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Tuesday, October 7, 2008 should be remembered as a day when federal judicial arrogance descended to a new low.

Apparently, before being appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton, United States District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina (District of Columbia) learned somewhere along his career path—student at Georgetown University and its Law School, practitioner at the DC Public Defender’s Office, teacher at Howard University School of Law, judge at the DC Superior Court—that Articles I (legislative) and II (executive) of the United States Constitution must succumb to the arrogance of unelected, life-tenured Article III federal judges.

That’s because on October 7th, Judge Urbina decided that the government’s power to hold seventeen Guantanamo detainees had “ceased,” that they were to be transferred to the District of Columbia within four days, that once there they were to be freed, that they were to be relocated in the greater DC area, and that the government better not use immigration laws to harass the illegally-here aliens.

Residents of the District of Columbia were not happy. The Wall Street Journal opined about The Terrorists Next Door. The White House was “deeply concerned by, and strongly disagree[d] with” Urbina’s ruling. Conservatives were outraged, especially at Urbina’s threat to the government that “I do not expect these Uighurs will be molested [!] by any member of the United States government,” arrogantly adding that “I’m a federal judge, and I’ve issued an order.”

Urbina believed he had the power to issue that order because of the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in the Boumediene v. Bush case, which held that alien unlawful enemy combatants have a constitutional right to use habeas corpus in American federal courts to challenge their detention.

In dissenting from, and lamenting, the majority opinion in Boumediene Chief Justice Roberts asked rhetorically, “So who has won?” His answer anticipated, in part, what Urbina did last week. Roberts wrote:

Not the detainees. The Court’s analysis leaves them with only the prospect of further litigation to determine the content of their new habeas right, followed by further litigation to resolve their particular cases, followed by further litigation before the [United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit] . . . . Not Congress, whose attempt to “determine— through democratic means—how best” to balance the security of the American people with the detainees’ liberty interests . . . has been unceremoniously brushed aside. Not the Great Writ [of habeas corpus], whose majesty is hardly enhanced by its extension to a jurisdictionally quirky outpost, with no tangible benefit to anyone. Not the rule of law, unless by that is meant the rule of lawyers, who will now arguably have a greater role than military and intelligence officials in shaping policy for alien enemy combatants. And certainly not the American people, who today lose a bit more control over the conduct of this Nation’s foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges. (My emphasis.)

Roberts’s prophesy about the likes of District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina raised yet another question: If the detainees didn’t win, if Congress didn’t win, if the principle of habeas corpus didn’t win, if the rule of law didn’t win, if the American people didn’t win—and, one can add, if the Commander-in-Chief didn’t win—who did?

Earlier in his dissent Chief Justice Roberts suggested the answer, writing that the Boumediene decision is “not really about the detainees at all, but about control of federal policy regarding enemy combatants,” and that “[a]ll that today’s opinion has done is shift responsibility for those sensitive foreign policy and national security decisions from the elected branches to the Federal Judiciary.”

Or, as Chief Justice Roberts put it: “unelected, politically unaccountable judges.” The Judge Urbinas of the federal bench!

Those of us who for years have had a bellyful of such judges and the damage they have done to our social, cultural, economic, political and military institutions today rightly fear that legions of Urbinas are waiting in the wings for appointment to federal courts following an election victory by Senate Democrats and Barack Obama.

Obama adheres to the doctrine of a “Living Constitution.” Those who subscribe to Living Constitution ideology believe that the founding principles of this Nation are passé, that the Declaration of Independence’s ringing endorsement of individual rights and limited government is outdated, that the Constitution’s creation of a representative republic is from a long past moment in history, and that the Bill of Rights is not a restraint on government but rather a source of newly invented “rights.”

If the federal judiciary, let alone the Supreme Court, falls into Obama’s hands (especially with a compliant Senate, let alone a filibuster-proof one), our Nation will surely be crippled, perhaps fatally, in its domestic battle against socialism and our foreign war against Islamofascism.

This is not a charge that I make lightly, but rather one rooted in the words of candidate Obama himself.

On July 17, 2007, Obama made a speech in Washington, D.C. to the country’s leading abortion-meister, “Planned Parenthood.” In the words of NBC reporter Carrie Dean Obama not only “leveled harsh words at conservative Supreme Court justices,” but “he offered his own intention to appoint justices with ‘empathy’.”

“Empathy,” according to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, is “the projection of one’s own personality into the personality of another in order to understand him better; ability to share in another’s emotions or feelings.”

Thus, we have been unmistakably warned that president-hopeful Barack Obama will appoint Supreme Court justices who will not honestly interpret the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Fourteenth Amendment—let alone on the basis of what they say and meant to those who wrote them—but who, instead, will project their own personalities into others to understand them better; justices who can share in those others’ emotions or feelings.

And who might Obama’s empathy-receivers be?

Obama himself told us in that same 2007 Planned Parenthood speech: “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.” (My emphasis.)

It couldn’t be clearer what this candidate for the presidency of the United States admittedly has in store for the federal judiciary and thus for our Nation.

So much for the classical liberal philosophy that was at the founding’s core and in its fundamental documents. From now on, constitutional interpretation Obama-style is to be through the eyes of whom he sees as society’s alleged victims.

Obama’s confession drops the notion of a Living Constitutionalism into yet a lower rung of hell. His confession reveals that while in the past the Living Constitution’s acolytes sought to achieve the amorphous goals of “social justice, brotherhood, and human dignity,” a President Obama will feed the beast with what’s left of individual rights and limited government, all in the name of “empathy”—a code word for something much darker: sacrifice of true constitutionalism to the needs of society’s perceived victims.

This perversion of America’s essence—individual rights and limited government—is collectivism/statism squared. While our Nation has so far been able to survive Living Constitutionalism—though with the recent Guantanamo decisions, especially Boumediene v. Bush, who knows?—we may not be able to survive Obama-appointed federal judges in the mode of Richardo M. Urbina.

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Thirteen years to the day after being acquitted of killing his wife and her friend in Los Angeles, O.J. Simpson was found guilty of robbing two sports-memorabilia dealers at gunpoint in a Las Vegas hotel room.

The 61-year-old former football star was convicted of all 12 counts late Friday after jurors deliberated for more than 13 hours. He released a heavy sigh as the charges were read and was immediately taken into custody.

Simpson, who went from American sports idol to celebrity-in-exile after his murder acquittal, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

His attorney said he would appeal.

Many people considered the four-week trial justice delayed. Simpson was cleared in 1995 of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century, but was later found liable for the deaths in a civil case.

“I don’t like to use the word payback,” defense attorney Yale Galanter said. “I can tell you from the beginning my biggest concern … was whether or not the jury would be able to separate their very strong feelings about Mr. Simpson and judge him fairly and honestly.”

The Hall of Fame football star was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery and 10 other charges for gathering up five men a year ago and storming into a room at a hotel-casino, where the group seized several game balls, plaques and photos. Prosecutors said two of the men with him were armed; one of them said Simpson asked him to bring a gun.

Simpson’s co-defendant, Clarence “C.J.” Stewart, 54, also was found guilty on all charges and taken into custody.

Simpson showed little emotion as officers handcuffed him and walked him out of the courtroom. His sister, Carmelita Durio, sobbed behind him in the arms of Simpson’s friend, Tom Scotto, who said “I love you” as Simpson passed by. As spectators left the courtroom, Durio collapsed.

Jurors made no eye contact with the defendants as they entered the courtroom. They declined to answer questions after the verdict was read.

Galanter said his client had expected the outcome, and in a courthouse conversation with an Associated Press reporter on Thursday, Simpson had implied as much.

Simpson said he was “afraid that I won’t get to go to my kids’ college graduations after I managed to get them through college.”

Galanter said it was not a happy day for anybody. “His only hope is the appellate process,” he said.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said prosecutors would not comment until the case was “completely resolved.”

Judge Jackie Glass made no comment other than to thank the jury for its service and to deny motions for the defendants to be released on bail.

She refused to give the lawyers extended time to file a motion for new trial, which under Nevada law must be filed within seven days. The attorneys said they needed time to submit a voluminous record.

“I’ve sat through the trial,” Glass said. “If you want a motion for new trial, send me something.”

Stewart’s attorney, Brent Bryson, also promised to appeal.

“If there was ever a case that should have been severed in the history of jurisprudence, it’s this case,” he said of unsuccessful attempts to separate Stewart’s case from Simpson’s because of the “spillover” effect.

From the beginning, Simpson and his lawyers argued the incident was not a robbery, but an attempt to reclaim mementos that had been stolen from him. He said he did not ask anyone to bring a weapon and did not see any guns.

The defense portrayed Simpson as a victim of shady characters who wanted to make a buck off his famous name, and police officers who saw his arrest as an opportunity to “get” him and avenge his acquittal.

Prosecutors said Simpson’s ownership of the memorabilia was irrelevant; it was still a crime to try to take things by force.

“When they went into that room and forced the victims to the far side of the room, pulling out guns and yelling, `Don’t let anybody out of here!’ — six very large people detaining these two victims in the room with the intent to take property through force or violence from them — that’s kidnapping,” prosecutor David Roger said.

Kidnapping is punishable by five years to life in prison. Armed robbery carries a mandatory sentence of at least two years behind bars, and could bring as much as 30. Sentencing was set for Dec. 5.

Simpson, who now lives in Miami, did not testify but was heard on a recording of the confrontation screaming that the dealers had stolen his property. “Don’t let nobody out of this room,” he declared and told the other men to scoop up his items, which included a photo of Simpson with former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Four other men charged in the case struck plea bargains that saved them from potential prison sentences in return for their testimony. Some of them had criminal records or were otherwise compromised in some way. One, for example, was an alleged pimp who testified he had a revelation from God telling him to take a plea bargain.

Memorabilia dealer Thomas Riccio, who arranged and secretly recorded the hotel-room confrontation, said he netted $210,000 from the media for the tapes.

Similarly, minutes after the Sept. 13, 2007, incident, one of the alleged victims, sports-memorabilia dealer Alfred Beardsley, was calling news outlets, and the other, Bruce Fromong, spoke of getting “big money” from the case.

Simpson’s past haunted the case. Las Vegas police officers were heard in the recordings chuckling over Simpson’s misfortune and crowing that if Los Angeles couldn’t “get” him, they would.

During jury selection, Simpson’s lawyers expressed fears that people who believed he got away with murder might see this case as a chance to right a wrong.

As a result, an usually large pool of 500 potential jurors was called, and they were given a 26-page questionnaire. Half were almost instantly eliminated after expressing strong feelings that Simpson should have been convicted of murder.

The judge instructed the jurors to put aside Simpson’s earlier case.

In closing arguments, Galanter acknowledged that what Simpson did to recover his memorabilia was not right. “But being stupid, and being frustrated is not being a criminal,” he said.

He added: “This case has taken on a life of its own because of Mr. Simpson’s involvement. You know that. I know that. Every cooperator, every person who had a gun, every person who had an ulterior motive, every person who signed a book deal, every person who got paid money, the police, the district attorney’s office, is only interested in one thing: Mr. Simpson.”

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