Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (D), one of the first of a wave of progressive prosecutors elected on a criminal justice reform platform, made “false” claims that his office communicated with the family members of the victims of a man that he sought to free from death row, a federal judge found.
The following day, in what could only be described as a rough week for the top prosecutor, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to hold him in contempt for failing to cooperate with the committee investigating his possible impeachment.
“Extremely Disappointed to Learn of the District Attorney’s Stance”
According to a scathing 28-page memorandum opinion, the district attorney’s office wrongly suggested the relatives of the Pennsylvania couple killed by Robert Wharton supported his release from death row. In fact, U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg found, Krasner’s office did not even contact the sole surviving victim of the attack: Lisa Hart-Newman, who was an infant when Wharton killed her parents, turned off the heat, and left her inside the house to die.
“This Court (which only learned of the family’s opposition through the Attorney General’s Office) is not the only one who considered the District Attorney’s representations misleading,” the opinion states. “Lisa Hart-Newman, the infant, now age thirty-seven, who was left to die by Wharton after her parents were murdered, stated she was ‘extremely disappointed to learn of the District Attorney’s stance and very troubled that he implied that the family approved of his viewpoint.’ […] Michael Allen, one of the brothers of the deceased, also noted, ‘[I]t would appear that there was a substantially deficient briefing by the DA’s office regarding the significance and implications for vacating Wharton’s death penalty.’”
Krasner, who worked at the Federal Public Defender’s Office before becoming an elected prosecutor, is an opponent of capital punishment, and one of his early actions in office was to drop dozens of drug charges as the city braced to decriminalize marijuana. His office sided with Wharton in his federal habeas death penalty case on the grounds that his lawyer failed to properly investigate and present evidence of his positive adjustment to prison.
The DA’s office argued they did not they did not need to present a full investigation of the facts for and against Wharton, but Judge Goldberg noted that the Third Circuit gave prosecutors precisely the opposite instruction.
“Trial courts and lawyers take direction from appellate judges,” wrote the judge, who — ethics disclosure here — is the father of Law&Crime’s director of podcasting Sam Goldberg. “This is such a basic legal principle that no precedential or statutory citation is needed.”
“‘Egregious’ and ‘Exceptional’”
Finding Krasner’s office committed “egregious” and “exceptional” violations of the federal rules of procedure, the judge ordered the DA to “send separate written apologies” within 30 days of the ruling to victim family members Tony Hart, Michael Allen, Patrice Carr, and to victim Lisa Hart-Newman. Goldberg, who is approaching his 14th anniversary of his appointment to the federal bench by George W. Bush in 2008, also ordered more candor from the DA in future cases in his courtroom. He declined to impose financial penalties.
The day after Monday’s ruling, a committee of the GOP-dominated Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to hold Krasner in contempt. Calling itself the Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order, the body was formed over the City of Brotherly Love’s rising crime and murder rates. One Republican lawmaker called for Krasner’s impeachment over what he called the top prosecutor’s “dereliction of duty.”
According to the New York Times, Krasner spurned the legislature’s investigation as antidemocratic and illegitimate. He was voted into office twice by significant margins. The Philadephia Inquirer reported that even large members of his party supported the contempt resolution over his refusal to comply with a subpoena, which passed by a 162-38 margin with almost all Republicans and some 49 Democrats.
The Times reported that the resolution could subject Krasner to a range of penalties — up to imprisonment, but the legislature has not decided upon what to pursue.
Krasner’s office did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email requesting comment.
Read the ruling below:
[photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images]
Law&Crime’s managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks.
According to the Washington Post (albeit a discredited newspaper but a reliable shill for the Washington political elite), the FBI was looking for nuclear documents in the Presidential collection Donald Trump stored at his Palm Beach estate. This speaks to the frantic desperation of the anti-Trump crowd, especially the corrupt officials that infest the leadership of the FBI and the Department of Justice. They used this ludicrous pretext to obtain a search warrant with the help of a credulous, cretinous Judge, Bruce Reinhart.
The nuclear secrets at Mar-a-Lago tale was more desperate than usual.
It lasted less than 12 hours.
U.S. federal agents were looking for documents relating to nuclear weapons when they searched former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida this week, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.
Having failed to produce any evidence that Trump was working with good old Vladimir Putin to destroy America’s democracy with Russiagate 1.0, the anti-Trump crowd apparently has decided to trot out another Russia-tainted meme, the ultimate red herring, to portray Donald Trump as a 21st Century Dr. Strangelove. We now know the truth.
Donald Trump was trying to build a nuclear weapon in his wine cellar at Mar A Lago.
Seriously, the theory was that Trump was building a bomb for Putin, because — you know — Russia is a technologically backward country and needs outside help. Really???
And if you believe that, I have some oceanfront property located just outside Winslow, Arizona for sale. Cash only and small bills.
Maybe we now know why the FBI was pawing through Melania Trump’s lingerie. Did they intercept a text from Trump telling his wife that she looked like a nuclear tipped cruise missile in her red Teddy. Of course, the FBI had to assume that was code word for something far more nefarious. I had to wonder why the FBI spent so much time handling and sniffing Melania’s panties and negligees.
(Maybe they are members of a “J. Edgar Hoover Cross Dressing Club,” and were looking to upgrade their outfits before their next Monkey Pox rave.)
The Deep State-Fake News cabal needs to work harder on their conspiracies.
Scott Adams, the cartoonist and author behind the Dilbert comic strip, posted a list of the most prominent deep state-fake news lies and conspiracies attacking President Donald Trump.
Here is a list of 11 previous fake news conspiracies that fell flat.
If you believe Trump squirreled-away some nuclear secrets at Mar-a-Lago — and refused to return them — because you heard the Washington Post say two anonymous sources (that CNN can't confirm) told them it was true, I give you some useful context. . . pic.twitter.com/EVTLy8VyLz
If only there were 51 principled former intelligence officials who could verify the authenticity of the latest claim.
Here is the common thread in all of the fake news hoaxes.
In the final phase, which one might call The Mueller Report Phase, we learn the story was a political hoax, but the damage has been done, and half the country doesn't hear about the debunking. Their news sources will simply say some other version of the story was true.
What this whole episode shows us is that Kamala Harris is no longer the dumbest member of the Biden team. Nope. That honor goes to Merrick Garland. He apparently believed that this scheme would discredit Trump and elevate Garland as the Clausewitz of the Biden Presidency. Warner Brothers may file a copyright infringement lawsuit against the mad Attorney General for adopting a Wile E Coyote plot. Garland strapped himself to the tip of the missile before activating the fuze that ignited the rocket. He failed to recognize that he would be riding a political nuclear bomb to his own political demise. Maybe he is just a secret admirer of Slim Pickens and wanted to recreate Pickens’ iconic moment in Dr. Strangelove.
Alright, back to serious. Trump may be right that someone may have planted a document related to nuclear weapons or nuclear technology in the boxes he had locked up. That does not incriminate Trump and is no crime. The prosecutors would have to show that Trump instructed someone on his staff to put such a document in one of the boxes. Trump may be a lot of things, but stupid and reckless are not how he became a billionaire and beat the dickens out of Hillary in 2016. Is there another Alexander Vindman lurking in the shadows keen on helping create a pretext to discredit Trump?
Trump may be a lot of things, but stupid and reckless are not how he became a billionaire and beat the dickens out of Hillary in 2016.
If Trump really was trying to hide such information why would he have instructed his attorneys to negotiate with the National Archives on getting an agreement to return the records to the Feds? In fact, if he had mens rea*, do you really think Trump would keep something so figuratively radioactive on his estate?
[*mens rea Latin, literally ‘guilty mind’; in the law “criminal intent”.]
Merrick Garland, despite his Harvard education, is not a smart man. He signed off on a warrant rather than ask Trump and his lawyers if he had such documents in his possession. Are they going for the old – he lied to me tactic that they used on General Michael Flynn? Lying to Federal Agents is a crime unless you are former FBI Chief Andrew McCabe.
Instead of doing the reasonable, lawyerly thing, Garland chose the nuclear option. It will come back to haunt him.
Trump lawyer Christina Bobb said in interviews Thursday night (8-11) that President Trump and his family in New York watched the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago Monday via closed circuit TV security cameras. Bobb said the FBI had ordered staff at Mar-a-Lago to turn the cameras off but that Trump lawyers had the cameras turned back on. [Now we know why the FBI wanted them turned off. — TPR]
Former President Donald Trump’s legal team is weighing whether to release the search warrant and inventory of material seized at Mar-a-Lago before a federal judge rules on the matter, according to a Florida-based attorney for Trump, Lindsey Halligan.
Earlier Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department had filed a motion to unseal the warrant and related documents, “absent objection from the former president.” Trump has until 3 p.m. Friday to respond.
His legal team is also discussing whether to release video and photos of the search, Halligan said. Two sources familiar with Trump’s legal strategy said that before FBI agents executed the warrant, they asked that Mar-a-Lago’s private security cameras be turned off. Trump’s team refused to comply.
The U.S. Secret Service, which maintains a permanent presence at the former president’s home, was not a party to the dispute over the cameras because the private club owns and controls the cameras, not the government.
It isn’t clear what any video that may have been captured by Mar-a-Lago’s cameras would show. According to Halligan, there were security cameras in Trump’s office, but not in all of the areas that were searched. She also said that there are photos of FBI personnel on the grounds.
Why does the fake news insist on lying to the American public?
Thomas Hargrove is building software to identify trends in unsolved murders using data nobody’s bothered with before.
On Aug. 18, 2010, a police lieutenant in Gary, Ind., received an e-mail, the subject line of which would be right at home in the first few scenes of a David Fincher movie:
“Could there be a serial killer active in the Gary area?”
It isn’t clear what the lieutenant did with that e-mail; it would be understandable if he waved it off as a prank. But the author could not have been more serious. He’d attached source material—spreadsheets created from FBI files showing that over several years the city of Gary had recorded 14 unsolved murders of women between the ages of 20 and 50. The cause of each death was the same: strangulation. Compared with statistics from around the country, he wrote, the number of similar killings in Gary was far greater than the norm. So many people dying the same way in the same city—wouldn’t that suggest that at least a few of them, maybe more, might be connected? And that the killer might still be at large?
The police lieutenant never replied. Twelve days later, the police chief, Gary Carter, received a similar e-mail from the same person. This message added a few details. Several of the women were strangled in their homes. In at least two cases, a fire was set after the murder. In more recent cases, several women were found strangled in or around abandoned buildings. Wasn’t all of this, the writer asked, at least worth a look?
The Gary police never responded to that e-mail, either, or to two follow-up letters sent via registered mail. No one from the department has commented publicly about what was sent to them—nor would anyone comment for this story. “It was the most frustrating experience of my professional life,” says the author of those messages, a 61-year-old retired news reporter from Virginia named Thomas Hargrove.
Hargrove spent his career as a data guy. He analyzed his first set of polling data as a journalism major at the University of Missouri, where he became a student director of the university’s polling organization. He joined an E.W. Scripps newspaper right out of college and expanded his repertoire from political polling data to practically any subject that required statistical analysis. “In the newsroom,” he remembers, “they would say, ‘Give that to Hargrove. That’s a numbers problem.’ ”
In 2004, Hargrove’s editors asked him to look into statistics surrounding prostitution. The only way to study that was to get a copy of the nation’s most comprehensive repository of criminal statistics: the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, or UCR. When Hargrove called up a copy of the report from the database library at the University of Missouri, attached to it was something he didn’t expect: the Supplementary Homicide Report. “I opened it up, and it was a record I’d never seen before,” he says. “Line by line, every murder that was reported to the FBI.”
This report, covering the year 2002, contained about 16,000 murders, broken down by the victims’ age, race, and sex, as well as the method of killing, the police department that made the report, the circumstances known about the case, and information about the offender, if the offender was known. “I don’t know where these thoughts come from,” Hargrove says, “but the second I saw that thing, I asked myself, ‘Do you suppose it’s possible to teach a computer how to spot serial killers?’ ”
Like a lot of people, Hargrove was aware of criticisms of police being afflicted by tunnel vision when investigating difficult cases. He’d heard the term “linkage blindness,” used to describe the tendency of law-enforcement jurisdictions to fail to connect the dots between similar cases occurring right across the county or state line from one another. Somewhere in this report, Hargrove thought, could be the antidote to linkage blindness. The right person, looking at the information in the right way, might be able to identify any number of at-large serial killers.
Every year he downloaded and crunched the most recent data set. What really shocked him was the number of murder cases that had never been cleared. (In law enforcement, a case is cleared when a suspect is arrested, whatever the eventual outcome.) Hargrove counted 211,487, more than a third of the homicides recorded from 1980 to 2010. Why, he wondered, wasn’t the public up in arms about such a large number of unsolved murders?
To make matters worse, Hargrove saw that despite a generation’s worth of innovation in the science of crime fighting, including DNA analysis, the rate of cleared cases wasn’t increasing but decreasing—plummeting, even. The average homicide clearance rate in the 1960s was close to 90 percent; by 2010 it was solidly in the mid-’60s. It has fallen further since.
These troubling trends were what moved Hargrove to write to the Gary police. He failed to get any traction there. Sure enough, four years later, in October 2014, in Hammond, Ind.—the town next door to Gary—police found the body of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy in a room at a Motel 6. Using her phone records, they tracked down a suspect, 43-year-old Darren Deon Vann. Once arrested, Vann took police to the abandoned buildings where he’d stowed six more bodies, all of them in and around Gary. Anith Jones had last been seen alive on Oct. 8; Tracy Martin went missing in June; Kristine Williams and Sonya Billingsley disappeared in February; and Teaira Batey and Tanya Gatlin had vanished in January.
Before invoking his right to remain silent, Vann offhandedly mentioned that he’d been killing people for years—since the 1990s. Hargrove went to Gary, reporting for Scripps, to investigate whether any of the cases he’d identified back in 2010 might possibly be attributed to Vann. He remembers getting just one helpful response, from an assistant coroner in Lake County who promised to follow up, but that too went nowhere. Now, as the Vann prosecution slogs its way through the courts, everyone involved in the case is under a gag order, prevented from speculating publicly about whether any of the victims Hargrove noted in 2010 might also have been killed by Vann. “There are at least seven women who died after I tried to convince the Gary police that they had a serial killer,” Hargrove says. “He was a pretty bad one.”
Hargrove has his eye on other possible killers, too. “I think there are a great many uncaught serial killers out there,” he declares. “I think most cities have at least a few.”
The police have never been great at leveraging the power of their own statistics. Police culture is notably paper-based, scattered, and siloed, and departments aren’t always receptive to technological innovation. The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database gives police access to information such as fugitive warrants, stolen property, and missing persons, but it’s not searchable for unsolved killings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System compiles death-certificate-based information for homicide victims in 32 states, but, again, can’t be searched for uncleared cases. Some states have their own homicide databases, but they can’t see the data from other states, so linkage blindness persists.
Lightfoot Wants Chicago Drivers Under Constant Surveillance, But Look at What a Camera Caught Her SUV Doing
Chicago drivers are increasingly subjected to speed limit and red-light cameras that automatically send out millions in fines every year, and if they don’t pay, they can lose their driver’s license.
Meanwhile, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s motorcade reportedly has racked up hundreds of dollars in fines that she has refused to pay — without any consequence at all.
According to a review of public records by CWB Chicago, Lightfoot’s police-driven SUVs have been recorded exceeding the speed limit and going through red lights by the city’s traffic camera system several times in the last year — and none of the fines has been paid.
Several other cars registered to her motorcade also have had fines assessed but never paid, the report said.
CWB Chicago even found that one of the vehicles is now eligible for booting and being impounded because the fines are so far in arrears.
Worst of all, two of the speeding incidents occurred while Lightfoot’s SUVs were driving through school zones while exceeding the speed limit.
The report said none of the $658 in fines accumulated by the mayor’s motorcade since May 2021 has been paid.
But this is not just a recent habit. Her motorcade cars have a long history of breaking traffic laws, getting tickets and fines, and never paying them. It has been so bad that the city has gotten in a habit of just forgiving them because they never get paid anyway, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2020.
The mayor’s office released a statement after this latest news claiming that Lightfoot’s motorcade sometimes breaks the law for the mayor’s “safety.”
“The Mayor’s Detail is responsible for the safety and security of Mayor Lightfoot. Members of the Mayor’s Detail are trained in a variety of safety and security techniques to keep the Mayor safe and that includes both vehicles staying in formation while en route,” the statement said, according to CWB Chicago.
The office said fines are often paid late because the tickets go through an “administrative process to review if City vehicles were in use for safety or security reasons.”
Fines are paid after that process, and the detail’s drivers are responsible to pay them, Lightfoot’s office said.
Of course, even as she refuses to pay her traffic fines, the mayor has fought to make sure her constituents aren’t allowed any breaks from paying theirs.
Recently, for instance, a Chicago alderman tried to push through a rule giving drivers a 10 mph buffer in driving over the limit before tickets are sent in the mail. But Lightfoot fought against that idea because she wants more revenue from tickets.
“The last thing we need is to give people who are breaking the law the license to go faster,” the mayor said last month, according to the Chicago Tribune. “No one likes speed cameras. I get it. But this is life or death that we’re talking about here, and we’ve got to step up as a city and address this.”
Lightfoot also mined the Democrat’s favorite excuse for more rules by claiming it’s “for the children.”
“It makes no sense for us to increase the speed around the parks and schools when we know what the horrific consequences are for pedestrians and other drivers,” Lightfoot said, according to WBBM-TV.
But it’s for the children, don’t you know?
The conservative Illinois Policy Institute reported that since the threshold was lowered to 6 mph last year, Chicago has issued an additional 3.8 million tickets that have brought the city $80 million in revenue. But it’s for the children, don’t you know?
All this is nothing new. Chicago in particular and Illinois in general have had a long, dirty history with red-light cameras. As Chicago Sun-Times columnist Phil Kadner wrote in 2020, “Red-light cameras have been one of the slickest scams ever perpetrated on citizens by their own government.”
The state’s traffic cameras have been rife with corruption, with public scandals, bribery charges and criminal indictments of the red-light camera industry in Illinois that make a mockery of the typical Democratic claim that these cameras are unbiased arbiters of traffic laws.
In 2016, a Chicago official was sent to jail for corruption in the city’s red-light camera program. More recently, Martin Sandoval, who was an Illinois state senator, pleaded guilty to taking $250,000 in bribes for a red-light camera company, the Illinois Policy Institute noted.
Meanwhile, Illinois drivers continue to lose billions of their hard-earned money to these electronic surveillance state devices.
Between 2008 and 2018 alone, drivers were forced to pay $1.1 billion in fines — which amounts to $100 every 33 seconds, the institute said.
In the end, though, it appears that only the little people have to pay these fines, with Lightfoot and others seemingly exempt from the laws they force upon others.
Do you think Democrats feel their political office exempts them from following the law?
At least one Jersey City councilman has called for DeGise to resign from the Jersey City Council over her involvement in the incident. Denise has been charged with failure to report an accident and leaving the scene, according to New York WCBS.
Black, a devout Mormon, is pointing to his lack of physical injuries as a sign of divine
In an interview with hudpost.com, the delivery cyclist has said the collision has left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Black was surprised to learn that the motorist that drove away from the accident was a Jersey City elected official.
“Someone of prestige [who is] demanding to uphold and clean our streets or whatever they’re calling it… can’t even do it themselves,” said the 29-year-old man. “It really upset me.”
DeGise identifies herself as the chairwoman of the Hudson County Democrats on her Twitter page.
The councilwoman, who is the daughter of longtime Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, declined to get into specifics of the accident in a statement provided to the Hudson County View.
“I acknowledge this unfortunate event yesterday and I’m thankful that no one was seriously hurt.”
“While the traffic summons that was issued is dealt with in court I will not be able to make any additional comment at this time.”
When asked about the incident, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop criticized DeGise’s actions without calling on her to resign.
“You should never leave the scene of a crash. I think the responsible thing is to wait for law enforcement and follow the law,” said Fulop, according to the New Jersey Globe.
Let’s face it. The best we can hope for is containment of voter fraud. Not going to stop it completely. I know that one of the loons who stalks this web site has in the past claimed that there was only one case of voter fraud ever and it was a Republican. So sad.
So far this year Republicans have had some nice wins when it comes to stopping voter fraud. No ballot harvesting in Arizona, No mass spreading of drop boxes in Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania court strikes down no excuse absentee voting. Let’s keep it up.
Missouri and Louisiana filed a lawsuit against members of the Biden administration alleging collusion with Big Tech companies to censor speech.
The lawsuit alleges that “the Biden Administration colluded with and pressured social media giants Meta, Twitter, and Youtube to suppress and censor free speech on topics like the Hunter Biden laptop story, the Lab Leak Theory, and more.”
Attorney General Eric Schmitt provided examples of censorship in a Twitter thread.
A federal judge just ruled that the Biden administration must comply with the lawsuit and provide information.
A federal judge ordered the Biden administration on July 12 to comply with information requests in a lawsuit brought by Missouri and Louisiana officials about alleged federal government collusion with social media companies to suppress important news stories in the name of fighting so-called misinformation.
The lawsuit could help bring to light the Biden administration’s behind-the-scenes efforts to discourage the dissemination of information related to the advent of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus that causes the disease COVID-19 and the ongoing Hunter Biden laptop scandal, according to Eric Schmitt, Missouri’s Republican attorney general.
According to court documents, the states allege that the administration “colluded with and/or coerced social media companies to suppress disfavored speakers, viewpoints, and content on social media platforms by labeling the content ‘disinformation,’ ‘misinformation,’ and ‘malinformation.’”
Police then confiscated “a sword, dagger and 15 knives” from the now suspected mass shooter.
Three months later, Crimo Jr. sponsored his son’s application for a gun license, allowing Crimo III to purchase firearms before the age of 21.
“They make me like I groomed him to do all this,” Crimo Jr. said, referring to those who have since criticized his decision to sponsor his son’s gun license.
“I’ve been here my whole life, and I’m gonna stay here, hold my head up high, because I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Highland Park Massacre Suspect’s First Court Appearance Turns Bizarre as His Attorney Quits Mid-Hearing
Highland Park shooting suspect Robert Crimo III lost his attorney on Wednesday as he made his first court appearance.
In a video hearing, defense attorney Tom Durkin was first unable to access the Zoom session.
Once that glitch was resolved, a more serious one emerged. Durkin, who had been hired by Crimo’s family, said he has since learned he has a potential conflict of interest.
Tweets logged the confusion as it played out.
That means Crimo, who was ordered to be held without bail, will be represented by a public defender.
Crimo’s only comment during the hearing was to say he did not have an attorney.
During his court appearance, prosecutors said more than 80 rounds were fired Monday in the shooting that left seven people dead and at least 38 wounded, according to CBS.
Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli stated that Crimo drove to Wisconsin after the Highland Park shooting. Crimo “seriously contemplated using the firearm he had in his vehicle to commit another shooting in Madison” after seeing a celebration in that community.
Covelli said Crimo had a second rifle and 60 rounds of ammunition with him. Crimo disposed of his cell phone in Middleton, Wisconsin, and then went back to Illinois.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon said during Crimo’s bond hearing that Crimo made a voluntary confession. Prosecutors said Crimo confessed to dressing in women’s clothing and using makeup to cover his tattoos.
In a June 2022 dissenting opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asserted a debunked claim about the use of aborted fetal cells in COVID-19 vaccines.
This is the second one.
Five conservative Supreme Court justices dishonestly suggested, in Senate confirmation hearings, that they thought Roe v. Wade was beyond overturning.
It’s a sad day for the left when Snopes calls them out for their lies. The big lie was that the conservative justices lied to get confirmed. Lied about how they would vote on Roe V. Wade. As Snopes tells us, none of them lied.
Snopes goes through them one by one.
In May 2022, after news leaked that the U.S. Supreme Court had provisionally voted to overturn the abortion protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade, the left-wing political action committee MeidasTouch briefly caused “#LyingGOP” to trend on Twitter, with a video that accused five Republican-appointed justices of lying about their intentions to overturn the landmark ruling.
However, the creators of the video badly misrepresented the full scope of relevant facts in two important ways, and we are issuing a rating of “False.”
First, they engaged in highly selective editing of much longer and more nuanced archival clips of future justices during their U.S. Senate confirmation hearings, in order to grossly misrepresent the substance of what they said.
Second, they appeared to misunderstand or misrepresent the meaning of a Supreme Court precedent. In brief, describing a ruling as an important precedent is not tantamount to giving a commitment not to overturn that ruling, or indicating you believe that ruling cannot be overruled. Therefore, the sweeping allegations of premeditated dishonesty on the part of GOP-appointed justices were as poorly supported by evidence as they were wrongheaded.
The following is our breakdown of what the MeidasTouch “megaviral supercut” video claimed, lined up against what the factual record shows.
Justice Clarence Thomas
The following is how Meidas Touch presented Thomas’s remarks:
Clarence Thomas: I believe the constitution protects the right to privacy. And I have no reason or agenda to prejudge the issue.
Caption: HE LIED
In this section of the video, MeidasTouch mutilated a 1991 quotation from then-Supreme Court nominee Thomas, and grossly misrepresented the substance and meaning of his remarks. In reality, Thomas absolutely did not provide any assurances on how he might rule on the specific case of Roe v. Wade, nor on the question of abortion rights.
U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, had been attempting to pin down Thomas’s views on whether the U.S. Constitution protects abortion rights, and had highlighted what he presented as discrepancies in Thomas’s past pronouncements.
In particular, Metzenbaum asked Thomas to resolve an apparent gap between his putative support for a constitutionally-enshrined right to privacy, more broadly, and abortion rights in particular. Metzenbaum put it to Thomas that:
I fear that you, like other nominees before the committee, could assure us that you support a fundamental right to privacy, but could also decline to find that a woman’s right to choose is protected by the constitution.
At the culmination of his remarks, Metzenbaum asked Thomas:
I must ask you to tell us here and now whether you believe that the constitution protects a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, and I am not asking you as to how you would vote in connection with any case before the court.
In response, Thomas prevaricated, as so many judicial nominees have in recent decades:
I am afraid though, on your final question, Senator, that it is important for any of us who are judges, in areas that are very deeply contested…I think that to take a position would undermine my ability to be impartial…
I am afraid that to begin to answer questions about what my specific position is in these contested areas would greatly — or leave the impression that I prejudged this issue.
When Metzenbaum again attempted to pin down the nominee, Thomas again prevaricated, providing the quotation that would be mutilated and misrepresented by MeidasTouch in their video:
Senator, as I noted yesterday, and I think we all feel strongly in this country about our privacy — I do — I believe the constitution protects the right to privacy. And I have no reason or agenda to prejudge the issue or to predispose to rule one way or the other on the issue of abortion, which is a difficult issue. [Emphasis is added].
As the transcript makes clear, MeidasTouch cut off the second half of Thomas’s sentence, in which he stipulated that he had “no reason…to prejudge” or “to predispose to rule one way or the other on the issue of abortion.”
In reality, Thomas was repeatedly urged and asked to make pronouncements on abortion rights, and refused to do so. The notion, therefore, that in this exchange he somehow gave an assurance that he would not ever vote to overturn Roe v. Wade is utterly without basis in fact.
Justice Samuel Alito
The following is how MeidasTouch presented Alito’s remarks:
Alito: Roe v Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. It was decided in 1973. It has been challenged on a number of occasions and the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the decision. When a decision is challenged and it is reaffirmed, that strengthens its value.
Caption: HE LIED
Once again, this presentation gives the grossly misleading impression that, in his confirmation hearings, Alito indicated he would not vote to overturn Roe v Wade. In reality, the full scope of his remarks clearly shows that — like most judicial nominees — Alito very carefully avoided giving any assurances about how he might vote on that precedent.
Ironically, the starting point for the exchange was the concern expressed by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that Alito had “decided to create categories of cases that have been decided by the Court that you will concede have constitutional protection, but you have left in question the future of Roe v. Wade.”
In other words, Durbin was concerned that Alito had not stated, for the record, that Roe v. Wade was no longer open to overturning, and indeed had in the past asserted that “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.”
So while MeidasTouch presented Alito’s remarks as proof that he thought Roe v. Wade was beyond overturning — “Roe v. Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court” — what those remarks actually constituted was Alito’s careful avoidance of describing the ruling as such. Here’s the key exchange:
Durbin: Do you believe [Roe v Wade] is the settled law of the land? Alito: Roe v. Wade is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. It was decided in 1973, so it has been on the books for a long time. It has been challenged on a number of occasions, and I discussed those yesterday, and the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the decision, sometimes on the merits, sometimes [as] in Casey based on stare decisis, and I think that when a decision is challenged and it is reaffirmed that strengthens its value as stare decisis… Durbin: Is it the settled law of the land? Alito: It is a — if settled means that it can’t be re-examined, then that’s one thing. If settled means that it is a precedent that is entitled to respect as stare decisis, and all of the factors that I’ve mentioned come into play, including the reaffirmation and all of that, then it is a precedent that is protected, entitled to respect under the doctrine of stare decisis, in that way.
What Alito is saying here is that Roe v. Wade is clearly a precedent whose conclusions have been repeatedly reaffirmed by the court, and would not lightly be overturned, taking into account the doctrine of stare decisis — the legal principle of deference to precedent expressed in the Latin phrase, which means “let stand what has been decided.”
What Alito is not saying — indeed, what he is scrupulously avoiding saying, despite Durbin’s best efforts — is that Roe v Wade is beyond overturning, like various other landmark precedents he had mentioned elsewhere in the hearings, such as Brown v. the Board of Education.
So the full scope of Alito’s remarks, when viewed objectively and in context, actually show the opposite of what the brief clip, strategically cut away by MeidasTouch, appeared to show.
Justice Neil Gorsuch
The following is how Meidas Touch presented Gorsuch’s remarks.
Gorsuch: Roe v Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the United States Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the United States Supreme Court, worthy [of] treatment [as] precedent, like any other.
Caption: HE LIED
MeidasTouch badly misrepresented Gorsuch’s remarks in the same way as it did Alito’s. In reality, by describing Roe v. Wade as a precedent “worthy of treatment as precedent,” Gorsuch was assiduously avoiding going any further or categorizing it as beyond overturning.
The pattern should be familiar by now. Gorsuch’s remarks came during a Senate confirmation hearing on March 21, 2017, and can be read and viewed in their proper context.
During his questioning of the Trump nominee, Judiciary committee chairman U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Gorsuch whether he thought DC v. Heller, a landmark 2008 decision in which the court reaffirmed the Second Amendment right to bear arms, had been correctly decided. Gorsuch said:
Senator, I would respectfully respond that it [DC v Heller] is a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court, and as a good judge, you do not approach that question anew, as if it had never been decided. That would be a wrong way to approach it. My personal views, I would also tell you, Mr. Chairman, belong over here. I leave those at home…Part of being a good judge is coming in and taking precedent as it stands, and your personal views about the precedent have absolutely nothing to do with the good job of a judge.
Senator, again, I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. The reliance interest considerations are important there, and all of the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered. It is a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. It was reaffirmed in Casey in 1992 and in several other cases. So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy [of] treatment [as] precedent like any other.
Did Gorsuch indicate that Roe v Wade was particularly or unusually vulnerable to being overturned? No. Did he suggest it was immune to overturning? Absolutely not.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh
The following is how MeidasTouch presented Kavanaugh’s remarks.
Kavanaugh: As a judge, it is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. By “it” I mean Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey. Been reaffirmed many times. Casey is precedent on precedent.
Caption: HE LIED
The clip in question came from Kavanaugh’s Senate judiciary committee hearing on Sep. 5, 2018, during questioning by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Readers can consult the relevant transcript and video.
Feinstein had been attempting to pin down Kavanaugh about his views on the status of Roe v. Wade as a precedent, and whether it “could be overturned.” Kavanaugh, stating the obvious, acknowledged Roe was a precedent and described Planned Parenthood v. Casey as “precedent on precedent” but declined to go further, despite repeated invitations by Feinstein.
Feinstein: …It has been reported that you have said that Roe is now settled law. The first question I have of you is what do you mean by “settled law”? I tried to ask earlier do you believe it is correct law? Have your views on whether Roe is settled precedent or could be overturned, and has your views changed since you were in the Bush White House?
Kavanaugh: Senator, I said that it is settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court, entitled the respect under principles of stare decisis. And one of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v. Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years, as you know, and most prominently, most importantly, reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.
Feinstein followed up one last time, asking “What would you say your position today is on a woman’s right to choose?” and Kavanaugh again prevaricated on the future sustainability of Roe v Wade:
As a judge, it is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. By “it,” I mean Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. They have been reaffirmed many times. Casey is precedent on precedent, which itself is an important factor to remember.
As we have pointed out in other cases, acknowledging that a ruling is a precedent, or even “precedent on precedent,” is not the same as saying you would never overturn it.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett
The following is how MeidasTouch presented Barrett’s remarks.
Barrett: Roe is not a superprecedent because calls for its overruling have never ceased, but that doesn’t mean that Roe should be overruled.
Caption: THEY ALL LIED
This is perhaps the most egregious example of all, and comes from the second day of Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearing, Oct. 13, 2020. An official transcript was not readily available in this case, but readers can consult video footage.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was questioning Barrett about various Supreme Court landmarks, and the concept of the “superprecedent” — a somewhat ambiguous term coined by former Sen. Arlen Specter.
In a 2013 paper, Barrett wrote “Superprecedents are cases that no justice would overrule, even if she disagrees with the interpretive premises from which the precedent proceeds,” and included the following more detailed explanation from law professor Michael Gerhardt:
[T]he point at which a well-settled practice becomes, by virtue of being well-settled, practically immune to reconsideration is the point at which that precedent has become a superprecedent. Nothing becomes a superprecedent, at least in my judgment, unless it has been widely and uniformly accepted by public authorities generally, including the Court, the President, and Congress.
In that 2013 paper, Barrett also explicitly listed a handful of Supreme Court cases — including Brown v. the Board of Education — which were typically cited as superprecedents.
Earlier in her confirmation hearing, during questioning by judiciary committee chairman U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Barrett had said that, in the context of legal scholarship, a superprecedent was a “precedent that is so well established that it would be unthinkable that it would ever be overruled” and Barrett would also similarly tell Klobuchar that the term described a precedent that was “so widely-established and agreed-upon by everyone [that] calls for its overruling simply don’t exist.”
That was the background against which Klobuchar asked Barrett whether Roe v. Wade was a superprecedent, and Barrett explicitly excluded Roe v. Wade from the small handful of cases to which that term applies. She said:
The way that [“superprecedent”] is used in the scholarship, and the way that I was using it in the article that you’re reading from was to define cases that are so well settled that no political actors and no people seriously push for their overruling. And I’m answering a lot of questions about Roe, which I think indicates that Roe doesn’t fall in that category. And scholars across the spectrum say that doesn’t mean that Roe should be overruled, but descriptively it does mean that it’s not a case that everyone has accepted and doesn’t call for its overruling.
…As Richard Fallon from Harvard said, Roe is not superprecedent because calls for its overruling have never ceased, but that doesn’t mean that Roe should be overruled. It just means that it doesn’t fall on the small handful of cases like Marbury v Madison and Brown v the Board, that noone questions any more.
Reading Barrett’s remarks in their proper context clearly demonstrates that she directly and explicitly exploded the frankly laughable claim, made by MeidasTouch, that she had indicated Roe v. Wade was immune to overruling. In fact, she did just the opposite.
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