Suspicions confirmed

The Chief Justice is no conservative:

A divided Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, reasserting a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices in the first big abortion case of the Trump era.

Chief Justice John Roberts and his four more liberal colleagues ruled that the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violates abortion rights the court first announced in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The outcome is not the last word on the decades-long fight over abortion with dozens of state-imposed restrictions winding their way through the courts. But the decision was a surprising defeat for abortion opponents, who thought that a new conservative majority with two of President Donald Trump’s appointees on board would start chipping away at abortion access.

Roberts is proving to be the most treacherous Chief Justice since Earl Warren. And he is confirming, once more, that no one is going to be voting their way out of this one.

Martial law requires Congress

But don’t rule out them begging the God-Emperor to accept it:

Recently, a rumor that President Trump would impose martial law in response to the COVID-19 pandemic went viral. The story gained enough traction that the National Security Council stepped in to reassure the public it was fake. But Americans, used to dystopian films featuring government takeovers of quiet civilian life, still wonder: Could it happen here?

The answer is probably no — at least under circumstances as they now stand.

The president’s power to declare martial law is not nearly as broad as rumors suggest. The states’ powers are greater, but they too are subject to important restrictions. Nonetheless, uncertainties in the law show the need for Congress and state legislatures to clarify the scope and limits of martial law.

The concept of “martial law” is not well understood, let alone defined, in American law. It usually refers to military forces taking over the functions of ordinary civilian government. The key words are “taking over.” Although the military often provides support and assistance for certain activities performed by civilian authorities — such as carrying out search-and-rescue missions in the aftermath of a natural disaster — actual displacement of civilian government represents a dramatic departure from normal practice.

But it has happened.

There was a period in American history when martial law was relatively common. Between 1857 and 1945, martial law was declared 70 times in the United States. In most cases, a state governor imposed it on a city, county or group of counties. This was sometimes in response to violent civil unrest but more often to break strikes on behalf of business interests. These declarations lasted anywhere from days to years. Martial law was last declared in the United States in 1966, when the governor of California imposed it to suppress unrest in the Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco after a white police officer shot a black teenager.

The federal government has declared martial law too, though far less frequently. Most recently, Hawaii was placed under martial law for the majority of World War II. The U.S. Army controlled every aspect of civilian life on the islands, from criminal justice to curbside trash removal.

We’ll see. It would certainly be remarkable to see the House of Representatives shift from impeaching the President to passing a law declaring martial law and asking him to sign it. But, at this point, would it really be all that surprising?

In the meantime, this picture on Google from March 31 is intriguing.

Repressing American rights

The Prime Minister of Israel publicly admits colluding with U.S. state and federal politicians to further restrict the unalienable rights of Americans:

PM of Israel@IsraeliPM
12 Feb Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted. The UN Human Rights Council is a biased body that is devoid of influence. Not for nothing have I already ordered the severing of ties with it.

PM of Israel@IsraeliPM
It was also not for nothing that the American administration has taken this step together with us. In recent years, we have promoted laws in most US states, which determine that strong action is to be taken against whoever tries to boycott Israel.

Anti-BDS laws are anti-First Amendment, anti-American, and strongly suggest the sort of illegal collusion with a foreign government of which the Trump campaign was falsely accused.  They have already been blocked in Texas and will likely be correctly overturned in Georgia as well.

And while I would very much welcome a complete U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations and observably have no issue working with Israelis – we publish one Israeli author and are contracted to publish another later this year – I am adamantly opposed to all anti-BDS laws and the political corruption that underlies them on the grounds of their overt unconstitutionality. No one who wishes the state of Israel well should support such laws, as they are extremely short-sighted and will only achieve the precise opposite of their nominal objectives.

In fact, they are so obviously counterproductive that it raises the question of whether the Prime Minister is seeking to encourage the U.S. diaspora to make aliyah.

A District Court decision

This is interesting, to be sure.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Monday ordered DoorDash to individually arbitrate employment misclassification claims brought by more than 5,000 couriers, denying its request to pause the proceedings and slamming the company’s “hypocrisy” in requiring workers to sign arbitration and then seeking classwide litigation.

Perhaps someone should send this article to Patreon:

Rejecting claims that the legal process it forced on workers is unfair, a federal judge Monday ordered food-delivery service DoorDash to pay $9.5 million in arbitration fees for 5,010 delivery drivers’ labor demands against the company.

“You’re going to pay that money,” U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in court. “You don’t want to pay millions of dollars, but that’s what you bargained to do and you’re going to do it.”

Barred from filing labor suits in court under the terms of a required arbitration contract, 6,250 DoorDash drivers brought their claims to an arbitrator. Last fall, the American Arbitration Association found each worker met the minimum requirements for filing a claim and ordered DoorDash to pay $12 million in fees. The workers paid $1.2 million in filing fees, or $300 per case.

DoorDash refused to pay its share of fees, arguing the workers failed to specify how much money they were seeking or prove they had a valid arbitration deal with the company.

Another informative article on the subject can be found here. Notice how all of the companies that force arbitration on their employees and consumers in order to avoid class action lawsuits are desperate to avoid actually entering arbitration with them. They’re trying to have their legal cake and eat it too.

This certainly looks promising

I was alerted by several readers about some recent changes at a certain social technology company. After review by some of the LLoE members, a consensus conclusion was reached.

Item One: Patreon has new terms of use. But the effective date is more than a little… odd. I’ve never seen anything like it. Neither had anyone else.

Effective immediately for users joining Patreon on or after December 20th, 2019. Effective for existing users on, and applicable to claims not yet asserted by, January 1st, 2020.

Item Two: Patreon follows the JAMS policy on Consumer Arbitrations, which, as a California corporation, it is required to do.

For creators and patrons who are consumers, we also follow the JAMS Policy on Consumer Arbitrations Pursuant to Pre-Dispute Clauses Minimum Standards of Procedural Fairness for consumer arbitrations done under these terms. For the purpose of an arbitration subject to the consumer standards, if any portion of these terms do not follow that standard, that portion is severed from these terms.

Item Three: Patreon doesn’t understand how California law applies to consumer arbitrations or the JAMS policy it claims to follow. That, or they’re hoping against hope that no one else does.

You may not bring a claim against us for suspending or terminating another person’s account, and you agree you will not bring such a claim. If you try to bring such a claim, you are responsible for the damages caused, including attorneys fees and costs.

Item Four: JAMS, however, does.

In California, the arbitration provision may not require the consumer to pay the fees and costs incurred by the opposing party if the consumer does not prevail.

Patreon already has a pretty good idea they are going to lose. Badly.

Roger Stone guilty on all counts

The verdict is in:

Republican operative Roger Stone was found guilty Friday of all seven counts against him, including witness tampering and making false statements.

Prosecutors portrayed Stone, 67, as a serial liar who tried to bully witnesses into not cooperating with authorities. They charged Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, with making false statements, obstruction and witness tampering in a case that was an offshoot of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Stone is the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of Mueller’s probe.

President Trump had better start handing out presidential pardons soon or no one will stand by him.

Professionally inept

One of the reasons why the converged media companies have been running roughshod over those they’ve targeted for deplatforming is that their victims are afraid to fight back. But if you have, or are, or can find, a competent lawyer who doesn’t play the usual lawyer’s game of waiting until the last possible minute to submit some boilerplate that he plans to revise later, you’ll likely be well ahead of the opposition.

Law firm mistakes number of days in the month, so lawyer files notice of appeal one day after actual deadline. Court dismisses appeal and awards fees.

They even have cute professional jargon for it: calendar the deadline. This sort of thing happens all the time. I’ve personally witnessed it and something similar happened in the Vic Mignogna case. Most lawyers, even very highly credentialed lawyers from very expensive law firms, take a disturbingly blase approach to deadlines, mostly because the established case law permits them to redefine clearly fixed time frames as indefinite periods that are entirely at the judge’s discretion.

Of course, the fact that it is reprehensibly stupid to proactively rely upon the judge being lax about deadlines never occurs to them. We are always careful to prepare our filings as soon as possible, and to file them several days ahead of time, in order to not provide a potentially adversarial judge an excuse to rule against us. Never wait until the last minute!

And on a not-unrelated note, the VFM, the Rubble-bouncers, and the Reprehensibles should be prepared to act very quickly when the Legion’s next campaign is announced tonight around 6:30 PM Eastern. I’ll send out emails, put up a post, and do a Darkstream once the link is live. The amount is irrelevant, as the objective is to establish standing for as many of you as possible. Now, don’t play Smart Boy and demonstrate how much you know about what’s going on here in the comments, but do feel free to indicate if you’re in on this one.

The end of asset forfeiture

It’s remarkable that it has taken this long for a court to find it unconstitutional:

Civil asset forfeiture has been in the crosshairs across the country for years now because it allows police and prosecutors to declare that any money or property owned by a suspect is “connected” to a crime, seize it, and then ultimately keep it for themselves. And because this is a civil process, police and prosecutors can do this without having to convict anybody. It’s the assets that are considered the defendants (in this case, the respondent is actually the $20,771 that Horry County wants to seize from a man charged with trafficking cocaine), prosecutors typically have a lower threshold to make their case than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and people who are pulled into these forfeiture cases don’t have access to public defenders and have to fund their own lawyers.

The end result: Police trying to keep whatever they can grab off anybody they arrest, claiming it’s all proceeds or property connected to criminal activities, and using it to line their own pockets. This incentivizes police to look for people who have assets that can be seized. Local newspapers in South Carolina teamed up to investigate the extent of abuses and discovered police agencies across the state had seized more than $17 million in assets across three years. In one-fifth of the cases, nobody was charged or even arrested for a crime.

Judge John notes all of these problems in a decisive ruling that smacks down the practice of civil asset forfeiture. In his 15-page opinion, he writes that South Carolina’s forfeiture practice violate both the U.S. Constitution and the state’s because the statutes “(1) place the burden on the property owner to prove their innocence, (2) unconstitutionally institutionally incentivizes forfeiture officials to prosecute forfeiture actions, and (3) do not mandate judicial review or judicial authorization prior to or subsequent to the seizure.” He also notes that the statutes violate citizens’ Eighth Amendment protections against excessive fines.

It’s a good start. Now let’s get a conclusive Supreme Court decision setting precedent on the topic. And a federal law banning it.

The difference between power and influence

Russia is the latest nation-state to remind the large multinationals that we are not living in a post-national cyberpunk world. National sovereignty, militaries, and nuclear weapons trump money and media power every time.

Russia’s state communications watchdog has asked Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events” on its YouTube video platform, it said on Sunday.

Tens of thousands of Russians staged what observers called the country’s biggest political protest for eight years on Saturday, defying a crackdown to demand free elections to Moscow’s city legislature. Multiple YouTube channels broadcast the event live.

The watchdog, Roscomnadzor, said some entities had been buying advertising tools from YouTube, such as push notifications, in order to spread information about illegal mass protests, including those aimed at disrupting elections.

It said Russia would consider a failure by Google to respond to the request as “interference in its sovereign affairs” and “hostile influence (over) and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia”.

If the company does not take measures to prevent events from being promoted on its platforms, Russia reserves the right to respond accordingly, Roscomnadzor said, without giving details.

More and more states are learning that it’s not worth permitting these soulless artificial creatures to operate freely and as they see fit in violation of national laws.

The first unsealed Epstein documents

Surprisingly, no serious evidence against Bill Clinton has yet surfaced from the unsealed documents. But, as expected, the connection to Trump, far from being damning, is almost exculpatory.

The first trove of documents has been unsealed in the 2015 defamation case brought against Ghislaine Maxwell by Virginia Roberts. The documents were made public Friday morning just moments after the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the decision to make public over 2000 pages of court filings that had previously been under seal.

Those documents reveal in great detail the three-year period in which Roberts claims she was Jeffrey Epstein and Maxwell’s sex slave.

Roberts has said that in that role she was ‘forced to have sex with …numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister.’

Those men do not include Bill Clinton and Donald Trump though, Roberts revealed in an unsealed deposition. Roberts said in a 2016 deposition that Trump ‘didn’t partake in any sex with us … and never flirted with me.’

She also stated that despite Epstein talking about how the two were friends, she did not recall ever seeing him at the Palm Beach mansion.

There will almost certainly be a good deal more information forthcoming soon. The documents can be downloaded here courtesy of Mike Cernovich. As for the first names to be divulged, they are as follows:

Virginia Giuffre, who says that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her to powerful people for erotic massages and sex, claimed in a 2016 deposition that Maxwell directed her to have sex with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Britain’s Prince Andrew (whom she has accused before), wealthy financier Glenn Dubin, former senator George Mitchell, now-deceased MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, and modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, as well as “another prince,” a “foreign president,” and the owner of a “large hotel chain” in France.

How would this young woman even know the names of Dubin and Minsky, one wonders….