Right-wing hopes to abolish Obamacare preventative coverage mandates for “homosexuals,” the “promiscuous”

The fine people over at poz.com have a good article about a sleeper case before a federal court in Texas that could, should it end up at the right-wing Supreme Court, force millions to pay out-of-pocket for preventative medicine that it now required to be covered under the ACA:

A group of patients and employers are arguing that the requirement is unconstitutional. They also contend that some preventive health measures violate protections under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 that prohibit federal and state rules from unduly burdening one’s exercise of religion.

The ACA provisions “make it impossible for these plaintiffs to purchase health insurance unless they agree to pay for preventive-care coverage that they do not want and do not need” and prevent them from buying less expensive health insurance without that coverage, they argue.

And a requirement that health plans pay for a drug that prevents HIV “forces religious employers to provide coverage for drugs that facilitate and encourage homosexual behavior, prostitution, sexual promiscuity, and intravenous drug use,” the group argues.

Neither the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case nor the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the defendant, responded to requests for comment.

The federal judge hearing the case, Reed O’Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, in 2018 struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional, only to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2021. Supporters of the law are worried he will decide in favor of the plaintiffs in the new case.

“This judge has shown he is not shy about abolishing the entire Affordable Care Act and issuing nationwide injunctions,” said Wayne Turner, senior attorney at the National Health Law Program, which litigates on behalf of health equity and access to health care for underserved populations. O’Connor has a history of issuing nationwide injunctions involving federal laws, including the ACA.

And ACA supporters are not confident that a ruling striking down the preventive health requirements would be overturned by the conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit or ultimately by the U.S. Supreme Court, with its majority of Republican-appointed justices.

This would be a disaster in so many ways. But the extreme Right is feeling powerful now that it has a Supreme Court that will likely uphold many of its more extreme positions in court cases.

The Democrats simply must keep control of the House and Senate.

Fox News owners, big-name stars, set to be deposed in $1.6 billion defamation suit

This couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

Some of the biggest names at Fox News have been questioned, or are scheduled to be questioned in the coming days, by lawyers representing Dominion Voting Systems in its $1.6 billion defamation suit against the network, as the election technology company presses ahead with a case that First Amendment scholars say is extraordinary in its scope and significance.

Sean Hannity became the latest Fox star to be called for a deposition by Dominion’s legal team, according to a new filing in Delaware Superior Court. He is scheduled to appear on Wednesday.

Tucker Carlson is set to face questioning on Friday. Lou Dobbs, whose Fox Business show was canceled last year, is scheduled to appear on Tuesday. Others who have been deposed recently include “Judge” Jeanine Pirro, Steve Doocy and a number of high-level Fox producers, court records show.

People with knowledge of the case, who would speak only anonymously, said they expected that the chief executive of Fox News Media, Suzanne Scott, could be one of the next to be deposed, along with the president of Fox News, Jay Wallace. Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, whose family owns Fox, could follow in the coming weeks.

The depositions are among the clearest indications yet of how aggressively Dominion is moving forward with its suit, which is set to go to trial early next year, and of the legal pressure building on the nation’s most powerful conservative media company. There have been no moves from either side to discuss a possible settlement, people with knowledge of the case have said.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Read the rest here.

Fox News host Jeanine “Box of Wine” Pirro is among the network’s stars set to be deposed in Dominion lawsuit.

Two PA judges, who sent kids to prison so the judges could get kickbacks from private kids prison, ordered to pay $200 million

As someone who spent the latter part of his childhood stuck in the foster care system, I can attest to sense of helplessness you have when the state has total control over your life.

In some ways that state control was an improvement over my emotionally and sexually abusive alcoholic parents, but in other ways you understood that all it would take is one judge having a bad day and you could be sent to some horrible institution, no question asked.

So I’ve followed the Pennsylvania Kids-For-Cash scandal closely, mostly because there but for the grace of God go I (or any foster kid, really):

Two former Pennsylvania judges who orchestrated a scheme to send children to for-profit jails in exchange for kickbacks were ordered to pay more than $200 million to hundreds of people they victimized in one of the worst judicial scandals in U.S. history.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner awarded $106 million in compensatory damages and $100 million in punitive damages to nearly 300 people in a long-running civil suit against the judges, writing the plaintiffs are “the tragic human casualties of a scandal of epic proportions.”

In what came to be known as the kids-for-cash scandal, Mark Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, shut down a county-run juvenile detention center and accepted $2.8 million in illegal payments from the builder and co-owner of two for-profit lockups. Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, pushed a zero-tolerance policy that guaranteed large numbers of kids would be sent to PA Child Care and its sister facility, Western PA Child Care.

Former Luzerne County Court Judges Michael Conahan, front left, and Mark Ciavarella, front right, leave the U.S. District Courthouse in Scranton, Pa., on Sept., 15, 2009. The two Pennsylvania judges who orchestrated a scheme to send children to for-profit jails in exchange for kickbacks were ordered to pay more than $200 million to hundreds of children who fell victim to their crimes.

Ciavarella ordered children as young as 8 to detention, many of them first-time offenders deemed delinquent for petty theft, jaywalking, truancy, smoking on school grounds and other minor infractions. The judge often ordered youths he had found delinquent to be immediately shackled, handcuffed and taken away without giving them a chance to put up a defense or even say goodbye to their families.

“Ciavarella and Conahan abandoned their oath and breached the public trust,” Conner wrote Tuesday in his explanation of the judgment. “Their cruel and despicable actions victimized a vulnerable population of young people, many of whom were suffering from emotional issues and mental health concerns.”

If the world made sense, these two judges would die in prison.

One might. The other was released early because of COVID.

You can read the rest of the AP article here.

Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland is turning out to head a Justice Dept. finally willing to go after Wall Street criminals

One of my favorite chroniclers of the dangerous political times in which we find ourselves is David Dayen at the The American Prospect (TAP). I find his insights to be helpful in understanding the mess we are in, but he is very often hopeful, too.

Such is the case with one of his current articles in TAP. He notes in it that the U.S. Justice Department is finally showing some muscle in prosecuting wrongdoing at the highest echelons of Wall Street — something he starts out by noting has long been absent even in Democratic administrations.

In a country with such a yawning gap between the wealth and influence of elites and the comparatively piddling power of everyone else, to catch what’s really happening at the highest levels of power you must consult news sources like the Vineyard Gazette, a paper covering goings-on in Martha’s Vineyard. A recent chronicle of a book event for former Attorney General Eric Holder offered just such a window.

Holder was asked whether, if he were still running the Justice Department, he would charge Donald Trump, specifically for inciting the riot at the Capitol on January 6th. Holder called out to Lanny Breuer, his head of the Criminal Division while at DOJ, who happened to be in the audience.

“So Lanny, would we bring this case?” asked Holder. “We would bring it in a minute,” replied Breuer, to thunderous applause.

If ever there was a moment of elite historical amnesia, it was this. Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder are jointly responsible as the greatest enablers of criminal impunity in American history. They indicted literally nobody of consequence for the destruction of the U.S. economy in the global financial crisis of 2008, and the mountain of demonstrable fraud that triggered it. In fact, Holder literally had a corner office held for him at Covington & Burling, the corporate defense firm that represented many of the top banks whose executives Holder declined to prosecute, while he served as attorney general.

Why anyone would listen to the views of Holder and Breuer on the subject of holding criminal actors responsible is beyond comprehension. These are two charter members of the chickenshit club.

He then goes on to describe a recent case in which the Justice Dept. sought and won convictions in an important case of Wall Street lying and cheating, something so common it’s shocking it hasn’t happened more often.

But the most hopeful elite accountability moment this week, the one that suggests that maybe the rule of law has a pulse, wasn’t actually conducted with a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. It was a Justice Department victory in a different case that actually holds top officials of one of the nation’s biggest corporate recidivists accountable.

On Wednesday, a jury in Chicago convicted two traders from JPMorgan Chase, including managing director Michael Nowak, who was the head of the bank’s gold trading desk, for financial fraud in gold markets. The traders were engaging in “spoofing,” a practice of entering fake trades to spur activity and boost the commodity price.

Financial-reform observers believe this case involves the most senior bank officers ever charged in recent history, let alone convicted. The Justice Department actually went for a racketeering charge, depicting the precious metals trading desk as a criminal enterprise within the bank. This is incredibly new stuff for a Justice Department that has long been moribund on corporate crime. “RICO is now clearly a valid charge in white-collar criminal cases like this, and that’s a very, very powerful weapon,” said Dennis Kelleher of the financial reform group Better Markets.

You can read the rest of the article at this link.

You can read the Justice Dept. press release about the spoofing case at this link.

It turns out that Trump has ignored previous subpoenas for missing White House records

Jeez, man. It turns out that the Orange Menace from Mar-A-Lago actually did receive a subpoena for the missing records the FBI went hunting for this week. So the perfectly legal search of his Florida manse came only after they ignored the subpoena — and a Trump lawyer signed a paper saying they had turned everything over already.

Former President Donald J. Trump received a subpoena this spring in search of documents that federal investigators believed he had failed to turn over earlier in the year, when he returned boxes of material he had improperly taken with him upon moving out of the White House, three people familiar with the matter said.

The existence of the subpoena helps to flesh out the sequence of events that led to the search of Mr. Trump’s Florida home on Monday by F.B.I. agents seeking classified material they believed might still be there, even after efforts by the National Archives and the Justice Department to ensure that it had been returned.

The subpoena suggests that the Justice Department tried methods short of a search warrant to account for the material before taking the politically explosive step of sending F.B.I. agents unannounced to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s home and members-only club.

Two people briefed on the classified documents that investigators believe remained at Mar-a-Lago indicated that they were so sensitive in nature, and related to national security, that the Justice Department had to act.

Of course, the legal toadies in Trumpland are saying the existence of the subpoena proves they were cooperating and the search by the FBI was not needed.

Sure, sure.

I totally believe that they weren’t ignoring the subpoena and trying to run out the legal clock, just as Trump does every time he faces legal peril.

DA who prosecuted black woman for mistakenly voting (after an official told her she could) and judge who sentenced her to five years are ousted from office

This goes against the media narrative that voters hate progressive DAs and judges, so you won’t hear as much about their loss as you heard about the San Francisco DA losing his race, but it is great news nonetheless.

Voters in Shelby County swept away a slate of tough-on-crime officials on Thursday, ushering in a new era for criminal justice in Tennessee’s most populous county, home to Memphis.

Shelby County has been notorious for punitive practices that leave people languishing in jail for years without a conviction and fuel harsh youth prosecution, largely against Black residents. Local advocates have fought for years to change the system. The county was under federal monitoring by the U.S. Department of Justice for violating the rights of Black children between 2012 and 2018. In 2018, a DOJ report found continued violations and discrimination in juvenile courts, and characterized the policies of the district attorney’s office as a “toxic combination for African-American youth.”

The local officials who oversaw that system, District Attorney Amy Weirich and Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael, were both ousted on Thursday. The winners, Steve Mulroy in the DA race and Tarik Sugarmon in the juvenile judge race, ran on reform agendas and secured eight-year terms.

Mark Ward, a local criminal court judge, also appears to have lost his re-election bid. Ward sparked an outcry earlier this year for sentencing Pamela Moses, a Black activist who was erroneously told by a state agency that she was eligible to register to vote, to six years in prison. That case was prosecuted by Weirich’s office, and Moses decried the aggressive charges as a scare tactic.

You can read the rest of the Bolts article by Daniel Nachanian at this link.

Pamela Moses at trial.

If you want to know how big an idiot Alex Jones really is, watch the video in this tweet

This. Is. Amazing.

He really thinks he’s too sly for everyone in the courtroom to know that 1) deep down he’s shitting his pants because he knows he’s been caught in multiple lies, and 2) he’s feigning nonchalance like it’s a legal strategy he just thought up.

As a verified White Older Guy, I cannot tell you how many guys I’ve known who seriously and 100% completely overestimate their own intelligence this way. Too stupid to know they’re stupid.

Jones, however, really is the master of bloviating his way through his own ignorance and narcissism. It must be all that time on-air screaming about bullet-riddled toddlers in the same breath as scammy hard-on pills.

Alex Jones is eviscerated on cross-examination

Wow, those burns are gonna leave marks. Especially in front of the judge Jones has been excoriating in public.

As his cross-examination kicked off in his defamation damages trial over his claims Sandy Hook was a “hoax,” Alex Jones faced blistering questioning over some recent conspiracy theories that his company Infowars broadcast about the judge presiding over the case.

Mark Bankston, an attorney for the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, rolled tape on the segment, telling the jury that the graphics include an image of “our judge on fire.”

“In fact, Mr. Jones, you’re telling the world not to believe what happens in this courtroom because the judge worked with Child Protective Services, who you say is involved with pedophilia and child trafficking?” the lawyer asked.

After making allegations about the Texas Youth Commission, Jones denied believing the same about Travis County Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, who is presiding over the case.

“No, that’s not what I’m saying,” Jones insisted.

At that point, Bankston rolled tape from Jones’s show on Thursday, in which a voice could be heard making that same allegation. Jones denied directing or producing the segment and suggested that it might be taken out of context.

“Is there anything before and after that that will make it great to show pictures of our judge on fire and tell the world that she’s involved with pedophiles?” he asked. “Tell the context that comes before or after that makes that great.”

The line of questioning had been meant to convey to the jury that Jones is not taking the proceedings seriously — and has scorned the court and even the jury.

“I take this as serious as cancer,” Jones claimed.

After the InfoWars clip was played, Jones asserted that the flames that appear to be consume the judge depict her burning Lady Justice.

Oh, I get it now.

He wasn’t saying the judge in his case needed to be burned.

She was being depicted as Lady Justice, burning with the fires of truth, justice and the American Way.

Jones is toast.

(giggle)

You can read the rest here.

Alex Jones and his legal team are going to walk away with scars from this trial. And, considering the way it’s been going, it’s probably a safe bet that the jurors hate him. Not good in a jury trial.

Things are not going well for Alex Jones and his Sandy Hook defamation case

The always interesting Liz Dye over at Above The Law has a hilarious article up about how things went this week for Alex Jones and his defamation case.

It did not go well.

For reasons unclear, Jones’s company decided that producer Daria Karpova was the best person to represent Infowars on the witness stand. And so she spent yesterday and today unsuccessfully attempting to bob and weave around Bankston’s questions. In a truly spectacular own goal, Karpova characterized a 2017 interview Jones did with Megyn Kelly, then of NBC, as being almost entirely about the Sandy Hook shooting.

For purposes of impeachment, the plaintiffs were then allowed to play the entire 17-minute segment in open court, including a sizzle reel that included Jones calling victims of the 2017 suicide bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester “liberals and trendies,” opining that the videos of kids fleeing Sandy Hook “looked like a drill,” admitting that his “research” consists of pulling up articles on the internet and discussing them with his producers, and refusing to apologize for any of it. And that was before Kelly interviewed Heslin about holding his dead son in his arms to say goodbye.

Karpova further ingratiated herself with the jury by remarking sympathetically that it’s very stressful being Alex Jones because people tell horrible lies about him. This prompted an incredulous outburst from the plaintiffs’ lawyer, who wondered if she understood how “ironic” it was to say such a thing in the room with people whose son was murdered and who then found themselves swept up in a maelstrom of lies by a huckster who flogs supplements online.

At the conclusion of her questioning, Karpova was ushered out into the hall while the jury propounded written questions for her. (Apparently it’s a Texas thing?) In an ominous sign for the defendant, the questions were all of the “when did you stop beating your wife” variety. And yet, counselor Reynal failed to object until Karpova was back on the stand, at which point, realizing his mistake, he attempted to interrupt. Too late!

Things only got worse from there.

You can read the rest here.

Alex Jones, showing the kind of restraint that is no doubt endearing him to the jury.

This is what happens when you heavily arm brain-damaged people

Good lort, gawd almighty, this is the craziest hicks-with-guns story I’ve read in a while.

It starts with the April 22, 2016, execution-style murders of the Rhoden family in Pike County, Ohio.

Prosecutors say they know exactly who executed the eight family members, and they are gearing up to present their case to a jury when the first trial in Ohio’s most costly and complex criminal investigation starts in late August. The trial will give onlookers a front-row view into a corner of America known more through stereotypes than complex realities: a place where, often, family protects family at all costs and where love and loyalty trump all else.

“A lot of this, and I don’t mean this in any kind of derogatory way, is the code of the hills,” said Mike Allen, a Cincinnati-based criminal defense lawyer who has monitored the case from the start. “Family sticks together.”

More than six years and thousands of pieces of evidence later, prosecutors are expected to unfurl a diabolical scheme by four members of one family to kill eight members of another.

The alleged motive: to obtain sole custody of a shared daughter, who was a toddler at the time.

George Wagner IV, 30, faces 22 charges alleging that he was part of his family’s criminal enterprise in the planning, plotting, execution and coverup in the shooting deaths of Christopher “Chris” Rhoden Sr., 40; Chris Rhoden’s former wife, Dana Manley Rhoden, 37; their children, Clarence “Frankie” Rhoden, 20, Hanna May Rhoden, 19, and Christopher “Chris” Rhoden Jr., 16; Frankie’s fiancee, Hannah Hazel Gilley, 20; Christopher Sr.’s brother Kenneth Rhoden, 44; and their cousin Gary Rhoden, 38.

So many twists and turns. So much bloodshed. All for nothing more than a custody fight among hillbillies with guns.

You can read the rest of the article by Chris Graves at this link.