Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Supreme Court dismisses challenge to delays in prosecution; man held in pretrial custody for 847 days.
Supreme Court Justices Rebecca Dallet and Ann Walsh Bradley disagreed with the majority decision. In a dissenting opinion written by Dallet, the two said there are systemic issues with the process for appointing lawyers for indigent defendants.
The judicial system failed Lee twice and, by dismissing the case, the Supreme Court failed him again, according to the dissenting opinion.
WPR: Wisconsin Supreme Court hears challenge to Madison schools' transgender policy.
The policy, which has been in place since 2018, states that students "will be called by their affirmed name and pronouns regardless of parent/guardian permission to change their name and gender." The policy also states that school staff "shall not disclose any information that may reveal a student's gender identity to others, including parents or guardians."
WILL attorney Luke Berg told justices that this violates the constitutional rights of parents to raise their children the way they think is best, urging the court to block the entire policy.
Politico: President Biden addresses country following school shooting.
“For a year, we’ve called on the president to name a national gun prevention director, and we’ve called for him to declare a national emergency. The White House has acknowledged our pleas but has repeatedly rebuffed us,” said Zeenat Yahya, policy director for March for Our Lives. “That’s unacceptable. Last week, Buffalo. This week, Uvalde, Texas. Everyone in power needs to do absolutely everything they can to fight for our lives. Children are dying. Frankly, we’re livid that the president hasn’t fought harder, and we aren’t the only ones.”
Insider: Texas Republicans who say the answer to school shootings is more guns.
In a Tuesday interview with the conservative Newsmax TV channel, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the right response was to ensure more people had access to firearms to stop shootings.
"People who are shooting people, who are killing kids, they're not following murder laws so they're not going to follow gun laws," he said.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also rejected calls for tighter gun laws, suggesting that more armed police should be stationed at schools instead.
Slate: U.S. Supreme Court reins in mandatory arbitration in unanimous decision.
Why were all nine justices so receptive to (Attorney Karla) Gilbride’s advocacy? The likely answer is that SCOTUS’ entire arbitration jurisprudence is built on an egregiously atextual and ahistorical reading of the FAA (Federal Arbitration Act). Whether you look at the plain text of the law or the congressional intent behind it, it’s impossible to justify the court’s massive expansion of mandatory arbitration. Savvy progressive litigators can occasionally exploit this foundation of sand, centering real text and history to limit the damage of indefensible precedents.
Above the Law: Group of Duke law students and alumni ask school to drop visiting professor Justice Samuel Alito.
Sometimes, there are consequences to actions. Alito decided that an opinion unmoored from sound legal reasoning was worth it for his political ambitions. That’s his decision, but a law school doesn’t have to ram its head in the sand and keep treating him as a scholar when he does it.
WPRI.com12: Rhode Island legislature approves recreational marijuana.
Associated Press: Delaware governor vetoes recreational marijuana bill.
“I recognize the positive effect marijuana can have for people with certain health conditions, and for that reason, I continue to support the medical marijuana industry in Delaware,” (Delaware Gov. John) Carney said in returning the bill to the state House. “I supported decriminalization of marijuana because I agree that individuals should not be imprisoned solely for the possession and private use of a small amount of marijuana — and today, thanks to Delaware’s decriminalization law, they are not.
“That said, I do not believe that promoting or expanding the use of recreational marijuana is in the best interests of the state of Delaware, especially our young people. Questions about the long-term health and economic impacts of recreational marijuana use, as well as serious law enforcement concerns, remain unresolved.”
Wisconsin Examiner: In Wisconsin, same-sex marriage is not immediately in danger if Roe falls, but there still are concerns.
In Wisconsin, the end of Roe means that a law still on the books from 1849 will take effect making it illegal for someone to get an abortion unless the mother’s health is at risk. The state similarly still has a provision in its constitution outlawing same-sex marriage, but it wouldn’t be immediately triggered if Obergefell were overturned, according to Larry Dupuis, legal director at the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Slate: Pay attention: Ginni and Clarence Thomas are telegraphing how the 2024 election will be subverted.
What Thomas was emailing was a prefabbed piece of legal advocacy that urged Arizona state officials to “Please stand strong in the face of political and media pressure. Please reflect on the awesome authority granted to you by our constitution. And then please take action to ensure that a clean slate of electors is chosen for our state.” That isn’t just words. It’s actually a theory underlying the subversion of an entire presidential election. It’s also a theory her husband has endorsed as a matter of constitutional law. It didn’t work in 2020 because the legal and political structures to support it weren’t in place at the time. Those pieces are being put into place as we type this.
SCOTUSblog: Supreme Court severely restricts use of ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims in federal reviews of state convictions.
Despite such apparent qualms, (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence) Thomas wrote for the majority endorsing the state’s position, and all five of the other conservatives joined him. Thomas spent the first 11 pages of his 22-page opinion recounting the grisly facts of the murders the defendants were convicted of, extolling the states’ authority to enforce criminal laws, and emphasizing the importance of the finality of convictions. Finally arriving at the issue at hand, Thomas cited cases holding that defendants are generally held responsible for their attorneys’ errors, and noted that while that general rule does not apply when counsel is constitutionally ineffective, the Sixth Amendment does not guarantee a right to counsel at the post-conviction stage – therefore, at this stage, the defendants were “at fault.”
Vox: Because the Supreme Court's new rule restricting ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims, a man who may be innocent could be executed.
NPR: Federal court tosses Florida's social-media law.
A Florida law intended to punish social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, dealing a major victory to companies who had been accused by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis of discriminating against conservative thought.
The Hill: Little-used ethics criminal law might apply to Donald Trump and associates.
The Hatch Act prohibits electioneering by executive branch officials, including the promotion of the president’s political interests, during the course of their formal duties. . . .
While the ethics law has been used almost entirely administratively since it was passed in the 1930s, experts say a rarely used criminal provision of the law could be a novel and relatively straightforward strategy to ensure consequences for Trump in what is sure to be a challenging atmosphere.
By Gretchen Schuldt
The Wisconsin Justice Initiative on Tuesday called for Milwaukee officials to develop and adopt enforcement guidelines and accountability measures for the recently announced stepped-up use of the city's curfew ordinance against juveniles and their parents.
"We have seen in the past valid concerns raised about police practices by the ACLU’s stop-and-frisk lawsuit," WJI President Craig Johnson said in a letter to Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Police Chief Jeffrey B. Norman and the Common Council. "Any policy that increases the number of police-citizen encounters and places too much reliance on police discretion raises concerns that these practices will again prove problematic to certain groups."
The ACLU suit resulted in the Milwaukee Police Department and the city agreeing to reforms in pedestrian and vehicle stop and search procedures. The ACLU presented strong evidence of racial disparities in who was stopped and searched.
Mayor Johnson and Norman announced the increased curfew enforcement last week, in the wake of the mass shooting near the Deer District after a Bucks' game. No juveniles have been arrested in connection with the shooting, and Norman said the stronger curfew enforcement was meant to protect them.
WJI's Johnson said the move could worsen police-community relations unless "the city adopts and publishes accountability measures and enforcement guidelines."
"Curfew enforcement guidelines should make clear how police will enforce the curfew and who is at risk of receiving citations," Craig Johnson wrote. "Is a 16-year-old making their way home from a Brewers’ game going to get a ticket? How about a youth waiting at a bus stop after work?"
The city's primary curfew ordinance makes it illegal for anyone 16 or under to "congregate, loiter, wander, stroll, stand or play in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, public buildings, places of amusement and entertainment, places of employment, vacant lots or any public places in the city either on foot or in or upon any conveyance being driven or parked thereon." Violations can bring forfeitures of $100-$200.
Parents and guardians can be cited if they "suffer or permit or by inefficient control to allow" violations by minors.
There are exceptions to the prohibitions. A youth can be out and about while with a parent or guardian or when "exercising first amendment rights protected by the United States constitution or the Wisconsin constitution, including freedom of speech, the free exercise of religion, and the right of assembly," according to the ordinance. A parent or guardian will not be held liable for any violation if they have filed with the police a missing persons report regarding the youth.
"How will an officer determine whether a young person qualifies for one of the exemptions in the ordinance?" Craig Johnson asked, adding, "What are the standards for deciding what parents are cited and when?"
Craig Johnson cited the city's "contributing to truancy" ordinance as an "object lesson in the need for enforcement standards."
In 1995, when lobbying for such an ordinance, then-Police Chief Philip Arreola said he was concerned about adults and businesses who "were responsible for contributing to the students (sic) absence from school by hosting parties and/or allowing students to congregate/loiter on their premises.”
The contributing to truancy ordinance, since then, however, has been used mostly against Black women, Johnson said.
"From 2015 through September 2020, according to Municipal Court statistics, 94% of contributing-to- delinquency citations were issued to women, 62% to Black people, 25% to Hispanic people, and 11% to Whites," he wrote. "That disproportionate caseload suggests inequitable enforcement."
"How will MPD ensure that police equitably enforce the curfew ordinances?" he asked. "Is MPD willing to publicly report the demographics and ages of those cited?"
He also asked whether businesses would be subject to curfew ordinances that apply specifically to them. One ordinance, for example, requires venues with a public entertainment license to announce an approaching curfew 20 minutes before it takes effect.
"All entertainment shall cease for the 20-minute period prior to curfew," the ordinance says.
Violations carry forfeitures of $500 to $2,000.
It also is generally illegal for a business to allow anyone under 17 to enter or stay on the premises after curfew, and hotels, motels, and rooming houses are prohibited from allowing anyone under 18 to "visit, loiter, idle, wander or stroll in any portion of such" business from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Violations of that ordinance carries forfeitures of $100 to $200.
Waupaca County News: Although court of appeals denies sheriff's petition to withdraw finding of a constitutional violation, sheriff claims vindication.
According to the report sent to the district attorney’s office, “It was also decided that Peter’s red Pontiac would be towed and taken to the Manawa evidence garage to be inventoried and searched.”
(District Attorney Veronica) Isherwood later learned that Stephens’ original report read that the vehicle was searched “for any possible evidence related to past thefts with Peter.”
Such a search would be unconstitutional and failure to report it would violate the Brady Rule.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin Supreme Court holds that conviction under disorderly conduct statute does not cause disqualification for concealed carry license.
Writing for the majority, Justice Brian Hagedorn said a disorderly conduct conviction in Wisconsin can’t disqualify someone from holding a concealed carry license in the state.
“In short, the crime of disorderly conduct ... does not require the use or attempted use of physical force or the threatened use of a deadly weapon as an element, even if that conduct could serve as the basis for a disorderly conduct conviction,” Hagedorn wrote. “It is therefore not a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence under federal law.”
Wispolitics.com: Daniel Kelly angling toward another Supreme Court race.
Kelly, who lost a bid two years ago to retain his seat on the bench, has been working toward another run for the court in 2023, when fellow conservative Pat Roggensack is leaving the bench.
Kelly was at the GOP state convention on Friday working the crowd.
Wisconsin Examiner: Republican legislators see more police as only solution for violent crime.
Republican lawmakers are continuing to hammer gun violence and homicide rates in the southeastern Wisconsin cities of Milwaukee and Racine. Disregarding calls to tighten gun laws and support violence prevention strategies, the GOP has anointed law enforcement as Wisconsin’s only solution.
CNN: How Donald Trump's lawyer Cleta Mitchell now advises a government elections commission.
The emails, obtained by CNN through a Freedom of Information Act request, show conservatives were working even before the 2020 election to gain a seat for an ally on the advisory board of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent government agency that provides voluntary election guidelines for states.
The story of how Cleta Mitchell -- the legal adviser who took part in Trump's phone call where he asked Georgia's secretary of state to "find" enough votes for him to win -- was appointed to that board underscores how a core faction of Republicans has focused on pushing unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud even before Trump convinced much of the Republican Party to buy into his election lies that the 2020 election had been stolen.
Reuters: How U.S. Soccer's new chief legal officer helped the federation settle players' labor disputes.
The new collective bargaining agreements call for the men's and women's teams to pool their 2022-2023 and 2026-2027 World Cup winnings, which will then be divided equally, minus a cut for U.S. Soccer. The U.S. women's team has won four World Cup titles, including in 2015 and 2019. The men have never won.
Still, the pooling arrangement is a big deal, given the sharp disparity in men's and women's World Cup prize money, which U.S. Soccer can't control.
Slate: More thoughts on the leak and one justice's activities since then.
(Justice Clarence) Thomas understands, I believe, that when he dumps all over the chief justice, or the current members of the court, or all liberal protesters, he is polarizing and undermining. He is destroying the reputation of the court as a neutral institution that operates above political partisanship. So does whoever leaked the Dobbs draft. So does whoever offered more leaks in the wake of the Dobbs draft. So does every justice who agrees to speak at a partisan political event in the present moment. This is the opposite of shoring up the court’s prestige. Any justice, any leader, any leaker, and any public figure who genuinely worries about “how long we’re going to have these institutions at the rate we’re undermining them” doesn’t pick up a shovel to joyfully begin digging at the same time.
And yet they do. And so the real underlying mystery of the Dobbs leaks, and the speeches that followed? They stand as irrefutable proof that despite the chief justice’s best efforts, despite the justices’ own rhetoric to the contrary, some of the members of the current court actually prefer airing grievances and scoring points in public, and in the press, to bolstering their own fading authority. But if the court can’t be bothered to fight for its own legitimacy, it’s hardly a surprise that there will soon be nothing left to protect.
Wisconsin Public Radio: Judge threatens to fine Assembly Speaker over Michael Gableman's failure to comply with court order.
"What you're telling me is Mr. (Robin) Vos hired a contractor who should be under his control, and he's just run amok and is flatly refusing to follow any of the court's guidance or orders," (Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie) Bailey-Rihn said. "That leaves me to think that they're hiding something."
Bailey-Rihn told (attorney Ronald) Stadler that she wanted a sworn affidavit from (Michael) Gableman answering several questions about the records request from American Oversight, including who worked for Gableman from June 1, 2021 until Aug. 30, 2021, where they stored digital records, what attempts they took to produce those records, and which records had been destroyed.
"I'm really skeptical when I can't get an answer from the person who has the answers," Bailey-Rihn said.
Slate: Mark Joseph Stern (who spoke at our event last night!) on some states' quick expansion of abortion protections.
The Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade this summer, transforming a constitutional right into a policy dispute subject to the whims of each state’s political process. Republican-controlled legislatures—as many as 22 of them—have already teed up abortion bans that will spring into effect once Roe falls. But what about blue and purple states, where a majority of the country resides? These states are about to become the chief battleground for reproductive freedom. And while the post-Roe future is not even here quite yet, progressives are doing a remarkably good job preparing for the next phase of the fight.
Indeed, one irony of Roe’s demise is that it has prompted many of these states to make abortions easier and cheaper to obtain. The Supreme Court’s hard-right turn has had the unintended consequence of making abortions much more accessible in many parts of the country.
U.S. Department of Justice: Attorney General appoints director of Office for Access to Justice.
CNN: ATF Report shows that U.S. yearly gun production has nearly tripled since 2000.
The report is part of an ongoing efforts from the Biden administration to address the gun violence epidemic in America.
"We need to know who is using guns in crimes so we can focus our enforcement efforts on those individuals, And this data does just that. It helps us tailor our approach at the most significant drivers of gun violence and take those shooters off the streets," Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Tuesday, speaking to federal and local law enforcement officials from around the country to mark the beginning of a two-day national summit focused on reducing violence.
San Francisco Chronicle: Federal appeals court rules that 2018 legislation allows hemp form of cannabis.
The court said Delta-8 THC has “psychoactive and intoxicating effects” like those of marijuana, but is not a marijuana product, was not explicitly banned by laws against marijuana and other drugs, and became legal when Congress allowed the growing and marketing of hemp, an action spearheaded by then-Senate Majority Leader Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“Regardless of the wisdom of legalizing Delta-8 THC products, this court will not substitute its own policy judgment for that of Congress,” Judge D. Michael Fisher said in the 3-0 ruling. If the legalization was inadvertent, he said, Congress can change it.
Above the Law: Fifth Circuit essentially destroys SEC.
The Fifth Circuit gutted the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday, deciding that the Seventh Amendment demands that the SEC can’t use Administrative Law Judges and must send every minor securities infraction to an Article III court to get dragged through a jury trial.
Because Thomas Jefferson never thought about credit-default swaps.
Vanity Fair: Wisconsin's official 2020 electors sue the Republicans' purported electors.
“Defendants not only helped lay the groundwork for the events of January 6, 2021, but also inflicted lasting damage on Wisconsin’s civic fabric,” the complaint reads.
The complaint, filed on behalf of Wisconsin’s official electors, seeks a “definitive statement” from the court that the scheme was improper, as well as punitive damages from the Republican electors who allegedly met to draft fake paperwork delivering the state’s 10 electoral votes to Trump: Andrew Hitt; Robert F. Spindell, Jr.; Bill Feehan; Kelly Ruh; Carol Brummer; Edward Scott Grabins; Kathy Kiernan; Darryl Carlson; Pam Travis; and Mary Buestrin. It also names attorneys James R. Troupis and Kenneth Chesebro, who in a memo following the 2020 election discussed the plan to introduce competing electors. Two of the defendants, Hitt and Ruh, were subpoenaed earlier this year by the House select committee investigating January 6, which is examining the fake electors plot as part of its probe. (Hitt agreed to comply.)
“There needs to be accountability for the fraudulent electors, because otherwise this will just happen again and again,” Jeffrey Mandell, the Wisconsin lawyer who filed the suit, tells Vanity Fair. “If we don’t have accountability, if we don’t have clarity on this, the system breaks down. It alienates people from democracy. This is a place where we need to restore some norms.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee police now enforcing city's curfew for minors.
Although none of those arrested were minors, (Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey) Norman said officials decided to enforce the curfew as a form of protection. Minors have been increasingly caught up in the city’s historic violent crime over the last two and a half years. ...
Norman said the enforcement will extend to parents of children violating the curfew as well. The city’s curfew ordinance prohibits anyone 17 and younger to congregate in public spaces during overnight hours, starting at either 10 or 11 p.m. and lasting until 5 a.m., depending on the day of the week and time of year.
Fines can range from $100 to $200 and can be extended to minors themselves, along with parents and business owners. Exceptions are made for minors in the company of a parent or guardian.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Judge tosses $1.4 million jury verdict against Ald. Bob Bauman.
A judge has thrown out jury verdicts that Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman wrongly defamed a nonprofit housing agency in the 2000s and should pay $1.4 million in damages.
Circuit Judge Pedro Colón found the plaintiff, Tri-Corp Housing, Inc., was a "limited purpose public figure" and therefore needed to prove Bauman acted with actual malice, and failed to do so.
WPR and Wisconsin Watch: Episode 3 of the Open and Shut podcast — looking back at problems in the Mark Price case involving Joe Paulus and Vince Biskupic.
Axios: Awaiting a presidential executive order on police reform.
Above the Law: Female D.C. Circuit Judge hasn't hired a female law clerk in 20 years.
Since being elevated to the appellate court in 1990 by George H. W. Bush (prior to that she was on the district court of South Carolina), (D.C. Circuit) Judge (Karen L.) Henderson has only hired one female law clerk. ...
This hiring pattern was revealed as part of a confidential workplace survey conducted in the D.C. district and circuit courts, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Post. Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan said the survey — which was completed by more than 400 current and former court employees — was conducted as part of an effort to ensure all employees are treated with dignity and respect. And yet, what the survey revealed was allegations of discrimination and bullying.
By Gretchen Schuldt
A man who did not have a chance to cross examine the officer who issued him a citation or to present evidence on a new charge determined by a judge is entitled to a new trial, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday.
District 1 Court of Appeals Judge Timothy G. Dugan did not even decide the case on the issue raised by defendant Roosevelt Cooper, Jr. – that he was denied discovery – but instead relied on Milwaukee County's recognition of errors in Cooper's trial.
"As the County acknowledged in its supplemental brief, '[a]t no point throughout the trial was Cooper afforded the opportunity to question or cross-examine' the officer and 'Cooper was denied his right to trial,' ” Dugan wrote. "A review of the record confirms the County’s characterization of the proceedings."
Cooper was cited in December 2020 for reckless driving / endangering safety. The officer who issued the citation testified at trial before Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jonathan Richards that the officer observed Cooper speeding and making multiple lane changes while close to other vehicles. The officer said Cooper was driving about 80 mph in a 55-mph zone.
The officer's dash cam video showed that Cooper drove on a non-traffic area of the roadway, changed lanes without signaling, and drove faster than the cars around his, Dugan wrote. Cooper said he swerved into the non-traffic area to avoid an accident with a car in front of him when its driver slammed on the brakes.
The video, however, was never moved into evidence and Dugan said in a footnote that Cooper was not under oath when he began explaining his actions. "It was not until the county started questioning Cooper following Cooper's explanation of the video that Cooper was put under oath," he wrote.
At the end of the bench trial, Richards said he could not see where Cooper endangered safety, but that Cooper was speeding, passed six cars, and drove in the non-traffic area, Dugan wrote. The judge found Cooper guilty of unreasonable and impudent speed.
"The county expressed confusion over the finding, and the clerk interrupted saying that Cooper was not charged with speeding," Dugan wrote. The county said it could amend the charge to unreasonable and imprudent speed "and over Cooper’s objection, the trial court accepted the amended charge and found Cooper guilty" of the charge.
Richards ordered Cooper to pay a $100 forfeiture, according to online court records.
The county, in its appeals briefing, said a judge has the power to amend a charge to conform to the evidence, but that the court also must find that the parties consent to the change, Dugan wrote. That is also state Supreme Court precedent, Dugan said.
"The county...concedes that the trial court failed to make any finding that Cooper consented to the amended charge, and in fact, the county maintains that Cooper was clear that he did not consent to the amended charge," Dugan said. "The county also concedes that the trial court failed to give the parties an opportunity to present additional evidence to support the amended charge."
In addition, "Despite receiving an assurance that he would have an opportunity to question the officer, Cooper received no such opportunity," Dugan wrote.
While he is not required to accept the county's concessions, it is appropriate in this case, Dugan said.
"As a result, this court concludes that Cooper is entitled to a new trial on the amended charge of unreasonable and imprudent speed," he said.
Governing: Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson's plan to address safety and other issues.
(Mayor Cavalier) Johnson repeatedly stressed that public safety was the top issue facing the city, but he knew he was inheriting other challenges. The city’s annual pension payment is on track to balloon from $71 million to $145 million next year. A pension task force warned last fall that the spike could lead to layoffs for a quarter of city workers. One voter told Johnson that, as mayor, he’d have to choose between “a whole pile of no good.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Former state senator pleads guilty to charges of failure to pay employment taxes.
Kevin Shibilski, 60, of Merrill, appeared in front of federal district court Judge William Conley and pleaded guilty to failing to truthfully account for and pay the Internal Revenue Service the federal income taxes withheld and the FICA taxes owed on behalf of his employees at two of his businesses — Pure Extractions and Wisconsin Logistics Solutions.
Vox: Supreme Court decision in favor of Ted Cruz makes it easier to bribe officials.
The Court’s decision in FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate is a boon to wealthy candidates. It strikes down an anti-bribery law that limited the amount of money candidates could raise after an election in order to repay loans they made to their own campaign. ...
The idea is that, if already-elected officials can solicit donations to repay what is effectively their own personal debt, lobbyists and others seeking to influence lawmakers can put money directly into the elected official’s pocket — and campaign donations that personally enrich a lawmaker are particularly likely to lead to corrupt bargains. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) manufactured a case to try to overturn that $250,000 limit, and now, the Court has sided with him.
Above the Law: Opinion on the law profs who think Alito is right in his draft upending Roe.
Yale Law School’s Akhil Reed Amar took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to gently explain why Samuel Alito’s leaked Dobbs draft is entirely reasonable and legal. And you can believe him too because, as the Wall Street Journal editors gleefully note in the article’s sub-heading, Professor Amar is a “pro-choice Democrat.” . . .
Is it really a side effect of living the cloistered academic life? Seeing the world as a collection of abstract positions to be mentally cabined off of each other? I dunno. All I know is the same crop of law professors show up every time there’s a turning point in America’s constitutional order to say, “move along, nothing to see here.”
It might be that these law professors aren’t really liberal to begin with. Or it might be that their liberalism only extends to the issues they’ve decided matter to them.
Forbes: Georgia voters appeal decision keeping Marjorie Taylor Greene on the ballot.
ABC7 Chicago: Florida governor signs law criminalizing protests in front of residences.
The Hill: Democratic lawmakers respond to shootings in Milwaukee and Buffalo.
“I’m devastated to learn about the senseless gun violence in Milwaukee last night. My heart breaks for the victims, their families, & the MKE community. I hope for speedy recoveries,” Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) said. “This is another unfortunate reminder we must work together to confront the scourge of gun violence.”
WISN: Long waitlist for GPS trackers to monitor pretrial defendants in Milwaukee County.
The New York Times: Justice Clarence Thomas complains about politicization of the Supreme Court . . . at an event hosted by conservative and libertarian groups.
There is no question that the court has become politicized, to its and the nation’s great detriment. But to be subjected to a lecture on that fact by Clarence Thomas, of all people, is like listening to a plutocrat lounging by his infinity pool in a bathrobe, eating a gold-plated steak while bemoaning the horrors of extreme income inequality.
Has it really not occurred to the justice that by giving partisan political speeches in partisan political environments, he is precisely what is damaging the integrity of the Supreme Court? Perhaps being cosseted in prestige and power for so long makes it easy to ignore the consequences of your words and actions.
Brennan Center for Justice: Understanding the concealed-carry case on which the Supreme Court is expected to rule in the next several weeks.
The Trace: The National Rifle Association's interference with research on gun violence.
The NRA did not respond to calls or emails seeking comment. For decades, the group has pressured lawmakers to block the collection of ownership data — and denied that its position stifles legitimate firearms research. But in a January 2021 report to board members gathered in Dallas, NRA Research and Information Division director Josh Savani acknowledged that the group’s lobbying has created a major obstacle.
“All firearms research suffers from one problem: we do not know how many firearms are in the United States or how they are distributed,” Savani wrote in a brief report titled Assessing Firearm Research. “[The] NRA has long supported various federal laws and appropriation riders as well as laws at the state level to prohibit the collection and centralization of firearms records. While these laws are intended to prevent the creation of firearms registries, they also prevent researchers from conducting accurate studiewith the number and distribution of firearms as a variable.”
Associated Press: How a 17-year-old with mental illness died in police custody.
Owing to the hour, a team that included a mental health worker was unavailable to respond on that night last September; police alone responded. And C.J. was taken not to a mental hospital but to the county Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center, where for about 40 minutes he was held face down, resulting in his death.
C.J. “went from crisis to death because we got involved,” said Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell.
“We all need to own what we did right and what we did wrong,” he added. “And the reality is there’s things that happened that were wrong.”
By Gretchen Schuldt
A Meijer Store employee's use of derogatory, homophobic terms when talking about a co-worker disqualified her from unemployment after she got fired for the comments, a divided state Court of Appeals panel ruled recently.
Susan A. Wozniak's comments constituted harassment, Appellate Judge M. Joseph Donald wrote in the 2-1 decision for the District I Court of Appeals panel. He was joined by Appellate Judge Maxine A. White. Appellate Judge Timothy G. Dugan dissented.
The decision affirms Milwaukee County Circuit Judge William S. Pocan, who ruled in favor of the Department of Workforce Development in its action against the state Labor and Industry Review Commission.
LIRC had contended that Wozniak was entitled to unemployment benefits; DWD disagreed.
The case began when Wozniak, frustrated that a fellow greeter was not doing his job, complained to co-workers. One of them reported the conversation to management, saying that Wozniak said the co-worker was a “pretty boy,” “fairy,” and “fruit loop.” Wozniak also said that he was gay, and that “the way he skipped around the store made her sick,” according to the appeals court decision.
Wozniak, interviewed by management, admitted calling the co-worker a "pretty boy," denied calling him a "fairy," and said if she had used the other terms she should not have done so. Wozniak was suspended and eventually fired.
Meijer, in its dismissal, cited Wozniak's “discriminatory remarks towards a team member."
Wozniak filed for unemployment, and DWD found that the firing was not for "misconduct or substantial fault connected with her employment." Wozniak was entitled to benefits, the agency said.
Meijer appealed. The administrative law judge reversed DWD and ruled that Wozniak was fired for misconduct and not entitled to benefits.
Wozniak appealed again, this time to the LIRC. The administrative law judge was overturned and Wozniak was back to being eligible for unemployment compensation. The LIRC vote was 2-1.
DWD asked a circuit court to consider the matter, and Pocan eventually ruled that LIRC had erred in finding that Wozniak’s comments did not constitute misconduct or substantial fault.
Wisconsin law, Donald wrote, defines misconduct as one or more "threats or acts of harassment, assault, or other physical violence instigated by an employee at the workplace of his or her employer.”
While the law does not define harassment, DWD and LIRC agreed on a definition as "words, gestures, and actions which tend to annoy, alarm, and abuse (verbally) another person. ... [h]arassment may include verbal abuse, epithets, and vulgar or derogatory language, display of offensive cartoons or materials, mimicry, lewd or offensive gestures, and telling of jokes offensive to protected class members.”
Wozniak’s comments were derogatory and aimed at the co-worker's sexual orientation, Donald wrote.
"Whether the comments were made directly to the co-worker is of no consequence" under the statute, he said.
LIRC contended that Meijer did not provide a definition or examples of harassment in its work rules, Donald wrote, but the law does not require that the company have an anti-harassment policy or rule. There also is no requirement that a person "knowingly" engage in harassment, he said.
"We will not read additional language into a statute," he said.
Dugan, in his dissent, said that Meijer had not met its burden in showing that Wozniak was fired for misconduct or substantial fault.
Harassment that fits the definition of "misconduct" must include an element of intent, which Wozniak's statements did not, Dugan said.
"Her comments were not loud enough for anyone to hear," he wrote. "She did not make her comments to customers, and she did not make her comments directly to the co-worker about whom she was complaining. The record is also devoid of evidence that either of these co-workers were offended or unable to continue with their work responsibilities as a result of the conversation. Thus, Wozniak’s comments were part of an isolated incident during a brief, private, casual conversation that does not rise to the level of misconduct and that demonstrates no intent to harass her co-worker within the meaning of" the law.
While the majority did not address the substantial fault issue because it already found Wozniak committed misconduct, Dugan did.
"As has been repeatedly stated, there is no dispute that Meijer’s workplace rules prohibited harassment but also provided no definition of what was considered harassment under the rule. ...Wozniak would have had no reason to believe that her brief, private conversation with two co-workers would qualify as harassment," he wrote.
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