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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

08 Candidates Still Milking the Money Cow Behind the Barn Door

Posted by pbsweeney on February 2, 2007

Fascinating post on The Politico blog by Ken Vogel on how early candidates for the ’08 election are bypassing federal campaign law with state based committees. So you thought the McCain Feingold law was actually gonna work, huh? Apparently, if a candidate is officially undeclared, his soft money PACS can rake in the dough, in some states without individual or corporate limits. So who is availing themselves of this strategy? Among others, our own former Governor Pataki. Read the whole story – it’s clear that there’s work to be done on campaign finance reform on the state level.

Posted in Ethics, Law, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Will the Supremes Go Live?

Posted by pbsweeney on January 30, 2007

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation that will require the Supreme Court to permit television coverage of open Supreme Court proceedings, unless a majority of the Justices determine that the due process rights of one or more litigant would be violated.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Russell Feingold (D-Wiss.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

This is Spector’s third attempt at getting this legislation through. In 2005 his bill never made it to the floor for a vote. At the time he was quoted as saying: “In the context where the Supreme Court decides, really, the cutting-edge questions of our day, it’s very much, in my view, in our interest to have the Supreme Court televised.” In 2000 the Senator co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) that went nowhere as well.

With more than half the Justices on the record opposing the idea, it should be interesting to see how the debate unfolds, particularly surrounding questions on the separation of power between the the Legislative & Judicial branches of government.

Posted in blogging, Ethics, Federal Spotlight, Law, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Best New Year Tip Contest – Win a $20.00 Starbucks Gift Certificate

Posted by pbsweeney on January 8, 2007

Some of us relish the turning of the year; the end of holiday and associated obligations and the end of “wait till after the holidays” laments and delays. Some of us dread returning to the problems that are still sitting around from last year.

So what’s the best way to start the year off? Take a running jump into the work and let everything sort itself out? What about a little review and revise? With the end of the old year fresh in our minds, why don’t we address some of our old or chronic complaints and see if this year might find us in a different place when the year runs out again.

Hamptons Legal says, what’s your best tip on starting off the work year fresh? What have you instituted in your practice that has solved a chronic problem or annoyance? Or what are you trying right now to make the year better? Win a $20.00 Starbucks gift certificate for sharing your tip with the rest of us! Post your tip in the comment section and Hamptons Legal Staff will select one winner to receive a $20.00 Starbucks gift certificate and three winners who will receive a $5.00 certificate for honorable mention. Be sure to provide an email address so we can get the prize to you! Contest closes January 18th, so enter now folks.

Posted in blogging, Business, Humor, Immigration, internet, Law, Life, News, Politics, Practice Management, Real Estate, Research, work | 3 Comments »

Why You Need to Vote Anyway

Posted by pbsweeney on November 6, 2006

There are a lot of good reasons not to vote tomorrow if you feel as disenfranchised as so many Americans do right now. And chances are, you’re not reading this blog if you feel that way. Chances are you stopped watching TV because the ads are so depressing, or you’re freaking out that your vote won’t count anyway with these damn new machines, or you can’t stand to watch another talking head because they insist on screaming non-headlines at you about some poor sap who mispoke or exposed himself as a human being, and not a sanitized, pre-programmed, “product” for a political consumer you just aren’t. Chances are you took a break this weekend and went shopping, or walked along the ocean, or got all existential in a bar.

Now that you feel a little more normal, it’s time to hit those polls tomorrow because underneath it all, you’re a true citizen, even if you feel royally screwed. Underneath it all you do give a damn about the sacred quality of your vote, of pulling that leaver or pushing that button and making who you are and how you feel known throughout the land, even if no one is speaking for you right now. Believe it or not, your vote gets attention. It’s an indisputable fact, that vote, and its such a precious commodity that people and organizations spend millions and millions of dollars to get it. So keep that in mind, get thee to the polls tomorrow, and do your best.

Posted in Ethics, Humor, Law, Life, News, Politics | 1 Comment »

Update on Surveillance of Local Peace Groups

Posted by pbsweeney on October 28, 2006

The ACLU in Maine has retrieved documents using the Freedom of Information Act that detail how local Maine peace groups are under surveillance by the FBI. Read that story in its entirety here….

When I talk to friends about this story, there’s a bit of chuckling about “the good old days” of campus unrest over the Vietnam War and comments like “Feds will be Feds,” and then an odd gloom settles over the conversation. Somehow, Feds these days have a more sinister quality. I’m waiting for the first peace activist to be locked up and held incommunicado under some new, untested classification. But they wouldn’t do that, right? Well maybe not in the old days, but its a new day now. When I look at the peace demonstrators in our towns, mostly 60 plus with kindly faces, it’s hard to imagine new FBI or Pentagon files being opened as we speak, but hey, it’s happening. These are not like the extended campus network of demonstrators who occupied buildings, stopped traffic and chained themselves to federal sites in the late sixties and early seventies. We’re talking quiet, peaceful gatherings on village greens now. So what gives?

Has anyone out there made a FOIA request on behalf of our local groups?

Posted in Ethics, Federal Spotlight, Law, Local Cases of Interest, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Pentagon Surveillance of Local Peace Groups

Posted by pbsweeney on October 15, 2006

This came in from the ACLU news feed. Smile, you’re in a Pentagon anti-terrorism database:

Defense Department Tracked Quakers, Student Groups

NEW YORK — “Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal new details of Pentagon surveillance of Americans opposed to the Iraq war, including Quakers and student groups. The documents show that the Pentagon was keeping tabs on non-violent protesters by collecting information and storing it in a military anti-terrorism database.

“There is simply no reason why the United States military should be monitoring the peaceful activities of American citizens who oppose U.S. war policies,” said ACLU attorney Ben Wizner. “When information about non-violent protest activity is included in a military anti-terrorism database, all Americans should be concerned about the unchecked authority this administration has seized in the name of fighting terrorism.”

The documents come in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU earlier this year after evidence surfaced that the Pentagon was secretly conducting surveillance of protest activities, anti-war organizations and groups opposed to military recruitment policies. The Pentagon shared the information with other government agencies through the Threat and Local Observation Notice (TALON) database.”

Click here for the balance of the article. The actual details of various surveillance activities as presented in these retrieved documents are really fascinating. AND, you can download copies of the documents that the ACLU obtained on three local investigations. There seems to be no doubt in the government’s mind that anyone who carries a sign that says “Stop the War” is a potential terrorist. Thank you, Mr. Rumsfeld, for devoting our tax dollars to protecting us from Quakers, Unitarians, and college kids. Just don’t forget to strip search these people before they get on a plane.

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Law, Local Cases of Interest, News, Outrage, Politics | Leave a Comment »

“Act Like a Drug Dealer” NY Times Reporters Attend Legal Seminars

Posted by pbsweeney on September 13, 2006

Michael Calderone in the Observer has an eye opening story in his Off the Record column about how the NY Times legal team and various consultants are formulating strategies to help protect journalists in their wrangling with federal investigations and subpoenas. The hope is that reporters will not end up languishing behind bars like Judith Miller during her contretemps with Patrick Fitzgerald, by simply using a little commmon sense, and simple tools like disposable cell phones.

Love to be a fly on the wall in one of these legal seminars given to staff at W. 43rd Street headquarters by Times lawyers George Freeman and David McCraw. Read the entire story here.

Posted in Ethics, Law, News, Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Voter ID Scuffles

Posted by pbsweeney on September 13, 2006

We could subtitle this “The Bizarre ‘Wisdom’ of Exclusionary Legislation.” Yesterday when I went to vote in the primary, the mostly retiree poll workers kindly looked up my name in the rolls and I signed in to vote. My signature was examined to see if it was a match and I was ushered to one of the old lever machines which are so reliable and apparently not made anymore – but that’s a whole other subject. The point is that the process was not remotely adversarial. Those of us voting were all happy to be exercising our rights. But in some states this happy, cordial, feel-good process is changing…

Peter Wallsten of The Los Angeles Times writes…
“Little noticed by U.S. voters, a nationwide melee has broken out pitting liberal and conservative groups in a duel over restrictive new voting laws that could determine who wins close elections in November and beyond. The dispute, which is being fought in disparate and often half-empty courtrooms in as many as nine states, concerns new state laws and rules backed primarily by Republicans that require people to show photo identification to vote and, in some cases, proof of citizenship and identification when registering to vote.” Read the full text of the article here…

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Law, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Bong Hits For Who?

Posted by pbsweeney on September 5, 2006

Kids, kids – whattaya gonna do?

Who among us is not rooting for the Supreme Court to take Ken Starr’s latest appeal, if only for the chance to hear the learned justices utter the words, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” Starr, the former Whitewater special counsel, petitioned the court last week to review the case, in which the Juneau, Alaska, School District suspended a high school senior who unfurled a banner bearing those words during an Olympic torch relay in 2002. The event was off school premises, leading the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in March that the suspension violated the student’s free speech rights. (Frederick v. Morse.)

The school district is fuming and the NSBA (National School Board Assoc.) has filed an amicus brief, as apparently it’s just too outrageous that students’ constitutional rights are not being violated more consistently. Ken Starr feels so strongly about it that he agreed to help Pro Bono.

Hats off to legal blogger, Robert Loblaw, who has discovered a parallel case (which he dubbed Bong Hits for Bush), that came down last week from the 2nd Circuit, Guiles v. Marineau. The case, he reports, involved a student whose school forced him to put duct tape over the front of an anti-Bush t-shirt that portrayed the president as a “chicken-hawk” drug and alcohol abuser. The 2nd Circuit said this violated the 13-year-old’s First Amendment rights. Loblaw explains:

“The Court explains that the school may have a permissible interest in censoring pro-drug and pro-alcohol messages. However, the t-shirt in this case was actually anti-substance abuse, since it attacked George Bush for using drugs and alcohol. Instead, the shirt bore a political message that was protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, the student should not have been disciplined or forced to duct tape his t-shirt.”

As there is no split between these two circuits on the First Amendment rights of students, the Supreme Court will likely not hear Ken Starr’s appeal, but it sure is fun thinking about it.

Posted in Federal Spotlight, Humor, Law, News, Politics | Leave a Comment »