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Westlake Legal Group > Press Releases (Page 37)

Fifth Circuit drops bombshell on Planned Parenthood — and the national media

Westlake Legal Group cmp-trailer Fifth Circuit drops bombshell on Planned Parenthood — and the national media The Blog Texas Supreme Court planned parenthood medicaid fifth circuit defund David Daleiden Center for Medical Progress

Planned Parenthood took a body blow at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last night — and so did the national news media. Despite the universally adopted narrative that the videos produced by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress had been “debunked,” the appellate court unanimously ruled that the videos were not deceptively edited and presented compelling evidence of misconduct. They vacated the district court’s injunction that forced Texas to keep Planned Parenthood on its Medicaid rolls and ordered a new review on the merits.

Sparks was skeptical. Texas contended the videos showed Planned Parenthood discussing the illegal sale of fetal tissue of aborted babies, an interpretation Planned Parenthood has disputed. Sparks, in turn, said the state had not produced “even a scintilla of evidence” suggesting Planned Parenthood should be disqualified from Medicaid based on the videos.

But on Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said Sparks is the one who had it all wrong. The three-judge panel found he used the incorrect standard of review, vacating Sparks’s 2017 preliminary injunction that had blocked Texas from defunding Planned Parenthood, and remanding the case back to the district court for further review.

The ruling from the 5th Circuit effectively gives weight to the sting videos and the conclusions Texas reached based on them in a way the court hasn’t offered before. It comes just one month after the Supreme Court left in place a previous ruling by the 5th Circuit in favor of Planned Parenthood. In that case, the 5th Circuit rejected Louisiana’s effort to defund the health-care provider that had been based in part on the sting videos, mostly because the state hadn’t actually cited the videos in writing when announcing its decision to terminate the Planned Parenthood contract and lacked other adequate reasoning. (The Supreme Court also declined to hear a similar effort from Kansas.)

But Texas did cite the videos, in a state report — and that’s the big difference.

Indeed it is, and it opens up another opportunity to have the Supreme Court take up the case.

The opinion itself takes a sharply critical tone toward Judge Sam Sparks’ attitude toward the state’s HHS Office of Inspector General and scolded him for discarding their opinion in favor of Planned Parenthood’s witnesses. In her concurring opinion, Judge Edith Jones notes that the state has empowered the OIG to “investigate and penalize Medicaid program violations,” and is due deference from the courts — especially with the evidence they had at hand.

The court rebuked Sparks for assuming the videos were unauthenticated:

The district court stated, inaccurately, that the CMP video had not been authenticated and suggested that it may have been edited.6 The district court also noted that neither the Inspector General nor the Medical director had expert knowledge concerning abortion procedures. And the court discounted Ms. Farrell’s videotaped statements because she claimed on the witness stand that she really had no personal knowledge of the medical aspects of abortion procedures and had never even been in the room when an abortion was performed. …

In any event, there is no question that the OIG here made factual findings after viewing the videos and related evidence. On the basis of the administrative record—not the post hoc justifications offered by plaintiffs’ witnesses in the district court—the OIG determined that video discussions “centered on clinic processes and tissue packaging rather than the abortion procedure itself; the video featured repeated discussion about the position of the fetus in the uterus, the risk to the patient, and the patient’s pain tolerance.” The OIG further concluded, based on the videos, that the Provider Plaintiffs at a minimum violated federal standards regarding fetal tissue research and standards of medical ethics by allowing doctors to alter abortion procedures to retrieve tissue for research purposes or allowing the researchers themselves to perform the procedures. The plaintiffs’ briefing with regard to the substance of the discussions contained in the videos (as opposed to their trial witnesses’ post hoc justifications) is curiously silent.

In footnote 6, the court dispensed with the “debunked” narrative:

In fact, the record reflects that OIG had submitted a report from a forensic firm concluding that the video was authentic and not deceptively edited. And the plaintiffs did not identify any particular omission or addition in the video footage. Moreover, the district court also suggested that there was no evidence that any of PPGC’s research was federally funded, so the regulations relied on by OIG might be inapplicable. But the record actually establishes that the UTMB study was funded by the National Institute of Health.

In other words, the videos have been authenticated. Far from being “debunked,” they depict exactly what they appear to depict — abortion providers discussing how to illegally jigger abortion methods in order to maximize revenue on fetal tissue. The court ruled that the state’s inspector general made a reasonable decision to rely on this evidence in disqualifying Planned Parenthood locations from its Medicaid program, and even more ruled that Sparks acted unreasonably and arbitrarily in discounting the video evidence in favor of post hoc rationalizations from Planned Parenthood.

The ruling remands the case back to the district court for a new review. This time, Sparks is restricted to the question of whether the OIG acted arbitrarily and capriciously in striking Planned Parenthood from the state’s Medicaid program based solely on the administrative record. Since Planned Parenthood never responded to the administrative action but filed a lawsuit instead, the answer to that is likely to be a resounding no. Planned Parenthood will need to appeal this decision to prevent that standard from being applied, which runs the risk that the Supreme Court will finally step into the CMP videos case and affirm states’ rights to deny Medicaid funding on the basis of that evidence.

In other words … pass the popcorn. And alert the media.

The post Fifth Circuit drops bombshell on Planned Parenthood — and the national media appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group cmp-trailer-300x158 Fifth Circuit drops bombshell on Planned Parenthood — and the national media The Blog Texas Supreme Court planned parenthood medicaid fifth circuit defund David Daleiden Center for Medical Progress   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pelosi: We were going to fly commercial to Afghanistan — but Trump’s letter created a security risk

Westlake Legal Group p-6 Pelosi: We were going to fly commercial to Afghanistan — but Trump’s letter created a security risk Trump travel The Blog security risk pelosi flight danger codel Afghanistan

I can’t believe we had to wait almost 24 hours for her to reply to yesterday’s White House letter. We live in the Netflix era. We should be able to binge-watch every episode of this pitiful melodrama in a day.

“After President Trump revoked the use of military aircraft to travel to Afghanistan, the delegation was prepared to fly commercially to proceed with this vital trip to meet with our commanders and troops on the front lines,” [Pelosi spokesman Drew] Hammill said.

Overnight, he added, a new State Department threat assessment indicated “that the President announcing this sensitive travel had significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip. . . . This morning, we learned that the Administration had leaked the commercial travel plans as well.”

They leaked the commercial travel plans too? To whom? That’s a serious allegation, all but accusing the White House of having deliberately created a security risk to Pelosi to deter him from making it to the region on her own. Who did that? Name names.

Hammill’s not referring to this, is he?

There’s nothing in there to suggest that she still intended to travel, just Trump acknowledging that she planned to do so before he revoked her military aircraft.

The White House says Hammill’s full of it:

Not so, says Hammill:

Anyway, because we’re governed now by wailing babies, apparently no one gave the Pentagon advance notice that Pelosi’s trip was being canceled despite the logistics involved:

Pelosi’s chief of staff worked with a liaison from the U.S. Air Force who was the lead in setting up travel arrangements and the itinerary for the trip. Senior officials at the Pentagon also had been read in on the speaker’s plans, especially those regarding her visit to war-torn Afghanistan, where extra security was needed for her time in Kabul. Two senior officials on the ground in Afghanistan said they received the itinerary for the trip, as they do other congressional trips, weeks in advance and held it close to the chest. Fellow members of Congress made similar accommodations as they prepared to accompany the Speaker on the CODEL…

“We’re still gathering information just like you,” one Pentagon official told The Daily Beast [on Thursday afternoon]. “We are trying to figure out what is going on.” One other source inside the Pentagon said that the White House had not coordinated with senior officials in Kabul about the cancellation, either.

Pelosi threw a tantrum and told Trump not to show for the State of the Union so Trump threw a tantrum by canceling her Afghanistan trip, with the military left holding the bag. It can’t be overstated what pure trash our political class is. To grasp it, just ruminate on the fact that we’re on Day 28 of the shutdown, hardship stories are getting more dire and widespread, the disagreement is over nothing greater than a $5 billion outlay, and somehow … there are no meaningful negotiations at all happening to resolve the standoff. Five-hundred-plus people in the House and Senate and to a man or woman they’re either too partisan or too afraid of their respective bases to compromise to break the logjam. Rank human garbage.

The post Pelosi: We were going to fly commercial to Afghanistan — but Trump’s letter created a security risk appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group p-6-300x153 Pelosi: We were going to fly commercial to Afghanistan — but Trump’s letter created a security risk Trump travel The Blog security risk pelosi flight danger codel Afghanistan   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Mohammed Amin: The Government should talk to the Muslim Council of Britain – though talking doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing

Mohammed Amin MBE is Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum. He is writing in a personal capacity.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) was created after three years of community consultation in the 1990s, with the encouragement of John Major’s Government.

It was modelled on the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Accordingly, its members are other organisations (“affiliates”) and not individuals.

For most of the 1997-2010 Labour Government, relations between the MCB and the Government were reasonably good, albeit with some spectacular fallings out. Apart from the occasional contacts with Liberal Democrat ministers mentioned on the MCB’s website, the Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition and the subsequent Conservative Government have studiously ignored the MCB. In my view, this is a mistake.

About the MCB

The MCB claims about 500 affiliated organisations. Its transparency was never great (e.g: no accounts on its website) and at some stage the list of local, regional and national affiliates the MCB used to publish on its website has disappeared.

There is no other Muslim organisation remotely approaching it in coverage. During the periods of falling out, the Labour Government regularly tried to “big up” other Muslim organisations as replacements for dialogue, but the exercise was always risible.

As explained in my website’s 2011 article “The Muslim Council of Britain’s Need for Constitutional Reform”, effective control of the MCB has always been held by a small number of organisations who act together. That article did not discuss ideology, but the organisations I listed were broadly intellectual followers of either Abul A’la Maududi or Hassan al-Banna (respectively founders of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood.)

From the beginning, the MCB has been dominated by Muslims of South Asian and Arab ethnicity, with relatively little participation by other ethnic groups even though they represent a growing (though still minority) proportion of British Muslims.

The MCB’s achievements

Despite always being desperately under-resourced, the MCB can be proud of many things. I will list just a few.

In the early days of Islamic finance in the UK, technical specialists who were also closely involved with the MCB played a major part in helping the Government to understand Islamic finance and how to remove obstacles to it in the UK.

Perhaps its greatest single achievement was the inclusion of a question about religion in the 2001, and subsequently 2011, census. Accordingly, policymakers have a good handle on the number of Muslims in the UK. Equivalent data does not exist in countries such as the USA or France, where one must depend on surveys that often produce wildly different results, or use estimates from immigration and ethnicity.

More recently, the MCB’s Miqdaad Versi has done an outstanding job tackling patently inaccurate media reporting about Muslims, despite operating on a shoestring. Visit My Mosque Day has been running for several years and is the kind of initiative that would not happen without an umbrella body to coordinate it.

The MCB’s failings

As a close observer of the MCB, I believe its fundamental problem is that it spends its time following rather than leading British Muslims and impairs its effectiveness by trying to keep the entire spectrum of British Muslims happy.

For example, the MCB’s objectives, set out in Clause 2 of its Constitution and the way it describes itself on its “About” page, are domestically focused. That is what one would expect, and its leadership has in the past told me the MCB avoids foreign issues. However, that is selective.

Using Google to search the MCB website for the word “Israel” returned 274 results, many of them highly critical. Conversely, a search for “Taliban” had only 14 results. All were about refuting claims that British Muslims supported the Taliban or were neutral references in extracts of other material. I could not find a single unequivocal condemnation of the Taliban. Nor do I recall ever seeing one in any MCB material.

On many issues of great importance to British Muslims, the MCB has nothing to say. For example, searching found nothing about the problem of Muslim religious marriages and divorces. There are only four occurrences of “nikah” (a religious marriage contract), none of which mentions the growing problem of “nikah only” relationships with no civil marriage, or the problems Muslim women have getting religious divorces.

In my view, the MCB’s greatest failure has been its consistent determination to ignore or downplay the religious motivation of terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda and of individual terrorists such as the 7/7 London bombers. It has consistently railed against the Prevent policy, but offered nothing useful to help address the problem of radicalisation – because, in my opinion, it is in denial about its reality.

The benefits of talking to the MCB

At present, apart from any “back channel” contacts that may or may not exist, the Government can only challenge the MCB on its failings via “megaphone diplomacy.” It really would be much better to do so face-to-face.

At the same time, the MCB is a meaningful conduit for the Government to learn about the views of its many affiliates. Also, the MCB does have some useful things to say, albeit interspersed with other things that are less useful. Ministers should quite capable of distinguishing between them.

Ignoring it does not help Government to achieve its own objectives. For example, just because the MCB is currently hopeless on radicalisation does not mean it cannot be encouraged to help in tackling the problem of Muslim religious marriages and divorces.

Full disclosure

From June 2008 to June 2010, I was an elected member of the MCB’s Central Working Committee and chairman of the MCB’s Business and Economics Committee, placing me on the periphery of the dozen or so “wider leadership team” although not one of the key officers. Since then, our relationship has been friendly but relatively distant (I get invited to their annual Muslim Leadership Dinner in what I suspect is the last wave of invitations) and I donate £100 p.a. to the MCB Charitable Foundation.

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