Legal


Politicians, Advocates Push for Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Amid Court Ruling

By David Dayen

After a judge in Riverside, California found the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy unconstitutional Thursday, a host of politicians and activists pounced on the ruling, saying that this should be used as an impetus to repeal the policy legislatively, or that the Administration shouldn’t appeal the ruling and allow the policy to die.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), one of the strongest advocates for repeal, supports both steps, saying that the DoJ shouldn’t appeal, and that the policy gives a strong impetus to Congress to act:

Prop. 8 Ruling A Threat To American Democracy? Um, No.

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

Wrong.

That’s the short response to a column over on Capitol Weekly that raises the specter of a “constitutional coup” by advocates of gay marriage, one of the odder pieces I’ve read about California’s Proposition 8, the legal challenge against it and U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that it is unconstitutional.

The gist of the column by Mathew McReynolds, staff attorney for the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, is that the Prop. 8 ruling is bad because it means supporters of gay marriage will be able to sue their opponents into oblivion if they don’t recognize gay marriage rights.

AstraZeneca Pays $198 Million to Settle Claims – But Documents Stay Secret

By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice

Patients have been complaining for years that AstraZeneca’s Seroquel drug, prescribed to help control schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had serious and unacknowledged side effects, such as  causing diabetes. The London-based firm has settled more than half of the complaints, including this announcement Monday that it was paying $198 million to settle 17,500 of the remaining 26,100 claims.

The money really is just a drop in the bucket for AstraZeneca, which took in $3.6 billion in 2007 from American Seroquel sales. And it said the settlement wouldn’t affect its dividend payout, an announcement that strikes me as an inadvertent statement about its corporate priorities — profit over patients’ health.

Impeach Judge Walker?

By Brian Leubitz

This is cross-posted from the Prop 8 Trial Tracker

That's exactly what the American "Family" Association wants to do. In an email to their supporter list, the AFA called for Congress to impeach Judge Walker for failing to conduct himself with "good Behaviour":

Yesterday (August 4), U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker single-handedly overturned California's Prop. 8, which elevated protection for one-man, one-woman marriage to its state constitution.

In doing so, he frustrated the expressed will of seven million  Californians who went to the polls to shape their state's public policy  on marriage. ...

Insurance Companies Find Way To Invest Benefit Money Even After Policyholders Die

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

Here’s how I thought life insurance worked:

1) I buy a life insurance policy.
2) I pay my premiums under the terms of the policy.
3) I die.
4) My beneficiary receives a check for the benefit amount specified in the policy.

Silly me. I forgot the insurance company’s purpose is to make money, even if it means my beneficiary doesn’t receive the benefit right away.

Harry Reid’s Senate: Where Progressive Legislation Goes to Die

By Paul Hogarth
BeyondChron

Netroots Nation concluded this past weekend in Las Vegas – with appearances by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, dozens of panels and workshops and a rousing Keynote by Senator Al Franken that renewed hope for liberal bloggers. If there’s one major frustration leading into November, it’s the U.S. Senate – where Republicans have obstructed practically everything that passed the House. Reid came to the Conference on July 24th – right after announcing we “don’t have the votes” for comprehensive climate change reform this year, only adding insult to injury.

One panel on filibuster reform suggested we’re in a constitutional crisis, but Reid himself wouldn’t commit to any specific solution. But rather than give up, Al Franken reminded the netroots that Senators elected in 2006 and 2008 with their help are a “coalition of the impatient” – and represent a new generation of more progressive Democrats. Bloggers are needed this November to add to their ranks, in order to change the Senate.

Additional Funding, Support for Consumer Protection Enforcement Needed

By Debbie Snow

Most health care workers are dedicated and conscientious. However, there are always unscrupulous practitioners in every profession that need to be quickly removed. In 2009, Pro Publica and Los Angeles Times published a joint investigative series on cases of California nurses who continued practicing for years after evidence of serious misconduct. The journalists found that it took more than 3 years on average to remove nurses with DUI convictions, evidence of sexual misconduct and even negligence resulting in patient death

In August 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger fired most of the members of the Nursing board and pledged extensive reforms to effectively protect patients from physicians, dentists, nurses, and all other health care professionals charged with misconduct or negligence. 

When Marked Crosswalks Can Be More Dangerous For Pedestrians

By J.G. Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

A car-pedestrian crash with tragic consequences in suburban San Francisco may bring about safer crosswalks in California, after a San Mateo County jury this month awarded more than $12 million in damages in a civil trial.

Emily Liou was in a marked crosswalk at an intersection without a traffic signal on State Route 82 (El Camino Real) in Millbrae when she was struck by a southbound car.  Liou, who was 17 years old at the time of the crash in 2006, suffered extensive brain damage and is left in a permanent vegetative state.  She has required 24-hour care from the time she was placed in the ambulance and will continue to require such care for the rest of her shortened life.

Her attorneys, Richard Schoenberger and Doug Saeltzer, provided evidence that the marked crosswalk, intended to provide more safety for pedestrians, actually left Liou less safe.

Anybody Up There Care About The Schools?

By Peter Schrag

The milestones keep rushing by in California’s race to the educational bottom.

Last Monday, a group of students and parents, joined by a coalition of civil rights organizations filed the second major lawsuit in recent weeks charging the state with failing to meet its constitutional and moral obligations to provide quality education to its six million K-12 students.

Two days later, perhaps not coincidentally, the California Budget Project published a report headed “California’s Support for Schools Lags the Nation.” It was full of depressingly familiar numbers: California is near the bottom among the states in school spending per pupil; dead last in school spending as a percentage of personal income; last in teachers per students; ditto for counselors, librarians and administrators.

Eliminating Medi-Cal Drug Treatment Costs Much More Than It Saves

By Jason Kletter
Bay Area Addiction Research and Treatment

The governor has proposed to eliminate all Medi-Cal funding for drug treatment. On a single day this fall, the governor’s proposal would cut off methadone treatment for 35,000 heroin and prescription drug addicts. Intended to save state funds, the proposal would end up costing much more than it would save. California would immediately lose $61 million in federal matching funds to save $53 million in state funds. California would risk losing another $100 million in federal Substance Abuse Prevention&Treatment block grant funds, due to our failure to “maintain effort.”