Monday, January 30, 2017

Jeff Sessions has convenient amnesia

Before the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on Jeff Sessions’ nomination to be attorney general, senators should demand an explanation for the sudden bout of amnesia he had at his nomination hearing earlier this month.

When Sen. Patrick Leahy asked him about his past support for imposing mandatory death sentences on people twice convicted of dealing marijuana, Sessions smiled and claimed to have a foggy memory.

“Well, I’m not sure under what circumstances I said that,” he told the committee.

Perhaps this will refresh Sessions’ memory:

In 1996, when serving as Alabama’s attorney general, he promoted H.B. 242, S.B. 291, a state bill to establish mandatory death sentences for a second drug trafficking conviction, including for dealing marijuana. His support for the bill was reported at the time by several local newspapers, as well as The Alabama Lawyer, the Alabama State Bar’s official publication. The Alabama Lawyer described the bill as part of a legislative package that Sessions and then-Governor Fob James proposed to “fix a broken system.”

On Feb. 29, 1996, for example, The Huntsville Times reported that the proposed package of bills to fight crime by “ending parole, eliminating part of the appeals in death penalty cases, and executing people twice convicted of being drug kingpins” had drawn “praise from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

The drug bill was advertised as targeting “kingpins,” but to qualify for execution, the defendant merely needed to lead a group of five people and make the minimum wage in drug proceeds. Alabama’s minimum wage was US$4.25 per hour in 1996.

We teach and study death penalty law, but you didn’t need to be an expert to know that the bill to execute drug dealers would “never pass constitutional muster,” as The Huntsville Times then reported. That’s because by 1987, the Supreme Court had completely banned mandatory death sentences. The court ruled that the individual circumstances of the crime and defendant must always be considered. Furthermore, in 1977, the high court had held that even in cases of rape, the death penalty is “grossly disproportionate,” “excessive” and therefore unconstitutional.

Despite Sessions’ support, the Alabama bill never passed. Presumably, the Alabama legislature had a better understanding of wise policy and the Constitution than their attorney general did.

Making a broken system worse

At his nomination hearing, Sessions said that he currently does not support mandatory executions for drug trafficking. But the fact that he once supported it in direct violation of established constitutional law is deeply troubling, especially in light of his direct knowledge, as Alabama attorney general, of the prosecutorial misconduct, racial bias and systematically weak defense lawyering that permeated the state’s capital system. As the state’s top attorney between 1995 and 1997, Sessions sought to uphold more than 40 death sentences, even in the most questionable circumstances.

For example, Sessions knew that during trial, prosecutors had hidden DNA-related evidence from Larry Padgett that pointed to his innocence. Yet Sessions still tried to convince the Alabama Supreme Court to uphold Padgett’s death sentence. Thankfully, Sessions was unable to persuade Alabama’s highest court. Padgett was exonerated at his second trial.

Sessions also worked to uphold the death penalty against defendants who’d received grossly inadequate legal representation, such as Jimmy Lee Dill. At the guilt phase of Dill’s trial, his lawyers didn’t call a single witness. They thus failed to present evidence that the victim died due to improper medical care, more than nine months after Dill shot him during a drug deal gone awry. The attorneys also failed to submit mitigating evidence at sentencing, telling the judge that “we were just blank on submitting it.” Had they tried harder, the attorneys would have found powerful mitigating evidence: Dill was intellectually disabled and had been sexually abused as a child, according to Bryan Stevenson, the renowned public interest lawyer who took on his case a month before he was executed in 2009.

Dill was represented at trial by court-appointed lawyers whose compensation for out-of-court preparation was capped at $1,000 by Alabama law. This is very low pay given the time-intensive nature of capital defense work. A study of federal capital trials in the 1990s found that defense attorneys spent an average of 1,480 out-of-court hours preparing death penalty cases.

As Alabama attorney general, Sessions could have sought reforms to address the glaring flaws in his state’s capital system. Instead, he chose to promote policies such as executing small-time drug dealers, and reducing death penalty appeals in a state where judges were already overriding jury decisions against the death penalty.

Sessions’ purported forgetfulness at his nomination hearing can be explained in two ways.

One explanation is that he lied under oath and actually remembered supporting the bill. Indeed, Sessions also may have been reminded by a New York Times op-ed we published the day before his hearing, which highlighted his support for the bill.

Alternatively, President Trump’s pick for attorney general really did forget promoting the legislation. This possible explanation is perhaps more frightening: that Sessions couldn’t recall advocating to kill drug dealers would suggest that he didn’t give much thought to backing such an extreme and unlawful policy.

At the end of the day, we need an attorney general who is trustworthy, understands the demands of the Constitution and respects them, and has good judgment on criminal justice enforcement policy. The record of Jeff Sessions as Alabama’s attorney general and his current evasiveness about his prior support for a mandatory death penalty for marijuana dealers raises concerns on all these grounds.


Source

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Don't let them gut net neutrality

From Demand Progress:

"This Is the Year Donald Trump Kills Net Neutrality."1 That’s the disturbing headline from WIRED. And it’s not just speculation.

News just broke that Trump has picked longtime Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to become FCC commissioner.2

Pai has opposed strong net neutrality rules from the start and has already promised top telecommunications industry lobbyists that the GOP-led FCC will repeal net neutrality "as soon as possible."3

And net neutrality enemy Marsha Blackburn has been chosen to lead the powerful Communications and Technology subcommittee that could decide net neutrality’s fate in Congress.4

It’s time for us to step up and fight back to make clear that the grassroots won’t let Congress and Trump’s FCC gut net neutrality.

Sign the petition to Congress: Stand with a free and open internet and protect net neutrality!

Because of Demand Progress members’ activism, the FCC received more than 4 million comments in support of strong net neutrality rules that treat the Internet like a public utility, making it equally accessible to all.

Thanks to your action, we won. And we didn’t stop there.

Enabled by the FCC’s historic reclassification of the internet as a telecommunications service, we’ve won rules to protect net neutrality by banning internet slow-lanes, and to protect internet subscriber privacy.

But now, Trump and his Republican allies on the FCC have made it clear that they will side with big corporations and end a free and open internet for all.

Sign the petition to Congress: Stand with a free and open internet and protect net neutrality!

Congress can stop Trump from gutting the FCC. That’s why we’re already working to ready our net neutrality champions in Congress and Silicon Valley to speak out against the upcoming assault on net neutrality. But that’s not enough without your help.

We must mount a massive grassroots outcry to make sure Congress knows the American people want net neutrality to remain the law of the land. A huge public outcry has saved the net neutrality rules every time corporate lobbyists have attacked it, and we can’t stop now.

Sign the petition to Congress: Stand with a free and open internet and protect net neutrality!

Sources:
1. WIRED, “This Is the Year Donald Trump Kills Net Neutrality,” January 2, 2017.click here
2. ABC News, “Report: 'Net Neutrality' Foe Ajit Pai Is New FCC Head,” January 20, 2017.click here
3. Federal Communications Commission, “Letter to CEOs of Wireless Industry Leaders,” December 19, 2016.click here
4. Ars Technica, “Author of anti-net neutrality “Internet Freedom Act” gains leadership position,” January 6, 2017.click here

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Senate Judiciary Committee delays Sessions' nomination

From The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML):

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have requested a one week delay on the vote to advance Jeff Sessions to the full Senate for confirmation to become the next Attorney General.
Throughout his confirmation hearing, Sessions has yielded little information with regard to how he will address the growing divide between state and federal marijuana laws. If anything, his responses have left the door open for the enhanced enforcement of federal laws in states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

Senator Sessions has a long and consistent record of opposing any efforts to reform marijuana policy. He has a history of outrageous remarks including stating that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot,” that “good people do not smoke marijuana,” and previously spoke in support of legislation that would have opened the door to individuals with multiple marijuana distribution convictions receiving the death penalty.

Email your Senators to tell them to oppose Jeff Sessions and protect the security and liberty of the millions of Americans currently benefiting from legalization.

While the vote’s delay is not necessarily indicative that a majority of members are having second thoughts in regards to Sen. Sessions’ nomination, it does provide us with additional time to make our opposition heard.

Even if you have done so already, please take 30 seconds today to email your Senators and tell them to stand against marijuana prohibitionists like Jeff Sessions.

You can also call your Senators through the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Thanks for all you do,
The NORML Team

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reschedule Medical Marijuana and allow health insurance coverage

Medical Marijuana is the safest medication known to man. It has relatively low side effects and has been found to help reduce symptoms of many health condtions. Millions of americans benefit from the theraputic effects of medical marijuana but have trouble affording the medicine they need, The present law and scheduling of marijuana prevents insurance companies from covering a beneficial medication and should be changed immediately!

To sign the petition

Jeff Sessions' nomination is stalled-for now

From The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML):

While this in no way means that Sessions will not merely be advanced and approved next week, it does buy us time to make our voices heard in regards to his stance on marijuana policy. One more week of the federal government not arresting responsible consumers in states that have legalized recreational or medical marijuana. One more week for us to reach out to the Senate to apply more scrutiny to Sessions.

Letters to your Senators

Sessions' nomination is stalled-at the moment. Now is the time to act. Let your Senators know that you do not want Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Act now before it's too late.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Tell Donald Trump to Audit The Fed

From Campaign For Liberty:

"DONALD TRUMP'S ELECTION HAS WALL STREET QUESTIONING THE FUTURE OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE"

Even as the results poured in on Election Day, articles with headlines just like the one above began popping up in the press virtually every hour.

And even as I write to you now, Wall Street banksters, Big Government apologists, and their pals in the media are STILL screaming at the top of their lungs to tell Donald Trump "HANDS OFF!" of the biggest enabler of statism in Washington, D.C.

THE U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK

Their goal is to win the battle for the corrupt big spending status quo in Washington, D.C. before Donald Trump is even sworn in!

If President Trump is serious about "draining the swamp," and returning this country's glory days as a beacon of freedom and prosperity, there are TWO THINGS he can do right now to prove it...

1) Nominate my father, Dr. Ron Paul, to the U.S. Federal Reserve's Board of Governors; and

2) Double-down on past promises to make Audit the Fed part of his first 100 days in office!

If you agree, we simply must rally NOW to ensure Mr. Trump gets our message LOUD-AND-CLEAR, even as Washington, D.C.'s slick lawyers, banksters, and media elites are attempting to sink their fangs into him.

So will you please sign your petition urging Mr. Trump to take these two critical actions right away?

And, if possible, will you agree to your most generous contribution -- whether that's $50 or $25 -- IMMEDIATELY?

Even if all you can do is chip in $10 or $5, it would be a TREMENDOUS help.

The truth is, there is no bigger enemy of liberty today in Washington, D.C. than the Federal Reserve.

From foreign-policy misadventures -- to crushing Big Government boondoggles like ObamaCare -- it's the Fed that foots the bills for Washington, D.C.'s madness when taxing and borrowing don't make ends meet.

Not only that, but the Federal Reserve system leads to:

***CONSTANT ECONOMIC CRISES

Centrally-planned interest rates and money manipulation lead to one economic bubble after another -- just as we saw in the housing crisis;

***THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MIDDLE CLASS

As the cost of everyday necessities soar, those who are NOT on the government dole are forced to make do with less as the value of their money sinks;

***CURRENCY DESTRUCTION

History shows us that riots, violence, and full-scale police states can result when people finally realize our money isn't worth the paper it's printed on and REFUSE to accept it.

What better way for President Trump to take a SLEDGEHAMMER to the Washington, D.C. Leviathan than by nominating my dad to the Fed's Board of Governors and passing Audit the Fed?

Monetary policy is what first inspired my father to leave his career as a medical doctor for the rough-and-tumble world of politics in the early 1970s.

Exposing the Federal Reserve has been his life's mission.

And there's not a crook, crony, corrupt bankster, or bureaucrat who leeches off this system that doesn't fear the very mention of the name RON PAUL.

Placing my father on the Fed's Board of Governors and passing his Audit the Fed Bill would be nothing short of earth-shattering...

But the truth is, America has already seen the earth shatter once on election night, with the jaw-dropping defeat of Hillary Clinton!

Of course, as always, the national media and insiders in Washington, D.C. are trying to co-opt and bend Mr. Trump to their will.

They're praising the parts of his plan to grow government (he certainly has some), while urging him to place on the back burner anything like Audit the Fed that would "rock the boat."

And even as rioters all over the country destroyed property and issued death threats after the election, they urged him to use "caution" and show "magnanimity."

They're attempting to build a cocoon around him, so that the only voices he hears are theirs...

That's why you and I have to take action NOW.

Please sign your petition right away.

And, if possible, please agree to your most generous contribution.

Your generous gift will help Campaign for Liberty mobilize an army of patriots all over the country to ensure our message grows louder, louder and LOUDER!

How many times have we seen the American people cast their votes for freedom at the ballot box -- only to have it dashed?

How many times have promises been broken?

And how much more can our country take?

We have to take this opportunity to strike at the very heart of the Washington, D.C. Leviathan.

We have to finally end the Fed's grip on our economy.

If you agree, please sign your petition.

Please agree to your most generous contribution right away -- whether that's $50, $25, $10 or even $5.

Your action and support would mean the world to me.

In Liberty,

Ronnie Paul
Chairman of the Board

P.S. If President Trump is serious about "draining the swamp," and returning this country's glory days as a beacon of freedom and prosperity, there are TWO THINGS he can do right now to prove it...

That's nominate my father, Dr. Ron Paul, to the U.S. Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, and double-down on past promises to make Audit the Fed part of his first 100 days in office!

But with Washington, D.C. insiders attempting to bend Mr. Trump to their will, we must act IMMEDIATELY!

So please sign your petition and agree to your most generous contribution of $50, $25, $10, or even $5 right away!