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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Newsnight | Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies Miller 'sorry' for WMD inaccuracies
Judith Miller, the US journalist at the heart of the CIA leak probe, has apologised to her readers because her stories about WMD and Iraq turned out to be wrong.

The US journalist, who spent 85 days in prison over the summer before agreeing to give evidence to a grand jury investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, made the apology during an exclusive interview for BBC Newsnight.

She said: "I am obviously deeply chagrined that I ever write anything that turns out to be incorrect. I'm deeply sorry that the stories were wrong."

Ms Miller also confirmed that former senior White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby was one of her sources who revealed that Ms Plame was employed by the CIA.

It's a deeply troubling failure, because if we didn't know about Iraq, what do we really know about Iran, North Korea or Syria?
Judith Miller
She claims Mr Libby did not out Ms Plame as a covert agent, but as someone who worked for the CIA. Ms Miller said she assumed that Ms Plame was an analyst, not an operative.

Mr Libby denies any wrongdoing.


When pressed to confirm or deny that President George W Bush's senior adviser Karl Rove was another source, she declined to do so, saying: "I can't talk about the specifics of this case as I might be a witness in a criminal trial."

Although Ms Miller apologised for the intelligence being incorrect she defended her journalism saying she was right to publish and had done everything she could to verify the facts. She said: "I'm deeply sorry our intelligence community got it wrong.

"I am deeply sorry that the President was given a national intelligence estimate which concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and a active weapons programme."

Wider implications

She defended printing the stories, claiming she had checked claims about Iraq and WMD with independent experts and had included caveats within her stories about the sources for her information.

The journalist also voiced concerns about the implications of the failure of intelligence for the wider, so-called "War on Terror".

"I think it's a terrible failure, it's a shocking failure, it's a deeply troubling failure, because if we didn't know about Iraq, what do we really know about the programmes of Iran or North Korea or Syria or what al-Qaeda is up to?"

The full interview with Judith Miller will be broadcast by Newsnight on BBC Two at 2230 GMT on Wednesday, 30 November, 2005.

You can also watch the programme via Newsnight's website.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Japan Today - News - New York Times column stirs debate: 'Are Japan's schools really better?' - Japan's Leading International News Network

Japan Today - News - New York Times column stirs debate: 'Are Japan's schools really better?' - Japan's Leading International News NetworkNew York Times column stirs debate: 'Are Japan's schools really better?'

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Monday, November 28, 2005 at 06:57 JST
NEW YORK — A New York Times' column titled "Why the United States Should Look to Japan for Better Schools," published Monday, stirred a heated debate among readers, prompting the newspaper to run seven letters to the editor about the piece on Friday.

In an Editorial Observer column Monday, Brent Staples wrote, "The United States will become a second-rate economic power unless it can match the educational performance of its rivals abroad and get more of its students to achieve at the highest levels in math, science and literacy."

In Japan, Staples said, there is "the teacher-development strategy in which teachers work cooperatively and intensively to improve their methods.

"This method, known as 'lesson study,' allows teachers to revise and refine lessons that are then shared with others, sometimes through video and sometimes at conventions, he said.

The Japanese schools are "typically overseen by the ministries of education that spend a great deal of time on what might be called educational quality control."

On Friday, the paper published the readers' responses to the column, including one by Peter Kahn, a mathematics professor at Cornell University, who agreed with Staples's view, saying "American teachers, particularly in science and mathematics, are, on average, deficient in their understanding of the disciplines they teach."

Meanwhile, Ellen Rubinstein, an English-language teacher in Okayama Prefecture, western Japan, took issue with the column, "I was shocked to read Brent Staples's glowing review of Japan's educational system."

Japanese students' "understanding is relevant only insofar as it increases their chances of passing university entrance exams," Rubinstein said.

"Japanese students may perform better than American students on standardized tests, but they lack critical thinking skills," she said.

From Alito's Past, a Window on Conservatives at Princeton - New York Times

From Alito's Past, a Window on Conservatives at Princeton - New York TimesNovember 27, 2005
From Alito's Past, a Window on Conservatives at Princeton

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 - In the fall of 1985, Concerned Alumni of Princeton was entering a crisis.

The group's members at the time included Samuel A. Alito Jr., now President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, although there is no evidence that he played an active or prominent role.

The group had been founded in 1972, the year that Judge Alito graduated, by alumni upset that Princeton had recently begun admitting women. It published a magazine, Prospect, which persistently accused the administration of taking a permissive approach to student life, of promoting birth control and paying for abortions, and of diluting the explicitly Christian character of the school.

As Princeton admitted a growing number of minority students, Concerned Alumni charged repeatedly that the administration was lowering admission standards, undermining the university's distinctive traditions and admitting too few children of alumni. "Currently alumni children comprise 14 percent of each entering class, compared with an 11 percent quota for blacks and Hispanics," the group wrote in a 1985 fund-raising letter sent to all Princeton graduates.

By the mid-1980's, however, Princeton students and recent alumni were increasingly finding such statements anachronistic or worse.

"Is the issue the percentage of alumni children admitted or the percentage of minorities?" Jonathan Morgan, a conservative undergraduate working with the group, asked its board members that fall in an internal memorandum. "I don't see the relevance in comparing the two, except in a racist context (i.e. why do we let in so many minorities and not alumni children?)," he continued.

By 1987, the group had sputtered out.

Mr. Morgan's memorandum and other records of Concerned Alumni are contained at the Library of Congress in the papers of William A. Rusher, a leader of the group and a former publisher of National Review.

Those records and others at Mudd Library at Princeton give no indication that Judge Alito, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, was among the group's major donors. He was not an active leader of the group, and two of his classmates who were involved and Mr. Rusher said they did not remember his playing a role.

But in an application for a promotion in the Reagan administration in the fall of 1985, Judge Alito was asked to provide information about his "philosophical commitment" to administration policies and listed his membership in Concerned Alumni.

When the White House disclosed the application this month, liberal groups opposed to his nomination pounced on the connection. "The question for senators to consider and to ask is why Samuel Alito would brag about his membership in an organization known for its fervent hostility to the inclusion of women and minorities at Princeton," said Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way.

Steve Schmidt, a White House spokesman, declined to comment. But former leaders of Concerned Alumni say they do not remember the group objecting to the inclusion of minorities, only to the university's affirmative action policies.

Andrew P. Napolitano, a friend and Princeton classmate of Judge Alito, questioned the relevance of Judge Alito's association with the group. "His membership probably tells you that his social inclinations are conservative," said Mr. Napolitano, who became a leader of the group, "but he is so intellectually honest that he labored mightily to keep those inclinations from influencing his decisions on the bench."

As for how Judge Alito might rule as a Supreme Court justice, Mr. Napolitano, a former Superior Court judge in New Jersey, said, "Who knows what will happen?"

By 1985 Concerned Alumni had become well known in conservative circles. Financed in part by Shelby Cullom Davis, a member of the 1930 class and the ambassador to Switzerland in the Nixon administration, the group announced in an early fund-raising pamphlet that its goals included a less-liberal faculty and "a more traditional undergraduate population."

A pamphlet for parents suggested that "racial tensions" and loose oversight of campus social life were contributing to a spike in campus crime. A brochure for Princeton alumni warned, "The unannounced goal of the administration, now achieved, of a student population of approximately 40 percent women and minorities will largely vitiate the alumni body of the future."

In 1975, an alumni panel that included Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the current Republican leader and a 1974 Princeton graduate, concluded that Concerned Alumni had "presented a distorted, narrow and hostile view of the university that cannot help but have misinformed and even alarmed many alumni" and "undoubtedly generated adverse national publicity." (Mr. Frist could not be reached for comment.) In 1977, The New Yorker devoted 20 pages to a gently derisive history of the group's squabbles with the university.

By the 1980's, however, Concerned Alumni had added a new cause: the defense of the exclusive "eating clubs," where many upper class Princeton students took their meals, and especially the three all-male clubs. All now admit women.

As a student, Judge Alito had not joined any of the clubs, taking his meals at a dining hall. But the leaders of Concerned Alumni and the editors of Prospect regarded the clubs as pillars of the university's distinctive social life that were under attack by the Princeton administration.

When the administration proposed a new system of residential colleges with their own dining halls, Prospect denounced the idea as a potential threat to the system of eating clubs. The magazine charged that, like affirmative action, the plan was "intended to create racial harmony."

Prospect portrayed the proposal as an effort to end the de facto segregation of the campus in which black students were concentrated in one dormitory and mostly did not belong to the clubs. "Doubtless, there will be many who regard this as mere stalling, and prejudice by another name," an unsigned 1982 editorial argued in defense of the magazine's position. "If realistic approaches to problems must be called dirty names because we do not like them, well, there is no remedy for it."

The magazine's content also grew increasingly provocative under the editorship of conservative rising stars, including Dinesh D'Souza and later Laura Ingraham.

A March 1984 article by Mr. D'Souza told the story of a Puerto Rican first-year student whose mother sought to remove her from the school after learning that she was having sex with a male student and was receiving sex-education from the school. The magazine said the administration had increased the female student's financial aide to enable her to stay, and it accused Princeton of giving new meaning to the phrase "in loco parentis."

Hundreds of students signed a petition protesting the article as an invasion of privacy, and the campus debate received national attention.

Later that year, Concerned Alumni fund-raising letters to Princeton graduates charged that the director of the university's health clinic had "celebrated the fact that 31 out of 33 pregnant students had abortions after receiving counseling from Princeton's sex clinic."

In January 1985 - a few months before Judge Alito filled out his Reagan administration application - William G. Bowen, Princeton's president, issued a statement calling the letter "callous" and "outrageous."

In an interview, Ms. Ingraham said liberal groups were making too much of Judge Alito's membership. "Stop the presses!" she said. "Sam Alito, a conservative, was once a member of a conservative Princeton alumni group."

Mr. D'Souza said supporters of Concerned Alumni were motivated by a fear that "traditional values" at Princeton had come under attack, but their specific concerns varied from academic standards to the athletic program. Judge Alito's support for the group "might tell you something," he said, "but it is hard to know what."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New Disclosure Could Prolong Inquiry on Leak - New York Times

New Disclosure Could Prolong Inquiry on Leak - New York TimesNovember 17, 2005
New Disclosure Could Prolong Inquiry on Leak

This article was reported by Todd S. Purdum, David Johnston and Douglas Jehl and written by Mr. Purdum.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 - The disclosure that a current or former Bush administration official told Bob Woodward of The Washington Post more than two years ago that the wife of a prominent administration critic worked for the C.I.A. threatened Wednesday to prolong a politically damaging leak investigation that the White House had hoped would soon be contained.

The revelation left the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, grappling with an unexpected new twist - one that he had not uncovered in an exhaustive inquiry - and gave lawyers for I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff and the only official charged with a crime, fresh evidence to support his defense.

Mr. Woodward's account of his surprise testimony to Mr. Fitzgerald - reported by The Post in Wednesday's issue and elaborated on in a first-person statement - now makes it apparent that he was the first journalist known to have learned the C.I.A. identity of Valerie Wilson, whose husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, has sharply criticized the administration's rationale for war with Iraq. [Page A22.]

He says that he was told in mid-June 2003 that Ms. Wilson worked as a C.I.A. weapons analyst, by an official who made an offhand reference that did not appear to indicate her identity was classified or secret.

Mr. Woodward said he provided sworn testimony to Mr. Fitzgerald on Monday, only after his original source went to the prosecutor to disclose their two-year-old conversation. But because Mr. Woodward said that source had still not authorized him to disclose his or her name, he set off a frantic new round of guessing about who that source might be and a wave of public denials by spokesmen for possible suspects.

A senior administration official said that neither President Bush himself, nor his chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., nor his counselor, Dan Bartlett, was Mr. Woodward's source. So did spokesmen for former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; the former director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet; and his deputy, John E. McLaughlin.

A lawyer for Karl Rove, the deputy White House chief of staff who has acknowledged conversations with reporters about the case and remains under investigation, said Mr. Rove was not Mr. Woodward's source.

Mr. Cheney did not join the parade of denials. A spokeswoman said he would have no comment on a continuing investigation. Several other officials could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Woodward, perhaps the nation's single most famous reporter, never wrote about the case, even after it became the most prominent story in Washington, although he made public statements dismissing its importance. He only informed The Post's executive editor, Leonard Downie Jr., of his knowledge last month, just before Mr. Fitzgerald indicted Mr. Libby on charges that he made false statements about his contacts with reporters and accused him of obstructing the investigation into whether the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity was a crime.

On Wednesday, Mr. Libby's lawyer, Theodore Wells, pronounced Mr. Woodward's revelation a "bombshell" that contradicted Mr. Fitzgerald's assertion that Mr. Libby was the first government official to discuss Ms. Wilson's C.I.A. connection with a journalist, Judith Miller, a former reporter for The New York Times, on June 23, 2003.

The latest revelation left Mr. Woodward, an assistant managing editor at The Post who operates with extraordinary latitude to produce best-selling books detailing the inner workings of the highest levels of government, in an unusual - and unusually uncomfortable role.

In a telephone interview, Mr. Woodward said he had apologized to Mr. Downie for not disclosing his own part in such a long-running story long ago and said he had kept a deliberately low profile to protect his sources. "The terms of engagement change when a reporter and reporters are being subpoenaed, agreeing to testify, being forced to testify, being jailed," Mr. Woodward said. "That's the new element in this. And what it did, it caused me to become even more secretive about sources, and to protect them. I couldn't do my job if I couldn't protect them. And to really make sure that I don't become part of this process, but not to be less aggressive in reporting the news."

It was not clear just what had prompted Mr. Woodward's original source to go to Mr. Fitzgerald, or whether that source had previously testified in the case. But Mr. Woodward was said to have begun making inquiries about the case before Mr. Libby's indictment, which may have been the catalyst.

If there are inconsistencies between Mr. Woodward's account and any earlier account by his source, Mr. Fitzgerald could be obliged to explore new legal implications.

The existence of Mr. Woodward's mysterious source came as a surprise to lawyers in the case, because it hinted that Mr. Fitzgerald had failed to learn a significant fact after two years of investigation, despite his reputation as a ferocious investigator who spent weeks digging out the smallest details before seeking indictments.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, declined to comment on Mr. Woodward's statement. Mr. Libby was at the federal courthouse here on Wednesday, reviewing documents to aid in his defense. Lawyers involved in the case said that while the issues raised by Mr. Woodward's new account did not go to the heart of the perjury and obstruction charges against Mr. Libby, they could cast doubt on an underlying prosecution theme: that Mr. Libby was untruthful when he told the grand jury Ms. Wilson's C.I.A. identity was common knowledge among reporters.

In fact, only a small group of officials - at the White House, the State Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency - are believed to have known by early June 2003 about Ms. Wilson's ties to the C.I.A. They included Secretary Powell, Mr. Tenet, Mr. McLaughlin, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Libby; Marc Grossman, then the under secretary of state for political affairs; Carl Ford, then the head of the State Department's intelligence bureau; and Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state.

Mr. Wilson did not publicly identify himself until July 6 as the former ambassador who had made a trip to Niger in 2002 on behalf of the C.I.A. to investigate a claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium there. Both The New York Times, in a May 6 column by Nicholas D. Kristof, and The Washington Post, in a front-page article on June 12 by Walter Pincus, had reported about the trip, but had not identified Mr. Wilson by name.

But former government officials have said that Mr. Pincus's inquiries at the White House, the C.I.A. and other agencies about Mr. Wilson's trip prompted Mr. Libby and other officials within the administration to try to learn more about the origins of the trip.

In his formal statement in The Post, Mr. Woodward said he had mentioned to Mr. Pincus in June 2003 that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. But Mr. Pincus, who has written that he first heard about Ms. Wilson from a senior administration official in July, said he did not recall that.

"The way he describes it, which is he walked by and said something about Wilson's wife being at C.I.A., I have absolutely no memory of it at all," Mr. Pincus said in a telephone interview. "And I think he may say that my reaction was 'What!' " like I was surprised. He now thinks I may never have heard him, and said, 'What?' "

Mr. Pincus did recall a later conversation with Mr. Woodward, in October 2003, after Mr. Pincus wrote about administration officials' efforts to discredit Mr. Wilson. He said Mr. Woodward stopped by his desk to tell Mr. Pincus that he "wasn't the only one who had been told," about Ms. Wilson's identity before it was publicly revealed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003. Mr. Pincus said Mr. Woodward "asked me to keep him out of my reporting, and I agreed to do it."

Mr. Pincus said he agreed not to pursue the question of whether anyone in the administration might have contacted Mr. Woodward because "he hadn't written a story."

He continued, "I was writing that they had talked to a group of people. I don't think I named everybody."

Mr. Fitzgerald's indictment of Mr. Libby provides some clues about the small number of people who were directly involved in exchanging information about the Wilsons. It says that Mr. Libby first sought information about Ambassador Wilson's trip from Mr. Grossman, on May 29, 2003. It says that Mr. Grossman directed Mr. Ford's intelligence bureau to prepare a report about Mr. Wilson and his trip to Niger, and briefed Mr. Libby about that report as it was being completed, telling him on June 11 or 12, 2003, that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. and that State Department personnel were involved in the planning of the trip. Mr. Grossman declined to comment on Wednesday, and Mr. Ford did not reply to a telephone call and an e-mail message.

Mr. Libby also learned from a "a senior officer of the C.I.A." on or about June 12, 2003, that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at the C.I.A. and was believed to be responsible for sending Mr. Wilson on the trip, the indictment says.

The indictment says that it was Mr. Cheney who specifically first told Mr. Libby, on or about June 12, 2003, that Ms. Wilson worked in the counterproliferation division at the C.I.A., a fact that meant that she worked within the agency's clandestine service, where many employees are undercover. It says that Mr. Libby understood that Mr. Cheney had learned the information "from the C.I.A.," and people who have been officially briefed on the investigation say that notes taken by Mr. Libby at the time say that Mr. Cheney learned it from Mr. Tenet.

Others mentioned in the indictment as having discussed Mr. Wilson's trip with Mr. Libby in June or July 2003 include Eric Edelman, then Mr. Cheney's national security adviser; Catherine Martin, then his director of public affairs; Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary; Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's political adviser; and David Addington, the counsel to the vice president. Other administration officials known to have been interviewed by investigators include Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser and is now secretary of state; Stephen Hadley, then deputy national security adviser and now the national security adviser; Mr. Card; and Mr. Bartlett.

Mr. Woodward's statement could help Mr. Libby counter one of the main charges against him, that he lied to the grand jury about a conversation with Tim Russert, NBC's Washington bureau chief, in which Mr. Libby asserted that it was Mr. Russert who told him about Ms. Wilson. The lawyers said that they could say he merely misspoke, never intending to mislead the grand jury because he honestly believed he had heard about the C.I.A. officer as the subject of gossip in news media circles.

But some legal experts were skeptical that Mr. Woodward's disclosure would significantly alter the case against Mr. Libby.

"I don't think that in a technical legal sense it matters," said Rodney A. Smolla, dean of the law school at the University of Richmond and a specialist in media law. "It's neutral as to Libby because he has been indicted for perjury and for lying, and nothing in his account seems to sanitize those lies if in fact they turn out to be lies."

Other than Mr. Libby, the only administration official publicly known to have talked with reporters about Ms. Wilson's identity is Mr. Rove.

Other mysteries remain. It is still not known who first told Mr. Novak about Ms. Wilson. In addition, Mr. Pincus has never publicly disclosed the identity of an administration official he says told him on July 12, 2003, that Mr. Wilson's trip was "a boondoggle" by his wife. Mr. Pincus has said he testified about that exchange in 2004 after his source told prosecutors about it; Mr. Novak is also believed to have testified in the case, although he has not said so publicly.

Mr. Woodward wrote that he conducted three interviews related to the investigation, which were mainly background interviews for his 2004 book, "Plan of Attack," about the Iraq war. He said that he had confidentiality agreements with each of these sources, who signed written statements releasing him from his previous pledge of secrecy.

Mr. Woodward said that he testified about a second meeting on June 20, 2003, with a second administration official who was not identified by Mr. Woodward, but whom The Post identified on its Web site Wednesday as Mr. Card. Mr. Woodward wrote that he had a list of questions to the interview that included a line that said "Joe Wilson's wife." A tape of the interview contained no indication that the subject had come up.

A third conversation was conducted by phone with Mr. Libby on June 23, 2003. Mr. Woodward told him that he was sending 18 pages of questions intended for Mr. Cheney, including one that referred to "yellowcake," the uranium ore at the center of Mr. Wilson's fact-finding trip to Africa. "I testified that I have no recollection that Wilson or his wife was discussed, and I have no notes of the conversation."

In the telephone interview, Mr. Woodward said that his goal had been "the protection of a confidential source, and aggressive reporting, and they do go hand in hand."

Richard W. Stevenson, Eric Lichtblau and Anne E. Kornblut contributed reporting for this article.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: Helping hands

New York Daily News - Ideas & Opinions - Stanley Crouch: Helping hands

Bx. school leads by example, teaming students with mentors

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein last week lauded 100 Black Men as the future of public education because the organization is now sponsoring the Eagle Academy in the Bronx, the first all-male school in New York City in more than 30 years. One of the most important aspects of the school is that it provides mentors for the young men in order to make sure that the boys become accustomed to seeing and knowing successful men who are not corrupt or corrupting and with whom they can talk and from whom they can get advice.

Joining Klein at the philanthropic gala celebrating 100 Black Men's 42 years of service was Eagle Academy Principal David Banks, who came onstage with his students and gave a rousing speech. His point was one of the most important ones that can be made in our time. Hard work, quality education, changing value systems, celebrating intellectual achievement and mentoring are of the utmost importance in the elevation of those at the bottom.

Sean (Diddy) Combs, whom some might have mistaken for a play gangster in his dark glasses, actually gave an interesting acceptance speech after being awarded Entrepreneur of the Year. He thanked his mother and the women in his family for encouraging him, but he also pointed out how important men in the business such as Quincy Jones had been in mentoring him toward success.

It was somewhat ironic that Combs was followed by jazz great Wynton Marsalis. It was ironic because Marsalis made a point that was not aimed at Combs in particular, but rather at the ugly facts of the pop music business.

Marsalis told the audience that it was important to keep its cultural awareness in line with the goals of the organization because black American culture, which once produced so many musicians of worldwide importance, is being debased and now pumps out trash that pollutes and weakens the community.

Marsalis said that it was important to salvage the greatness of black American culture because of its human importance beyond all lines of color, sex, religion or nationality. Jazz, he said, represented not just the triumph of a single ethnic community; it represented the triumph of the human spirit, which was why it had spoken so clearly to lovers of art around the world.

The address Marsalis gave was much more well received than those given by the other speakers. But what was most important about the evening is that all of the men, having come from the bottom to the tops of their professions, symbolized everything that 100 Black Men, like every serious effort in this nation, is trying to do. Each of those men knew that he did not get where he is alone, quick to acknowledge mentors as the answer in sustaining the human virtues of a culture in academic, economic and artistic terms.

Originally published on November 13, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

Court Pick Described View on Abortion in '85 Document - New York Times

Court Pick Described View on Abortion in '85 Document - New York TimesNovember 14, 2005
Court Pick Described View on Abortion in '85 Document

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 - As a young lawyer seeking to move up in the Reagan administration in 1985, Samuel A. Alito Jr. declared that the Constitution does not protect a right to abortion.

In language certain to stoke heated debate at his January confirmation hearings, Mr. Alito, now President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, also expressed disapproval of Supreme Court decisions while Earl Warren was chief justice, including those that dealt with criminal procedures.

Mr. Alito, who was 35 in November 1985, when he made those statements in applying to become deputy assistant attorney general, said he was a committed conservative who had been influenced by the writings of William F. Buckley Jr. and Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign.

He said he had been honored to serve as assistant to the solicitor general "and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly."

"I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion," Mr. Alito, who is now a federal appeals court judge, wrote.

The statements, contained in a document made public today by the Reagan Presidential Library, after the contents were first reported by The Washington Times, is bound to stir interest when the Senate Judiciary Committee begins hearings on Judge Alito's nomination in January.

The 10 Republicans on the panel include some of the Senate's most ardent abortion opponents, while the panel's 8 Democrats include some of the lawmakers most committed to preserving abortion rights. The chairman, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, is unusual in that he is a Republican who supports abortion rights.

If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Alito would replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who supports abortion rights and is regarded as a bridge between the court's conservative and liberal factions.

Conservatives would like to see the court move to the right, while moderates and liberals fear that very development. The confirmation hearings are expected to focus heavily on whether a Justice Alito would try to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established the right to have an abortion or the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling that reaffirmed it.

As a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia, Judge Alito voted against abortion rights when the Casey case, from Pennsylvania, was before his tribunal.

Even without the abortion issue, the young Samuel Alito's disagreement with the Warren Court's decisions "in the areas of criminal procedure" and other issues offer plenty of grist for debate before the Judiciary Committee.

In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainright that the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed access to qualified counsel. In 1966, in Miranda v. Arizona, the court laid out strict police interrogation procedures to protect defendants' Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Judge Alito is certain to be asked how his views have evolved over the past two decades, if they have. In 1985, he said, "I am and always have been a conservative."

"I believe very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement, and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values," he wrote.

That is the kind of language that appeals to conservatives. So does what he said about the role of judges: "I disagree strenuously with the usurpation by the judiciary of decision-making authority that should be exercised by the branches of government responsible to the electorate." Debunking Cosby on Blacks
Debunking Cosby on Blacks

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, November 13, 2005; F01

Was comedian Bill Cosby right when he criticized poor blacks for not appreciating and thus capitalizing on the path people such as civil rights icon Rosa Parks paved?

It's fitting, as many reflect on Parks's life and her decision not to move to the back of the bus, that we also examine the current economic state of black America. So this month for the Color of Money Book Club, I'm recommending "Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?" by Michael Eric Dyson (Basic Civitas Books, $23).

During a ceremony last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, Cosby contrasted the achievements of civil rights activists such as Parks with the current generation of "lower-economic and lower-middle-economic people" who he said have not been holding up their end of the deal.

Cosby said they are squandering what Parks and others fought for.

They are "fighting hard to be ignorant," he said.

Poor blacks are bad parents because they waste what little money they have buying high-priced, brand-name shoes, Cosby chided.

"All this child knows is gimme, gimme, gimme," Cosby said, according to a transcript of the speech. "They are buying things for the kid. $500 sneakers. For what?"

Cosby was lauded by white conservatives and some blacks for being brave enough to speak out. But like the price of sneakers that Cosby got wrong, he was incorrect about much of what he said. And Dyson proves as much in his well-researched book.

Dyson begins most chapters with Cosby's own words and then methodically dissects the comments, showing just why the comedian was rattling off nonsense much like his Fat Albert character Mushmouth. "Cosby's remarks are not the isolated ranting of a solo rhetorical gunslinger, but simply the most recent, and the most visible, shot taken at poor blacks in a more-than-century-old class war in black America," Dyson writes in the book's preface.

Dyson, a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, deftly demolishes the stereotypes Cosby let loose.

Let's take Cosby's assertion that lower-economic and lower-middle-economic people are pathological consumers throwing their money away on overpriced consumer goods.

Dyson counters with research by anthropologist Elizabeth Chin. In her book "Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture," Chin concluded that black youths are not brand-crazed consumer addicts any more so than other youths. In fact, the children Chin studied more often than not made good purchasing decisions.

"The point of Chin's book is to dispel the sort of myths perpetuated by Cosby and many others, black and white," Dyson writes. "The perception that the meager resources of the poor are somehow atrociously misspent on expensive consumer items is far out of proportion to the facts of the case."

It smacks of elitism that poor blacks are held to standards that most Americans aren't, Dyson said in an interview. He reminds readers of what President Bush asked Americans to do after Sept. 11, 2001.

He asked us all to go shopping. And many did and are still shopping till they are now dropping from financial exhaustion.

"It is interesting that Cosby expects poor parents, and youth, to be more fiscally responsible than those with far greater resources prove to be," Dyson writes.

But what about the oft-repeated assertion that poor blacks can't afford to be spendthrifts?

"There is a cruelty to such an observation," according to Dyson. "Not only is the poor parent, or child, at a great disadvantage economically, but they are expected to be more judicious and responsible than their well-to-do counterparts, with far fewer resources."

Dyson's book is a stinging indictment of upper-middle-income blacks who have benefited from the civil rights movement but now feel justified to criticize poor black folks who haven't ascended to the same financial success.

By no means does Dyson absolve impoverished blacks of personal responsibility. Instead, he documents why we all "must never lose sight of the big social forces that make it difficult for poor parents to do their best jobs and for poor children to prosper."

This isn't a book that just black folks should read. It's a book that will challenge everyone to examine his or her stereotypical views of the underclass.

If you are interested in discussing this month's book selection, join me online at at noon on Thursday. Dyson will be my guest and will take your questions.

To become a member of the Color of Money Book Club, all you have to do is read the recommended book and chat online with the author and me. In addition, every month I randomly select readers to receive a copy of the book, donated by the publisher. For a chance to win a copy of "Is Bill Cosby Right?" send an e-mail to . Please include your name and an address so we can send you a book if you win.

Liberal Coalition Is Making Plans to Take Fight Beyond Abortion - New York Times

Liberal Coalition Is Making Plans to Take Fight Beyond Abortion - New York TimesNovember 14, 2005
The Opposition
Liberal Coalition Is Making Plans to Take Fight Beyond Abortion

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 - A coalition of liberal groups is preparing a national television advertising campaign against the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. that seeks to move the debate over his selection beyond abortion rights and focus instead on subjects like police searches and employment discrimination, several leaders of the coalition said.

The possibility that Judge Alito could vote to narrow abortion rights has dominated discussion among both supporters and opponents of his nomination. But Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice and one of the leaders of the coalition, said a poll commissioned by her organization showed the potential to attack Judge Alito on aspects of his record that had received less attention.

In addition to the alliance, a liberal legal group that focuses on judicial nominations, the coalition includes the abortion rights groups Naral Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, as well as People for the American Way, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Sierra Club.

Last week, the alliance released results of a poll that highlighted elements of the judge's record unrelated to abortion that the liberal groups say could have greater resonance with moderate voters.

Among the issues raised by the poll was Judge Alito's support as a lawyer in the Reagan administration for an employer's right to fire someone who had AIDS. Another issue was a judicial opinion he wrote supporting a police strip-search of a suspected drug dealer's female companion and her 10-year-old daughter. Others included his votes as a judge against employment discrimination suits and an opinion overturning part of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Judge Alito has explained his reasons for supporting an employer's right to fire someone because that person had AIDS. He told The Washington Post, "We certainly did not want to encourage irrational discrimination, but we had to interpret the law as it stands."

He voted to uphold the strip search of the mother and daughter in Doe v. Groody, arguing in a dissenting opinion that the police were justified in their reading of their warrant because drug dealers often hid narcotics with the help of others in their households.

Besides the potential they see in other subjects, the liberal groups' advertising strategy also reflects the difficulty of pinning down Judge Alito's stand on abortion rights. Last summer, an abortion-rights group withdrew a commercial opposing the nomination of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. amid criticism that it misconstrued his defense of clinic protestors as support for a bomber.

The Alliance for Justice poll showed that a majority of Americans would oppose Judge Alito if they thought he would vote to overturn the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade. But although groups on both sides of the issue expect Jude Alito to narrow abortion rights, his judicial record is hardly definitive.

His most controversial opinion on the subject was a dissent supporting provisions of a Pennsylvania law that with some exceptions required married women to notify their husbands before obtaining abortions. Many polls have shown that a majority of voters favor such restrictions.

People involved in the advertising effort said the coalition was planning to spend several million dollars to broadcast commercials, perhaps beginning late this week, on national cable networks and in the home states of potentially pivotal senators.

The groups are starting their campaign much earlier in the process than they have for past nominees; liberal groups did not begin advertising against Judge Robert H. Bork until around the start of his confirmation hearings. Judge Alito's hearings are two months away.

Even before seeing the commercials, Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the White House, accused the groups of planning "millions of dollars worth of wildly inaccurate advertisements that border on character assassination."

Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, an organization that supports President Bush's nominees, said the liberal groups were recognizing that their opposition to abortion restrictions would alienate mainstream voters.

Mr. Rushton said the advertising campaign would end up helping Judge Alito by enabling conservatives to mount their own campaign in his defense, attacking the liberal groups for their stands on gay rights and other social issues. When Judge Alito testifies, the conservative groups' commercials "will just paint the accusers as the shrill and extreme ones," Mr. Rushton said.

Ms. Aron and Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way and another leader of the coalition, emphasized that the liberal groups were not backing away from the abortion rights issue.

"To put together the broadest possible coalition and to appeal to as many voters as we can," Ms. Aron said, "raising all aspects of his record are important, including the abortion issues."

The goal, Mr. Neas said, is "to make clear that that is one of many issues" in "an epic struggle between two competing and radically different judicial philosophies."

Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said her organization was "lock step" with the rest of the coalition and understood the need to emphasize issues in addition to abortion, "to look at the whole man, so to speak."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - Carter criticizes administration for direction it's taking U.S.

CBS 46 Atlanta - Carter criticizes administration for direction it's taking U.S.Carter criticizes administration for direction it's taking U.S.
Nov 12, 2005, 11:01 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Former President Jimmy Carter, on a tour to promote his latest book, is sharply questioning the direction the Bush administration has taken the country.

At Unity Temple in Kansas City, Missouri, Carter yesterday said he is -- quote -- "disturbed an angry" at what he calls a radical move away from human rights, protecting the environment and defending the separation of church and state.

Carter is promoting his 20th book, "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis," which he describes as his first political book. He placed responsibility for that moral crisis largely on the Bush administration, citing a pre-emptive war policy, inadequate attention to the environment, and the use of torture against some prisoners.

About 1,200 people waited to have books signed by the 39th president.

The Democrats and Judge Alito - New York Times

The Democrats and Judge Alito - New York TimesNovember 13, 2005
The Democrats and Judge Alito

Judge Samuel Alito has been working hard to win over moderate Democratic senators. But just as it would be irresponsible to reject his nomination to the Supreme Court without giving him a full hearing, it is unwise to embrace it - or rule out the possibility of a filibuster - until more is known.

The Alito nomination is a defining moment for the country, and for the Democratic Party. Given the sharp divisions on the court, the next justice could decide the scope of reproductive freedom, civil rights and civil liberties, and environmental and workplace protections that Americans will live with for years. Although many questions remain to be answered, there is reason to believe that Judge Alito could do significant damage to values Democrats have long stood for.

Conservative Republicans demonstrated that they have a clear idea of what they want for the Supreme Court. They proved that once again with their insurrection against Harriet Miers. Now Democratic senators have to show their supporters that they are no less willing to fight for their vision.

Judge Alito has tried to reassure Democratic senators by talking about his respect for Supreme Court precedents, including Roe v. Wade. It would be unwise to put too much stock in such reassurances. Even justices who value precedent, as most do, sometimes overturn existing case law with which they disagree. It should give Democrats pause that after Judge Alito's meetings with senators, both sworn opponents of Roe and fervent supporters have emerged reassured.

Even if Judge Alito does stand by important precedents, there is still reason for concern. Under Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the Supreme Court perfected the art of reaffirming precedents in areas like criminal procedure while poking enough holes in them to render them almost unrecognizable. Judge Alito showed as a federal appeals court judge - when he voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women to inform their husbands before getting an abortion - that abortion rights can be severely diminished even within the framework of Roe. The same thing could be true in other areas.

One group that clearly does not believe that Judge Alito will be a slave to existing Supreme Court precedents is the far right. Many of the same groups and individuals who waged a fierce campaign against Ms. Miers, President Bush's previous nominee for this seat, appear to be lining up in support of Judge Alito. Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican who strongly opposes abortion, and other rights the court has recognized over the years, declared after meeting with Judge Alito, "This is the type of nominee I've been asking for."

The confirmation hearings, which are scheduled to start in early January, should shed light on whether he is in the mainstream of the law or outside it. Democrats should put a heavy burden on Judge Alito to show that he would not do damage to the Constitution, and to Americans' cherished rights.

The Alito nomination comes at a critical moment for the Democratic Party. With President Bush's poll numbers plummeting, Democrats are finding a new optimism about their chances in 2006 and 2008. But to capitalize on the Republicans' weakness, the party needs to show that it has an alternative vision for the country. As the Democrats refine their message for next year's elections, the first thing they need to be able to say to the American people is that they did not sit by idly while the far right took over the Supreme Court and began dismantling fundamental rights and freedoms.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bush's Conservative Judge Harbors Libertarian Streak - New York Times

Bush's Conservative Judge Harbors Libertarian Streak - New York TimesNovember 12, 2005
Bush's Conservative Judge Harbors Libertarian Streak

Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. has vigorously defended freedom of expression, adopting a stance that places him among a group of conservative judges with a libertarian streak.

Judge Alito's broad reading of the freedom of speech and press clauses of the First Amendment stands in contrast with his narrower interpretation of other constitutional rights, including the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and the Sixth Amendment's guarantees of fair trial rights for criminal defendants.

Judge Alito, President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court, has found First Amendment violations in a school board's antiharassment policy, in a ban on liquor advertisements in a college newspaper and in the removal of a boy's drawing of Jesus from a schoolhouse wall.

But this willingness to protect expression has not extended to cases involving prisoners and government employees. In a dissent this year, for instance, he argued that officials in a maximum security prison were free to punish inmates by barring their access to newspapers and magazines.

"Judge Alito is part of the new breed of conservative libertarian jurists who are sensitive to safeguarding our free-speech freedoms," said Ronald K. L. Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center, a research and advocacy group in Virginia. "They're particularly sensitive when it comes to issues involving speech and commerce and political orthodoxy."

These judges tend to be very protective of speech rights when they involve the marketplace of ideas, or the core of the First Amendment, said Jesse H. Choper, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Among the generally conservative judges who share Judge Alito's approach to free expression are Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Judge Alex Kozinski on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. Justice Antonin Scalia may also be considered in this group; his vote was critical in a 1989 case holding that burning the American flag was a form of protected political speech.

In Judge Alito's 15 years on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, his most expansive meditation on the contours of the First Amendment's speech protections came in a 2001 case challenging a code of conduct.

David Saxe, a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education and the legal guardian of two students in the State College school district, challenged the district's antiharassment policy, which forbade jokes and demeaning comments about various personal characteristics, including race, sexual orientation, clothing, social skills and values.

Mr. Saxe said the code interfered with his family's right to speak out in opposition to homosexuality. Judge Alito, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, ruled in his favor.

There is, Judge Alito wrote, "no question that the free speech clause protects a wide variety of speech that listeners may consider deeply offensive, including statements that impugn another's race or national origin or that denigrate religious beliefs."

Telling students not to be catty about clothes and social skills, he went on, "may be brave, futile or merely silly." But banning speech about values, he said, "strikes at the heart of moral and political discourse - the lifeblood of constitutional self-government (and democratic education) and the core concern of the First Amendment."

The judge's views in this case contrast with his position in a lawsuit filed by Phyllis J. Sanguigni, a teacher at the Taylor Allderdice School in Pittsburgh, who argued that the school retaliated against her after she wrote in a newsletter about poor morale and stress among teachers. She was removed from a coaching position.

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Alito decided that the teacher had no free speech claim. "Sanguigni did not comment on any broad social or policy issue," he wrote, and her statements conveyed little useful information to the public. "Nor did she comment on how the Taylor Allderdice School was discharging its educational responsibilities or how the school authorities were spending the taxpayers' money."

In another case involving students, Judge Alito, again writing for a unanimous panel, struck down a Pennsylvania law that banned alcohol advertisements in college newspapers. The law was intended to combat under-age drinking.

Judge Alito said it violated the First Amendment in two ways. First, he ruled that the commercial speech rights of advertisers were curtailed for no good reason. Even if students do not see advertisements for alcohol in their college newspapers, he wrote, "they will still be exposed to a torrent of beer ads on television and radio, and they will still see alcoholic beverage ads in other publications." The law did such a poor job of achieving its goal, he said, that it violated the First Amendment.

The law also violated the newspapers' rights, Judge Alito ruled, by singling them out for a financial penalty. "If government were free to suppress disfavored speech by preventing potential speakers from being paid," he wrote, "there would not be much left of the First Amendment."

Judge Alito sided with the mother of a kindergarten pupil whose son's depiction of Jesus was removed from a schoolhouse wall after all students were asked to draw what they were thankful for. The appellate panel of 14 judges did not decide the case on First Amendment grounds, a move strongly criticized by the judge, and sent it back to a lower court.

"Instead of confronting the First Amendment issue that is squarely presented by that incident," Judge Alito wrote, "the court ducks the issue and bases its decision on a spurious procedural ground."

He added: "I would hold that public school students have the right to express religious views in class discussion or in assigned work, provided that their expression falls within the scope of the discussion or the assignment and provided that the school's restriction on expression does not satisfy strict scrutiny."

Judge Alito's most significant libel decision involved a quirky claim against Time and Newsweek magazines by C. Delores Tucker, who had campaigned against vulgarity in rap music. In an earlier libel suit by Ms. Tucker against the rapper Tupac Shakur, Ms. Tucker's husband had filed a common claim, for "loss of consortium," a legal term meaning that the injury she had suffered had also caused him to lose her marital companionship.

A lawyer for Mr. Shakur's estate pointed out that loss of consortium commonly includes damage to the couple's sexual relationship, and Time and Newsweek had some fun at the Tuckers' expense. "A lyrical attack by Tupac iced their sex life," Newsweek said of the Tuckers. They sued, saying the mockery was libel.

Judge Alito dismissed the claims. The Tuckers, he ruled, were public figures and had to prove that the magazines had acted with actual malice, that is, knowing their statements were false or entertaining doubts about their truth when they published them. The Tuckers had, he said, failed to do that.

Judge Alito seemed comfortable with the meaning of "loss of consortium" but turned to the Encyclopedia Britannica for a definition of "gangsta rap," which he reproduced in a footnote ("a marriage of languid beats and murderous gang mentality").

Judge Alito has exhibited little patience for the First Amendment claims of prisoners. In addition to his dissent in favor of barring access to publications for prisoners, he wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel in 1999 to reverse a lower court's ruling that the rights of incarcerated pedophiles were violated when their access to pornography was restricted.

"It is beyond dispute," he wrote, "that New Jersey has a legitimate penological interest in rehabilitating its most dangerous and compulsive sex offenders."

But his past First Amendment opinions may offer little insight into Judge Alito's views on looming controversies, notably how far the government can go in controlling information as it battles terrorism.

"There are some areas where he is untested, like free speech in wartime," Mr. Collins said. "Will the vibrant free speech spirit in his commercial speech and speech code cases translate into free speech in wartime, where the First Amendment butts up against executive power?"

Thursday, November 10, 2005

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Democrats Press Court Designee Over Mutual Fund Case - New York Times

Democrats Press Court Designee Over Mutual Fund Case - New York TimesNovember 10, 2005
Democrats Press Court Designee Over Mutual Fund Case

WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 - Laying the groundwork for a possible strategy of attacking Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., Senate Democrats are ratcheting up their questions about the judge's failure to disqualify himself from a case involving Vanguard, the mutual fund company that managed his investments.

While Judge Alito, President Bush's choice for the Supreme Court, continued Wednesday to pay courtesy visits in the Senate, all eight Democrats on the Judiciary Committee sent a letter about the Vanguard case to Judge Anthony J. Scirica, who is chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where Judge Alito sits.

The letter asked for documents relating to the Vanguard case, including records of "any communication between Judge Alito and you, any other member of the court, or the court's staff" discussing a promise by Judge Alito in 1990, made in a Senate questionnaire submitted as part of his appeals court confirmation, to recuse himself from matters involving Vanguard.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, circulated a so-called talking points memo to fellow Democrats on Wednesday titled "The Alito Alert," raising questions about the Vanguard case.

There were also signs that concerns about the case were spreading beyond the judiciary panel, to Democrats who might otherwise be inclined to support Judge Alito's candidacy.

One such Democrat, Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, spoke highly of Judge Alito after an hourlong meeting and said he would be "very unlikely" to back a filibuster blocking the nomination. But Mr. Conrad said he was troubled by Judge Alito's handling of the Vanguard matter.

"That bothered me," Mr. Conrad said. "He said, Well, there was a computer glitch, or one thing or another. I said, 'Well, I understand all those things, but ultimately you are the check on whether or not you kept your pledge. You indicated you would recuse yourself and you did not.' I must say, that troubles me. It doesn't unduly concern me, but it troubles me."

Two experts in judicial ethics, whose views were solicited by Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who heads the Judiciary Committee, have said Judge Alito had no obligation to recuse himself from the Vanguard case.

One of the experts, Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr., a professor at the University of Pennsylvania law school, said he has known Judge Alito since the judge was a law student, and the other, Ronald D. Rotunda, teaches at George Mason University, where he is a colleague of Michael E. O'Neill, Mr. Specter's chief counsel.

A White House spokesman, Steve Schmidt, accused Democrats of trying to smear the judge. "It is worrisome that there may be an effort under way by Democrats to try to cut up the judge and attack his integrity, and try to blemish a career of public service where his integrity has never been questioned," Mr. Schmidt said. "His integrity is beyond reproach. There is no substantive basis at all to any allegation of impropriety."

The case involved a woman who said Vanguard had improperly denied her funds that belonged to her late husband. After the woman complained about Judge Alito's participation in the case, he stepped aside, and the matter was reheard.

The judge has told senators, including Mr. Conrad, that a court computer program designed to flag potential conflicts had failed to do so.

The Vanguard issue also came up Wednesday in Judge Alito's meeting with Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. Mr. Schumer said afterward that he thought the judge's explanation "was plausible" but that he wanted more information "to check out the facts and see if it backs up the answer."

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, has also made an issue of the case and sent Judge Alito a letter about it on Tuesday.

Democratic investigators on the Judiciary Committee are looking into at least two other matters in which, they say, Judge Alito appears to have failed to keep promises to disqualify himself.

One case, reported this month by Newsday, involved a suit against Smith Barney, another brokerage firm that handled some of Judge Alito's investments.

In another case, not previously reported, Judge Alito took part in a 1995 decision of the full court of appeals involving Midatlantic National Bank, which was represented by a law firm in which his sister, Rosemary, was a partner.

In the 1990 questionnaire, when his sister was with a different law firm, Judge Alito pledged to disqualify himself from any case involving that firm.

Democrats said the issue was not whether Judge Alito had a conflict, but whether he had kept his promise and had taken all precautions to prevent a conflict.

Mr. Schmidt, the White House spokesman, said that Bush administration officials knew of both cases and that neither posed a conflict.

Judge Alito, Mr. Schmidt said, "had no ethical obligation to recuse himself from a case involving his sister's firm unless his sister represented a party in the proceeding."

Times Reporter Agrees to Leave the Paper - New York Times

Times Reporter Agrees to Leave the Paper - New York TimesNovember 10, 2005
Times Reporter Agrees to Leave the Paper

The New York Times and Judith Miller, a veteran reporter for the paper, reached an agreement yesterday that ended her 28-year career at the newspaper and capped more than two weeks of negotiations.

Ms. Miller went to jail this summer rather than reveal a confidential source in the C.I.A. leak case. But her release from jail 85 days later, after she agreed to testify before a grand jury, and persistent questions about her actions roiled long-simmering concerns about her in the newsroom and led to her departure.

Bill Keller, the executive editor, announced the move to the staff in a memorandum yesterday, saying, "In her 28 years at The Times, Judy participated in some great prize-winning journalism."

In a statement, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, said: "We are grateful to Judy for her significant personal sacrifice to defend an important journalistic principle," adding, "I respect her decision to retire from The Times and wish her well."

Ms. Miller, 57, said in an interview that she was "very satisfied" with the agreement and described herself as a "free woman," free from what she called the "convent of The New York Times, a convent with its own theology and its own catechism."

She said that in the few hours since her departure had been made public, she had received several offers "of all kinds" for future employment, which she declined to specify. But her immediate plans are to take some time off. She said that after her stint in jail, she was "hit with a 40-day tsunami" of criticism and needed a break, though she has scheduled several public appearances, including one last night.

She spoke last night in Midtown Manhattan on a panel before media lawyers and journalists sponsored by the Media Law Resource Center.

Lawyers for Ms. Miller, who is a member of the Newspaper Guild of New York, and the paper negotiated a severance package, the details of which both sides agreed not to disclose.

Under the agreement, Ms. Miller retired from the newspaper, and The Times printed a letter she wrote to the editor explaining her position. Ms. Miller originally demanded that she be able to write an essay for the paper's Op-Ed page challenging criticisms made of her by some on the staff. The Times refused that demand - Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, said, "We don't use the Op-Ed page for back and forth between one part of the paper and another" - but agreed to publish her letter.

In that letter, published in The Times today under the headline "Judith Miller's Farewell," Ms. Miller said she was leaving partly because some of her colleagues disagreed with her decision to testify in the C.I.A. leak case. "But mainly," she wrote, "I have chosen to resign because over the last few months, I have become the news, something a New York Times reporter never wants to be."

Kenneth A. Richieri, The Times lawyer who negotiated the severance agreement for the paper, said one thing was clear to both sides from the start of those talks. "What made the deal possible was that shared understanding that she couldn't continue to report on national security matters for The New York Times," he said. "She'd become so much a part of the story."

Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for the paper, said it had been made clear to Ms. Miller that she would not be able to continue as a reporter of any kind, not just one covering national security.

Ms. Miller's reporting came under attack after articles suggested that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, coverage that helped the Bush administration build its case for invading Iraq but that turned out to be wrong.

In her letter to the editor, Ms. Miller noted that even before going to jail, she had "become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war." She said she regretted "that I was not permitted to pursue answers" to questions about those intelligence failures.

As part of the settlement, Mr. Keller made public a personal letter he wrote to Ms. Miller clarifying some elements of a memorandum he sent to the staff on Oct. 21 that she considered critical of her.

In his letter, Mr. Keller said he had never intended to imply she had an improper relationship with I. Lewis Libby Jr., her source and the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, when he described their contact as an "entanglement."

Mr. Keller also elaborated, but did not retreat from, comments suggesting that she had misled an editor, the Washington bureau chief, Philip Taubman. "I continue to be troubled by that episode," Mr. Keller wrote. "But you are right that Phil himself does not contend that you misled him; and, of course, I was not a participant in the conversation between you and Phil."

Ms. Miller wrote in her letter that she was gratified that Mr. Keller "has finally clarified remarks made by him that were unsupported by fact and personally distressing."

She added, referring to Mr. Keller: "Some of his comments suggested insubordination on my part. I have always written the articles assigned to me, adhered to the paper's sourcing and ethical guidelines and cooperated with editorial decisions, even those with which I disagreed."

Ms. Miller leaves the paper after serving for many years as an investigative and national security correspondent. She has written four books and in 2002 was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for reporting, before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, about the growing threat of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Court Nominee Has Paper Trail Businesses Like - New York Times

Court Nominee Has Paper Trail Businesses Like - New York TimesNovember 5, 2005
Court Nominee Has Paper Trail Businesses Like

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 - Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. has reliably favored big-business litigants as he has pushed the federal appeals court in Philadelphia in a conservative direction.

His extensive paper trail of 15 years of opinions reveals a jurist deeply skeptical of claims against large corporations. A review of dozens of business cases in which Judge Alito has written majority or dissenting opinions or cast the decisive vote shows that, with few exceptions, he has sided with employers over employees in discrimination lawsuits and in favor of corporations over investors in securities fraud cases.

Judge Alito, President Bush's choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court, cast the decisive vote in a case involving a major steel company, and in another involving a large chemical maker, over environmentalists in pollution cases.

He has set aside punitive damages in some cases and reduced them in others; has handed down dissents that, if they became law, would impose higher burdens for workers to successfully sue their employers for discrimination; and has routinely upheld restrictive arbitration clauses that have limited the remedies available to plaintiffs. (In a rare instance of setting aside an arbitration decision, he reversed an arbitration panel that had ordered the reinstatement of an intoxicated seaman on a moored oil tanker against the wishes of his employer, Exxon.)

In several cases, Judge Alito has found for the defendants facing accusations of antitrust violations, including one case in which he twice found in favor of a monopolist, 3M. (In that case, LePage's v. 3M, his view was rejected by a vote of 7-to-3 by the full circuit.) And by articulating a narrow view of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, he is viewed as a judge who would be skeptical of the involvement of federal regulators in matters he views to be strictly within the province of state officials.

It is such business cases, which arise far more often than privacy and abortion cases, that are the bread and butter of the appeals courts and the Supreme Court. And, according to his supporters and detractors, it is where Judge Alito has left his mark in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Judge Alito's record in business cases presents some political strengths and weaknesses as he heads into his confirmation hearing, scheduled to begin Jan. 9. Major business groups are preparing to spend millions of dollars to lobby on his behalf, and may help him with pivotal Democrats. Liberal groups, meanwhile, have begun to cite his record to make the case that he is insensitive to the plight of minorities and the environment.

The judge's reputation over the last 15 years was such that corporate lawyers relished the prospect of his participation in cases, while plaintiff's lawyers hoped to avoid him.

"We're always happy to see Judge Alito on the panel," said Robert C. Heim, the head of the litigation department at Dechert, a large law firm based in Philadelphia that represents some of the nation's largest corporations, typically facing accusations of antitrust, securities or corporate law violations. "He's generally a good judge for the cases we argue because we generally argue that the state of law does not favor the case that the plaintiffs are making and he's generally very receptive to that. He doesn't give an expansive reading to antitrust laws or securities laws."

Officials at the National Association of Manufacturers and the United States Chamber of Commerce said that as they combed through his record, they had been favorably impressed with what they had learned.

"He has come down on a host of issues in a way that the business community would prefer," said Robin Conrad, senior vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the legal arm of the United States Chamber of Commerce, who has been researching Judge Alito's opinions. "This is not a guy who is going to go off the reservation."

Officials at the National Association of Manufacturers, which is also expected to endorse the nomination formally in the coming weeks, agreed.

"Judge Alito has a reputation for strict interpretation of the Constitution, and that stands him in good stead with us," said John Engler, the association's president and a former Republican governor of Michigan.

Lawyers for organizations often on the other end of lawsuits involving businesses are alarmed about Judge Alito's record.

"We're concerned, based on his record, about what his appointment would mean for access to the courts by the people we represent," said Glenn Sugameli, senior litigation counsel at Earthjustice, a law firm that represents environmental groups and individuals seeking enforcement of environmental laws. "We're also concerned, based on his record, that his interpretation of the Commerce Clause threatens the enforcement of such laws as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act."

To be sure, in a small handful of instances the judge has ruled against the interests of business. In 1991, a year after he got to the bench, for instance, he issued a dissent in which he ruled that foreign seamen on American-flag ships should be covered by the minimum wage provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act. And in a dissent from a 2000 decision, he interpreted the statute-of-limitations provision of a race discrimination law to the benefit of the plaintiff in an employment case. In a third case, he voted with two other judges to dismiss an industry challenge to tougher environmental law standards in coal mining.

But those three cases, Cruz v. Chesapeake Shipping, Zubi v. AT&T, and Pennsylvania Coal Association v. Bruce Babbitt, are considered by both supporters and critics to be exceptions.

Cases favoring the defendant companies, like Sheridan v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Bray v. Marriott Hotels are far more prevalent. In Sheridan, 12 judges on the Third Circuit said that a hotel employee, Barbara Sheridan, had provided enough evidence of sex discrimination to permit her lawsuit to proceed to trial. Judge Alito, the sole dissenter in the case, would have made it easier for a defendant to rebut claims such as the one brought by Ms. Sheridan.

Similarly, Judge Alito found himself in dissent in Bray, another case involving a hotel worker making a claim of discrimination. The majority opinion sharply criticized Judge Alito's dissent, saying it "would immunize an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer's belief that it had selected the 'best' candidate, was the result of conscious racial bias."

In securities law cases, Judge Alito has taken a similarly dim view of some of the lawsuits brought by investors. In one case, In Re Burlington Coat Factory, for instance, investors filed a securities fraud suit after the company's stock dropped precipitously following poor earnings that came after favorable projections by company executives.

Dismissing the case in part on the grounds that it failed to satisfy Rule 9 (b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs pleading requirements in fraud cases, Judge Alito wrote: "To allow plaintiffs and their attorneys to subject companies to wasteful litigation based on the detection of a few negligently made errors found subsequent to a drop in stock price would be contrary to the goals of Rule 9 (b), which include the deterrence of frivolous litigation based on accusations that could hurt the reputations of those being attacked."

In environmental law, Judge Alito has generally also followed a narrow reading of the law. He cast a deciding vote in a 1997 case, Public Interest Research Group v. Magnesium Elektron, which dismissed a $2.6 million fine against the company for violating the Clean Water Act and found that the public interest group did not have the authority to bring a lawsuit. In other environmental cases, like W.R. Grace v. E.P.A., and United States v. Allegheny Ludlam, he has sided with large corporations seeking to overturn fines and remedial actions ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Ideology Serves as a Wild Card on Court Pick - New York Times

Ideology Serves as a Wild Card on Court Pick - New York TimesNovember 4, 2005
Ideology Serves as a Wild Card on Court Pick

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 - Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, concedes that Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. - a brainy product of Princeton and Yale, a former federal prosecutor and Supreme Court litigator and an appellate judge for 15 years - has the qualifications to serve on the nation's highest court.

But Mr. Leahy says unapologetically that the stellar résumé is not enough. He says he plans to assess Judge Alito on ideological grounds.

"This is not over competence," Mr. Leahy, ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said. "He certainly is competent. This is the whole issue of ideology, and if the ideology is one that you go in with a predetermined agenda, then I don't care if they are a Democrat or a Republican. They don't belong on the Supreme Court."

The debate over what criteria senators should use in deciding how to vote on Supreme Court nominees is almost as old as the court itself, because the Constitution offers the scant instruction that justices should be appointed "with the advise and consent of the Senate."

Should education, temperament, experience and integrity be the sole determining factors? Or should ideology, a nominee's political leanings and predictable stands on the hot judicial disputes of the day, also have a major role?

As Judge Alito continued on Thursday to make the rounds on Capitol Hill, senators of both parties examined his views on issues like the separation of church and state.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the bipartisan moderates known as the Gang of 14, said it was too soon to decide whether Judge Alito's conservatism amounted to the "extraordinary circumstances" that the group has agreed might justify a filibuster. [Page A22.]

Mr. Lieberman said, "I think ideology is a relevant thing."

The nomination poses questions about the unwritten rules to decide on a confirmation. No one has questioned Judge Alito's knowledge, experience or intellect. But if he succeeds Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in what has been a swing seat on critical issues, his staunchly conservative views could have a profound effect on the court and the nation.

"It presents the issue in a very crystalline form," said Richard D. Friedman, a law professor at the University of Michigan. "Alito is superb on all the measures of qualifications. All that's left to oppose him on is ideology."

Professor Friedman argues that ideology should not have a dominant place in the Senate consideration.

"The aggressively ideological opposition distorts the confirmation process," he said. "Treating it as a political matter may encourage a view of the court as nothing more than another political institution."

But Lee Epstein, a professor of law and political science at Washington University, said that to expect senators to engage in an apolitical confirmation process was unrealistic.

"If their constituents think ideology is a good reason to vote against a nominee," Professor Epstein said, "they're going to vote against him."

Of the 156 Supreme Court nominees since the court was created, 35 have been rejected or withdrawn, according to the Congressional Research Service. Most of the 35 were clustered in times of turmoil like the Civil War and Reconstruction, when politics often trumped qualifications.

In 1869, more than a century before bloggers and cable pundits would turn up the heat on nominees, President Ulysses S. Grant nominated Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar, widely considered one of the nation's top legal minds. After seven bitter weeks, the Senate voted him down, 33 to 24, in part because he had pressed for the selection of federal judges on the basis of legal talent rather than political allegiance.

No nominee has been voted down since Robert H. Bork, President Ronald Reagan's conservative nominee in 1987. Harriet E. Miers withdrew last month because of criticism of her credentials, not her views.

A statistical model developed by Professor Epstein and her colleagues, which incorporates newspaper editorials and other sources, suggests that confirmations have steadily grown more polarized over ideology in recent decades.

Since 1937, her model shows, the importance of nominees' qualifications has not changed. But ideology took on greater importance beginning in the 50's, with Brown v. Board of Education and conservative criticism of the Warren court. Ideology "exploded" after the Senate rejected Mr. Bork, Professor Epstein said.

The bitterly contested confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee, Anita F. Hill, played out before a rapt national television audience.

To some, the court's role in settling the 2000 presidential election seemed to shatter once and for all any notion that it occupied some antiseptic zone untouched by politics.

Senators of either party who serve long enough usually find themselves on both sides of the ideology question. In 1967, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, backing Thurgood Marshall's nomination, urged his colleagues not to reject the nominee simply because they might not share his views.

"We are really interested in knowing whether the nominee has the background, experience, qualifications, temperament and integrity to handle this most sensitive, important and responsible job," Mr. Kennedy said.

When Judge Alito was announced on Monday, Mr. Kennedy, although acknowledging that he was "clearly intelligent and experienced on the bench," said he "could very well fundamentally alter the balance of the court and push it dangerously to the right."

Such elasticity is bipartisan, of course. "The hypocrisy on the Republican side is just as blatant," Lanny J. Davis, a Democratic lawyer who worked in Bill Clinton's White House, said. "Everybody should just admit it. Substance matters. It's not just the résumé."

In September, when 22 Democrats voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., some Republicans accused them of blatant partisanship. The Republicans drew a pointed contrast with the treatment of Mr. Clinton's nominees, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who received just three no votes in 1993, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer, opposed by just nine senators in 1994.

But at least two Republican senators who were not in office in 1993, Jeff Sessions of Alabama and John Cornyn of Texas, have said they would not vote for Justice Ginsburg today.

"Let me tell you why I wouldn't vote for Ruth Bader Ginsburg," Mr. Sessions said. "Because in her own writings and the positions that that she took, she clearly evidenced a philosophy of judicial activism.

"If a judge has strong political views, it is perfectly appropriate to inquire whether those views would affect their legal reasoning and cause them not to be objective and fair."

Professor Epstein and other legal scholars are wary of some of the terms thrown about in this debate. On Roe v. Wade, the abortion ruling that has stood as a precedent since 1973, she asked, would not a "judicial conservative" be a person who would uphold it and a "judicial activist" one who would overturn it? That is the opposite of the way such terms are often used.

"I told my class the other day I have no idea what judicial activism is," Professor Epstein said. "Maybe the best definition of a judicial activist is a judge you don't like."

David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting for this article.