Wednesday News Roundup

October 20, 2004

Watching Justice has a report from the General Accounting Office claiming that the "Justice Department is poorly prepared to document and track complaints about election problems in the November 2nd presidential election."
Election officials in Pennsylvania confirmed that students at Montgomery County Community College, "had their voter registration switched to Republican when they signed a petition supporting the legalization of medicinal marijuana in September."
A federal judge in Michigan ruled that "Michigan must count provisional ballots cast by voters who show up at the wrong polling precincts but are in the right city, township or village." The ruling, opposed by the Bush Administration, eased Michigan's restrictions on provisional ballots that are being required nationally for the first time ever to protect registered voters from being mistakenly turned away at the polls.
Jo Becker of the Washington Post reports on the "Legal Battle for Presidency."
Sinclair Broadcasting, in response to a large grassroots campaign, announced that it "will not air the entire anti-Kerry film Stolen Honor without fair time for reply on the eve of the election," according to TalkLeft.com. Sinclair Broadcasting fired Jon Leiberman, the Washing bureau chief, who was critical of Sinclair's decision to air the anti-Kerry program. Sinclair issued a statement saying, "we are disappointed that Jon's political views caused him to violate company policy and speak to the press about company business."
The L.A. Times' Robert Scheer is reporting that the Bush Administration is, "suppressing a CIA report on 9/11 until after the election, and this one names names. Although the report by the inspector general's office of the CIA was completed in June, it has not been made available to the congressional intelligence committees that mandated the study almost two years ago."
On the eve of negotiations between House and Senate leaders over the 9/11 bill, the White House has sent a letter calling on "lawmakers to move quickly to pass a bill that provides the intelligence director with 'full budget authority' and 'explicit authority' to transfer billions of dollars among spy agencies," according the to New York Times.
SCOTUSblog has a comprehensive set of news links on the Supreme Court's decision in the Texas redistricting cases here.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals will not reconsider its decision to deny Zacarias Moussaoui the opportunity to interview al Qaeda detainees as part of his defense. The earlier ruling does permit Moussaoui to submit written questions to the detainees.
Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick pled guilty to five charges stemming from the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. Frederick's plea was part of a deal made with prosecutors. In exchange for this plea, Frederick will be acquitted on other charges.
The Bush Administration is standing by its decision permitting the National Park Service to sell a book that argues that the Grand Canyon was not created by geological forces but created by the biblical "Noah's flood." According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), "Despite telling members of Congress and the public that the legality and appropriateness of the National Park Service offering a creationist book for sale at Grand Canyon museums and bookstores was 'under review at the national level by several offices,' no such review took place, according to materials obtained by PEER under the Freedom of Information Act."
How Appealing has news on several legal battles over displaying the 10 Commandments.
A federal appeals court in Georgia has declared the use of mass metal-detectors to search protestors unconstitutional. The court held, "We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the war on terror is over, because the war on terror is unlikely ever to be truly over. September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country."
In San Francisco, a federal appeals court ruled that "Confining animal rights activists to small spaces while they were protesting circuses and rodeos at the state-run Cow Palace in San Francisco violated their constitutional free-speech rights"
The Denver Post and the London Telegraph join the long list of major news organizations offering an editorials on the impact that the Presidential election will have on make up of the Supreme Court. The Post opines, "It is a great efficiency of the American democracy that the results of the presidential vote on Nov. 2 will likely influence two branches of government. No matter if the winner is John Kerry or George W. Bush, the chances are that he will have ample opportunity to alter the direction of the U.S. Supreme Court. Court succession is rarely mentioned on the campaign trail, but voters would be wise to ponder how the composition of the court could influence the next generation." Alberto Gonzalez, senior White House lawyer and potential nominee told the London Telegraph, "We haven't had a vacancy on the Supreme Court since 1994. Only one judge is under 65 years old, so there's very likely to be a change. [Even] one vacancy could cause a shift on the very significant issues facing the court."
Sentencing Law and Policy offers an updated breakdown, with links, on how the various state courts have been dealing with the Blakely decision.
Can you skip 3 years of law school and still be lawyer? Slate.com reports that in 7 states (New York, California, Maine, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington) it is possible.
With a 4-2 win over the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox became the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to overcome a 3 game deficit to force a game 7.