Thursday, November 24, 2005

Appeals court reinstates Corps of Engineers permits for mountaintop removal coal mining

A federal appeals court Wednesday reinstated a streamlined Army Corps of Engineers process for granting permits for mountaintop-removal coal mining in West Virginia.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overruled a lower-court judge, finding that the corps complied with the Clean Water Act.

In mountaintop mining, hilltops are blasted away to uncover coal seams, and the leftover rock and dirt are dumped into adjacent valleys, burying streams.

Last year, in a victory for environmental groups, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin last year revoked 11 permits issued by the Corps. Among other things, he said the Corps had not followed the proper procedures under environmental protection laws.

Judges responsible for this decision are:

Paul V Niemeyer *Bush 41
J Michael Luttig *Bush 41
Robert J Conrad Jr *Bush 43

Paul V Niemeyer attended five-day seminars on property rights and the environment at resorts in Montana, sessions underwritten by conservative foundations that are also funding a wave of litigation on those issues in the federal courts.

Funding for the seminars, run by a group called the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), also comes from foundations run by companies with a significant interest in property rights and environmental law issues, Internal Revenue Service records show.

J Michael Luttig assisted Bush Admin in gaining Senate confirmation of Souter and Thomas. Luttig, a Scalia protege, is admired by many conservatives in and out of the legal profession and is considered by many liberals to be a potential threat to such causes as abortion rights.

"I think there is no question that he is the most conservative judge on the most conservative court of appeals in the country," said John H. Blume, a professor at the Cornell University School of Law who has represented condemned inmates before the 4th Circuit.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Better Supreme Court Justice...




Senator Rockefeller Stands up for America

Yesterday Jay Rockefeller delivered a powerful speech on the US Senate floor. Here are excerpts:

"At its core, this is about accountability -- Congressional accountability and White House accountability.

"Congress has a fundamental, constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight -- that's what checks and balances are all about – and we have utterly failed.

"My colleagues and I have tried for two years to do our oversight work, and for two years we have been undermined, avoided, put off, and vilified by the other side. Any line of questioning that has brought us too close to the White House has been thwarted.

"At some point the majority needs to understand that we are willing to bring the Senate to a halt until they will join us in conducting the kind of investigation this situation demands.

"The American people still want to know -- now more than ever -- why the United States went to war, whether they were misled, and whether our intelligence was misused.

"Whether these actions amount to crimes is not the litmus test for congressional oversight. Mr. Fitzgerald is investigating possible criminal activity by senior White House officials, and we won't and shouldn't get in the way of his work.

"But the American people deserve to know not just whether this Administration committed crimes, but whether this Administration told the truth -- the full truth, the straight story.

"And if they didn't -- if they misled about the war and if they misused intelligence, then the American people need to know that the Congress will do everything in its power the make sure that it never happens again."

For more than two years, Senate Democrats have pressed Republicans to address the misuse of intelligence. At every turn, Republicans have blocked efforts to investigate how intelligence was used in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Below details the long record established by Democrats to investigatethis matter.

March 14, 2003 ­ Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Mueller requesting an investigation into the origin of the Niger documents.

May 23, 2003 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent a letter to the CIA and State Department Inspectors General to review issues related to the Niger documents.

June 2, 2003 ­ Senator Rockefeller issued a press release endorsing a statement made of the previous weekend by Senator Warner calling for a joint SSCI/SASC investigation.

June 4, 2003 ­ Senator Rockefeller issued a press release saying he would push for an investigation. Senator Roberts issued a press release saying calls for an investigation are premature.

June 10, 2003 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts asking for an investigation.

June 11, 2003 ­ All Committee Democrats signed a letter to Senator Roberts asking for a meeting of the Committee to discuss the question of authorizing an inquiry into the intelligence that formed the basis for going to war.

June 11, 2003 ­ Senator Roberts issued a press release saying this is routine committee oversight, and that criticism of the intelligence community is unwarranted. Senator Rockefeller issued a press release calling the ongoing review inadequate.

June 20, 2003 ­ Senators Roberts and Rockefeller issued a joint press release laying out the scope of the inquiry.

August 13, 2003 Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts making 14 points about the investigation, asking to expand the inquiry to address the "use of intelligence by policy makers" and asking for several other actions.

September 9, 2003 After press reports quoting Senator Roberts as saying the investigation was almost over, Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts urging him not to rush to complete the investigation prematurely.

October 29, 2003 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet expressing in strong terms that he should provide documents that have been requested and make individuals available.

October 30, 2003 ­ Senators Roberts and Rockefeller sent letters to Secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell, and National Security Advisor Rice expressing in strong terms that they should provide documents that have been requested and make individuals available.

October 31, 2003 ­ Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet asking for documents related to the interaction between intelligence and policy makers, including the documents from the Vice President's officerelated to the Powell speech.

November 2, 2003 Senator Roberts made statements during a joint television appearance with Senator Rockefeller claiming that the White house would provide all documents they jointly requested.

December 5, 2003 ­ Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to National Security Advisor Rice asking for her help getting documents and access to individuals.

January 22, 2004 ­ Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Director Tenet asking for compliance with the Oct. 31 request for documents.

February 12, 2004 ­ Senators Roberts and Rockefeller issued a joint press release announcing the Committee's unanimous approval of the expansion of the Iraq review, to include use of intelligence in the form of public statements, and listing other aspects of what became Phase II.

March 23, 2004 ­ Senator Rockefeller sent yet another letter to Director Tenet asking for compliance with the Oct. 31 request for documents.

June 17, 2004 Senators Roberts and Rockefeller joint press release announcing the unanimous approval of the report.

July 16, 2004 ­ Committee Democrats sent a letter to Bush asking for the one page summary of the NIE prepared for Bush. The Committee staff had been allowed to review it but could not take notes and the Committee was never given a copy.

February 3, 2005 ­ Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts outlining Committee priorities for the coming year and encouraging completion of Phase II.

August 5, 2005 ­ Senator Rockefeller sent a letter to Senator Roberts expressing concern over the lack of progress on Phase II and calling for a draft to be presented to the Committee at a business meeting in September.

September 29, 2005 ­ All Committee Democrats joined in additional views to the annual Intelligence Authorization Bill criticizing the lack of progress on Phase II.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Alito a "yes" man? Nooooo, it's just a coincident that he would do everything as Bush would.


Alito's record shows backing of business interests
Tuesday, November 01, 2005

By Jess Bravin and Jeanne Cummings, The Wall Street Journal

In 15 years on the federal bench, Judge Samuel Alito often has sided with positions backed by business leaders -- and shown himself a strict interpreter of contracts -- in cases ranging from employment discrimination and commercial speech to shareholder suits.

Indeed, legal experts said that, while the immediate focus of supporters and critics Monday was on social issues like abortion, Judge Alito's extensive track record on business and regulatory issues at the Philadelphia-based court is likely to play a large role in his nomination process.

Judge Alito's Third Circuit is one of the smaller federal jurisdictions, but it hears a disproportionate share of business-related cases because its three-state territory includes Delaware, where many companies are incorporated, and the heavily industrial New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For those assessing Judge Alito, there are dozens of business cases to sift, some of which are widely known and many which are more technical. One of the best-known is a 1997 dissent in which Judge Alito argued against a racial-discrimination claim made by a black housekeeping manager who was denied promotion to a job at a Marriott International Inc. hotel. The position, at a hotel in Park Ridge, N.J., went to a white woman. While the court ruled the woman could take the case to a jury, Judge Alito argued that, although she might be able to claim she had been treated unfairly, that wasn't enough to let her sue.

"What we end up doing then is ... allowing disgruntled employees to impose the cost of trial on employers who, although they have not acted with the intent to discriminate, may have treated their employees unfairly," he wrote. "This represents an unwarranted extension of the anti-discrimination laws."

Last year, Judge Alito wrote an opinion striking down a Pennsylvania law that barred alcoholic-beverage advertising in college newspapers. The law violated advertisers' First Amendment rights, he found, while doing little to prevent underage drinkers from seeing liquor ads, since they were prevalent in many other media to which students had access.

And in 1997, Judge Alito affirmed the dismissal of a shareholder class action filed against Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp., of Burlington, N.J., after its earnings fell far short of its projections and its stock fell 30 percent in one day. He ruled that shareholder plaintiffs had failed to specify how the company's performance amounted to fraud, in a close reading of applicable statutes.

Judge Alito has insisted on enforcement of contract terms challenged as unfair or otherwise as void, such as provisions that require consumers to use arbitration rather than lawsuits to pursue complaints, said Larry E. Ribstein, a law professor at the University of Illinois. Such contract terms can be "a very useful technique that business has today in avoiding excessive litigation," said Mr. Ribstein, who specializes in business legal issues and has served as editor of the University of Chicago's Supreme Court Economic Review.

Major business groups, which have pressed the White House for business-friendly judges, Monday said they had yet to fully scrutinize Judge Alito's docket sufficiently to reach their own conclusions. Robin Conrad, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Litigation Center, said her lawyers are beginning a review of more than 700 opinions written by Judge Alito, including dozens on labor and employment cases and race and sex discrimination.

"There is a lot of stuff to look at," she said. "We're looking to see if there is a demonstrated understanding of business and economic issues."

Some critics, however, said they already saw warning flags. "Judge Alito's record on the bench demonstrates that he would go to great lengths to restrict the authority of Congress to enact legislation to protect civil rights and the rights of workers, consumers and women," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat.

More here.

Wow, a very "conservative" Republican nominated to the Supreme Court who just happens to love big business very much. I doubt Bushy had any idea that the ol' man had it in him. I am sure it was his moral values that allowed him to follow Miers.

Hey Republicans, tell me if you think any harmful information to Alito's nomination will arise and if you think he will be approved.

And all criticism aside, if Alito does prove to be a decent pick, i'd probably approve. I do not want to see this void in the court drag out in critical times.

More infor here and here

Republicans Try to Cover It Up, But We Won't Let Them.

Senate Democrats Force Closed Session, Igniting Partisan Battle
Link here

Democrats are fed up with the corruption that the Republicans bring to the honorable halls of congress and are now fighting back. It has been a really horrible year for 'Corruptlicans' and today Minority leader Harry Reid forced the Senate to go into closed session to take up what the Democratic leader complained was the GOP-controlled Senate's failure to complete an investigation into intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify the war in Iraq.

For far too long this quagmire has been ignored and covered up by the Republicans, and what a better way to tear into the truth than by applying pressure to an already unstable leadership. The people want the truth and they want it now. Bush and Co. may have been able to cover up the horrible response to Katrina by nominating Roberts, they may have been able to cover up the Libby indictment by nominating Alito, and he may have been able to cover up many other things with anti-democratic propaganda, but no longer. We won't stand for it.

Senator Reid spoke boldly today to CNN which gave me the impression that Democrats are now finally giving these Republican rats a taste of good old fashion Democratic muscle. And with the self-inflicted wounds Republicans have, it shouldn't be much longer til the American people remember why the greatest Presidents and leaders this nation has seen were Democrats or would have been.

Let's take a glance at some of what was said.

"It is clear now that the American people were not informed properly before the invasion of Iraq. Intelligence information was distorted, was misused, and we have seen as late as last week the lengths which this administration has gone to try to silence and discredit their critics of the misuse of this intelligence information," Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters.

So, if the WMD claim was in fact BS, then ofcourse the American people want to know the truth. And even after President Bush admitted that there were no WMDs in Iraq, the uninformed Fox News viewers and Republicans across the globe still believe there was. It is up to the people in our federal government to do their jobs and investigate this predicament, not cover it up in the name of political bias and greed.

When Reid spoke the truth, Frist had the gall to say it was "an affront to me personally" and labeled it a political "stunt." Sheesh, what an idiot.. or lying sack of crap. So what would you have done Frist? An investigation on the war in Iraq dies down and no answers have been given. What do you want, to just drop it? Leave it unanswered and pretend this ridiculous incident never happened?

I think now is the perfect time to hit Republicans with everything we've got and do not let up. They are at a weak point in their reign and the world would be better of it they were taken out quickly. Slaughtergate gate is coming.