Law

Ordinary politics as corruption: the left’s new totalitarian hobby horse

Featured image Whatever one thinks about the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell on fraud and extortion charges, there is little doubt that the legal theories that produced the conviction blur the distinction between criminal corruption and ordinary politics. Indeed, it is my view that the left sees no such distinction. To the extent that ordinary politics stands in the way of its agenda, the left perceives ordinary politics as, at »

Bob McDonnell and the criminalization of politics

Featured image For former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, found guilty last week of fraud and extortion, I have only the small amount of sympathy reserved for those who fall from grace deservedly, but not due to true malice or viciousness. However, I agree with William & Mary law professor Jeffrey Bellin that charges like those brought against McDonnell present the real danger of criminalizing ordinary politics. The essence of the legal case »

GAO: Obama administration violated law in releasing Gitmo detainees to Qatar in Bergdahl deal

Featured image The Government Accounting Office has concluded that the Obama Defense Department violated section 8111 of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act when it transferred five detainees at Guantanamo Bay to Qatar without providing at least 30 days notice to certain congressional committees. Section 8111 prohibits the Defense Department from using appropriated funds to transfer any individuals detained at Gitmo unless the Secretary of Defense provides such notification. The GAO also »

Rick Perry and the Democrats’ pattern of “lawfare” against rising Republicans

Featured image John and Scott have commented on the indictment of Gov. Rick Perry. As they note, it fits a pattern of politically motivated indictments of prominent Texas Republicans. The Perry indictment also fits a pattern of harassment via the legal process of prominent Republican governors: Sarah Palin, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and now Perry. What do these four have in common? Why, they all are (or were) potentially viable candidates for »

Hating and fishing in Sherrod v. Breitbart’s widow

Featured image I wrote here about Shirley Sherrod’s lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart’s widow in connection with video Andrew posted. In the video, Sherrod regales an NAACP audience with the tale of how, as a public employee, she initially stiffed a white farmer seeking her help. Andrew did not post, presumably because he did not have, the full video in which Sherrod says she eventually saw the error of her ways and helped »

American Sniper on trial: The verdict

Featured image I wrote about Jesse Ventura’s defamation claim against the estate of Chris Kyle in the post “American Sniper on trial.” I attended closing arguments in the case in federal district court in St. Paul this past Tuesday morning and am disappointed to report that, after declaring itself deadlocked yesterday, the jury returned with a verdict in favor of Jesse Ventura against the estate of Chris Kyle this afternoon. The 10-person »

Obamacare architect explained intent behind allowing subsidies only on state exchanges

Featured image Jonathan Gruber, a professor at MIT, is widely is regarded as the architect of both Romneycare and Obamacare. Following the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Halbig, he asserted that the provision of Obamacare limiting subsidies to the state exchanges was a “typo.” Indeed, he found it “criminal” to suggest that Obamacare was intended to work this way. But William Jacobson (via one of his readers) has unearthed video from 2012 in »

Pro bono law morphs into left-wing lawfare

Featured image Do you remember Shirley Sherrod? She’s the former Department of Agriculture official caught on camera saying she denied a white farmer the full measure of benefits she could have given him, before later describing how she ended up rejecting this racist approach to her job. The late Andrew Breitbart posted excerpts of the Sherrod video that failed to include the part about how she overcame her racist impulse and ended »

Drafting error vs. drafting miscalculation

Featured image Sean Davis, a former congressional staffer, examines the claim that the provision in Obamacare limiting subsidies to those participating in state exchanges was the product of “drafting error.” He finds it laughable. I discussed what a legislative drafting error looks like here. Davis sees it the same way: When I worked in the Senate. . .it was not uncommon to find obvious errors in bills and amendments. Sometimes you would »

Drafting error vs. poor draftsmanship

Featured image Obamacare by its express and unambiguous terms limits Obamacare subsidies to people using health care exchanges “established by the State.” Thus, subsidies to people in the federal exchange are not permitted, as these exchanges obviously are not established by the State. However couched, the argument that subsidies should nonetheless accrue to people in the federal exchange boils down to the notion that the limiting language of the statute is the »

What’s next after Obamacare’s defeat in Halbig v. Burwell? [updated]

Featured image As Steve has noted, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District Columbia today invalidated the IRS regulation that provides for insurance subsidies to millions of lower-income Americans using the federal Obamacare exchanges. The ruling means that in 36 states, Obamacare subsidies will not be available, making its insurance coverage unaffordable to many Americans and potentially crashing the system. The Court’s ruling, by a vote of 2-1, is clearly correct. »

American Sniper on trial

Featured image Former WWF wrestler and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura brought a lawsuit for defamation against Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL sharpshooter and coauthor of American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History. The book was published on January 3, 2012, under the William Morrow imprint of HarperCollins. With a little help from Morrow’s publicity department, Kyle was featured on segments of the Today Show and the »

The Wagner case decision

Featured image This past February Paul wrote about the case of Teresa Wagner v. Carolyn Jones, Dean of the University of Iowa College of Law in this post. Like Paul, I had read Peter Berkowitz’s Wall Street Journal column over the previous weekend and noted that the oral argument in Ms. Wagner’s appeal was scheduled before the Eighth Circuit in St. Paul the following Thursday morning. TaxProf Paul Caron picked up on »

Judge Sullivan also wants to hear from the IRS

Featured image In the post immediately below, Scott reports that Judge Reggie Walton “wants to hear from the IRS.” Specifically, he wants the IRS to testify under oath about discovery issues pertaining to the destruction of evidence. Judge Walton isn’t the only veteran District Court Judge here in Washington DC who wants to hear from the IRS about this matter. Yesterday, Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Clinton appointee, ordered the IRS to explain »

What is Abu Khattala’s highest and best use?

Featured image According to this report: The Justice Department says its case against [Ahmed Abu Khattala], accused in the 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is unusually complex and involves “novel questions of fact and law.” In a Washington, D.C., federal courtroom Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael DiLorenzo said the government had already begun sharing sensitive documents with defense attorneys. But many of the hundreds of people interviewed »

James Risen would prefer not to

Featured image New York Times reporter James Risen has excellent sources in the intelligence community. If you are a disgruntled intelligence officer or official and want to preserve your anonymity while undermining a top secret program or aiding the enemies of the United States, Risen is your go-to guy. Risen’s accomplishments in this area have been overshadowed by the emergence of Edward Snowden, but Risen should not be forgotten. We know of »

The Bergdahl deal — as unlawful as it was misguided

Featured image The Bowe Bergdahl deal is so highly dubious on the merits, and so bizarre in the execution, that legal issues fade into the background. But the legalities mirror the deal. From a legal standpoint, Obama’s action is highly dubious and his arguments to the contrary are bizarre. A law passed in 2013 requires that Congress be given 30 days advance notice of the release of non-American prisoners held at Guantanamo. »