#Ferguson and the racists of the Congressional Black Caucus

November 25, 2014
Justice is individual, not social

Equal justice for all

Ran across something disgusting last night while reading about the riots that erupted in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict a White police officer for killing a Black teen:

On Monday Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) called the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown a “miscarriage of justice.”

In a statement released through the Congressional Black Caucus, which she chairs, Fudge said the decision not to indict Wilson “is a slap in the face to Americans nationwide who continue to hope and believe that justice will prevail.”

“This decision seems to underscore an unwritten rule that Black lives hold no value; that you may kill Black men in this country without consequences or repercussions,” Fudge said. “This is a frightening narrative for every parent and guardian of Black and brown children, and another setback for race relations in America.”

“My heart goes out to Michael Brown’s loved ones, and to the loved ones of all the Michael Browns we have buried in this country,” Fudge said.

The news of the grand jury’s decision came out between 6 and 7 PM PST. The time stamp on the PJMedia article behind the link is 11:23 PM PST, so 4-5 hours after the news broke, Rep. Fudge was rushing out her statement. There is no way she (or, more likely, her staff) had any chance to read the transcripts of the proceedings to consider the same evidence the jury took weeks to hear and mull over. And yet, that same night, she is sure that there had been a miscarriage of justice and this was due to some sort of “open season” rule on Blacks. (Read the rest of the piece to see how her soon-to-be successor is of the same mind.)

The congresswoman’s opinion seems to be a common one among the membership of the CBC, in fact. That same evening, my representative (hah!) tweeted this:

Why “disturbed?” The grand jury did its duty: consider the evidence and decide if there was probable cause that the suspect committed a crime. They found the evidence showed otherwise, and so they refused to return an indictment. Does Congresswoman Bass, who also could not have considered the evidence presented, know better than the grand jurors who spent weeks on the case? Is not Officer Wilson entitled to the same 5th Amendment protections as any other American — including a member of Congress, who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the Untied States?

The Fifth Amendment states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury.”

The Constitution does not consider the grand jury to be a rubber stamp. It is a core protection. It stands as the buffer between the government prosecutor and the citizen-suspect; it safeguards Americans, who are presumed innocent, from being subjected to the anxiety, infamy and expense of a trial unless there is probable cause to believe they have committed a serious offense.

But Representatives Fudge and Bass, and perhaps many in the CBC, really don’t care a whit about constitutional protections in this case. Not when the officer is White and the victim is Black. Were the roles reversed, would they be so quick to issue statements claiming a “miscarriage of justice?”

Call me cynic, but I don’t think so.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There have been all too many incidents of police brutality towards Blacks; it continues to this day, though I think not to the extent the race-grievance hustlers would have us believe. And that sad experience can understandably make Blacks suspicious of authorities or of ever getting justice from the system. When abuse happens, corrective action needs to be taken, including criminal legal proceedings.

But, in the specific case of Mike Brown, Officer Wilson, and a terrible day in Ferguson, Missouri, the prosecutor took the unusual step of presenting all his evidence (1) to the grand jury. Not just enough to indict a ham sandwich, but everything. And then he asked the grand jury, as representatives of the community, to decide if there was probable cause to take Officer Wilson to trial. Bear in mind that a grand jury operates on a lower burden of proof, “probable cause,” than a trial jury, which needs proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” to convict.

The grand jury worked on this case for weeks and still refused to indict. Representative Fudge notwithstanding, justice did prevail, because indicting someone without probable cause to think he had committed a crime would be the height of injustice.

Yet Fudge (who speaks for the CBC) and Bass found it “deeply disturbing” and a “miscarriage of justice” that no indictment was issued.

You know what I find disturbing? That Members of Congress, who swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, could so easily forget or ignore their duties. That members of an ethnic group that’s been subjected to terrible bigotry and awful treatment for centuries would themselves rush to demand what would be little better than a show trial, based just on the skin colors of the policeman and the victim.

They could have set examples for everyone by calling for calm and supporting the rule of law and the colorblind rights of all, perhaps even by asking people to wait and read the evidence for themselves.

But, no. They had to impugn the integrity of the legal process and feed the grievance beast, in their own petty way enabling the agitators trying to generate riots in Ferguson and elsewhere.

All because the cop was White and the victim Black.

You know what that’s called.

Footnote:
(1) Really, read the linked article. It’s an important education into how prosecutors and grand juries work.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh — “The grand jury process was fair.”


Nothing to see here, move along: #IRS official to plead the 5th over targeting scandal

May 21, 2013

But, really, this is all just some wingnut fantasy aiming to destroy the fourth-greatest president ever.

Which is why Lois Lerner is invoking her right not to incriminate herself:

A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.

Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening – or why she didn’t reveal it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor 3rd.

“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif. The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.

Taylor, a criminal defense attorney from the Washington firm of Zuckerman Spaeder, said that the Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation, and that the House committee has asked Lerner to explain why she provided “false or misleading information” to the committee four times last year.

You see? Just a bunch of nothing. In fact, all these questions about all these cooked-up “scandals” are nothing more than the new birtherism.

Between this and Roger Simon teasing us with the prospect of new Benghazi whistleblowers, I may have to double my reserves of popcorn for all the hearings.

via a gazillion people on Twitter

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A constitutional perfect storm?

April 6, 2010

At American Thinker, Larrey Anderson takes a cautious view of the chances for success in the suits by state Attorneys General against ObamaCare, especially the individual mandate, because the states have since the Great Depression largely cooperated in the cession of power to Washington. It’s a point well-taken, though I disagree with his example of the interstate highway system; I think that clearly falls under the Commerce Clause.

However, Mr. Anderson does believe that a combination of suits from the states and individuals harmed by ObamaCare might well have a chance. In a rather shotgun approach, he argues for relief based on more than half the Bill of Rights, specifically the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th amendments. Follow the link above for the full article, but I want to quote his argument regarding the 5th amendment, which quite matches my own thinking. The hypothetical situation is that of a woman who chooses not to get insurance for herself, and then contests the penalty the IRS assesses against her:

The “penalty” is a violation of the young mother’s 5th Amendment rights: “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” [Emphasis mine.]

Since the IRS will garnish the mother’s wages, there will be no due process for the mother without a protracted legal battle through many strata of bureaucracies. The woman’s money is her private property. It is being taken from her, for public use, without any (let alone “just”) compensation.

I think this is inherently correct, though an attack based on this reasoning would likely meet a lot of resistance, because it could be interpreted as a challenge to the whole of the IRS’ administrative enforcement powers.  However, by combining the the taking of private property without just compensation condition with the lack of due process, an argument can be made limited to the specific abuse of power, not the structure of IRS enforcement in total.

Anderson also makes an interesting and ironic argument related to the 9th amendment, which protects the unenumerated rights of the people.

Finally, the mother could sue under the 9th Amendment. The 9th Amendment is short and sweet:

  • The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


What is interesting about the possibility of a 9th Amendment challenge to ObamaCare is that previous “progressive” decisions issued by the Supreme Court could offer some of the best ammunition for the case that the legislation is unconstitutional.

Anderson cites the precedent of Griswold v. Connecticut, a birth-control case that laid the legal foundation for Roe v. Wade, and which relied heavily on 9th amendment protections. He again makes an interesting argument that the same 9th amendment reasoning applied in Griswold also applies against the Federal government’s claim to the power to enforce an individual mandate. Since Griswold and the cases based on it are darlings of the progressive Left, it would be ironic indeed if the same amendment and constitutional logic were used to undo the Left’s golden-calf legislation.

RELATED: Some earlier thoughts on the matter.