Weekly Update: Judicial Watch Changed History
Donald Trump’s remarkable victory on Election Day is still sinking in. Judicial Watch supporters can take satisfaction that the American people resoundingly rejected Hillary Clinton corruption. Our work exposing her email had consequences. We did not do this work to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the Oval Office; we did it to hold her, her aides, and her co-conspirators in the Obama administration accountable to the law.
The corrupted leadership of the FBI and Justice Department didn’t want to do much with what we exposed. And certainly Congress, led by a weak Republican leadership, didn virtually nothing on the Clinton email issue. But, the American people didn’t ignore our work, and denied Hillary Clinton the presidency as a result. One expert called Judicial Watch one of the great “disruptors” of our new media age:
Judicial Watch is a conservative gadfly, yes, but it is acting more like a newsroom staffed by lawyers – a scary thought, to the government at the very least. With an ample, donor-funded war chest, the nonprofit is taking journalists to school in deploying one of their most valued weapons, the Freedom of Information Act, doing so more effectively than any news organization in recent memory. Mainstream news organizations are happy to take its costly court-won revelations and run with them. So it’s not surprising that its President, Tom Fitton, nominated Judicial Watch for three Pulitzer Prizes last year (It was disqualified because it was ruled to be an advocacy group, Fitton told the Pulitzer-laden New York Times).
(By the way, the Pulitizer people dishonestly rejected our application not because we were unworthy of a prize, but because Judicial Watch is conservative.)
There is no doubt that Judicial Watch changed history with its Clinton email investigations. The election results show that corruption matters to the American people. At a minimum, President-elect Trump should commit to a transparency revolution. The Trump administration and new Congress must focus on restoring the rule of law and accountability after the eight years of a lawless Obama administration. Corruption in government is an overwhelming problem. We expect, but won’t rely upon, DC politicians to do the right thing. Judicial Watch will continue its independent investigations and lawsuits in order to hold politicians of both political parties accountable to the rule of law.
I suspect liberal media interest in the Clinton email scandal will fade, but the public interest will remain high in securing accountability under the rule of law. Indeed, the day before the election, Judicial Watch lawyers were in federal court again pushing for Clinton email discourse in a key Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking emails sent or received by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her official capacity during her tenure as secretary of state.
The State Department has been producing Clinton email recovered by the FBI under a September 23, 2016, court order issued by U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg. The State Department confirmed in September that the FBI turned over to the State Department at least 15,000 new Clinton emails as a result of Judicial Watch’s litigation seeking all of Clinton’s work-related emails.
At the hearing Monday, we found out that the FBI also turned over 31,000 other Clinton documents to the State Department. State suggested the court should wait as long as five years to see them. Obviously, the State Department is slow-walking the release of Hillary Clinton’s deleted and hidden emails. Ironically, this Clinton/Obama State Department stonewalling has guaranteed that the Clinton email scandal won’t be resolved for years.
The court has set the next hearing in this case for November 29 to discuss the status of 650,000 emails reportedly found on the computing devices of Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner. Let’s see … the FBI reviewed 650,000 emails from computing devices of Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner in just eight days, but the State Department says it will take five years to process 31,000 pages?
It doesn’t look like the court is buying the State Department’s time line, but we won’t know for sure until March. In the meantime, I wonder if the Trump transition team understands undoing this type of corruption is something they have to prioritize.
The criminal nature of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal was highlighted further last week by the State Department’s release of 74 additional emails recovered by the FBI in its investigation of Clinton’s use of a non-state.gov email system.
Included in the new documents was an email in which Clinton forwarded classified information to her daughter, Chelsea, at the unsecure email address [email protected]. Before releasing the heavily redacted email to Judicial Watch, the State Department marked it “B1.4(b)” and “B1.4(d),” indicating that it contained “Foreign Government Information’ and “Foreign relations or foreign activities of the US including confidential sources.” The State Department also misleadingly labeled the email with the term “near duplicate.”
No wonder Hillary Clinton deleted this email. Her sharing of classified information with her daughter shows criminal disregard for national security.
Maryland’s Congressional districts are notoriously gerrymandered (some might say rigged!) in a way that treats voters with contempt while unconstitutionally benefitting the politicians who created them. Last week, our lawyers asked the U. S. Supreme Court to overturn a district court decision dismissing a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s 2011 gerrymandering. Our lawsuit argues that the controversial redistricting transferred “the power to select congressional representatives from Maryland’s voters to legislators.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of voters in each of Maryland’s eight congressional districts in June 2015 (Parrott, et al, v. Lamone, et al (No. 1:15-cv-01849)). The Supreme Court appeal was filed on October 28, 2016.
In August 2016, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled for the State in dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims. We are seeking Supreme Court review of the district court’s decision, arguing that Maryland’s gerrymandered districts violate the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights. Cases involving legislative redistricting are heard by a special three-judge panel, and the decision of that panel can be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, bypassing the intermediate courts of appeals.
The lawsuit challenges a congressional districting plan signed into law by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley in October 2011. The suit alleges that the Maryland’s congressional district map is the most gerrymandered in the country. According to the Judicial Watch Supreme Court appeal:
[T]he gerrymandering of Maryland’s congressional districts…allows Maryland’s legislators to steal for themselves a significant portion of the power to select congresspersons, which power should only by exercised “by the People”… As Appellants have it in their complaint, “[g]errymandering is not something that Democrats and Republicans do to each other. Gerrymandering is something that legislators and other state actors do to voters.’”
The suit argues that gerrymandering violates Article I, § 2 of the Constitution and the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment:
Article I, § 2 of the Constitution requires that members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen “by the People of the several States.” The complaint alleges that Senate Bill 1 violates this provision by transferring the power to select congressional representatives from Maryland’s voters to the legislators who drew and adopted Maryland’s congressional district plan.
The complaint also alleges that Maryland’s noncompact districts violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by inflicting undue burdens on the plaintiffs’ fundamental voting rights. By “ignor[ing] political boundaries,” “fragment[ing] political communities of interest,” and “confus[ing] voters,” gerrymandered districts impose unique burdens on both candidates and voters in those districts.
The Judicial Watch appeal proposes that the court adopt a single, objective compactness measure, such as the “Polsby-Popper scale,” to determine whether states are engaged in unconstitutional gerrymandering. Robert Popper, co-creator of the Polsby-Popper scale, is the lead Judicial Watch attorney in the lawsuit and directs the organization’s Election Integrity Project.
Critics have charged that the new congressional map was designed specifically to minimize the voting power of particular voters. The Washington Post editorialized:
The map, drafted under Mr. O’Malley’s watchful eye, mocks the idea that voting districts should be compact or easily navigable. The eight districts respect neither jurisdictional boundaries nor communities of interest. To protect incumbents and for partisan advantage, the map has been sliced, diced, shuffled and shattered, making districts resemble studies in cubism.
Maryland’s gerrymandered congressional district map is a national disgrace and harms both Democrat and Republican voters alike. My hope is that the Supreme Court will finally address the unconstitutional corruption of gerrymandering.
These days, Washington politicians too often treat veterans as just another special interest group to be mollified with government programs. From my perspective, Judicial Watch’s anti-corruption work is the least we can do for our country compared to the risks and sacrifices taken by those who protected our Republic in military service. For example, every politician who screams about the deadly lies of the healthcare scandals at the Veterans Administration should also be taking action on the Obama/Clinton Benghazi lies. We pray for peace while fighting for the truth. As President Reagan said in his 1985 Veterans Day remarks:
We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth; when we refuse to name an act for what it is; when we refuse to see the obvious and seek safety in Almighty. Peace is only maintained and won by those who have clear eyes and brave minds.
Judicial Watch benefits from the unique experience of the veterans on our staff. And we are proud that countless veterans who, with “clear eyes and brave minds,” generously support Judicial Watch’s work. Thank you all for your service and have a wonderful Veterans Day.
God bless America!