Trump Joins Governors in Backing Prison Reform

President Donald Trump has dedicated his administration to “law and order.” Perhaps keeping that in mind, ahead of his meeting with the president, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said prison reform isn’t soft on crime, but “smart on crime.”

Numerous states have enacted criminal justice laws to lighten penalties for non-violent offenders and help ex-prisoners transition into society to reduce recidivism. At the encourage of White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump is taking a national look at the matter.

Brownback, a Republican, said his state can offer a national example for what the country wants to do with the federal Bureau of Prisons, talking about two things that worked in Kansas.

“One is mentoring. Mentoring is critical. We’ve matched 7,500 prisoners who came out with a mentor on the outside. They’ve got to be matched,” Brownback told The Daily Signal outside the White House before the meeting with President Donald Trump and other governors Thursday about prison reform.

Brownback joined the Trump meeting in the Roosevelt Room with fellow Republican governors, Matt Bevin of Kentucky and Nathan Deal of Georgia. Both enacted similar policies to shift the focus to better integrate former prisoners for reentry to become productive and not return to crime.

“The second is to really engage their inside, their hopes, their dreams, their soul, that you can be better,” Brownback continued. “We have a lot of people [who] are generally faith-based that become involved in these programs. They mentor, but they also engage the person’s soul. Everything is voluntary. We’ve dropped the recidivism rate in half with mentoring and really engaging the soul.”

Reform the justice system to help focus on job training and rehabilitation for inmates about to be released has bipartisan support. Many conservatives back it, asserting fiscal success at the state level, while effectively reducing crime and recidivism. Also, liberals have long opposed overcrowded prisons and mandatory sentencing.

In Texas, crime dropped by 31 percent over the last decade, while incarceration has decreased by 21 percent over that time, with eight prisons closing even as the state’s population has sharply increased, noted Brooke Rollins, president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which founded the Right on Crime initiative.

“This is a big opportunity for the country,” Rollins told The Daily Signal before the meeting.
“Texas has closed eight prisons even while our population has exploded. These people are all nonviolent offenders,” Rollins continued. “We’ve done this through drug courts, mental health treatment, and probation to keep people out of prison and put people back to work.”

Trump told the gathering that the administration “is committed to helping inmates become productive law-abiding members of society” through job-training programs, mentoring, and drug addiction treatment.

“We’ll be discussing a number of opportunities to improve our prison system and promote public safety,” Trump said. “We can help break this vicious cycle.”

Trump added that rehabilitation and re-entry initiatives could be “a ladder of opportunity for the future.”

The policy is not at all contrary to law and order, said John Malcolm, head of the Institute for Constitutional Government at The Heritage Foundation.

“If you focus on the population that is going to be released from prison and is reentering society, you should want to reduce the risk they will go back to a life of crime,” Malcolm told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the number one topic at the meeting was reducing former inmates returning to crime. She also confirmed that Kushner was leading the effort.

“He’s hoping to lead that conversation and put stakeholders together from a number of different areas that have expertise on this matter,” Sanders said during the press briefing Thursday.

Bevin made an economic case.

“The workforce in America demands this, is begging for this,” Bevin said during the top of the meeting. “There are millions of jobs that need to be filled. ,,, We need them to become a functional part of our economic society.”

Sessions, who has made tough action a hallmark of the Justice Department, welcomed the ideas.

“Frankly we got a report late last year that the money isn’t being spent well,” Sessions said., speaking of the federal prison system.

The post Trump Joins Governors in Backing Prison Reform appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Court Decision Protects Free Speech Rights of Pro-Life Centers in Baltimore

In a ruling seven years in the making, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the city of Baltimore to “lay down the arms of compelled speech” it had taken up against pro-life pregnancy centers, once and for all, last Friday.

The decision upholds a series of previous rulings in favor of Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, the named plaintiff who challenged a 2009 city ordinance that forced the city’s Christian nonprofit pregnancy centers to post signage in their waiting rooms saying they do not offer or refer for abortions.

City politicians will no longer be able to abuse their power to silence those with differing messages.

Now, rather than strong-arming their opponents, they must—in the words of the court—“wield only the tools of persuasion” in their effort to appease Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and others in the abortion lobby who backed the law from its inception to its recent demise at the 4th Circuit.

At least 10 pregnancy help centers in the city of Baltimore are being spared the city’s “weaponized” attack on their work—including Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, which opened its fifth location in May 2017, right next door to a Planned Parenthood.

A legal process that has played out since early 2010 has failed to establish even one instance of pregnancy centers deceiving or misleading women into their offices, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in the ruling.

“After seven years of litigation and a 1,295-page record before us, the city does not identify a single example of a woman who entered the Greater Baltimore Center’s waiting room under the misimpression that she could obtain an abortion there,” Wilkinson, a Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote.

With pregnancy centers awaiting the Supreme Court’s say on a 2015 California law that forces state-licensed pro-life medical clinics to tell women where and how to get taxpayer-funded abortions, the 4th Circuit’s ruling could play into a number of state and local efforts to curb life-saving alternatives to abortion.

>>> Judge Halts California Law Forcing Pro-Lifers to Advertise Abortions

As Wilkinson pointed out in his decision, the Baltimore and California cases are distinct from one another because of the actual wording of their respective mandates, as well as the nature of clinic licensure in each state.

However, both laws are the result of a hostile effort to silence one side of the debate. That’s why both—as well as those in Hawaii, Illinois, New York City, and Hartford (Connecticut)—run afoul of the First Amendment and could be struck down in the long run.

“A speech edict aimed directly at those pregnancy clinics that do not provide or refer for abortions is neither viewpoint nor content neutral,” Wilkinson wrote. “We do not begrudge the city its viewpoint. But neither may the city disfavor only those who disagree.”

Abortion Fans Neck-Deep in Science Denial

While the decision likely marks the end of the road for Baltimore’s attack on pregnancy centers, it’s also just one of a recent flurry of failed hit jobs from abortion advocates aimed at alternatives to their only solution in an unexpected pregnancy.

In addition to the more significant loss in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, abortion crusaders have recently been dealt two stunning defeats in their all-out war on pro-life centers.

In December 2017, the California Board of Registered Nursing cleared a path for Heartbeat International—a worldwide network of over 2,400 pregnancy help locations, which includes Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns—to educate U.S. nurses on a life-saving intervention known as Abortion Pill Reversal.

>>> Big Victory for Abortion Pill Reversal Training in California

The decision from California’s nursing board came at the tail end of a nearly two-year battle sparked and fueled solely by abortion extremists bent on robbing women of the choice to reject a chemical abortion once they’d started the procedure.

Having successfully saved 400 babies and counting—and backed by a provider network of 350 physicians—Abortion Pill Reversal is consistently and relentlessly decried by abortion devotees as “unproven” and “junk science” despite the fact that it’s responsible for rescuing babies like Giselle, born Dec. 1, 2017.

While the abortion-only ideology is clearly pervasive in California politics, the board of nursing withstood heavy pressure from abortion lobbyists and kowtowing lawmakers alike, choosing instead to agree with Heartbeat International’s argument that Abortion Pill Reversal is both science-based and effective—even though it’s unpopular with the left.

A Big Waste of Time

A third strategy now backfiring in real time is abortion zealots’ ongoing effort to smear pregnancy centers with fake clients and fake online reviews.

Former comedienne Lizz Winstead launched the latest wave of vitriol last summer with her so-called “Expose Fake Clinics” campaign. The campaign not only failed, it failed spectacularly.

In Winstead’s opening salvo, a phony rally outside of a life-saving center in Pittsburgh, a man and his son—a toddler whose life had been saved through the center’s work—interrupted Winstead’s snarling crew and forced them to face the fact that his son was there as a result of the center’s ongoing work.

Winstead’s efforts continued to flounder, but she tried to resurrect the project this fall, this time with a special emphasis on ginning up negative pregnancy center reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Yahoo.

Rather predictably—considering 99 percent of pregnancy center clients report a positive experience—the online plank of Winstead’s campaign failed just as spectacularly as its in-person version, with Google removing several dozen fake reviews by late October.

Shades of Winstead’s online crusade continued through late 2017 and into the new year, but Tim Stephens of Extend Web Services—which creates and hosts websites and monitors online ratings for 169 pregnancy centers—said Google has removed hundreds of negative reviews to date, with more reviews coming down every day.

“We’ve finally been able to get Google to take a stand against these slanderous campaigns that are using Google’s own tools to spread false information and attack pregnancy centers,” Stephens said.

“The campaigners thought they were going to lay waste to the online reputations of pro-life organizations, but really the only waste left behind was their own time.”

As the abortion industry continues to spin its wheels in opposition to pro-life efforts, the pregnancy help community continues to celebrate lives saved and families transformed, one woman at a time.

And, should the courts continue to shift the battlefield from government coercion to compassionate persuasion, the pregnancy help community can expect to go on celebrating more and more lives in the coming year.

The post Court Decision Protects Free Speech Rights of Pro-Life Centers in Baltimore appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Rate of Imprisonment For Black Adults Falls 29% Over Decade

The rate of imprisonment for black adults fell almost 30 percent over a decade, according to a Wednesday report from the Department of Justice.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released its statistics on the United States prison population and the rate of imprisonment among different groups, according to a release from the Bureau. Among its findings was that black Americans’ rate of imprisonment declined by 29 percent between 2006 and 2016.

“During the decade between 2006 and 2016, the rate of imprisonment decreased 29 percent for black adults, 15 percent for white adults and 20 percent for Hispanic adults,” the report read.

The Bureau also noted that the prison rate also declined across the board for Hispanics, non-Hispanic white people and non-Hispanic black Americans during the period of 2015-2016.

“The imprisonment rate decreased for non-Hispanic adult black, non-Hispanic adult white and adult Hispanic prisoners from 2015 to 2016. The rate of imprisonment decreased 4 percent for black adults (from 1,670 to 1,608 per 100,000), 2 percent for white adults (from 281 to 274 per 100,000) and 1 percent for adult Hispanic prisoners (from 862 to 856 per 100,000),” a press release read.

A recent study argued that the United States was keeping people in prison for too long and suggested the country get rid of its life without parole sentences.

“Everyone deserves a meaningful chance of release,” the Urban Institute study said. “People should not be forever judged solely based on their crime but should instead be evaluated based on who they are now.”

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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I Was Denied Service Because of the Company’s Values, and I’m OK With That

This week, I was denied a service because the company’s values are at odds with the values that Alliance Defending Freedom stands for—values I personally hold.

And guess what? I’m okay with that. Allow me to explain.

As a writer, I’m always looking to improve my skills. And working for a no-debt legal service like Alliance Defending Freedom, which can only take on cases and clients as the funds are provided through our generous ministry friends, fundraising is an important part of what we do.

Using my work information, I signed up for an online course created by Moceanic, a team of talented fundraisers who have created a coaching and training business to help writers better connect with donors.

I’ve read blog posts and books that the team has produced, and I truly admire their talents. They have a gift for connecting with people.

What I didn’t know when I signed up for the course, however, is that Moceanic does a lot of work with organizations such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and LGBT activist organizations.

If you know anything about Alliance Defending Freedom or have read my blog posts before, you know that Alliance Defending Freedom and these organizations don’t exactly share the same values.

I received login information from the course and was excited to get started. But last weekend I received an email notifying me that they had refunded the cost of the course with no explanation as to why.

I was a little perplexed by the email and when I logged into their website on Monday morning, the course was no longer available to me.

That’s when I starting digging deeper into the brains behind Moceanic, and it didn’t take long for me to discover the values statement on their website. Here are a few key excerpts:

We work with progressive charities and movements. … This includes LBGT+ rights, Planned Parenthood, ACLU… . We won’t work with organizations that oppose these movements.

This is important to us, and we reserve the right to choose not to train people working directly for, or on behalf of, organizations whose missions or values do not align with ours.

My first thought was, “I get it—no further explanation needed.” I mean, why would they want to train someone who is going to work to raise money for their opposition?

My second thought was, “We actually have more in common than they think!” This is somewhat like the kind of freedom that Jack Phillips and numerous other Alliance Defending Freedom clients are fighting for.

Alliance Defending Freedom recently argued on behalf of Jack at the Supreme Court.

Jack was sued because he politely declined to design a custom cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. He believes that marriage is sacred—between a man and woman—and designing a cake that celebrated a very different message than his religious beliefs was not something he could do.

It’s not that Jack had any problems serving the couple requesting the cake. In fact, he offered to design them cakes for other occasions or sell them any of the premade goods he had available.

But Jack’s faith is important to him, and as an artist, he has the right not to create art that contradicts that faith.

And it’s not just the cake artist or Barronelle Stutzman, the florist, whose case we have appealed to the Supreme Court.

Alliance Defending Freedom is defending website designers, promotional printers, photographers, film production companies, and other small business owners who are fighting for the same freedom in court—the freedom not to betray their most deeply held beliefs and values.

Our clients serve everyone, they just can’t custom design material that sends messages that violate their faith.

But Moceanic has taken it a step further. They denied me not just their coaching program involving customized material—they declined to serve me entirely, even refusing to allow me access to a pre-existing course.

Of course, Moceanic shouldn’t be forced to coach me on how to speak in a way that generates excitement and engagement for a cause that they disagree with any more than Jack should have to create a cake celebrating a marriage that conflicts with his beliefs.

But they also want to decline me pre-existing courses lacking any custom designed coaching or content.

Although Moceanic’s actions go further than protecting against compelled speech, I understand why they wouldn’t want to advance the mission of their opposition. We live in a diverse nation where people hold differing views about a lot of different things.

The freedom to disagree is what makes America so unique. If we’re all forced by the government to adhere to the same ideology, then we are no longer the land of the free.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy stated during oral arguments in Jack’s case, “[T]olerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual.”

If the government can take away Jack’s freedom to speak and create consistently with his conscience, then freedom for all of us—including Moceanic—is at risk.

Whether they realize it or not, it appears the Moceanic team agrees with that sentiment. And although they might have taken it further than our arguments in Jack’s case, I wish them all the best.

Originally published by Alliance Defending Freedom.

The post I Was Denied Service Because of the Company’s Values, and I’m OK With That appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Judge Orders Trump Administration To Maintain DACA

A federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to maintain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program late Tuesday, an Obama-era amnesty policy that extends legal status to 800,000 illegal aliens who arrived in the U.S. as children.

The ruling could ensures DACA’s security as President Donald Trump attempts to reach an immigration deal with Democratic lawmakers. The program was scheduled to phase out in March.

Judge William Alsup, a Bill Clinton appointee, issued the ruling.

“Tonight’s order doesn’t change the Department of Justice’s position on the facts: DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens,” said Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley. “As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress, and was susceptible to the same legal challenges that effectively ended DACA.”

“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation,” he added.

The administration justified DACA’s termination on separation of powers grounds, arguing only Congress could authorize such a program.

Alsup strongly rejected this view, pointing to a 2014 Justice Department memo purporting to show that DACA’s features are rooted in Supreme Court case law or related powers granted by Congress.

Since Alsup concluded the program’s rescission was based on a flawed legal premise, he said the action was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, [and] otherwise not in accordance with law.”

Alsup further noted that Trump himself has determined DACA serves the public interest, citing two September 2017 tweets in which the president expressed support for so-called “Dreamers.”

“We seem to be in the unusual position wherein the ultimate authority over the agency, the chief executive, publicly favors the very program the agency has ended,” the judge wrote.

The order does not require the administration to process new DACA applications, and allows law enforcement to remove any DACA recipient believed to pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The Trump administration can ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review Alsup’s decision.

The Supreme Court recently lifted a sweeping discovery order Alsup issued in the DACA litigation. The judge ordered the Trump administration to release all internal documents relating to the program’s cancellation, despite the government’s insistence that many such records were privileged. The justices concluded that Alsup’s order was overly broad, and ordered him to reconsider the administration’s arguments.

The University of California system brought the suit challenging DACA’s termination. The system is led by Janet Napolitano, the former secretary of Homeland Security who presided over DACA’s original promulgation during the Obama administration.

The ruling can be viewed here.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Judge Orders Trump Administration To Maintain DACA

A federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to maintain the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program late Tuesday, an Obama-era amnesty policy that extends legal status to 800,000 illegal aliens who arrived in the U.S. as children.

The ruling could ensures DACA’s security as President Donald Trump attempts to reach an immigration deal with Democratic lawmakers. The program was scheduled to phase out in March.

Judge William Alsup, a Bill Clinton appointee, issued the ruling.

“Tonight’s order doesn’t change the Department of Justice’s position on the facts: DACA was implemented unilaterally after Congress declined to extend these benefits to this same group of illegal aliens,” said Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley. “As such, it was an unlawful circumvention of Congress, and was susceptible to the same legal challenges that effectively ended DACA.”

“The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation,” he added.

The administration justified DACA’s termination on separation of powers grounds, arguing only Congress could authorize such a program.

Alsup strongly rejected this view, pointing to a 2014 Justice Department memo purporting to show that DACA’s features are rooted in Supreme Court case law or related powers granted by Congress.

Since Alsup concluded the program’s rescission was based on a flawed legal premise, he said the action was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, [and] otherwise not in accordance with law.”

Alsup further noted that Trump himself has determined DACA serves the public interest, citing two September 2017 tweets in which the president expressed support for so-called “Dreamers.”

“We seem to be in the unusual position wherein the ultimate authority over the agency, the chief executive, publicly favors the very program the agency has ended,” the judge wrote.

The order does not require the administration to process new DACA applications, and allows law enforcement to remove any DACA recipient believed to pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The Trump administration can ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review Alsup’s decision.

The Supreme Court recently lifted a sweeping discovery order Alsup issued in the DACA litigation. The judge ordered the Trump administration to release all internal documents relating to the program’s cancellation, despite the government’s insistence that many such records were privileged. The justices concluded that Alsup’s order was overly broad, and ordered him to reconsider the administration’s arguments.

The University of California system brought the suit challenging DACA’s termination. The system is led by Janet Napolitano, the former secretary of Homeland Security who presided over DACA’s original promulgation during the Obama administration.

The ruling can be viewed here.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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Podcast: Former Employee Sues Google, Alleges Discrimination Against Conservatives

Former Google employee James Damore is suing Google, accusing the tech giant of discrimination against conservatives and whites. The Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez joins us to discuss that lawsuit, Silicon Valley’s diversity problem, and why the Census should stop dividing Americans into six ethnic categories. Plus: President Donald Trump shows his love for the national anthem, and the author of “Fire and Fury” won’t release the tape recordings.

The post Podcast: Former Employee Sues Google, Alleges Discrimination Against Conservatives appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Jeff Sessions Just Reversed Obama’s Pot Policy. Why That’s Good News for America.

Reversing Obama-era policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has given federal prosecutors the discretion to prosecute marijuana traffickers.

That’s good news for those who believe in the rule of law. And good news, too, for those concerned about public health and the safety of our nation’s youth.

On Jan. 4, Sessions revoked the Cole Memo, a 2014 Justice Department directive issued by then-Deputy Attorney General James Cole. The memo essentially gave marijuana producers and distributors in states that had legalized the drug immunity for violating federal drug laws.

Sessions’ directive gives the 94 U.S. attorneys all over the country clear guidance for deciding when to prosecute those who violate federal law prohibiting marijuana cultivation and distribution.

The Baby Boomers reading this column should realize that the marijuana being produced today is many times stronger and more potent than what we saw in the 1960s.

The science today is also much clearer: We have far greater knowledge of the long-term, deleterious effects of marijuana on the physical and mental health of users, particular children and teenagers.

The bottom line: Today’s pot is a potentially dangerous substance. That’s why it is classified as a Schedule I controlled drug along with heroin, LSD, and ecstasy—it isn’t alcohol.

While alcohol can be abused, it is not addictive for most people. Moreover, most consumers stop well shy of the point of intoxication. Moderate amounts even have some positive health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

>>> 11 Ways Trump’s DOJ Can Start Enforcing Federal Marijuana Law

Compared to alcohol, we now know that long-term marijuana use can cause physical disorders such as respiratory disease, social problems such as anomie, and mental health problems such as schizophrenia, something we didn’t know about in the 1960s.

Its effect on the young may be more pernicious. It may impair the brain development of children and teenagers. It is associated with lower test scores and lower education attainment. Teenagers who use pot are also much less likely to graduate from college and much more likely to attempt suicide.

Today’s pot is genetically modified to boost the “high” a user can get. The goal, naturally, is to get more people hooked on pot, just like Big Tobacco’s goal was to get more people hooked on cigarettes.

Today’s pot pushers are just Big Tobacco 2.0. Why else would they be infusing THC, the active ingredient, into everything from cookies to ice cream to Gummy Bears?

These products directly target the young, creating serious risks for children who may not know what they are ingesting and teenagers who use these products to hide what they are doing from their parents.

States like Colorado that have legalized marijuana use have seen huge increases in marijuana-related traffic accidents and fatalities as well as accidental poisonings of both children and pets. Pot use by teenagers, who are most vulnerable to its damaging effects, has also greatly increased, as have school suspensions and expulsions for pot use.

The Cole Memo ignored all of this information, directing federal prosecutors to back off enforcement.

So does Sessions’ directive mean federal prosecutors are now going to go after the college kid who smokes a joint in his dormitory?

Of course not. U.S. attorneys have limited resources. They don’t prosecute misdemeanors. The only criminals they will take to court are the large-scale manufacturers and distributors.

Revenue-hungry lawmakers in states like California and Colorado may be willing to trade the problems created by marijuana legalization for the tax bonanza they expect to reap. But it’s a very raw deal for their neighbors.

States like Nebraska and Oklahoma have complained that Colorado’s legalization has increased trafficking into their states, with all of the myriad problems associated with increased drug abuse.

As Sessions’ memo notes, Congress “determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that marijuana activity is a serious crime.” The attorney general has no authority to simply decide not to enforce a law, which is exactly what the Holder/Lynch Justice Department did.

States cannot authorize parties to engage in conduct that federal law prohibits and as long as the Controlled Substances Act is on the books, states cannot tell their citizens to disregard it.

From a policy standpoint, it is wise to battle the growth of an industry that distributes a potentially dangerous drug in what is a national market and thus a national, not just a local, problem.

But Sessions has also done the right thing from a legal standpoint. He has acted to preserve a constitutional government in which Congress determines what the law is, and the president and the attorney general fulfill their duty to enforce the law—not ignore it.

Originally published by Fox News.

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This ‘Unprofessional’ Case Against Western Ranchers Shows Why Americans Are Right to Fear Government

Governments are prone to abuse, especially when unchecked.

Recently revealed actions by the Bureau of Land Management, a federal agency under the Department of Interior charged with managing federal land, are reminiscent of the IRS scandal in which that agency targeted conservative tea party groups for extra scrutiny.

A federal judge ruled Dec. 20 that she was throwing out the Bureau of Land Management’s case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy because the prosecution withheld key facts.

On Monday, the same judge ruled that the case could not be tried again due to the actions of the prosecution, which she said had been “outrageous” and “violated due process rights,” according to azcentral.com.

The story broke before Christmas, but hasn’t received the attention it deserves. It perfectly underscores the pernicious problem of unaccountable agencies and how quickly they can become abusive to citizens.

The trial involved a dispute over grazing rights between Bundy and the federal government, a persistent problem in western states.

The government claimed Bundy owed money for public land use fees going back to the early 1990s, which the Bundy family refused to pay.

After years of trying to recoup the fees, the Bureau of Land Management, working in conjunction with the FBI, tried to impound Bundy’s cattle in 2014.

The story hit national headlines after Bundy, his family, and supporters got into an armed standoff with authorities that fortunately ended without violence. Bundy and his sons Ammon and Ryan eventually were arrested and charged with various offences.

However, the actions of government agents badly damaged the credibility of the case and raised questions about the power of supposedly independent agencies to deliver justice responsibly.

What is particularly worrisome is that the Bureau of Land Management appears to have acted punitively against political and religious groups they simply didn’t like.

An investigative report by one of the bureau’s own special agents revealed that the agents in the Bundy case acted with “incredible bias” and likely broke the law, as The Daily Caller News Foundation reported

The level of malfeasance of which one of its own accused the Bureau of Land Management is stunning.

Dan Love, the Bureau of Land Management law enforcement officer who led the 2014 raid on the Bundy compound in Clark County, Nevada, was fired recently amid charges of corruption. That was something prosecutors denied until pressured to release his fellow agent’s report to the defense.

Worse, an investigative report by one of the bureau’s own special agents revealed that the agents in the Bundy case acted with “incredible bias” and likely broke the law, as The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

In the memo, lead investigator Larry Wooten explained how agents acted maliciously toward the Bundys. He said the “punitive” and “ego-driven” campaign against the ranchers was all an effort to “command the most intrusive, oppressive, large scale, and militaristic trespass cattle impound possible.”

Wooten wrote: “The ridiculousness of the conduct, unprofessional amateurish carnival atmosphere, openly made statements, and electronic communications tended to mitigate the defendant’s culpability and cast a shadow of a doubt of inexcusable bias, unprofessionalism, and embarrassment of our agency.”

The agents called Bundy and his supporters “deplorables,” “rednecks,” and “idiots” among many other worse names, Wooten said. They also insulted the Bundy family’s Mormon beliefs.

Their behavior showed clear prejudice toward “the defendants, their supporters, and Mormons,” Wooten wrote.

Wooten claimed that fellow agents put him through a “religious test” of sorts on several occasions.

“You’re not a Mormon, are you?” they asked.

Wooten’s memo suggested that the attitude and ambition of Bureau of Land Management agents led them to inappropriately militarize the operation against the Bundys, even after the FBI had conducted a threat assessment and concluded that the Bundys weren’t dangerous.

The day after U.S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro’s declaration of a mistrial, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for an investigation into the matter.

However, there is some frustration over the Navarro’s decision, especially among environmental groups that generally would like to boot ranchers from government-owned western land.

Erik Molvar, executive director of Western Watersheds Project, an environmental conservation organization, blasted the mistrial decision in The Hill.

“These federal agencies have been patient and cautious to a fault in their prosecution of the Bundys and their accomplices,” Molvar wrote. “It’s long past time to stop playing games with the prosecution of federal crimes, and instead lay all the facts on the table and let the judicial system work.”

But one doesn’t need to think the Bundys acted appropriately in the dispute to understand why the case had to be thrown out. Nor is it out of line to think it’s worrisome for government agents to act in such an aggressive and abusive manner no matter the guilt or innocence of the citizen.

As columnist Debra Saunders wrote, the disturbing facts that have come to light point “to the sort of federal prosecutorial abuses that give the right cause for paranoia.”

There are better ways of of dealing with Western land. Reducing the federal footprint would certainly help.

Ranchers have been using government land for grazing for many generations, as individuals generally don’t have the financial means to acquire the amount of property necessary to run their business.

But this setup is not a free ride or “welfare,” as some have suggested.

Studies show it is generally more expensive for ranchers to use public land, which, in addition to fees, they are required to maintain, than to use privately leased land. In fact this land use helps the government save a significant amount of money on management costs.

Many ranchers would much rather contract with private entities and pay for services rather than deal with the headache of negotiating with the federal government. In many cases, however, this is impossible.

>>> It’s Time to Reduce the Power of the Federal Government Over Western Land

In Nevada, the federal government owns over 80 percent of the land and creates serious problems for ranchers and others who want and need to use it.

In the past, the federal government was more likely to give ranchers freer use of this land. Government actually encouraged western migration and frontier settlement through policies such as the famed Homestead Act of 1862.

But pressure from environmentalists outside and inside the agencies during the 20th century led to more restrictive policies on how ranchers may use the land.

This resulted in confrontations between the federal government and western farmers and ranchers, most notably the so-called “Sagebrush Rebellion” in the 1970s and 1980s, in which a coalition of westerners demanded that the government privatize land or transfer it to local authorities.

Confrontations and tension between ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management will likely continue as long as the government pursues such tight-fisted policies and insists that it’s more important to close off land use for the needs of the desert tortoise rather than those of ranchers and farmers.

Regardless of policy, Americans have a right not to be targeted by a government created to protect them and mete out appropriate justice.

The unfortunate facts of the Bundy case show how an unaccountable agency can become abusive toward citizens, and strikes at the heart of what we believe about republican government.

The Founders created our institutions to serve us and faithfully uphold the law, not be weaponized to attack individuals and groups in the shadow of darkness.

The post This ‘Unprofessional’ Case Against Western Ranchers Shows Why Americans Are Right to Fear Government appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Justice Clarence Thomas Opens Up on Life, Faith, and His Interracial Marriage

Justice Clarence Thomas has served 27 terms on the U.S. Supreme Court, and agreed to become the 341st leader interviewed for my Daily Caller News Foundation series.

Now at age 69, he is looking back on his life with gratitude and discernment with valuable lessons for others.

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People often want to define you by the bad things that happen in your life, he says, but there has been so much good amidst the challenges he told me, his wife, in this exclusive interview.

From a life that launched from economic deprivation, illiteracy, family dysfunction, and even time as a radical leftist, his accomplishments now reach to the U.S. Supreme Court—where he faces constant vilification and defamation. He says he learned the value of humility, patience, and persistence, but the bedrock of his rules for living came from simple aphorisms from his illiterate grandfather.

At a young age, he learned how to build bridges and find something in common with other people, be it sports, a hobby, religion or experiences, rather than focusing on differences and divisions. “Everyone has inherent value and is worth listening to,” he believes.

Looking back, he credits divine providence for path of his life. From the burning of a house, to being raised by his grandparents, to the nuns who taught in Savannah’s inner city, to attending the seminary and to getting his first job with Missouri Attorney General Jack Danforth, who was interviewing at Yale. Nothing could have foreseen his sitting on the Supreme Court today.

Faith, he says, gives him “the strength to do what I have to do every day, to assert the independence, to be willing to take the beatings, the criticism, the unfairness.” When he attends daily mass, he says, it helps him do his “job, a secular job, in the right way and for the right reasons.” It reminds him that his work has nothing to do with what is said about him, but is rather about doing what he took an oath to do.

“Everyone has inherent value and is worth listening to,” says Justice Clarence Thomas.

Thomas frequently turns to the “Litany of Humility,” which helps focus and insulate him from the distractions, criticisms, or praise that can come from this world. In his view, what really matters is whether you do what you are called to do.

As we talked about the biggest blessings of his life, he named being born in America, his faith, his son, and our marriage. He also spoke of his love of University of Nebraska athletics, motor homing over the last 18 years through “flyover country,” and the gift of being able to read. When you grow up surrounded by illiteracy with adults asking, “What this paper say?” reading becomes a true blessing. “It is like Christmas every day” when he reads.

On interracial marriage, he says, “If I were more progressive or liberal, [our marriage] would be considered progressive to be in an interracial marriage, but if you are not, then you are selling out.” He adds, “I don’t think of it as some statement. You’re my wife.”

>>> Flashback: 17 Things on Clarence Thomas’ Mind During Rare Public Remarks

Only after public outrage and congressional resolutions condemning the Smithsonian Institution’s refusal to honor Thomas in its African-American museum did an exhibit get modified. Ritual defamation by an antagonistic cultural elite who hope to reduce his popular currency and make his views radioactive, especially for any black American to emulate, has become the way of life for him.

Although he knows the difficulty of taking the public beatings for his views, he often remembers his grandfather’s advice in the 1980s of “Boy, you have to stand up for what you believe in.” He acknowledges a certain peace that comes from knowing you did the right thing, and talks about the importance of not allowing the critics to make you into someone you are not by overreacting negatively to them. He quotes the black author Richard Wright who said, “the worst I’ve ever been treated is when I told the truth.”

In an epic speech some 20 years ago to black judges in Memphis, Thomas boldly stated that he came not to defend his views, “but rather to assert my right to think to myself, to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me as though I was an intellectual slave because I’m black.” He wrote that speech, he says today, to draw attention to, “the right, among blacks, to think for themselves, the right to be that invisible man, to be the one who lays claim to his own thoughts.”

On the best part of being a Supreme Court justice, he praises our marriage to share the experiences, but also the joy of his four clerks each term. He promises his clerks that they “will leave this job with clean hands, clean hearts and clear consciences. They are “just a delight.” He enjoys the company of his colleagues, and misses those who have retired and passed away.

Don’t miss his jovial ending where he wanted to turn the tables on the interviewee.

For more, read Thomas’ autobiography, “My Grandfather’s Son,” see these articles or watch any of the 264 C-SPAN covered events of speeches he has given. To me, he is the best man walking the face of this earth!

Videographer Sean Moody is credited with the video work for this story.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

The post Justice Clarence Thomas Opens Up on Life, Faith, and His Interracial Marriage appeared first on The Daily Signal.