Pray for DeRay…

IF YOU HAD ANY DOUBT ABOUT THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF TRUMP APPOINTED JUDGES ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, have a look at the current case being brought against activist, educator and author DeRay McKesson.  The 5th Circuit has reversed a prior ruling and describes the case as follows:

During a public protest against police misconduct in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, an unidentified individual hit Officer John Doe with a heavy object, causing him serious physical injuries. Following this incident, Officer Doe brought suit against “Black Lives Matter,” the group associated with the protest, and DeRay Mckesson, one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter and the organizer of the protest. Officer Doe later sought to amend his complaint to add Black Lives Matter Network, Inc. and #BlackLivesMatter as defendants. The district court dismissed Officer Doe’s claims on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and denied his motion to amend his complaint as futile. Because we conclude that the district court erred in dismissing the case against Mckesson on the basis of the pleadings, we REMAND for further proceedings relative to Mckesson. We further hold that the district court properly dismissed the claims against Black Lives Matter.1 We thus REVERSE in part, AFFIRM in part, and REMAND for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

Basically, the court is trying to hold McKesson personally liable for the harm done to the officer because of his prominence and affiliation with and leadership in Black Lives Matter.

Never mind that the officer is unnamed in all of this…

Never mind that I cannot find any evidence of a tobacco executive going to jail for the generational damage to human health they promoted…

Never mind that McKesson did not lead this protest, but attended it at the request of local organizers…

What you should take note of is that the three judges in the 5th Circuit hearing the case are deeply conservative.  Their names:

1.) Don Willett (Federalist Society…Trump appointee) – You can read about objection to Willett’s nomination to the bench: https://civilrights.org/resource/oppose-confirmation-don-willett-u-s-court-appeals-fifth-circuit/

2.) Jennifer Walker Elrod (Federalist Society…Bush appointee) – Read about criticism of her appointment and lack of qualifications: https://www.cardin.senate.gov/news/press-releases/nomination-of-jennifer-walker-elrod-to-be-united-states-circuit-judge-for-the-fifth-circuit

3.) Grady Jolly ret. Jolly has retired and Halil Suleyman Ozerden has been nominated by Trump to fill this seat. Ozerden became a member of the Federalist Society this year.  Ironically, Ozerden is apparently not Conservative enough for some Sentors: https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2019/09/12/why-ted-cruz-opposes-5th-circuit-nominee-halil-suleyman-ozerden/?slreturn=20191114085816

There is nothing wrong with conservative judges.  There is also nothing wrong or out of the ordinary with a President appointing judges aligned with their party and politics.  The problem is that Trump’s current Republican party and politics is driving an agenda that opportunistically cultivates mistrust, fear and ideologically based dis-information. Judges with the kinds of records and clear political agendas apparent in these judge’s careers are in my opinion more likely than not to be biased in this specific case; every judge has some bias and ethical leaning.  But the danger lies in that with our current environment, the toxicity of natural bias is multiplied tenfold.  The real damage being wrought by Trump and Mitch McConnell is their ability to amplify partisanship and ideology through our existing systems that have long been bastions of public trust…like the judiciary.  The “Information Age” is being weaponized by the politics of disinformation and it is being used here as state sponsored intimidation.  McKesson himself says,

“The goal of lawsuits like these is to prevent people from showing up at a protest out of the fear that they might be held responsible if anything happens [.…] If this precedent lasts, it could make organizers all across the country responsible for all types of things they have no control over, such as random people coming into a protest and causing problems. We can’t let that happen.” – DeRay McKesson – ACLU 12/6/19

We are all aware of the epidemic disinformation currently being propagated by the Republican Party at the behest of President Trump.  That’s the big stuff.  What we need to be aware of is this smaller (though equally important) stuff closer to home that works on a local and state level.  Dealing with a political party that is obsessed with framing itself in terms of “states’ rights” requires diligence.  “States’ rights” have a long history of legitimizing violence against people of color (lynching is a prime example.)  All of us need to be aware of the judicial appointments being made in our areas.  Our rights to protest, to resist, to push back against authoritarianism and to fight for something better than a reality TV government are at risk.  Our rights mean nothing before a judge who has been given the authority to pre-judge based on a narrow ideology and enabled by a government that is force feeding the public lies.

Get to know your district justice system (List of US District Courts of Appeals) and recognize that the poison being spread by Trump will last well after he is dead. For all of our good, pray for DeRay.

-ALD

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