Planned Parenthood

Makers of Controversial Planned Parenthood Video Face Possible 20 Years on Felony Charges, Seemingly for Fake I.D.s [UPDATED Regarding Charge and Potential Sentence]

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Makers of the controversial video made to shame Planned Parenthood by pretending to be researchers trying to purchase fetal tissue from the organization, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt (working under the aegis of the "Center for Medical Progress"), were indicted today in Harris County, Texas, by a grand jury on felony charges of "tampering with a governmental record." 

The grand jury was, ironically, convened to investigate whether the videos reveals that Planned Parenthood had broken any laws.

Since the story broke this afternoon I saw coverage cheering the indictment largely because they were sympathetic to Planned Parenthood and thought the video makers had done a bad thing, or booing it because they were unsympathetic to Planned Parenthood and thought the video makers had done a good thing.

But for hours no explanation of what specific act they had actually committed qualified under the quoted indictment language of "tampering with a governmental record" seemed forthcoming, or at least none that I had seen.

Now The New York Times has updated with a possible explanation:

In making the videos, Mr. Daleiden and others have been accused of setting up a fake company called Biomax Procurement Services, creating fake identities and claiming to be part of a legitimate provider of fetal tissue to researchers.

"We know that they used fake IDs that had their real photographs but fake names and fake addresses purported to be issued by the State of California," said Josh Schaffer, a Houston lawyer who represents Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in the Harris County criminal investigation. Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt presented those IDs to security at the Planned Planned office to gain entry to the building. "They never denied that they presented a fake ID," Mr. Schaffer said…..

"It does not surprise me that a grand jury that chose to correctly apply the law to the evidence that was presented would return this result," he said. "The written charges have not been released publicly yet, so at this point I am working on my knowledge of the investigation."

What seems to be the relevant Texas criminal code, only one I found with that language:

Sec. 37.10. TAMPERING WITH GOVERNMENTAL RECORD. (a) A person commits an offense if he:

(1) knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of, a governmental record;

(2) makes, presents, or uses any record, document, or thing with knowledge of its falsity and with 

intent  that it be taken as a genuine governmental record;

(3) intentionally destroys, conceals, removes, or otherwise impairs the verity, legibility, or availability 

of a governmental record;

(4) possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form 

with intent that it be used unlawfully;

(5) makes, presents, or uses a governmental record with knowledge of its falsity; or

(6) possesses, sells, or offers to sell a governmental record or a blank governmental record form with 

knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully…..

(c)(1) Except as provided by Subdivisions (2), (3), and (4) and by Subsection (d), an offense under 

this section is a Class A misdemeanor unless the actor's intent is to defraud or harm another, in 

which event the offense is a state jail felony.

The reporting all states that their charge is a felony one. According to this site, a "state jail felony" is:

punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

See Update below

[UPDATE: Via a portion of the indictment now public via Volokh Conspiracy, my guess as to the charged crime was correct; specifically the language in the indictment is 37.10 (a) (5). That said, others are reporting potential sentences that far exceed what the language in the linked version of Texas statute seems to state, which again from my read seems to be a "state jail felony" with a max 2 years, not the 20 that some are reporting for reasons unclear to me. The Harris County D.A.'s office has not returned a call seeking clarification on potential sentencing.

UPDATE II: While the D.A. has still not returned my call, a more careful read on my part reveals I was wrong and others were right: there is indeed later in the statute, the "except as provided by Subdivisions (2)" part I quoted above but did not follow carefully enough (don't hire me as your defense attorney, people), the explanation as to why their use of a faked California I.D. is in fact not just a "state jail felony" but in fact a "second degree felony" for which two years is the minimum and 20 the maximum. The relevant subsection:

(2) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that 

the governmental record was: (A) a public school record, report, or assessment instrument required 

under Chapter 39, Education Code, data reported for a school district or open-enrollment charter 

school to the Texas Education Agency through the Public Education Information Management 

System (PEIMS) described by Section 42.006, Education Code, under a law or rule requiring that 

reporting, or a license, certificate, permit, seal, title, letter of patent, or similar document issued 

by government, by another state, or by the United States, unless the actor's intent is to defraud 

or harm another, in which event the offense is a felony of the second degree;

The original headline has also been amended to reflect the proper sentence.

Back to original post:

Daleiden also was hit with a misdemeanor charge related to attempting to buy human tissue.

It's possible people might rise above their culture-war sympathies about this and wonder whether having and using a fake I.D. in and of itself should be punished as a felony. Or, maybe not and those who want to see those guys punished will grab whatever stick they can toward that goal. (Or maybe people genuinely believe the making of a fake I.D. deserves six months to 2 years  20 years locked in a cage.)

Past Reason coverage involving those videos.

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  1. It’s possible people might rise above their culture-war sympathies

    Not happening.

    1. Definitely not.

    2. Liberal blogs have already popped the champagne.

    3. Well, we could at least try to answer the question posed by Brian:

      “t’s possible people might rise above their culture-war sympathies about this and wonder whether having and using a fake I.D. in and of itself should be punished as a felony.”

      I think if you are just going around and showing people a fake ID, no harm is being done. However, if you use the fake ID to make an offer, you are committing fraud. Or, from a TTToC perspective, it’s attempted theft. Since David and Sandra made an offer, they committed fraud.

      1. So, any and all undercover investigations by anyone other thasn the government should see the investigators prosecute for fraud? Okay, sure, I mean it happens all the time. I’m sure there’s nothing political about this at all.

        1. What are you talking about, WTF? We all know the screw never turns. Right wingers will never be able to use this as a precedent to wage their little Kulturkampf on lefty investigators.

          Fuck, I’m realy starting to think this whole country deserves Donald Trump.

          1. He will troll the SLWs without mercy.. along with the rest of America the world..

        2. Of course there’s something “political” about this. The indictment process was started with the intention to prosecute Planned Parenthood. It was entirely political. The schadenfreude is that when they actually looked at the evidence they found no wrong-doing on PP’s part and actual crimes on the part of the “investigators”.

          If it wasn’t for Texas trying to find *something* to nail PP with, it never would have ended up indicting the video-makers instead.

          So yes. It’s political. It’s also a case of friendly fire.

      2. Since when does anyone care about fake California IDs? Just ask the many undocumented.

      3. No money exchanged hands or was attempted to change hands. They have proof that they were not attempting to steal money from PP. I definitely think saying you can’t gather information by pretending to be someone else is a step to far.

  2. Lesson: Don’t fuck with the Jesus… or anti-Jesus depending on your POV.

    1. alt-reason: don’t fuck with government approved organizations.

  3. This one looks pretty egregious. They cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in the arena of selling fetal tissues, but at the same time indicted the activist/journalists for offering to purchase fetal tissue as a part of their investigation. There’s no chance that this isn’t a politically motivated prosecution at that point.

    If you don’t indict the drug dealer for actually selling pot because he’s complying with state law on marijuana sales, you certainly shouldn’t be indicting the journalist who demonstrates that you can go down to the dispensary and get prices for the latest hybrid strain. The same applies to these whackos.

    It will be interesting to see where the left is on this one. This is one of their favorite tactics. The PETA types love to break in to research labs and take video of research animals, or get behind the scenes at slaughterhouses to show just how much blood there is when you kill a thousand cows. They have been outraged at attempts to silence this activism. I wonder if they’ll stand on principle and defend the anti-abortion activists. Or will they go with team proggie?

    I know which side I’d lay my money down on.

    1. It’s a no-brainer who’s side the proggies are on. Anyone who dare question (fill-in the blank) abortion, climate change, campus speech restrictions deserves to be flogged, or hanged, drawn, and quartered for these two.

    2. If you have the correct politics, everything can and will be excused, and the media will cheer it.

      If you have the incorrect politics, the force of the state will be used to crush you, and the media will cheer it.

      Progressives are fascists in the clearest sense of the term. They welcome government authoritarianism as a means to punish, shame, or otherwise discredit any and all political opposition. This is the world we live in now.

    3. They cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in the arena of selling fetal tissues, but at the same time indicted the activist/journalists for offering to purchase fetal tissue as a part of their investigation.

      It’s quite possible. If the activists offered to purchase and PP refused to sell, only the activists would have committed an offense. The charge is offering to purchase.

      1. But they very clearly had no real intent to actually purchase anything. They were simply acting as investigative journalists.

        Planned Parenthood refused to sell, and they weren’t serious buyers. Where’s the crime?

        This is political bullshit.

        1. The media in Texas, and their buddies in whatever prosecutor’s office this is being pursued by, are angry because someone went after their “holiest of holies” as an investigative journalist. Thus practicing unlicensed journalism, and threatening the funding of a sacred cow.

          1. Harris County is Houston. Home of an uber lefty prog mayor who is willing to subpoena church records in support of transgender bathroom access.

            I enjoy living outside the county and outside the reach of their nonsense.

  4. This really illustrates the dangers of so many laws.

    Political based prosecutors can indict someone for anything, really, and no indict others for the same thing, all based on politics.

    1. Makes you think perhaps you should aggressively bring you own politics into a jury room doesn’t it?

    2. Well, political based prosecution can work two ways.

      Of course, no one will learn from it that maybe it’s not a tactic that you want to employ, that it’s a line best left uncrossed. Nope. They’ll learn “Look what those bastards did to us! We’re gonna’ get them!”

      Until someone goes so thoroughly thermonuclear with the target, in so high profile a case, that it shocks people back into common sense.

      1. That is a real danger. On the other hand it is one of the few places libertarians can actively make a difference. An awful lot of stuff the state does can be negated in a jury booth.

  5. I can appreciate that if the people entered a building using fake ID’s (a building which might have had any number of other operations relying on the building security, and whose insurance relied on the efficacy of that security) that they’d potentially be subject to charges.

    the question i’d have is how seriously those things are pursued. clearly their intent was simply to document what was going on at these PP locations. and it turns out that one could argue there was some legitimate journalistic function going on. government money subsidizes these orgs, and people who oppose this sort of stuff may have an interest in knowing what they do.

    there’s also the other charge – they’re charged with buying fetal tissue

    (and apparently only the licensed institutions like they were pretending to be are authorized to engage in that kind of trade)

    which suggests to me that the prosecution is entirely political (as Cyto noted above). What bothers me there is that its fairly obvious they never had any intent to actually engage in any transactions, but simply document that such things take place… and that documentation would never have been possible otherwise.

    I think a good lawyer might actually want to take this case.

    1. One of the great things about being libertarian is that smug satisfaction you get from always being holier than thou. I think the anti-abortion people have lost their nut on this one, but I still get to take up their cause in the name of free speech, limited government and, well, just general all-around justice. That’s fun. I get to look down on the conservatives and the liberals at the same time. Bonus!

      I think the controlling law on this whole idea of “breaking the law in the interest of gathering facts for journalistic purposes” actually references “credentialed journalist”. So this might be an opportunity to break new ground. You’d think the various letter-salad organizations (ACLU, IJ, EFF, etc.) would like a crack at getting journalism protections extended to new media.

      1. Legacy media still-still!-wants the Internet to die.

  6. Obviously they need to keep these things on a unsecured server, then delete any problematic data, then vacillate on the rest and claim they never knowingly used an ID marked ‘FAKE’ in a very loud font.

    Works for Hillary, we’re all equal, blah-blah and so on.

  7. Tell me again how Texas is the land of Liberty.

    1. Houston and Austin don’t count. Dallas is getting there too.

      1. Prosecutors gonna prosecute.

      2. If you think Texas is a bastion of freedom outside of the big cities, I’ve got some oceanfront you might be interested in. Call me, baby.

        1. Between stuff like this and asset forfeiture and other assorted police abuse I kind of think Texas would be a shit hole place to live. Think something slightly better than New Jersey but slightly worse than Yemen.

  8. “Mr. Daleiden and others have been accused of setting up a fake company called Biomax Procurement Services”

    As opposed to a real company? Like Solyndra?

    1. Solyndra was legit! They had ideas and stuff!

  9. Reporters have been using hidden cameras and phony credentials for as long as cameras have existed.

    But when it’s done to embarrass a member of the progressive Holy Trinity, suddenly investigative journalism is a felony.

    1. but they didn’t have a journalism license from the State of Texas

  10. “…and those who want to see those guys punished will grab whatever stick they can”

    Yeah, pretty much. You mean I supposed to have sympathy for the Taliban? Gee, I don’t. Sorry.

    1. So to lefty shitbags, due process is irrelevant?
      Why am I not surprised at your thuggish attitude? ‘Cause you’re a fucking lefty piece of shit?
      Yeah, maybe that’s it.

      1. Who’s saying they shouldn’t be given their day in court? besides these guys want to be martyrs for Jihad so now they will be. I hope they get false raped in prison like that women did at the UVA fraternity. I’ve heard men get raped by other men in prison and that women get sexually assaulted by frat jocks, but I’ve never believed it. You?

        1. Man, you really are a sad piece of shit. I’ll say a prayer for you.

          1. I think he is actually, no kidding around, retarded. I mean, he actually believes that the UVA rape happened, in spite of all the evidence showing it was a hoax.

            1. I think he is actually, no kidding around, retarded.

              Not really. Just sharpening up his line to use on people who actually are.

            2. Troll. Not retarded.

        2. With each passing word, you reveal your colors.

          ‘Libertarian’ socialist my ass.

          You got one part right.

    2. The Taliban summarily execute people for violating their tenets of faith.

      These guys made a video for the court of public opinion, and possibly the legal system.

      You want them raped.

      So who’s closer to the Taliban??

    3. Look, man, if you can prove to me that the Republicans will NEVER win a position in power ever again, then maybe you should bash away with whatever you want.

      But otherwise, it worries me the amount of new sticks you’re leaving for Republicans. “Oh hey, looks like the Dems left us the ability to shut down investigative reporters!!”

      Or do you think the Republicans are bastions of virtue who would never take advantage of such precedents??

      1. Especially since a lot of the leftists are terrified of Trump. It does make much more sense to be terrified of him if this sort of political prosecution becomes valid. It’s the same reason not taking Hillary to trial over her e-mails and not eliminating the travel budget for the IRS is bad precedent. It allows a presumptive GOP strongman (Trump) much more leeway in actually oppressing and silencing his opposition.

  11. OT question: What’s a good response to the claim that “Walmart would only have to raise prices by 1.1% to pay a higher minimum wage”? I’ve pointed the out the job losses of minimum wages to no avail. Maybe I’m just tired, but while I know the argument is b.s. (as does everyone else here), I need a concise way of saying so. Thanks in advance.

    1. Would they have to raise prices at all? They made like $7 billion in profit last year.

      You could argue that is screwing the shareholders out of money, but they wouldn’t have to raise prices…

    2. If Walmart could increase their revenue by simply raising prices by 1.1%, then they would, regardless of what they’d do with the extra money. They’re greedy corporate pigs, right? Why wouldn’t they want to increase revenue?

      1. How the hell people who insist corporations are run by greedy evil bastards don’t see this is beyond me. If McDonald’s could raise the price of a Big Mac by 25 cents and pay all their employees better, why hasn’t McDonald’s already raised the price of a Big Mac by 25 cents and stuck all those extra quarters in their swimming pool full of money?

        Walmart raising prices is especially a bad argument when you consider how many minimum-wage earners shop at Walmart. You’re seriously arguing that wanting to raise prices for poor people is evidence of what a wonderful caring person you are? And don’t even get me started on the people who (seriously) argue that Walmart should raise wages just because it makes good business sense in that better-paid employees are better employees and blah blah blah. Is that why you pay your employees more at your multi-billion dollar retail business? Oh what – you say you don’t have a multi-billion dollar retail business? But you know better than the people who run Walmart how to run Walmart. Suuuuuure you do.

      2. Thanks, I see wood chippers. That is the sort of concise answer I need.

    3. What’s a good response to the claim that “Walmart would only have to raise prices by 1.1% to pay a higher minimum wage”?

      “What does Walmart actually pay people?” It’s not minimum wage.

    4. You had something like 1.2 million associates they just gave raises to. If you raised them all say another 2 dollars an hour …

      Let’s say they average 30 hours a week. That is roughly 1500 hours a year or $3000 per associate times 1.2 million. It would cost them about 3.6 billion dollars. Assuming all that is accurate they did about 500 billion in revenue and made about 16 billion.

      I’m guessing the figure is probably roughly accurate.

      Really though what they are saying is they want to make walmart customers poorer to make their employees richer. This is a zero sum game. If walmart wants to pay people more great but the money is yanked out of everyone else’s pocket not out of a fairy’s butt.

      1. The problem is that if you raise prices in order to raise wages, sales will drop. The problem that creates for Walmart employees is that their hours are based largely on the sales the individual store makes. If the store raises prices 1.1%, and sales drop at least that much (which wouldn’t shock me at all, since there is fierce competition between retailers), the hours available to schedule employees is going to drop at least that 1.1%, since the stockholders will demand a decent floor for the stock (which, since the announced raises Walmart has given out last year, and will give out this year, has dropped significantly, even before the recent weakness of the market).

        1. Sure that may be a problem. I can’t say I know. I am just saying on the surface the math isn’t crazy. I am happy to let wal-mart figure that out. I am not going to get upset about the possibility of a private business voluntarily increasing wages even if it is from activist pressure. Yeah I may detest this particular group of activists but this kind of activism is better than the “let’s make a law” variety.

      2. Don’t forget: if you raise minimum wage by $2.00, its not only the minimum wage workers who get raises. There are knock-on raises of the people above them in the pay scale, too.

        And, you have to add on @ 8% for the employer share of payroll taxes.

        1. Sure but even accounting for that I don’t think the numbers are likely to be wrong. What I stated above was less than one percent so there is plenty of room for error. I really despise SJW’s but I don’t think this particular talking point is wrong as a factual matter. Now when it comes to their arguments on fast food they go completely off the rails because labor costs are somewhere around 30% or so in that industry so a big raise has a big effect on prices. The difference for walmart is they seem to generate a lot of revenue per employee. Fast food is more labor intensive.

  12. Spare me the crocodile tears.

    So these anti-abortion zealots tried to use the coercive power of government to get PP shut down, and got caught up in their own little ratfucking operating. Boo freaking hoo.

    1. No, you piece of shit.

      They attempted to bring public attention to an issue they felt strongly about, and one in which they thought was not getting a fair hearing in the press. So in the time-honored spirit of investigative journalism, they conducted an investigation and presented their report. Just as newspapers and magazines and shows have done for the last fifty years. Their thesis being that if people saw how Planned Parenthood operated, they would not want their tax dollars to fund it any longer.

      Regardless of how anyone feels about abortion, it’s clearly in the public interest for people to have a better understanding of how their tax money is being spent. Planned Parenthood made their own rebuttals, and everyone got to choose whom they believed. That’s how a free press works, you fucking obtuse asshole.

      But of course, that’s not good enough for the progressive fascists. They were embarrassed and deeply offended that someone dared to question one of their pieties, so they now must be crushed by the state. And since progressives are above such criticism and they own the bureaucracy, now the investigators — who’ve done nothing that 20/20 or 60 Minutes hasn’t done countless times before — are facing felony charges.

      Only one group is trying to use the coercive power of government for their own ends, and it’s not the ‘anti-abortion zealots’.

      Go fuck yourself.

      1. Yeah, I don’t think anybody that stands up for Snowden should condemn these people for trying to tell us the truth.

        Certainly, taxpayers have a right to know who and what their hard earned money is paying for–and our politicians weren’t about to tell us.

        And there were big problems.

        http://www.wsj.com/articles/fl…..1438817376

        I think anyone who wants to send their money to Planned Parenthood should be free to do so. I don’t think fundamentalist taxpayers should be forced to finance Planned Parenthood any more than I think gay bakers should be forced to supply cakes for neo-Nazi weddings.

        1. Yawn. Antinatalist taxpayers pay for maternity care for Medicaid recipients.

          And pacifist taxpayers pay for dronemurder.

          1. And, those are wrong as well. Still doesn’t mean it’s okay to force funding of Planned Parenthood.

            1. None of them are okay. But abortion isn’t materially different from anything else in this respect.

              1. Except that someone dies of course.

                1. No one dies from dronemurder?

                  1. “Dronemurder” is at least arguably national defense, which is a legit function of government.

              2. THAT WAS HIS POINT.

                If you support disclosure of drone killing, then you have to support disclosure of PP operations.

              3. You’re equating the funding of abortion to drones and other things the government spends tax money on. That’s not the issue here.

                The issue is whether or not these people had the right to make an investigative documentary about something THEY care about, even if it’s a politically sensitive subject.

                If YOU care about tax dollars being spent on drones then go ahead and make your own investigative documentary. If you get behind the scenes at Lockheed and record a bunch of executives or plant workers talking insensitively or gleefully about how their products are going to blow up a bunch of sand niggers or something comparably offensive, then I’ll be the first person to say you had every right to get that footage, and the public had the right to see it.

                But the argument here isn’t “the government funds lots of things people disagree with, oh well”, the argument is whether individual citizens have the right to investigate what they find important.

          2. “Taxpayers pay for maternity care for Medicaid recipients.”

            Does maternity care fundamentally violate someone’s religious convictions? Abortion does.

            How can using the government to compel people to violate their religious conviction be the same thing as using the government to compel people to do something that doesn’t violate anyone’s religious convictions?

            Isn’t prohibiting the government from compelling people to violate their religious convictions what First Amendment religious rights are all about?

            1. Maternity care fundamentally violates antinatalist convictions, yes. Duh.

              1. WHY U HATE BABBY NIKKLOE

              2. I am not aware of anyone who claims to hold such views as a religious conviction, but anyone who can legitimately assert withholding maternity care from pregnant women as a religious conviction shouldn’t be compelled to pay for it.

                Puritans shouldn’t be compelled to finance the papist vestiges of the Anglican church. Creationists shouldn’t be compelled to finance the teaching of evolution to children, and anti-abortion people shouldn’t be forced to finance abortion.

                And the fact that there are other examples of government violating people’s religious First Amendment rights doesn’t negate the fact that the government is also violating people’s religious First Amendment rights in this example.

                You seem to just have a problem with the First Amendment, full stop.

                1. No one with any power holds that people have a general right under the first amendment to be free from taxation that supports things they object to religiously. Quakers have to pay for wars, Catholics pay public-sector benefits out to people Protestants call “widows” but whom they consider to be fornicating adulterers. These are just two offhand examples that I don’t see anyone in power, seriously vying for power, or even commenting on these boards objecting to on a 1A basis.

                  So no, Ken, I don’t have a problem with the 1A, full stop. I have a problem with disingenuous assholes who act like there’s something special about abortion when it’s really just like all the other things we do together.

                  1. “No one with any power holds that people have a general right under the first amendment to be free from taxation that supports things they object to religiously. “

                    First, how do you feel about prayer or teaching creationism in public schools?

                    Do you imagine these things are wrong because they’re stupid?

                    I think they’re wrong because they violate people’s establishment rights.

                    Second, once again, examples of other rights violations don’t justify further violations.

                    If our taxation system is fundamentally unfair to creationists, then we should fix that. We should let them home school and refund whatever part of their taxes goes to pay for schools that their children don’t attend. If our taxation system is fundamentally unfair to Quakers, maybe we should limit our taxation to sales taxes, which are the most voluntary form of taxation possible. We should exempt necessities like food and rent from federal taxation, and that way, Quakers can decide whether or not to finance a war every time they decide whether or not to buy something with a sales tax. Whether Quakers finance the war machine should be up to Quakers.

                    If our current system, on the other hand, is fundamentally unjust, that doesn’t mean we should be consistently unjust with everyone. What, violating one man’s rights is a tragedy–violating 300 million people’s rights is a statistic?

                    1. First, how do you feel about prayer or teaching creationism in public schools?

                      Do you imagine these things are wrong because they’re stupid?

                      I think they’re wrong because they violate people’s establishment rights.

                      Where to start? Public schools are prisons for children, so it seems like the most critical violation here is the fundamental violation of children’s rights when they are sent to school and forcibly kept there. And the money spent on such schools is stolen, so the rights of all taxpayers are violated before anyone opens his mouth to teach creationism or evolution.

                      Our taxation system, and our system of laws, is fundamentally unfair to everyone, so, yes, it’s fundamentally unfair to religious people. And it’s bullshit to pick out abortion as if it’s different from any of these other unfairnesses. If you want to say, “fundamentalists should get a special carve-out because I think abortion is soooo icky they shouldn’t have to pay for it,” say it that way. Don’t pretend it’s about some kind of fair exemption that everyone gets from the 1A.

                    2. “If you want to say, “fundamentalists should get a special carve-out because I think abortion is soooo icky they shouldn’t have to pay for it,” say it that way. Don’t pretend it’s about some kind of fair exemption that everyone gets from the 1A.”

                      I’m not pretending anything.

                      Our religious freedom rights aren’t invented by government–it’s just that the First Amendment does an excellent job of approximating them in law. Meanwhile, violating people’s religious rights has consistent consequences in the real world–cross culturally.

                      Just because the government consistently violates people’s rights doesn’t mean that their rights aren’t being violated, that their rights don’t matter, or that their rights don’t exist. And no matter how consistently or persistently the government continues to violate people’s rights, I will continue to oppose it.

                      It’s called “being a libertarian”.

                    3. Our religious freedom rights aren’t invented by government–it’s just that the First Amendment does an excellent job of approximating them in law. Meanwhile, violating people’s religious rights has consistent consequences in the real world–cross culturally.

                      No, it does a fucking terrible job of approximating them in law, which is what I’m trying to tell you.

                      If it did a great job, none of these violations would be happening.

                    4. “If it did a great job, none of these violations would be happening.”

                      The document can’t make people enforce it.

                      Protecting both free exercise and freedom from establishment is ingenious.

                      There are problems with the way those rights are enforced, not with the way they’re written into the First Amendment.

                      And there are lots of things we’ve gotten right.

                      Free exercise? Adventists can’t be forced to carry a gun when they’re conscripted–they can be conscientious objectors. Amish kids don’t have to go to school past the 8th grade. Native American groups can use peyote in their ceremonies.

                      Freedom from establishment? No prayer in public schools. No teaching creationism. Equal display for alternatives to nativity scenes, etc., etc.

                      The things we got right, on both sides of the equation, we didn’t get right by accident. We got them right because of the way religious freedom is written into the First Amendment protecting both free exercise and freedom from establishment. The things we’ve gotten wrong have been because we ignored the same text, so I don’t blame the text for our failures.

                  2. Then why is it necessary to hide it?

                    Perhaps because “we” might choose to stop funding it?

            2. Why are religious convictions so much more important than the others, Ken? I should think that relying upon a mythical Sky Beard telling you so would hardly be a requirement for a seriously-held conviction.

              1. Fuck that non-aggression bullshit then.

              2. Well, the reasons to respect people’s religious convictions fall under two general categories.

                Category one is because violating people’s religious rights brings all sorts of nasty results. In fact, our First Amendment religious rights can be traced back to the Peace of Westphalia, the principles of which led to the end of the Thirty Years War. Through trial and error, we determined that when whose religious rights are respected and whose are violated depends on who controls the government, the world is a much worse place. If you want religion to be people’s primary consideration when they vote, then by all means, support the government violating people’s religious convictions. But know ahead of time, that’s a shitty world.

                Incidentally, what we’re seeing happen between Sunni and Shia throughout the Middle East right now is a lot like the Protestant / Catholic disputes in the Thirty Years War. The principles of the Peace of Westphalia are the ultimate solution there, too. Every person should be guaranteed the right to their religious convictions regardless of who is in control of the government.

              3. Category two has to do with ethics. Respecting the rights of other people is what it means to be ethical. I believe we all have a moral obligation to respect other people’s rights. You may find this hard to believe, but people have the right to make choices for themselves–even if the choices they make are stupid. Our First Amendment free speech rights don’t only protect the smart things we say. They also protect the stupid things we say. I don’t see why respecting people’s religious rights should be any different. The only limits on our freedom should be when we violate someone else’s rights, and the government should also be constrained by that consideration–at the very least.

                1. You may find this hard to believe, but people have the right to make choices for themselves-

                  Did you seriously just say that.

                  1. No, no, no, never mind that (though bookmarked, because we will be discussing it repeatedly for many years, I assure you). Let’s rewind to this:

                    Well, the reasons to respect people’s religious convictions fall under two general categories.

                    There’s a great big hole inside of you. You can never lie or cheat or obfuscate enough to fill it.

                    1. “There’s a great big hole inside of you. You can never lie or cheat or obfuscate enough to fill it.”

                      Other people’s rights exist regardless of whether you like it.

                      Violating their rights has real consequences in the real world regardless of whether you’re aware of that, too.

                      Those facts don’t require cheating or obfuscation. You just need to look at history and the world around us and note the consequences of the government violating people’s rights.

                      Just look at Shia, Sunni, and Christian groups fighting over control of the government in Syria–like the government’s respect for their religious rights depends on the outcome.

                      Even the evangelicals’ attempt to get prayer and creationism taught in public schools here in the U.S. isn’t completely unrelated to having children taught evolution and other things they disagree with in public schools–at evangelicals’ expense.

                      The consequences of violating people’s rights are always worse than the benefits of doing so–certainly when I take my own qualitative values into consideration. If I want to live in a world where the right of smart people to make smart choices for themselves–regardless of religion–is respected, then history and the world around me suggest that I need to support a world where the right of stupid people to make stupid choices for themselves–for religious reasons–is protected, too.

                  2. That was actually sort of semi-self deprecating. I was nodding to my own inner Captain Obvious.

                    You may find this hard to believe, but sometimes people around here are being sarcastic.

                    “You may find this hard to believe” is sarcastic shorthand for, “I know this is painfully obvious”, isn’t it?

        2. Why isn’t government funding of PP considered corporate welfare?

          1. Because they’re doing something some people here agree with, and they’re a non-profit would be my guess.

            Libertarians aren’t blind to the culture war either. The culture war tends to blind all of us.

          2. Because abortion is the right guaranteed by the penumbra of the Constitution thingy, in the margins, and we have to help fund them for everything except abortion, so that they can still do abortion.

          3. Because “government funding of PP” mostly consists of Medicaid payments to PP to pay directly for non-abortion medical services.

            1. Well there’s another excellent reason to get rid of Medicaid.

              1. Yes, but we don’t normally call it “corporate welfare” for “less controversial” doctors’ offices.

            2. $500 breast exam with free abortion?

      2. So many bad words! You must really mean it, man.

        In any case, whatever, man. Investigative journalists don’t usually manufacture fake IDs and set up bogus companies as cover. These ones did, and they may have broken the law in the process.

        I’m sure they’ll have no trouble finding someone to pay for their lawyers. If not, maybe a couple of months in the cooler will serve as an object lesson to ratfuck better next time!

        1. In any case, whatever, man. Investigative journalists don’t usually manufacture fake IDs and set up bogus companies as cover.

          Yes, they do, you lying little fascist.

          1. I noticed in the linked story they referred to the “sham company” these guys set up. “Sham” seems to me as leading a term as “bogus” – why not “fictitious”? Is “Scarcelight” a psuedonym, a handle, a nom de plume – or a false identity, a cover name, a fake name? Sham and bogus imply the company was set up to conduct some nefarious, quite possibly illegal, business – which is begging the question as to whether or not what they were doing was nefarious or illegal.

        2. No, investigative journalists don’t ever misrepresent themselves. /rolls eyes. In order to get to the truth, I’m sure there are all sorts of obstacles and gatekeepers journalists have to work around. As if they don’t put on a fake mustache or use a fake name to get to the bigger story. Please, get real.

          I take it your Williams, Rather, plagiarists in the NYT, NBC editing and Rather fabrications are all legit ways of reporting the truth, right?

          Lord how progressives grate with their propensity for disingenuous poppycocking.

          1. Activists commonly break the law.

            Ask Green Peace, Occupy Wall Street, Rosa Parks, or any one of thousands of other activists and protest groups.

            Having broken the law by itself doesn’t negate their cause.

            Who says, “Well, OCW protesters got charged with trespassing, so obviously OCW is wrong on the facts”?

            Even if thse anti-abortion people are convicted, the legality of what they did isn’t the end of the discussion. Part of being a libertarian is about recognizing the important distinctions between whether something is ethical and whether it is illegal. Other people only recognize those distinctions when it’s someone representing their pet causes that gets thrown in the slammer. Yeah, Rosa Parks got arrested, and what she did was illegal. Does that mean her cause was wrong?

        3. “If not, maybe a couple of months in the cooler will serve as an object lesson to ratfuck better next time!”

          “Ratfuckers”?

          David Weigel, is that you?

      3. Preach on, brother Chip.

  13. Fraud as a criminal charge really annoys me. If committed in furtherance of a real crime with real harm, the fraud itself is just an extra charge to pad the bill. If committed with no resultant real crime with real harm, then the fraud is by definition harmless.

    I’d like one good example of any crime resulting from the fraud itself, where there was no other harm of any sort which amounted to a crime.

    Fake ID to drink? There’s a victimless crime!

    Fake ID to get in a nightclub? Someone else didn’t get in.

    I cannot think of any. I’ve asked before and no one else could name any kind of crime where the fraud itself is the crime with no other harm.

    1. I used fake IDs to get into bars when I was young (Sven Gustafson was my fake ID name). And the victim was the of-age guy that would have hooked up with the girl that otherwise left with me.

      Now that I think of it, remember the case of the girl who committed fraud by saying she was a certain age and the guy drove across state lines to have sex with her…and he was charged with rape? There was a victim in that case…and in the eyes of Indiana it wasn’t the guy she duped into believing she wasn’t jailbait.

    2. Fraud makes sense in the context of lying to someone in order to convince them to conduct a transaction.

      This transaction might be legal in and of itself.

      But if you lie about underlying assets or the probability of success, for example.

  14. “It’s possible people might rise above their culture-war sympathies about this and wonder whether having and using a fake I.D. in and of itself should be punished as a felony.

    I think people on right and dead center are getting sick and tired of being a punching bag. That’s a big part of what support for Trump is about.

    The people on the left side of the culture war have repeatedly way overplayed their hand, from forcing nuns to provide birth control and forcing fundamentalists to bake cakes for gay weddings to treating white middle class Americans like they’re the enemy, etc. That shit adds up.

    The pendulum always changes direction eventually, and that change happens because one side or the other way overplays their hand.

  15. I don’t know much about this particular case, but as I understand it, these indicted activists used deception to get into a position where they were able to get incriminating information about a group they were investigating.

    I’m kind of a 90s nostalgia buff, so I remember this case when ABC news employees tricked Food Lion into hiring them so they (the ABC employees) could secretly record alleged sanitary violations at the Food Lion stores (though unlike the CMP, ABC seems to have edited the films to make them look worse than they were).

    Food Lion sued ABC over this incident and a jury imposed large damages under various legal theories. The appeals court said only some of those legal theories were applicable, but it said ABC had committed trespass and breach of duty of loyalty, and that the fact that they were journalists didn’t make their conduct any less illegal.

    1. As we can see in this article, this provoked Grave Concern:

      “David Westin, the president of ABC News who was the network’s general counsel when the lawsuit was filed — applauded the ruling, which, he said, ”should help blunt” an ”important and dangerous shift.” Instead of plaintiffs ”challenging what we said, through libel and defamation, they are trying to get around through the back door, attacking the process we used to get” the information used in news reports.

      “Mr. Westin and several specialists in media law said that the high hurdles faced by libel plaintiffs have led plaintiffs to attack not the substance of news reports, but the sometimes questionable way journalists gathered their information….

      “Floyd Abrams, a partner at the law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel who is a well-known First Amendment specialist, said of the case yesterday: ”What people have tried to do is an end run around the First Amendment protections that exist in libel law. This case is a quintessential example. Food Lion didn’t care at all that two employees had false information on their applications for employment. What they cared about was what ABC said about them.””

      1. “applauded the *appeals court* ruling,” I should say.

      2. “It’s okay when our side does it!”
        /progtard

    2. Anyone who had been to a Food Lion wouldn’t be surprised by that. Those stores were shockingly grubby, even by Florida standards

    3. One difference being the employment agreement.

  16. Wouldn’t any law enforcement involved in sting operations be subject to the same fraud charge?

    1. It’s ok for the king’s men to do it.

      That wasn’t even a serious question, was it?

    2. I was thinking the same.

    3. Are you CRAZY?

      CIVILIZATION needs its mob tactics to keep it in line bro.

  17. Where is that pompous duchebag from the Melissa Click thread? He misinterprets the libertarian position of limited powers of prosecution and proportional response as culture war while misrepresenting his ‘punish my enemies’ position as impartial enforcement of the rule of law. Christ, what an asshole.

  18. I eagerly await this prosecutor charge nag Chris Hansen for solicitation of underage prostitution and sex trafficking. After all, he did go online and have his people falsely pose as an underage girl in an effort to raise awareness of a situation.

    In fact, he likely did so by wire and electronic device, depending on the internet modem setup. So wire fraud, RICO and a few other charges piled on top of the above would be in order…if there were consistency in the application of the law.

  19. The grand jury was ironically convened to investigate whether the videos reveals that Planned Parenthood had broken any laws.

    This is a terrible sentence, Brian. The grand jury was not convened for the purposes of irony.

    Ironically, the grand jury was convened to investigate whether the videos reveals that Planned Parenthood had broken any laws.

    Or, better, yet… Irony is based on audience, so let them decide.

    The grand jury was initially convened to investigate whether the videos reveals that Planned Parenthood had broken any laws.

  20. The grand jury was ironically convened to investigate whether the videos reveals that Planned Parenthood had broken any laws.

    So a grand jury can issue indictments of the opposite party they were originally investigating, but they still can’t indict a cop? Good grief.

    1. So a grand jury can issue indictments of the opposite party they were originally investigating

      Not too loud or they’ll start indicting the people whom the cops killed.

      1. Destruction of governmental property (the bullet deformed went it went through the spine of the perpetrator.)

    2. So a grand jury can issue indictments of the opposite party they were originally investigating, but they still can’t indict a cop? Good grief.

      The grand jury does whatever the prosecutor wants it to do.

    3. That was my first question but I believe from the story the grand jury was convened as an investigatory grand jury, not as a charging grand jury. Technically, all grand juries can be investigatory if they take their job seriously and actually interrogate the prosecutor and investigate his claims, but most are just rubber-stamp bodies to validate the prosecutor’s decision to charge. But some grand juries are convened strictly for investigating a complicated case – many times the complicating factor is that the investigation is a political hot potato and nobody wants to wind up with hot potato splattered on them when the thing blows up. Like when a prosecutor is faced with charging a cop. He ain’t gonna be presenting his evidence to support an indictment to the grand jury, he’s gonna dump it all in the grand jury’s lap and tell them if they want an indictment they’re going to have to come up with it themselves.

  21. This doesn’t seem politically motivated. Not in the slightest.

  22. A prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office that is investigating the Houston-area Planned Parenthood has disclosed that she sits on the board of directors for the organization.

    District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement that her employee, Lauren Reeder, made the disclosure “in order to be transparent” and contends that her office will still be able to conduct the investigation in an “unbiased, fact-driven” manner.

    http://www.theblaze.com/storie…..directors/

    1. Its not smart for any attorney to sit on the Board of Directors of any organization. There are all kinds of ethical problems and traps. I don’t sit on the board of anything, despite multiple invitations, and neither does anybody else on my legal staff.

      The fact that she is blind to these problems surprises me not at all. A shit, unethical attorney in a prosecutor’s office? And a DA who sees no problems with this, even though it creates a disabling conflict of interest for the DA’s office under ordinary rules of legal ethics*? Quelle surprise, non?

      *A law firm would not be allowed to sue a company for which one of their attorneys was a board member.

  23. I’m struggling a little with the “intent to defraud”. Intent to deceive is not the same as intent to defraud. A classic definition of fraud is this:

    A false representation of a matter of fact?whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed?that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.

    Its the last element that I struggle with. What was the legal injury to PP, here? They entered into no contracts, made no payments, did nothing in reliance on the false ID except talk to them about a potential deal.

    If this was fraud, what were the damages, and do they amount to “legal injury”?

  24. Was Daleiden’s ham sandwich also indicted on felony charges?

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