Since the right-wing majority of the Supreme Court held in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the U.S. Constitution does not protect the right to abortion, many states have restricted or outright banned the procedure. But some states, like California, are endeavoring to enshrine the right to abortion in their constitutions. Although the California Supreme Court has declared that the state constitution’s right to privacy protects abortion, that safeguard remains ephemeral.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court established in Roe v. Wade that abortion is a fundamental right and a state could not prohibit it before fetal viability (able to live outside the womb). Just as the U.S. Supreme Court retracted the abortion right when conservatives attained a majority, California’s Supreme Court could likewise rescind the right to abortion if the court’s membership were to shift to the right.
Several human rights organizations submitted a 31-page complaint to United Nations experts on September 15, alleging that the United States is committing torture and violating the prohibition against racial discrimination by condemning people to death by incarceration through extreme sentences including life and life without possibility of parole (LWOP). The groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Drop LWOP Coalition and the Abolitionist Law Center, are urging the UN to call for the abolition of all death by incarceration sentences.
“Death by incarceration is the devastating consequence of a cruel and racially discriminatory criminal legal system that is designed not to address harm, violence, and its root causes, but to satisfy the political pressure to be tough on crime,” the complaint states.
Donald Trump’s packing of the federal courts with judges chosen by the right-wing Federalist Society during his presidency is reaping dividends for him.
Two weeks after the FBI lawfully seized 11,000 government documents (more than 100 of them with classification markings) from Mar-a-Lago on August 8, Donald Trump asked a Florida judge to delay the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into three federal felonies. Instead of filing his motion in the District of Columbia where the search warrant was issued, Trump went forum-shopping and chose a judge whom he had appointed to the bench.
Before the August 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion and seizure of “top secret” documents, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart found probable cause to believe that evidence of three different federal crimes would be found there.
On August 22, Trump filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida requesting the appointment of a “special master” to review the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago. Although the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Filter Team had already segregated documents that might be protected by the attorney-client privilege or executive privilege, Trump wants a special master (usually a retired judge) to inspect them for privileged or potentially privileged material.
Trump’s motion is pending before Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee. Judge Cannon indicated she is inclined to agree with Trump and appoint a special master. She held a hearing on September 1, but has not yet issued a ruling. A special master could substantially delay the DOJ’s criminal investigation of Trump and his associates.
The August 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago compound yielded 11 sets of classified documents, including several “Secret,” “Top Secret” and “Confidential” documents, according to the Property Receipt filed with the court on August 11. Agents also seized documents marked “SCI,” or highly classified “sensitive compartmented information.”
After considering the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) affidavit, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce E. Reinhart had found probable cause that a search of Mar-a-Lago would turn up evidence of three federal crimes: unauthorized possession, obstruction and concealment or removal of government documents. He issued a search warrant on August 5. When Reinhart unsealed the affidavit on which the warrant was based, half of the 38 pages were redacted, or blacked out.
Apparently concealed by the redactions in the affidavit are reports from informants and other information that supported the probable cause determination. Even the unredacted allegations, however, provide “overwhelming evidence” that serious crimes were committed, Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe affirmed.
On August 18, Israel conducted armed raids in the occupied West Bank, ransacking and shuttering the offices of seven leading Palestinian human rights organizations. Three days later, the directors of two of those groups were summoned for interrogation by the Israeli Occupying Forces.
The raids began more than a week after the Israel Defense Forces had killed dozens of Palestinians, including 17 children, during airstrikes on Gaza.
Most of the Palestinian human rights groups that were ransacked on August 18 have been in Israel’s crosshairs since last October, when Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz baselessly declared that Israel had designated six of those groups under its 2016 Counter Terrorism Law as “terrorist organizations” — with links to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a leftist Palestinian political party with a military wing. On November 3, 2021, the six groups were declared “unlawful associations” by the Israeli military commander in the occupied West Bank. But in the 10 months since the “terrorist” designations, the Israeli government has failed to provide competent evidence linking the six groups to the PFLP. A classified CIA report says it could not find any evidence to support the designations.
Attorneys and journalists whom the CIA spied on when they visited WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London have filed a lawsuit against the CIA, its former director Mike Pompeo, UC Global and its director, David Morales, in U.S. District Court.
Assange is in a London prison fighting extradition to the United States. He is charged with violating the Espionage Act for exposing U.S. war crimes and faces 175 years imprisonment. During the seven years he lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy under a grant of asylum, Assange was visited by more than 100 attorneys, journalists and doctors. They included Assange’s criminal defense attorneys in the United States, international human rights lawyers, national security journalists whose sources could be jeopardized if exposed, and physicians and medical professionals.
The CIA commissioned Undercover Global (UC Global), a private Spanish security company, to send images from Assange’s visitors’ cellphones and laptops as well as video streamed from their meetings to the CIA.
The March 2020 killing of Breonna Taylor, which caused widespread protest around the country, was the result of police lies to obtain a warrant and racist police violence after officers forced their way into her apartment.
On August 4, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the federal grand jury indictments of four Louisville Metro Police officers involved in the raid that resulted in Taylor’s death.
Three of the officers were accused of violating Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure by lying to secure a no-knock warrant. The officers who sought the warrant “knew that the affidavit used to obtain the warrant to search Taylor’s home contained information that was false, misleading, and out-of-date; that the affidavit omitted material information; and that the officers lacked probable cause for the search,” the indictment reads.
President Joe Biden’s assassination of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan was illegal under both U.S. and international law. After the CIA drone strike killed Zawahiri on August 2, Biden declared, “People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer.” What we should fear instead is the dangerous precedent set by Biden’s unlawful extrajudicial execution.
In addition to being illegal, the killing of Zawahiri also occurred in a moment when the United Nations had already determined that people in the U.S. had little to fear from him. As a United Nations report released in July concluded, “Al Qaeda is not viewed as posing an immediate international threat from its safe haven in Afghanistan because it lacks an external operational capability and does not currently wish to cause the Taliban international difficulty or embarrassment.”
More than two years after Donald Trump orchestrated a massive criminal conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, including directing an armed and violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has still not indicted the former president.
The House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol (“Select Committee”) presented overwhelming evidence — nearly all from Trump loyalists — that Trump committed at least two federal crimes, as well as criminal offenses in the state of Georgia. Although the Select Committee has no power to bring charges against Trump, it can make a criminal referral. The decision to prosecute, however, rests solely with the DOJ.