Monday, February 13, 2012

The Bush Administration – Remember Them – May Have Lied to the Supreme Court on Immigration

And WSJ Editorial Decries That Rule of Law Thing with Foreclosures

Conservatives just do not like this “rule of law” requirement in governing.  It keeps getting in the way of implementing their policies, or in some cases, preventing people like banks (corporations are people my friend) from foreclosing on worthless deadbeat homeowners without going through the legal niceties, like actually proving to a court that the bank is the one who is owed the money.

Case in point is the Bush Justice Department and immigration policy.  The question before the Supreme Court was whether or not those accused of being in this country illegally should be sent home before their appeals process was completed.  The Bush Administration told the Supreme Court that it was ok to deport people who may have been deported illegally, because

when appellate courts ruled in favor of deported immigrants, the government’s policy was to facilitate their return to the U.S. and restore their status.

Chief Justice John Roberts cited the claim in his April 2009 opinion, finding that immigrants deported erroneously wouldn’t suffer “irreparable injury” because the government would help them return if they later won their appeals.

Now that doesn't sound totally unreasonable, except for one thing.  It was not true.

But immigration lawyers said they’d never heard of the policy, and in a response to Freedom of Information Act requests the Homeland Security and State departments said they had no information on such a policy. The Justice Department said it had four pages of emails among officials on the policy but refused to release them.

The Immigrant Rights Clinic at New York University School of Law sued to get access to the emails. Rakoff (pictured), in siding with the clinic, wrote in a 20-page opinion that there is “substantial evidence that the judicial process may have been impugned if the Supreme Court relied upon what may well have been inaccurate or distorted factual representation” by the solicitor general’s office. ”

The Bush Justice Department, everyone may remember, was largely staffed with a bunch of legal hacks who were more concerned with ideology than with the law.  Some of them came from Pat Robertson’s low rated law school, and the main qualifications for many were whether or not they were anti-abortion rights or supported prayer in public schools.  Legal credentials were nice, but not required.

America has largely forgotten the iniquities of the Bush Administration, and for good reason.  Almost no one is proud of those years.  And the prediction here is that more and more of this stuff will just keep coming out.

Also on the rule of law the editorial staff of the Wall Street Journal is deploring a settlement which required banks to pay $25 billion in compensation for pursuing foreclosures and not adhering to legal procedures and for fraudulently putting borrowers into mortgages they should not have had.  For everyone except Conservatives, the legal system is something to be revered, particular since due process protects all of us from improper behavior, like a bank foreclosing on a home even though it does not possess the mortgage note, or has forged signatures on the court documentation or dupes unsuspecting borrowers into taking out mortgages the banks know the borrower will not be able to afford.

But Conservatives see these restrains as just another government interference in free enterprise.

Obama Administration officials and various state Attorneys General looked gleeful yesterday announcing a $25 billion settlement with five big tobacco—er, banks—and why not? The bankers coughed up shareholder money to settle a pseudo-foreclosure scandal, while the White House moved closer to its political goal of guaranteeing every home mortgage.

and while the WSJ does admit there were errors,

The banks did have sloppy paperwork practices

it wasn’t their fault

but they were also dealing with a historic wave of foreclosures created in large part by government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s fault (ignoring that these were private, shareholder owned companies and the overwhelming evidence that Fannie and Freddie were not responsible, the lending banks were).

Let’s state one fact everyone can agree on.  Bankers are greedy.  So banks do not agree to pony up $25 billion unless they know that the liability is there.  The last thing the big banks want is for the courts to investigate their lending practices, so for them the $25 billion is a bargain, else they would not do it.

As for the Journal, well, the idea of restitution for fraudulent lending practices is just not an idea they are willing to embrace, because there’s that rule of law thing getting in the way of making a dishonest dollar.

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