THERE WENT THE JUDGE: Cibolo Creek Ranch Owner Recalls Scalia’s Last Hours

Scalia was just the latest newsworthy guest to visit the celebrity hideaway that covers 30,000 acres near the Chinati Mountains. Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts and Tommy Lee Jones have also partaken of its scenic vistas and luxury accomodations.

MARFA — John MacCormack reports: A first-time guest to the Cibolo Creek Ranch, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was animated and engaged during dinner Friday night, as one of three dozen invitees to an event that had nothing to do with law or politics, according to the ranch owner.

Just hours later, he would be found dead of sapparent natural causes, which media outlets were reporting Sunday was a heart attack.

“He was seated near me and I had a chance to observe him. He was very entertaining. But about 9 p.m. he said, ‘it’s been a long day and a long week, I want to get some sleep,” recalled Houston businessman John Poindexter, who owns the 30,000-acre luxury ranch.

When Poindexter tried to awaken Scalia about 8:30 the next morning, the judge’s door was locked and he did not answer. Three hours later, Poindexter returned after an outing, with a friend of Scalia who had come from Washington with him.

“We discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled,” said Poindexter.

“He was lying very restfully. It looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap,” he said.Scalia,79, did not have a pulse and his body was cold, and after consulting with a doctor at a hospital in Alpine, Poindexter concluded resuscitation would have been futile, He then contacted federal authorities, at first encountering a series of answering services because he was calling on a weekend.

[Read the full story here, at San Antonio Express-News]

“Ultimately they became available and handled it superbly. They flew in by helicopter. They told me to secure the ranch, which I did until this morning,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »


As Assisted Suicide Laws Spread, Cancer Survivors, Disabled Object

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As citizens from California to Kentucky push for dying rights, advocacy groups for people with disabilities question whether physician-assisted suicide should be legal.

Danielle Ohl reports: Doctors told Chasity Phillips in 2002 that she had a 50 percent chance of surviving surgery.

“The risk of mistake and coercion and abuse are really too great.”

— Diane Coleman, founder and CEO of Not Dead Yet, an advocacy group that informs and lobbies on behalf of the disabled

She suffers from chondrosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer. It had begun to affect her heart, ribs and spinal cord. Her choices were certain death, her doctors said, or surgery to remove part of the tumor.

“There’s a certain freedom that comes with dying. You really don’t have to deal with your annoying cousin. You really don’t have to go on that family trip. You can eat ice cream for breakfast.”

— Chasity Phillips, Cancer patient

She chose the surgery. Still, the return of her cancer was likely. Doctors told her she would have six months to a year before it grew back, requiring more risky followups.

But 13 years later, Phillips is 38 years old and thriving, despite two very severe medical conditions. She also suffers from lupus. The state of her health has made her somewhat philosophical about her own mortality.

“There’s a certain freedom that comes with dying,” said Phillips, who lives near New Orleans. “You really don’t have to deal with your annoying cousin. You really don’t have to go on that family trip. You can eat ice cream for breakfast.”

Her prognosis was not unlike Brittany Maynard’s. But Maynard chose physician-assisted suicide after doctors diagnosed her with terminal brain cancer on Jan. 1, 2014. Before she died less than a year later – on Nov. 1, 2014 – at age 29, Maynard had become a prominent advocate for the “death with dignity” movement, which has triggered legislation in 25 states.

She was one of 1,327 people who took advantage of Oregon’s 1997 Death with Dignity Act, the oldest and foremost such law in the country, by obtaining the life-ending medicine. Maynard was one of the 859 people who actually chose to use it.

But as citizens from California to Kentucky push for dying rights, advocacy groups for people with disabilities question whether physician-assisted suicide should be legal.

“The risk of mistake and coercion and abuse are really too great,” said Diane Coleman, founder and CEO of Not Dead Yet, an advocacy group that informs and lobbies on behalf of the disabled. Read the rest of this entry »


California’s Brown’s Bill Clears Path for Illegal Aliens to Serve as State Supreme Court Justices

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The controversial legislation, which had been pushed vigorously by the California Undocumented Legal Worker Association (CULWA) and immigration advocacy groups, had been strongly opposed by Judicial Watch groups, Constitutional history scholars, and some California lawmakers, arguing that it violated the rights of citizens, and amounted to a shocking corruption of due process in the California Justice system.

Supporters of the legislation disagreed. Attorney General Eric Holder called it “an important step” and a “long overdue victory”, adding “If we can do this at the state level, we should be able to do it at the national level as well”, pledging his support for legislation to allow non-citizens to qualify for appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Passing laws allowing non-citizens to qualify for drivers’ licenses was but one step. Allowing illegal residents to obtain law degrees and practice law in California was another important step toward achieving our social justice ideals. This important victory today means fairness and opportunity for members of the non-citizen community”, said Holder.

In a statement released on Thursday, Miguel DeAngelo, a spokesman for Supreme Court Appointments for Illegal Aliens (SCAFIL) stated:  “If non-U.S. citizens are empowered to practice law and argue cases before our courts, being prevented from achieving the high honor of serving on our State Supreme Court is akin to slavery. This legislative victory corrects that injustice”. Read the rest of this entry »