Our Common Good
And did we mention, most of these kids are black?

shiracoffee:

In Meridian, Miss., it is school officials – not police – who determine who should be arrested. Schools seeking to discipline students call the police, and police policy is to arrest all children referred to the agency, according to a Department of Justice lawsuit. The result is a perverse system that funnels children as young as ten who merely misbehave in class into juvenile detention centers without basic constitutional procedures. The lawsuit, which follows unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with the county, challenges the constitutionality of punishing children “so arbitrarily and severely as to shock the conscience” and alleging that the city’s police department acts as a de facto “taxi service” in shuttling students from school to juvenile detention centers. Colorlines explains:

Once those children are in the juvenile justice system, they are denied basic constitutional rights.They are handcuffed and incarcerated for days without any hearing and subsequently warehoused without understanding their alleged probation violations.

Mississippi County Jails Kids For School Dress Code Violations, Tardiness, DOJ Alleges

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice are preparing to open an investigation into Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake after a robocall paid for by his campaign directed some Democrats to the wrong polling locations. 

Earlier post with video about this here.

The litigation seeks remedies for violations of the Fourth, Fifth and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.   The complaint alleges that the defendants help to operate a school-to-prison pipeline in which the rights of children in Meridian are repeatedly and routinely violated. As a result, children in Meridian have been systematically incarcerated for allegedly committing minor offenses, including school disciplinary infractions, and are punished disproportionately without due process of law.   The students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities. The practices that regularly violate the rights of children in Meridian include:

  • Children are handcuffed and arrested in school and incarcerated for days at a time without a probable cause hearing, regardless of the severity – or lack thereof – of  the alleged offense or probation violation.
  • Children who are incarcerated prior to adjudication in the Lauderdale County system regularly wait more than 48 hours for a probable cause hearing, in violation of federal constitutional requirements.
  • Children make admissions to formal charges without being advised of their Miranda rights and without making an informed waiver of those rights.
  • Lauderdale County does not consistently afford children meaningful representation by an attorney during the juvenile justice process, including in preparation for and during detention, adjudication and disposition hearings.

“ The department is bringing this lawsuit to ensure that all children are treated fairly and receive the fullest protection of the law,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “ It is in all of our best interests to ensure that children are not incarcerated for alleged minor infractions, and that police and courts meet their obligations to uphold children’s constitutional rights.”

[…]

This investigation was conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section, working in conjunction  with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.   The Civil Rights Division’s Educational Opportunities Section also has a long-standing school desegregation case against the Meridian Public School District. The district is currently working cooperatively with the department to resolve issues in that case.

It is the third consecutive month that high-level bankers have been found guilty of manipulating the U.S. municipal bond market.

This time it is three former UBS executives who today were convicted of corrupting bidding processes and defrauding cities across the country, according to a Department of Justice press release.

The defendants, Peter Ghavami, Gary Heinz, and Michael Welty, were charged in 2010 but denied any wrongdoing, Reuters reported.

A federal jury in New York City found all three guilty of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Ghavami and Heinz were also convicted of substantive wire fraud.

"Ghavami, Heinz and Welty deprived the municipalities of competitive interest rates for the investment of tax-exempt bond proceeds that were to be used by municipalities to refinance outstanding debt," according to the release.

The DOJ, which has been leading such investigations under pressure from Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF), was also successful in the conviction of former JPMorgan Chase & Co banker Alexander Wright on the same charges, Reuters reported.

Bet a Romney administration would not be going after bankers…..

justinspoliticalcorner:

In 2006, during the presidency of George W. Bush, the Justice Department launched the first of a series of misguided “gunrunning” schemes that eventually led to the death of federal Agent Brian Terry. Rather than look to ways to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, however, House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) spent his tenure as a committee chair trying unsuccessfully to embarrass Attorney General Eric Holder.

Next week, Issa plans to escalate this witchhunt by holding an committee vote on a resolution to hold the Attorney General in contempt of Congress. Here’s what you need to know about this vote:

1. Issa Has No Case: Issa’s uncovered no evidence showing Holder bears any blame for the botched operations begun under George W. Bush, even though the Justice Departmentturned over thousands of pages of documentsconcerning the operations. Instead of accepting this fact, Issa has requested many more documents containing confidential information regarding ongoing law enforcement investigations, and is now threatening to hold Holder in contempt if these documents are not turned over. 

2. Reagan’s Justice Department Agreed With Holder: PresidentReagan’s Justice Department warned in the 1980sthat the Constitution’s separation of powers prevents the kind of documents Issa is seeking from being revealed to Congress because of the risk that the legislature could “exert pressure or attempt to influence the prosecution of criminal cases.”

3. Law Enforcement Rejects Issa’s Witchhunt: Issa’s efforts to embarrass Holder are an unnecessary distraction thathinders the Department of Justice’s ability to do its real job

4. Even Top Republicans Think Issa Goes Too Far: After Issa leaked his plans to pursue contempt charges to the media, the House Republican leadership pressured him to back off. Indeed, even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has indicated thatIssa is overreaching.

5. Issa Is Fixated On A Conspiracy Theory: Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this affair is what Issa once suggested his investigation will uncover. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Issa claimed that the Obama administration“made a crisis” when they continued the Bush-era gunrunning operations because they wanted to “us[e] this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.” 

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

A DOJ official responds to a video released by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas that shows a D.C. poll worker offering Attorney General Eric Holder’s ballot to an undercover activist:

“It’s no coincidence that these so-called examples of rampant voter fraud consistently turn out to be manufactured ones.”

The United States indicted Wegelin, the oldest Swiss private bank, on charges that it enabled wealthy Americans to evade taxes on at least $1.2 billion hidden in offshore bank accounts, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.

The announcement, by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, represents the first time an overseas bank has been indicted by the United States for enabling tax fraud by U.S. taxpayers.

In rejecting Texas’ new political maps, a federal court’s ruling Tuesday may have affected the makeup of the state’s congressional and legislative delegations after the 2012 elections.

States are required to redraw district maps once a decade to accommodate new census figures. A three-judge District of Columbia panel ruled that Texas lawmakers this year weakened minority voting strength in their redistricting efforts.

[…]

Texas is one of several states needing federal approval for political maps because of historic patterns of disenfranchising minorities. Typically, the Justice Department approves the maps - or not - but this year Abbott chose to appeal directly to the federal court. Tuesday’s ruling clears the way for a full trial on the Legislature’s plan.

The Justice Department said late Friday that based on their preliminary investigation, a congressional redistricting map signed into law by Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry appears to have been “adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to Congress.”

DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is specifically contesting the changes made to Texas Districts 23 and 27, which they say would not provide Hispanic citizens with the ability to elect candidates of their choice.

robertreich:

The Shameful Murder of Dodd Frank

Happy Birthday Dodd Frank,
Happy Birthday to you,
You’ve lost all your muscle,
And your teeth are gone, too.
 
One full year after the financial reform bill spearheaded through Congress by Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank was signed into law, Wall Street looks and acts much the way it did before. That’s because the Street has effectively neutered the law, which is the best argument I know for applying the nation’s antitrust laws to the biggest banks and limiting their size.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the financial system is “on more solid ground” than prior to the 2008 crisis, but I don’t know what ground he’s looking at.
 
Much of Dodd-Frank is still on the drawing boards, courtesy of the Street. The law as written included loopholes big enough to drive bankers’ Lamborghini’s through — which they’re now doing.

What kind of derivatives must be traded on open exchanges? What are the capital requirements for financial companies that insure borrowers against default, such as AIG? How should credit rating agencies be funded? What about the much-vaunted Volcker Rule requiring that banks trade their own money if they’re going to gamble in the stock market – how should their own money be defined? What “stress tests” must the big banks pass to maintain their privileged status with the Fed?
 
The short answer: whatever it takes to maintain the Street’s profits and perquisites.
 
The law included a one-year delay, ostensibly to give regulators time to iron out these sorts of details. But the real purpose of the delay, it’s now obvious, was to give the Street time to expand the loopholes and fill the details with pablum — when the public stopped looking.
 
Since Dodd Frank was enacted a year ago, Wall Street has spent as much – if not more – on lobbyists and political payoffs designed to stop the law’s implementation than it did trying to kill off the law in the first place. The six largest banks spent $29.4 million on lobbying last year, according to firm disclosures — record spending for the group. This year they’re on track to break last year’s record. 

According to the Center for Public Integrity, the Street and other financial institutions engaged about 3,000 lobbyists to fight Dodd-Frank – more than five lobbyists for every member of Congress. They’ve hired almost the same number to delay, weaken, or otherwise prevent its implementation.
 
Meanwhile, the portion of the law that’s now supposed to be in effect is barely being enforced. That’s because the agencies charged with enforcing it, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, don’t have enough money or staff to do the job. Congress hasn’t seen fit to appropriate these necessities.

Several of these agencies are still lacking directors or commissioners. Senate Republicans have refused to confirm anyone. They wouldn’t even consider Elizabeth Warren to run the new consumer bureau.
 
Many of same business leaders who blame the sluggish economy on regulatory uncertainty are complicit in all this. A senior vice president of the Chamber of Commerce told the New York Times that “uncertainty among companies about the rules of the road is keeping a lot of capital on the sidelines.” The Chamber has been among the groups responsible for keeping Dodd Frank at bay.
 
But it’s the biggest Wall Street banks – the ones that got us into this mess in the first place, and got bailed out by the public – that have taken the lead in killing off Dodd-Frank. They can afford the hit job.

At the same time, their executives  – enjoying pay and bonuses as large as in the boom days of the housing bubble – are busily bankrolling both political parties, although Republicans are favored in this election cycle. A significant portion of Mitt Romney’s sizable war chest has come from the Street. President Obama is no slouch when it comes to pulling at the Street’s purse strings.
 
Bankers try to justify their shameful murder of Dodd-Frank by saying tightened regulatory standards will put them at a disadvantage relative to their overseas competitors. JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon had the nerve to publicly accost Ben Bernanke recently, complaining that the law’s implementation would harm the Street’s competitiveness.
 
The argument is pure claptrap. In the wake of global finance’s near meltdown, Europe has been more aggressive than the United States in clamping down on banks headquartered there. Britain is requiring its banks to have higher capital reserves than are so far contemplated in the United States. In fact, senior Wall Street executives have warned European leaders their tighter bank regulations will cause Wall Street to move more of its business out of Europe.
 
Wall Street is global because capital is global. JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley are doing business in every corner of the world. Goldman even advised Greece on how to hide its growing indebtedness, before the rest of the world got wind, through a derivatives deal that circumvented Europe’s deficit rules.
 
The real reason Wall Street has spent the last year bludgeoning Dodd-Frank into meaninglessness is the vast sums of money it can make if Dodd-Frank is out of the way. If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement.
 
Wall Street is the richest and most powerful industry in America with the closest ties to the federal government – routinely supplying Treasury secretaries and economic advisors who share its world view and its financial interests, and routinely bankrolling congressional kingpins.

How else can you explain why the Street was bailed out with no strings attached? Or why no criminal charges from being brought against any major Wall Street figure – despite the effluvium of frauds, deceptions, malfeasance and nonfeasance in the years leading up to the crash and subsequent bailout? Or why Dodd-Frank has been eviscerated?
 
As a result of consolidations brought on by the bailout, the biggest banks are bigger and have more clout than ever. They and their clients know with certainty they will be bailed out if they get into trouble, which gives them a financial advantage over smaller competitors whose capital doesn’t come with such a guarantee. So they’re becoming even more powerful.
 
Face it: The only answer is to break up the giant banks. The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was designed not only to improve economic efficiency by reducing the market power of economic giants like the railroads and oil companies but also to prevent companies from becoming so large that their political power would undermine democracy.
 
The sad lesson of Dodd-Frank is Wall Street is too powerful to allow effective regulation of it. We should have learned that lesson in 2008 as the Street brought the rest of the economy – and much of the world – to its knees. Now we’re still on our knees but the Street is back on top. Its leviathans do not generate benefits to society proportional to their size and influence. To the contrary, they represent a clear and present danger to our economy and our democracy.
 
They should be broken up, and their size must be capped. Congress won’t do it, obviously. So we’ll need to rely on the nation’s two antitrust agencies — the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department. The trust-busters are now investigating Google. They should be turning their sights onto JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs instead.

In light of my last post:  Remember this from last February, 2011:

Lawrence O’Donnell talks with Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com) about the announcement from the Obama administration that the Defense of Marriage act is unconstitutional & will not defend it in court. (by SuchIsLifeVideos)

The DOJ’s opinion on Karen Golinski’s health benefits claim is supporting this position that the DOJ would not pursue defense of DOMA. 

Good move.

*Updated to correct the date of this video.

Hat tip to quickhits for pointing this one out in his “Stories to Watch: 7/2/11

Today, the Department of Justice filed a brief in federal court employee Karen Golinski’s federal court challenge, supporting her lawsuit seeking access to equal health benefits for her wife and arguing strongly that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional in terms unparalleled in previous administration statements.

In a brief filed on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management and other federal defendants, DOJ acknowledged the U.S. government’s “significant and regrettable role” in discrimination in America against gays and lesbians.

The summary of the DOJ argument that Golinski’s case should not be dismissed begins simply: “Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C.  Section 7 (‘DOMA’), unconstitutionally discriminates.”

About time!