Posts Tagged ‘California’

dual sovereigntyWhen I was growing up, I was fascinated by the fact that the United States government could, in certain narrow circumstances, prosecute people who had been acquitted in state courts.

These cases often involved white people in the southern United States who had been accused of grave assault or even murder of black people. The local, often all-white jury may have let the alleged perpetrators go. But the feds would charge the same people with some crime such as “violating” the victims’ “civil rights.”

I’ll admit that I appreciated the outcome, with those victims finally receiving a modicum of justice. At the same time, my political science major part of me was asking, “Isn’t that double jeopardy?”

Double jeopardy is a procedural defense “that prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges and on the same facts, following a valid acquittal or conviction.” It is a feature in many countries’ jurisprudence. In the United States, “The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides: “[N]or shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…”

Here’s the odd American twist: “Under the dual sovereignty doctrine, multiple sovereigns can indict a defendant for the same crime. The federal and state governments can have overlapping criminal laws, so a criminal offender may be convicted in individual states and federal courts for exactly the same crime or for different crimes arising out of the same facts.”

Suddenly, Republicans are very, very interested in double jeopardy law. “At this moment, a case making its way through the court system is garnering an unusual amount of attention. It’s a case about a convicted robber in Alabama who was found in possession of a gun and charged by both state and federal authorities.

“For 150 years, the Supreme Court has held that these kinds of cases… don’t violate the Constitution’s prohibition against double jeopardy… But The Atlantic reports: “Utah lawmaker Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed a 44-page amicus brief [in September] in Gamble v. United States, a case that will consider whether the dual-sovereignty doctrine should be put to rest.

“Republicans, always talk a good game about promoting the sovereign right of states … so long as what the states are doing agrees with them. But here Hatch is willing to take a power away from every state. And why would that be? Two words: Mueller investigation.”

Go see what Arthur has to say about this angle because there’s another example I want to show.

Per the Los Angeles Times, California lawmakers passed a net neutrality proposal at the end of August, responding to the repeal at the federal level. The bill “would prevent broadband providers from hindering or manipulating access to the internet, bringing the state closer to enacting the strongest net neutrality protections in the country.” It was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Justice Department officials… announced soon afterward that they were suing California to block the regulations. The state law prohibits broadband and wireless companies from blocking, throttling or otherwise hindering access to internet content, and from favoring some websites over others by charging for faster speeds.”

The federal government has also pushed back against California’s more stringent car pollution standards.

However you feel about dual sovereignty, there’s little doubt that it’s under attack.

California6I read, from Evanier, but also elsewhere, that some joker has promoted a ballot initiative to split the Golden State into six states. Even if the ballot initiative somehow won in November – and I have relatives there (sister, niece – Don’t Vote for This Nonsense!) – it still wouldn’t go into effect. Evanier noted, in a conversation about whether Texas, which had been its own country briefly, and would theoretically have the right to splinter:

“You have to consider Article IV, Section 3 of a little document called the United States Constitution. That particular section says…”

New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but Read the rest of this entry »


Let me tell you a secret: I was not happy about the Wisconsin recall vote that attempted, unsuccessfully, to get rid of Governor Scott Walker. I’m not referring to the OUTCOME of the vote; I’m talking about having the vote in the first place. Walker was duly elected in 2010 for a four-year term, and started fulfilling his campaign pledge to make draconian cuts to the budget and state personnel. Just a year into his term, a movement to unseat him began.

It reminded of the California recall of Governor Gray Davis (pictured) in 2003, mere months after he was re-elected in 2002, tied to an electricity price crisis manipulated in part by the failed business, Enron. Davis was replaced by some actor from Austria.

It is said that the idea of recall is “pure democracy”, with the people able to right wrongs. Then why does it feel so undemocratic to me?

There has been a lot of talk about what the Wisconsin vote MEANS. Read the rest of this entry »

I went to a wedding last weekend, a lovely affair. But a couple weeks earlier, there was a party, and at least one of the guests used that “ball and chain” language that I THOUGHT went out of fashion last century.

It seems to me that marriage IS under attack, usually by people who are in it. The standard, now cliched statement from straight people in “support” of gay marriage is something like: “Why shouldn’t they have a chance to be as miserable as we are?” Meh.

I’m curious about how this Prop 8 case will work out. If it is not appealed, then gay marriage would be permissible in California. If it IS appealed, and Prop 8 is ruled unconstitutional, then gay marriage would likely be permissible in all of the Ninth Circuit. And if the case goes to the Supreme Court, which most people think is inevitable -though I’m not sure, and Prop 8 loses, gay marriage could be legal across the country. BTW, you can read the transcript of Perry vs. Schwarzenegger HERE.
Read the rest of this entry »

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