Go and watch Mark Fiore’s latest animation.
Hat-tip Ellroon @ Rants from the Rookery.
PJ @ Groklaw is eating chocolates.
A California judge upholding this citizen-supported and voter approved initiative wrote:
“Santa Barbara is free to decline to enforce federal criminal statutes. It is up to the federal government to enforce its laws. Indeed, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government from impressing ‘into its service — and at no cost to itself — the police officers of the 50 States.'”
Hat-tip Pete Guither @ Drug WarRant.
The following is a public statement issued by George Bush today announcing his decision to issue a line-item reprieve of Lewis Libby’s sentence. Hat-tip and thanks to Paul Kiel from whom this text was copied.
The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected Lewis Libby’s request to remain free on bail while pursuing his appeals for the serious convictions of perjury and obstruction of justice. As a result, Mr. Libby will be required to turn himself over to the Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his prison sentence.
I have said throughout this process that it would not be appropriate to comment or intervene in this case until Mr. Libby’s appeals have been exhausted. But with the denial of bail being upheld and incarceration imminent, I believe it is now important to react to that decision.
From the very beginning of the investigation into the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name, I made it clear to the White House staff and anyone serving in my administration that I expected full cooperation with the Justice Department. Dozens of White House staff and administration officials dutifully cooperated.
After the investigation was under way, the Justice Department appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as a Special Counsel in charge of the case. Mr. Fitzgerald is a highly qualified, professional prosecutor who carried out his responsibilities as charged.
This case has generated significant commentary and debate. Critics of the investigation have argued that a special counsel should not have been appointed, nor should the investigation have been pursued after the Justice Department learned who leaked Ms. Plame’s name to columnist Robert Novak. Furthermore, the critics point out that neither Mr. Libby nor anyone else has been charged with violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act, which were the original subjects of the investigation. Finally, critics say the punishment does not fit the crime: Mr. Libby was a first-time offender with years of exceptional public service and was handed a harsh sentence based in part on allegations never presented to the jury.
Others point out that a jury of citizens weighed all the evidence and listened to all the testimony and found Mr. Libby guilty of perjury and obstructing justice. They argue, correctly, that our entire system of justice relies on people telling the truth. And if a person does not tell the truth, particularly if he serves in government and holds the public trust, he must be held accountable. They say that had Mr. Libby only told the truth, he would have never been indicted in the first place.
Both critics and defenders of this investigation have made important points. I have made my own evaluation. In preparing for the decision I am announcing today, I have carefully weighed these arguments and the circumstances surrounding this case.
Mr. Libby was sentenced to thirty months of prison, two years of probation, and a $250,000 fine. In making the sentencing decision, the district court rejected the advice of the probation office, which recommended a lesser sentence and the consideration of factors that could have led to a sentence of home confinement or probation.
I respect the jury’s verdict. But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby’s sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison.
My decision to commute his prison sentence leaves in place a harsh punishment for Mr. Libby. The reputation he gained through his years of public service and professional work in the legal community is forever damaged. His wife and young children have also suffered immensely. He will remain on probation.The significant fines imposed by the judge will remain in effect. The consequences of his felony conviction on his former life as a lawyer, public servant, and private citizen will be long-lasting.
The Constitution gives the President the power of clemency to be used when he deems it to be warranted. It is my judgment that a commutation of the prison term in Mr. Libby’s case is an appropriate exercise of this power.
I have not yet read the opinions in this case, but I have been informed of the decision of the court.
I think the court made the correct decision under the facts as presented.
Because I advocate for the end of cannabis prohibition, it would have been my preference for the decision to go the other way, but of course that would be lending precisely an inference to the banner which Mr. Frederick denies. He says that the banner is meaningless, and if that is so, then how is it also protected speech?
If the banner had said SMOKE CRACK 4 SATAN would that have been acceptable?
Now there are real first amendment concerns if this speech were prohibited outright, but it has to be taken as meaningful speech in order to even be addressed as such. Speech can be regulated in some places, none of my readers would (I hope) advocate that people have a right to put up SMOKE CRACK 4 SATAN signs in public schools.
So we can’t even get to the meat of it as far as content restrictions may go, because the sign purportedly has no content.
But Mr. Frederick was an adult, and he had the right to display even a nonsense sign if he chose, and the school principal had no authority over him whatsoever unless he voluntarily remained enrolled in the public school.
I concur in the decision of the court, on my own reasoning above.
I would point out that students have been protected in their political and religious speech. Therefore, the following two banners would presumably pass constitutional muster as protected first amendment speech:
END CANNABIS PROHIBITION
JESUS SMOKED POT
Update: “Bong Hits for Jesus” seems like a good subject for a song.
Update 2: Would you believe it started as a song?
In reading today’s Supreme Court’s decision on Morse v. Frederick, the case of the student in Juneau, Alaska, who unfurled a banner reading “BONG HiTS 4 JESUS” and was subsequently suspended (you can read the story here or at the Washington Post to get the details of the case), one conclusion is crystal-clear: Kids, if you’re going to unfurl such a banner in an effort to get on national television, make sure that you state your case as: ‘LEGALIZE BONG HiTS 4 JESUS’.” Because then the First Amendment will protect you.
I think the real lesson here is to defend your speech. Don’t pretend you didn’t mean something by it, or you’ll never get anywhere. BONG HiTS 4 JESUS was perfectly capable of defense on first amendment religious grounds, but I doubt that Mr. Frederick understood that; at any rate he was unwilling to stand behind the words themselves at all after the sign was taken from him.
Update 4: If I seem harsh towards Joe Frederick, I actually think he did good. Sometimes not winning is as good as winning. We’re discussing BONG HiTS 4 JESUS, aren’t we?
Pete Guither has some more thoughts along these lines, though I gather he thinks the court got it wrong altogether.
Already Legal: California, Oregon, Alaska, Washington, Hawaii, Colorado, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and the District of Columbia.
New Hampshire: A bill failed in the House.
New York: A bill may be passed by the Assembly this week.
New Jersey: Hearings have been held in the legislature but no bills have been voted on.
Maryland: A 2003 bill allows for an affirmative legal defense for medical marijuana users, but it’s still technically illegal.
Michigan: The Michigan Coalition for Compassionate Care is collecting signatures to force a vote in the legislature.
Illinois: A bill failed in the State Senate.
Wisconsin: A bill is expected to be introduced this summer.
Minnesota: A bill died in the State House.
Texas: Legislators failed to get a bill introduced.
Even in the states where it’s been legalized, though, the federal prohibition on any use of marijuana still exists and puts medical marijuana users across the country in a state of legal limbo. You can check here and here for updates.