Top European Lawyer Argues in Favor of Catalan Politicians
Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice, has argued in favor of Catalan politicians who were elected to the European Parliament in May but have been prevented by the Spanish government from taking their seats.
Former regional president Carles Puigdemont and former regional health minister Toni Comín, both of the center-right Together for Catalonia party, have been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since 2017 to avoid arrest for leading a failed independence bid that year.
Oriol Junqueras, the former leader of the Republican Left, stayed in Spain and was sentenced to thirteen years in prison last month for misuse of public funds and sedition against the Spanish state. Read more
It Will Be Hard for Catalans to Accept Supreme Court Verdict
Spain’s Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of twelve Catalan independence leaders who stand accused of sedition and rebellion against the state. The verdict will be hard for Catalans to accept as fair, especially when the same court has sided with the family of Francisco Franco.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court suspended the planned exhumation of the dictator’s remains from the monumental Valley of the Fallen in the mountains near Madrid, arguing it would not be in the “public interest”.
In its verdict, the court used the honorific “don” to refer to Franco and wrote that he was head of state from October 1, 1936. That is when Franco was proclaimed leader of the coup against the Republic, but his government wasn’t recognized as legitimate by most countries until after the Civil War.
To many Catalans, especially left-wing separatists who imagine themselves heirs to the Republic, it confirms that the rest of Spain hasn’t reckoned with the past. Read more
Good News on Guns and Criminal Justice Reform
Few good things come out of Washington DC anymore, but today is an exception.
The Trump Administration is banning bump-fire stocks, which effectively turn semiautomatic weapons into machine guns. Owners will have three months to turn in or destroy their devices.
The Senate has voted 87-12 in favor of criminal justice reforms. Prison sentences for drug crimes will be lowered, judges will be given more discretion in sentencing low-level offenders and inmates will be allowed to serve more time in halfway homes or under house arrest.
Setbacks for Poland’s Ruling Law and Justice Party
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has suffered a number of setbacks in the last couple of months:
It lost local elections in Poland’s big cities and small towns.
The European Court of Justice forced it to reinstate 22 Supreme Court justices it had forced into retirement.
A bribery scandal at Poland’s financial regulator has thrown doubt on the party’s self-portrayal as “outsiders” who are cleaning up the mess made by corrupt liberal elites. Read more
Republicans’ determination to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court marks an escalation of the politicization of the judiciary in the United States.
Kavanaugh faces unanimous opposition from Democrats due to allegations of sexual assault, his extreme views on presidential power (Kavanaugh does not believe a sitting president can be indicted or tried) and his partisanship. Read more
Why Republicans Are In a Hurry to Put Kavanaugh on Supreme Court
Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of attempting to rape a young woman in prep school and Democrats have been denied the chance to read tens of thousands of documents from his time as a lawyer in the George W. Bush Administration. Yet Republicans are rushing to confirm his nomination.
Why? Because they worry this may be their last chance to defend their majority on the Supreme Court. Read more
Law and Justice Continues Anti-Judicial Crusade
There have been two developments this week in the attempts of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party to subject the judiciary to political control:
The Senate approved legislation that makes it possible for the government to appoint the next Supreme Court chief justice.
The European Court of Justice ruled that other EU countries can refuse extradition requests from Poland if they fear suspects may not receive a fair trial there. Read more