The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

By David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court turned down a states’ rights appeal from California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday, leaving in place a judge’s order that requires state officials to monitor each of about 2,000 disabled prisoners who are held in county jails.

Without comment, the justices refused to hear Brown’s complaint that the order “violates fundamental federalism principles” by holding the state liable for lapses by local officials.

The court’s dismissal is the latest setback for California’s top officials in a long-running battle with federal judges over the management of the state’s prisons.

Three years ago, the high court upheld judges who said the state’s prisons were so badly overcrowded that they could not provide decent health care for inmates who had medical or mental problems. The only remedy, the court agreed, was to reduce the number of state prisoners.

In response, Brown helped engineer a “realignment” that shifted thousands of low-level offenders and parole violators to county jails. In 2012, the legislature decreed that these inmates were the “sole legal custody” of county officials.

But last year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state retained the legal duty to make sure that prisoners who have a disability are given the “reasonable accommodations” required under the Americans With Disabilities Act, even if they are held in a county jail.

“These accommodations include the basic necessities of life for disabled prisoners and parolees, such as wheelchairs, sign-language interpreters, accessible beds and toilets and tapping canes for the blind,” said Judge Stephen Reinhardt for the 9th Circuit. “The state is not absolved of all of its responsibility for ADA obligations as to the parolees” just because they are now held in county jails, he wrote.

The appeals court upheld a 43-page order by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, which said state officials must check with each parole violator who is sent to a county jail and has a disability. She said the state must see to it that the inmate receives the accommodations required under the law.

Brown and California Attorney General Kamala Harris appealed to the Supreme Court in March and asked for a review of the 9th Circuit’s decision. It “sets a dangerous and sweeping precedent that effectively nullifies the states’ 10th Amendment right to delegate powers to local governments,” they said. If left standing, it would leave the state “liable for alleged ADA violations in the county jails,” they argued.

Late last year, the state said about 26,000 parolees were being held in 200 jails throughout the state, and 1,889 of them had a disability. This number is constantly changing, they said.

In reply to the appeal, lawyers for the prisoners who sued the state said Brown and Harris had exaggerated the impact of the judge’s order. “At its core, the injunction merely requires the state to provide disability notifications, collect disability data and issue reports to the counties,” they told the court.

After considering the appeal last week, the court said it had denied review in the case of Brown v. Armstrong.

Photo: Wallyg via Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Mark Levin

Politico reported Friday that John Eastman, the disgraced ex-law professor who formulated many of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, was also apparently in communication with Fox News host Mark Levin. The story gets even more interesting from there, revealing the shell game that right-wing media personalities engage in while doubling as political operatives.

A legal filing by Eastman’s attorneys reveals that, among the messages Eastman is still attempting to conceal from the House January 6 committee are 12 pieces of correspondence with an individual matching Levin’s description as “a radio talk show host, is also an attorney, former long-time President (and current board chairman) of a public interest law firm, and also a former fellow at The Claremont Institute.” Other details, including a sloppy attempt to redact an email address, also connect to Levin, who did not respond to Politico’s requests for comment.

Keep reading... Show less

Sen. Wendy Rogers

Youtube Screenshot

There have been powerful indicators of the full-bore radicalization of the Republican Party in the past year: the 100-plus extremist candidates it fielded this year, the apparent takeover of the party apparatus in Oregon, the appearance of Republican officials at white nationalist gatherings. All of those are mostly rough gauges or anecdotal evidence, however; it’s been difficult to get a clear picture of just how deeply the extremism has penetrated the party.

Using social media as a kind of proxy for their real-world outreach—a reasonable approach, since there are few politicians now who don’t use social media—the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights decided to get a clearer picture of the reach of extremist influences in official halls of power by examining how many elected officials participate in extremist Facebook groups. What it found was deeply troubling: 875 legislators in all 50 states, constituting nearly 22% of all elected GOP lawmakers, identified as participating members of extremist Facebook groups.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}