Category Archives: Law

federal court strikes down warrantless wiretapping

Finally some good news!

A federal judge ruled Thursday that the government’s warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in Detroit became the first judge to strike down the National Security Agency’s program, which she says violates the rights to free speech and privacy.

More information and a detailed analysis available from Glenn Greenwald. Let’s hope this sticks!

a post with no name

I’ve been trying to come up with a decent summary of why this article on the release of a “suspected terrorist” five years after his arrest depresses me, but I can’t seem to get beyond the obvious “Sixth Amendment in tatters” or hand-wringing “what are we doing here?” arguments.

What really gets me is how accepting we (or at least the media) have been of suspending our core values indefinitely because we’re A Nation At War. A man was arrested and held without any charges for five years, and there’s hardly a peep when he’s released. Have we really become a nation of cowering victims, willing to accept the “protection” of a police state no matter what principles it violates? Better yet, what can we do to get past all the war-talk and start treating crimes like crimes, subject to the rule of law?

further signs of empire

Faced with human rights scandals, trillion-dollar deficits, rampant corruption, and a rising death toll, our Senate finally decided to do something:

They declared English the national language of the United States. Or maybe the common language. Something like that.

Sigh. What exactly does this get anyone? Nothing.  Then again, what harm could it do?  Plenty, actually. From the amendment:

Unless otherwise offered or provided by law, no person has a right, entitlement, or claim to have the Government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English.

Which is all well and good until you realize that this opens the door to effectively deny non-English-speakers who are legitimately in the country any assistance when, say, facing the charge of, say, Driving While Brown.  Perhaps I’m just being oversensitive, but I’ve learned that it’s never too early to oppose stupid policy.

my heroes

A group of Georgetown law students responded to a shill session by Alberto Gonzales in the best way possible: “they turned their backs on him”: The protest is being downplayed by some media outlets, but it warranted a mention in the “Washington Post”:

bq. Gonzales’s appearance, which was part of a three-day White House campaign to defend the NSA program, was punctuated by a silent protest from more than a dozen students who turned their backs to Gonzales, who continued to speak without acknowledging them and did not take questions afterward.

bq. Five of the students wore black pillowcases over their heads — an apparent reference to the mistreatment of U.S. detainees overseas — and held a banner roughly paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.”

I hope this beat continues long enough to influence the elections this fall.

gettin’ hitched, south africa style

Nicely done, South Africa! Their highest court just “ruled that same-sex marriages have the same rights as opposite-sex marriages”: It might get overruled by the legislature, but that’s not considered likely.