Patterico's Pontifications


Endorsement: Re-Elect Jackie Lacey for District Attorney

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:49 pm

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and it’s also the date of the election for District Attorney of Los Angeles. I will be voting for my current boss, Jackie Lacey. I have never felt the need to publish an endorsement for District Attorney before — and I doubt that my position is going to be very controversial among the readership of this site — but I think it’s time to speak out.

Lacey’s main opponent is George Gascon, the latest in a nationwide wave of would-be district attorneys whose selling point is that they will go easier on criminals than the incumbent prosecutor would. This is an argument that has worked in some places, notably San Francisco and Philadelphia. It can’t work here. Gascon is endorsed by the Democrat party and by the Los Angeles Times — a somewhat redundant set of honors. He has run television ads that sound like he is running as a defense attorney, with his main selling point being how lenient he will be.

Gascon wants everyone who has been sent to death row by the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office for horrific murders to be resentenced, although he is completely unclear about how exactly he expects to accomplish this. (I have one defendant on death row and he richly deserves to be there.) Gascon was the District Attorney in San Francisco, before the election of the current San Francisco public-defender-turned-D.A., Chesa Boudin, who was sired by convicted Weather Underground terrorists and raised by Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn (not a joke). But the current mayor and city attorney of San Francisco have endorsed Lacey. What does that tell you?

Gascon hopes to use a “risk assessment tool” to determine bail, rather than the traditional system that prioritizes public safety. This experiment was tried in San Francisco courts with much the same disastrous and violent results as the country has seen in New York, including the 2017 murder of Edward French in San Francisco.

Gascon is a danger to public safety. If he is elected, morale in my office will plummet as the prosecutors are forced to work for someone who cares more about dangerous so-called “reforms” than he cares about crime victims. He won’t be able to fire us willy-nilly, like Boudin fired experienced prosecutors in San Francisco, so this endorsement isn’t about my job safety. It’s about the need to have a D.A. who does the right thing for the right reasons. And that’s Jackie Lacey.

In my current position, I have had more recent personal interaction than I had in the past with District Attorney Lacey. I worked for her in the early 2000s when she was a beloved Bureau Director over Central Trials, and I defended a habeas petition a couple years earlier (also in the early 2000s) on a case she had had prosecuted, and interviewed her about that case. But that was the main extent of our contact, absent occasional passing greetings (and, like Gil Garcetti, Jackie always remembers your name and who you are). But recently I have had some closer interaction with her on two or three occasions, and have been very impressed. I don’t want to go into the details of any particular case, but I have watched her thoughtfully analyze and discuss complex murder cases and offer nuanced positions that are the complete opposite of how she is portrayed by the more fringe elements of the Black Lives Matter crowd.

I’m not going to discuss the incident that happened at her home this morning, other than to say that she has been treated very unfairly by many of the protestors who have harassed her for months, some of them using the most callous language and tactics possible. I salute her courage in seeking justice and doing her job without bending to the very public pressure of those who would have her ignore her oath and make decisions for political reasons. If you have any concerns over this morning’s incident, locate and watch her press conference. Any fair-minded person watching that press conference will get a good sense of who she is. Watch it until the end, when she forcefully says she is not going to let down the folks of the D.A.’s office. It was an inspiring and moving moment.

I have no reservations about telling you that I will be voting for Jackie Lacey tomorrow. I encourage every reader of this site to do the same.

P.S. As it says on the sidebar, I speak for myself and not my office. That is true for this post, as it is for every post.

And Then There Were — uh — However Many Are Still Left

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:07 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Senator Amy Klobuchar has joined former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in ending her candidacy for the Democrat nomination as President. According to Fox News, she plans to endorse Joe Biden in what is now shaping up to be a Stop Bernie movement among the non-socialist elements of the party. Alexandria Descanctis at National Review Online writes that the Boy Mayor also considered immediately endorsing the former Vice President, but instead issued a typically-weaselly call for party unity, probably because he still has dreams of a cabinet position in a possible Sanders Administration.

Among Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Tom Steyer supporters there are likely millions of Super Tuesday votes that are now wasted by people who voted early. These days more and more states go to early voting arrangements; some precincts in Los Angeles have been collecting votes for tomorrow’s primary election for the past week. But just as you should never place a bet on a sporting event until the starting lineups have been announced, so too should you consider holding off on voting until you know which candidates are still in it to win it.

Everything is being set up quite nicely for My Little Aloha Sweetie to emerge as the compromise candidate among the deeply divided Dems.


Court: Trump’s Failure to Get Senate Approval for Immigration Director Invalidates New Asylum Restrictions

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:01 am


A federal judge ruled on Sunday that Ken Cuccinelli’s appointment to a top immigration position in the Trump administration was unlawful, saying several directives issued by Cuccinelli to tighten asylum rules must now be “set aside.”

In a 55-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss said the administration violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act when it tapped Cuccinelli in June 2019 to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security that oversees legal immigration into the country.

The ruling invalidated a pair of directives issued by Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner and the former attorney general of Virginia, that introduced new restrictions on the asylum process.

The first directive shortened the length of time asylum-seekers have to prepare for “credible-fear interviews” with officials from 48 or 72 hours to “one full calendar day from the date of arrival at a detention facility.” With the second, Cuccinelli prohibited asylum officers from granting extensions to this new policy “except in the most extraordinary of circumstances.”

The meat of the opinion begins at page 30. The parties did not dispute that the USCIS Director is an “officer” as opposed to an employee. Congress understands that sometimes appointments must be temporary, and has long provided statutory mechanisms for such appointments. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act gives a president three ways to do this: allow the first assistant to the departing officer to assume temporary command (even without action by the president); obtain advice and consent from the Senate for a temporary appointment; or direct someone to perform the functions of the officer if the person who receives that direction has spent 90 of the last 365 days functioning as a senior official within the agency.

The arguments revolved around whether Cuccinelli fulfilled the requirements of the first option, apparently because the second and third options did not apply. As I understand it, after the vacancy arose, Trump created a new position that he called “Principal Deputy Director” and appointed Cuccinelli to that position. Trump’s lawyers took the position that, because that office was subordinate to the office of Director, Cuccinelli had been an assistant. But there was no director to assist, and anyone who watches The Office knows you can’t be assistant to the regional manager if there is no regional manager. So the court held that Cuccinelli was never an assistant to any USCIS officer and so could not be a “first assistant” as required by law.

One could view this as a mere technical issue, except that it seems to be part of a pattern on Trump’s part of failing to run his cabinet officers and other officials past the Senate, as required by the Constitution. Trump has been fond of acting cabinet and other officials, shouting at reporters: “But I sort of like acting. Gives me more flexibility, do you understand that? I like acting!”

Failing to run appointments past the Senate does indeed give a president “more flexibility” — but because the Constitution gives the advice and consent power to the Senate, there are limitations on what you can do unilaterally as president. This ruling represents the chickens coming home to roost.

Please note that the president would have been free to have a duly approved USCIS Director issue the sorts of directives that this decision found were invalid. He just has to follow the Constitution.

Even if Trump sort of likes acting, the Constitution demands more.

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