The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) today ruled that citizens can be convicted of "crimes" that do not exist, based on jury instructions that do not mirror actual law. The Supreme Court also overturned the case that had served as precedent for more than 20 years in cases that allege bribery in the context of a campaign contribution. For good measure, the high court also provided overwhelming evidence that Barack Obama does not deserve a second term as president.
And, by the way, criminal cases no longer have to be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt."
SCOTUS did not make any of those decisions in the form of actual rulings. But those are essentially the take-home lessons from the court's decision this morning not to hear an appeal in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.
Perhaps the most important lesson is this: The nation's highest court proved beyond any doubt--and there really was no doubt in light of the 2000 Bush v. Gore ruling--that it is corrupt and our entire "justice system" needs a thorough cleansing from top to bottom.
How is this for irony? The Supreme Court almost certainly refused to hear the Siegelman appeal not because his case was weak, but because it was so strong. If the court had heard the case, it would have had to overturn the Siegelman/Scrushy convictions. It's about as close to an open-and-shut case as is ever likely to land before the Supremes.
But we suspect the high court could not countenance such an outcome. It would have shown that our justice system is riddled with politics, that judges at all levels routinely make rulings that are contrary to law, that our courts simply cannot be trusted--and, most importantly, that the Bush family and their surrogates (Karl Rove) have rigged our "justice system" into what amounts to a criminal enterprise.
We wrote months ago that one problem with overturning the Siegelman convictions is that it might open up a path for Siegelman and Scrushy to file civil cases against individuals and entities responsible for their prosecutions--and genuine discovery in such lawsuits almost certainly would lead to the doorsteps of powerful, wealthy, and loyal Bushies. That, in a postmodern America that has badly lost its way, could not be allowed to happen.
Today's ruling is further evidence that our "legal-industrial complex" wants no part of lawsuits that might grow from the gross abuses in the Siegelman case. By punting on an appeal, the Supremes found that it is more important to protect corrupt elites than to administer justice.
Documents filed in the Siegelman case, seeking certiorari review with the high court, make all of this painfully obvious. For the millions of words that have been written on the Siegelman case--quite a few of them on this blog--it all boils down to a few simple questions at this point. They are clearly stated in a docket entry, as reported last week by Matthew Bush at scotusblog.com:
Siegelman v. United States
Issue(s): Whether the McCormick v. United States standard -- under which a connection between a campaign contribution and an official action is a crime “only if the payments are made in return for an explicit promise or undertaking by the official to perform or not to perform an official act” -- requires proof of an “explicit” quid pro quo in the sense of actually being communicated expressly, or whether there can be a conviction based instead only on the inference that there was an unstated and implied agreement connecting a campaign contribution and an official action; (2) whether 18 U.S.C. § 666 and “honest services” law (under 18 U.S.C. § 1346) cover campaign or referendum contributions as alleged bribes at all; and (3) whether the “intent” clause of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(3) requires proof of the specific intent to interfere with communications to law enforcement, or whether it is satisfied by proof of an intent to engage in a “coverup” more generically.
Issue No. 1 is at the crux of both the Siegelman and Scrushy appeals. And the following facts are undisputed on that issue:
* McCormick v. United States, 500 U.S. 257 (1991) is controlling law on bribery in the context of a campaign contribution;
* McCormick does, in fact, require an "explicit" quid pro quo ("something for something") agreement in order to constitute the crime of bribery on a campaign contribution;
* Jury instructions from U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller did not include the "explicit promise" language required by McCormick;
* Fuller allowed the jury to "infer" that a crime took place, and the U.S. Eleventh Circuit upheld this outcome, which clearly is contrary to McCormick.
The bottom line? By refusing to hear the Siegelman appeal, the nation's highest court essentially is saying: (1) It's fine for a trial judge to give incorrect jury instructions; (2) It's fine for a jury to more or less guess at whether a crime occurred or not; (3) And McCormick no longer is good law.
For that matter, the notion that a crime must be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt" also appears to no longer be good law. The "inference of a crime" now is sufficient.
As for President Obama and what today's news means for him, we will address that in an upcoming post. But this much can be said with certainty: The Siegelman fiasco started off as a production of the George W. Bush Department of Justice, but it fully rests with the Obama administration now. His DOJ argued against certiorari review, and it got its wish--and that means the president supports everything that has transpired in a case that deserves its billing as the most blatant political prosecution in American history.
The Democratic Party, which has consistently took brave stands for civil rights over the past 45-plus years, now is led by a president who has shown utter disregard for the concepts of due process and equal protection under the law. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly means nothing to Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and their minions in the DOJ.
Obama articulated a stance of cowardice on justice issues before he even took office, and now we see the natural outcome of that philosophy--a grotesque injustice lies at the feet of a Democratic president.
I'm not sure what that says to you. But it tells me that Barack Obama is not fit to be president.