Sunday, May 31, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Black News: Police Officer Shooting Sparks Outrage in NYC

Life was looking good for Omar Edwards up to the point of encountering a man rummaging through his vehicle in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood on the night of May 28.

Police Officer Omar Edwards

A month prior the 25-year-old police rookie had married the mother of his children, 1 1/2-year-old Xavier and 7-month-old Keanua. Wearing street clothes, he had just gotten off work at a job he had wanted to do since he was a child. Perhaps it seemed like things couldn't get any better. In truth, they never would.

He was in street clothes as he walked toward his car parked about a block away on Second Ave. between E. 124th and E. 125th St., where he saw Miguel Goitia rummaging through the vehicle. The driver's side window was busted out.
Edwards grabbed Goitia, who managed to slip out of his sweater and escape Edwards' grip, Kelly said.
Gun drawn, Edwards gave chase.
At the same time, three plainclothes officers in an unmarked car saw Edwards running down the street. The car made a U-turn, and one of the officers, a white cop with more than four years on the job, got out and fired six shots - hitting Edwards twice, once in the left arm and once in the chest, [New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond] Kelly said.
Edwards did not fire his weapon.
SOURCE: NY Daily News.
The cop who shot him, 30-year-old Andrew Dunton, had never previously fired his weapon. After the shooting the three officers moved to apprehend Edwards, having mistaken the black cop for a criminal.
As he lay handcuffed on the ground, cops cut off his shirt to reveal a Police Academy T-shirt and found NYPD shield No. 12734 in his pants pocket.

By White Officer in NYC

Blacks and the Abortion Issue

By Leland C. Abraham, Esq.

A central issue in the last presidential election, and one that still grips the conscience of this nation is the issue of abortion. For some, abortion is the systematic killing of young ones that have the potential to be productive citizens. For others, abortion, however unfortunate, is a necessary means. A question that has always intrigued me is, “Where do black people stand on the issue of abortion?”

Abortion was popularized by the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. This pivotal case was decided in 1973. According to the most conservative estimates, some 14 million black babies have been aborted since 1973. This is an average of roughly 1,400 black babies aborted per day. This makes the Black population the proportionate leader in this category. Planned Parenthood, the major promoter of the choice for abortion, is primarily located in predominately black and Latino neighborhoods. According to, the origins of Planned Parenthood are steeped in the systematic destruction of a generation of black people. According to the site, Margaret Sanger aligned herself with eugenics in the early 1900s. Eugenics was an ideology that espoused racial supremacy and “purity” of the “Aryan” race. By 1939, Sanger created the “Negro Project” in which she sought to decrease the number of “lower class and barbarous” blacks. She opened her clinic in Harlem and sought to spread her message by speaking to community leaders and black churches. In reference to her speaking at black churches, Sanger wrote: “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members” [emphasis added]. Sanger was successful in recruiting many influential black leaders to her new form of “birth control.”

Here we are, some 70 years after the start of the “Negro Project” and the effects are still seen in the black community. In assessing the black community’s stance on the abortion issue, I first wanted to know what Roe v. Wade specifically allowed for. The case concerned a woman who was raped and became pregnant as a result of the rape. By the time the US Supreme Court decided the case, the woman had given birth to the child, so the case was moot. Generally, the Supreme Court does not decide cases that are moot, however, the Court stated that this particular case was “capable or repetition yet evading review” so it decided to hear the case. What the court decided was that a woman had the right to have an abortion from the point of conception to the point of viability. This meant, as long as the fetus couldn’t survive outside the womb, the mother has the right to an abortion. Because the Supreme Court justices were not doctors, they arbitrarily came up with 28 weeks for the time of viability. This is roughly 7 months. So, a woman could have an abortion within the first 7 months of pregnancy according to the nation’s highest Court. Because the Supreme Court is not a law making entity, it could only give parameters as for the time, but it could not make a rule concerning illegality. Thus, while it was acceptable for a woman to have an abortion at 7 months, it wasn’t necessarily illegal to have an abortion after 7 months. Not until, Congress passed the “Partial-Birth” abortion ban. While the law of Roe v. Wade has been challenged several times, the Supreme Court has been reluctant to change the precedent set some 36 years ago.

So where is the black community on this issue? What is the proper measure for judging the black community’s stance on such a controversial topic? If voting patterns are the measure, the evidence would suggest that blacks are overwhelmingly supportive of abortion. Blacks generally support democratic candidates and the democratic platform usually supports that right of the woman to seek an abortion. However, the Prop. 8 issue in California has taught us that we cannot look strictly at voting records alone (Blacks in California overwhelmingly voted for a ban on same-sex marriage while overwhelmingly voting for the democratic presidential candidate). Is the media the proper measuring stick for the black response to abortion? Pro-Life rallies are organized all across the nation and usually what makes the news are the white advocates for the ending of abortion. In fact, the media rarely uses a black face to promote the pro-life cause. This does not mean that black people do not attend these events. In fact, in the pro-life rally on Capitol Hill in the summer of 2008, several black leaders were present. Notable attendees were Alveda King, niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Jesse Lee Petersen, a prominent black pastor in the Los Angeles area. Noticeably absent were CNN, Fox and ABC news.

And what of the new president? His voting record prior to taking office strongly suggests that he is extremely liberal on the issue of abortion. While still a supporter of the woman’s right to choose, Obama was recently quoted as saying, “Our aim has to be reducing the number of women who are seeking abortions.”

While it is good that we have been given our constitutional right to privacy, the black community has to become aware of the history of the abortion movement. The locations of the Planned Parenthood clinics are also indicators of the continued efforts of the “Negro Project” to have a lasting effect on the black community.

The solution to such a problem is not easy. It is an easy notion to simply say stop having abortions, but the fact is that most young women seeking abortions do not have the financial means to raise a child which is why they are seeking abortions. The follow-up to this argument would naturally be, “just put the baby up for adoption, but don’t kill it.” Again, an easy sentiment until you look at the statistics and discover that kids are not being adopted at a high rate. The adoption rate significantly declines for black kids. So what do we do? My mother was a child of the 60s and one of her biggest complaints about the state of black America today versus what is was like when she grew up is the lack of the sense of community. She always says that back in the 60s, the whole neighborhood would raise the kid. Today, there seems to be a lack of this type of community “raising” of children. Whatever the solution, the black community needs to discover it. According to the last decade of statistical data, blacks are the only people in the earth who are decreasing at an increasing rate.

Legal Disclaimer: This site provides information about the law designed to keep readers informed of pertinent legal matters affecting the African-American community. But legal information is not the same as legal advice -- the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer in your specific location if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mike Tyson’s Daughter and Child Life Insurance: Dr Boyce Money

The death of Exodus Tyson
, daughter of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, brings immediate tears to the eyes. As a single father of three daughters, my heart becomes heavy at the thought of losing any of my precious little girls. I also fear what might happen if I were to suddenly pass on myself. While the pain of death is severe and complicated, there is always a lesson to be learned from the experiences of others.

In this case, there is the serious and gut-wrenching task of planning for the possibility that you may have to bury your child. In the black community, such issues are compounded by the alarming death rates of black teens in the inner city, higher infant mortality rates and reduced access to health care for African Americans. In light of our unique experiences and circumstances, we must be careful and intelligent in our financial planning.

How do you plan for your child's death? Is life insurance even necessary? Let's break it down and figure it out together.

Full Coverage >>

Legal News: Sotomayor’s Controversial Comments

Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, is catching heat for seeming to imply that judges are supposed to make the law.  Click the image to listen to her words.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Your Black News: False abduction Case ends in Disneyland

Woman, 9-Year-Old Girl Flew From Philadelphia to Orlando, Visited Disney World, Cops Say

The frantic search for Bonnie Sweeten and her 9-year-old daughter - which began after she called 911 Tuesday to report that they had been kidnapped in Bucks County - ended yesterday at Walt Disney World.

Sweeten, 38, and daughter Julia Rakoczy were taken into custody at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa about 8:40 p.m., the FBI said. Sweeten was being held by authorities in Orange County, Fla., and her daughter was safe.

Sweeten will be extradited to Bucks County, where she faces charges of making a false report and identity theft, both misdemeanors. The investigation is continuing into possible theft charges, said Bucks County District Attorney Michelle Henry.

Julia Rakoczy's biological father, Anthony Rakoczy, of Feasterville, will go to Florida today to pick her up, Henry said.

Over the last week, Sweeten withdrew $12,000 from several bank accounts and used a coworker's driver's license to travel, Henry said.

Click to read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Obama Nominee Haunted by Race Case

A reverse discrimination lawsuit filed by a group of Connecticut firefighters is shaping up to be the most contentious case in whichSonia Sotomayor participated, one sure to provoke sharp questioning when the Senate begins consideration of her nomination to theSupreme Court.

In 2008, Sotomayor was one of three judges on a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit who upheld a trial court's ruling rejecting the reverse discrimination claims by 19 white firefighters, one of whom was also Hispanic. The plaintiffs claimed that the city of New Haven violated their rights by throwing out the results of an officers' promotion exam in which minority candidates received disproportionately low scores.

The substance of that 2008 ruling, which the Supreme Court is now considering, is proving less problematic than the manner in which Sotomayor and the other two judges on her panel handled the case.

At first, they issued only a brief, unsigned summary order noting the trial court's "thorough, thoughtful, and well-reasoned opinion" rather than offering a full opinion of their own. Four months later, as the full circuit court was about to issue a ruling on whether to take up the case, they withdrew the unpublished order and issued an equally brief unsigned opinion.


Click to read.

Your Black News: Obama’s Appointee Has Businesses Scrambling


Business advocates started scrambling on Tuesday to figure out whether Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor would be good or bad for companies.

But one thing was clear: If confirmed, she will be able to make her mark on business issues quickly, because a handful of key cases are already on the docket.

Companies and legal experts are scouring Sotomayor's past opinions to glean clues about how she could rule on business issues.

The Supreme Court has already agreed to consider several high-profile cases in the new term, which starts Oct. 5.

"The stakes are incredibly high with respect to business issues," said Elizabeth Nowicki, an associate professor who teaches business law at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Among the issues are questions about corporate governance and securities fraud, Nowicki said.

In fact, the high court added a new one to the roster on Tuesday. The justices agreed to consider a case involving Merck & Co. (MRK, Fortune 500) that addresses how long investors can wait before making a securities fraud claim.


Click to read.

Black News: CBO Says that NCAA’s Money Should be Taxed

Between 60 and 80 percent of athletic departments' revenue in Division IA of the National Collegiate Athletic Association comes from "activities that can be described as commercial," according to a studyissued Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office.

While athletic officials have long tried to describe their activities as fundamentally similar to the rest of their institutions, the Congressional report suggests otherwise. It finds that the proportion of commercial revenue is seven to eight times that for the rest of the institutions' activities. As a result, athletics programs may have "crossed the line from educational to commercial endeavors," the Congressional review found. (Outside of the NCAA's top division, it found significant, but much reduced commercial revenue -- 20 to 30 percent in the rest of Division I).

Some critics of big-time college athletics have hoped that this study would prompt challenges to the tax-exempt status enjoyed by college athletics, but the report suggests otherwise.

"Removing the major tax preferences currently available to university athletic departments would be unlikely to significantly alter the nature of those programs or garner much tax revenue even if the sports programs were classified, for tax purposes, as engaging in unrelated commercial activity," the report says. "As long as athletic departments remained a part of the larger nonprofit or public university, schools would have considerable opportunity to shift revenue, costs, or both between their taxed and untaxed sectors, rendering efforts to tax that unrelated income largely ineffective. Changing the tax treatment of income from certain sources, such as corporate sponsorships or royalties from sales of branded merchandise, would be more likely to affect only the most commercial teams; it would also create less opportunity for shifting revenue or costs."

Click to read.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California high court upholds gay marriage ban

May 26 01:14 PM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday, but it also decided that the estimated 18,000 gay couples who tied the knot before the law took effect will stay wed.

Demonstrators outside the court yelled "shame on you!"

The 6-1 decision written by Chief Justice Ron George rejected an argument by gay rights activists that the ban revised the California Constitution's equal protection clause to such a dramatic degree that it first needed the Legislature's approval.

The court said the Californians have a right, through the ballot box, to change their constitution.

"In a sense, petitioners' and the attorney general's complaint is that it is just too easy to amend the California Constitution through the initiative process. But it is not a proper function of this court to curtail that process; we are constitutionally bound to uphold it," the ruling said.

The justices said the 136-page majority ruling does not speak to whether they agree with Proposition 8 or "believe it should be a part of the California Constitution."

They said they were "limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values."

The announcement of the decision set off an outcry among a sea of demonstrators who had gathered in front of the San Francisco courthouse awaiting the ruling. Holding signs and many waving rainbow flags, they yelled "shame on you." Many people also held hands in a chain around an intersection in an act of protest.

Gay rights activists immediately promised to resume their fight, saying they would go back to voters as early as next year in a bid to repeal Proposition 8.

The split decision provided some relief for the 18,000 gay couples who married in the brief time same-sex marriage was legal last year but that wasn't enough to dull the anger over the ruling that banned gay marriage.

"It's not about whether we get to stay married. Our fight is far from over," said Jeannie Rizzo, 62, who was one of the lead plaintiffs along with her wife, Polly Cooper. "I have about 20 years left on this earth, and I'm going to continue to fight for equality every day."

Also in the crowd gathered at City Hall, near the courthouse, were Sharon Papo, 30, and Amber Weiss, 32, who were married on the first day gay marriage was legal last year, June 17.

"We're relieved our marriage was not invalidated, but this is a hollow victory because there are so many that are not allowed to marry those they love," Weiss said.

"I feel very uncomfortable being in a special class of citizens," Papo said.

To read more, follow the link below:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Milwaukee Police Under Fire for Unsolved Investigation of Serial Killings of Prostitutes

Associated Press (via Fox

MILWAUKEE — Within a 3-square-mile area of Milwaukee's north side an unknown man strangled six women police say were prostitutes between 1986 and 2007. But it wasn't until this past week that the city's top cop said recent DNA tests had linked the killings.

Some people in the community, including the women's' families, wonder why it took police so long to discover the DNA link and announce it, and whether some officers' biases against the victims' lifestyles and race kept them from focusing their attention on the crimes.

"Crack whores," is how some officers in past decades referred to prostitutes, said LaVerne McCoy, who retired as a sergeant in January after 25 years in the Milwaukee Police Department.

"They are forgetting that crimes are being committed and this person is continuing to do this because of our attitudes about the victim and that's what our priorities should be: Get this murdering criminal off the street," McCoy said.

Suspicions of a serial killer had swirled for years. A 1997 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article said then-Chief Arthur Jones assigned officers to investigate strangulations of women on the north side after Joyce Mims was found dead in a vacant house.

Last Monday, Police Chief Ed Flynn said DNA tests in the past couple of weeks had linked her death and at least five others to the same unknown man. He said the same person had sex with a 16-year-old runaway whose throat was slashed, but that someone else likely killed her.

To read more, follow link below:,2933,521477,00.html

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Black clergy opposing gay marriage resent civil rights comparision

Black clergy who oppose same-sex unions take issue when the fight for legalization is compared to the civil rights movement

By Jay Tokasz

Black clergy have long opposed the march toward legal same-sex marriages. Now, they’re also challenging the growing efforts of gay-marriage supporters to frame the issue as a civil rights cause.

The Rev. William Gillison, pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church, a large African-American congregation on East Delevan Avenue, said he is insulted by the comparison.

“We know what we have gone through as an ethnic group. We feel the terminology, the definition itself, has really been hijacked,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s just another ploy to garner more support from people who may not understand what the civil rights struggle was all about.”

Bishop Michael A. Badger, pastor of Bethesda World Harvest International Church on Main Street, said that he doesn’t doubt there is discrimination against gay people but that it is hardly on the order of what African-Americans have encountered and still face.

“As an African-American, I don’t have a choice in the color of my skin. I have a choice in whether I’m abstinent or not,” Badger said. “I don’t think you can compare the two.”

Pastor Jeffery Bowens, who leads Love Alive Christian Fellowship on Genesee Street, also disagrees with the comparison.

“It doesn’t add up to me,” Bowens said. “It’s really attempting to get empathy more than anything else.”

In April, Gov. David A. Paterson, who is black, compared the fight to eliminate slavery in the 1800s to the current effort to legalize gay marriage. He later chided religious leaders for not having spoken out against discrimination of gays.

Most black pastors, here and elsewhere, remain overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds and objected to Paterson’s characterizations.

To read more, follow link below:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

NY Times Needs to Learn A Few Things about Measuring Racial Equality

metzlerBy Dr. Christopher J. Metzler

A recent New York Times/CBS poll concluded that race relations are improving in the wake of the election of President Obama. According to the survey, about 66 percent of Americans said that race relations are generally good compared with 53 percent in July of last year. Fifty-nine percent of African-Americans – along with 65 percent of whites – now characterize the relationship between Blacks and Whites in America as ‘good,’ The New York Times proclaimed with glee, “Barack Obama’s presidency seems to be altering the public perception of race relations in the United States.” The Huffington Post also chimed in claiming that “Obama’s race relations effect is real.”

It seems that the single event of the election of President Obama has erased America’s racial transgressions in one fell swoop and has improved the relationship between Blacks and Whites overnight. The problem, however, is not relations between Blacks and Whites; there is no evidence yet that the election of President Obama has had more than a symbolic (but important) effect on America’s still unresolved and conflicted relationship with race.

Obama’s election has not changed the fact that in this economic downturn, Black unemployment is at approximately 15 percent while White unemployment is at approximately eight percent. Since his election, racial profiling has not stopped, the educational achievement gap between Blacks and Whites has not narrowed. In addition, the President did not attend, nor did he send a delegation to the World Racism conference in Geneva. Thus, it can be argued that Obama’s election has had nothing but a symbolic effect on race. The difficulty with this argument is that it suffers from the same flaw in logic that is inherent in the New York Times/CBS News poll.

First, the question in the poll was about race relations. That is, the interpersonal relationship between Blacks and Whites. But, the issue is not race relations, it is whether the President will use his bully pulpit to eradicate the substantive racial inequalities that afflict Blacks in America. Much like he will use it to bring peace to the Middle East.

Click to read more on our Black Scholars Blog.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Prosecutor’s Actions Rock Morehouse College

Joshua Brandon Norris is expected to graduate soon and become a Morehouse Man, with all its prestige. At 22, he’s had a good run during his time at Morehouse College. He drove a Hummer, co-owned a fashion store at Perimeter Mall and owns a stylish $450,000 townhouse.

He also shot another student.

Across the country, Frank Rashad Johnson, the victim, attends Sacramento City College and lives with his mother, trying to save money. He, too, wanted to be a Morehouse Man.

“My great-uncle was a classmate of Martin Luther King’s,” Johnson said. “It has a long history of exemplary students and good men. It was my dream school.”

But all that fell apart when he was shot three times outside a school-related Halloween party near Atlantic Station in 2007. Police reports say Norris was kicked out of a nightclub, had words with Johnson after bumping into him outside, then shot the fellow Morehouse student during a struggle in the street.

Completing a Morehouse degree is vital to Norris. Fulton County Judge Marvin Arrington ordered him to do so after he pleaded no contest to a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The deal calls for six years of probation and comes with first-offender status —- meaning Norris’ record will be wiped clean if he stays out of trouble.

“You’re getting the break of your life,” Arrington said during the Jan. 27 hearing.

The arrangement constitutes a bizarre twist of fate for Johnson.



Click to read.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Black Legal News: The NCAA Finally Gets Sued

Electronic Arts Inc. and the National Collegiate Athletic Association were sued by a former college football player who claims athletes’ images are used in video games without their permission and in violation of NCAA rules.

Electronic Arts, the second-largest video-game publisher, circumvents the rules by allowing customers to upload player names directly into games and creating images that closely resemble student athletes to increase sales and NCCA royalties, according to the complaint filed by Sam Keller, a former quarterback for Arizona State University.

The practice is sanctioned by the NCAA and a licensing company for the association, Keller said in his complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Oakland, California. Keller seeks to represent all NCCA football and basketball players featured in Electronic Arts’ NCAA video games.

“Electronic Arts is not permitted to use player names and likeness,” Keller said. Yet the company “with the knowledge, participation and approval of the NCAA and Collegiate Licensing Co. extensively utilizes actual player names and likeness.”


Click to read.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kenyan Man Sues Over Lack of Sex

A Kenyan man has sued activists who called on women to boycott sex to protest the growing divide in the nation's coalition government.

James Kimondo said the seven-day sex ban, which ended this week, resulted in stress, mental anguish, backaches and lack of sleep, his lawyer told the state-run Kenya Broadcasting Corp.

The lawsuit filed Friday claims lack of conjugal rights affected Kimondo's marriage and seeks undisclosed damages from the G-10, an umbrella group for women's activists, KBC said.

The women's caucus caused a national debate when it urged women to withhold sex to protest increasingly frosty relations between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Citizens of the east African nation are frustrated by a shaky coalition government, which was formed after post-election violence killed more than 1,000 people in 2008. The wrangling between Kibaki and Odinga has sparked fears of more violence.

Gender activists say they are not worried about the lawsuit.


Click to read.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dr. Christopher Metzler: Why Not Appoint a Liberal Justice?

Dr. Christopher Metzler

2009 seems to be the year that the American electorate is turning left of center.

Evidence of this include the election of President Obama, the election of a Democratic controlled Congress, the Supreme Court of Iowa sanctioned same sex marriage, Vermont allows same sex marriage and several other states are soon to follow. Is this left of center shift better for the country than the right of center shift? To be sure, the shift is attributed to the disappearance of the liberal wing of the Republican Party and the disappearance of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party. Is there a need to balance this shift?

Justice Roberts and President ObamaNoticeably absent from the left of center direction is the Supreme Court of the United States. On the issue of race, the Roberts Court seem poised to adopt the legal and amorphous fiction of a "color blind" America. For example, on school desegregation the Court limited the ability of school boards to implement voluntary school desegregation plans, raised significant legal and procedural hurdles for plaintiffs bringing discrimination law suits. On the Court's docket are three cases with racial implications Ricci (Affirmative Action), Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Mukasey (Voting Rights), and Padilla v. Kentucky (Immigration and the right to counsel).

Addressing the right of center approach to jurisprudence, the first bill signed by President Obama was the Lily Ledbetter Act which sought to correct the doctrinal and ideological shift of the Roberts Court on pay discrimination in particular. The new law amends Title VII, by providing, "unlawful employment practice occurs, with respect to discrimination in compensation in violation of this title, when a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice is adopted, when an individual becomes subject to a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, or when an individual is affected by application of a discriminatory compensation decision or other practice, including each time wages, benefits, or other compensation is paid, resulting in whole or in part from such a decision or other practice."

The Ledbetter Act is a clear rebuke of the right leaning ideological shift of the court. Of course, a President cannot govern by gaining the political muscle to overturn decisions of the United States Supreme Court. Thus, he uses his appointments to the ostensibly independent judiciary to further his political agenda. Obama will not be the first President to do so. In fact, the right of center ideological shift is due to both Presidents Bush.

Despite the claim that Presidents appoint Supreme Court justices based on Qualifications and not on ideology, the ideological and political tilt of the Roberts Court and courts before it reflects the ideology of the appointing President (with the exception of Justice Souter). So fittingly, with Justice Souter resigning and President Obama set to name his replacement, what factors will the President consider?

As a candidate for President, Obama said, "I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind, and a record of excellence and integrity," he said. "I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, whether they can make a living, and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with peoples hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes."

Thus, by his own admission the President seems poised to select someone who is left of center and thus solidify the ideological left of center and right of center divide that infects the judiciary. To be sure, his appointment will not change the constitution of the court since Souter is left of center. This however, is not the question. The question is where a President promises "change that we can believe in", does that change include not changing the ideological shift of the Supreme Court of the United States? If it does, were Americans voting for change in the politics of ideology or were Americans voting for change in party? If Americans were voting for a change in party and not ideology, then the President would have a difficult time appointing a white man or one who many in the left of center bloc would argue "thinks like a white man" to the Supreme Court of the United States. Just like race was a factor in the Bush 41 decision to appoint Justice Thomas to the Court, so too will race, gender, and age be a factor in Obama's decision. A major consideration for the President is going to be appointing a young judge who can shape the ideological intestines of the Court interminably.

Also by him own ingress, the President will select someone who understands the reality of everyday Americans. This unshrouds the President's view of altering the landscape of the Court by appointing justices now and in the course of his Presidency who are unlike the current Supreme Court where all of the Justices have come from the Federal Courts of Appeal. The model of course will not be aboriginal. The Court that decided Brown v. Board,(the law declaring separate is unequal) Gideon v. Wainright (the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution required that indigent non- capital criminal defendants be provided with counsel), Miranda v. Arizona (Miranda rights), and Loving V. Virginia (which allowed inter-racial marriage) was comprised of those who "combined empathy and understanding" in its judicial decisions.

Of course, it is not the kind of "empathy and understanding that the Roberts Court have shown on the issue of race. It has chosen, instead to employ the juridical framework of formal equality and the aspirational, controversial rhetorical of a "color-blind America." Let's be clear. The nomination of a Supreme Court justice is among the single most political decision that a President will make. Thus, advocacy groups on all sides of the issue will pressure the President to alter the judicial landscape in their favor.

Responding to the vitriolic attack on Senator Leahy by advocacy groups who supported current Chief Justice Robert's confirmation, then Senator Obama said, "These groups on the right and left should not resort to the sort of broad-brush dogmatic attacks that have hampered the process in the past and constrained each and every senator in this chamber from making sure that they are voting on the basis of their conscience." But, elections matter and the question is how will the President's conscience blend with the politics of race, age and gender as well as ideology?

Dr. Christopher J. Metzler is associate dean at Georgetown University and the author of The Construction and Rearticulation of Race in a Post-Racial America.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Nevada Charges ACORN Illegally Paid to Sign Voters

May 4 05:56 PM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada authorities filed criminal charges Monday against the political advocacy group ACORN and two former employees, alleging they illegally paid canvassers to sign up new voters during last year's presidential campaign.

ACORN denied the charges and said it would defend itself in court.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now had a handbook and policies requiring employees in Las Vegas to sign up 20 new voters per day to keep their $8- to $9-per-hour jobs.

Canvassers who turned in 21 new voter registrations earned a "blackjack" bonus of $5 per shift, Masto added. Those who didn't meet the minimum were fired.

"By structuring employment and compensation around a quota system, ACORN facilitated voter registration fraud," Masto said. She accused ACORN executives of hiding behind and blaming employees, and vowed to hold the national nonprofit corporation accountable for training manuals that she said "clearly detail, condone and ... require illegal acts."

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller emphasized the case involved "registration fraud, not voter fraud," and insisted that no voters in Nevada were paid for votes and no unqualified voters were allowed to cast ballots.

Law enforcement agencies in about a dozen states investigated fake voter registration cards submitted by ACORN during the 2008 presidential election campaign, but Nevada is the first to bring charges against the organization, ACORN officials said.

To read more, follow link below:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Worries Rise on the Size of U.S. Debt


Published: May 3, 2009

The nation’s debt clock is ticking faster than ever — and Wall Street is getting worried.
As the Obama administration racks up an unprecedented spending bill for bank bailouts, Detroit rescues, health care overhauls and stimulus plans, the bond market is starting to push up the cost of trillions of dollars in borrowing for the government.

Last week, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose to its highest level since November, briefly touching 3.17 percent, a sign that investors are demanding larger returns on the masses of United States debt being issued to finance an economic recovery.

While that is still low by historical standards — it averaged about 5.7 percent in the late 1990s, as deficits turned to surpluses under President Bill Clinton — investors are starting to wonder whether the United States is headed for a new era of rising market interest rates as the government borrows, borrows and borrows some more.

Already, in the first six months of this fiscal year, the federal deficit is running at $956.8 billion, or nearly one seventh of gross domestic product — levels not seen since World War II, according to Wrightson ICAP, a research firm.

Debt held by the public is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to rise from 41 percent of gross domestic product in 2008 to 51 percent in 2009 and to a peak of around 54 percent in 2011 before declining again in the following years. For all of 2009, the administration probably needs to borrow about $2 trillion.

The rising tab has prompted warnings from the Treasury that the Congressionally mandated debt ceiling of $12.1 trillion will most likely be breached in the second half of this year.

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Obama says Financial Sector to Shrink

"How is this going to grow the U.S. Economy to give people jobs?" Syreeta L. McNeal, CPA, JD

On Saturday May 2, 2009, 6:28 pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The financial sector will make up a smaller part of the U.S. economy in the future as new regulations clamp down on "massive risk-taking," President Barack Obama said in an interview published on Saturday.

Obama, whose young administration has spearheaded a raft of reforms in the banking sector as part of efforts to tackle the financial crisis, said the industry's role in the United States would look different at the end of the current recession.

"What I think will change, what I think was an aberration, was a situation where corporate profits in the financial sector were such a heavy part of our overall profitability over the last decade," he said told the New York Times Magazine.

"Part of that has to do with the effects of regulation that will inhibit some of the massive leveraging and the massive risk-taking that had become so common."

Obama said some of the job-seekers who may normally have gone to the financial sector would shift to other areas of the economy, such as engineering.

"Wall Street will remain a big, important part of our economy, just as it was in the '70s and the '80s. It just won't be half of our economy," he said.

"We don't want every single college grad with mathematical aptitude to become a derivatives trader."

The Obama administration in March proposed sweeping reforms to curb risk-taking on Wall Street and close regulatory gaps to prevent the kind of excesses that led to the worst financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression.

The president said in the interview that better regulation would help restore confidence in the U.S. financial system.

"A more vigorous regulatory regime, I think, will help restore confidence, and you're still going to see a lot of global capital wanting to park itself in the United States," he said.

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Black Legal News: How to Fix the Crack Sentencing Laws

After more than two decades of disproportionately harsh federal crack cocaine sentences, it seems the political stars finally may be aligned to correct this glaring disparity in the nation's sentencing laws. We hope Congress will move expeditiously on the matter.

Last week, a senior Justice Department official urged lawmakers to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for sale and and possession of crack cocaine to mirror those for powder cocaine.

Back in the 1980s, when crack cocaine was a scary new drug, concerned lawmakers passed harsh mandatory minimum penalties for crack.

The sentences were far more stringent than those for powder cocaine, which is the same drug in a different form.


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Friday, May 1, 2009

Supreme Court Justice Souter To Retire, April 30, 2009 · Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the current court term.

The vacancy will give President Obama his first chance to name a member of the high court and begin to shape its future direction.

At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court. In fact, he is in the younger half of the court's age range, with five justices older and just three younger. So far as anyone knows, he is in good health. But he has made clear to friends for some time that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and return to his native New Hampshire. Now, according to reliable sources, he has decided to take the plunge and has informed the White House of his decision.

Factors in his decision no doubt include the election of President Obama, who would be more likely to appoint a successor attuned to the principles Souter has followed as a moderate-to-liberal member of the court's more liberal bloc over the past two decades.

In addition, Souter was apparently satisfied that neither the court's oldest member, 89-year-old John Paul Stevens, nor its lone woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery over the winter, wanted to retire at the end of this term. Not wanting to cause a second vacancy, Souter apparently had waited to learn his colleagues' plans before deciding his own.

Given his first appointment to the high court, most observers expect Obama will appoint a woman, since the court currently has only one female justice and Obama was elected with strong support from women. But an Obama pick would be unlikely to change the ideological makeup of the court.

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