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Far-right media trolls are more interested in owning the liberals than ‘George Floyd’s murder’: conservative

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is now officially a convicted murderer. On Tuesday, April 20, a jury in Minneapolis found the 45-year-old Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for his actions in connection with the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd. Journalist Benjamin Parker, in an article for the conservative website The Bulwark, analyzes right-wing media reactions to the verdict — and slams the far-right "trolls" who are claiming that liberals made it impossible for Chauvin to receive a fair trial.

Parker cites the reactions of far-right pundits to the jury's verdict as prime examples of everything that is intellectually bankrupt about the own-the-liberals school of punditry.

"We all saw it," Parker says of Floyd's death. "It was captured on video. It lasted nine interminable minutes. It ignited our righteous indignation — an oil fire floating on an ocean of grief. Most people felt this way about the video of the murder — yes, murder — of George Floyd last year. The officer responsible, Derek Chauvin, was convicted of three counts on Tuesday for snuffing out a man's life over the course of those nine excruciating minutes. Some observers, though, seem less concerned about the murder of George Floyd and more concerned about — well, it's hard to say what they are concerned about."

Parker continues, "Some of them are claiming that the trial was a set-up. Rigged. That the jury had it in for Chauvin. Or that Chauvin didn't really matter because the real villains were Joe Biden and Maxine Waters and Don Lemon, who somehow managed to pressure the jury into convicting Chauvin on all counts. Probably because they were afraid of cancel culture."

Parker goes on to say that even if they didn't outright defend Chauvin, the far-right media trolls were more interested in attacking liberals than justice for Floyd.

"The extremely online right has been doing something interesting in the hours since the verdict was announced," Parker observes. "They're not willing to be pro-Chauvin, exactly. Well, most of them, anyway. You don't see a lot of affirmative defenses of Chauvin being mounted, or a lot of folks proclaiming his innocence. But there is an awful lot of anti-anti-Chauvinism — so much so that it might well become the latest article of faith for conservatives in good standing."

Parker notes what far-right Matt Walsh had to say. Walsh posted, "The mob, led by Democrats at the highest level, successfully intimidated the jury into getting the result they wanted before the trial started." And Walsh also posted, "George Floyd's death will go down as the most consequential drug overdose in history."

CNN's Don Lemon said of the verdict, "Justice has been served." And far-right pundit Ben Shapiro, in response, posted, "And we all know he would never have said this had the reverse verdict been reached."

Turning Post USA's Charlie Kirk posted, "Do you think Chauvin got a fair trial?..... Biden's 'prayers' were answered. Maxine Waters got her way. Will it be enough to keep America from burning?"

Legal experts explain why a lenient sentence for Derek Chauvin is unlikely

Derek Chauvin's trial in connection with the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd reached a dramatic conclusion when, on April 20, the former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Judge Peter Cahill hasn't set a sentencing date, and it remains to be seen how much time the 45-year-old Chauvin will spend in prison. But according to legal experts interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, it is unlikely that the sentence will be lenient.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for the most serious of the three charges: second-degree murder, although sentencing guidelines in Minnesota recommend a sentence in the range of 11-15 years for the crimes he was found guilty of. Rachel Barkow, a professor at the New York University Law School, told the Journal that the prosecution has a strong case for a stiffer sentence than what is recommended in those guidelines.

Matthew Galluzzo, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor based in New York City, told the Journal that Cahill is "probably going to have to punish him a little more harshly, if for no other reason than to send a message and deter other people."

WSJ reporter Laura Kusisto notes, "Attorneys also said the high-profile nature of the case is likely to create pressure on the judge to mete out a harsh sentence" — adding that "legal experts were more divided about Mr. Chauvin's prospects of success on appeal."

"Some said the trial was riddled with issues that could endanger the prosecution's victory, including whether the riots after the killing of Daunte Wright by a Minneapolis police officer and comments by Rep. Maxine Waters intimidated the jury," Kusisto explains. "Defense lawyer Eric Nelson repeatedly asked to move the case out of Minneapolis, arguing that the air of tension in Hennepin County made it difficult for jurors to render a fair verdict out of fear for their own safety."

Galluzzo, however, told the Journal, "I think the defense was allowed to present their case."

How Josh Hawley and Marjorie Taylor Greene juiced their fundraising numbers

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Two of the leading Republican firebrands in Congress touted big fundraising hauls as a show of grassroots support for their high-profile stands against accepting the 2020 election results.

But new financial disclosures show that Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., relied on an email marketing vendor that takes as much as 80 cents on the dollar. That means their headline-grabbing numbers were more the product of expensively soliciting hardcore Republicans than an organic groundswell of far-reaching support.

Hawley and Greene each reported raising more than $3 million in the first three months of the year, an unusually large sum for freshman lawmakers, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission. That's more than the average House member raises in an entire two-year cycle, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The tallies generated favorable press coverage for Hawley and Greene, and they both seized on the numbers to claim a popular mandate.

Politico called Greene's result “eye-popping" and “staggering," a sign that she “appears to have actually benefited from all the controversies that have consumed her first few months in office." The House voted in February to remove Greene from her committee assignments because of her social media posts that promoted far-right conspiracy theories; racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim rhetoric; and violence against Democratic leaders.

“I am humbled, overjoyed and so excited to announce what happened over the past few months as I have been the most attacked freshman member of Congress in history," Greene said in an emailed statement on April 7. “Accumulating $3.2 million with small dollar donations is the absolute BEST support I could possibly ask for!"

As for Hawley, who was the first senator to say he'd object to certifying the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, Politico proclaimed that his massive increase showed “how anti-establishment Republicans are parlaying controversy into small-dollar fundraising success." Hawley's pollster, Wes Anderson with the political consulting firm OnMessage, said in a memo distributed to supporters that the “fundraising surge" made “crystal clear that a strong majority of Missouri voters and donors stand firmly with Senator Hawley, in spite of the continued false attacks coming from the radical left."

It wasn't until later, when the campaigns disclosed their spending details in last week's FEC reports, that it became clearer how they raised so much money: by paying to borrow another organization's mailing list.

“List rental" was the No. 1 expense for both campaigns, totaling almost $600,000 for each of them. It's common for campaigns to rent lists from outside groups or other candidates to broaden their reach. But for Hawley and Greene, the cost was unusually high, amounting to almost 20% of all the money they raised in January, February and March.

The actual return on renting the lists was likely even lower, since it's probable that not all their donations came from emailing those lists. It's not possible to tell from the FEC filings which contributions resulted from which solicitations. Firms that sell lists sometimes demand huge cuts: The top vendor for Hawley and Greene, LGM Consulting Group, charges as much as 80%, according to a contract disclosed in Florida court records as part of a dispute involving Lacy Johnson's long-shot bid to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

The Hawley and Greene campaigns did not respond to requests for comment. LGM Consulting Group's principal, Bryan G. Rudnick, also did not respond to phone messages or an email.

Far beyond these two campaigns or this one company, small-dollar fundraising has exploded thanks to easy online payments, which are rewriting the playbook for campaign finance in both parties. At the same time, the rise of email fundraising has spawned some aggressive or even deceptive marketing tactics and made plenty of room for consultants and vendors to profit. A move by then-President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign to sign up supporters for recurring payments by default led to as much as 3% of all credit card fraud claims filed with major banks, according to The New York Times. In some long-shot congressional races, consultants could walk away with almost half of all the money raised, The Washington Post reported.

Hawley's and Greene's list rentals show how politicians can pad their fundraising figures — if they're willing to pay for it. There's scant evidence that fundraising success represents broad popular support for a politician outside the narrow slice of Americans who make political contributions, and many of the people on the rented mailing lists may not have been constituents of Hawley's or Greene's. Still, the money is real, and the perception of fundraising star power is its own kind of success in Washington.

“They're juicing their numbers, but their return on investment is still a net gain," said Jessica Baldwin-Philippi, a professor at Fordham University who researches how political campaigns use digital communications. “The money matters, the articles about the money matter and convey power, and it adds to their clout."

The cost to rent a list can be a flat fee, a percentage cut of money raised, or even all money raised after a campaign clears a certain threshold. Donors have limited visibility into where their money goes and may not realize how much is being diverted from the candidate they mean to support.

Renting lists can pay dividends for campaigns because people who respond by donating then enter the candidates' own databases of supporters, and past contributors are much more likely to give again. Candidates with big donor bases can tap them for more money later or turn around and rent their own list to others.

Political professionals have gotten more sophisticated about efficiently converting online outrage into campaign cash. At the same time, candidates who court controversy may increasingly rely on rage-fueled online fundraising as more traditional donors freeze them out. In the aftermath of Jan. 6, Hawley lost the support of some big donors, and major companies such as AT&T and Honeywell pledged to withhold donations from lawmakers who objected to the Electoral College vote.

“The news cycle that emerges out of controversial behavior by a candidate is like a strong gust of wind, and these mechanisms like list-building are the equivalent of sails," said Eric Wilson, a digital strategist who has advised Sen. Marco Rubio and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “For candidates like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Josh Hawley, who have largely been shunned by traditional corporate donors who are frequently the mainstays for elected officials, especially in off years, they have no choice but to pursue grassroots fundraising. And in order for that to work, they have to continue to make more noise. It is a feedback loop in that regard."

It's not clear how Rudnick compiled his list (or lists). But one clue to the audience that Rudnick may help unlock is who else has hired him. Besides Hawley and Greene, FEC records show that last quarter LGM Consulting also rented a list or provided online fundraising solicitations to:

In the 2020 campaign cycle, the firm's clients included then-Rep. Doug Collins, a Trump ally who lost the Georgia Senate primary; Madison Cawthorn, the 25-year-old congressman from North Carolina who spoke at the Jan. 6 rally; and Laura Loomer, a far-right internet personality who calls herself a “proud Islamophobe" and lost a run for a Florida congressional seat.

Rudnick has his own history of controversy. He was fired by the Pennsylvania Republican Party in 2008 after sending emails to Jewish voters likening a vote for Barack Obama to the leadup to the Holocaust. “Many of our ancestors ignored the warning signs in the 1930s and 1940s and made a tragic mistake," the email said. “Let's not make a similar one this year!" Rudnick told the Associated Press at the time that party officials authorized the message, but he declined to name them.

Campaigns don't have to disclose whose list an email is being sent to, and fundraising emails aren't comprehensively made public, so it's not possible to tell exactly how Hawley and Greene used the lists they rented. But several of Hawley's fundraising emails contained digital fingerprints tying them to Rudnick: They were sent from a web domain that shares an address with one of Rudnick's companies, and the links to donate include “ASG," short for Rudnick's Alliance Strategies Group.

In one email, sent on March 6, Hawley touted his interview on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show, in which Hawley said Democrats would use the Jan. 6 insurrection “as an excuse to seize power, to control more power, to step on people's Second Amendment rights, to take away their First Amendment rights." Following up on a major media appearance with a fundraising email is an effective technique, Wilson said.

In a second email using the Rudnick-linked domain, Hawley explicitly laid out his goal of posting an impressive fundraising number.

“I will be filing the first FEC financial report I have filed since I stood up for the integrity of our nation's election and the left began their attempts to cancel me," Hawley said in the email. “With your donation of $25, $50, $100 or more before the critical deadline on March 31, we will shock the left — they won't be able to ignore us any longer."

ACLU warns that major government surveillance decisions are happening in secret

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is raising concerns about the level of transparency, or lack thereof, the U.S. government exercises when it comes to electronic surveillance.

On Tuesday, April 20, the non-profit organization discussed the role of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, (FISC) a specialized court responsible for the issuance of "secret legal opinions authorizing the U.S. government to conduct sweeping programs of electronic surveillance."

It has been noted that the FISC's use of secret legal opinion has had a major impact on "Americans' privacy rights, freedom of expression, and free association." Now, they are asking for the U.S. Supreme Court to execute an order for the FISC to publish its secret opinions and only implement redactions that are absolutely necessary to serve as a preventative measure where real harm is an threat to national security.

According to the petition filed by ACLU lawyers in corrorboration with former Solicitor General Ted Olson, Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute, and the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale University, the organization argues that the the First Amendment grants the American public a "presumptive right of access to significant judicial opinions, including those of the FISC."

The organization highlighted the U.S. Supreme Court petition and the FISC's operations.

The FISC operates behind closed doors and does not customarily publish its decisions. Although Congress required the government to review significant FISC opinions for declassification and public release when it passed the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015, that review is conducted solely by executive branch officials, not a court. In addition, the government has refused to apply this requirement to FISC opinions issued prior to June 2015.

According to the ACLU, there are also a number of discrepancies with the FISC, its special court of appeals known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (FISCR) and both entities' inaccurate stance on the First Amendment. The non-profit argues that both courts actually lack the jurisdiction to even take certain motives into consideration.

The ACLU argues:

As we argue in our petition, the FISC and FISCR were wrong about the First Amendment. Our legal system is founded on the presumption that laws are public. That presumption applies to all judicial opinions containing significant interpretations of law. There's no special exception for opinions involving government surveillance and national security.

In reference to the FISC and FISCR's jurisdiction, the ACLU notes that "all courts created under Article III of the Constitution, including the FISC and FISCR, have inherent authority over their own records."

As a result of placing its legal opinion outside of the ramifications of the First Amendment, ACLU argues "the FISC has deprived the public of information that's vital to understanding how the FISC has interpreted the law, and the government surveillance that it has authorized."

Now, they are advocating for the U.S. Supreme Court to properly enforce the authentic rights provided under the First Amendment.

The 1st police statement on George Floyd's death resurfaces after guilty verdict — and it's deeply revealing

With the trial of Derek Chauvin over, a jury finding him guilty on three counts for killing George Floyd, an old police statement on the case resurfaced on social media.

The description of the circumstances of Chauvin's death on May 25, 2020, from the Minneapolis Police showed a stark contrast with the events as we now understand them. It's notable for clearly framing Floyd's death as the result of intoxication or a medical condition, leaving out completely the abusive treatment he suffered.

It's worth reprinting the statement in full:

On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.
At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.
No officers were injured in the incident.
Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident.

The attempt to paint Floyd's death as the result of a medical emergency, rather than a police murder, was later echoed in Chauvin's unsuccessful legal defense. There's a long history of police trying to portray Black civilians as responsible for their own wrongful deaths.

Many argued that the statement shows the dangers of relying on police accounts of events in media reports, a lesson recently relevant after officials revealed Officer Brian Sicknick, a member of the Capitol Police who had been reportedly killed in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, actually died of natural causes shortly after the attack. Though it remains unclear to what extent the attack may have contributed to the stroke he suffered.

The Minneapolis police statement left out any mention of the fact that Floyd was dangerously restrained on the ground with a knee on his neck for nearly ten minutes before he died, crying out for help and telling Chauvin that he couldn't breathe. It said the officers "noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress," leaving out any mention that their actions were the cause. They didn't mention that a crowd of bystanders formed at the scene, filming and demanding that Floyd be let go. They didn't mention that an off-duty firefighter, according to her testimony in the trial, was blocked from performing first aid on Floyd when she could see he was in danger.

They tried to avoid taking any responsibility for his death, and they likely could've gotten away with it if the damning video footage hadn't emerged.

Conservatives lose it after the guilty verdict for the murder of George Floyd

While many observers welcomed the jury's finding on Tuesday that Derek Chauvin was guilty of murdering George Floyd, some conservative media figures seemed distinctly perturbed, unsettled, or outraged by the outcome. It seemed that though Floyd's murder was initially was widely condemned, the movement it stirred and demands for changes it spurred from progressives polarized the issue, making some conservatives feel the guilty verdict was a loss for their side.

For example, some pushed the debunked notion that Floyd died from an overdose, rather than the knee on his neck for over 9 minutes:

Some just proclaimed Chauvin's innocence on some or all of the charges:

Others simply spent no time actually recognizing the justice was done and instead switched to attacking potential protesters or rioters for events they merely predicted would occur. Many suggested that the jury and the court felt undue pressure to find Chauvin guilty. And some sent frankly bizarre tweets.

On Fox News, host Greg Gutfeld had one of the most bizarre reactions, condemned from pretty much all sides. He said he thought Chauvin might not be guilty on all counts, but he was glad he was found guilty anyway to avoid potential violence and looting.

"And now I'm just going to just get really selfish," he said. "I'm glad that he was found guilty on all charges. Even if he might not be guilty of all charges."

Some of his own co-hosts, including Jeanine Pirro — who is often herself quite far to the right politically — pushed back on his comments. And she actually offered a surprisingly measured and thoughtful response to the trial.

"The verdict is supported by the facts," she said. "Make no mistake, the facts are solid on this verdict. This verdict will be upheld on appeal."

South Carolina's Sen. Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, also supported the result:

Revealed: Trump's DHS IG blocked a probe into the assault on Lafayette Sq. protest

The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general blocked an investigation into the role of the Secret Service in clearing Black Lives Matter protesters from Lafayette Square ahead of former President Donald Trump's controversial photo-op last June, according to internal documents obtained by the Project on Government Oversight.

Joseph Cuffari, a former adviser to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey who was appointed by Trump in 2019, rejected career staffers' recommendation to investigate the Secret Service's involvement in the June 1, 2020, incident, when federal law enforcement used tear gas to forcibly clear peaceful protesters in front of the White House so Trump could take a photo holding up a Bible in front of a church that had been damaged by fire during an earlier protest. Department investigators argued that the probe was "essential" in upholding the duty of the office, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the documents.

The documents show that investigators pushed to probe whether the Secret Service violated its use-of-force policies in the clearing, noting that hundreds of protesters were hit with rubber bullets and chemical irritants. Cuffari shot down the proposed investigation a week later, suggesting that the Secret Service could review the episode themselves and taking investigators "aback," according to the report.

Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general, called the decision a "dereliction of duty."

"IGs should make these decisions based on the importance of the matter," he said on Twitter, "not on whether an investigation might offend the President who appointed them."

Noah Bookbinder, president of the government watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, called for Congress to investigate Cuffari's handling of the matter.

Erica Paulson, a spokeswoman for Cuffari, who remains in charge of the office, told the Post that Cuffari rejected the proposal because he determined that the U.S. Park Police played a larger role in the clearing.

"DHS OIG closely coordinated with Justice and Interior OIGs, who were each planning reviews given the greater presence and participation of their agencies on that day," she said in a statement.

Cuffari likewise blocked an investigation into whether Secret Service had violated federal protocols aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus among employees. Hundreds of Secret Service officers were infected or forced to quarantine after potential exposure, according to the Post, largely because Trump kept traveling to campaign events and holding large gatherings despite the pandemic. Career officials argued that the investigation was necessary because the situation put fellow employees and officials at risk.

Despite the recommendations, the inspector general's office has not investigated any specific Secret Service issues since the Obama administration. The Post previously reported that the number of all investigations under Cuffari had plummeted to the lowest number in nearly two decades.

Paulson told the Post that the decisions were made based on budgetary reasons and risk assessment, and that in both cases it was "determined that resources would have higher impact elsewhere."

"Our office does not have the resources to approve every oversight proposal," Paulson said. "We have less than 400 auditors and inspectors to cover the entire Department of Homeland Security, an agency with almost half a million employees and contractors. Like all IGs, we have to make tough strategic decisions about how to best use our resources for greatest impact across the Department."

But staffers inside the office have complained that Cuffari has been "skittish" about investigations that could "potentially criticize the president's policies or actions," sources told the Post.

"Cuffari pulled his punches on exactly the type of sensitive reviews his office was created to perform," Nick Schwellenbach, a senior investigator at the Project on Government Oversight, told the Post. "It doesn't look like he's an independent watchdog."

Paulson disputed the claim, arguing that Cuffari had investigated controversial DHS detention facilities used in the Trump administration and other policies.

"Evidence that IG Cuffari does not shy away from politically sensitive topics can be found in numerous DHS OIG published reports, as well as ongoing projects," she said.

Internal documents show, however, that investigators raised alarm over the rising number of coronavirus infections among Secret Service employees and urged an investigation into whether the agency was taking the necessary steps to protect its workers. Cuffari instead suggested limiting the probe to reviewing how the spread of infections was affecting the agency's investigative work rather than its protective assignments, according to the report, even though most of the infections were among Secret Service agents who were compelled to travel in order to secure public spaces for Trump's events. The probe was ultimately scrapped entirely.

Paulson said that the office has "numerous investigations, inspections and audits" that have addressed the risk of coronavirus spread inside DHS.

House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., has been critical of Cuffari's handling of investigations and has called him to testify at a hearing on Wednesday. Thompson previously joined Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., last July in calling for Cuffari and the Justice Department's inspector general to investigate the Lafayette Square incident.

"The legal basis for this use of force has never been explained," the lawmakers said in a letter to Cuffari. "The [Trump] Administration's insistence on deploying these forces over the objections of state and local authorities suggest that these tactics have little to do with public safety, but more to do with political gamesmanship."

Thompson later criticized Cuffari's handling of investigations into the 2018 deaths of two young migrant children in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol, arguing that the office's report was "inaccurate and misleading," had mischaracterized the cause of death and ignored key details.

"The shortcomings in the OIG's reports on the children who died in CBP custody give me great concern about the ability of the OIG to carry out significant oversight," Thompson said in a letter to Cuffari.

A spokesperson for the Homeland Security Committee said Wednesday's hearing would focus on the new documents.

"We depend on the DHS OIG to hold DHS accountable to the public and Congress," the spokesperson said on Twitter. "For over a year, Chairman [Thompson] has been concerned about the office's willingness to conduct in-depth examinations of sensitive topics."

George Floyd’s legacy: Derek Chauvin guilty verdicts could spell the end of police immunity

by Kent Roach, University of Toronto

The police killing of George Floyd begs for effective remedies that respond both to past harms while also preventing future harm.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of three counts in the killing of Floyd after he kneeled on the Black man's neck for more than nine minutes as he pleaded for his life in May 2020. But what will be done now to ensure no one else dies a similar death at the hands of police, especially given there have been several police killings following Floyd's murder?

As legal theorist William Blackstone famously wrote, “every right when withheld must have a remedy."

But American federal courts have never recognized Blackstone's truism because of a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity, which protects police or government officials from lawsuits by requiring plaintiffs to establish not only that their rights have been violated, but that state officials did so with a high level of fault.

Given the egregious nature of Floyd's killing, qualified immunity was not an issue in Floyd's case. This helps explain why Minneapolis City Council agreed to pay the family US$27 million in damages.

But courts and legislatures are increasingly finding fault with qualified immunity.

Decision overturned

The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that lower courts had erred when they dismissed damage claims by a Texas prisoner on qualified immunity grounds. It ruled that he can sue six prison officers who allegedly forced him to sleep naked in a cell covered with feces and sewage for days.

The court indicated that some violations are so egregious that they might merit damages even in the absence of clearly established law. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.

The court also recently decided that damages can be sought for free speech violations even when the violation does not cause calculable harm. And in another recent case, the court ruled that a woman shot by the police when fleeing was subject to an unreasonable seizure.

City councils and legislatures are also chipping away at qualified immunity measures that often prevent damages from being awarded to plaintiffs. New York City Council recently repealed qualified immunity provisions that have sheltered police officers from lawsuits.

The U.S. House of Representatives has also passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. If enacted, it would repeal qualified immunity. That means damages could be awarded even if the police acted in good faith or violated rights that were not clearly established.

Damages are important. They serve as a visible and reportable symbol that the state has violated rights. But they are not enough. Effective remedies must also prevent future violations.

Consent decrees

How? Consent decrees require some police departments to collect data about police practices that harm racialized people. Some require police to intervene when there are warning signs of officers abusing their powers.

The Minneapolis Police Department was not under such a consent decree. It should have been.

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration has indicated that it will seek more consent decrees to monitor police departments.

But more ambitious systemic remedies won't necessarily prevent police killings and brutality. There's no way of knowing whether a consent decree would have stopped Chauvin from killing Floyd.

In recent weeks there have been two fatal police shootings of unarmed Black young men in the United States, 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Minnesota and 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago, where a consent decree is in place.

More substantial systemic reform could be achieved by a two-track approach that combines individual remedies for the past and systemic remedies for the future.

Signs of change afoot?

The ultimate remedy for a police department that cannot or will not respect rights would be to disband it. Failing that, the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions are promising. They may allow courts to compensate the victims of the most egregious forms of police abuse.

But that alone will be inadequate.

The courts and, if not the courts, the people must demand governments take reasonable and measurable steps to prevent future rights violations. The damages paid to Floyd's family are an important step in remedying a searing injustice. But much more needs to be done to prevent similar violations in the future.

There are no easy or guaranteed victories when it comes to legal remedies. But that doesn't mean they aren't important or should not be vigorously pursued.The Conversation

Kent Roach, Professor & Prichard Wilson Chair in Law and Public Policy, University of Toronto

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The real reason Republicans are throwing a fake tantrum about Rep. Maxine Waters

Republican leaders really want to maintain the ridiculous myth that they aren't the party of white supremacy, even as they send out fundraising emails full of winking praise for Tucker Carlson's embrace of what can only be described as a white nationalist conspiracy theory. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona recently unveiled plans for a new Republican caucus called the "America First Caucus," using overtly white nationalist rhetoric like "uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions" and "the progeny of European architecture." The failure to wrap their racism up in slightly more subtle coding drew immediate tut-tutting from GOP leadership, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R.-Calif., tweeting that the GOP is not about "nativist dog whistles."

This is a neat trick McCarthy is pulling. He is redefining the bullhorn that Gosar and Taylor Greene were using as a "dog whistle," setting the subtlety bar so low for racism that anything but a Klan hood and a burning cross is considered "debatable." As Heather "Digby" Parton warned at Salon on Monday, this is "an old strategy by right-wingers that inexorably mainstreams their beliefs in a way that allows many of them to escape responsibility." Republicans let the loudmouths take the heat of public backlash, but exploit the space that the extremists opened up to move ever more in the far-right direction.

Proving Parton's theory almost immediately true, McCarthy then threw a massive fake tantrum over comments made by Rep. Maxine Waters. The California Democrat was in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on Saturday to support protests against the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright by a police officer, and was asked by reporters what people should do if the jury failed to convict Derek Chauvin, a former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd only miles away.

"We've got to stay on the street, and we've got to get more active. We've got to get more confrontational," Waters answered.

To be excruciatingly clear, no one actually believes that by "confrontational," Waters was speaking about anything but peaceful confrontation. Unlike her Republican colleagues, whose only remaining languages are "bad faith" and "dog whistles," Waters is someone who says what she means and rarely means anything but what she plainly said.

But McCarthy, despite his false claims to believe that his is "the party of more opportunity for all Americans," rushed excitedly to flip out on Waters for genuinely supporting real equality. He falsely accused Waters of "inciting violence in Minneapolis" and demanded that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi punish Waters. His freakout came one day after Taylor Greene released a letter insisting that Congress expel Waters, demonstrating once again that McCarthy and Taylor Greene are really on the same page about most things.

It's not a huge mystery what's going on here, of course. Republican leaders know that their base is hungry for justifications for racism, especially when the news headlines are currently dominated by stories of senseless police violence. Bashing an 82-year-old Black woman and insinuating that she needs to sit down and shut up is plain old racist pandering.

It's also right-wing projection. After all, it was just a few short months ago that Donald Trump quite literally incited what really should be understood as white nationalist insurrection, sending thousands of redhats to storm the U.S. Capitol after spending over two months unsubtly arguing that Black voters in cities like Philadelphia and Detroit were illegitimate. But most Republican voters support the insurrection and Trump's reasons for inciting it, so their leaders are eager to find some kind of excuse for minimizing what happened there. And pretending that "both sides" are equally violent is the preferred method, even though a big difference between Waters and Trump is that the former never has and never would incite a violent mob to overthrow a legitimate election.

Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, also disingenuously pounced on Waters' comments, falsely accusing the congresswoman of "intimidation" of the jury and demanding a mistrial. This fits in with his larger defense strategy, which is focused not on trying to prove his client's innocence but instead throwing out a bunch of random race-baiting rationalizations and hoping at least one of the white jurors is shameless enough to grab at it. Whining about Waters is about distracting a potentially Fox News-addled juror and convincing them to focus on their white grievance and not on the evidence against Chauvin. It's a version of what all right-wing media is doing right now. Figures on the right from Tucker Carlson to Ted Cruz are busy pretending that Black anger, not police violence, is the real problem.

The good news is Pelosi is not foolish enough to indulge McCarthy's racist temper tantrum, instead calmly telling reporters, "I don't think she should apologize" and that Waters — as literally everyone knows, even if Republicans pretend otherwise — "talked about 'confrontation' in the manner of the civil rights movement."

Waters was also unperturbed, telling the Grio, "I am not worried that they're going to continue to distort what I say." When it comes to Republicans, Waters added, "this is who they are and this is how they act."

Waters is, of course, right. Republicans, like Chauvin's defense attorney, don't have legitimate arguments and they certainly don't have the facts on their side. All they have left is whining, feigning outrage, and trolling — anything to avoid engaging in rational debate over the issues because that is always a losing space for conservatives. The only way to deal with these bad faith gambits is to minimize engagement (remember the maxim about wrestling with pigs) and instead focus energies on calling out what they are doing and why.

What they are doing: Racist pandering. Why: Because they know full well that they can't win the debate on the merits.

Racist conservatives desperately want to talk about anything but the real issue, which is the continuing problem of police violence and the role that racism plays in fueling it. And if they can paint a Black woman demanding justice as a villain, so much the better for their base that endlessly wants to hear fairy tales about why their ugliest bigotries are justified.

Donald Trump Jr. has become the 'go-to person' in his father's 'post-White House political operation': report

Donald Trump Jr. hasn't been in the headlines very much during the Biden era, but that doesn't mean that he has disappeared from GOP politics — far from it. Journalist Gabby Orr, in an article published by CNN's website on April 19, emphasizes that the 43-year-old son of former President Donald Trump is positioned as a key figure in his father's "post-White House political operation."

"Behind the scenes, Trump's eldest son has emerged as one of the former president's chief political advisers, according to multiple sources who are close to Trump or involved with his political operation," Orr explains. "Like his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, who spent much of the last four years attempting to steer the Trump show from inside the West Wing, Trump, Jr. has been working closely with his father's team to ensure the next iteration of the 45th president's political career is running smoothly and that his father is endorsing reliably conservative candidates."

Orr reports that Trump Jr.'s influence in Trumpworld "extends far beyond operational guidance" and that he has "been steadily influencing his father's political instincts." An aide to the former president told CNN, "Don has the pulse of the base and knows where the energy of the party is. So, he's sort of the go-to person now on a lot of political things."

Orr describes Trump Jr. as "undeniably the most conservative member of the Trump family," and he is doing his part to encourage the GOP's far-right direction.

Trump Jr.'s sister, former White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump, is politically right-wing but isn't nearly as snarky as her brother. Trump Jr. is much more of an in-your-face "own the liberals" type of Republican — and while more moderate Republicans can't stand him, MAGA voters adore him.

"Trump Jr.'s rising influence was first visible to his father's aides in February, when Trump delivered his first major speech since leaving office at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando," Orr observes. "There, the 45th president went on a lengthy riff about transgender athletes competing in interscholastic supports — a topic he had previously ignored as it was bubbling up in state legislatures across the country and as his own administration threatened to axe federal funding for schools that implemented trans-inclusive sports policies. Aides later said it was Trump Jr. who had encouraged his father to weigh in on the matter at CPAC, knowing it would be red meat for the overwhelmingly conservative crowd."

A source described by Orr as someone "close to Trump Jr." told CNN, "He was always fighting for the cause big-picture wise, but now, Don is taking more of a leading role in shaping the political direction of Trump's post-presidency."

According to Orr, Trump Jr. has "become a key conduit for GOP candidates vying for the 45th president's support" and has "been intimately involved in the vetting process for Republican hopefuls seeking Trump's coveted endorsement."

Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told CNN, "He recognizes candidates who are authentically invested in the America First agenda and can spot those who are faking it. While it's true that all roads lead to Mar-a-Lago, smart candidates know there's a pit stop with Don that ensures a higher degree of success."

Meanwhile, Orr reports, Ivanka Trump and her husband Kushner, "have kept their distance from" the former president's "post-presidential apparatus and shown little interest in reengaging anytime soon."

A source described by Orr as someone "close to" the former president told CNN, "I don't think the president is looking to Jared for advice these days."

US Supreme Court justice lands book deal with massive $2M advance

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett has negotiated a massive new book deal with a sizable advance.

According to Politico, three publishing industry insiders have revealed the newly-confirmed justice, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump, has reportedly written a manuscript that focuses on "how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule." Ahead of the book's release, Barrett has reportedly received a staggering $2 million advance.

Despite the nature of the book, an industry insider has admitted the advance is "an eye-raising amount."

Justice Barrett's seven-figure advance comes as Trump-era aides and advisors struggle to even secure a book deal and obtain decent advances on manuscripts. Washington D.C. literary agent Gail Ross weighed in on the challenges former Trump administration officials face.

"It would be hard to imagine anyone on the inside offering us any wisdom, insight, or even good storytelling that would educate, enrich or even entertain us at this point," said D.C. literary agent Gail Ross. "Books are selling quite well today because they offer us those elements. I presume a couple may convince a publisher otherwise. For me, tall tales by Trump acolytes don't cut it."

Politico also notes another barrier that may be contributing to the challenges.

One obstacle for certain Trump alumni could be the ideology of those often making the decisions on major book deals: They tend to be Democrats disdainful of Trump and wary of underwriting a project that could lead to public blowback.

However, some have managed to seal deals. The publication reports that former White House trade advisor Peter Navarro and Jared Kushner, former White House senior advisor and Trump's son-in-law, have so managed to obtain book deals.

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