Team Broken Glass (Open Thread)

It’s safe to say the vast majority of folks who comment on this site aren’t big fans of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). I’m not either. During the 2016 campaign, I went from believing his candidacy would be a welcome opportunity to emphasize important issues like wealth inequality and the out-sized influence of wealthy donors on politics to wishing he’d shut the fuck up and concede the race already to blaming him in part for fracturing the party and contributing to Clinton’s defeat.

That said, if — dog forbid! — Sanders wins the 2020 Democratic Party nomination, hell yes I’ll vote for him. I would not only crawl over broken glass to do so, I’d swim through sewer pipes, climb a mountain of toxic waste, rappel down a cliff face made of rat shit and THEN crawl over broken glass to vote for Sanders.

Why? Here’s one reason: Trump was tacky and ghoulish enough to announce to cronies that he is “saving” a far-right religious nut judge named Amy Coney Barrett for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.

Now, I hope that when Trump finally drops dead, Ginsburg attends his funeral wearing a red dress and a mysterious smile and then goes on to live for a thousand more years. But the fact is, we’ll be lucky to hold Trump’s SCOTUS picks to the two disasters he’s already placed on the court. Whoever wins in 2020 will probably get to choose at least one and possibly two.

In 2020, I hope to Christ it doesn’t come down to a choice between Trump or Sanders, but there’s a non-zero chance it will. Sanders, for all his myriad faults, wouldn’t appoint a Gorsuch, Kavanaugh or Barrett to the SCOTUS. Trump has/would. So yeah, Team Broken Glass. Any questions?

Manafort in for 7.5 years

Open thread

At Least This Debate is Forever Over

The one positive outcome of the ridiculously lenient sentence Manafort received yesterday is that it should forever end any fucking debate about whether or not our justice system is racist as fuck:

Judge Ellis is quite a piece of work. In 2009, when Democratic congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana famously got caught with 90-grand in cold, ill-gotten cash in his home freezer, Ellis threw the book at him, sentencing Jefferson to 13 years, the longest bid ever doled out to a congressman in a bribery case. Jefferson, it should be noted, was black.

It is. And it’s not just racist judges, because mandatory minimums tie the hands of fair judges. The end.

Paul Manafort Will Still Die in Prison

While everyone is correctly pointing out the terrible discrepancies in our criminal justice system, it is important to remember that Paul Manafort’s sentencing today is not the end of this story. Next week Manafort will appear before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Federal district court in DC. It was Judge Jackson who ruled that Manafort had, in fact, lied, obstructed, and witness tampered in regard to the Special Counsel, his investigators, and his prosecutors post trial and conviction in her court. And it is Judge Jackson who will sentence Paul Manafort next week. Unlike Judge Ellis, who is a well known crank and who, in a properly functioning political system with two actually functional political parties concerned about the general welfare, the rule of law, and the common weal, would have been removed from the bench a long time ago, Judge Jackson is considered to be a jurist who takes her responsibilities seriously. Do not expect Judge Jackson to be lenient. And don’t expect her to ignore actual facts to state that Manafort had previously led a blameless life. Do expect her to hand down a sentence with teeth in it. It is entirely possible that Judge Ellis departed from the sentencing guidelines because he knew Judge Jackson wouldn’t. Doing something like that fits with his history of contrarianism masquerading as jurisprudence. Regardless, Paul Manafort will die in prison. And we should all be thankful for that.

Open thread!

A North Carolina State Court Declares War on the Republican Dominated North Carolina State Legislature!

Shots fired!!!

From Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog:


The Wake County Superior Court today ruled that the illegally gerrymandered North Carolina General Assembly did not have legal authority to place constitutional amendments on the ballot because it did not act with the full will of the people of North Carolina.  The court voided two constitutional amendment proposals – related to imposing a photo voter ID requirement and lowering the state income tax cap – that were hurriedly enacted in the final 2018 special session of the illegally-constituted legislature before it left office.
Judge Bryan Collins of the Wake County Superior ruled that “[a]n illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s Constitution.” As a result, the two amendments challenged by the plaintiffs are void, and the constitution will revert to its earlier form.

It is not at all clear that this ruling will stand. Aside from the fact that these amendments went before voters for a popular vote (which was not called into question), this ruling would seem to call into question all the actions of the General Assembly based upon the improper drawing of districts. I have not seen such a holding before.

While Hasen, who is one of the preeminent subject matter experts in the area of election law, may be right that this ruling may not stand, it does appear that other courts, including a Federal court in Connecticut, have made similar holdings in the past.

I’m sure the Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature, as well as the North Carolina Republican Party, will try to appeal this through the state courts hoping to get the state supreme court to overrule the state court in Wake County. And if that fails to the Federal courts in order to get the case to the Supreme Court and a favorable ruling from the conservative majority. We’ll have to wait to see what happens, but for now this is a bit of good news. Especially as it gives Governor Cooper ammunition within the North Carolina state courts to ignore the ridiculous restrictions that the Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature keep trying to place on him.

Open thread!