Open Thread: Good Work, Senator Warren!

Senator Elizabeth Warren went to the Senate floor on June 8, 2016 to call for unanimous consent votes for 15 federal district court nominees who have moved through the Judiciary Committee but have not been scheduled confirmation votes by the Republican majority. Senator Mitch McConnell objected to the unanimous consent request.

Listen to the whole thing. *This* is why we need to keep Elizabeth Warren in the Senate.

Orrin Hatch gets a cameo, looking like a man who’s just been given a choice between a colonoscopy without anesthesia and a total orchiectomy. And (yes!) in her closing statement, Sen. Warren goes there…

It is Important to Bear Witness: The Victim’s Statement in the Stanford Rape Case

The prosecution of former Stanford University student athlete Brock Turner was mentioned in the comments to several threads yesterday. Mention of it shouldn’t be buried in comments to other threads, it needs to be on every front page of every site that is willing to post it.

Turner received a bizarrely short sentence after being convicted for raping a young woman, referred to as Emily Doe throughout the trial, attending a party at Stanford with her sister, who is a student at Stanford. As rape, sexual assault, and/or sexual harassment cases go, this one was fairly straightforward. There was no he said/she said here between the accuser and the accused. Turner was caught in the act of committing the rape by two men who stopped what they were doing, then stopped him, and kept him on site until the police arrived. Both of those men testified for the prosecution. Turner has failed to admit doing anything wrong other than being intoxicated and blamed his actions on being drunk. He has also blamed the victim’s also being intoxicated for contributing to his rape of her. Since his sentencing both Turner’s father and on of his friends have released letters of support for him that are, frankly tone deaf and also seem to ignore both what Turner did and the severity of the crime for which he’s now been rightfully convicted.

While there is a lot more that can be said about America’s attitudes to women, sex, bodily autonomy, disparities of the application and direction of Law, and how all this contributes to rape and sexual assault, those are topics for another day. Instead it is important to bear witness to the victim’s (survivor’s?) own words in the statement she gave to the Santa Clara Court prior to sentencing and to make sure it is disseminated as widely and broadly as possible. A statement that was seemingly ignored by the judge who presided over this case. Below is the video of CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield reading the victim’s statement, which is even more powerful when read; especially by a woman. For those that can’t make it through the video, I’ve posted the full transcript of the statement below the video and after the page jump as it is 12 pages long. The downloaded pdf of the transcript made available by the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office can be accessed by clinking on the link just before the video for those that prefer to read it that way.

Victim Impact Statement; Turner Prosecution.

Read more

Today in Awesome (Open Thread)


Via Slate, a new praying mantis species discovered by a female scientist who identified the species by studying female specimens rather than male has named the creature after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Ilomantis ginsburgae, as the species is now known, was identified through a somewhat unusual scientific process. Typically, researchers study mantis specimens’ male genitalia to delineate their species. But Sydney Brannoch, the Ph.D. candidate at Case Western Reserve University who led the ginsburgae study, decided to study female mantis’ genitalia instead—and, thanks to her innovation, was able to distinguish Ilomantis ginsburgae as a new species. (The specimen she studied had actually been sitting around since 1967; you can learn more about Brannoch’s methodology here.)

“This research establishes the validity of using female specimens in the classification of praying mantises,” Brannoch concluded. “It is my hope that our work not only sets a precedent in taxonomy but also underscores the need for scientists to investigate and equally consider both sexes in other scientific investigations.”

Brannoch named the mantis after Ginsburg on account of the justice’s “relentless fight for gender equality”—an apt tribute, given the feminist-tinged method by which ginsburgae was discovered. The researcher also chose Ginsburg because of her love of jabots, the frilly lace collar the justice often wears on her robes. Brannoch sees a jabot-type quality in the mantis’ neck plate.

The only thing that could make this story any cooler is if some experiment goes awry in the lab, producing a giant, marauding mutant Ilomantis ginsburgae that travels to Washington, DC and bites the heads off Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy on President Hillary Clinton’s inauguration day. Open thread!

Actions Have Consequences

This cracked me up:

A federal judge blasted by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Friday has taken note of the fact that Trump isn’t happy with the way the judge is handling lawsuits over alleged fraud by the Trump University real estate seminar program.

Just hours after Trump used a campaign speech at a San Diego convention center to unleash a remarkable verbal fusillade against U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the judge — who also happens to be based in the same southern California city — acknowledged a much more measured fashion of the criticism Trump has aimed at the court.

“Defendant became the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue,” Curiel said in an order unsealing a series of internal Trump University documents that Trump’s lawyers asked be kept from the public.

The judge’s order didn’t make reference to Trump’s 12-minute tirade Friday afternoon in which the all-but-certain Republican nominee called Curiel a “hater” and again invoked his Latino heritage. However, the judge cited a series of news stories from earlier in the campaign, including an NBC story which noted Trump called Curiel “extremely unfair” and an Associated Press story titled, “Trump: Judge’s ethnicity matters in Trump University suit.”

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel … I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself,” Mr. Trump said at Friday’s rally, echoing many of the same points he made in speeches a few months ago. “I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK?”

Curiel said in his order Friday that Trump’s presidential campaign and his criticism of the court were reasons to overrule his objections to the release of so-called “Playbooks” describing Trump University’s operations. The judge also noted that one version was published by POLITICO in March. “The entire 2010 Playbook has been posted online by Politico,” Curiel wrote.

His lawyers have to be screaming.

Trump’s Supreme Court


Here’s the list of potential Trump nominees,:

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he’s elected to the White House.

Trump’s picks include Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado and Raymond Gruender of Missouri.

Also on the list are: Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas. Trump had previously named Pryor and Sykes as examples of kind of justices he would choose.

Reading through the TPM comments on the post there on this subject, it seems like we’ve got some cherce* ones here.

Any of our legal types care to chime in?


Image:  William Hogarth, The Court c. 1758.   I know that I’ve used this before.  But it’s just perfect whenever the topic of GOP jurisprudencerecklessness comes up.

Open Thread: “This isn’t Kindergarten”

… If only because kindergarteners are expected to have achieved a higher degree of bladder control than most Congressional Repubs. From Buzzfeed, “Obama Says Republican Concerns About Trump Mean His Supreme Court Pick Should Get A Vote”:

President Obama told BuzzFeed News Monday that the GOP is “looking at a Republican nominee” — Donald Trump — “who many of them say isn’t qualified to be president much less appoint someone” to the Supreme Court. And that, he said, means his nominee should get a vote, which Republicans have vowed not to do.

Obama’s comments came during a live interview with BuzzFeed News Legal Editor Chris Geidner from the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

“it seems to me [Republicans would] be better off going ahead and giving a hearing and a vote to somebody that they themselves in the past have said is well-qualified, is fair, and to treat the Supreme Court with the seriousness and the sense that it’s beyond politics,” Obama said. “Precisely because this election year has been so crazy, precisely because you have a number of Republicans who have said that they’re concerned about their nominee, it shows you why you don’t want to politicize a Supreme Court appointment.”

The issue, Obama said, is that some members of the GOP “are on record saying this is a very well qualified candidate.”

“In that circumstance it is up to them, in terms of their constitutional obligation, to have a hearing and have a vote,” he said. “Now here’s the good news. Originally they said they wouldn’t even meet with the guy. And they heard from a lot of their constituents that said well, this isn’t kindergarten; just because you’re not happy with what’s happened, you don’t do your job.”

“My hope is that the closer we get to the summer, and the more pressure that viewers are putting on senators just to do their job, and to give the guy a hearing, give him a vote, then more and more Republican senators will recognize that the position they’re taking is not tenable,” he said…

When asked why Obama didn’t nominate someone who is not a straight, white man, he said, “I never think about it in terms of ‘this seat is for a Hispanic man, and this seat is for a gay black woman,’ that’s not how I think.” He added he nominated people who are “extremely well qualified.”

“Judge Garland was the perfect candidate for this moment for this seat,” he said. “You’re looking for a judge who will play it straight and apply the law.”…

Seriously, it’s a good interview with a sterling President. Who shows up at approximately the 4min mark on the clip below, if Geidner’s understandable pre-show anxiety is too much for you:

Friday the 13th “Rhymes with Bucket” Open Thread

A little gift to all the GOP senators now “home for the weekend” with their constituents, already faced with the delicate task of explaining why a megalomaniac reality tv star / real estate developer is the new voice of their party, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Nice one, President Obama!
Apart from no longer giving a rat’s arse, what’s on the agenda for the weekend?