What the Black Men Who Identify With Brett Kavanaugh Are Missing

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On Tuesday night, I was in an auditorium with 100 black men in the city of Baltimore, when the subject pivoted to Brett Kavanaugh. I expected to hear frustration that the sexual-assault allegations against him had failed to derail his Supreme Court appointment. Instead, I encountered sympathy. One man stood up and asked, passionately, “What happened to due process?” He was met with a smattering of applause, and an array of head nods.

If you think Kavanaugh receiving some measure of support from black men in inner-city Baltimore is as strange as Taylor Swift suddenly feeling the need to become a modern-day Fannie Lou Hamer, then brace yourself: The caping for Kavanaugh does make a twisted kind of sense. Countless times, black men have had to witness the careers and reputations of other black men ruthlessly destroyed because of unproved rape and sexual-assault accusations. And as that Baltimore audience member also argued, if the claims were made by a white woman, expect the damage to be triple.

 

More from Jemele Hill @The Atlantic

Posted by Libergirl

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Here’s How the Consitution Actually Defines ‘Treason’ President Trump tweeted “TREASON?” in an apparent reference to an op-ed’s author.

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In the furor over the anonymous New York Times op-ed by a Trump administration “senior official,” the word “treason” has been used by a variety of people.

President Trump tweeted “TREASON?” in an apparent reference to the op-ed’s author. Trump’s supporters have likewise used the word in attacks on the author – and the newspaper for printing it.

Trump’s opponents have likewise bandied the word about by saying that the op-ed was not “treasonous.” Instead, they say that Trump himself is guilty of “treason” by trying to obstruct the investigation into the claimed Russian interference in the 2016 election. Earlier this year, Trump opponents also claimed he committed treason at his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As a constitutional scholar, I’d like to remind people there is a precise definition of “treason” set forth in the Constitution. None of the recent charges of treason remotely fit that definition. The claims that one side or the other have committed treason are ignorant of the law.

Nothing Worse

Treason is the only crime specifically defined in the Constitution. It is a heinous crime, the worst crime that can be committed by an American citizen. It is a betrayal of the nation and of values embodied in the American constitutional system.

It can be punished by death.

When the framers defined “treason” in Article III, Section 3, they were determined to avoid the use of “treason” as it had been used in English law to punish opponents of the king.

In English law, “treason” meant acts of disloyalty to the king. A person convicted of “treason” was not only executed, but all of his property was “attained” – or confiscated by the government.

This was not the way the crime of treason would operate in the United States, which was founded by those who had rebelled against the British king. The framers of the constitution made sure of that.

Here’s how the framers defined treason:

“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

So, the crime of treason can only be committed by an American citizen during time of war with a foreign enemy.

The last convictions for treason took place in the wake of World War II. They included the conviction of an American citizen known as “Axis Sally” for broadcasting demoralizing propaganda to Allied forces in Europe from a radio station in Germany during World War II.

The constitutional provision also imposes stringent requirements for a conviction of treason:

“No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

By requiring this type of direct evidence, the framers minimized the danger of an innocent person being convicted, and prevented the possibility of a charge of treason being brought by a single person.

Third, there can be no punishment of anyone other than the person convicted of treason:

“The Congress shall have the Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”

Ignoring the U.S. Constitution

Let’s review. In the American constitutional system, the crime of treason is specifically defined in the Constitution to be limited to acts aiding the enemy in time of war. It can only be proven by the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act. And the punishment cannot extend beyond the person convicted of treason.

For anyone from the president on down to accuse any person of “treason” for any other action – no matter how egregious and no matter how harmful to the interests of the United States that action may be – is just plain wrong.

Worse yet, it flagrantly ignores what the framers were trying to accomplish with their narrow and precise definition of treason and the safeguards surrounding any conviction for that crime.

The Constitution means what it says. Nothing else can be treason.The Conversation

By Robert A. Sedler/AlterNet

Posted by The NON-Conformist

What’s the future for NC’s Confederate statues?

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This is from August of last year but a reminder of how the Republicans play chess while the Democrats play checkers.

While cities around the South are talking about removing Confederate monuments in light of the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., statues in North Carolina are protected by a 2015 state law.

Former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed the law that prevents removing, relocating, or altering monuments, memorials, plaques and other markers that are on public property without permission from the N.C. Historical Commission.

The law protects statues from removal by officials, but protesters pulled down a Confederate statue at the old Durham County courthouse Monday.

State legislators passed the law as protests over a Confederate statue on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus called Silent Sam were hitting a peak.

The bill protecting monuments passed the Senate unanimously.

By the time the House debated it, white supremacist Dylann Roof had murdered nine African-American worshipers in a Charleston, S.C., church. The law won final approval after the murders and amid a national debate about Confederate symbols. By that time, some House members were vigorously opposing the bill.

White nationalists in Charlottesville were protesting city plans to remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee when they clashed with counter-protesters. A car ran into a crowd of people, one woman died and dozens were injured.

North Carolina has more than 200 Civil War memorials, statues and markers, according to Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, a project of the UNC-Chapel Hill Library. Most of the 54 statues and 20 memorials honor Confederates.

Rep. Graig Meyer, a Hillsborough Democrat who urged House members to defeat the bill, said Monday that because it became law, residents are stuck with Confederate monuments even if they want them gone.

“We have a long-standing dispute over Silent Sam on the university campus,” he said. “It has given us lots of chances for dialogue about history.

“Sometimes, dialogue has to lead to action. In our community, the vast majority of people would like to get rid of that monument and build something that is a better contextualized representation of our shared racial history.”

Sen. Tommy Tucker, the Waxhaw Republican who co-sponsored the law, still supports it.

“The reason it was passed was to protect history,” Tucker said. “I don’t have any misgivings about having the bill passed. Monuments can stand where they have been for 150 years or more.”

Meyer said removing Confederate statues, which he called “monuments to a racial hierarchy,” isn’t going to make people forget the Civil War.

Confederate monuments around the Triangle, including the memorial outside the former Durham County courthouse, Silent Sam, and the Confederate Women’s monument at the State Capitol were vandalized in July 2015.

Groups defending the Confederate flag and supporting Silent Sam rallied around the statue at UNC-Chapel Hill in October 2015. Representatives said it was important to show support for the monument even with the law protecting it. The ralliers were met by counter protesters.

Rep. Garland Pierce, a Laurinburg Democrat and former head of the Legislative Black Caucus, voted against the law in 2015, but said Monday that trying to change or repeal it would draw too much attention.

“History is history, whether it be positive or negative,” Pierce said. “History tells our story.”

Over the last few days, mayors of Baltimore and Lexington, Kentucky, have said they want Confederate statues in their cities removed.

By Lynn Bonner/NewsandObserver
Posted by The NON-Conformist

I Went From Prison to Professor – Here’s Why Criminal Records Should Not Be Used to Keep People Out of College Stanley Andrisse was once branded a career criminal and served time in prison. Today, he is a professor at two medical schools and an advocate for higher education for those who’ve served time.

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Beginning next year, the Common Application – an online form that enables students to apply to the 800 or so colleges that use it – will no longer ask students about their criminal pasts.

As a formerly incarcerated person who now is now an endocrinologist and professor at two world-renowned medical institutions – Johns Hopkins Medicine and Howard University College of Medicine – I believe this move is a positive one. People’s prior convictions should not be held against them in their pursuit of higher learning.

While I am enthusiastic about the decision to remove the criminal history question from the Common Application, I also believe more must be done to remove the various barriers that exist between formerly incarcerated individuals such as myself and higher education.

I make this argument not only as a formerly incarcerated person who now teaches aspiring medical doctors, but also as an advocate for people with criminal convictions. The organization I lead – From Prison Cells to PhD – helped push for the change on the Common Application.

My own story stands as a testament to the fact that today’s incarcerated person could become tomorrow’s professor. A person who once sold illegal drugs on the street could become tomorrow’s medical doctor. But this can only happen if such a person, and the many others in similar situations, are given the chance.

There was a time not so long ago when some in the legal system believed I did not deserve a chance. With three felony convictions, I was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking as a prior and persistent career criminal. My prosecuting attorney once stated that I had no hope for change.

Today, I am Dr. Stanley Andrisse. As a professor at Johns Hopkins and Howard University, I now help train students who want to be doctors. I’d say that I have changed. Education was transformative.

US incarceration rates the highest

The United States needs to have more of this transformative power of education. The country incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other nation in the world. The U.S. accounts for less than 5 percent of the world population but nearly 25 percent of the incarcerated population around the globe.

More from TheConversation

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Justice in America Episode 3: Who Built Mass Incarceration? Prosecutors

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Who has had the biggest impact on the growth of our incarceration system? It’s not the judge, the jury, or the legislator. It’s not the police, and it’s certainly not the President. It’s someone else—the prosecutor. Prosecutors are getting more attention now than ever, but many people still don’t know what they do.

Prosecutors don’t just play an important role at trial. It is prosecutors who recommend what bail a judge should set, prosecutors who decide whether a person should face criminal charges and what those charges should be, and prosecutors who control the plea deal process. Perhaps more than anyone else, prosecutors are responsible for our mass incarceration epidemic. On this episode, we’ll explore the impact prosecutors have and take a look at how they wield their power.

We’ll talk about the problems with prosecutors, and their excessive power, negative incentives, and almost total lack accountability. We’ll also talk to John Pfaff, a lawyer, economist, and prosecutor expert, whose book, Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration—and How to Achieve Real Reform, examines the power of prosecutors.

Justice in America is available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Sticher, GooglePlay Music, and LibSyn RSS. You can also check us out on Facebook and Twitter. Our email is justiceinamerica@theappeal.org.

For more on prosecutors, check out these resources:

This week on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver coincidentally did a segment on prosecutors. Check it out here.

Here’s an op-ed in the New York Times Josie published last fall on prosecutors that pretend to be reformers but fall short.

The Brooklyn Defenders made this awesome video on the power of prosecutors last year.

Radley Balko always publishes great work on criminal justice and law enforcement, particularly prosecutors. You can find his work at the Washington Post here.

Here’s a good piece on our guest John Pfaff’s book from the Marshall Project.

The Appeal’s other podcast, also called The Appeal, had Josie on for their first episode to talk about prosecutors. Check it out here.

And of course, we publish a lot of pieces on prosecutors at The Appeal. Here are some pieces from just the past few weeks: Amanda Sakuma wrote about a primary challenge to the St. Louis County Attorney who, in 2014, chose not to charge the cop that murdered Michael Brown. (The challenger, Wesley Bell,  subsequently won.) George Joseph and Simon Davis-Cohen investigated the Bronx DA’s office and the ways they intentionally drag cases out, improperly burdening defendants; and Jessica Brand and Ethan Brown wrote about the federal prosecutors that charged over 200 inauguration day protesters for rioting, and the history of misconduct in that particular office.

Transcript By Josie Duffy Rice and Clint Smith III./TheAppeal

Posted by The NON-Conformist

 

NC Amendment would put voter ID in NC constitution

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Our dear General Assembly leaders(see below) here in North Carolina haven’t given up on voter ID, they recently filed a proposed constitutional amendment to ensconce a voter ID rule in the state constitution…Libergirl.

 

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, left, and House Speaker Tim Moore during a May15, 2018, news conference.

Image: WRAL.com

The bill would ask voters to decide this November whether to add this paragraph to the constitution: “Photo identification for voting in person. Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.”

Republicans have championed photo IDs as the best defense against voter fraud, but Meredith College political science professor David McLennan said instances of in-person voter fraud are “very minimal.”

“It is not a widespread issue, despite what politicians say,” McLennan said.

More from WRAL.com

Posted by Libergirl

Huckabee Sanders Defends Ripping Children From Parents, Because It’s “Very Biblical to Enforce the Law”

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Asked to comment on remarks made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier in the day about how the Trump administration’s policy of ripping children out of the arms of their immigrant parents is somehow justified by the Christian Bible, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday afternoon said she could not respond specifically to the AG’s claims but said “it is very biblical to enforce the law.”

“That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible,” Huckabee Sanders said in response to the question by CNN’s Jim Acosta as she appeared to glance at notes on her podium.

More from Common Dreams

Posted by Libergirl

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