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Might Prez Biden use his clemency power relatively soon?

The question in the title of this post is promoted by this notable new Hill article headlined "Biden set to flex clemency powers."  The headline is a bit more encouraging than the full article for those eager to see some action on this front, and here are some of the details: White House officials are signaling that President Biden is prepared to flex his clemency powers as officials wade through a large backlog of requests behind the scenes, according to advocates with whom the White House has...
Tags: Law, Congress, White House, Aclu, Susan Rice, New Orleans, Biden, Voice, Justice Department, American Civil Liberties Union, Hill, Hoskins, Dana Remus, Jen Psaki, Douglas A Berman, Cedric Richmond


Meet Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, the Republican power couple caught up in the FBI's Rudy Giuliani investigation

Rudolph Giuliani, Joseph diGenova, and Victoria Toensing, attorneys for then-President Donald Trump, conduct a news conference. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Image Victoria Toensing was served a search warrant alongside Rudy Giuliani last week. She and her husband and law partner, Joseph diGenova, have been close to Giuliani for decades. They were instrumental in the Ukraine scandal that led to former president Donald Trump's first impeachment. See more stories on Insider...
Tags: Europe, Politics, News, Media, Law, Vladimir Putin, Obama, Congress, Senate, White House, Russia, New York City, US, Trends, Reagan, Joe Biden


New federal defender laments BOP's response to COVID and the FIRST STEP Act

The Federal Public and Community Defenders sent this new letter today to Senate Judiciary Committee leaders to follow up on the April 15 oversight hearing concerning the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  The 16-page letter covers a lot of ground, and here are excerpts: For too long, DOJ and BOP have ignored congressional directives to prioritize the safety and rehabilitation of individuals in its custody, and left tools provided by Congress unused. These failures have been exacerbated by a culture th...
Tags: Law, Congress, Fsa, Doj, IRC, Senate Judiciary Committee, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Bop, Douglas A Berman, Federal Public and Community Defenders, COVID


"The social media bans bit hard into Trump’s visibility. But instead of reconstituting his following with the sort of show business flash and sparkle he brought to his White House years..."

"... and the 2016 campaign—rallies, press conferences, televised appearances—the former president spent most of his exile in the minimum security prison that is Mar-a-Lago, where he keeps a vigil over the banquet table, gives half-hearted speeches to tens of supporters about the 'stolen election,' exposes his kissable ring to the lips of supporters and golfs... Trump’s half-hearted attempts at gearing up his movement suggest he doesn’t really care as much about returning to Facebook as he lusts,...
Tags: Facebook, Twitter, Law, Congress, White House, Groucho Marx, Biden, Elvis, Trump, Jim Acosta, Jack Shafer, Ann Althouse, CNN White House, Meridith McGraw, Gabby Orr, Trump the ex-President


The nation's top general is considering ending commanders' roles in reviewing military sex assault cases

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley arrives to the chamber ahead of President Joe Biden speaking to a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool Gen. Mark Milley says he is dropping his opposition to a proposal to take decisions on sexual assault prosecution out of the hands of commanders. He said sexual assault in the military continues to happen despite efforts to stop it. ...
Tags: News, Congress, Washington, Senate, Defense, Trends, Joe Biden, Ap, Austin, Speed, Military, Army, Pentagon, Associated Press, Defense Department, Robert Burns


Terry v. US, the final SCOTUS argument of Term, provides yet another reminder of the persistent trauma and drama created by the 100-1 crack ratio

It was 35 years ago, amid intense media coverage of a "crack epidemic" and the overdose death of basketball star Len Bias, when Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 with the 100-to-1 powder/crack cocaine quantity ratio defining severe mandatory minimum sentencing terms.  As the US Sentencing Commission explained in this 1995 report, Congress "dispensed with much of the typical deliberative legislative process, including committee hearings," when enacting this law, and "the abbreviated...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, Congress, US, United States, Kardashian, Biden, Terry, U S Supreme Court, Christian Science Monitor, Len Bias, Douglas A Berman, US Sentencing Commission, Ekow Yankah, Henry Gass, Tarahrick Terry


In final case the court will hear this term, profound issues of race, incarceration and the war on drugs

Academics naturally believe that even obscure cases in their field are underappreciated; each minor tax or bankruptcy case quietly frames profound issues of justice. But, doubtful readers, rest assured that Terry v. United States – which the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday in the final argument of its 2020-21 term – packs so many swirling issues of great importance into an absurdly little case, it can hardly be believed. The national debate on historical racism in our criminal punishment sys...
Tags: Florida, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, White House, Barack Obama, United States, Aclu, Kardashian, Biden, Donald Trump, Terry, Justice Department, Jared, Trump


Justices turn down cadet’s attempt to sue government over sexual assault

The Supreme Court won’t weigh in on whether a West Point cadet who was sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate can sue the federal government. The justices announced on Monday morning that they will not hear oral argument in Doe v. United States, one of the cases that they considered at their private conference last week. The justices also called for the federal government’s views in two cases, but they once again did not act on a closely watched challenge to a Mississippi law that would gener...
Tags: Featured, Mississippi, Supreme Court, Law, West Point, Congress, United States, DOE, Thomas, Dobbs, Howe, Jane Doe, American Axle, Goldstein Russell, United States Military Academy, FTCA


Interesting and critical accounting of Biden Administration's criminal justice work over first 100 days

This new lengthy Law360 piece, headlined "Biden Falls Short On Criminal Justice Reform In First 100 Days," provides a fittingly critical review of the Biden Administration's criminal justice work over its first 100 days in office.  I recommend the piece in full, and here are some highlights (along with an interesting graphic): President Joe Biden made a slew of campaign promises on the criminal justice reform front that he has made little progress on in his first 100 days in office, disappointi...
Tags: Law, Congress, White House, America, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Biden, Donald Trump, Trump, Rahman, Jacobs, U S Department of Health and Human Services, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Vera Institute of Justice, Jen Psaki, Psaki


Unusual alliance of justices holds government to strict notice requirement in removal proceedings

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a 6-3 decision in Niz-Chavez v. Garland, opting for a strict reading of an immigration statute that turns on whether the government has provided proper notice to a noncitizen to appear for removal proceedings. By holding the government to the plain language of the statute, and by refusing to accommodate immigration agencies’ desire for flexibility, the majority handed a win to noncitizens and their advocates, who have long criticized the government’s piecem...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, United States, Biden, John Roberts, NTA, Pereira, U S Court of Appeals, Garland, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Kavanaugh, INA


Justices contemplate the interplay of eminent domain and sovereign immunity

The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard argument in PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey. The case presents two questions : (1) whether sovereign immunity prevents PennEast from instituting eminent domain proceedings in federal court to condemn properties in which New Jersey has interests, and (2) whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit had jurisdiction over those proceedings. The dispute arose when PennEast obtained under the Natural Gas Act a certificate of public convenience and ne...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Pennsylvania, United States, New Jersey, John Roberts, Roberts, FERC, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Stephen Breyer, Breyer, Elena Kagan, Clement, U S Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit


Top Marines expected to testify to Congress about fatal AAV training accident and safety procedures

The Marine Corps’ top leaders will speak before a Congressional committee on Monday, May 3, addressing lawmakers’ concern about a “lack of safety” and an uptick in training accidents. The appearance was prompted by a recently released investigation into the most deadly accident the Corps has had training with the amphibious assault vehicles that have been in use since the 1970s. With the number of military training accidents and fatalities outpacing combat deaths in recent years, lawmakers have ...
Tags: News, Congress, California, Sport, Marine, Soccer, Military, Marine Corps, Marines, Pentagon, Wood, Jackie, Berger, Congressional Research Service, Congressional, AAV


Assessments and concerns regarding Biden Administration's early criminal justice efforts

This past week brought the end of the first 100 days of Joe Biden's presidency along with a big speech from Prez Biden to Congress.  In this prior post, I lamented a bit that the big speech did not devote much attention to criminal justice reform issues.  And here is a round-up of some recent articles and commentary reviewing the work of the first 100 days and urging the Biden team to lean into criminal justice issues more: From Christina Carrega at CNN, "Biden vowed to end the death penalty. Ac...
Tags: Usa, Law, Congress, Joe Biden, Cnn, Department Of Justice, Biden, Usa Today, Shaun King, Marc Levin, Douglas A Berman, Christina Carrega, Erica Zunkel, Billy Binion, Khalil Cumberbatch, Prez Biden


Top Marines expected to testify to Congress about fatal AAV training accident and safety procedures

The Marine Corps’ top leaders will speak before a Congressional committee on Monday, May 3, addressing lawmakers’ concern about a “lack of safety” and an uptick in training accidents. The appearance was prompted by a recently released investigation into the most deadly accident the Corps has had training with the amphibious assault vehicles that have been in use since the 1970s. With the number of military training accidents and fatalities outpacing combat deaths in recent years, lawmakers have ...
Tags: News, Congress, California, Sport, Marine, Soccer, Military, Marine Corps, Marines, Pentagon, Wood, Jackie, Berger, Congressional Research Service, Congressional, AAV


Justices and litigants spar over whether renewable-fuel law creates a “funnel” or a “safety valve”

The Supreme Court heard oral argument Tuesday in HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association, which considers whether small refiners can take advantage of a compliance exemption in the Renewable Fuel Standard program if they have not received that exemption continuously. (The full statutory scheme is elaborated here.) The petitioners are three small refineries who argue that the word “extension” in the statute’s exemption language provides a metaphorical safety valve for...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Senate, Epa, Environmental Protection Agency, Chevron, Thomas, Morrison, John Roberts, Roberts, Alito, Renewable Fuels Association, Stephen Breyer, Breyer


Prez Biden gets timely reminder that criminal justice reform presents unique bipartisan opportunity

I complained in this post that Prez Biden did not have all that much to say about criminal justice issues in his lengthy speech to Congress this week. But I now see from a number of news reports that criminal justice reform got some brief, but especially notable, bipartisan attention after the speech.  This Washington Post piece, headlined "GOP lawmaker who voted to overturn Biden’s election win wants to help him on criminal justice reform," provides these details: Moments after President Biden...
Tags: Texas, Law, Congress, White House, China, America, Joe Biden, Gop, House, Houston, Biden, The Washington Post, Trump, Texas Tribune, Texas Monthly, Gribble


Joe Biden Yells A Dumb Anti-Free Speech Trope In An Uncrowded Congress

Remember that precedent that never existed and isn't good law anyway?
Tags: Technology, Law, Congress, Government, Joe Biden, Free Speech, First Amendment


Great example of clemency leading to more compassion ... in the form of compassionate release thanks to FIRST STEP Act reforms

I am not sure if anyone is trying to make a comprehensive list of the wide array of factors that federal courts have referenced in granting sentence reductions under the (so-called compassionate release) statutory provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) ever since the FIRST STEP Act allowed federal courts to directly reduce sentence without awaiting a motion by the Bureau of Prisons.  Thankfully, district and circuit court have consistently recognized that, in the word of the Second Circuit in U...
Tags: Sixth Circuit, Law, Congress, Court, US, United States, Ferguson, Michigan, Donald Trump, Detroit, Edmunds, Sapp, Bureau, McCoy, Kwame Kilpatrick, Second Circuit


Justices weigh available defenses to criminal re-entry for certain immigrants

The court heard argument on Tuesday in United States v. Palomar-Santiago, a case involving certain noncitizens’ ability to defend themselves from federal charges for re-entering the country after they were deported. The charge of criminal re-entry requires the prior existence of a removal order entered by a federal immigration agency. In Refugio Palomar-Santiago’s case, that prior removal order did exist. However, the Supreme Court’s 2004 decision in Leocal v. Ashcroft, decided after the entry ...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, United States, Ross, Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Garcia, John Roberts, Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Breyer, Elena Kagan


Not even much lip service about sentencing reform in Prez Biden's first address to Congress

Prez Joe Biden gave a very lengthy speech this evening (full text here), but it only included a precious few sentences about criminal justice reform.  Here are these sentences: We have all seen the knee of injustice on the neck of Black America. Now is our opportunity to make real progress. Most men and women in uniform wear their badge and serve their communities honorably.  I know them.  I know they want to help meet this moment as well. My fellow Americans, we have to come together.  To rebu...
Tags: Law, Congress, White House, House, Npr, Johnson, Biden, Doj, Justice Department, Criminal Justice Reform, Carrie Johnson, Douglas A Berman, Kevin Ring, Kara Gotsch, Biden White House, George Floyd


Biden Administration announces $15 minimum wage for all federal contractors

Yesterday, the White House announced that effective January 30, 2022, all federal contractors will be required to incorporate a $15 minimum wage in new contract solicitations, and by March 30, 2022, all federal agencies will need to implement the minimum wage into new contracts and into existing contracts with annual options to renew.The Executive Order that implements these changes will also tie this new minimum wage to inflation and adjust accordingly annually, eliminate the tipped minimum wa...
Tags: Law, Congress, White House, Biden, Jon, Jon Hyman, Sharon McCutcheon, Biden Administration


Whitehouse alleges “demonstrably false” fact-finding by conservative justices

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse continued his effort this week to highlight what he views as problematic behavior by the Supreme Court. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on federal courts, the Democratic senator from Rhode Island alleged in a hearing on Tuesday that Republican-appointed justices on the court violated the general principle against appellate fact-finding in two of the most high-profile and hotly debated rulings issued by the Roberts court: Citizens United v. Feder...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Senate, Hawaii, Citizens United, Connecticut, Department Of Justice, Smith, Rhode Island, Kennedy, Vra, University Of North Carolina, Senate Judiciary Committee, John Roberts


Detailing the "nightmare" following the Supreme Court's McGirt ruling

The Washington Times has this lengthy new article discussing the fallout of the Supreme Court's notable ruling last summer in McGirt v. Oklahoma under the headlined, "'A nightmare': Supreme Court ruling upends Oklahoma prosecutions of American Indians."  Here are excerpts: A Supreme Court ruling that bars state prosecutions of American Indians in Oklahoma for crimes on tribal land has led to a wave of appeals from convicts, a rising backlog of cases in federal and tribal courts, and an accused ...
Tags: Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Oklahoma, American Indians, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump, Tulsa, Walton, Washington Times, The Washington Times, Eastern District, Neil M Gorsuch, Northern District, Robert Gifford, Gorsuch


Eminent domain, sovereign immunity and a controversial pipeline through New Jersey

On Wednesday, the justices will hear argument in PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey. The case presents the question of what impact, if any, does the Natural Gas Act have on the sovereign immunity provided to the states through the 11th Amendment. This clash between the NGA and the Constitution arose because, under the NGA, companies with permits to build new pipelines can use the power of eminent domain to seize property along the pipeline route. The case has broad ramifications for the indust...
Tags: Texas, Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Pennsylvania, United States, New Jersey, State, D C Circuit, FERC, U S Court of Appeals, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, NGA, PennEast, 3rd Circuit


Court to decide requirements for noncitizens defending against federal prosecution for criminal re-entry

Non-U.S. citizens who are deported and later return to the United States can be prosecuted for criminal re-entry. In order for federal prosecutors to sustain a charge for criminal re-entry under 8 U.S.C. § 1326, they must prove the existence of a prior removal order adjudicated by a federal immigration agency. But if the earlier removal order is invalid on legal grounds, then how can the noncitizen use that fact to defend against the criminal re-entry prosecution? On Tuesday, the justices will ...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, California, Mexico, United States, Circuit, Trump, 9th Circuit, U S Court of Appeals, Jeff Sessions, Ashcroft, Ochoa, Board of Immigration Appeals, Merits Cases


Justices rebuff states’ request to reinstate public-charge rule, but leave door open for further litigation

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to immediately resolve an attempt by 14 states to revive litigation over a controversial Trump-era immigration rule after the Biden administration declined to defend it in court. In a brief, unsigned order, the justices said the states must first make their arguments in the lower courts, but they left open the possibility that the states could eventually return to the Supreme Court on this issue. The so-called “public charge” rule is one with which the justi...
Tags: Texas, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Joe Biden, Biden, Medicaid, Executive Branch, Trump, Howe, 7th Circuit, Cook County Illinois, Elizabeth Prelogar, Prelogar, Emergency appeals and applications, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant


A clash over renewable fuels hinges on the meaning of a single word

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining, LLC v. Renewable Fuels Association. The case presents an issue of statutory interpretation involving the Renewable Fuel Standard  program — a part of the Clean Air Act that calls for incorporating renewable fuels into transportation fuels. With the meaning of the word “extension” at the core of the dispute, the case promises to yield insights into the justices’ interpretive stances. As clean-energy initiat...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, Epa, Department Of Energy, Chevron, Renewable Fuel Standard, U S Court of Appeals, Renewable Fuels Association, 10th Circuit, Merits Cases, Skidmore, Natural Resources Defense Council Inc, Swift Co, Chevron USA Inc


Justices to consider constitutionality of donor disclosure rule

The Supreme Court will close out its April argument session next week with two major First Amendment cases. On Wednesday, it will hear the case of a Pennsylvania student who was removed from her high school cheerleading team after posting offensive messages on social media. But on Monday, it will first hear a very different First Amendment case: a challenge to California’s requirement that charities and nonprofits operating in the state provide the state attorney general’s office with the names...
Tags: Featured, Supreme Court, Law, Congress, California, Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Citizens United, Connecticut, Michigan, Christian, Naacp, Irs, Charles Koch, Richard Blumenthal


Coronavirus Update 4-22-2021: The SBA has one pandemic job, and it failed @nivassoc #saveourstages

On April 8, the Small Business Association opened its Covid relief program for concert halls and other performing arts venues. Or at least it was supposed to. This $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program—part of the $900 billion rescue package Congress approved nearly four months ago—is supposed to offer grants equal to 45% of a venue's gross earned revenue up to $10 million per business. The SBA had to immediately close its SVOG portal when crashed from the volume of applications....
Tags: Law, Congress, PPP, WSJ, Oklahoma City, SBA, Stephen Tyler, Bauman, RRF, Jon Hyman, Small Business Association, National Independent Venue Association, SVOG, Chris Bauman, Zenith Music Group, Filip Andrejevic


Justices unanimously reject FTC’s authority to compel monetary relief

My post summarizing the oral argument in AMG Capital Management v. Federal Trade Commission suggested that it didn’t go well for the FTC because even Justice Stephen Breyer was unreceptive to the broad authority the commission was claiming in its efforts to recoup money from businesses accused of deceiving consumers. That understanding was born out Thursday when Breyer’s opinion for a unanimous court firmly and categorically rejected the commission’s argument. As Breyer explains, the case inv...
Tags: Featured, Law, Congress, Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Ftc, Stephen Breyer, Breyer, Merits Cases, AMG Capital Management, AMG Capital



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