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Civil Rights / Liberties


Kansas May Abolish State Murders

Congratulations to the NCADP's Kansas Affiliate, the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, where this morning SB 375, "Abolishing the death penalty; creating the crime of aggravated murder," passed in the Senate Judiciary Committee with a bi-partisan vote of 7 to 4. The bill now moves to the Senate floor, where a vote is expected to take place within the next few weeks. Links to more information are below, but first:

TAKE ACTION #1: Who do you know in Kansas?

Seven Suspended Over University Initiation Torture

Seven suspended over uni initiation torture | News.com.AU

AN American university suspended a campus sorority after six of its members allegedly tortured at least seven girls who wanted to join the social club over an eight day period, WPIX reported

Seven alleged victims came forward saying they were beaten and starved at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

One victim, who asked to remain anonymous, told newspaper The Star-Ledger she endured seven nights of beatings and was struck 201 times between January 18 and 25.

The young pledge said she was told the beatings would "humble" her, that each flesh-rending strike with a wooden paddle would build love and trust between sorority sisters.

She was taken to hospital with blood clots and welts on her buttocks after she was unable to sit on the eighth day of punishment, she said. Read more.

Gone a Week and You Trash the Country

By David Swanson

Wow, I was gone less than a week to the Conch Republic, and now return to a nation in which I would heartily recommend to any city, county, or state that it follow the example of the Florida Keys and secede from the so-called union.

A Supreme Act Of Judicial Treason Against The People Of The United States, And What We Can And Must Do About It

A Supreme Act Of Judicial Treason Against The People Of The United States, And What We Can And Must Do About It
"The Pen"

Because of the gravity of the crime against the Constitution committed by a gang of 5 right wing judicial outlaws on our Supreme Court, we are launching two critical action pages at once:

By any fair legal definition, the decision yesterday by The Supreme Court 5 constitutes nothing less than an act of TREASON against the people of the United States. Having read and analyzed the entire 183 page decision and all of its concurring and dissenting opinions ourselves, we are fully prepared to support this accusatory conclusion.

Having so grossly abused its jurisdiction by presuming to decide a question expressly WAIVED by the petitioner in the Court below (p 12), this rogue Supreme Court ruled for the FIRST time that NO corporation can be constrained from unlimited influence over our elections. And even assuming that the Court intended the decision to only apply to American corporations, the Court expressly DECLINED (pp 46-47) to reach the question of whether foreign ownership stakes in American corporations should likewise be given carte blanche to put their thumbs on the scales of our democracy.

Thus, until Congress FURTHER acts (and it must, though it could not have escaped the attention of The Supreme Court 5 that the current Republican minority has vowed to obstruct ANYTHING of consequence that Congress might try to pass), there is now nothing to constrain foreign nationals, even our most sworn enemies, from usurping what even the most die hard Tea Bagger takes as an article of faith, that the rights of citizenship of this country are ONLY for Americans. This must be construed, within the four corners of our Constitution, as deliberately and knowingly exposing the United States of America to harm in the interim, by giving "aid and comfort" to our enemies (Constitution Article 3, section 3), should our enemies now wish to take advantage of this unprecedented and rash decision. In simple Constitutional terms . . . treason!!

Why not the vote?

U.S. Mulls Legality of Killing American al Qaeda "Turncoat"

U.S. Mulls Legality of Killing American al Qaeda "Turncoat"
Opportunities to "Take Out" Radical Cleric Anwar Awlaki In Yemen "May Have Been Missed"
By Matthew Cole, Richard Esposito and Brian Ross | ABC News | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

According to the people who were briefed on the issue, American officials fear the possibility of criminal prosecution without approval in advance from the White House for a targeted strike against Awlaki.

White House lawyers are mulling the legality of proposed attempts to kill an American citizen, Anwar al Awlaki, who is believed to be part of the leadership of the al Qaeda group in Yemen behind a series of terror strikes, according to two people briefed by U.S. intelligence officials.

One of the people briefed said opportunities to "take out" Awlaki "may have been missed" because of the legal questions surrounding a lethal attack which would specifically target an American citizen.

A spokesperson said the White House declined to comment.

While Awlaki has not been charged with any crimes under U.S. law, intelligence officials say recent intelligence reports and electronic intercepts show he played an important role in recruiting the accused "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Awlaki also carried on extensive e-mail communication with the accused Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, prior to the attack that killed 12 soldiers and one civilian. Read more.

Legal Defense Fund: Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United Case “Inevitable”

Legal Defense Fund: Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United Case “Inevitable” | Press Release | CELDF
Continues Long History of Expansion of Corporate Rights over the Rights of People, Communities, and Nature

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is the only public interest law firm in the U.S. that has worked with municipalities to question whether corporate “rights” can coexist with the democratic rights of communities to local self-government.

Those communities have recognized that corporate rights and privileges are routinely wielded to override democratic decision making and undermine efforts to protect the environment and public health, local economies and local agriculture. Through the adoption of local, binding laws, these communities are pioneering a new structure of law which does not recognize the rights and privileges of corporations.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Decision

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission – giving corporations the ability to spend money directly to influence federal elections under the Constitution’s First Amendment – was inevitable. It represents a logical expansion of corporate constitutional “rights” – which include the rights of persons which have been judicially conferred upon corporations. “Personhood” rights mean that corporations possess First Amendment rights to free speech, along with a litany of other rights that are secured to persons under the federal Bill of Rights.

The expansion of corporate rights and privileges under the law has been deliberate, beginning nearly two hundred years ago with the Dartmouth decision in which the Supreme Court ruled that private corporations have rights that municipal corporations – governments composed of “we the people” – did not.

The expansion of these rights and privileges occurred during the 1800s, throughout the 1900s, until today. For those who think that the way to stem this tide is to find the perfect lawsuit, we say, stop looking. It doesn’t exist, for there is no magic bullet.

Rather, in order to reverse decisions like Citizens United, the whole concept of corporate “rights” must be examined, and how corporations possessing “rights” interferes with the exercise of rights by people, communities, and nature. And, it’s not simply that corporations have “personhood” rights. It goes well beyond that.

Answer to the Court: the American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010

Answer to the Court: the American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010
By Brent Budowsky

The elected President and Congress should answer the unelected Supreme Court with by passing what I call the American Elections for Americans Only Act of 2010. According to the recent Gallup poll following the Court decision, 76% of voters believe that elected officials should regulate American corporate political spending. I believe my proposal would garner support from more than 90% of our voters who are tired of outsourcing our jobs, our finance, and our strength in the world and are outraged at the prospect of outsourcing the buying of our democracy and our nation.

In my proposal Congress would prohibit the kind of spending prohibited by McCain-Feingold by any public company, private company, or corporate entity that receives foreign finance or investment. I do not believe the Supreme Court would find this law unconstitutional, but if it did, there should be a constitutional amendment that would overwhelmingly pass because the American people will demand that American elections be for Americans only.

Let’s use the example of major Wall Street firms and banking institutions that would be banned under my proposal from making enormous independent and unregulated campaign donations because they are heavily influenced by foreign finance that often has interests that are against the interests of the United States.

For example, there are sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East that have major stakes in these firms as investors and major relations with these firms as partners and customers. Today the CEO's and corporate boards of major financial institutions have fiduciary duties to serve the interests of what the law calls foreign owners, and because they are dependent on this foreign finance, they are unduly influenced by these interests that often have interests directly opposed to American interests.

Do we want foreign investors who oppose the state of Israel, or covertly support Osama Bin Laden, to influence the spending of many millions of dollars to buy American elections?

Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County Launches Move to Amend The Constitution

Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County Launches Move to Amend The Constitution
By Michael Bonanno | Op Ed News

Interview with David Cobb Helps to Explain Move

In 2006, Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County in Northern California wrote the first draft of legislation designed to ban non-local corporations' involvement in local elections. The target of the involvement was financial contributions. In a historic vote, the residents of Humboldt County passed the measure.

DUHC then became an educational organization. It has created programs and facilitated workshops intended to help other localities free themselves of corporate interference of local elections.

Yesterday, The Supreme Court dealt a major blow to the efforts and accomplishments of DUHC.

Once the Supreme Court's decision to give unlimited campaign contribution rights to corporations became official, DUHC launched a move to amend the Constitution to negate the court's decision.

DUHC released the following statement after the decision was announced:

Yet again the U.S. Supreme Court has sided with the ruling elite against the interests of the American people. Today in Citizens United vs. FEC they overturned the flimsy federal campaign finance reform laws afforded by the McCain-Feingold law. Corporations can now spend unlimited money in buying our elections. The Court has legalized corporate bribery of our elected officials.

So if you were already disgusted by the fact that over $5 billion dollars was spent in the 2008 election, watch out. Because the floodgates are now wide open! Read more.

Personal Corporatehood: Coping With the Reason Divided of Citizens United

Personal Corporatehood: Coping With the Reason Divided of Citizens United
by Randall Amster | Common Dreams

There's great consternation brewing over the recent Supreme Court decision that cements and extends the misbegotten logic of "corporate personhood," and rightly so. Surely one of the most farcical and tortuous doctrines ever established in our system of jurisprudence, this conflated concept has drawn the ire of (small-d) democrats at least as far back as Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in 1816: "I hope we shall ... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Ethics and politics aside, as a matter of law this extension of power and rights to corporations is woven into the very definitional fabric of our federal legal code: "In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, unless the context indicates otherwise ... the words 'person' and 'whoever' include corporations, companies, associations, firms, partnerships, societies, and joint stock companies, as well as individuals...." Still, the notion of "corporate personhood" remains something of a misnomer. In our system, as now expanded by the Supreme Court, corporations actually enjoy more rights than individuals do in many ways. To wit: liability shields, rights of transfer, political access and influence, subsidies, laissez-faire regulation, freedom of movement, self-determination, self-governance, tax breaks, etc. In particular when it comes to political speech, corporations are now essentially unfettered in their freedom, something that us mere mortals have yet to fully secure. Consider the language of the Court's recent ruling: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."

Does anyone else see the ray of hope in this line of reasoning? Apparently, the government can no longer arrest protestors during political demonstrations, if we are to take this literally as a matter of "strict construction." First Amendment advocates have long sought such a validation, yet somehow it took a corporation claiming their speech was impinged to finally motivate the Justices to so rule. Disconcertingly, the Court didn't actually have to address these larger questions, since the facts presented in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission left open myriad avenues of decision that would have been consistent with the longstanding doctrine of "constitutional avoidance." In light of this case, where the Court actively reached for the constitutional questions by calling upon the parties to re-argue and re-brief the issues along broader lines than originally brought forward on appeal, it appears that we in fact do have a Supreme Court headed by those dreaded "activist judges" after all. Read more.

24 States’ Laws Open to Attack After Campaign Finance Ruling

24 States’ Laws Open to Attack After Campaign Finance Ruling
By Ian Urbina | NY Times

In Wisconsin, conservative and pro-business groups said Friday that they were considering a lawsuit to block a proposed law that would ban corporate spending during political campaigns.

In Kentucky and Colorado, lawmakers looked for provisions in their state constitutions that may need to be rewritten. And in Texas, lawyers for Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader, said the pending state campaign finance case against him should be thrown out.

A day after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the federal government may not ban political spending by corporations or unions in candidate elections, officials across the country were rushing to cope with the fallout, as laws in 24 states were directly or indirectly called into question by the ruling.

“One day the Constitution of Colorado is the highest law of the state,” said Robert F. Williams, a law professor at Rutgers University. “The next day it’s wastepaper.”

The states that explicitly prohibit independent expenditures by unions and corporations will be most affected by the ruling. The decision, however, has consequences for all states, since they are now effectively prohibited from adopting restrictions on corporate and union spending on political campaigns. Read more.

In Landmark Campaign Finance Ruling, Supreme Court Removes Limits on Corporate Campaign Spending

In Landmark Campaign Finance Ruling, Supreme Court Removes Limits on Corporate Campaign Spending

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court rules corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money to elect and defeat candidates. One lawmaker describes it as the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case justifying slavery. We speak with constitutional law professor, Jamin Raskin. [includes rush transcript]

Charges Dropped Against Journalist who Photographed Arrest of Protesters


Charges Dropped Against Journalist who Photographed Arrest of Protesters
By Rob Kall | OpEdNews.com

While covering a protest at the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, PA, Cheryl Biren, on assignment for OpEdNews.com, was arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy and failure to disperse while taking photographs of protesters being arrested.

On January 13, 2010, four months after the arrest, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office withdrew all charges. Biren's attorney, Paul Hetnzecker warns, however, of a "very dangerous development involving first amendment rights."

In response to the withdrawal of charges, Hetznecker explained, "Based on my investigation it was clear that she was not in a position that they claimed she was and therefore should not have been arrested. We now have clear evidence of the police overreaching in arresting Cheryl Biren."

Describing the evidence, Hetnzecker pointed out, "In her particular case she was simply there as a reporter as she claimed all along. She was taking photographs of the event in what is clearly displayed on the police video taken at the time. It bears that fact out very clearly that she is there taking photographs and, as any reporter would, gathering information about the event. So, I think once the DA's office reviewed the tapes they also came to the same conclusion and I give them credit for doing so and withdrawing the charges."

Hetznecker added, "Now as to what happens with the rest of my clients as we move forward, we are in the process of reviewing further discovery that has been received and I don't want to further comment about that until I've reviewed it and discussed it with my clients."

Asked to comment on the arrest and media coverage of it, Noam Chomsky, in an interview on my radio show, said, "...it shouldn't be allowed to go on and it is the job of the media and citizen organizations to try to curb such practices."

Grayson: Fight Now Or ‘Kiss Your Country Goodbye’ to Exxon, Wal-Mart

Grayson: Fight now or ‘kiss your country goodbye’ to Exxon, Wal-Mart
By Sahil Kapur | Raw Story

Inaction will create 'Congressman from Wal-Mart'

Responding to the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday to overturn corporate spending limits in federal elections, progressive firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) immediately highlighted a series of moves to "avoid the terrible consequences of the decision."

"If we do nothing then I think you can kiss your country goodbye," Grayson told Raw Story in an interview just hours after the decision was announced.

"You won't have any more senators from Kansas or Oregon, you'll have senators from Cheekies and Exxon. Maybe we'll have to wear corporate logos like Nascar drivers."

Grayson said the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling -- which removes decades of campaign spending limits on corporations -- "opens the floodgates for the purchases and sale of the law." Read more.

Grayson: "Save Our Democracy" - Introduces 5 House Bills to Prevent Corporate Takeover of America

GRAYSON: "SAVE OUR DEMOCRACY" | Press Release

(Washington, DC) – Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-8) has introduced legislation to prevent a corporate takeover of government in America. His “Save Our Democracy” Reform Package (H.R. 4431-4435) aims to stave off the threat of "corpocracy" arising from the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“The Supreme Court in essence has ruled that corporations can buy elections. If that happens, democracy in America is over. We cannot put the law up for sale, and award government to the highest bidder.” Congressman Grayson said.

Here are the bills that Congressman Grayson has introduced, and what they aim to accomplish:

1) The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431): Implements a 500% excise tax on corporate contributions to political committees, and on corporate expenditures on political advocacy campaigns.

Statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock In Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision To Kill Campaign Finance Reform

Statement from Doris “Granny D” Haddock in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to kill campaign finance reform

Ten years ago, I walked from California to Washington, D.C. to help gather support for campaign finance reform. I used the novelty of my age (I was 90), to garner attention to the fact that our democracy, for which so many people have given their lives, is being subverted to the needs of wealthy interests, and that we must do something about it. I talked to thousands of people and gave hundreds of speeches and interviews, and, in every section of the nation, I was deeply moved by how heartsick Americans are by the current state of our politics.

Well, we got some reform bills passed, but things seem worse now than ever. Our good government reform groups are trying to staunch the flow of special-interest money into our political campaigns, but they are mostly whistling in a wind that has become a gale force of corrupting cash. Conditions are so bad that people now assume that nothing useful can pass Congress due to the vote-buying power of powerful financial interests. The health care reform debacle is but the most recent example.

The Supreme Court, representing a radical fringe that does not share the despair of the grand majority of Americans, has today made things considerably worse by undoing the modest reforms I walked for and went to jail for, and that tens of thousands of other Americans fought very hard to see enacted. So now, thanks to this Court, corporations can fund their candidates without limits and they can run mudslinging campaigns against everyone else, right up to and including election day.

The Supreme Court now opens the floodgates to usher in a new tsunami of corporate money into politics. If we are to retain our democracy, we must go a new direction until a more reasonable Supreme Court is in place. I would propose a one-two punch of the following nature:

FBI 'Fabricated Terror Emergencies To Get Phone Records'

FBI 'fabricated terror emergencies to get phone records'
Justice department to accuse FBI of invoking crises to obtain details of more than 2,000 calls, Washington Post reports
By Chris McGreal | Guardian.co.UK

Caproni said that FBI's issuing of authorisations after the fact was a "good-hearted but not well thought-out" move to give the phone companies legal cover for handing over the records....The FBI subsequently issued a blanket authorisation covering all past searches, although its legality was questioned. The Washington Post said journalists on the newspaper and the New York Times were among those whose phone records were illegally searched. The FBI later apologised to editors of both papers.

The US justice department is preparing a report which concludes that the FBI repeatedly broke the law by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist to obtain more than 2,000 telephone call records over four years from 2002, including those of journalists on US newspapers, according to emails obtained by the Washington Post.

The bureau also issued authorisations for the seizure of records after the fact, in order to justify unwarranted seizures.

The Washington Post said the emails show how counter-terrorism ­officials inside FBI headquarters breached regulations designed to protect civil liberties.

The FBI's general counsel, Valerie Caproni, told the Washington Post that the agency violated privacy laws by inventing non-existent terrorist threats to justify collecting the phone records. "We should have stopped those requests from being made that way," she said.

Caproni said that FBI's issuing of authorisations after the fact was a "good-hearted but not well thought-out" move to give the phone companies legal cover for handing over the records. Read more.

Judge Dumps Suit Over Bush-Era Wiretapping

Judge dumps suit over Bush-era wiretapping
By Bob Egelko | San Francisco Chronicle

To establish the right to sue, a private citizen must demonstrate a "direct, personal stake in the outcome" and cannot merely claim "a right to have the government follow the law," Walker said.

A federal judge has dismissed AT&T customers' lawsuit over wiretapping conducted under former President George W. Bush, a challenge the judge had allowed to proceed before Congress intervened.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco ruled in 2006 that the AT&T customers could sue the company for allegedly allowing federal agents to intercept their calls and e-mails and seize their records without a warrant.

Bush acknowledged in December 2005 that he had ordered interception of communications between Americans and alleged foreign terrorists four years earlier without seeking court approval, as required by federal law. Read more.

McCain: Campaign Finance Reform Is Dead

McCain: Campaign Finance Reform Is Dead
Sen. Who Co-Wrote Finance Laws Not Surprised by Court Ruling Given "Skeptical, Sarcastic Comments" by Justices
By Michelle Levi | CBS


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Senator John McCain, who helped rewrite the nation's campaign finance laws, said Sunday that this week's Supreme Court ruling removing limits from corporate spending on political advertising means that campaign finance reform is dead.

"I don't think there's much that can be done," he told "Face the Nation" moderator Bob Schieffer.

McCain said he was not surprised by Court's decision: "I went over to observe the oral arguments," he said. "It was clear that Justice Roberts, Alito and Scalia, by their very skeptical and even sarcastic comments, were very much opposed to it.

"I think that it was interesting that they have had no experience in the political arena," McCain said. "I was reminded of the story of Lyndon Johnson, when he was vice president, was told about President Kennedy's appointments of all these brilliant people, and he said, 'You know, I wish one of them had run for county sheriff.'"

The Republican senator noted that in prior Court hearing on the issue of campaign financing, Justices Rehnquist and O'Connor had taken a different position. "Both had significant political experience; Justices Roberts, Alito and Scalia have none," he said.

"We are going to see now an inundation of special-interest money into political campaigns," McCain warned. "I think that diminishes the influence of average citizens."

Schieffer asked McCain if he thought the issue of campaign finance reform was "dead."

"Oh, I think so." He predicted a backlash would occur when people see the amounts of unfettered money, from corporations and unions, that will go into political campaigns. Read more.

Mind Reading, Brain Fingerprinting and the Law

ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2010) — What if a jury could decide a man's guilt through mind reading? What if reading a defendant's memory could betray their guilt? And what constitutes 'intent' to commit murder? These are just some of the issues debated and reviewed in the inaugural issue of WIREs Cognitive Science, the latest interdisciplinary project from Wiley-Blackwell, which for registered institutions will be free for the first two years.

In the article "Neurolaw," in the inaugural issue of WIREs Cognitive Science, co-authors Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Annabelle Belcher assess the potential for the latest cognitive science research to revolutionize the legal system.

Senator Russ Feingold: High Court Opens The Floodgates

High court opens the floodgates
By Russ Feingold | USA Today

Excerpts:

...With the court's decision, corporations will now be able to dip into their huge general treasuries to pay for independent advertising. With their enormous resources, corporations can now vastly outspend the candidates and other outside parties in almost any race....

When the Supreme Court ruled that the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act that Sen. John McCain and I championed was constitutional, it noted that the prohibition on corporations and unions dipping into their treasuries to influence campaigns was "firmly embedded in our law." Yet the court only a few years later has upended that prohibition....

A majority of the court ignored several time-honored principles that have served for the past two centuries to preserve the public's respect for and acceptance of its decisions. One is the concept of "judicial restraint," the idea that a court should decide a case on constitutional grounds only if absolutely necessary, and should rule as narrowly as possible. Here, the court did just the opposite — decided the constitutionality of all restrictions on corporate spending in connection with elections in an obscure case in which many far more narrow rulings were possible.

The court also ignored stare decisis, the historic respect for precedent... It's hard to imagine a bigger blow to stare decisis than the court's decision to strike down laws in over 20 states and a federal law that has been the cornerstone of the nation's campaign-finance system for 100 years.

Finally, the court ignored the longstanding practice of deciding a case only after lower courts have fully examined the facts. Here, because the broad constitutional questions considered by the Supreme Court were not raised in the court below, there was no factual record at all on which the court could base its legal conclusions. Read more.

Obama Calls SCOTUS Ruling on Campaign Spending 'Devastating'

Obama Calls SCOTUS Ruling on Campaign Spending 'Devastating'

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:

President Obama used his weekly address to rail against Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate spending in political campaigns -- calling it a “devastating” and “powerful blow” striking at democracy that he intends to fight against.

“The United States Supreme Court handed a huge victory to the special interests and their lobbyists – and a powerful blow to our efforts to rein in corporate influence,” Obama said. “This ruling strikes at our democracy itself.” Read more.

Justice Stevens Bemoans Changed Court

Justice Stevens Bemoans Changed Court
Condemnation of campaign finance ruling fuels rumors of retirement
By Joan Biskupic | ABC News

"The court's blinkered and aphoristic approach to the First Amendment may well promote corporate power at the cost of the individual and collective self-expression the Amendment was meant to serve," Stevens wrote.

When liberal Justice John Paul Stevens dissented Thursday as the Supreme Court permitted new corporate spending in elections, he invoked the names of influential and long-gone justices.

He began with retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, with whom he had worked on a 2003 case the majority was partially overruling. He referred to the late Justice Thurgood Marshall's warning in a 1990 case, also overturned, about how corporate money can distort political debate. Stevens then cited the late Justice Byron White about the importance of deferring to Congress, which had passed the law the majority discarded Thursday.

As Stevens invoked lions of the past and decried the majority's decision, he spoke for twice as long from the bench as Justice Anthony Kennedy had for the majority. Over the course of his 20 minutes, Stevens also spoke with more passion — and more weariness. Read more.

Jim Hightower: 'A Black-Robed' Coup d'Etat'

Jim Hightower: 'A Black-Robed' Coup d'Etat'
By Jim Hightower | Existentialist Cowboy

Last September, I wrote The Hightower Lowdown about how the Roberts' Court could throw out over 100 years of campaign finance law.

Remember their names: Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas.

Yesterday, from within the dark isolation of the Supreme Court, these five men pulled off a black-robed coup against the American people's democratic authority. In an unprecedented perversion of judicial power, this court cabal has decreed that corporations have a free-speech "right" to dip into their corporate coffers and spend unlimited sums of money to elect or defeat candidates of their choosing.

Corporate interests already had too much money power over our political system. No other group in America comes anywhere near the spending clout that this relatively small clutch of wealthy special interests wields over our elections and government. So it's ludicrous for anyone – much less Supreme Court judges – to argue that the corporate voice is a victim of political "censorship." This is not merely judicial activism, it is judicial radicalism.

Thomas Jefferson warned about the dangerous rise of corporate power, declaring that must "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations." Today, I'm sure that founding patriots like Jefferson are not simply spinning in their graves at the Supreme Court's surrender to this aristocracy – they're trying to claw their way out of their graves to throttle all five of the traitors.

We MUST fight back. Many good groups are working on this issue, and we all have to get involved to fight against this corporate take over of our political system. Public Citizen has a petition we can sign. Common Cause is asking us to contact your congressperson and make sure they have signed on to the Fair Elections Now Act. I mentioned other good groups that are working on this issue. Get in touch with them. Let's fight the good fight... and win! Onward!

42 Arrested at U.S. Capitol Denouncing Obama's Broken Promises on Guantanamo, America's Broken Laws, and Lives Broken By Torture


42 Arrested at U.S. Capitol in Day of Action to Denounce Obama's Broken Promises on Guantanamo, America's Broken Laws, and the Breaking of Lives by Torture | Press Release | January 21, 2010

Washington, DC -- Washington, DC: In a dramatic protest, 42 activists with Witness Against Torture were arrested this afternoon at the U.S. Capitol. The protest comes on the eve of the since-voided deadline President Obama had set for closing the prison camp at Guantanamo.

Those arrested on the Capitol steps held banners reading "Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Lives." Inside the Capitol, 14 activists performed a "memorial service" for the three men whose deaths at Guantanamo in 2006 were initially reported as suicides and callously described as "acts of asymmetrical warfare" by military officials. New reports provide strong evidence that the men may have been tortured to death at a CIA secret prison in Guantanamo.

Additional photo "below the fold." Click "Read more" to continue reading and see photo.

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