Constitutional Law

Supreme Court Mocks God

In the second act of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare has his heroine say, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” As near as I can tell, Shakespeare was promoting the idea that no matter what you call something, a thing or a person is what it is.

If that’s what Shakespeare meant, I imagine he would have as tough a time with current events as I do. As near as I can tell, our present-day world says, “Anything can be called a rose, if you want it to be a rose.”


1. In 1976 — as a guy — Bruce Jenner won the Decathlon at the Olympic Games in Montreal. But now I find out that Jenner has always felt he was a girl. And now, as Caitlyn Jenner, he has won ESPN’s Courage Award. Sounds strange to me, but that’s the way it is.

2. I used to think Girl Scouts were for girls and Boy Scouts were for boys. Apparently, I was wrong as recently the Girl Scouts said, “Girl Scouts exists to serve ‘all girls,’ no matter what they look like or their biological gender.” This also sounds strange to me, but that’s the way it is.

Finally, an expert on the matter summed it up this way: “A person is what he or she wants to be.”

That worked well until the story of Rachel Dolezal made it into the news. Dolezal is a Black lady who is the head of her local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The only problem — Dolezal isn’t Black; she’s the estranged daughter of two white people.

Now Dolezal has gone on record as saying she always “felt she was Black,” but the same news media that applauds Bruce (or Caitlyn) Jenner for his (or her) boldness, has condemned Dolezal and says she is “nuts.”

And I have always heard that chair is still a chair,even when there’s no one sitting there;
But a chair is not a house, and a house is not a home without a family.

And two people living together in sin without the blessings of the Church and the assurances of God is not a marriage.

Yes, it’s confusing to me. Maybe it is to you too.

The Supreme Court, in 5 to 4 Decision, says two homosexuals can marry. No, they can live together in sin in a committed relationship; but, they cannot have a baby, and they cannot make a marriage. And it is not the marital institution that God ordained and gave to man. Why do people act like God did not know what He was doing when he made man and woman and joined them in Holy Matrimony.

The Supreme Court has found that homosexuals have a constitutional right to marriage. Yes, well, homosexuals can purchase a marriage license, but beyond that they can only imitate the marital relationship.

This is a decision that would have been unthinkable just  5 years ago.

It is better to obey God rather than man.

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Independent Judiciary Checks Imperial Presidency; Circuit Court Rules Against Obama Amnesty Action

A panel of three judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s order halting President Obama’s executive action delaying deportation for up to 5 million illegal aliens.

The 5th Circuit denied a motion to stay the injunction and narrow its scope because, determining the government is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its appeal.

The opinion said the government’s action “makes aliens who were not otherwise qualified for federal public benefits eligible for ‘social security retirement benefits, security disability benefits, [and] health insurance under Part A of the Medicare program.’”

“Further, ‘each person who applies for deferred action pursuant to the [DAPA] criteria … shall also be eligible to apply for work authorization for the [renewable three-year] period of deferred action.’”

Such procedures would allow illegal aliens to “‘obtain a Social Security Number,’ ‘accrue quarters of covered employment,’ and ‘correct wage records to add prior covered employment,’” the opinion said.

It warned that should the program ultimately struck down, the illegal aliens who participated would have benefited improperly.

The injunction, the judges said, preserves the status quo.

“Under the injunction, DHS can choose whom to remove first; the only thing it cannot do is grant class-wide lawful presence and eligibility for accompanying benefits as incentives for low-priority aliens to self-identify in advance,” the court said.

The ruling Tuesday, 26 May, upheld the injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen.

His preliminary injunction in February said: “The United States of America, its departments, agencies, officers, agents and employees and Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; R. Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of United States customs and Border Protection; Ronald D. Vitiello, deputy chief of United States Border Patrol, United States Customs and Border Protection; Thomas S. Winkowski, acting director of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and Leon Rodriguez, director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services are hereby enjoined from implementing any and all aspects or phases of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents.

Hanen later refused a government request to lift his order halting Obama’s DAPA program.

The appeals court ruling marks a huge setback for Obama’s strategy of giving millions of Democrat-leaning illegals a pathway to legal residency, Social Security numbers and other benefits, including critics say, voting rights.

David Limbaugh’s book chillingly documents the destructive “transformation” of the United States — get “The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama’s War on the Republic”

The case was brought by 26 states, led by Texas.

The judge released documentation of what he described as the government’s misleading statements, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Hanen’s ruling followed tense exchanges in court between government lawyers and the judge. Hanen had expressed frustration with the government for failing to inform him that officials had given deferred action to 108,000 applicants shortly after Obama announced his plan in November.

“The court expects all parties, including the government of the United States, to act in a forthright manner and not hide behind deceptive representations and half-truths,” Hanen wrote.

Attorneys for the 26 states are arguing Obama’s executive action causes “irreparable harm” to their local interests.

WND reported Hanen ordered, at the time, the government to explain why federal officials had approved tens of thousands of three-year exemptions between Nov. 24, 2014, and Hanen’s injunction.

Hanen’s order, Feb. 16, did not block a 2012 plan that offers amnesty to those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

But that program doesn’t provide for three-year exemptions, only two-year exemptions. The new exemptions are part of the administration’s November orders, which are the subject of the current case.

The Texas case was joined by Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has a similar case before a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C..

Hanen’s order faulted the Obama amnesty plan because officials failed to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act.

Meanwhile, Obama, according to the Washington Times, told a Miami crowd he would move ahead with his executive action on immigration and vowed his administration would become even more aggressive in the weeks and months to come.

A filing from attorney Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch noted Obama said: “This is just one federal judge. We have appealed it very aggressively. We’re going to be as aggressive as we can.”

Wrote Klayman: “The Obama administration is continuing to signal not only its disagreement with the court’s order, which is its right, but beyond that its non-compliance with the court’s order.

The Texas lawsuit was filed when the states suddenly faced massive new demands for public services such as schooling and health care from foreigners who previously had been subject to deportation.

Hanen granted a preliminary injunction that prevents the government from enforcing the Obama administration’s immigration orders. The ruling also confirmed WND’s exclusive report that, contrary to popular perception, the order to delay deportation was not an executive order by the president. Instead, it was a memorandum issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson at Obama’s direction.

Klayman even noted that according to a Weekly Standard report, Obama was threatening “consequences” for federal employees who followed the judge’s order instead of the amnesty memos from Johnson.

That report quoted Obama saying: “Until we pass a law through Congress, the executive actions we’ve taken are not going to be permanent; they are temporary. There are going to be some jurisdictions and there may be individual ICE official or Border Control agent not paying attention to our new directives. But they’re going to be answerable to the head of Homeland Security because he’s been very clear about what our priorities will be.”

He continued, “If somebody’s working for ICE … and they don’t follow the policy, there’s going to be consequences to it.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., at the time described the administration’s action as “another program that has not been authorized by law.”

“There’s been no sense at all by President Obama, the Department of Home Security [Secretary] Jeh Johnson, the Democratic members of this Congress, no concern about the employment prospects of lawful immigrants, green card holders and native-born Americans,” Sessions told the Times. “The first thing we should do is be focusing on getting jobs for Americans that are unemployed. Are we going to keep Americans on welfare and benefits while we bring in more and more foreigners to take jobs when we’ve got Americans ready and willing to take those jobs?”

Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also raised the issue of compliance with the court order.

“Violating an unambiguous federal court order by defying its instructions to cease and desist a particular activity would represent a significant breach of your authority, and would be an escalation in abuse of our separation of powers,” Cruz wrote to administration officials. “For a president and his cabinet to telegraph intent to violate a federal court order requires additional scrutiny from Congress.”

But administration officials were unabashed in their intent.

The Washington Times said Cecilia Munoz, White House domestic policy director, addressed the issue: “It’s important to put [Hanen’s order] in context, because the broader executive actions are moving forward. The administration continues to implement the portions of the actions that the president and the Department of Homeland Security took, which were not affected by the court’s ruling.”

Even Obama himself said, however, he couldn’t grant amnesty alone.

House Speaker John Boehner has listed 22 times when Obama has made such statements.

For example, in October 2010, Obama said: “I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. … I’ve got to have some partners to do it. … If Congress has laws on the books that says that people who are here who are not documented have to be deported, then I can exercise some flexibility in terms of where we deploy our resources, to focus on people who are really causing problems as opposed to families who are just trying to work and support themselves. But there’s a limit to the discretion that I can show because I am obliged to execute the law. … I can’t just make the laws up by myself.”

WND also reported when yet another a federal judge in Pennsylvania declared the amnesty unconstitutional.

“President Obama’s unilateral legislative action violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause and, therefore, is unconstitutional,” said U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

The judge noted Obama “contended that although legislation is the most appropriate course of action to solve the immigration debate, his executive action was necessary because of Congress’ failure to pass legislation, acceptable to him, in this regard.”

“This proposition is arbitrary and does not negate the requirement that the November 20, 2014, executive action be lawfully within the president’s executive authority,” the judge wrote. “It is not.”

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Cadet Webster Smith’s Former Attorney, Ronald Machen, Was A Good Man, Once

The Obama Administration’s latest gift to Lois Lerner, the former IRS tax-exempt chief, came recently when U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald Machen informed the House of Representatives that he would not file charges on its formal contempt citation against Ms. Lerner. This absolution, which shields Ms. Lerner from a grand jury probe, came on Ronald Machen’s final day on the job. Then he pulled a quick disappearing act.

                                                            (Ronald Machen)

To review the Facts:

Ronald Machen is no stranger to high profile cases, and he has taken his share to the U.S. Supreme Court.


He represented former Coast Guard Academy cadet, Webster Smith in his efforts to overturn his 2006 court-martial conviction.


(Lois Lerner)

If Americans know anything about the IRS it’s that it accepts no excuses, and so they trudged wearily on Wednesday, April 15th, to pay their taxes. That’s in notable contrast to the free passes that keep flowing to the tax agency’s most famous former employee, Lois Lerner.

Ms. Lerner was summoned to the House on May 22, 2013, to answer questions about her role in the IRS’s politically biased review of Tea Party nonprofit group applications for tax-exempt status.

She began her testimony with a statement recounting her career, reprising the scandal and proclaiming her innocence. She ended by saying: “I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws, I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.” Only after she offered this long defense did she claim her right not to incriminate herself by citing the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer questions.

House lawyers determined that, in making that statement, Ms. Lerner had forfeited her right to remain silent. The House on May 7, 2014 held her in contempt of Congress and sent the citation to Ronald Machen.

The law clearly explains that the U.S. Attorney’s only “duty” “shall be” to “bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.” Mr. Machen instead sat on the contempt citation for 11 months, and on March 31 sent Speaker John Boehner a letter explaining he ha unilaterally decided not to investigate Ms. Lerner.

According to Ronald Machen’s rationale, Ms. Lerner’s statement made only “general claims of innocence” that did not forfeit her Fifth Amendment rights to refuse to answer questions. To reach this conclusion, Ronald Machen had to willfully ignore that Ms. Lerner, in her statement, rebutted specific accusations against her.

“[M]embers of this committee have accused me of providing false information when I responded to questions about the IRS processing of applications for tax exemption,” she said, before claiming she had never done so. Those accusations had been detailed to her in a letter from former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa, eight days before she testified.

Ronald Machen also had to ignore that Ms. Lerner had prior to her House appearance voluntarily met for an interview with Justice prosecutors. As the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky has noted, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in its 1969 Ellis v. U.S. decision found that “once a witness has voluntarily spoken out, we do not see how his protected interest is jeopardized by testifying in a subsequent proceeding, provided he is not required to disclose matters of substance which are unknown to the Government.”

Since Ms. Lerner had already disclosed to the “government” (prosecutors), she lost her privilege to clam up before Congress. And we’d note that after her House stonewall, she again chose to speak in an interview with the Politico website. Ms. Lerner wants the right not to answer questions except when it suits her public-relations purposes.

In any event, the job of making these legal calls belonged to a grand jury—not Ronald Machen.

                                         (Eric Holder with Ronald Machen)

Then again, this is the prosecutor who in an exit interview with the National Law Journal about his tenure touted his allegiance to Attorney General Eric Holder, describing him as a “tremendous mentor and a tremendous friend.”

After Ronald Machen’s performance in shielding Ms. Lerner from the consequences of her actions, Mr. Holder would no doubt return the compliment. The handling of the IRS scandal is a blot on both of their careers. 

(Source: wall Street Journal Opinion, Apr15, 2015)

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Federal Workers Allowed To View Porn Sites On Government Computers During Work Time

One man’s art is another man’s porn. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 The Birth of Venus is a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as an adult woman, arriving at the sea-shore. The painting is on display at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Bathsheba at Her Bath (or Bathsheba with King David’s Letter) is an oil painting by the Dutch artist Rembrandt (1606–1669) finished in 1654. A depiction that is both sensual and empathetic, it shows a moment from the Old Testament story in which King David sees Bathsheba bathing and, entranced, seduces and impregnates her.

David is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture created between 1501 and 1504, by the Italian artist Michelangelo.

The statue has been reproduced many times. The plaster cast of David at the Victoria and Albert Museum has a detachable plaster fig leaf which is displayed nearby. The fig leaf was created in response to Queen Victoria‘s shock upon first viewing the statue’s nudity, and was hung on the figure prior to royal visits, using two strategically placed hooks.

By the 20th century, Michelangelo’s David had become iconic shorthand for “culture”. David has been endlessly reproduced, in plaster and imitation marble fibreglass, signifying an attempt to lend an atmosphere of culture even in some unlikely settings such as beach resorts, gambling casinos and model railroads.

Peter Paul Rubens was a proponent of the extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, color, and sensuality.

He was a prolific artist. His commissioned works were mostly religious subjects, and “history” paintings, which included mythological subjects, and hunt scenes.

He was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV, King of Spain, and Charles I, King of England.

Religion figured prominently in much of his work and Rubens later became one of the leading voices of the Catholic Counter-Reformation style of painting (he had said “My passion comes from the heavens, not from earthly musings”).

His fondness of painting full-figured women gave rise to the terms ‘Rubensian’ or ‘Rubenesque’ for plus-sized women.

Gustav Klimt was an Austrian symbolist painter . He is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d’art. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body. His works are marked by a frank eroticism. One of the works most popularly associated with his golden period is  The Kiss (shown above)(1907–08).

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I cannot give a working definition of porn, or of art that everyone would agree on; but, I agree with Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.

Justice Potter Stewart is best known for a quotation from his opinion in the obscenity case of Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964). Stewart wrote in his short concurrence that “hard-core pornography” was hard to define, but that “I know it when I see it.

For one Federal Communications Commission worker, his porn habit at work was easy to explain: Things were slow, he told investigators, so he perused it “out of boredom” — for up to eight hours each week.

Lack of work has emerged time and again in federal investigations, and it’s not just porn, nor is it confined to the FCC. Across government, employees caught wasting time at work say they simply didn’t have enough work to do, according to investigation records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

“He stated he is aware it is against government rules and regulations, but he often does not have enough work to do and has free time,” investigators wrote of another federal employee, this one at the Treasury Department, who viewed more than 13,000 pornographic images in a six-week span.

Investigations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Commerce Department and the General Services Administration have turned up similar cases, though memos show the employees rarely face criminal prosecution for time and attendance fraud.

A spokesman for the FCC declined to comment on what, if any, action the agency took after the FCC’s inspector general singled out the eight-hour-a-week porn peeper.

Brian Miller, a former inspector general for the General Services Administration, said federal managers may be hoarding resources, including employees who have little work to do. (Associated Press)

Brian Miller, a former inspector general for the General Services Administration, said federal managers may be hoarding resources, including employees who have little work to do.

FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield said only that the agency follows Office of Personnel Management guidelines on disciplinary matters and officials could not comment on specific cases.

In another recent case, a GSA employee who spent about two hours a day on a computer looking at pornography and dating sites “sometimes became bored during these long hours at the computer and would often use the computer for personal use to pass the time,” according to a case report by the GSA inspector general last year.

In a more recent and far more costly example, U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board paralegals received salaries and bonuses for years even though they spent much of their time watching television, shopping online, exercising and wasting time on their tablet computers, according to an investigation released this week by the Commerce Department’s inspector general. Investigators estimate that more than $4 million was spent paying employees for time they weren’t working.

The paralegals, who can’t create their own work, later told investigators that the reason was simple: Supervisors weren’t giving them any assignments. Some supervisors were reluctant to give paralegals special projects out of fear that the assignments could antagonize the labor union.Brian Miller, a former GSA inspector general who is now managing director of the consulting firm Navigant, said executives may feel reluctant to let go of employees.

“Today, federal managers are under many constraints,” he said. “With hiring freezes and budget limitations, a federal manager may hoard resources, squirreling them away for fear of losing even unneeded resources.

“It takes a very strong manager to stand up and do the unpopular thing: to manage resources efficiently.”

No matter what evidence the inspector general turns up, he said, it’s ultimately up to the agencies to hold employees accountable.

“At the end of the day, an IG may recommend a course of action, but the IG has no power to make it happen,” he said. “An IG warns, reports, and recommends, but agency managers administer disciplinary actions and make changes in the agency.”

Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union, said there is no doubt that downtime contributes to federal workplace downtime.

“There’s a reason that saying about idle hands has such a long lineage,” Mr. Sepp said. “Not everyone with excess time in the workplace will spend it helping their colleagues get caught up or knitting clothes for the less fortunate,” he said.

“There needs to be a balanced approach to reform here, one that provides more flexibility to reassign workers’ duties, aggressive enforcement of whistleblower protections, incentives for agencies and managers that save tax dollars, and penalties for those that fail to properly oversee them,” Mr. Sepp said.

Some administration officials have come under criticism for allowing workers to remain on the job even in the face of clear misconduct findings.

In March, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee railed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for not firing several employees involved in misconduct investigations. The employees included a senior executive who investigators said hired friends and family and sold weight loss products from the office.

The Washington Times reported on other time and attendance issues at HUD this year. One case involved an auditor who worked on private business from the office and later said work sometimes was impossible because the department’s computers were frequently down.

(McElhatton, Jim; Feds Go easy On Bored Workers Surfing Porn, The Washington Times, p. A-1, Aug. 1, 2014)



(McElhatton, Jim; Feds Go easy On Bored Workers Surfing Porn, The Washington Times, p. A-1, Aug. 1, 2014)
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Federal Appeals Courts Split on Health Care Subsidy


Good. This means that we are a nation of laws and the Rule of Law still applies. The Rule of the Political Party does not control; not yet, anyway. But wait, this is not over. The DOJ plans to appeal this decision to the full Washington DC Circuit Court. This was a 2-1 majority decision by 3 judges out of the full 11 on the DC Circuit. 4 of the 11were appointed by Obama and 7 of the 11 were appointed by Democrats. If the Rule of Law still governs in America, then an “en banc” decision by the full 11 judges will result in the same decision. But if political party trumps the Law then an appeal would result in the politically absurd ruling advanced by the Democrats who pushed thru the flawed and defective ObamaCare Law.

Two federal appeals court rulings put the issue of ObamaCare subsidies in limbo Tuesday, with one court invalidating some of them and the other upholding all of them.

The first decision came Tuesday morning from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The panel, in a major blow to the law, ruled 2-1 that the IRS went too far in extending subsidies to those who buy insurance through the federally run exchange, known as

A separate federal appeals court in Virginia, next door to Washington, DC — the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals — hours later issued its own ruling on a similar case that upheld the subsidies in their entirety.

The conflicting rulings would typically fast-track the matter to the Supreme Court. However, it is likely that the administration will ask the D.C. appeals court to first convene all 11 judges to re-hear that case.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stressed Tuesday that different courts have reached different conclusions on the subsidy issue, and said the latest ruling against the subsidies “does not have any practical impact” at this point on the ability of people to get tax credits. The White House later said the D.C. decision was “undermined” by the Fourth Circuit decision.


Still, the D.C. court ruling nevertheless strikes at the foundation of the law by challenging subsidies that millions of people obtained through the federally run exchange known as

The suit maintained that the language in ObamaCare actually restricts subsidies to state-run exchanges — of which there are only 14 — and does not authorize them to be given in the 36 states that use the federally run system.

The court agreed.

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions  of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly,” the ruling stated.

The case, Halbig v. Burwell, is one of the first major legal challenges that cuts to the heart of the Affordable Care Act by going after the legality of massive federal subsidies and those who benefit from them.

The decision said the law “unambiguously restricts” the subsidies to insurance bought on state-run exchanges.

The dissenting opinion, though, claimed political motivations were at play. “This case is about Appellants’ not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (‘ACA’),” the dissent stated.

The ruling, though likely to be appealed, could threaten the entire foundation of the newly devised health care system. Nearly 90 percent of the federal exchange’s insurance enrollees were eligible for subsidies because of low or moderate incomes, and the outcome of the case could potentially leave millions without affordable health insurance.

“Today’s decision rightly holds the Obama administration accountable to the law,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a written statement adding, “… As it has on so many occasions, the Obama administration simply ignored the law and implemented its own policy instead.”

The next step for the Obama administration would be that they request a so-called en banc ruling, which means there would be a vote taken by all of the judges on the court. An appeals court can only overrule a decision made by a panel if the court is sitting en banc.

Earnest said the Department of Justice will likely appeal to the full D.C. Circuit Court and defended the administration’s position that Congress intended “all eligible Americans” to have access to the subsidies regardless of which entity set up the exchange.

“We are confident in the legal position that we have,” Earnest said.

Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA, said in a written statement that the ruling “represents the high-water mark for Affordable Care Act opponents, but the water will recede very quickly.”

He added, “It will inevitably be placed on hold pending further proceedings; will probably be reheard by all of the 11-member active D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals members, who predictably will reverse it; and runs contrary to” the ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals process could eventually lead to the U.S. Supreme Court deciding on the legality of the subsidies, but Pollack, whose group supports the law, believes that won’t happen.

Of the 11 judges that could rehear the case, seven are Democrats and four are Republicans.

Halbig v. Burwell, which previously had been called Halbig v. Sebelius, is one of four federal lawsuits that have been filed aimed at targeting the idea of tax credits and other subsidies afforded under ObamaCare.

A total of $1 trillion in subsidies is projected to be doled out over the next decade.

A U.S. District Court previously sided with the Obama administration on Jan. 15.

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And Another Right Bites The Dust.

Federal Judge Upholds Warrantless Search of Passengers’ Laptops and Other Devices.

Your rights to privacy, free speech and unreasonable searches and seizures have just taken a giant hit. A Federal District Judge in New York has just ripped the guts out of the 4th Amendment to the U S Constitution.

Warrantless searches without probable cause or even suspicion are now part of a broader pattern of aggressive government surveillance that collects information on the average presumed innocent American citizen, under lax standards, and without adequate oversight.


A federal judge in New York on December 31 upheld a government policy that permits officers at U.S. borders to inspect and copy the contents of travelers’ laptops and other devices without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman dismissed a lawsuit by a university student and a group of criminal defense lawyers and press photographers challenging regulations adopted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that allow searches of passengers’ electronic equipment at the nation’s borders, including at airports and on trains.Full coverage: NSA Secrets



The plaintiffs, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, allege that the policy violates their rights to privacy and free speech.

Korma, a judge in the Eastern District of New York, said that the policy permits searches with or without suspicion, and cited case law that held that “searches at our borders without probable cause and without a warrant are nonetheless ‘reasonable.’”
He said that “there is about a 10 in a million chance” that a U.S. citizen or foreigner’s laptop will be searched. Two federal appeals courts have held that searches of electronic devices are routine border searches.
One federal appeals court has held that some searches may require reasonable suspicion.
One of the plaintiffs, university student Pascal Abidor, had his laptop inspected and taken by Customs and Border Protection officers while he was on an Amtrak train from Montreal to New York in May 2010. It was returned 11 days later.
Abidor could prove no injury from the laptop’s confiscation and in any case, Korman said, the officers had reasonable suspicion to inspect it.
Abidor, an Islamic studies scholar and a dual French-American citizen, had images of rallies by the militant Islamist groups Hamas and Hezbollah on his laptop.
Catherine Crump, the ACLU attorney who argued the case in July 2011, expressed disappointment at the ruling.
“Suspicionless searches of devices containing vast amounts of personal information cannot meet the standard set by the Fourth Amendment of the U s Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures,” Crump said in a statement. “Unfortunately, these searches are part of a broader pattern of aggressive government surveillance that collects information on too many innocent people, under lax standards, and without adequate oversight.”
The ACLU is considering an appeal.

(By Ellen Nakashima)

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