MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
The “Bridgegate” scandal is front and center at the Supreme Court. Justices consider whether overzealous prosecutors used the wrong law to convict the culprits.
KAGAN: The statute says the object of the scheme has to be to obtain property. Here the ordinary juror would see the object was to create a traffic problem.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Also on the Monday Moneybeat, the bulls continue their run on Wall Street with another record-setting week.
Plus, the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, the inauguration ceremony for our 40th president.
REAGAN: We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.
And on Martin Luther King Day, we’ll hear part of the speech he gave in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
REICHARD: It’s Monday, January 20th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington has today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Both sides dig in ahead of Senate impeachment trial » With the Senate impeachment trial set to begin tomorrow, both sides are already arguing their cases to the American public.
Democrats laid out their case over the weekend, saying the president betrayed public trust with behavior that was the “worst nightmare” of the founding fathers.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin…
DURBIN: When it comes to the abuse of power of the office, the president used—misused the office for personal political gain. That to me is in the realm of what they considered in high crimes and misdemeanors in the abuse of power.
But former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who joined President Trump’s legal team last week, pushed back. He said Democratic lawmakers are really stretching the definition of an impeachable offense and setting a dangerous precedent. He added that they risk turning impeachment into a political sword that any future majority in Congress may wield against a controversial president.
DERSHOWITZ: That’s not what the framers had in mind, and I will lay out the debates over the Constitutional Convention, lay out what happened, why the framers picked these four words: treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, four concepts.
The president’s legal team will also include Kenneth Starr and Robert Ray—both of whom investigated President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
Venezuelan leader defies travel ban for security summit » Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó has traveled to Colombia to take part in a regional counter-terrorism meeting. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also be there—in a show of support from the Trump administration.
The United States and more than 50 other nations have declared Guaidó Venezuela’s rightful leader, though disputed president Nicolas Maduro refuses to give up power.
From Bogota, Guaidó reportedly plans to travel to Europe this week—around the same time President Trump is scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. That could set the stage for a first meeting between Guaidó and Trump.
It wasn’t clear how he left Venezuela. But it’s only the second time Guaidó has defied a travel ban imposed by Venezuela’s supreme court, which supports the Maduro regime.
Bodies of jet passengers shot down in Iran arrive in Kyiv » AUDIO: [Sound from ceremony]
Sounds for a ceremony at Kyiv Airport in Ukraine as the bodies of 11 Ukrainian victims from a commercial airliner shot down by Iran arrived home on Sunday.
An honor guard hoisted the caskets and carried them into an airport terminal. They remained there through the evening as loved ones paid their respects.
Ukraine’s president and other officials joined the victims’ families at the ceremony.
Iran initially denied blame. But the government eventually admitted to mistakenly shooting down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 on January 8th—killing all 176 people on board.
On Sunday, Iran backtracked on an offer to send one of the black boxes from the crash to Ukrainian investigators.
Buckingham Palace reveals details of royal split » The Royal Family is coming to terms with the departure of Prince Harry and wife Meghan. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered his support on Sunday.
JOHNSON: I think the whole country will want to join in wishing them the very best for the future. I said before that I’m sure, the Royal Family has been around a very long time—will find a way forward, and I’m sure it will.
Buckingham Palace over the weekend announced details of the royal split. The couple will no longer use the titles “royal highness” or receive public funds for their work. The palace said the new arrangements take effect in the “spring of 2020.”
The agreement leaves open the possibility that the couple might change their minds in the future.
For now, Harry and Meghan will be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Harry will remain a prince and sixth in line to the British throne.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: the Bridgegate scandal is front and center at the Supreme Court.
Plus, the end of a historic hostage crisis.
This is The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: It’s Monday morning, Martin Luther King Day, and another work week for The World and Everything in It. Today is the 20th of January, 2020. Pretty cool. 1-20-20-20.
Good morning to you, I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
Hey, I heard y’all on Friday talking about the redesigned WORLD Magazine and the offer to put it in as many hands as we can find. And let me just say, Wow, great redesign!
EICHER: We hired a really strong agency to come up with a fresh look. The magazine team worked hard, and worked over the holidays to get this delivered on time. We’re really excited about it.
REICHARD: Yes, I noticed the type’s bigger and we’re using more white space, so it’s more readable.
EICHER: Right, and we’re investing in more photography and art, and it’s just a beautiful, bold new look—and it frames up our rigorous, street-level journalism and makes it shine. And, yes, we’re eager to get it in front of more people.
So here’s the plan: We’re looking for more people just like you, and you’re more likely than we’d be to know who they are—and, frankly, where they live. You have friends and coworkers and neighbors and family members. You have your social circles, families you go to church with, whose kids go to the same schools your kids do. People who’d benefit from sound journalism, grounded in God’s word. People who are looking for thoughtful, long-form journalism you can get only in a nice print magazine.
We’re offering two full months, four big issues in all, of the freshly redesigned WORLD Magazine delivered to the homes of anyone—anyone—of your choosing. Zero cost to you.
Visit getworldnow.org, follow the directions, fill in all the pertinents, and we’ll take care of the rest.
REICHARD: Well, as you mentioned, it is Martin Luther King Day and the U.S. Supreme Court is closed today in observance of it. The justices resume hearing arguments tomorrow.
Today, we’ll start with analysis of oral argument in a case from 2013—a big political scandal, Bridgegate, that damaged New Jersey’s Republican governor Chris Christie. It was all over the news.
AUDIO: Port Authority cops moved the cones September 9th…three local access lanes which connect to the George Washington Bridge that connects New York and New Jersey were reduced to one…traffic and motorists snarled for hours…I got caught in it there for three hours. Are you kidding?…people in your communities who sit in longer traffic everyday…hours long traffic jams in the streets of Fort Lee…anytime you say Bridgegate it hurts Chris Christie…[Springsteen music]: I’m stuck in Gov Chris Christie’s little Jersey traffic jam… I’m embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. I come out here today to apologize to the people of New Jersey.
EICHER: The Fort Lee traffic jam lasted four days. The political fallout much longer: an investigation into the lane closures uncovered as one legal brief put it: “bareknuckle New Jersey politics.”
REICHARD: Three officials schemed to shut down access lanes to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee. He’d not endorsed Governor Christie for re-election.
The three concocted a cover story that quickly unraveled when smoking gun emails revealed the truth.
One of the three pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy. He then became witness against the other two; Bridget Anne Kelly, an aide to Governor Christie, and William Baroni, who worked for the Port Authority that oversees bridges and tunnels in the area.
EICHER: A jury convicted Kelly and Baroni on all counts, including federal property fraud.
Most of those were upheld on appeal. They then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kelly’s lawyer, Jacob Roth, argued his client’s conviction for property fraud makes no sense. She got no personal benefit from shutting down traffic lanes.
ROTH: This theory turns the integrity of every official action at every level of government into a potential federal fraud investigation.
REICHARD: Roth argued the government is casting too broad a net over all kinds of behavior to nab them under federal laws that just don’t fit the crime.
ROTH: I’m not trying to suggest that this is okay. We don’t want public officials acting for personal reasons. We don’t want them acting necessarily for partisan or political reasons. But what I’m saying is the remedy for that is not the federal property fraud statutes.
The three officials either got fired or gave in to pressure to resign. And other remedies for elected officials doing similar things includes simply, as the saying goes, throw the bums out of office.
Besides, trying to divine someone’s motives is fraught. Roth thought of the police chief who says a crime wave is on the way, so he needs more officers. But his true motivation is to curry favor with the police union.
Unsavory maybe, but not property fraud.
Baroni’s lawyer warned that contorting federal property fraud law like this is just plain dangerous in these hyper-partisan times.
But the lawyer for the government, Eric Feigin, argued the lane closure scheme does fit within federal property fraud. Commandeering lanes, allocating workers to install traffic cones, hiring another toll booth operator—that’s money. And money is property. Connect those dots.
But Justice Stephen Breyer saw the potential for abuse in that theory.
BREYER: My goodness, the Code of Federal Regulations, the rules of any department, the—I mean, the government is filled with rules. And there are numerous instances where a person might say something untrue about something related to a rule that gives him authority for that.
Echoing the “this is too broad a net” argument of the petitioners.
And Justice Elena Kagan also seemed to think the law under which they were convicted didn’t fit the crimes.
KAGAN: The statute clearly says that a scheme—the object of it, has to be to obtain property… If I look at this and I’m an ordinary juror, you know, I’m thinking the object of this deception was not to obtain property. The object was to create a traffic jam. The object was to benefit people politically.
The Supreme Court has looked for ways to rein in the power of federal prosecutors in recent years. Prosecutors have wide discretion in whom to charge and with what provision of law. It’s the difference between justice and injustice. One judge called the overzealous prosecutions problem is of “epidemic proportions.”
My guess is the court will find in favor of the petitioners, Kelly and Baroni, but write the opinion carefully so as not to put the court’s imprimatur on political shenanigans.
This next case is about patents and time limits. I’ll keep it short because it’s pretty technical. The question is whether the courts should review disputes over the timeliness of patent matters. That’s primarily the job of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to decide.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seemed reluctant:
GINSBURG: There’s something unseemly about nullifying the determination on the merits.
But Justice Neil Gorsuch underscored the importance of a day in court, even in technical matters.
GORSUCH: You agree with the government in the last case that it’s based on separation of powers and it is designed to ensure people that they’re not subject to whimsical executive decisions?
CHARNES: Well, in—in general terms, yes.
This case may be technical, but the decision could limit what matters the federal circuit courts can review. So it’s still important.
OK, two more cases to go.
This next case is an odd sort of dispute over procedural matters.
A native of Colombia came to the United States legally in 1986. But 12 years later, Pedros Guerrero-Lasprilla’s felony drug convictions resulted in his removal from the country.
Eighteen years after that, he sought to reopen his case, but an immigration judge thought he hadn’t pursued his rights diligently enough and waited too long to do it.
The question revolves around the phrase “questions of law.” Guerrero-Lasprilla wants the court of appeals to look at his case, but those courts can only consider questions of law by aliens with certain kinds of convictions.
So is his case about those kinds of law, or is his case about facts? Or is his case a mix of both law and fact? Is being on time more about a fact or more about a law?
Argument morphed into the concept of judicial review over agency action. And Justice Stephen Breyer sounded positively grounded in a basic doctrine of American life:
BREYER: I have always thought that it is really basic. It is the presumption that assures every person in the United States of America that this government will not harm that person in ways that are unlawful, unfair, arbitrary, capricious, unconstitutional, or an abuse of discretion, and that if you want to have a country that has a government that is under control, there is no better way. I’m not saying judges are perfect, but that separation of powers is designed to provide a check.
Congressional intent should govern here, says one side, and that doesn’t permit appellate court review of questions involving mixed questions of both law and fact. Only questions of pure law.
The justices will have to balance the need to review terrible agency decisions against voiding congressional intent.
This last case deals with legal procedure that may be familiar to you. Surely you’ve seen TV courtroom dramas in which a lawyer cries out, “objection,” when he thinks the other side’s lawyer violated a rule? That’s really important for many reasons. But one of them is to correct in the moment what a jury should or should not consider during deliberations.
Another kind of objection lawyers need make is after sentencing, say to the length of a prison term. Circuits differ on this, but in the 5th Circuit where this particular case arose, it’s required to preserve the right to appeal an issue. The appellate court must see that the lower court has on its record a lawyer’s dramatic, “objection!”
Here, a criminal defendant’s lawyer didn’t formally object to the prison sentence that he thought was too long. So the 5th Circuit couldn’t review the reasonableness of the prison term.
But the criminal defendant says it’s so obvious he’d want a shorter term, a formal objection is unnecessary.
Now, the Supreme Court had to appoint a lawyer to argue in favor of keeping the formal objection rule. That’s because the government wouldn’t stand for the judgment that it sought below. So that appointed “amicus curiae,” as it’s called, made a valiant effort to argue in favor of the rule.
And the chief justice acknowledged the hard job it was in this comment to lawyer Winn Allen:
ROBERTS: Mr. Allen, this court appointed you to brief and argue this case as an amicus curiae in support of the judgment below. You have ably discharged that responsibility, for which we are grateful. The case is submitted.
A criminal defendants’ ability to appeal this matter is dependent on where he or she happens to live. Not a good thing.
So I think the justices will rule in favor of the man, but do so narrowly so as not to capture factual situations in thousands of other criminal matters that would do more harm than good.
And as for the chief justice, he’ll have an unusually busy week: court business in the mornings, and presiding over the impeachment proceedings of President Trump in the Senate in the afternoons. If he has to miss oral argument, the next senior justice will preside over the court.
And that would be Justice Clarence Thomas.
And that’s this week’s Legal Docket.
MARY REICHARD: Coming next on The World and Everything in It, the Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER: On Wall Street, the bull market seems in full stampede mode. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index of stocks set a new record high each day last week, except Tuesday. Both the Dow Jones Industrials and the Nasdaq hit records on three of the five trading days. All the major indexes ended the week on all-time highs: the Nasdaq picked up 2.3 percent, the S&P 500 2 percent, and the Dow 1.8.
Most Wall Street watchers credited the signing of the U.S.-China trade deal for last week’s market optimism.
Now, the very difficult months that led up to that truce—the impasses, the tariffs, the rumors of tariffs—all that kept a lid on industrial production in 2019. The Federal Reserve reported total output in manufacturing, mining, and utilities showed a three-tenths of a percent decline in December. So for the year, industrial production fell a full percentage point versus 2018.
REICHARD: It does appear the housing market is back to good health. It’s been recovering since July, as low mortgage interest rates lure homebuyers and plentiful jobs and strong wages make borrowers attractive to lenders. The one lingering problem has been on the supply side, not enough homes.
But on Friday, the Commerce Department reported that new home construction surged in December to the highest level in 13 years, during the last housing boom. It rose almost 17 percent month on month.
For the full year, homebuilders broke ground on 1.3 million new homes. That’s the best showing since 2007, and it represents full-year growth of 3 percent.
EICHER: Retail sales were strong in December, almost 6 percent better year on year versus the dismal December 2018—but.
But here’s the problem: It’s just 3/10s better than November, which was just 3/10s better than October. In other words, retail sales slowed in the fourth quarter to an annualized growth rate estimated at about 2.5 percent. Here’s why that matters: the third quarter growth rate was more than that, about 3.2 percent, and that’s significant for measuring overall economic growth. Consumer spending drives about two-thirds of GDP, and with retail in the fourth quarter lagging the third, that’s not a particularly good sign for the 2019 GDP report. We should receive that report by the end of this month.
And that is today’s Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER: Bob Vollmer walks with a cane these days and he just doesn’t get around as quickly as he used to.
He’s a surveyor for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and his job requires exhausting statewide travel.
But next month, he’s calling it quits. Vollmer told television station WXIN—his body is finally telling him it’s time to retire.
VOLLMER: The time comes when, heck, you have to hang it up.
You do, yep, but what a run! Vollmer has worked for the state for 58 years!
Now, real-time math here, he’s not taking early retirement at age 62, because he’d have to have started at age four.
So what do you think, 72, 82?
REICHARD: Well, I doubt he started as a teenager, so… 82?
EICHER: Nope, not 82. Not even 92!!
Vollmer the traveling state surveyor is taking retirement at 102 years old!
He started the position after a hitch with the U.S. Navy—during World War II!
VOLLMER: Evidently, I have some pretty good genes.
Yes, pretty good ones! His mother lived to 108!
As for Vollmer’s immediate future, he says he plans to spend his golden years reading and farming. He also plans to take trips to some of the South Pacific islands where he served with the U.S. Navy. A tad more peaceful these days.
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, January 20th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, the first American tennis player ejected from a grand slam tennis tournament.
Plus, the resolution of the Iran hostage crisis.
EICHER: But first, an amendment to the Constitution that tried to minimize the power of lame duck politicians…Here’s Paul Butler.
PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: When the founders originally designed our representative form of government, elections preceded terms by as much as 13 months. Pepperdine School of Law professor Edward Larson explains why that was problematic in a Federalist Society video:
LARSON: The criticism of lame-duck lawmaking is that you’ve got members who might have run for office and have been defeated and yet they’re still there voting when the election is over…basically, they were free to do whatever they wanted and not be responsible to any constituents.
The U.S. government eventually reduced that time to about 4 months, but still lame-duck law making was a recurring challenge. For decades, Congress debated fixes to the problem, but it wasn’t until 1932 that they could finally agree on a solution. They sent the proposed constitutional amendment to the states for ratification.
The amendment contains six sections. The first sets the terms of president and Vice President as beginning on the 20th day of January. Terms for U.S. senators and representatives must now begin on January 3rd.
Section two requires Congress to meet at least once during the year. The third and fourth sections clarify how presidents are to be chosen in the event of a death while in office. And the final two sections mandate when the amendment would take effect. The states are supportive.
On January 24th, 1933, Missouri becomes the 36th state to ratify the change, making the 20th Amendment of the Constitution the law of the land.
MUSIC: [THE DANCE OF THE LAME DUCK]
Next, 48 years later, January 20th, 1981. Ronald Reagan becomes the 40th president of the United States of America.
REAGAN: To a few of us here today, this is a solemn and most momentous occasion; and yet, in the history of our nation, it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution…
Reagan’s inauguration ceremony is the first to be held on the West Front terrace of the Capitol.
REAGAN: Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.
In his 20-minute speech, Reagan offers a moving patriotic vision for America that includes reducing the size and influence of government.
REAGAN: We are a nation that has a government—not the other way around. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.
Reagan won the 1980 election overwhelmingly due to domestic issues, but the standoff with Iran over American hostages also played a significant role. Just 20 minutes after Reagan’s speech, Iran released the 52 American hostages—held for 444 days.
ABC NEWS: Though thousands of miles apart, these two historic events moved almost on parallel tracks today. The new president had not been in office an hour when the former hostages became free men and women again.
The timing was not a coincidence. The Ayatollah agreed to terms well before the ceremony, but held off till after Carter’s departure as a final insult. The next day however, former President Jimmy Carter got the last laugh as he flew to West Germany to greet the Americans before they got home.
MUSIC: [TIE A YELLOW RIBBON ROUND THE OLD OAK TREE]
And finally, January 21st, 1990:
AUDIO: [SOUND OF TENNIS MATCH]
In the fourth round of the Australian Open, 30-year old American John McEnroe faces a much younger Mikael Pernfors from Sweden.
McEnroe easily wins the first set. Pernfors fights back and wins the second. Tied one game a piece in the third set, the chair umpire charges McEnroe with unsportsmanlike behavior for trying to intimidate a line judge.
CLIP: [SOUND OF JUDGE]
John McEnroe wins set three. Late in set four, McEnroe throws his racket in disgust after hitting a ball wide. The judge penalizes McEnroe a point for the fault.
McEnroe is furious. He approaches the chair and begins swearing at the umpire—a third violation. And with that, the judge disqualifies McEnroe. Pernfors wins by default.
McEnroe, stunned, just stands there shaking his head. Pernfors is equally shocked.
Later, McEnroe speaks to the press:
MCENROE: They could have let me off. It’s not like anyone else heard what I said. It was between me and one or two people. So I think it was unnecessary to fault me in that situation.
McEnroe retired from the tour two years later. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999. McEnroe continues to be active in the sport as a commentator—covering Wimbledon, as well as the Australian Open.
That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.
NICK EICHER: Today is Monday, January 20th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up, a speech from Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday the nation observes with today’s national holiday.
In October 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the youngest person at the time to receive that honor.
Two months later he traveled to Oslo, Norway, to accept the award. Let’s listen now to an excerpt of his acceptance speech.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment when 22 million Negroes of the United States are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice. I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.
I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.
I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive goodwill (will) reclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome!
This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Two states led by Republicans have taken very different stances on resettling refugees. We’ll explain what’s driving those differences.
And, some schools are starting to use facial recognition software for security reasons. Not everybody thinks that’s the right way to keep kids safe. We’ll tell you why.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.
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