Showing posts with label Courts-Federal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Courts-Federal. Show all posts

February 7, 2019

Sen.Booker Questions Kavanaugh Replacement for the Bench on Gay Rights: 'Do You Believe Their Relationships are a Sin?'

"She won't answer if a Loving relationship is a what is it she follows....The one that said he did't love gays, well it was not Jesus Christ.  May be it was one of those false prophets Christ didn't. Adam Gonzalez
                                       Image result for sen booker and Neomi rao

Sen. Cory Booker(Right) questions Neomi Rao (left), President Trump's nominee to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, about her personal beliefs on gay marriage during a confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

SEN. CORY BOOKER: Are gay relationships, in your opinion, immoral? 

NEOMI RAO: Um, senator, I'm not sure the relevance of that.
BOOKER: I think it is relevant to your opinion. Do you think African American relationships are immoral? Do you think gay relationships are immoral? 

RAO: No. I do not. 

BOOKER: You do not. 

Do you believe they are a sin?

RAO: Senator, my personal views on any of these subjects are things I would put to one side, and I would faithfully follow precedent--

BOOKER: So you're not willing to say here whether you believe it is sinful for two men to be married -- you're not willing to comment on that?

RAO: I'm sorry. 

BOOKER: What, I didn't hear your response. 

RAO: My response is that these personal views are ones that I would put to one side. Whatever my personal views are on the subject, I would faithfully follow the precedent of the Supreme Court.

February 6, 2019

A Federal Judge Tells Trump His Approach to PR is" Unprecedented in MALICE” US Imperialism Should Must End in Puerto Rico

 This is what the Island go for free but for other benefits like Medicaid they asking for their money back. Here Trump brings Puerto Ricans without food water nor electricity. Then he tells them not of them died like in Katrina to say it was a bad sto4m and so he let thousands die.In mideveil times he wouls havw been tried and humg!

Donald Trump’s appalling negligence toward Puerto Rico is one of the most deadly, disturbing, and overlooked tragedies of his presidency. After Hurricane Maria ravaged the U.S. territory in 2017, the Trump administration botched disaster relief, contributing to a humanitarian crisis that, according to researchers from George Washington University, cost nearly 3,000 lives. (Trump rejected this death toll as Democratic propaganda.) Residents had to beg for food, water, and medical care while emergency relief goods sat undistributed at ports. Five months after the storm, half a million Puerto Ricans still lacked electricity. Trump initially tried to deny the island any federal aid, then attempted to cut off funding by claiming, falsely, that officials were misusing the money. He insisted that the hurricane was not a “real catastrophe like Katrina.” Today, the White House is still working to block supplemental funds for the territory’s recovery.

Trump’s approach to the Puerto Rico catastrophe was unprecedented in its malice. But it is only the latest chapter in the federal government’s long-standing discrimination against the island, abuse that enabled the White House to ignore its suffering without fear of political consequence. Because Puerto Rico is a territory rather than a state, federal law treats its residents as second-class citizens, depriving them of full voting rights and representation in Washington, as well as equal access to health care and disability benefits. This arrangement is enabled by century-old precedents that permitted mistreatment of territories like Puerto Rico because they are “inhabited by alien races.”

On Monday, however, U.S. District Judge Gustavo Gelpí—a George W. Bush appointee—issued a shot across the bow that throws the legality of this federal abuse into question. In a fiery ruling, Gelpí accused the federal government of unconstitutionally discriminating against Puerto Ricans, violating their equal protection rights by withholding disability benefits owed to mainland residents who are from the island. Gelpí concluded that the Supreme Court’s recent marriage equality decision eroded the old, racist precedents, guaranteeing Puerto Ricans the full privileges of citizenship. His decision could mark the beginning of an earthquake in federal law—one that could finally limit the federal government’s ability to abuse the territories.

Although residents of Puerto Rico are American citizens, Congress has refused to extend the full social safety net to the island. Medicaid reimbursement, for instance, has long been capped at about $300 million a year. In the states, funds are distributed based on average per capita income. So the federal government pays a much smaller percentage of Puerto Rico’s Medicaid costs than it would if it were a state. This disparity has contributed to the island’s financial crisis, as have statutes restricting its ability to restructure debt. There are no health care exchanges in the territory, and thus no subsidies for individuals who buy insurance. And residents of the island are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income, which provides cash to indigent people who are elderly or disabled.
This last exclusion was at issue in U.S. v. Vaello-Madero. The defendant, Jose Luis Vaello-Madero, lived in New York from 1985 to 2013, receiving SSI benefits because of a disability. In 2013, he moved to Puerto Rico—which disqualified him from the program. Under a federal statute, only residents of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands (a territory) may receive SSI benefits. But the Social Security Administration did not learn of Vaello-Madero’s relocation until 2016, at which point it halted his SSI payments. It did not demand a return of the 2013–16 payments at the time.

Then, following the change in presidential administration, the agency came calling, demanding its money back. In August 2017, the federal government sued Vaello-Madero for $28,081, the money he received while living in Puerto Rico. Instead of paying, Vaello-Madero argued that the law stripping him of this money is unconstitutional. After the case landed on Gelpí’s docket, the government panicked and tried to dismiss the case—using a maneuver that would permit it to file a new suit in a different court. Gelpí rejected its request in a remarkable order questioning several precedents that permit economic discrimination against Puerto Ricans.

Gelpí wrote, “There is increased national awareness of [Puerto Rico’s] existence and political consensus against its disparate treatment.” And “as a result, federal courts could now conclude” that federal discrimination against territorial residents is constitutionally suspect. Earlier rulings rooted in “imperialist” and “outdated premises” must be “revisited” in light of recent, more enlightened decisions.

Gelpí made good on that promise Monday, concluding that United States v. Windsor—in which the Supreme Court invalidated DOMA, the federal ban on same-sex marriage—protected Vaello-Madero’s access to disability benefits. The connection between marital and territorial equality might seem tenuous. But, as Gelpí illustrates, it is quite straightforward. While the Constitution gives Congress the power to “make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting [territories],” the Supreme Court clarified in Windsor that it may never deny Americans “the equal protection of the laws … protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.” And, under Windsor, a “ ‘bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot’ justify disparate treatment of that group.”

Although residents of Puerto Rico are American citizens, Congress has refused to extend the full social safety net to the island.
Just as Congress cannot disfavor gay Americans because of their sexual orientation, Gelpí wrote, it cannot single out Puerto Ricans because they live in a territory. “Classifying a group of the Nation’s poor and medically neediest United States citizens as ‘second tier’ simply because they reside in Puerto Rico,” he explained, “is by no means rational.” To the contrary, it is discriminatory animus against “a politically powerless group.” It imposes an “injury and indignity” that infringes upon “an essential part of the liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment.” This “injury” is not justified by the fact that most Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income tax; taxation status cannot excuse “citizenship apartheid based on historical and social ethnicity within United States soil.”

“Allowing a United States citizen in Puerto Rico that is poor and disabled to be denied SSI disability payments,” Gelpí concluded, “creates impermissible second rate citizenship akin to that premised on race and amounts to Congress switching off the Constitution.”

These are, in short, fighting words. Gelpí is essentially challenging the judiciary to consider the possibility that federal discrimination against Puerto Ricans is neither benign nor permissible, but rather a result of racist callousness that the Constitution generally prohibits. If more courts agreed, more unjust laws—like those that entrench substandard health care for the island’s residents—would be imperiled. The federal government could no longer freely single out Puerto Ricans for poor treatment.

Gelpí’s decision will be appealed, and a higher court may yet order Vaello-Madero to turn over the $28,081. A similar case is also pending in Guam; if appeals courts eventually disagree, the Supreme Court could hear this issue. It is unlikely, though not impossible, that a majority of the justices will agree with Gelpí given the Supreme Court’s imperialist view of Puerto Rico. But at a minimum, Gelpí’s ruling will force mainland judges to reckon with the “citizenship apartheid” that the federal government has created and maintained with the help of the courts. Puerto Ricans deserve better than Trump’s malevolence and Congress’ neglect. They deserve a judiciary that safeguards the rights afforded to them as American citizens. 

Support our journalism
Help us continue covering the news and issues important to you—and get ad-free podcasts and bonus segments, members-only content, and other great benefits.

November 13, 2018

CNN Brings Suit Against Trump and Top WH House Aides For Barring Jim Acosta

CNN has filed a lawsuit against President Trump and several of his aides, seeking the immediate restoration of chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta's access to the White House.
The lawsuit is a response to the White House's suspension of Acosta's press pass, known as a Secret Service "hard pass," last week. The suit alleges that Acosta and CNN's First and Fifth Amendment rights are being violated by the ban.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday morning.
Both CNN and Acosta are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. There are six defendants: Trump, chief of staff John Kelly, press secretary Sarah Sanders, deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine, Secret Service director Randolph Alles, and the Secret Service officer who took Acosta's hard pass away last Wednesday.
    The six defendants are all named because of their roles in enforcing and announcing Acosta's suspension. 
    Sanders responded to the suit by saying that CNN is "grandstanding" by suing. She said the administration will "vigorously defend" itself.
    Last Wednesday, shortly after Acosta was denied entry to the White House grounds, Sanders defended the unprecedented step by claiming that he had behaved inappropriately at a presidential news conference. CNN and numerous journalism advocacy groups rejected that assertion and said his past should be reinstated.
    On Friday, CNN sent a letter to the White House formally requesting the immediate reinstatement of Acosta's pass and warning of a possible lawsuit, the network confirmed.
    In a statement on Tuesday morning, CNN said it is seeking a preliminary injunction as soon as possible so that Acosta can return to the White House right away, and a ruling from the court preventing the White House from revoking Acosta's pass in the future.
    "CNN filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration this morning in DC District Court," the statement read. "It demands the return of the White House credentials of CNN's Chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta's First Amendment rights of freedom of the press and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process. We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process."
    The White House Correspondents' Association said it "strongly supports CNN's goal of seeing their correspondent regain a US Secret Service security credential that the White House should not have taken away in the first place."
    CNN also asserted that other news organizations could have been targeted by the Trump administration this way, and could be in the future.
    "While the suit is specific to CNN and Acosta, this could have happened to anyone," the network said. "If left unchallenged, the actions of the White House would create a dangerous chilling effect for any journalist who covers our elected officials."
    CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker reiterated that in an internal memo to staff. "This is not a step we have taken lightly. But the White House action is unprecedented," Zucker said.
    During his presidential campaign, Trump told CNN that, if elected, he would not kick reporters out of the White House. But since moving into the White House, he has mused privately about taking away credentials, CNN reported earlier this year. He brought it up publicly on Twitter in May, tweeting "take away credentials?" as a question.
    And he said it again on Friday, two days after blacklisting Acosta. "It could be others also," he said, suggesting he may strip press passes from other reporters. Unprompted, he then named and insulted April Ryan, a CNN analyst, and veteran radio correspondent.
    Trump's threats fly in the face of decades of tradition and precedent. Republican and Democratic administrations alike have had a permissive approach toward press passes, erring on the side of greater access, even for obscure, partisan or fringe outlets.
    That is one of the reasons why First Amendment attorneys say CNN and Acosta have a strong case.
    As the prospect of a lawsuit loomed on Sunday, attorney Floyd Abrams, one of the country's most respected First Amendment lawyers, said the relevant precedent is a 1977 ruling in favor of Robert Sherrill, a muckraking journalist who was denied access to the White House in 1966.
    Eleven years later, a D.C. Court of Appeals judge ruled that the Secret Service had to establish "narrow and specific" standards for judging applicants. In practice, the key question is whether the applicant would pose a threat to the president.
    The code of federal regulations states that "in granting or denying a request for a security clearance made in response to an application for a White House press pass, officials of the Secret Service will be guided solely by the principle of whether the applicant presents a potential source of physical danger to the President and/or the family of the President so serious as to justify his or her exclusion from White House press privileges."
    There are other guidelines as well. Abrams said the case law specifies that before a press pass is denied, "you have to have notice, you have to have a chance to respond, and you have to have a written opinion by the White House as to what it's doing and why, so the courts can examine it."
    "We've had none of those things here," Abrams said.
    That's why the lawsuit is alleging a violation of the Fifth Amendment right to due process.
    Acosta found out about his suspension when he walked up to the northwest gate of the White House, as usual, for a Wednesday night live shot. He was abruptly told to turn in his "hard pass," which speeds up entry and exit from the grounds.
    "I was just told to do it," the Secret Service officer said.
    Other CNN reporters and producers continue to work from the White House grounds, but not Acosta.
    "Relevant precedent says that a journalist has a First Amendment right of access to places closed to the public but open generally to the press. That includes press rooms and news conferences," Jonathan Peters, a media law professor at the University of Georgia, told CNN last week. "In those places, if access is generally inclusive of the press, then access can't be denied arbitrarily or absent compelling reasons. And the reasons that the White House gave were wholly unconvincing and uncompelling."
    The White House accused Acosta of placing his hands on an intern who was trying to take a microphone away from him during a press conference. Sanders shared a distorted video clip of the press conference as evidence. The White House's rationale has been widely mocked and dismissed by journalists across the political spectrum as an excuse to blacklist an aggressive reporter. And Trump himself has cast doubt on the rationale: He said on Friday that Acosta was "not nice to that young woman," but then he said, "I don't hold him for that because it wasn't over, you know, horrible."
    Acosta has continued to do part of his job, contacting sources and filing stories, but he has been unable to attend White House events or ask questions in person -- a basic part of any White House correspondent's role.
    Acosta is on a previously scheduled vacation this week. He declined to comment on the lawsuit.
    On CNN's side, CNN Worldwide chief counsel David Vigilante is joined by two prominent attorneys, Ted Boutrous and Theodore Olson. Both men are partners at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.
    Last week, before he was retained by CNN, Boutrous tweeted that the action against Acosta "clearly violates the First Amendment." He cited the Sherrill case.
    "This sort of angry, irrational, false, arbitrary, capricious content-based discrimination regarding a White House press credential against a journalist quite clearly violates the First Amendment," he wrote.
    David McCraw, the top newsroom lawyer at The New York Times, said instances of news organizations suing a president are extremely rare.
    Past examples are The New York Times v. the U.S., the famous Supreme Court case involving the Pentagon Papers in 1971; and CNN's 1981 case against the White House and the broadcast networks, when CNN sued to be included in the White House press pool.
    The backdrop to this new suit, of course, is Trump's antipathy for CNN and other news outlets. He regularly derides reporters from CNN and the network as a whole.
    Abrams posited on "Reliable Sources" on Sunday that CNN might be reluctant to sue because the president already likes to portray the network as his enemy. Now there will be a legal case titled CNN Inc. versus President Trump.
    But, Abrams said, "this is going to happen again," meaning other reporters may be banned too.
      "Whether it's CNN suing or the next company suing, someone's going to have to bring a lawsuit," he said, "and whoever does is going to win unless there's some sort of reason."

      July 13, 2018

      Trump Administration Missed Court Ordered Deadline, What's Next?

      The Trump administration on Tuesday missed its first court-ordered deadline to reunify families separated at the border as it rushes to confirm the identities of parents and match records of the disparate agencies involved. 
      A San Diego federal judge had ordered the government to reunite all children under five years old by July 10, but as of Wednesday, only four reunifications had been confirmed.
      Government attorneys and administration officials said of the 102 children under five who had been separated, 38 were expected to be reunified by Tuesday. Late Wednesday evening, an administration official told ABC News that they anticipate that as of early morning on July 12, they will have reunified all children under age 5 who are eligible under the court order for reunification with parents in the United States.
      In a hearing on Tuesday, the judge acknowledged that not all 102 of these very young children could be immediately sent back to their parents - because some parents were deported without their children or had possible criminal backgrounds, for example -- but told the government that they must reunify 59 children.
      A federal lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in February to reunite an asylum-seeking Congolese mother with her daughter expanded to a class-action lawsuit after the Department of Justice (DOJ) implemented its “zero-tolerance” policy of prosecuting all illegal border crossers.
      In June, the judge ruled that children forcibly separated by U.S. authorities at the border would have to be reunited, laying out a timeline for total reunification by July 26, 2018.
      “These are firm deadlines and not aspirational goals,” said the judge, Dana Sabraw, at a hearing on Tuesday.
      PHOTO: Families separated under President Donald Trump administrations zero tolerance policy return home to Guatemala City, Guatemala, July 10, 2018, after being deported from the United States.  Collen Long/AP
      Children waiting for reunification
      The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determined that only 75 of the 102 children under five years old are eligible for reunification. Seventeen reunifications were pending DNA test results and there was one 3-year-old child for whom the government said it had no information about the parents.
      The government now thinks that the child may have U.S. citizen parents and was placed in the wrong system.
      Twenty-seven children are not eligible for immediate reunification, because of parental criminal history, pending criminal custody or other disqualifying factors.
      “The court could not have been clearer that business as usual is not acceptable," said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. "The Trump administration must get these children and parents reunited.”
      The administration has argued that they are working to meet the court deadline and the delays are necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in their care.
      “Our process may not be as quick as some would like, but there is no question that it is protecting children," said HHS Chief of Staff for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Chris Meekins. "The last thing we want to happen is that a child is placed in a dangerous situation due to a lack of a thorough review on our part.”
      HHS is responsible for the care of about 11,800 unaccompanied minors who came into the U.S. illegally, including the roughly 2,000 to 3,000 children that were “made unaccompanied” when they were separated from their parents by U.S. officials.
      Parents in custody
      Most parents who were separated under the policy were placed into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody. For the past two weeks, ICE moved parents to geographic locations near where their children were staying in shelters -- in order to facilitate the process, according to Executive Associate Director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Matthew Albence.
      “Mature parents with children under the age of 5 are being reunited with their children and then released and enrolled into an alternative detention program, meaning that they will be placed on an ankle bracelet and released into the community,” Albence said.
      These family reunifications were planned to take place in the lobbies of undisclosed ICE detention facilities and released into the community, according to an administration official.
      Meanwhile, the administration's zero-tolerance policy remains in limbo and has been at least temporarily dismantled in practice.
      On June 20, after weeks of public outrage over family separation, President Trump signed an executive order aimed at both keeping families together and continuing to prosecute those who cross the border illegally.
      Less than a week later, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) said it had halted referrals for prosecution until they figure out how to keep families together during the prosecution process.
      “We need to end the catch and release challenge. A much better system would be to keep families together through their immigration proceedings. That’s what the Obama administration did in 2014, that’s what the president has asked Congress to help us do now,” CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told ABC News.
      The administration’s actions have created what could become dueling court requirements if the zero-tolerance policy continues. On the one hand, the San Diego federal judge ordered families reunified. On the other hand, another California federal judge on Monday upheld a decades-old court agreement, known as the Flores settlement, which requires that children be released from immigration detention after 20 days.
      PHOTO: Immigrant families leave a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility after they were reunited, July 11, 2018, in San Antonio.Eric Gay/AP
      In early May, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began implementing the zero-tolerance policy, and family separations began to skyrocket.
      “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May when announcing the policy.
      Around 2,300 children were separated from their parents in one month between May 5 and June 9 as a result of zero tolerance, according to DHS officials.
      For comparison, in more than a year between October 2016 and February 2018, there were only 1,768 cases of family separation by border agents.
      However, at the peak of the zero-tolerance policy, only 53 percent of illegal border crossings were being referred by CBP to DOJ for prosecution, according to an administration official.
      In order to comply with the court order, HHS had to hand-check all of its case files to determine which children were separated from a parent, concluding that there were ”under 3,000” potentially separated children in its custody.
      However, last month, HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified to Congress that he “could at the stroke of keystrokes, within seconds, could find any child within our care for any parent."
      Congressional Democrats on Wednesday again called on Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley to hold an oversight committee hearing raising questions about inconsistent statements Azar made about the number of children the agency has in its custody, including the lack of a plan to reunite them with their parents.
      This is their third request to Grassley for a committee hearing, contending that the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy resulted “in the traumatic separation of children from their parents.”
      Grassley has previously shot down those requests.
      "The simplest and easiest way to address this crisis is to repeal the Flores decision so that family units can remain in family residential centers and receive adequate care pending the outcome of their criminal or civil cases," Grassley wrote. "This is an easy, common-sense solution that doesn’t require a hearing."
      ABC's Mariam Khan contributed to this story.

      September 21, 2017

      Trump Bench Nominee Calls Transgender Children Part of Satan's Plan

      To Scratch your head in disbelief at this nominne for a Federal Court does not require the person to be LGBT or associated in any way. It's common sense, separation of church and state and plain stupiddiy for someone who is suppose to be smart and have a clear head and non bias heart. adamfoxie


      In a pair of 2015 speeches, President Donald Trump's nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas described transgender children as evidence of "Satan's plan," lamented that states were banning conversion therapy and argued that sanctioning same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality.

      Jeff Mateer, the current first assistant attorney general of Texas, was serving at the time as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group known before 2016 as the Liberty Institute. He faced criticism from LGBT rights groups for his work with the organization, such as opposing the expansion of nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people in the city of Plano. If confirmed by the US Senate, he will serve on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

      In a May 2015 speech, titled "The Church and Homosexuality," Mateer discussed a Colorado lawsuit in which the parents of a transgender girl sued her school for preventing her from using the bathroom of her choice.

      "In Colorado, a public school has been sued because a first grader and I forget the sex, she's a girl who thinks she's a boy or a boy who thinks she's a girl, it's probably that, a boy who thinks she's a girl," Mateer said in a video posted on Vimeo in 2015 and reviewed by CNN's KFile. "And the school said, 'Well, she's not using the girl's restroom.' And so she has now sued to have a right to go in. Now, I submit to you, a parent of three children who are now young adults, a first grader really knows what their sexual identity? I mean it just really shows you how Satan's plan is working and the destruction that's going on."

      Mateer's nomination comes as the Trump administration has unveiled a series of actions aimed at rolling back advancements for gay and transgender rights. Trump vowed to fight for the LGBT community during his presidential campaign and said last April that people should "use the bathroom they feel is appropriate." Since taking office, however, Trump has withdrawn an Obama administration directive that allowed transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom of their choice and issued a directive banning transgender military recruits. 

      In that same May 2015 speech, Mateer said that the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage could lead to what he called "disgusting" new forms of matrimony.

      "I submit to you that there'll be no line there," he said. "And actually in the arguments Chief Justice Roberts, who's in the center there said, I mean, what is the limiting? Why couldn't four 4 people wanna get married? Why not one man and three women? Or three women and one man? And we're gonna spare you some of those slides. We actually have a presentation that we get into it. And I'll tell you, we say it's PG-13, it may be R, or what do they call the next one? NC-17 or whatever?"

      He continued, "I mean, it's disgusting. I've learned words I didn't know. I mean, other assistants here, have you ever heard the word 'throuple'?'Throuple' so that's three people coming together of different sexes, maybe mixed sexes. Them coming together. There are people who marry themselves. Somebody wanted to marry a tree. People marrying their pets. It's just like -- you know, you read the New Testament and you read about all the things and you think, 'Oh, that's not going on in our community.' Oh yes it is. We're back to that time where debauchery rules."

      Later that year in November 2015, Mateer lamented that states were banning gay conversion therapy at a conference hosted by controversial pastor Kevin Swanson, who preaches that the Biblical punishment for homosexuality is death.

      "Biblical counselors and therapists, we've seen cases in New Jersey and in California where folks have gotten in trouble because they gave biblical counseling and, you know, the issue is always, it's same sex," Mateer says in audio obtained by CNN's KFile. "And if you're giving conversion therapy, that's been outlawed in at least two states and then in some local areas. So they're invading that area."
      Groups like the American Psychiatric Association and the American Pediatric Association have condemned the practice as having no scientific basis and the potential to do mental harm.
      Mateer did not respond to a request for comment. A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment on Mateer's remarks.

      By Chris Massie and Andrew Kaczynski, CNN

      June 23, 2017

      Federal Judge Lifts Injunction Which Stopped Individuals and Government Workers Not to Discriminate Against LGBT

      Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi said the law “prevents government interference 

      This is a New York Times Article:
      A federal appeals court on Thursday lifted an injunction on a Mississippi law that grants private individuals and government workers far-reaching abilities to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on religious grounds, though lawyers said the law was likely to remain blocked for the time being during the appeals process.
      Thursday’s decision, issued by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is part of a legal drama being closely watched by gay-rights advocates and religious conservatives. The state law, titled the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, on April 5, 2016. It is considered the most aggressive of several state-level conservative responses to the United States Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.
      According to a legal analysis released last year by Columbia University, the Mississippi law would, among other things, allow government clerks to opt out of certifying same-sex marriages (though only if the marriage is not “impeded or delayed” by their decision) and allow businesses to deny wedding-related services to same-sex couples if their marriage contravened “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”
      It would allow religious organizations to engage in job and housing discrimination against L.G.B.T. people; allow public school counselors to refuse to work with L.G.B.T. students; and potentially force child-welfare agencies to place L.G.B.T. children with anti-gay foster or adoptive parents.
      Continue reading the main story
       The law also contains provisions that could potentially affect single heterosexual people. “For example,” the authors of the analysis wrote, “it would allow a religious university to fire a single mother working in its cafeteria, who supports her children on her own, because the university has a religious opposition to sex outside marriage.”
      Last June, just before the law was to take effect, a federal district judge issued the injunction, finding that the law violated the First and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.
      Thursday’s 16-page ruling states, in essence, that the plaintiffs challenging the law, many of whom are gay Mississippi residents, lacked standing because the law had not yet injured them. 
      “None of these plaintiffs has clearly shown an injury-of-fact, so none has standing,” the judges wrote.
      Governor Bryant said in a statement that he was pleased with the ruling. “As I have said all along, the legislation is not meant to discriminate against anyone, but simply prevents government interference with the constitutional right to exercise sincerely held religious beliefs,” he said.
      Beth Orlansky, the advocacy director for the Mississippi Center for Justice, a liberal group that brought the suit along with Lambda Legal, said that the law was a black eye for a place that bills itself “The Hospitality State.”
      “This law is discriminatory,” she said, “and we will do everything we can to prevent it from causing any more harm.”
      The plaintiffs now have a number of options, including requesting a rehearing of the case before the entire Fifth Circuit or appealing directly to the United States Supreme Court.

      May 12, 2017

      4 Men Indicted 18 FedCharges Posing as Gay on Grindr to Rob,Intimidate Gay Men

      Anthony Shelton, 19; Nigel Garrett, 21; Chancler Encalade, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 18, were named in the indictment returned by a federal grand jury Wednesday charging them with co 
      Anthony Shelton, 19; Nigel Garrett, 21; Chancler Encalade, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 18, were named in the indictment returned by a federal grand jury Wednesday charging them with conspiring to cause bodily injury to people because of the sexual orientation.

      According to the indictment, from Jan. 17 to Feb. 7, 2017, the defendants committed home invasions in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas.
      For each of the four home invasions, the defendants used Grindr, a social media dating platform for gay men, to falsely identify as a gay man and arrange to meet the victim at the victim's home.
      Once inside, the defendants assaulted the victim, restrained the victim with tape, and made derogatory statements about their homosexuality.
      The defendants had a firearm during each home invasion, and they stole the victim's property, including cars.
      The North Texas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Jeanne Rubin is glad to see a grand jury recognized the seriousness of the crimes.
      "You can be scared as a homeowner if your neighbor is robbed, but it's different if you feel like you're being targeted for some reason and in this case a whole community can feel like they're targeted," said Rubin.
      For the crimes, the defendants were charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, carjacking and possession of a firearm.
      The hate crime counts carry a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison.
      An indictment merely establishes probable cause, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

      Department of Justice
      Office of Public Affairs

      Wednesday, May 10, 2017

      Four Texas Men Indicted on Federal Hate Crime and Conspiracy Charges for Assaults Based on Victims’ Sexual Orientation

      A federal grand jury returned an eighteen-count superseding indictment against Anthony Shelton, 19; Nigel Garrett, 21; Chancler Encalade, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 18, charging them with conspiring to cause bodily injury to persons because of the sexual orientation of those persons, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas, and the U.S.  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Dallas Division announced.
      According to the indictment, from Jan. 17 to Feb. 7, 2017, the defendants committed home invasions in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas.  For each of the four home invasions, the defendants used Grindr, a social media dating platform for gay men, to falsely identify as a gay man and arrange to meet the victim at the victim’s home.  Upon entering the victim’s home, the defendants assaulted the victim, restrained the victim with tape, and made derogatory statements about the victim being gay.  The defendants possessed a firearm during each home invasion, and they stole the victim’s property, including his motor vehicle.
      For these crimes, the defendants have been charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, carjacking and possession of a firearm in furtherance of these crimes.  The hate crime counts carry a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
      An indictment merely establishes probable cause, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
      The investigation is being conducted by the ATF, the Plano Police Department and the Frisco Police Department.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Batson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Texas and Trial Attorney Saeed Mody of the Civil Rights Division.

      April 21, 2017

      TX Order to Pay 600k to Gay Couples Who Fought Them on Marriage Ban

      A federal appeals court ordered Texas on Wednesday to pay about $600,000 to cover the legal fees for two same-sex couples who defeated the state's ban on same-sex marriage in a protracted court battle. 
      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit awarded $585,470 in attorneys' fees and about $20,000 in costs arising from the challenge to the plaintiffs in the case, Cleopatra DeLeon, Nicole Dimetman, Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss. 

      (L-R) Texas marriage plaintiffs Cleo DeLeon, Nicole Dimetman, Vic Holmes and Mark Phariss during a Human Rights Campaign press conference at Texas Capitol on June 29, 2015. Robert Daemmrich Photography / Corbis via Getty Images

      "We're thrilled. Our lawyers did an outstanding job," Phariss said in an interview. 
      "It's frankly a waste of taxpayer money to have fought the ability of two people who love each other to marry," he said. 
      Marc Rylander, a spokesman for the Texas attorney general's office, said in a statement: "We are disappointed in the ruling and are considering our next steps." 
      The case, which wound its way through the U.S. court system, was pending in the Fifth Circuit when the U.S. Supreme Court made its landmark decision in June 2015, in the case known as Obergefell v. Hodges, that made gay marriage legal in the United States. 
      About a week later, the U.S. appeals court ruled in favor of the two couples in the Texas case.

      April 18, 2017

      Federal Judge Resigns After Sentencing a Young Man to Life

      No longer bound by ethics rules that keep judges silent, Sharp in an exclusive interview Saturday with The Tennessean denounced mandatory minimum sentences.
      Kevin H. Sharp served as a federal judge in Nashville for 6 years. He was nominated by Barack Obama.
      He'll work in private practice, handling employment and civil rights cases.
      As a lawyer, he can be an advocate and said he hopes to level the playing field for minorities.
      In an exclusive interview, he revealed he hopes to advocate for one man in particular: Chris Young.
      Kevin H. Sharp sent Chris Young to prison for life and he thought it was wrong.

      "Each defendant is supposed to be treated as an individual," Sharp said at the sentencing hearing in 2014. "I don't think that's happening here."

      But there are duties that come with a black robe and gavel, chief among them following the laws of the United States no matter your personal opinion. And as a federal judge, Sharp had to impose mandatory minimum terms. That meant Young, a repeat drug offender, would never go home to Clarksville.

      Young, now 28, is at a federal prison in Lexington, Kentucky.

      Sharp, now 54, is starting a new job and still thinking of Young.

      The former chief U.S. District judge in Middle Tennessee resigned his post Friday, ending a lifetime appointment after six years. On Monday, he'll begin work at Sanford Heisler, expanding the respected civil rights and employment law firm into Music City while also expanding its title: Sanford Heisler Sharp.

      In an exclusive interview on Saturday, Sharp talked about his tenure on the bench and his decision to leave it. No longer bound by ethics rules that keep judges silent, he denounced mandatory minimum sentences and previewed the topics he'll attack at the civil rights firm.

      Those coalesce with Young. Talking about the case brought tears to Sharp's eyes and emotion choked his speech.

      "If there was any way I could have not given him life in prison I would have done it," he said. "What they did was wrong, they deserved some time in prison, but not life."

      Read a transcript of the sentencing at the end of this story.

      'What we do kind of defines who we are'

      Some of Sharp's motivation to move jobs was rooted in his path to becoming a lawyer more than 20 years ago. The Memphis native held odd jobs after high school: as an airport baggage handler, at a car wash — and even carrying a baseball bat around a gas station making sure self-service customers paid.

      "I’d go hey, you pay for that? I thought, this is not really a career."

      He enlisted in U.S. Navy. He was stationed in Hawaii, Alaska, the Philippines, Japan and Thailand. Despite the cultural differences, there was a common thread.

      “I realized that, what we do kind of defines who we are," he said. "People meet me and they go, 'Nice to meet you Kevin, what do you do?'

      "All this stuff gets layered on there. They make stereotypical decisions about who you are and what you’re like."

      Whether those assumptions are right or wrong, Sharp said he grew to believe that a person's opportunity to work needed to be protected, which attracted him to employment law.

      "African Americans, women, ethnic minorities, religious minorities don’t have the same opportunities," he said. “That to me is something that’s important, making sure the playing field gets leveled.” 

      Money$ Makes the World go around $

      Sharp went to Vanderbilt Law School and then into private practice. President Barack Obama nominated him for the Nashville judgeship six years  ago.

      Work on the bench was intellectually challenging, and fun, he said. But Sharp saw that cases presenting significant issues came along unpredictably, and he couldn't choose the issues. One example: The legal challenge to a private probation company in Rutherford County, in which several probationers said they were being punished because they couldn't pay. In one hearing, Rutherford County General Sessions Judge Ben McFarlin Jr. testified.

      "Money makes the world go 'round," McFarlin testified.

      "I thought, Oh my God, no," Sharp recalled his reaction in court that day. "Money is not what makes the justice system go round.

      "That’s not just morally wrong, it’s illegal. It’s unconstitutional.” 

      But in other high-profile cases his hands were tied by the law, and rulings countered what Sharp personally believed. He named specifically a case brought by a family against Nashville schools alleging discrimination in the district's rezoning plan. In 2012, Sharp ruled that although the effect of the district policy was segregation, the plaintiff did not prove the intent was discrimination.

      "The proof wasn’t there and the law wasn’t on their side," he said. "If I was director of schools, I’d go, scrap this."

      "As a lawyer I can be more proactive," he said. "I can say things I want to say. I can take cases I want to take. I can advocate for positions that I want to advocate for — as opposed to waiting as a judge, do I get that case or not?"

      A sticking point during Sharp's time on the bench were criminal cases, colloquially known as "drugs and guns" cases, that required mandatory minimum sentences.

      "The drugs-and-guns cases, you say it like that and it sounds like they’re all dangerous," he said. "Most of them are not. They’re just kids who lack any opportunities and any supervision, lack education and have ended up doing what appears to be at the time the path of least resistance to make a living."

      'Maybe somebody can fix this'

      Young's was a drugs-and-guns case. He was charged in December 2010, one of 32 people — some of them gang members — who federal prosecutors said were involved in drug trafficking in Clarksville. Court documents say federal agents believed Young was buying crack cocaine from a leader of the ring at a gas station. He was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine and other counts.

      Young had two prior drug-dealing convictions, and his new charges triggered a provision of federal law requiring a mandatory life term if found guilty. Young and two others went to trial in August 2013 and were found guilty. About a year later, Sharp sentenced Young to life in prison.

      At the hearing, Young described his upbringing: His mother was a drug addict, he said, and at times their house had no lights nor water. When he was old enough to get a job, he worked at a funeral home, but he felt a growing divide between himself and others in his neighborhood who dealt drugs, pulling him that way.

      Hallie McFadden, a lawyer who defended Young, said each time she saw Sharp after the sentencing he asked about Young.

      "I'm heartsick to see him go," she said of Sharp, "especially with the prospect of someone far less caring taking the seat."

      Jim Thomas, a Nashville lawyer who later represented Young during his appeals and has had other cases in Sharp's courtroom, said Sharp was a "very capable and fair minded judge." That was exemplified in Sharp's words at Young's sentencing, according to Thomas.

      "Maybe somebody can fix this," Sharp told Young.

      Maybe that somebody is Sharp.

      Sharp says he will work to get Young's sentence commuted, meaning Young would be released from prison. It could take years, leaving Young behind bars for a decade.

      This story is coming from
      Federal judge forced to sentence defendant to life because of mandatory minimums is stepping down and speaking out

      Featured Posts

      Two Gay GOP's Get Married by Their GOP Libertarian Friend Denver Riggleman, But The GOP Now Wants Riggleman OUT

       VICE When Anthony “Rek” LeCounte and Alex Pisciarino tied the knot last summer, they didn’t expect their weddi...