Adam Serwer

Fallout.

How New York is like Arizona. Roy Edroso on the passing of American Splendor creator Harvey Pekar . Hip-hop vs. Arizona. Justin Elliot , from his new digs at Salon , reports that pollster Scott Rasmussen seems pretty chummy with the folks from National Review . Dayo Olopade on how Africa won the World Cup.

The NBPP Evidence Review.

A few commenters on my previous post about the Obama administration not being in office when the decision was made not to pursue a criminal case against the New Black Panther Party are arguing out that conservative outrage is over the subsequent decision, made in May, not to further pursue the civil complaint after obtaining an injunction against the individual who was holding a baton. That decision was made by a career official at the Justice Department after an evidence review and reportedly approved by an Obama political appointee, Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli . The decision was still made by career lawyers in the section; there's no evidence, beyond J. Christian Adams ' statements, that Perrelli had the case dismissed. At any rate, several conservative figures have suggested that the Obama administration refused to pursue a criminal case, and that's not what happened. But, as I've explained previously, the decision not to further pursue the civil case reflected...

Section 11(b) And Why The NBPP Case Was Dropped.

Cord Jefferson thinks I haven't adequately explained why the Justice Department didn't "throw the book" at the New Black Panthers involved in the 2008 Philadelphia voter-intimidation case: Why didn’t Justice throw the book at these clowns? It’s certainly wasn’t a case that required the time, energy and finances of the entire Civil Rights Division, but was it really a case that should have resulted in little more than a warning to not be a bad boy again? Jefferson accuses me of "slight of hand" for not linking to any explanation of why they didn't pursue the case, and instead just linking to accounts of how politicized the Bush era was. In fact, the first link in the list contains an explanation of Section 11(b) and what it's traditionally been used for. You can't accuse me of being dishonest for not explaining something if you're not even going to read the first link in the list. The question was whether to use a rarely used provision of the Voting Rights Act that was originally meant...

Paul The Octopus, World Cup Psychic, Receiving Death Threats.

Paul The Octopus , a cephalopod with seemingly remarkable (but not really ) powers of clairvoyance in picking the winners of international soccer matches, is receiving death threats after accurately " predicting " that Spain would win the 2010 World Cup, according to CNN. I'm exceedingly curious as to other examples of what Paul's hate mail looks like. "I'm gonna fry you and eat you with marinara sauce!" "mother#$er, I'm gonna garnish you with parsley!" I'm guessing, though, based on the examples CNN offered in its video segment that this actually isn't all that serious. Paul is reportedly retiring from the oracle life. Anyway, it's certainly not Paul's fault that the Netherlands played like goons the whole game and then had to play a man down for the last few minutes of the game during which Spain finally scored. ( Wikimedia )

Jan Brewer vs. Eric Holder On SB 1070.

Over the weekend Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer taunted Attorney General Eric Holder over the fact that the Justice Department lawsuit against SB 1070 didn't involve racial profiling: "Why would they have to hesitate, after all the comments they made, and all the outrage that they made against the bill in regards to racial profiling, that it didn't show up?" Brewer told The Associated Press during a break in the National Governors Association meeting in Boston. So either Brewer doesn't understand how the law works with regards to racial discrimination, or she was being disingenuous. As I reported last week, the standards for proving intentional discrimination are very high, and such a case would have been even more difficult to prove absent real-world examples of racial profiling resulting from the law. It's hard to have those when the law hasn't even taken effect yet. Holder explained as much when he hinted there might be a racial profiling case in the future, should the law be upheld: “It...

When Was The New Black Panther Case Downgraded?

I did an interview with New York Daily News Columnist Errol Louis about the New Black Panther Party case today and realized that there's a specific data point that has been lost in all the breathless coverage of this case and whether or not it represents a racist agenda from the Obama administration: The decision not to file a criminal case occurred before Obama was even in office. From the testimony of Thomas Perez , head of the Civil Rights Division, before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in May: This means that the case was downgraded to a civil case 11 days before Obama was inaugurated, 26 days before Eric Holder became attorney general, and about nine months before Thomas Perez was confirmed as head of the Civil Rights Division. Conservative activist and former Voting Section Attorney J. Christian Adams identified United States Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli as the person who ordered the case dismissed, but he wasn't confirmed until March, three months after...

Terrorists vs. Soccer, Ctd.

An attack on soccer fans in Uganda is being blamed on the Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab, which has ties to al-Qaeda: NAIROBI -- Two explosions, minutes apart, tore through two venues in the Ugandan capital where crowds were watching television broadcasts of the World Cup final late Sunday, killing at least 64 and wounding scores, Ugandan police said. At least one American was killed and several wounded, according to the U.S. Embassy in Kampala. The bombings unfolded at a rugby club and at an Ethiopian restaurant in Kampala where hundreds of boisterous and cheering soccer fans, including clusters of foreigners, had gathered to watch Spain beat Netherlands in the final in South Africa. Ugandan Police Chief Kale Kaihura immediately pointed blame at Somalia's al-Shabab, a hard-line militia with growing ties to al-Qaeda that has perpetrated several bombings in recent months in Somalia. But as of early Monday, no group had claimed responsibility for the attacks in a city widely...

Oscar Grant And Involuntary Manslaughter.

A number of commenters took issue with my characterization of the difference between "voluntary" and "involuntary" manslaughter in the Oscar Grant case, pointing out that "reasonableness" is not a word used in the California penal code to distinguish one from the other. 192. Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice. It is of three kinds: (a) Voluntary—upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion. (b) Involuntary—in the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection. This subdivision shall not apply to acts committed in the driving of a vehicle. Although it's not in the legal language, "reasonable" was a word that was offered directly to the jury in the trial as a standard for evaluating Johannes Mehserle 's actions, according to Julianne Hing : Jurors were told that voluntary manslaughter is an act of murder that could be...

Fallout.

Tim Fernholz on the morality of strategic defaulting. Recess appointments for my spouse, but not for thee. NOM thinks Obama flubbed the DOMA lawsuit on purpose. Johannes Mehserle writes about his remorse in killing Oscar Grant . The Miami Herald 's epic chronicler of Gitmo, Carol Rosenberg , is returning now that the DoD ban has been lifted. My commenters say I'm wrong about the legal standard for involuntary manslaughter. Spain is gonna win the World Cup because The Octopus said so.

Who Got Rowdy In Oakland Last Night?

From Julianne Hing 's twitter feed : Batts told reporters at a 10:30 p.m. news briefing that about 50 people were arrested, though he expected that number to double before the night was over. Oakland police officials later confirmed the total number stood at 78 arrests — with about 75 percent of those taken into custody coming from outside Oakland . As the night wore on, unrest spread, with rioters lighting fire to dumpsters, setting off fireworks, throwing bottles at police gathered at 17th and Broadway and looting a Whole Foods Market at Harrison and Bay . Many of the rioters wore masks, hoods and black clothing, and officials suggested they were organized groups out to cause trouble. They looted a Whole Foods?

The Rich Aren't Like You And Me...

They don't pay their mortgages: Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population. More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic. I suspect that Eric Martin is correct in noting that Zombie Lee Atwater will not be deterred in his quest for brains, but we'll see. Instead of the baroque explanation that blamed ACORN and laws outlawing redlining for the financial crisis conservatives may just point out that the rich aren't " losers " and leave it at that. Annie Lowrey raises some important questions about what constitutes a "strategic default": [T]his article epitomizes my broader frustrations with the debate over strategic default. It fails to define strategic default — setting out what characterizes a canny...

No Blog For You!

Spencer Ackerman got in a fight with the Soup Nazi. No really, the Soup Nazi. Apparently the actor who plays him didn't take kindly to Ackerman using his picture in a post about the guilty plea of Osama bin Laden 's former chef in the military commissions at Gitmo. Clearly he should have gone with the obvious potential Raekwon reference.

When Liberals Don't Like Liberal Judicial Activism.

Yesterday in Massachusetts, a federal judge ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, a Clinton-era federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, violated the 10th Amendment because it infringes on the states' right to define marriage. In a separate case, Judge Joseph Tauro also ruled that the DOMA ban violates the "equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment" by denying federal benefits to same-sex unions. If you've been paying attention to the health-care debate, you know that a number of conservatives, derisively referred to by some liberals as "Tenthers," believe the 10th Amendment makes the health-care law's individual mandate, which comes in the form of a fine on people who don't buy health insurance, unconstitutional. It's both kind of an old and a new thing. Liberal legal scholar Jack Balkin writes that Tauro's two opinions are "at war with each other": To be sure, there is something delightfully playful and perverse about the two opinions...

Mehserle Trial Aftermath.

From the San Francisco Chronicle : The trouble Thursday boiled down to a racially diverse mob of about 200 people, many bent on destruction no matter what, confronting police after the day's predominantly peaceful demonstrations ended. Sporadic conflicts were quelled quickly early in the evening, but by late night at least 50 people -- and maybe as many as 100 -- had been arrested as small groups smashed windows, looted businesses and set trash bins on fire. It's one thing to be angry because you believe that the system isn't fair and that certain lives are more valued than others. It's another to react to those concerns with violence, which is both unacceptable and completely contrary to what the Grant family wanted. Before people jump to conclusions, however: Officials said the main instigators appeared to be organized "anarchist" agitators wearing black clothing and hoods. Many of the most aggressive demonstrators smashing the windows of banks and shops were white. I believe Fred...

Oscar Grant, A Victim Of American Fear.

Today Johannes Mehserle , the former BART police officer who killed Oscar Grant while he was lying face down and handcuffed in an Oakland train station, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter -- his crime, according to the jury, was negligence in not knowing the difference between his heavy black gun and his light yellow Taser. Of the possible outcomes Mehserle was facing, involuntary manslaughter was the best he could have hoped for short of acquittal. He faces a maximum sentence of four years for the original crime, possibly more for the use of a firearm. I want to focus for a moment on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. To convict on the higher charge of voluntary manslaughter, the prosecution would have had to prove that Mehserle's fear of Grant and his friends was "unreasonable." It decided the crime was involuntary. In other words, Mehserle's fear? That was reasonable. Fear is at the core of questions of justice involving the deaths of black...

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