Jul 27, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 43 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
On July 16, we saw the definitive end to one of the greatest abuses of power in recent memory. After five years, the Wisconsin supreme court finally halted the Milwaukee district attorney’s notorious “John Doe” investigation that targeted Governor Scott Walker and political allies trying to reform the state’s laws regarding fiscally ruinous public employee unions. Imagine a grand jury investigation but without the jury, leaving a prosecutor who operates secretly—in this case, the district attorney’s investigation was headed by one John Chisholm—with almost sole discretion to pursue whatever evidence he deems relevant to his investigation. (There was nominal supervision from a judge who seems to have exercised no oversight.)
In Wisconsin, Chisholm ordered early morning raids where the cops showed up at political activists’ homes carrying battering rams and subpoenas. The very thin justification for such heavy-handed tactics was, improbably, being accused of violating campaign finance rules that disallow coordination between independent groups and candidates.
Normally, when people work to change a law they disagree with it’s called the democratic process. But in this case, “Chisholm’s wife was a teachers’ union shop steward who was distraught over Act 10’s union reforms,” reported National Review’s David French. “[A former prosecutor] said Chisholm ‘felt it was his personal duty’ to stop them”—legal authority be damned.
According to the Wisconsin supreme court’s ruling halting the investigation—it had previously been put on hold by state and federal courts—“as part of this dragnet, the special prosecutor also had seized wholly irrelevant information, such as retirement income statements, personal financial account information, personal letters, and family photos.” Further, “this conclusion ends the John Doe investigation because the special prosecutor’s legal theory is unsupported in either reason or law.” That bit about the investigation not being founded in “reason” is a remarkable statement coming from a panel of judges. It’s legalese for shouting “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” at the prosecutor.
The court, to its credit, also realizes that there are much bigger issues at stake, given that all this was done in the name of enforcing campaign finance laws. Liberals appalled at the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision have long insisted that there’s no conflict between empowering the government to heavily regulate “political speech” and ensuring that free speech is broadly protected. Wisconsin’s John Doe investigation exposes this for the lie that it is, and the state supreme court is alert to the danger:
The special prosecutor has disregarded the vital principle that in our nation and our state political speech is a fundamental right and is afforded the highest level of protection. The special prosecutor’s theories . . . instead would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished. . . . It is fortunate, indeed, for every other citizen of this great State who is interested in the protection of fundamental liberties that the special prosecutor chose as his targets innocent citizens who had both the will and the means to fight the unlimited resources of an unjust prosecution.
The national media were perversely unmoved by the horrors accompanying the John Doe investigation, no doubt because it cast discredit on the motives of unions, campaign finance activists, and other favored groups and distracted from the evil personified by Governor Scott Walker. And so they have largely ignored the appalling abuses.
But the rest of us should not forget the name John Chisholm or the willingness of liberal “good government” crusaders to abandon any respect for basic rights the moment they have an opportunity to go after their enemies.
11:36 AM, Apr 7, 2015 • By FRED BARNES
Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter, has blown a big hole in the case against Lewis “Scooter” Libby, convicted of lying to avoid blame for outing a CIA agent. Miller was a key witness in Libby’s trial, but in her new book she has repudiated her testimony.
7:05 PM, Feb 25, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
In an MSNBC townhall in Miami, President Obama vows to fight the court ruling against the executive amnesty he adopted last year.
2:01 PM, Nov 4, 2014 • By TERRY EASTLAND
Last winter President Obama’s Department of Housing and Urban Development published a regulation pursuant to the Fair Housing Act that defines discrimination as actions or policies that while neutral and nondiscriminatory in their intent have a disparate impact, shown through statistics, on a group of persons defined in terms of race (and other protected groups).
Feb 10, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 21 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Scrapbook has devoted plenty of column inches over the years to detailing the incestuous relationship between public employers and public employee unions. Every election cycle, union dues—paid with taxpayer dollars—go to Democratic politicians, who, when in office, thank their donors with immutable contracts containing generous wages and benefits. It’s truly a vicious circle. But even we were surprised when we found out just how directly money was being funneled from public coffers to private pockets through union contracts.
30 members support the House Resolution calling for civil action.1:49 PM, Dec 12, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Congressman Tom Rice of South Carolina, a Republican, is sponsoring a resolution in the House of Representatives that would, if adopted, direct the legislative body "to bring a civil action for declaratory or injunctive relief to challenge certain policies and actions taken by the executive branch." In other words, Rep. Rice wants to take President Obama to court for not faithfully executing the laws.
3:31 PM, Nov 7, 2013 • By TERRY EASTLAND
“Detroit civil rights lawyer Shanta Driver made a last-minute decision to argue in a high-profile Supreme Court affirmative action case on Oct. 15 in part, she said, because so few African-Americans appear before the justices.”
12:12 PM, Jun 26, 2013 • By ADAM J. WHITE
Much will be written about Chief Justice Roberts's opinion for the court in Hollingsworth v. Perry, holding that supporters of California's Proposition 8 lacked constitutional "standing" to defend in federal court California's ballot initiative against same-sex marriage. (Whether or not same-sex marriage will destroy traditional marriage someday, it's certainly destroying Twitter this morning.) But one ironic twist deserves immediate mention.
3:52 PM, Jun 4, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama today nominated three liberals to fill longstanding judicial vacancies on the important Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Will the Senate rubber-stamp the president's nominees—even though the court's fine as it is, with the eight judges currently serving enjoying the lightest caseload in the country? In 2006, when the Senate refused to consider the nomination of Peter Keisler to that court, Senator Ted Kennedy stressed that “we should consider these caseload declines carefully before we fill the current vacancy. American taxpayers deserve no less.” Since then, the court has only added more judges and heard fewer cases.
7:32 AM, Mar 27, 2013 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, which defines marriage as being between couples of the opposite sex. Today they’re hearing them on the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman at the federal level. Like Roe v. Wade, the high court’s decision on these cases is likely to fuel the culture war for a generation or two, at least. Unlike with Roe, the Court seems to understand that it’s been handed an issue of enormous consequence.
“Now I’m up to 20 push-ups.”10:48 AM, Mar 20, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talks about her work outs in an interview with the Washington Post. “When I started, I looked like a survivor of Auschwitz,” she tells the paper. “Now I’m up to 20 push-ups.”
4:20 PM, Jan 29, 2013 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
On Friday, a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously declared President Obama’s “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to be unconstitutional.
6:18 PM, Oct 24, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Attorney Gloria Allred has reportedly been planning a pre-Election Day surprise targeting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The key for the attention-seeking lawyer, it seems, is to uncover "Mitt Romney’s 1991 testimony in the divorce of Staples founder Tom Stemberg," the Boston Globe reports. But a document revealing the judge's ruling on the case in 1994 suggests the case has long been legally settled.
4:23 PM, Aug 9, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
As the New York Times reports, "The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday fined Google $22.5 million to settle charges that it bypassed privacy settings in Apple’s Safari browser to show advertisements, and violated an earlier privacy settlement with the agency."
7:37 AM, Jun 1, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Steve Hayes, with Juan Williams, Dana Perino, and Charles Krauthammer, last night on Fox News: