Thursday, December 14, 2017

Washington State Attorney General will sue to keep Net Neutrality

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson released the following statement on today's Federal Communications Commission vote to repeal net neutrality.

"Yesterday I sent a letter to the FCC asking them to delay their vote gutting net neutrality. Unfortunately, they did not.

"Today, I am announcing my intention to file a legal challenge to the FCC’s decision to roll back net neutrality, along with attorneys general across the country.

"We are 5-0 against the Trump Administration because they often fail to follow the law when taking executive action. There is a strong legal argument that with this action, the federal government violated the Administrative Procedure Act — again.

"We will be filing a petition for review in the coming days.

"Allowing internet service providers to discriminate based on content undermines a free and open internet. Today’s action will seriously harm consumers, innovation and small businesses.

"I was proud to stand with Gov. Inslee yesterday when he announced that Washington state will step up to protect consumers in light of this disappointing federal action. I commend him for his leadership and look forward to continuing to work with him to that end."
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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Contacts:
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

Medical Marijuana Victory for ACLU


December 14, 2017 Press Release for ACLU
PHOENIX –Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery has decided not to challenge the most recent ruling upholding Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act, as the deadline of December 11 to seek review by the United States Supreme Court has passed. In 2016, the Arizona Court of Appeals found in favor of a Sun City medical marijuana dispensary, ruling that federal law prohibiting marijuana does not void Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Act and that the county and state should therefore allow the dispensary to continue operating. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona represented the White Mountain Health Center on this issue of federal preemption.

Emma Andersson, the ACLU’s lead attorney on White Mountain Medical Center v. Maricopa County and staff attorney with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, had this response:
“From the beginning, Maricopa County Attorney William Montgomery was clear about his intentions with this case—he wanted to shut down medical marijuana in Arizona and throughout the country. He spent five years in litigation, trying to use federal law as a cudgel against the will of voters in his own state and across the country. His effort failed.

“As he waged his futile battle in the drug war, White Mountain and Arizona’s other dispensaries continued their good work, providing crucial medicine to people with debilitating conditions. That is what Arizonans wanted when they voted for medical marijuana access in 2010. Today, finally, medical marijuana is safe in Arizona.”

For the 2016 Arizona Court of Appeals ruling and other information about White Mountain Medical Center v. Maricopa County:
https://www.aclu.org/cases/white-mountain-health-center-v-maricopa-county
For more information about the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project:
https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform
For more about the ACLU of Arizona:
https://www.acluaz.org/

Net Neutrality Ruling by FCC


December 14, 2017 ACLU Press Release
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission voted today to implement Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to end net neutrality.
Net neutrality prevents internet service providers from prioritizing data for businesses and other organizations that they favor or that pay more. The rules keep the internet open, free, and unrestricted, preventing ISPs from becoming gatekeepers that can control and manipulate what people access on the internet.

Jay Stanley, American Civil Liberties Union senior policy analyst, said:
“Since the end of the dial-up era, the FCC has enforced network neutrality principles and helped create the internet as we know it. Today’s misguided FCC action represents a radical departure that risks erosion of the biggest free speech platform the world has ever known.

“Today’s loss means that telecommunications companies will start intruding more on how people use the internet. Internet service providers will become much more aggressive in their efforts to make money off their role as online gatekeepers.
“But the fight for network neutrality is not over by any means. The ACLU and our allies will be fighting back in every possible arena to restore these crucial protections.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Racist Southern Baptist Church Members Stop Wedding

PHOTO: Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson, a Jackson couple says the church where they planned to get married turned them away because they are black.
Photo Courtesy of WLBT/AP Photo
Are some Southern Baptists in Mississippi living back in the 1800's?  Apparently so.

Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson are now happily married no thanks to some of the congregants of the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi.

The couple, attendees of the First Baptist Church for over a year, were told just two days before they were to be married that members of the church had persuaded Pastor Stan Weatherford to not marry them in the church that they attended.

Although not official members they were planning to join after the wedding in part because Te'Andrea Wilson's uncle is an employee of the church, and her father is a member.

What possible reason would a church turn away these soon to be members just days before they were to celebrate one of the happiest days of their lives? Was it because they were not compatible. No. Was it because they could not afford to rent the space? Absolutely not. I'll tell you why they were turned down, it was because they were African American. What? Yes, They were denied being married because of the color of their skin.

No, that can't be right. Yes it is...This couple had to relocate there wedding to a Methodist Church down the road because since the Church was founded in 1883 there has never been a black wedding.

Pastor Stan Weatherford feared that if conducted the wedding he would lose his job because many of the members did not want the Wilson's wedding to be first African American wedding held at the church.

Dear Pastor: Seriously? How can you lead if you don't have a voice? How can you walk if you don't have a spine? How can you see what's right if you are to busy listening to the voices of prejudice that you are apparently surrounded by. Take a stand. Pastors, leaders, parents and teachers are faced with many challenges that shape there lives. Apparently you have taken on the shape of a slimy amoeba. Yes amoeba's have no shape but I digress.

Here are a few recent statements from Charles Wilson.

"My 9-year-old was going to the church with us. How would you say to your 9-year-old daughter, 'We cannot get married here because guess what sweetie, we're black'?" said Charles Wilson in an interview with ABC's Jackson affiliate, WAPT-TV. When talking to USA Today Charles Wilson stated, "I feel like it was blatant racial discrimination."
 

When I woke up this morning I looked at my calendar and could have sworn it said 2012 and not 1812. What was wrong in the 1800's is still wrong today.  

Dear readers: I wanted to write about this last weekend when I learned what happened but figured that it was always best not to write an article in anger...Well, I waited all this time and guess what, I am still very, very angry. In fact, I am probably even angrier.

I am curious..what do you think? Please leave your comments below. 

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Should non-citizens be allowed to carry a concealed gun?



The Second Amendment Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of a Canadian citizen who is a legal resident of Missouri, challenging that state's statutory prohibition on the carrying of concealed firearms by non-citizens.

The case seeks to overturn the state's non-citizen concealed carry ban on constitutional grounds, specifically the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. The plaintiff is Edward F. Plastino, a Canadian citizen and Status Indian, based on his partial Chippewa heritage. He has lived primarily in this country since 1995, and in Missouri since 2006. SAF and Plastino are represented by attorneys Matthew Singer of St. Louis and David Sigale of Glen Ellyn, Ill.

"This is a case similar to our successful lawsuits against the City of Omaha and Washington State, and our current action in New Mexico, challenging local gun laws that discriminate against legal resident aliens," said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. "Mister Plastino can legally carry a firearm openly in Missouri, but he cannot legally conceal a firearm for personal protection. That simply does not make sense."

Plastino was in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina and its immediate aftermath, but his employer transferred him to St. Louis and then to St. Charles, Mo.

"Mr. Plastino would carry a concealed firearm for personal protection," Gottlieb said, "except that he realizes he could face prosecution, fine and imprisonment, and other repercussions because he is a non-citizen."

Defendants in the case are Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and St. Charles County Sheriff Tom Neer, in their respective official capacities.

"Mr. Plastino has lived and worked in the United States for more than a decade," Gottlieb noted. "His case represents the plight of untold numbers of legal resident aliens who have demonstrated their willingness to be good members of their communities and abide by our laws. It seems only right to allow them the same protections as our citizens against people who do not abide by our laws."

What do you think, should he be allowed to carry a concealed weapon or should that right only apply to naturalized citizens?    

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stockton Police Chief allegedly used Diploma Mill


Blair Urling Accused of Using Diploma Mill Photo Courtesy of  Recordnet.com






This has been a weird week here in Spokane WA where I live. Our Mayor, David Condon, who is doing a great job in his first couple hundred of days in office has had a few setbacks recently in his search for a new Police Chief. 

Last week the search team narrowed down their search to four candidates and it is now down to three because Blair Urling,  the former Police Chief of  Stockton California,  submitted a resume that stated he graduated from La Salle University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Administration of Justice in 1997 and a Master of Science in Law Enforcement Management in 2002. His resume states that he graduated Summa cum Laude.

Unfortunately for Urling, the "real" La Salle University (the Catholic University in Philadelphia) doesn't offer those degrees and diploma mill experts believe it's a fake and could have been purchased for as little as a two thousand dollars for both a bachelors and advanced degree.

In 1996 the FBI raided the fake LaSalle University and found 3 faculty members for the 15,000 students that were, uh, earning a degree. 


The Tmes-Picayune in New Orleans reported that Thomas James Kirk, who ran the LaSalle diploma mill, received about $36 million from churning out fake degrees. Prosecutors convicted Kirk of 18 federal crimes, including mail fraud and tax violations.

The funny thing is Urling probably had no idea that in Spokane we had fired a bunch of police officers for using phony degrees to advance their career. Fortunately for the citizens of any city in which he applies in the future he is going to have a tough time finding a job as a Police Chief because this lie will be easily found with a simple Google search.

Stockton, which many argue is the armpit of California, has recently filed for bankruptcy and in need of money.  Do you think that they should sue him for some of his back pay? Do you think that civil or even criminal charges should be brought against him or do you think that the broke city of Stockton should just let bygones be bygones? I am really curious to hear what you think.

You can read more posts at Barry Seward.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Supreme Court will Review Edie Windsor’s Challenge to “Defense of Marriage Act”

 DOMA Cases are being reviewed


Edith “Edie” Windsor, who sued the government for failing to recognize her marriage to her late spouse, Thea Spyer, asked the U.S. Supreme Court today to hear her challenge to the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

The petition for certiorari was filed on Windsor’s behalf by her attorneys at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, the American Civil Liberties Union, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Stanford Law School Supreme Court Litigation Clinic.

In June, a federal district judge in New York ruled in Windsor’s favor that section three of DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates against married same-sex couples. The Justice Department and the leadership of the House of Representatives recently asked the Supreme Court to hear DOMA challenges in two other cases, including a case, like Windsor’s, that is still pending in a federal appeals court.

“With Edie’s case and the two others, the high court has before it striking illustrations of the many different harms that DOMA inflicts on many thousands of married same-sex couples all across the country,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Edie and Thea got married after making a life-long commitment to each other, and it’s just wrong for the government to pretend that they were legal strangers.”

Windsor and Spyer lived together for more than four decades in Greenwich Village. Despite not being able to marry legally, they were engaged in 1967. In 1977, Spyer was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Windsor helped her through her long battle with that disease. They were finally legally married in May 2007.

When Spyer died in 2009, she left all of her property to Windsor. Because they were married, Spyer's estate normally would have passed to Edie as her spouse without any estate tax. But because of DOMA, Windsor had to pay more than $363,000 in federal estate taxes. Payment of the federal estate tax by a surviving spouse is one of the most significant adverse impacts of DOMA since the amount owed, as was true in this case, is often quite substantial.

“Edie Windsor, who recently celebrated her 83rd birthday, suffers from a serious heart condition,” said Roberta Kaplan, a partner at Paul Weiss and counsel to Windsor. “Because the District Court’s ruling in her favor is entitled to an automatic stay of enforcement, Edie cannot yet receive a refund of the unconstitutional estate tax that she was forced to pay simply for being gay. The constitutional injury inflicted on Edie should be remedied within her lifetime.”

“The impact of DOMA is felt most dramatically today here in New York,” said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman.  “At least 10,000 same-sex couples have been married in New York since our marriage law went into effect. But DOMA subjects gay and lesbian married New Yorkers to a form of second-class citizenship. All married couples should have their marriages respected by the federal government, once and for all.”

In the meantime, Windsor will continue to defend her victory before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which has agreed to hear her case on an expedited basis.

More on this case can be found at the ACLU website.

Read the full petition here.