Federal Judge Calls One-Sided Media ‘Dangerous’

Senior Judge Laurence Silverman  of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Friday launched a full-frontal attack on the state of the American media today, calling it “dangerous.”

Judge Silverman bemoaned the “economic” and “ideological” consolidation of traditional and social media into a megaphone for the Democratic Party. 

Judge Silverman warned the power of the press is “dangerous” today because America is “very close” to one-party control of the media.

He observed the first step taken by a potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to control communications, particularly delivery of news. “It is fair to conclude, therefore, that one-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy,” he said.

His comments were made in a dissent in a defamation case, wherein he expressed doubt the U.S. Supreme Court today would approve the landmark 1964 decision that protects the press from lawsuits by public figures. He said the case, New York Times v. Sullivan, effectively “allows the press to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.”

Democratic Party Broadsheets

Judge Silverman, who was nominated to the bench by late GOP President Ronald Reagan, referred to the notorious McCarthy era, when Congress engaged in a vicious hunt for Communists in government and Hollywood. “As one who lived through the McCarthy era, it is hard to fathom how honorable men and women can support such actions,” he said.

He called the repression of conservative political speech today by large institutions with market power is “fundamentally un-American.”

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Flynn Pardon Ends Costly Judicial Vendetta

The Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges requires judges to perform the duties of office “fairly, impartially and diligently.”

Americans have watched an unseemly spectacle unfold for many months involving a federal judge who has used scarce public resources to engage in what appears to be nothing more than a political vendetta.

That vendetta ended Thursday when President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security advisor, retired three-star Army general Michael T. Flynn, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI but then recanted.

Evidence emerged that high-ranking FBI officials, holdovers from the Obama administration, had orchestrated an ambush of Flynn to trap him into making statements that they could allege to be false.

After Attorney General William Barr ordered a review of Flynn’s case by a federal prosecutor, the Department of Justice in May sought to drop the charges against Flynn. The government said the evidence of FBI misconduct meant Flynn’s statements were not material to a legitimate investigation, which was an essential element of a false-statements offense.

That should have been the end of it. The prosecutor is uniquely capable of determining whether it can prosecute a criminal defendant. But it wasn’t .  

Disgust

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the District of Columbia refused to dismiss Flynn’s case.

In an unorthodox move, Sullivan appointed a retired federal judge to argue contrary to the DOJ’s position that Flynn should proceed with sentencing on his guilty plea. (Nevermind that the retired judge earlier penned an op-ed piece In the Washington Post stating the dismissal of Flynn’s case “reeks of improper political influence.”)

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NLRB Poster Rule Down for the Count

 Employers  may have won the battle to keep American workers ignorant of rights they have held for 70 years ago under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in South Carolina recently ruled  the National Labor Relations Board lacks the authority to require employers to post notices either electronically or  physically “in a conspicuous place” informing workers of their rights under the NLRA.   

This holding follows an earlier ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that the poster rule violated employers free speech rights.

The NLRB contends that American workers are largely ignorant of their rights under the NLRA, adding that the poster rule is particularly important for non-union workers who lack a designated bargaining representative. The NLRA can come into play for non-union employees when, for example, an employer fires a non-union worker for discussing a safety concern or other concerns about working conditions. 

 The poster informed employees that they have a  right to form and join unions, collectively bargain with representation, discuss the terms of their employment and take action to improve working conditions.  

 The poster rule elicited immediate opposition from a broad coalition of national  business groups after it was approved by the NLRB in  2011.

 Interestingly, 21 Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives joined with the chamber to oppose the poster rule, including John Kline (R-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce

 The  South Carolina appeals court ruled the NLRB is not charged with informing employees of their rights under the NLRA and “ we find no indication in the plain language of the Act that Congress intended to grant the Board the authority to promulgate such a requirement.”

 Earlier, the  U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit  held  the notice-posting rule violated Section 8(c) of the NLRA, which prohibits the board from finding employer speech that is not coercive to be an unfair labor practice.   

In addition to Kline, the following members of the U.S. Congress House of Representatives signed on to an amicus brief opposing the NLRB  rule requiring that employers post a notice  advising workers of their rights: 

  • JOE WILSON, R-SC.;
  •  RODNEY ALEXANDER, R- LA;
  • STEVE PEARCE, R-NM;
  •  GREGG HARPER, R-MS;
  •  PHIL ROE, R-TN;
  • GLENN THOMPSON, R-PA;
  • TIM WALBERG, R-MI;
  • LOU BARLETTA, R-PA;
  •  LARRY BUCSHON, R-IN;
  • SCOTT DESJARLAIS, R-TN;
  • TREY GOWDY, R-SC;
  • JOE HECK, R-NV;
  •  BILL HUIZENGA, R-MI;
  •  MIKE KELLY, R-PA;
  • JAMES LANKFORD, R-OK;
  • ; KRISTI NOEM, R-SD;
  • ; ALAN NUNNELEE, R-Miss;
  • ; REID RIBBLE, R-WS; 
  • TODD ROKITA, R-IN;
  • and DANIEL WEBSTER, R-FL.