentions he “was an avid educator” in prison. Formerly known as Anthony Bottom, Muntaqim was convicted for the murder of two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers in 1971. At the time he was a member of the radical Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army.

Muntaqim and two of his Black Liberation Army comrades ambushed and killed the officers, Waverly Jones, who was black, and Joseph Piagentini in Harlem. The officers were on foot patrol in a public housing complex. As they returned to their police vehicle, the three suspects attacked them from behind and shot them. Jones was killed instantly after getting shot in the back of the head. Piagentini was shot multiple times and died on the way to the hospital. One of the cop murderers died in prison, the other was granted parole in 2018 and Muntaqim was paroled in 2020, after being denied parole 11 times and serving nearly five decades. Piagentini’s widow was rightfully outraged that her husband’s murderer was freed, saying this in a local news report: “My husband, they shot him, there were 22 bullet holes in my husband, and Bottom [Muntaqim] just kept on shooting,” she said. “My husband looked at him, turned and said ‘I have a wife, I have children,’ but he continued to shoot.”

The media has downplayed Muntaqim’s crimes, instead celebrating him as an author, activist, and local civil rights organizer who is featured in a documentary released just weeks ago. In a review of the film, titled “Conversations: The Black Radical Tradition,” one media outlet describes the film as “first-hand accounts of Black resistance in America in the 20th and 21st centuries from more than a dozen activists, scholars, politicians, writers, and others involved in resistance and community-building movements.” In the article Muntaqim says “there has been an unbroken history of resistance against white supremacy, institutional racism, and capitalist exploitation of our communities, but the engagement in activism has at times gone dormant. So it’s important for us to understand the history and resurrect that tradition of resistance.” Another newspaper article describes the cop killer fondly: “During his incarceration, Muntaqim became a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, a mentor, a scholar, a several-times-over published author and a faith leader.”

SUNY Brockport was actually going to compensate the felon to appear at the upcoming event, but public outrage forced university officials to revoke the payment. They have, however, refused calls to cancel Muntaqim’s appearance, which is being billed by the school as an “intellectual conversation” about his time with the Black Panthers and as a political prisoner. In a letter published by a local news outlet in the aftermath of the public outrage, SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson explains that Muntaqim was invited by a faculty member who was approved for a “Promoting Excellence in Diversity” grant. “We do not support the violence exhibited in Mr. Muntaqim’s previous crimes, and his presence on campus does not imply endorsement of his views or past actions,” Macpherson, writes, adding that his appearance will provide an opportunity to learn about his perspective and what may have contributed to his past experiences. Macpherson assures individuals will have the opportunity to ask difficult questions such as “why he chooses to identify as a former political prisoner.”

At least one New York state legislator blasted the university, issuing a statement saying that it is incredibly inappropriate and downright wrong to give Muntaqim a platform at a taxpayer-funded institution. “What type of message would we be sending to young college students to call someone who played a role in the assassination of two members of law enforcement a “political prisoner?” What message does it send to criminal justice majors on campus? What message does it send to our law enforcement?” Academic freedom and diversity are important, the lawmaker, Assemblyman Josh Jensen writes, but “granting this opportunity to a convicted cop killer is wholly misguided.” In its promotional material, the university portrays Muntaqim as a civil rights hero, stating that he was a teen activist for the NAACP and Black Panther Party at age 18. The school further describes him as a “grandfather, father, mentor to many, and loving human being.”

Until next week …