Seiu Brouhaha; Huckabee Courts Young Voters
November 01, 2007

Union Blues [Philip Elliott, AP]: "Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards on Wednesday accepted the endorsement of the New Hampshire Service Employees International Union amid questions about the validity of the vote. According to those involved, the union's board voted Oct. 23 to endorse Sen. Barack Obama." Health Reform in the Works?

Today In Union Endorsements
October 31, 2007

Labor of Love I: [Jesse J. Holland, AP]: “Hillary Rodham Clinton won the presidential endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees on Wednesday, an important union boost for the Democratic front-runner. … The union is the largest for workers in the public service sector with 1.4 million members nationwide.” Labor of Love II: [Christine Hauser, The New York Times]: Mr. Edwards will appear today at a rally in Concord, where one of the New Hampshire locals of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1984, will present its endorsement.

Embassy Blues
October 31, 2007

A propos of reports that a terror attack against the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan was recently thwarted, William Langewiesche's revealing (and somber) piece in this month's Vanity Fair offers some insights into why embassies are security disasters: in June 1985 [a State Department] panel issued a report that called predictably for the wholesale and radical fortification of roughly half of the 262 U.S. diplomatic facilities overseas.

The Crack Gap, Reformed (sorta)
October 31, 2007

You've probably seen this: The Supreme Court just put a de facto moratorium on all executions until Baze v. Rees, a lethal injection case from Kentucky, gets decided next spring. (Here's one prediction on how that will turn out.) For my money, though, the bigger criminal-justice news is that, tomorrow, the U.S. Sentencing Commission's new guidelines come into effect, reducing the disparity in penalties for crack and powder cocaine. It's not a huge change (see here), but it's something.

Partisanship And Activism On The Supreme Court
October 31, 2007

We have been engaged in a long-term study of judicial voting patterns, and we  recently published an oped in the Los Angeles Times, in which we gave “awards” to Supreme Court justices, based on a statistical study of their votes. The Judicial Neutrality Award went to Justice Anthony Kennedy. The Judicial Restraint award went to Justice Stephen Breyer. The less coveted Partisan Voting Award went to Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Antonin Scalia received the Judicial Activism Award.

Post-debate, Clinton Picks Up Endorsement, Ire
October 31, 2007

AFSCME Pushes One More Lady [Steven Greenhouse, The Caucus (NYT)]: "Gaining one of the biggest endorsements that organized labor has to offer, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is to receive the endorsement at 1:30 p.m. today of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union official said today."  More on AFSCME below.   Wrestling Russert [Tom Bevan, RealClearPolitics]: "Blaming Russert [for yesterday's debate] is not only ridiculous, it makes Hillary and her campaign look like a bunch of spoiled children.

Immunity (sort Of)
October 31, 2007

The New York Times today briefly attempts to clarify the murky issue of Blackwater's immunity deal with the State Department. According to the Times, Blackwater was offered a special type of immunity called a Garrity Warning, typically offered to law enforcement officials who may have done something illegal.

Gloves Off For Democratic Debate
October 30, 2007

  Showdown: [Nedra Pickler, AP]: “Seven Democratic presidential candidates are scheduled to participate in a two-hour debate starting at 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday and telecast on MSNBC. It's their first debate in a month, and during that time Clinton has solidified her position as the front-runner, gaining in polls, taking the lead in fundraising and dominating the agenda.”   Copycat: [Klaus Marre, The Hill]: “Claiming that both Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) are going negative in the race for the Democratic nomination, Sen.

If You Read One Post About Waterboarding
October 30, 2007

...make it this one, by Malcolm Nance, a longtime counter-terrorism agent: The carnival-like he-said, she-said of the legality of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques has become a form of doublespeak worthy of Catch-22. Having been subjected to them all, I know these techniques, if in fact they are actually being used, are not dangerous when applied in training for short periods. However, when performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt.

Death At What Price?
October 26, 2007

The Georgia criminal-justice system is getting its fifteen minutes of fame today, mostly thanks to the news that the state Supreme Court mercifully decided to overturn the absurd ten-year prison sentence given to Genarlow Wilson for receiving oral sex from a girl two years his junior. But the Los Angeles Times has a more interesting story from the Peach State: Republicans in the state legislature are up in arms that Brian Nichols, who is accused of rape and four murders, is racking up more than $1.2 million in legal fees in his capital-murder case.