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Sweet Cakes Bakers Defy Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Order to Pay $135,000 ‘Damages’ to Gay Couple

The Kleins’ refusal to pay marks another chapter in the long-running controversy pitting their claims of religious freedom against enforcement of anti-discrimination laws.

The Oregon couple who made national headlines when they refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding are now refusing to pay state-ordered damages to the lesbian couple they turned away.

In response, state officials have gone to court to establish their right to place a property lien or attach other assets belonging to Aaron and Melissa Klein, proprietors of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery.

The Kleins filed an appeal of the state ruling in July but also have defied a Bureau of Labor and Industries order to pay $135,000 to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, claiming financial hardship despite crowdfunding efforts that have raised more than $500,000 on their behalf.

Most recently, one of their lawyers wrote to the labor bureau to say: “Our clients do not have a bond or irrevocable letter of credit in place and have no further plans to obtain either one.”

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The Kleins’ refusal to pay marks another chapter in the long-running controversy pitting their claims of religious freedom against enforcement of anti-discrimination laws requiring Oregon businesses to serve the public equally.

Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian issued a final order July 2 directing the Kleins to pay damages for emotional and mental suffering, saying they had violated the women’s civil rights by discriminating on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The Kleins have defended their actions as consistent with their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage, saying they shouldn’t have to provide a wedding-related service that goes against their religious principles.

Even before the final order, supporters of the Kleins set up three online accounts to help them with expenses. As of Wednesday, those efforts had raised at least $515,000, according to a calculation by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

“It’s difficult to understand the Kleins’ unwillingness to pay the debt when they have, very publicly, raised nearly a half million dollars,” labor bureau spokesman Charlie Burr said in an email Wednesday. “They are entitled to a full and fair review of the case, but do not have the right to disregard a legally binding order.”

Anna Harmon, one of three lawyers representing the Kleins, said she could not comment about her clients’ actions.

“These questions delve into matters of (attorney-client) privilege that we aren’t at liberty to discuss publicly,” she said. “There’s still ongoing litigation and we can’t talk about strategy. ”

Paul Thompson, a Portland attorney representing the Bowman-Cryers, also declined comment, saying, “We don’t want to speculate on their motives as to why they do or don’t do things.”

The dispute goes back to January 2013 when Rachel Cryer and her mother came into the Sweet Cakes shop for a cake-tasting appointment, only to be told by Aaron Klein that the Gresham bakery did not do cakes for same-sex weddings.

Cryer and Bowman, as they were then known, complained to the labor bureau, prompting a state investigation, four days of hearings before an administrative law judge this year and, ultimately, Avakian’s July ruling. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fred Schwarz on Conservative and Liberal Views of the Constitution: ‘Rules vs Tools’

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“Conservatives see the Constitution as a set of rules that must be followed, while liberals see it as a box of tools that can be used to put their policies into effect.”

Fred Schwarz writes:

…Progressives (or technocrats) act as if the Constitution had a hidden clause: “The purpose of this document is to promote equality and fairness, and every part of it must be interpreted in accordance with that goal.” We’ve all heard the story about the time Learned Hand, after lunch with Oliver Wendell Holmes, said in parting, “Do justice, sir,” to which Holmes shook his head and replied, “My job is to apply the law.” This story would bewilder a modern progressive, to whom those are just two slightly different ways of saying, “Enact progressive social policy.

And if you have to use a chisel as a screwdriver or bang in nails with a pair of pliers, it’s no problem as long as the thing gets built.”

I wrote in a book review once that the basic distinction between Right and Left when it comes to the Constitution is “rules vs. tools”: Conservatives see the Constitution as a set of rules that must be followed, while liberals see it as a box of tools that can be used to put their policies into effect. And if you have to use a chisel as a screwdriver or bang in nails with a pair of pliers, it’s no problem as long as the thing gets built.

[Read the full text here, at National Review Online]

It’s not so much a matter of ends justifying means as of ends creating means: If a given interpretation will lead to “social justice,” that in itself makes the interpretation correct. This principle turns the 14th Amendment into a Swiss Army knife and the Commerce Clause into a roll of duct tape.  Read the rest of this entry »


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Declares NSA’s Telephone Dragnet Unlawful

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In a ruling certain to profoundly shape the ongoing debate over surveillance reform in Congress, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the National Security Agency’s indiscriminate collection of Americans’ telephone calling records exceeds the legal authority granted by the Patriot Act’s controversial section 215, which is set to expire at the end of this month.

Comments Cato scholar Julian Sanchez, “While the court didn’t reach the crucial question of whether the program violates the Fourth Amendment, the ruling gives civil libertarians good reason to hope that a massive and egregious violation of every American’s privacy will finally come to an end.”

[CATO]


Prison Inmate Neil Moore ESCAPES by Faking an Email Ordering His Own Release

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 writes: Neil Moore was locked up in England’s notorious Wandsworth Prison when he used a smuggled cellphone to send an email to the prison that appeared to come from a court clerk who was ordering his release on parole.

“A lot of criminal ingenuity harbours in the mind of Mr Moore. The case is one of extraordinary criminal inventiveness, deviousness and creativity, all apparently the developed expertise of this defendant.”

The prison figured out what had happened three days later when his lawyer showed up to interview him and he was gone. He turned himself in to the police three days after that. Moore is a convicted fraudster who stole £1.8M with social engineering techniques, including a gift for voice impersonation.

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Southwark Crown Court heard he had set up a fake web domain which closely resembled that of the court service’s official address.

He then emailed the prison’s custody inbox with instructions for his release. Read the rest of this entry »


Still Waiting for Ruling in Amanda Knox Case

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ROME – Italy’s highest court was expected to decide Friday whether to uphold the murder convictions of Seattle resident Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito. But by noon Seattle time — 8 p.m. in Italy — nothing had been heard from the justices.

While Knox is watching what is happening from Seattle, Sollecito is in Italy. His lawyer made a last-ditch appeal to overturn the pair’s convictions for the 2007 slaying Meredith Kercher, Knox’s British roommate.

Attorney Giulia Bongiorno began her defense of Sollecito by offering what she called a “little sampling” of the errors and contradictions of “colossal proportions” in the 2014 Florence appeals court verdict that convicted her client and Knox.

Bongiorno noted, for example, that trial documents indicate that there were “no traces of Sollecito in the room” where Kercher, 21, was sexually assaulted and fatally stabbed.

A one-hour warning will be given before the verdict is read. Read the rest of this entry »


Déjà Vu: U.S.A. vs Italy ‘Double Jeopardy’ Extradition Fight on Horizon as Italy’s Highest Court to Rule in Amanda Knox Case

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Italy’s high court set to rule on Amanda Knox case

Italy’s highest court on Wednesday took up the appeal of Amanda Knox’s murder conviction, more than seven years after the American was accused in the brutal killing of her British roommate in Perugia.

The decision is likely to spark a U.S. versus Italy extradition battle that would call into play the American legal system’s “double jeopardy” rule.

“To date, the high-profile legal saga of Knox and Sollecito has produced flip-flop guilty-then innocent-then guilty verdicts, polarizing observers in three nations.”

The court will consider the fate of a “very worried” Knox, according to her attorney, as judges decide whether the former undergraduate student’s convictions and 28 ½-year sentence should stand. The court also will decide on the 25-year sentence of Knox’s ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who was also convicted in the murder of  21-year-old British student  Meredith Kercher.

“Knox has been portrayed alternately as a victim of a botched investigation and shoddy Italian justice, or a promiscuous predator who falsely accused a Congolese bar owner of the murder.”

Kercher was found dead Nov. 2, 2007, in the apartment she shared with Knox in the idyllic hillside town of Perugia, where both women were studying. Her throat was slashed and she had been sexually assaulted.

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“Amanda is innocent.”

— Luciano Ghirga, attorney for Amanda Knox

Suspicion quickly fell on Knox and Sollecito, who were arrested in the days after the murder. The couple denied involvement and said they had spent the evening at Sollecito’s place watching a movie, smoking pot and making love.

They were found guilty by a trial court in Perugia in 2009, but freed in 2011 after an appellate court overturned the convictions.

They found themselves back in an appellate court after the Court of Cassation vacated the acquittals in 2013 in a harsh rebuke of the Perugia chief appellate judge’s reasoning.

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“Some legal experts say the U.S. Constitution’s ‘double jeopardy’ ban on being tried twice for the same offense after an acquittal would stand in Knox’s favor, and that U.S. courts would frown on her having been tried in absentia.”

To date, the high-profile legal saga of Knox and Sollecito has produced flip-flop guilty-then innocent-then guilty verdicts, polarizing observers in three nations. Knox has been portrayed alternately as a victim of a botched investigation and shoddy Italian justice, or a promiscuous predator who falsely accused a Congolese bar owner of the murder.

Now, Italy’s highest court could decide to confirm the convictions, throw out the convictions and order a third appeal trial or, less likely, it could overturn both convictions without ordering a retrial, which would be tantamount to an acquittal.

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“Others argue the very existence of an extradition treaty implies that the United States accepts the Italian justice system, strengthening the case for extradition.”

A decision by the judges to confirm the convictions would then raise questions of extradition for Knox since she is free in the U.S. That verdict would then divert attention from Italy’s judicial process to a matter of diplomatic ties. Read the rest of this entry »


Guns for Women on Campus Make Sense

A group of local public school teachers from nearby schools use rubber training guns as they practice proper firearms handling during a teachers-only firearms training class offered for free at the Veritas Training Academy in Sarasota, Florida January 11, 2013. The December 14 tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has sparked a national debate about whether to arm teachers, prompting passionate arguments on both sides. REUTERS/Brian Blanco (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS EDUCATION)

Students — even those who are licensed gun owners — are systematically disarmed at the college gates and told to rely on campus security guards, who rarely stumble upon a rape in progress, and call boxes to protect themselves s-e-cuppagainst sexual assaults. And when they are attacked, despite these supposedly good security systems, they are told to rely on college administrators and a jury of their peers to mete out justice. How is this responsible?

S.E. Cupp writes: As the nation contemplates better ways to prevent sexual assault on college campuses, legislators and college administrators alike have recently offered some mind-bogglingly dumb ideas.

One of them is California’s new requirement that students at state schools sign consent contracts before (and during!) sexual intercourse to avoid any confusion — as if most rapes are the result of mere miscommunications.

Others insist that holding fast to the time-honored but totally ineffective tradition of adjudicating sexual assaults within the university instead of in courts of law (as if they are student council issues instead of crimes) is the best way to protect the colleges, er, the rape victims.

“As a woman and a gun owner, I’ve never understood why there wasn’t more overlap between the gun rights groups and feminists. On abortion, the feminists are clear: No man is going to tell a woman what to do with her body, or even that of her unborn child…”

While there are certainly problems on campus that need addressing, binge drinking among them, the Now that an official Harvard study confirms what we've been saying, and what other studies have shown, all these years, will gun-control advocates get the message, and admit their policies are a failure? Or will they double down, and continue to advocate the same dishonest anti-gun agenda?obvious solution to make an unsafe environment safer is to give students a fighting chance to fend off attackers. That means allowing them to be armed.

It might not surprise you to learn that guns are banned on most college campuses; most are so-called “gun free zones” (that somehow criminals with guns manage to penetrate).

But many colleges, including my alma mater, Cornell University, also ban knives, stun guns and pepper spray, leaving young women (and increasingly young men) with only their hands to defend themselves in the case of an attack.

“…But when it comes to rape–on college campuses or anywhere else for that matter–feminists are perfectly comfortable allowing men — in particular Democrats in Washington — to tell them how they can and cannot defend themselves.”

Students — even those who are licensed gun owners — are systematically disarmed at the college gates and told to rely on campus security guards, who rarely stumble upon a rape in progress, and call boxes to protect themselves against sexual assaults. And when they are attacked, despite these supposedly good security systems, they are told to rely on college administrators and a jury of their peers to mete out justice. How is this responsible?

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With lawmakers in 10 states now contemplating campus carry laws that would finally treat college students like free citizens instead of wards of the state, the usual anti-gun voices are coming out to dismiss this fairly straightforward idea as sheer insanity.

But isn’t this about women’s rights?

As a woman and a gun owner, I’ve never understood why there wasn’t more overlap between the gun rights groups and feminists. On abortion, the feminists are clear: No man is going to tell a woman what to do with her body, or even that of her unborn child. “No uterus? No opinion,” as the saying goes. Read the rest of this entry »


Leaked Newsroom Emails Reveal Al Jazeera Fury over Global Support for Charlie Hebdo

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Brendan Bordelon reports: As journalists worldwide reacted with universal revulsion at the massacre of some of their owxn by Islamic jihadists in Paris, Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide email.

“Please accept this note in the spirit it is intended — to make our coverage the best it can be,” the London-based Khadr wrote Thursday, in the first of a series of internal emails leaked to National Review Online. “We are Al Jazeera!”

“I guess if you insult 1.5 billion people chances are one or two of them will kill you.”

— Mohamed Vall Salem

Below was a list of “suggestions” for how anchors and correspondents at the Qatar-based news outlet should cover Wednesday’s slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office (the full emails can be found at here at NRO).

“Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well.”

— Salah-Aldeen Khadr

Khadr urged his employees to ask if this was “really an attack on ‘free speech,’” discuss whether “I am Charlie” is an “alienating slogan,” caution viewers against “making this a free speech aka ‘European Values’ under attack binary [sic],” and portray the attack as “a clash of extremist fringes.”

“What Charlie Hebdo did was not free speech it was an abuse of free speech in my opinion, go back to the cartoons and have a look at them!” Salem later wrote. “It’ snot [sic] about what the drawing said, it was about how they said it. I condemn those heinous killings, but I’M NOT CHARLIE.”

— Mohamed Vall Salem

“Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response—however illegitimate [sic]—is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it’s pointlessly all about you.”

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His denunciation of Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed didn’t sit well with some Al Jazeera English employees.

Hours later, U.S.-based correspondent Tom Ackerman sent an email quoting a paragraph from a New York Times’ January 7 column by Ross Douthat. The op-ed argued that cartoons like the ones that drove the radical Islamists to murder must be published, “because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.”

That precipitated an angry backlash from the network’s Qatar-based correspondents, revealing in the process a deep cultural rift at a network once accused of overt anti-Western bias. Read the rest of this entry »


Free Speech’s Shrinking Circle of Friends

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Liberals and even some conservatives embrace the ‘heckler’s veto’ threat to the First Amendment

Barry A. Fisher writes: An essential freedom-of-speech paradigm was established in 1949 by the Supreme Court in Terminiello v. Chicago. In that case a vitriolic, racist speaker spoke to an auditorium packed with supporters. Outside the auditorium was what was described as “ ‘a surging, howling mob hurling epithets’ at those who would enter and ‘tried to tear their clothes off.’ ” The police blamed the mob’s action on the speaker, Arthur Terminiello, a Catholic priest under suspension by his bishop. He was convicted of disturbing the peace and fined.

“University of Chicago law professor Harry Kalven Jr. would later coin the term “heckler’s veto” to describe what would have happened had the court decided otherwise. First Amendment rights could be “vetoed” by others who create a public disturbance that forces the silencing of the speaker.”

The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, reversed the conviction and ruled that Terminiello’s speech was protected by the First Amendment. The court said that the police, instead of taking action against the speaker, should have protected him and controlled the crowd, including making arrests if necessary. University of Chicago law professor Harry Kalven Jr. would later coin the term “heckler’s veto” to describe what would have happened had the court decided otherwise. First Amendment rights could be “vetoed” by others who create a public disturbance that forces the silencing of the speaker.

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Sony ’s recent crisis over the film “The Interview”—along with the domestic political correctness and anti-hate speech movements, various international agreements and globalization itself—is leading the country precisely toward a heckler’s veto.

There is growing support, including among academics and racial and religious advocacy groups, that what they define as hate speech…Law professors have concocted influential concepts like ‘outsider jurisprudence,’ ‘critical race theory,’ ‘critical feminist theory’, and ‘storytelling’ theory to define some kinds of politically incorrect speech as not speech at all, but ‘mechanisms of subordination.'”

Protesters have silenced speakers on several occasions this year, sometimes with the law’s support. In February a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California high school’s decision to prohibit students from wearing American-flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo “to avert violence.” In August a panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ejection of an anti-Islam Christian group from an Arab festival in Dearborn, Mich., on the theory that the group’s speech would incite festivalgoers to violence. (In October the full court agreed to reconsider the decision.)

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In December protesters against the non-indictment of a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., stormed into an auditorium at the University of California, Berkeley, and shut down a speech by Internet entrepreneur Peter Thiel . And during the past academic year, protesters caused the cancellation of commencement addresses by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers University, and International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde at Smith College. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Amanda Knox Found Guilty

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Phoebe Natanson reports: FLORENCE, Italy Jan. 30, 2014 – Amanda Knox was found guilty of murder today by an Italian court, the latest twist in a murder case that goes back to 2007.
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The judge sentenced Knox to 28 years in prison. Her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and co-defendant was sentenced to 25 years.

The prison sentence was even stiffer than her first sentence in 2009 when she was given a 24 year prison sentence.

The prosecutor had asked for a 26 year prison term for the murder for Knox and Sollecito, plus another four years for Knox on a related libel conviction.

Read the rest of this entry »