Posts from the ‘Supeme Court’ Category

Only 17% Of The American People Agree With The Citizens United Ruling By The Supreme Court


Poll: Only 17 Percent Of Americans Agree That Corporations Should Be Allowed To Spend Unlimited Money On Elections | Yesterday, the Center for American Progress released new polling data on the nation’s attitudes about corporate money in politics. The numbers speak for themselves:



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Mayor 1%’s new rules try to thwart protest, while groundswell of public dissent grows


In the last ten days, literally thousands of people from across Chicago and beyond rallied a massive amount of public outcry against efforts to restrict free speech and the right to dissent in Chicago.



To help folks separate spin from fact, we’ve put together this analysis to help you understand how local rules have changed in ways that undercut protest and political speech. While these revisions will not deter us from speaking out and protesting, they do change the excuses the police may use to try to prevent us from protesting.

It’s also important that we understand these changes so we can educate our friends and neighbors – and fight for meaningful change that puts people’s rights and the greater good ahead of the fear-mongering and greed that drove Mayor 1%’s push for these changes.

City Hall made only token changes to “improve” these revisions, and the worst of Mayor 1%’s proposed revisions remain. While the old protest ordinance was pretty terrible in its own right, the changes approved this week make it even worse. How? Because the revisions give the police more excuses to target protesters they don’t like and speech they oppose with greater fines and penalties. The revisions also give police more excuses to try and censor the tools we use to speak out – sound equipment, signs, banners and whatnot.

Let’s be clear, under the old ordinance, police routinely repressed speech they disliked anyway. More than a few protesters have been arrested for absolutely no reason, only to find that the police have cooked bogus charges as an afterthought – and an excuse for targeting them in the first place.

But few aldermen or reporters understand the problems with the OLD ordinance, and they certainly have no experience with the police department’s chronic selective enforcement of the rules. Most have taken Mayor 1% at his word on the impact of these changes – setting them up for serious buyers’ remorse once City Hall starts using these changes as an excuse to suppress political speech.

It’s also important to note that Mayor 1%’s latest efforts to suppress our civil liberties do not occur in a vacuum. For the past several months, personnel from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Secret Service have been on the ground in Chicago working to coordinate overall security measures for the NATO/G8 summits – and have made recommendations to municipal authorities on how to “enhance” these security measures.

This occurs at a time when Obama has signed the National Defense Authorization Act and other repressive measures, and where strong evidence exists of a nationally coordinated, inter-city campaign to suppress the Occupy movement. The National Lawyers Guild and its legal partners have filed a series of Freedom of Information requests seeking evidence of this federal role in the Occupy crackdown, and they have painted an ugly picture of federal coordination at the highest levels to undermine the most basic precepts of our right to dissent.

We “strongly suspect that the 72 so-called Fusion Centers created by the Homeland Security Department around the country, and the many Joint Terror Task Forces operated by the FBI in conjunction with local police in many cities, are serving as coordination points for the increasingly systematic attacks on the Occupy Movement,” writes the Guild .

Inevitably, much of this will be litigated in the courts. Meanwhile, this latest effort by Mayor 1% and his yes-men and women – as well as his national federal partners – will not deter the legitimate right of the rest of us to speak our minds, raise our grievances and protest government policy, whether or not new “rules” give the police another excuse to try to censor us.

We may not have won on Wednesday, but every single person who spoke out, showed up, shot off an email or phoned their alderman has joined a growing groundswell of truly grassroots opposition to the abuse of power. And that is very, very powerful.

The 1% can make new rules. We honor a higher law and more fundamental freedoms: the human right to equality, dignity and peace with justice, the human right to challenge those who rip us off, undercut our health and safety and abuse our basic freedoms, and the human right to defend these freedoms with words and deeds.

Basic talking points – what has changed with the new ordinances

1. We defeated the increased penalties for “resisting arrest,” but Chicago’s onerous interpretation of what constitutes “resisting” remains, overly penalizing many forms of non-violent civil disobedience. The penalties remain a minimum fine of $25 and a maximum of $500.

2. The City originally wanted minimum violations of the parade permit and public assembly ordinances to jump 20-fold, from $50 to $1000, and double the maximum penalty from $1000 to $2000, while keeping in place the maximum jail time penalty of 10 days. The new ordinances will make the minimum fine “only” quadruple, to $200, while keeping in place the current maximum penalties of $1000 and/or 10 days in jail. The old ordinance was used to exact a “free speech tax” on messages the City disliked, and so the new ordinance just makes that much worse, while providing additional criteria to find alleged “violations.”

3. The new parade permit ordinance proposed in December and the revised version floated January 12th both required that organizers provide in their permit application – something typically prepared months before the event – “a description of any recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be used in connection with the parade.”

Besides being logistically unworkable, this was an obvious 1st Amendment restriction. The great “concession” in the new ordinance is that it demands that organizers include in the permit application “a description of any sound amplification or other equipment that is on wheels or too large to be carried by one person, and a description of the size and dimension of any sign, banner or other attention-getting device that is too large to be carried by one person, to be used in connection with the parade.” [emphasis ours]

4. The “reformed” version of the legislation is thus only a slightly less obvious 1st Amendment restriction and begs the question, will parade organizers be required to ban “unauthorized” banners under threat of fine and/or jail time?

Speaking at the City Council’s Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation meeting on Tuesday, Michelle T. Boone, the Commissioner of the Department of Cultural affairs and Special Events, tried to soft-pedal this provision by implying that there would be no penalty for violation of it. But if that’s so, why include the provision in the ordinance at all?

5. By changing the definition of what constitutes a “large parade,” the new ordinance slips in onerous insurance and other burdens on demonstration organizers. Unless one gets a financial waiver from the Commissioner of Transportation, every street march in the downtown area will require $1 million liability insurance and “indemnify the city against any additional or uncovered third party claims against the city arising out of or caused by the parade; and (3) agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the public way or to city property arising out of or caused by the parade.” Failure to provide proof of insurance with one’s permit application will be grounds for rejection of the application.

6. Under the new ordinance, one can apply to the Commissioner of Transportation for a waiver of the financial requirements “if the application is for an activity protected by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution [virtually every activity is protected by the 1st Amendment] and the requirement would be so financially burdensome that it would preclude the applicant from applying for a parade permit for the proposed activity. An application for a waiver of the application fee or insurance requirement shall be made on a form prescribed by and contain reasonable proof acceptable to the commissioner.”

There is no definition as to what constitutes “reasonable proof acceptable to the commissioner.” Moreover, both the old and new versions of the ordinances allow the Transportation Commissioner to “establish…rules and regulations” in addition to those specified in the legislation – i.e., a virtual blank check to institute unpopular measures that might have difficulty passing the City Council.

7. The new ordinance repeats most of the bureaucratic limitations on “public assembly” that were contained in the old ordinance. The city defines “public assembly” as any gathering that does not use the street, but does use sidewalks and “which is reasonably anticipated to interfere with or impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.”

When a member of the public raised concern about this during a City Council committee meeting, Boone tried to allay the concern by noting that the language had been lifted wholesale from the old ordinance and that “they [the police] don’t enforce a lot of it.” The reality is that there has been very selective enforcement of this provision of the old ordinance, amounting to a 1st Amendment content-based restriction.

By making the public assembly provisions a new subsection of the Municipal Code, the City will either enforce the old provisions against everyone, or continue its selective enforcement. Either result is a serious retreat away from the 1st Amendment.

8. The deputizing of police authority, perhaps even to private security outfits, remained intact in the legislation as passed. There is no sun-set clause on this provision.

9. The only “temporary” ordinance concerns the issuance of no-bid contracts. It is important to make sure that this truly goes away on July 30th as provided for in the legislation as passed.

Transparency

Emanuel claimed that his mayoralty would have “the most open, accountable, and transparent government that the City of Chicago has ever seen.” As many have commented, given Chicago’s history, that’s hardly setting the bar very high. Our struggle has given the lie to Mayor 1%’s claims of transparency:

a) The approximately half-dozen aldermen in the Committee on Special Events, etc. apparently had the latest version of the parade permits ordinance when they passed it out of committee on Tuesday afternoon. It was announced that paper copies of it would be distributed to them at the start of that meeting. When one of us asked for a show of hands during public comment section as to who had read it, all six or so claimed they had.

The fact remains, though, that the “latest” versions of the legislation that the City Clerk’s office gave us 90 minutes before the Council vote on Wednesday were outdated, and as of yesterday, the Clerk’s website still only had the old versions. So there was no way the general public had access to what was being voted on and thus have the opportunity to meaningfully weigh in on them.

b) As noted above, there is only one item in the whole body of legislation that has a sunset clause. This legislation then was not just for G8/NATO, as Emanuel claimed. In a January 17 City Council committee meeting, Mike Simon of the CDOT said that the permits ordinance revisions had been in the works since 2009. As one of us said to Tunney after the committee meeting, they’ve had this under review for two years and they’ve apparently talked to all players except those who actually use the ordinance.

c) The January 12th not-for-attribution press briefing (with no paper copies of what the revisions were) was accepted with virtually no criticism by the City Hall beat press crew. This was as much a statement about them as it was about Emanuel. Right up to and after Wednesday’s vote, most accepted City Hall’s spin that there were dramatic concessions to our side in the revised legislation.

d) Next up in the transparency department – what are the G8/NATO summits going to cost city taxpayers? Mayor 1% said that “We’ll make sure that taxpayers don’t take on the bill” and in a Council committee meeting, Alderman Pope falsely claimed that “Historically host cities have been wholly reimbursed.” But wholesale violations of protesters’ rights by police have typically cost host cities millions in civil suits after the fact.

Win, lose, or somewhere in between?

Finally, there is the issue of whether or not to call what happened on Wednesday a “victory” for our side or not. Most (but not all) mainstream media accounts accepted the 5th floor’s spin that Mayor 1% had listened to the people and revised the legislation to address our concerns – a victory for protesters. We obviously don’t think so, but at the same time, it would be wrong to label what happened as a wholesale defeat.

It is standard operating procedure for the City is to introduce draconian measures to the CTA, etc. in so-called “doomsday” budgets, only to then walk back the cuts to more “acceptable” levels once there is public outcry – the “acceptable” levels being the ones they planned on instituting all along. But we don’t think that this was the initial plan for this legislation – “professional protesters” (their term) are not a group in the chain of power that they think merits any concessions. We think that they introduced the legislation in the form that they wanted it to pass, and were taken aback at the level of resistance our side was able to muster.

There was no advance plan for the January 12th Mayoral dog-and-pony shows. Those and the other spin measures were crafted in response to our resistance, and the City had to deliver at least minimal concessions in order to make them credible. If we had not fought, we would not have won anything.

Aside from the teachers and those fighting the health clinic cuts, we were the first group to take the new mayor on in a sustained battle. And we’re really not a group at all – many thousands of people who did not know each other united in opposition to the mayor’s plans. As with any new administration, there are always those in the public who hope that the new guy will be better than the old one, that he can be reasoned with, etc. This was an uphill battle on those grounds alone.

Our sustained battle over the ordinances helped take Emanuel’s credibility down at least a few notches, concretizing his reputation as Mayor 1%. Moreover, we sent the message that if the City messes with us, we will fight back tenaciously.

Given the rubber stamp nature of our City Council (reinforced by Emanuel’s deep pockets, etc.), the idea that anyone could defeat him first time out was a total long-shot. Thanks to this struggle, the odds of people defeating him on other issues in the future have gotten at least a little bit better.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Previous articles in this series can be found here, here, here and here.

Here are the new versions of the ordinances:


G8NATOSub.pdf (75 k)


Parade & public assembly ordinances, new.pdf (56 k)

 
 

Related


 

Obama to offer economic blueprint in State of the Union


WASHINGTON — Vilified by the Republicans who want his job, President Barack Obama will stand before the nation Tuesday night determined to frame the election-year debate on his terms, promising his State of the Union address will offer an economic blueprint that will “work for everyone, not just a wealthy few.”

In a video released Saturday to millions of campaign supporters, Obama said he will concentrate on four areas designed to restore economic security for the long term: manufacturing, energy, education, job training and a “return to American values.” The release came the same day as the South Carolina primary, where four candidates competed in the latest contest to determine Obama’s general election rival.

The prime-time speech will be not just a traditional pitch about the year ahead. It will be perhaps Obama’s biggest stage to make a sweeping case for a second term.

“We can go in two directions,” the president said in the video. “One is toward less opportunity and less fairness. Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few.”

That line of argument about income equality is emerging as a defining theme of the presidential race, as Republicans are in their own fierce battle to pick a nominee to challenge Obama in the fall.

By notifying the millions of supporters on his email list, Obama gave advance notice to his Democratic base and trying to generate an even larger audience for Tuesday’s address.

Obama’s preview did not mention national security. He is not expected to announce new policy on that front in a speech dominated by the economy — the top concern of voters.

Obama is expected to offer new proposals to make college more affordable and to ease the housing crisis still slowing the economy, according to people familiar with the speech. He will also promote unfinished parts of his jobs plan, including the extension of a payroll tax cut soon to expire.

His policy proposals will be less important than what he hopes they all add up to: a narrative of renewed American security. Obama will try to politically position himself as the one leading that fight for the middle class, with an overt call for help from Congress, and an implicit request for a second term from the public.

The timing comes as the nation is split about Obama’s overall job performance. More people than not disapprove of his handling of the economy, he is showing real vulnerability among the independent voters who could swing the election, and most Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

So his mission will be to show leadership and ideas on topics that matter to people: jobs, housing, college, retirement security.

Vision for re-election
The foundation of Obama’s speech is the one he gave in Kansas last month, when he declared that the middle class was a make-or-break moment and railed against “you’re on your own” economics of the Republican Party. His theme then was about a government that ensures people get a fair shot to succeed.

That speech spelled out the values of Obama’s election-year agenda. The State of the Union will be the details.

The White House sees the speech as a clear chance to outline a vision for re-election, yet carefully, without turning a national tradition into an overt campaign event.

On national security, Obama will ask the nation to reflect with him on a momentous year of change, including the end of the war in Iraq, the killing of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and the Arab Spring protests of peoples clamoring for freedom.

But it will all be secondary to jobs at home.

In a winter season of politics dominated by his Republican competition, Obama will have a grand stage to himself, in a window between Republican primaries. He will try to use the moment to refocus the debate as he sees it: where the country has come, and where he wants to take it.

In doing so, Obama will come before a divided Congress with a burst of hope because the economy — by far the most important issue to voters — is showing life.

The unemployment rate is still at a troubling 8.5 percent, but at its lowest rate in nearly three years. Consumer confidence is up. Obama will use that as a springboard.

The president will try to draw a contrast of economic visions with Republicans, both his antagonists in Congress and the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

Despite low expectations for legislation this year, Obama will offer short-term ideas that would require action from Congress.

His travel schedule following his speech, to politically important regions, offers clues to the policies he was expected to unveil.

Both Phoenix and Las Vegas have been hard hit by foreclosures. Denver is where Obama outlined ways of helping college students deal with mounting school loan debt. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Detroit are home to a number of manufacturers. And Michigan was a major beneficiary of the president’s decision to provide billions in federal loans to rescue General Motors and Chrysler in 2009.

For now, the main looming to-do item is an extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, both due to expire by March. An Obama spokesman called that the “last must-do item of business” on Obama’s congressional agenda, but the White House insists the president will make the case for more this year.

If anything, Republicans say Obama has made the chances of cooperation even dimmer just over the last several days. He enraged Republicans by installing a consumer watchdog chief by going around the Senate, which had blocked him, and then rejected a major oil pipeline project the GOP has embraced.

Obama is likely, once again, to offer ways in which a broken Washington must work together. Yet that theme seems but a dream given the gridlock he has been unable to change.

The State of the Union atmosphere offered a bit of comity last year, following the assassination attempt against Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. And yet 2011 was a year of utter dysfunction in Washington, with the partisanship getting so bad that the government nearly defaulted as the world watched in embarrassment.

The address remains an old-fashioned moment of national attention; 43 million people watched it on TV last year. The White House website will offer a live stream of the speech, promising graphics and other bonuses for people who watch it there, plus a panel of administration officials afterward with questions coming in through Twitter and Facebook.

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore related topics: obama, state-of-the-union, sotu

Obama to offer economic blueprint in State of the Union

Is Reversing Citizens United or Corporate Personhood Enough?


Which president told Congress: “I recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party…let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly?”

If you recognize this Presidential quote, it probably means you’re a history buff (or you watch too much Jeopardy). The correct answer: Who was Theodore Roosevelt?

While the speech has become a notable quotable, it’s often forgotten that it followed public outrage surrounding Roosevelt’s acceptance of huge corporate contributions that locked-in his election in 1904.  This popular clamor for accountability (the Progressive Era; maybe they were the Occupiers of their times) was enough to move Teddy and Congress to pass the first ever Federal legislation prohibiting corporations from making monetary contributions to national political campaigns, called the Tillman Act.

Now for extra points: What happened to the Tillman Act?

Like so many other attempts over the last 100+ years to restrict, reform, reign in, eliminate and otherwise account for Big Money in politics, the Tillman Act didn’t even need to be overturned for the corporate elite to get around it. It was simply whittled away. How is this done?  In the same way Congress later banned unions from making political contributions in the 1940’s, only to see Big Labor skirt the restrictions by forming the first-ever PAC, and collecting campaign donations (sometimes coercively) outside of regular worker’s dues.

OK, now for a Civics question: What is the source of power for the corporate elite?

Throughout our history as a nation, the wealthy elite have always held power, and its not an accident, or the result of a few bad decisions, or even corruption (though those all exist), its far more structural and insidious than that.  TheConstitution itself provided—from the beginning—for a government by and for the 1%. The Founding Fathers truly believed that the best form of government was one in which wealth made the rules. At the time the Constitution was being debated, the majority of people were against it, despite how our folklore has remembered it.

Turns out the 99% of yesteryear were quite prescient indeed.

Fast-forward to the present day, the ways money has seeped through the cracks of our political system and pooled into the pockets of our elected officials has only grown despite generations upon generations of ever-ongoing reform efforts.

* Dozens of Acts of Congress have been passed attempting to address corruption in government and our elections yet for every reform our system has enabled bigger, better ways for wealth to hold the reigns.

* Lobbyists. They walk right into lawmaking areas and help write bills and buy votes. They present politicians with corporate-friendly Bills already drafted. They are well paid to successfully influence, chop and change legislation, and work deals with our elected officials and even with Supreme Court Justices. Under our Constitution this is protected as free speech and despite the numerous laws to regulate lobbyists, the practice is only on the rise.

*  Constitutional laws.  Many states—not only Montana— wrote their Constitutions to include the subordination of corporations to the will of the people, and banned corporate political expenditures in state elections.  Over the years, most of those Constitutional provisions have been amended to pave the way for more corporate-friendly laws.(Montana, of course still has this language in their Consitution, and has used it to challenge Citizen’s United)

Analysis: Holder, top DOJ lawyers were partners with big banks


Analysis: Holder, top DOJ lawyers were partners with big banks


 

(Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, were partners for years at a Washington law firm that represented a Who’s Who of big banks and other companies at the center of alleged foreclosure fraud, a Reuters inquiry shows.

The firm, Covington & Burling, is one of Washington’s biggest white shoe law firms. Law professors and other federal ethics experts said that federal conflict of interest rules required Holder and Breuer to recuse themselves from any Justice Department decisions relating to law firm clients they personally had done work for.

Both the Justice Department andCovington declined to say if either official had personally worked on matters for the big mortgage industry clients. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Holder and Breuer had complied fully with conflict of interest regulations, but she declined to say if they had recused themselves from any matters related to the former clients.

Reuters reported in December that under Holder and Breuer, the Justice Department hasn’t brought any criminal cases against big banks or other companies involved in mortgage servicing, even though copious evidence has surfaced of apparent criminal violations in foreclosure cases.

The evidence, including records from federal and state courts and local clerks’ offices around the country, shows widespread forgery, perjury, obstruction of justice, and illegal foreclosures on the homes of thousands of active-duty military personnel.

In recent weeks the Justice Department has come under renewed pressure from members of Congress, state and local officials and homeowners’ lawyers to open a wide-ranging criminal investigation of mortgage servicers, the biggest of which have been Covington clients. So far Justice officials haven’t responded publicly to any of the requests.

While Holder and Breuer were partners at Covington, the firm’s clients included the four largest U.S. banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo & Co – as well as at least one other bank that is among the 10 largest mortgage servicers.

DEFENDER OF FREDDIE

Servicers perform routine mortgage maintenance tasks, including filing foreclosures, on behalf of mortgage owners, usually groups of investors who bought mortgage-backed securities.

Covington represented Freddie Mac, one of the nation’s biggest issuers of mortgage backed securities, in enforcement investigations by federal financial regulators.

A particular concern by those pressing for an investigation is Covington’s involvement with Virginia-based MERS Corp, which runs a vast computerized registry of mortgages. Little known before the mortgage crisis hit, MERS, which stands forMortgage Electronic Registration Systems, has been at the center of complaints about false or erroneous mortgage documents.

Court records show that Covington, in the late 1990s, provided legal opinion letters needed to create MERS on behalf of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and several other large banks. It was meant to speed up registration and transfers of mortgages. By 2010, MERS claimed to own about half of all mortgages in the U.S. — roughly 60 million loans.

But evidence in numerous state and federal court cases around the country has shown that MERS authorized thousands of bank employees to sign their names as MERS officials. The banks allegedly drew up fake mortgage assignments, making it appear falsely that they had standing to file foreclosures, and then had their own employees sign the documents as MERS “vice presidents” or “assistant secretaries.”

Covington in 2004 also wrote a crucial opinion letter commissioned by MERS, providing legal justification for its electronic registry. MERS spokeswoman Karmela Lejarde declined to comment on Covington legal work done for MERS.

It isn’t known to what extent if any Covington has continued to represent the banks and other mortgage firms since Holder and Breuer left. Covington declined to respond to questions from Reuters. A Covington spokeswoman said the firm had no comment.

Several lawyers for homeowners have said that even if Holder and Breuer haven’t violated any ethics rules, their ties to Covington create an impression of bias toward the firms’ clients, especially in the absence of any prosecutions by the Justice Department.

O. Max Gardner III, a lawyer who trains other attorneys to represent homeowners in bankruptcy court foreclosure actions, said he attributes the Justice Department’s reluctance to prosecute the banks or their executives to the Obama White House’s view that it might harm the economy.

But he said that the background of Holder and Breuer at Covington — and their failure to act on foreclosure fraud or publicly recuse themselves — “doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Federal ethics regulations generally require new government officials to recuse themselves for one year from involvement in matters involving clients they personally had represented at their former law firms.

President Obama imposed additional restrictions on appointees that essentially extended the ban to two years. For Holder, that ban would have expired in February 2011, and in April for Breuer. Rules also require officials to avoid creating the appearance of a conflict.

Schmaler, the Justice Department spokeswoman, said in an e-mail that “The Attorney General and Assistant Attorney General Breuer have conformed with all financial, legal and ethical obligations under law as well as additional ethical standards set by the Obama Administration.”

She said they “routinely consult” the department’s ethics officials for guidance. Without offering specifics, Schmaler said they “have recused themselves from matters as required by the law.”

Senior government officials often move to big Washington law firms, and lawyers from those firms often move into government posts. But records show that in recent years the traffic between the Justice Department and Covington & Burling has been particularly heavy. In 2010, Holder’s deputy chief of staff, John Garland, returned to Covington, as did Steven Fagell, who was Breuer’s deputy chief of staff in the criminal division.

The firm has on its web site a page listing its attorneys who are former federal government officials. Covington lists 22 from the Justice Department, and 12 from U.S. Attorneys offices, the Justice Department’s local federal prosecutors’ offices around the country.

As Reuters reported in 2011, public records show large numbers of mortgage promissory notes with apparently forged endorsements that were submitted as evidence to courts.

There also is evidence of almost routine manufacturing of false mortgage assignments, documents that transfer ownership of mortgages between banks or to groups of investors. In foreclosure actions in courts mortgage assignments are required to show that a bank has the legal right to foreclose.

In an interview in late 2011, Raymond Brescia, a visiting professor at Yale Law Schoolwho has written about foreclosure practices said, “I think it’s difficult to find a fraud of this size on the U.S. court system in U.S. history.”

Holder has resisted calls for a criminal investigation since October 2010, when evidence of widespread “robo-signing” first surfaced. That involved mortgage servicer employees falsely signing and swearing to massive numbers of affidavits and other foreclosure documents that they had never read or checked for accuracy.


 

Robert Reich and ‘Amend 2012’ Launch Campaign for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn ‘Citizens United’


Robert Reich appears in a new video from a new organization, Amend 2012, calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United. In just over two minutes, Reich clearly and effectively explains how Citizens came about and why it is dangerous to U.S. politics. The campaign focuses on the idea that corporations aren’t people, only people are people. Reich then asks everyone to take action in support of Amend 2012’s call for a constitutional amendment:

Thanks to the Supreme Court and Citizens United, the same big corporations and billionaires that destroyed our economy and caused millions of us to lose our jobs and homes, are spending obscene amounts to drown out our voices in elections and take over our government.

But together, “We the People” can set things right.

The campaign website has a petition, a way for supporters to donate to the cause, and a way to sign up for the campaign’s ‘Constitution Crew’ with numerous other ways to support the amendment drive. The website also offers state-by-state toolkits for activists, the latest news about related issues and a more thorough explanation of the court ruling and the problems it creates.

The campaign is a project of Common Cause. Public Citizen is also pushing for an amendment to overturn Citizens United.

A recent poll shows that two-thirds of small business owners say that Citizens United hurts them, while only nine percent found it to be a positive thing.

Tags: Amend 2012, Citizens United, Common Cause, Robert Reich

https://www.youtube.com/v/Qq-9A9CGTYU?version=3&feature=player_embedded