We will not know until June whether the Supreme Court will strike down the Affordable Care Act or decide instead to follow the Constitution. One thing that was completely clear from this week’s oral argument, however, is that one member of the Supreme Court is far more concerned with reciting political talking points than he is with actually upholding the law. Watch the following video compilation to see the many times Justice Scalia echoed anti-Obamacare rhetorical barbs by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and other leading Republicans while he was supposedly being a neutral judge weighing the merits of the Affordable Care Act:
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) could be out of a job soon as the Government Accountability Board ordered a recall election this week after more than 900,000 Wisconsinites submitted signatures to hold a recall election this summer. With the election just two months away, outside spending groups are already scrambling to pour money into ads both for and against Walker. However, because of a quirk in Wisconsin campaign law, these groups can spend unlimited funds without disclosing where their money is coming from.
ThinkProgress spoke with attendees last weekend at the Americans For Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit in Milwaukee. Though all of them were Walker supporters, whose Republican Party has typically fought efforts to bring more transparency into campaign funding, the attendees were unanimous in their desire to require outside spending groups disclose where they get their funding. Watch a short compilation of their responses:
The Hill reports that, in return for a promise that President Obama will not make any recess appointments in the upcoming Senate break, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agreed to stop obstructing several of the president’s nominees:
“As the result of a successful discussion among the minority leader, the White House and myself there will be no recess appointments during the coming adjournment,” said [Majority Leader Harry] Reid, speaking from the Senate floor.
In return, Republicans allowed passage by unanimous consent of several of President Obama’s noncontroversial nominees and allowed Reid to set up a vote on the confirmation of Stephanie Thacker to be a circuit judge for the Fourth Circuit for April 16, the day the Senate returns from its break.
It is, of course, unfortunate that Reid needs to strike a deal at all before the caucus that controls less than half the seats in the Senate will deign to allow completely noncontroversial nominees to move forward. Nevertheless, this incident proves the wisdom of Obama’s decision to make several recess appointments earlier this year despite McConnell’s objections. Prior to Obama’s actions, he and Reid had few bargaining chips they could use to prevent McConnell’s obstructionism in a Senate ruled by the filibuster. Now, Obama and Reid can use the threat of future recess appointments to ensure that the party that voters did not want to control the Senate does not have a total veto power over the president’s nominees.
California Justices Limit Accountability For Pedophile Priests | The California Supreme Court held that lawsuit filed by six men who were allegedly molested by Catholic priests could not move forward because they waited too long to file. Two justices, including Justice Goodwin Liu, dissented.
The story of Trayvon Martin’s death has gripped the nation’s attention for much of the last two weeks. While questions abound in Sanford, Florida as details slowly trickle out, Trayvon’s death has also prompted closer examinations of other, similar shootings around the country.
In Pasadena, California 19-year-old Kendrec McDade was shot and killed by police after they responded to a 911 caller who said he had been robbed at gunpoint by McDade and another young black man. According to police, McDade was seen reaching towards his waistline when officers opened fire from a close distance. He died after being transported to a local hospital, and no gun or weapon of any kind was found at the scene or on his person.
Pasadena police arrested Oscar Carillo, the man who called 911, and charged him with manslaughter for allegedly lying to police about the perpetrators having a gun. Local activists are now calling for an investigation by the Department of Justice, raising concerns about the legal regime that is giving rise to “shoot-to-kill” incidents:
Local black leaders said the event highlights the need for reforms in the Pasadena Police Department, and have called for the Department of Justice to investigate.
“With African-American teens, the perception is that they are all gangbangers, or they are all packing,” said Joe Brown, president of the Pasadena chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. “It does increase the instances of shoot-to-kill with law enforcement, and Pasadena is no exception.”
In Wisconsin, a second story has local leaders drawing comparisons with Trayvon as well. Bo Morrison, a 20-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a homeowner after he ended up on the homeowner’s porch while fleeing a police break-up of a garage party next door. The shooter, Adam Kind, was not arrested thanks to Wisconsin’s newly expanded “Castle Doctrine” laws, which, much like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, protect citizens who use deadly force if they feel threatened. Morrison, like McDade and Trayvon Martin, was unarmed when he was killed.
In each case, local leaders have begun campaigns to demand justice and changes in the legal system. In Pasadena, a group of civil rights leaders are demanding a meeting with Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez to discuss the exact details of the shooting, and in Wisconsin, over 150 people rallied in nearby West Bend demanding the state’s Castle Doctrine law be repealed. And this week, demonstrators in D.C. protested these so-called “kill at will” laws.
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the conditions of detention centers for immigrants who are facing deportation. The hearing was meant as a follow-up to new health and safety standards put in place by the Obama Administration, but Republicans were there to argue that detained immigrants — who include victims of human trafficking and asylum-seekers– had it too good at the facilities.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who chairs the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, titled the hearing “Holidays on ICE,” alleging that the detention centers are like vacations for those brought there by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Smith said in a press release that “the Obama administration’s new detention manual is more like a hospitality guideline for illegal immigrants.”
Other House Republicans and their experts piled on Smith’s suggestion that detainees enjoy hotel-like accomodations:
- Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said that 110 deaths since 2003 was not alarming to him. King said he felt it reflects the general population, though those kept in ICE detention centers otherwise do not (PDF), and there is ample evidence of abuse and human rights violations.
- King followed up, inquiring “Is it true that some of the inmates control the keys to their own cells?” The expert responded that he was not aware of that.
- One witness said that detainees had access to move around within the facility. But images of the facilities paint a different picture.
- As part of the new rules, detainees have a hotline to report abuse, During the hearing, the committee’s Republicans painted this as a bad thing. But previous experts have concluded that many facilities do not “meet the threshold of basic human rights standards.” Those standards include permitting detainees access to medical care and allowing women who are being held to give birth without being shackled.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, however, actually had photographic evidence of some of the conditions in these facilities, and they offered up a very different view of the detention centers. Many of her pictures depicted the results of brutal abuse, and one detainee Lofgren discussed died of cancer after being denied access to a doctor for two months.
Immigration advocates in the House have come out strong against Rep. Smith’s hearing. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), who wrote legislation pushing for detention center oversight, said that the hearing showed Republicans were seeking “cheap political points” and were unconcerned about the rights of people in the detention centers.
Watch highlights from the hearing below:
KEYES: What about something like with the transportation bill where the federal government mandates that the states have to have a drinking age of 21 in order to get federal highway money?
BRUNING: Yeah, that’s the Dole case, and, in that particular case, it was about five to seven percent of the state’s transportation funding. . . . I think that’s coercive too, but I understand why the Court let it pass . . . .
KEYES: If I’m hearing you correctly, the drinking age, the string attached to the federal highway is not something that you
BRUNING: No, I think it’s coercive as well, but this Court said it was not . . . I believe it’s coercive in both cases.
KEYES: And unconstitutional?
BRUNING: And unconstitutional, yes.
Eliminating the nationwide drinking age would hardly be the end of the world, but it is important to understand what else is at stake under Bruning’s reading of the Constitution. The national drinking age exists because the federal government offers the states more highway funds if they set a drinking age of 21 — a law that was passed in an effort to reduce drunk driving deaths. States can either take the money, or they can leave it on the table and choose any drinking age they would like, but they are not free to take the federal government’s money and refuse to comply with the conditions attached to it.
This same arrangement is the basis of numerous other essential laws and programs, including the entirety of Medicaid, and most federal funding for public schools and universities. In other words, Bruning’s theory doesn’t just threaten minor laws such as the drinking age, it also could potentially strip health coverage from tens of millions of Medicaid recipients.
Judge Tosses Out Proposed Missouri Voter ID Constitutional Amendment | A judge in Missouri vacated the language of a proposed ballot measure backed by Republicans that would amend the state constitution to require voters to present ID. Cole County Circuit Court judge Judge Pat Joyce wrote that the proposed description that would appear on the ballot was “insufficient and unfair.” Joyce’s ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Eastern Missouri and a resident. The General Assembly will now have a chance to revise the language. “We are pleased that the court sent a strong statement that respects the voters of Missouri,” the Fair Elections Legal Network, a voting rights group, said in a statement. “Missourians deserve to know what they are being asked to vote on, particularly when a fundamental right, like the right to vote, is at stake.”
Nevertheless, a Republican National Committee attack ad released shortly after the argument tampers with the audio of Verrilli’s brief pause to give the impression that he was so feckless that he spent nearly 20 seconds unable to utter a coherent word. Watch it:
Of course, the entire case against the Affordable Care Act is based on falsehoods — false claims that the Constitution does not allow the United States to “regulate commerce,” false claims that upholding health reform would destroy the existing rules preventing much non-economic federal regulation, and false claims that judges are free to simply ignore the Constitution’s text. So it probably isn’t surprising that the RNC decided to add yet another falsehood into the mix.
Welcome to Justiceline, ThinkProgress Justice’s morning round-up of the latest legal news and developments. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @TPJustice.
- The justices of the Supreme Court will meet in secret today to decide whether to strike down the Affordable Care Act or to follow the Constitution.
- An Idaho couple who became the darling of property rights advocates after they successfully sold the Supreme Court on a tale about the EPA suddenly declaring their land a wetland and imposing ludicrous fines may not be quite as sympathetic as they originally seemed.
- The Arkansas Supreme Court held it is unconstitutional to prosecute teachers who have sex with their adult students.
- The Department of Justice gives up its effort to prosecute a man who made racist threats against then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008.
- An Oklahoma senate committee passed a bill allowing nearly anyone over 21 to openly carry a firearm if they complete training.
Arizona Senate Defeats Controversial Birth Control Coverage Bill | Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Arizona state Senate have voted down a bill that would allow employers to drop health insurance coverage for birth control if it conflicted with their moral or religious beliefs. Under the state’s current laws, only religious nonprofits are allowed to opt-out of covering contaceptive care, while the new bill would have expanded the exemption to include all employers. The rejection of the contraception bill offers a major boost in morale to women’s rights advocates who may have felt they were losing ground in the fight over the reproductive rights of women in the state of Arizona following the Senate’s 20-10 passage of a bill that bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy with the exception of medical emergencies.
Bipartisan Former State & Defense Department Officials Warn Justices That SB 1070 Harms Foreign Policy
For decades, the Supreme Court has understood that our Constitution does not allow the fifty different states to set their own immigration policy, and for good reason. As the Court explained nearly 70 years ago, foreign nations do not take kindly to mistreatment of their citizens within the United States, and such mistreatment can have catastrophic consequences. “Experience has shown that international controversies of the gravest moment, sometimes even leading to war, may arise from real or imagined wrongs to another’s subjects inflicted, or permitted, by a government.”
Which explains why a bipartisan team of former foreign policy and national security officials, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, and former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court earlier this week warning the Court not to allow Arizona’ anti-immigrant SB 1070 law to stand. As the brief warns, Arizona’s actions “risk of embroiling the national government in disputes not of its making” — forcing the entire nation to live with the consequences of just one rogue state’s actions.
Moreover, the brief explains, these consequences have already begun:
S.B. 1070 rapidly generated significant friction between the U.S. and other countries and made them less willing to cooperate with the United States. Only a month after the law took effect, the President of Mexico expressed his country’s concern in a speech to the U.S. Congress,11 raised the issue in bilateral talks with President Obama, and addressed it in a joint press conference following their meeting. In June 2010, six Mexican governors cancelled their trips to Phoenix for an annual conference of U.S. and Mexican governors on border issues, leading Texas and Arizona to boycott the rescheduled conference venue in New Mexico. And unfavorable public attitudes in Mexico towards the United States jumped from only 27 percent to 48 percent shortly following enactment of the Arizona law—no minor consequence for the millions of Americans who travel to and conduct business with Mexico each year.
Arizona’s law has also produced ripple effects throughout Central and South America. It has damaged U.S. relations with Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, whose presidents and parliaments have issued statements criticizing the law. Both El Salvador and Mexico have also issued travel warnings or alerts to their citizens traveling to the U.S.
State immigration laws like S.B. 1070 also create a risk of retaliation against U.S. citizens residing or conducting business abroad. Indeed, in immigration matters, countries frequently respond to restrictions on their citizens by enacting reciprocal measures. For example, in 2004 Brazil singled out U.S. nationals for fingerprinting and photographing upon entry into Brazil to respond in equal measure to the U.S. fingerprinting of foreign nationals under the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002.
In light of this week’s Affordable Care Act arguments, it remains an open question whether the Constitution and precedent still apply at all in the Supreme Court of the United States. If they still do — or if the justices care one bit about America’s ability to conduct responsible foreign relations — the justices need to heed these officials’ brief and strike down SB 1070.
Disclosure: Two of the signatories to this brief, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy deLeon and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Larry Korb are employees of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Oklahoma Judge Strikes Down State’s Mandatory Ultrasound Law | On Wednesday, an Oklahoma district judge struck down a state law requiring women to have an ultrasound image placed in front of them and to listen to a detailed description of the fetus before having an abortion. District Judge Bryan Dixon ruled that the 2010 measure is an unconstitutional special law because it only affects patients, physicians, and sonographers who deal with abortions without addressing other medical care. Along with Oklahoma, several states have mandatory ultrasound laws; Virginia passed one most recently. Challenges against these types of laws are pending in North Carolina and Ohio, while Texas’ law went into effect this year after a judge upheld it.
Santorum To ThinkProgress: ‘The Only Reason You Don’t Have A Voter ID Is You Want To Continue To Perpetrate Fraud’
ThinkProgress spoke with the Republican presidential hopeful about voter ID laws — which require that citizens present a certain form of photo identification or they are barred from voting — during a campaign stop in Milwaukee last weekend. Santorum said that he supports such laws because, as he states it, “the only reason you don’t have a voter ID is you want to continue to perpetrate fraud.” He went on to dismiss the notion that anyone might not have access to a voter ID, saying that “it’s not a problem.”
KEYES: Voter ID has been a big issue here in Wisconsin. I know Lindsey Graham has proposed a national voter ID law. Is that something you would sign as president?
SANTORUM: I think that’s a state issue. I support voter ID. In my opinion, the only reason you don’t have a voter ID is you want to continue to perpetrate fraud.
KEYES: What about folks who don’t have access to a voter ID though?
SANTORUM: As you know, in every state they allow free access to free voter ID, so it’s not a problem.
Santorum’s claim falls somewhere in the murky world between audacity and lunacy. More than one in ten Americans lack a government-issued photo ID. These people are not committing voter fraud — indeed, voter fraud is rarer than getting struck by lightning — they are potentially having their right to vote stripped away. Santorum appears to have confused the disenfranchisees with the disenfranchisers.
Here are just a few people that Santorum believes “perpetrate fraud.” Dorothy Cooper, a 96 year-old African American woman from Tennessee who was denied a voter ID because she didn’t have a copy of her marriage certificate. She said the ordeal was worse than anything she’d experienced in the Jim Crow era. Ruthelle Frank, an 84 year-old Wisconsin woman, who may be forced to pay as much as $200 to get the proper documents for a voter ID, despite the Constitution’s prohibition on charging citizens a fee to vote. A Texas resident named Jessica Cohen also finds herself unable to obtain the necessary documents for a voter ID after she lost her identification in a robbery. These are just three of the more than 23 million people committing voter fraud in Santorum’s mind.
Many citizens don’t have immediate access to their birth certificate or similar documents required for a voter ID. Similarly, in rural areas of states like Texas, some citizens live 100 miles or more from the nearest ID agency. Already lacking a driver’s license, it’s not difficult to see how traversing 100+ miles of the Texas desert might be difficult for someone looking to get a voter ID. Santorum, however, dismissed the notion that any of these people might be disenfranchised by a voter ID requirement: “it’s not a problem.”
47 Percent Support Legalizing Marijuana; Record High | A record number of Americans support legalizing and taxing marijuana, according to a new Rasmussen Poll, which has a reputation for being conservative-leaning. Nearly half, 47 percent, agree it should be legalized, while 42 percent are opposed. A Gallup poll from October had a similar result, with 50 percent — also a record high — saying they support legalization.
Under the federal Privacy Act, it is illegal for federal agencies to reveal a person’s confidential medical information. Nevertheless, the Social Security Administration did exactly that when it revealed to another agency that a California man is HIV positive. In a 5-3 decision yesterday (Kagan was recused) the Supreme Court effectively held that this man is completely without remedy for this violation of his privacy:
In a 5-3 ruling, the high court decided Stanmore Cooper’s claims of mental and emotional distress are not covered under the Privacy Act.
“The Privacy Act does not unequivocally authorize damages for mental or emotional distress and therefore does not waive the government’s sovereign immunity for such harms,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the conservative majority. . . .
“The person who is subject to this, to this embarrassment, this humiliation, doesn’t have out-of-pocket costs, but is terribly distressed, nervous, anxious, and all the rest,” Ginsburg said [during the oral argument on the case]. “The act that the Congress is reaching, the impact is of that nature. I mean, pecuniary (monetary) damages ordinarily attend conduct that embarrasses, humiliates you, causes mental distress.“
To be fair, the decision did not cut off the rights of someone who is fired or suffers other tangible losses due to a similar violation of their privacy, but it establishes that there is no remedy if the government simply shames someone by revealing their most embarrassing medical records. Moreover, it is worth noting that the plaintiff in this case is not the most sympathetic possible victim — his HIV status was revealed after he illegally failed to disclose it on an application for a pilot’s license.
Nonetheless, the rule announced yesterday could have sweeping implications. Programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability and the veterans health system necessarily will gather a great deal of medical information about many, many Americans — and there should be very real consequences if the agencies that run these programs fail to treat that very sensitive information with confidentiality and respect.
Delaware House Advances Felon Reinfranchisement Amendment | In a welcome contrast to the many, many conservative state laws intended to make it harder for people to vote, the Delaware House approved a state constitutional amendment this week which would eliminate the five year waiting period before people convicted of felonies could have their voting rights restored after they are released from prison.
Let’s be very clear about how Medicaid works. Medicaid offers each state a pool of money to provide health care to low income Americans. States can take or leave the money if they wish, but if they take the money, they agree to comply with certain conditions. If a state violates one of these conditions, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can dock their funds or potentially cut off funds entirely if the violation is sufficiently egregious.
This was the system in place when President Johnson signed Medicaid into law in 1965. It was the system in place after President Reagan expanded it to cover many new pregnant women and children in 1984. It was the system in place when Reagan expanded Medicaid again in 1985 and in 1988. And it was the system in place when new expansions were added in the 1990s. It each expansion, the bargain remained the same, states could accept the new conditions added by these expansions, or they could walk away from Medicaid. If they took the money and failed to comply with the conditions, they risked having their funding cut off.
In 2010, President Obama followed in his predecessors’ footsteps by expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. Yesterday afternoon, the Supreme Court flipped out. Although the five conservative justices’ objections to this most recent expansion often rested on other grounds, they almost always circled back to the same objection. The Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid, and the Secretary retains the exact same power she has had since 1965 to potentially cut off all of a state’s Medicaid funds if a state refuses to comply with any of the new conditions — so Obamacare could cause these states to lose all their Medicaid funds if they don’t comply with the new conditions.
Now, let’s be clear. If these justices are right that this Medicaid expansion is unconstitutional, than it also means that every single expansion since 1965 is also unconstitutional. That means stripping millions of the poorest and most vulnerable Americans of their only access to health care. Immediately.
Nor will the fallout be limited to Medicaid. As Justice Ginsburg pointed out, many universities received federal funding in 1972, when Congress enacted Title IX’s requirement that they must cease discrimination against women if they want to keep their funding. This too would be unconstitutional under the conservative justices’ theory. As would every other similar expansion to these education funds after they were first enacted.
It is rare that a single moment in a Supreme Court argument perfectly distills the difference in world view between the Court’s liberals and its conservatives, but such a moment occurred today. When Solicitor General Verrilli explained, correctly, that no Secretary has ever used their power to cut off a state’s Medicaid funding completely, Justice Alito expressed bafflement that any person could possess such an awesome power and refrain from using it. How, Alito wondered, could it be a “realistic possibility” that “we are not going to cut off your old funds, and just let that condition sit there?”
Justice Kagan soon weighed in with this answer:
[W]hen the Secretary withdraws funds, what the Secretary is doing is withdrawing funds from poor people’s health care, and that the Secretary is reluctant and loathed to take money away from poor people’s health care. And that that’s why these things are always worked out. It’s that the Secretary really doesn’t want to use this power, and so the Secretary sits down with the State and figures out a way for the Secretary not to use the power.
To Justice Alito, power is something that is to be wielded — just as he and his fellow conservatives appear dangerously close to casting the Constitution aside and striking down the Affordable Care Act simply because they can. To Justice Kagan, power is a sacred trust granted to our national leaders on the promise that they will use it lawfully and compassionately.
There are five of him, and only four of her.
Welcome to Justiceline, ThinkProgress Justice’s morning round-up of the latest legal news and developments. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @TPJustice.
- We now live in a world where British newspapers warn that “Britain must beware the dystopic drift towards a US-style judiciary.”
- In related news, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will ask the conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court to restore his signature voter disenfranchisement law after if was struck down by two lower court judges.
- Several Michigan militia members were acquitted of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against the government Tuesday.
- An Ontario Appeals Court declares a ban on brothels unconstitutional.
- Due to a strange quirk in the Massachusetts constitution, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) must be present in the same building when a council meets to evaluate his judicial nominees.
- Finally, I would thank Josh Israel and Amanda Peterson Beadle for managing TP Justice while I was away at the Supreme Court, but Anthony Kennedy hasn’t given me permission to do so, and the whole nation apparently needs his permission before they are allowed to do anything.
While media coverage of the case has been intense, there are several key questions that have yet to be answered about the case. Here are five of the most important:
1. What was the purported “conflict” that required the initial prosecutor to step down? On March 22 — after several weeks on the job — state attorney Norm Wolfinger stepped down from his role as prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case. Wolfinger relinquished his post after meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi. He said it was necessary for him to step aside to preserve “the integrity of this investigation,” adding he wanted to avoid “the appearance of a conflict of interest.” He did not explain why his continued involvement would damage the integrity of the case or explain the potential conflict he was seeking to avoid. Did anyone at the prosecutor’s office know Zimmerman or his family? [Orlando Sentinel]
2. Why did the prosecutor ignore the recommendations of the lead homicide investigator? ABC News reported that Chris Serino, the lead homicide investigator on the Trayvon Martin case, recommended that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter on the night of the shooting. Serino filed an affidavit that night stating “he was unconvinced Zimmerman’s version of events.” As the lead homicide investigator, Serino was: 1. In the best position to evaluate Zimmerman’s credibility, and 2. Intimately familiar with Florida law. Why was he ignored? [ABC News]
3. Why did then-Police Chief Bill Lee make public statements directly contradicting the official recommendations of the police department? On the day the Sanford Police concluded their investigation and handed over the case to the prosecutor, then-Police Chief Bill Lee stated publicly that there was no “probable cause” to arrest or charge Zimmerman. (Lee has subsequently “temporarily” stepped down from his post.) But the Miami Herald reports that on the same day the Sanford Police formally requested that the prosecutor charge Zimmerman, something known as a “capias” request. [ThinkProgress]
4. Who leaked Trayvon Martin’s school records? As public outrage increased, Zimmerman’s sympathizers launched a smear campaign against Trayvon Martin. This included details of several occasions where Martin was suspended for minor infractions (defacing a locker, possessing an empty “marijuana baggie.”) None of the information seemed to have any particular relevance to the night Trayvon Martin was shot to death. Was this a ham-handed attempt by the police or the prosecutor to defend their lack of action against Zimmerman? The Sanford City Manager announced he would launch an independent investigation into the source of the leak. [Miami Herald; NBC12]
5. Why was Trayvon Martin’s body tagged as a John Doe? The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart notes a police report “that was completed at 3:07 a.m. on Feb. 27 lists Trayvon’s full name, city of birth, address and phone number.” But yet, Trayvon’s body was reportedly “tagged as a John Doe” and his father wasn’t informed of his death until after he filed a missing person report later on the 27th. Why weren’t Trayvon Martin’s parents contacted immediately after the police confirmed his identity? [Washington Post]
Special prosecutor Angela Corey has promised to release additional information about the case once she makes a decision about whether to charge Zimmerman, something that could happen at any time.