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Monday, October 24, 2011

UPDATE: Justia DID expunge references to key natural-born case, they did NOT just change citations to modern format

Original post title: "Justia did NOT expunge references to key natural-born case, they just changed citations to modern format"

Original first line: "Somewhere Gilda Radner is laughing." That first line still holds, but now it is me who has to say, "never mind," as Gilda used to say after learning that the premise of her tirade was upside-down. Only instead of "never mind," I have so say MIND! It seems that Justia really did delete politically inconvenient portions from its online Supreme Court rulings.

This is Leo Donofrio's claim: that in the run up to the 2008 election, Justia tampered with its online full-text copies of Supreme Court cases, systematically altering the Court's citations of Minor v. Happersett so as to hide this important precedent from modern view. Minor is the 1874 case that first established the meaning of Constitutional requirement that the president be a "natural born citizen." My mistake was believing reports at World Net Daily and the Examiner that claimed to be presenting Donofrio's strongest evidence.

Looked at closely, the evidence WND and Examiner evidence is susceptible to a perfectly innocent explanation. WND showed screen shots from 2008 in which the Court's original citations of Minor v. Happersett in the case of Luria v. United States were replaced with modern-form citations that only list the volume and page number where the cited case can be found in the Supreme Court reporter. Further, WND's Bob Unruh only noted that the name-citation had been taken out. He did NOT note that a modern-form citation for Minor v. Happersett had been inserted in its place. Neither did he note that this new citation had a link attached that connected directly to the Minor v. Happersett case itself.

In other words, WND's report overlooked an obvious innocent explanation. Justia should never have deleted the court's old-form citation, but it was certainly possible that they had just been going through their documents replacing old-form citations with new-form citations with no intent to cover anything up, and the fact that a link had been added cut against the idea that Justia was trying to hide the Minor v. Happersett precedent.

Dianna Cotter's Examiner article did the same thing, and so did Clayton Cramer's less accusatory post, which focused on Justia's strange editing in the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark. All were overlooking the available innocent explanation.

So that was what my original post was about: how the editing that was being presented as evidence of an effort to hide the Court's embrace of the Minor v. Happersett precedent had an obvious innocent explanation that all of these folks were overlooking.


My exchanges with Leo Donofrio

I left a link to my post on Leo comment thread, which elicited a very strange response. He claimed to have not yet released his clearest evidence that Justia had engaged in malicious tampering with Supreme Court opinions, holding it in reserve for the day when someone made the criticisms that I had articulated:
...since I anticipated your EXACT theory... I protected the story by documenting the following evidence... as well as the evidence I have previously reported on. Having dealt with this kind of subterfuge before, I utilized a few skills I learned from my poker and chess fanaticism... it's called thinking ahead and planning ahead... moves and moves ahead... The evidence I haven't published yet only became relevant after the other side played two moves in this game. The first move that was required was for Justia to place robot.txt blocking over their entire domain. That happened today. Second, someone had to come along espousing the theory you have stated. Both of those moves have been made, so now it is my turn to move. Now I will discuss the evidence which I have not previously discussed.
Leo promised "a follow up on this no later than tomorrow with screenshots from the Wayback Machine." He would detail how, rather than just substituting modern-form citations for old-form citations, Justia had at first done the right thing: they had left the old-form citations exactly as they were and only ADDED the modern-form citations (with hyperlinks) alongside, deleting nothing. Only LATER, as the 2008 elections got nearer, did Justia go in again and remove the Court's original old-form citations, which included the Minor v. Happersett name.

Obviously I was skeptical. If Leo had screenshots comparing Justia pages without the old-form name-citations to earlier versions of the same pages that had both the name-citations and the modern-form citations, why did the big WND and Examiner exposes compare the pages without the name-citations to earlier versions contained only the old-form name-citations? That comparison made it look as if Justia had only switched from old-form citations for new-form citations, when Leo said he could prove that they actually went back in to delete the name-citations only after the modern-form citations were already in place.

Such screenshots would indeed seem to constitute proof of intent to hide the Minor v. Happersett precedent. But would Leo really sit on such important evidence? Why? Just to spring it as a gotcha on someone like me who pointed out that what he had already put out as proof was not actually proof at all? Is he crazy?


Only pretending to be crazy

Well it turns out that Leo really does have screenshot-proof that Justica first put the modern-form citations and hyperlinks in alongside the Court's original old-form name-citations for Minor v. Happersett and only later came back and deleted the old-form name-citations. I don't even have to wait until tomorrow to see these screenshots. Doing some poking around on his blog, I discover that he them last June!

So no, he has not been sitting on this evidence, waiting to spring it on some unsuspecting person like myself. Who knows why he ever said so. I'm just glad to learn that he is actually much more sensible than he presents.

Turns out the guy's solid. He's got the goods. Justia has been deleting politically inconvenient facts from its online Supreme Court record, which as Leo points out is actually a criminal offense: misrepresenting state documents. Leo has just been ill-served by his publicizers (including himself, if his response to me is any indication).

My original take-down of Leo's evidence as presented by WND and the Examiner is below, followed by my full exchange with Leo. I'll just end here with the damning screenshots that SHOULD have been front and center in the WND and Examiner exposes.

First is Leo's screenshot of Justia's Boyd v. Nebraska page from February 19 2008 (via Wayback). Scroll down to the highlighted text to find the Court's citation of Minor v. Happersett. You'll see the Court's original old-form citation (Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162), followed by the modern-form citation (88 U.S. 167), with hyperlinks:

http://supreme.justia.com/us/143/135/case.html

And here is Justia's Boyd page as captured by the Wayback Machine on October 2 2008:

http://naturalborncitizen.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/boyd-edited-justia-way-back-october-2-2008.jpg

The Court's original name-citation of Minor v. Happersett has been deleted, and no, this was not an unintended byproduct of switching from old-form citations to new-form citations, because the new-form citation was already in place. They must have gone in with the sole intent of deleting the name citation, because that is all they did. Q.E.D.

Good going Leo. You crack me up. Gilda's laughing at both of us.

This isn't to say there CAN'T be an innocent explanation, but when the only change was to remove a part of the Court's original text, it doesn't seem that it could be a cut-and-paste error, or any kind of legitimate update, no matter how ill advised. If Justia DOES have an innocent explanation, they need to detail it to the public. So GO LEO: keep the pressure on (and never mind my never mind).


NEW UPDATE: Justia claims a programming glitch

Justia CEO Tim Stanley has now given a statement to CNET claiming that the alterations are the product of a cut-and-paste bug they had to correct. They released this bit of corrected code:

Photobucket
CNET's caption: This code excerpt shows that Justia's programmers incorrectly typed in ".*" (which matches any character) instead of "\s" (which matches only spaces). (Credit: Justia)

Could this broad-acting change be responsible for the removal of a particular chunk of the Court's original text without affecting anything around it? Stanley claims that this bug corrupted other Supreme Court cases as well, not just cases citing Minor v. Happersett:
"This has nothing to do with President Obama and it is not a conspiracy," Stanley said. "When we discovered the issue, we corrected the script and the cases now render correctly. The issue was not limited to the cases these folks are focused on. We've had internal discussions on how to make sure this does not happen in the future with additional visual and parsing checks."

It turns out, according to Mountain View, Calif.-based Justia, that the blame can be laid on a poorly-crafted regular expression. In computer science terms, regular expressions (often abbreviated as "regex") are used for complicated forms of text matching and substitution. They rank among the highest forms of programming arcana, primarily because of their flexibility, but are also some of the most prone to bugs.

In this case, Stanley said, what happened is that Justia's programmers typed in ".*" (which matches any character) when creating a regex. It's now an "\s" (which matches only spaces).

Stanley said he wasn't sure how many cases were affected before the bug was discovered and fixed. "It was just the U.S. Supreme Court cases, not the state, federal appellate and district court cases," he said.
With the help of the Wayback Machine, it should be possible to round up a bunch of the bug-affected cases and see if the same sort of errors really did appear in unrelated cases at the same time, especially if Justia would help track these cases down. Unfortunately, Justia has shut down access to it's Wayback archives.

Until Justia re-allows access to its Wayback archives and assists Leo in performing this check, this issue should be considered unresolved. MIND!


Original post, now defunct: "Justia did NOT expunge references to key natural-born case, they just changed citations to modern format"

Somewhere Gilda Radner is laughing.

Leo Donofrio recently made an alarming-looking discovery. Justia.com, a main online source for full text Supreme Court opinions, seemed to be systematically expunging citations to a key Court ruling on the meaning of the Constitution's requirement that the president must be "natural born citizen." But Leo was not careful enough. He failed to notice that the citations to "Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162" were not just being deleted, but were being replaced with a different citation: "88 U.S. 165." As it turns out, both are valid citations for Minor, with the latter being the more modern citation form.

Here is a snapshot of the University of Missouri's full-text Minor v. Happersett page. It lists both ways of citing the case:
Photobucket

162 is the first page of the Minor case in the Supreme Court reporter. "88 U.S. 165" is a reference to something on the fourth page of the opinion. The standard form of reference for page 165 is "88 U.S. 162 (165)," but Justia's minor bit of shorthand is perfectly unexceptional.

Leo somehow did not realize that "Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162" was being replaced with a different way of citing the same case. He just saw Justia dropping all of its "Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162" citations and thought he had uncovered an elaborate effort to keep online researchers from finding and making use of this very important case, whose long affirmed precedents could bar both Barack Obama and John McCain from the presidency.

That's certainly enough incentive for a dishonest supporter of either candidate to try to suppress Minor, and the importance of Leo's charge if it were borne out was enough to induce the always brave World Net Daily to issue a major report. Clayton Cramer saw another report in the Portland Examiner and declared the case a genuine mystery, which in turn induced Glenn Reynolds to broadcast the mystery to his own large and eclectic audience.

Much todo about nothing, as it turns out. Minor was NOT suppressed, and the proof is in Leo Donofrio's own screen-shots of Justia' Luria v. United States page, as recorded by The Wayback Machine. Notice that in the 2006 screen-shot, the "Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162" citation in the last paragraph does NOT include a link to the cited case:

Photobucket

Now here is Leo's Wayback snapshot of Justia's 2008 Luria page. Notice that in place of the original unlinked "Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162" citation is a citation for "88 U.S. 165," and that citation IS linked:

Photobucket

The inclusion of an active link to Minor v. Happersett under the "88 U.S. 165" citation makes it EASIER to track the reliance of later cases on the Minor precedent, proving that the change was NOT intended to make Minor harder to find.

The obvious explanation is that Justia must have been going through its postings and adding active links. Whoever was doing it just got overzealous and replaced the Court's actual citation with a modern format citation (not required in order to add a link).


Justia IS partly responsible for the confusion

It is not hard to see how Leo and others got confused. They started with Justia's current Luria page, which includes both the Court's original citation of Minor AND the modern form citation:

Citizenship is membership in a political society, and implies a duty of allegiance on the part of the member and a duty of protection on the part of the society. These are reciprocal obligations, one being a compensation for the other. Under our Constitution, a naturalized citizen stands on an equal footing with the native citizen in all respects save that of eligibility to the Presidency. Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162, 88 U. S. 165; Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U. S. 94, 112 U. S. 101; Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 22 U. S. 827. Turning to the naturalization laws preceding the Act of 1906, being [Emphasis added.]

Page 231 U. S. 23

That's a step in the right direction by Justia. Obviously the Court's original language should never have been removed. But Justia still does not get it quite right.

The added modern-form citation should have been placed in square brackets, to indicate that this was an editorial addition, and those square brackets should have been placed before the comma to the next citation, to indicate that the citation was to the same case. Justia did put a semi-colon after the modern-form citation, which should have tipped off Misters Donofrio, Cramer et al., but it is not as proper as the square-bracket solution.

Thus Leo understandably got the mistaken idea that "Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162" and "88 U.S. 165" were two different cases. That error bit him when he looked back at 2008 and saw that "Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162" gone while "88 U.S. 165" was still there. If to begin with these were two different cases, it is obviously alarming to see the case that one knows to be important get disappeared. But Leo was not actually beginning with two different cases. He was not starting at the beginning at all. He was starting at the end, which is how he got screwed up.

It is an interesting screw up, and an interesting mystery to solve, but that is the extent of the story. Once the confusion is discovered, the whole thing is just an odd bit of happenstance that led to a very peculiar misunderstanding. If everyone makes sense from here on out, this episode should turn into one of the grander homages to Gilda Radner's "never mind."


Justia-gate get's even wackier: Clayton Cramer's cut-and-paste head-scratcher

The example that mystified Clayton was a case where Justia had edited out "Minor v. Happersett ,21 Wall. 162" and replaced it with "88 U.S. 422," which is NOT a valid reference to Minor. This one really looks like obfuscation.

Here is Justia's U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark page (as recorded by Wayback) in April 2008:
The constitution nowhere defines the meaning of these words, either by way of inclusion or of exclusion, except in so far as this is done by the affirmative declaration that 'all persons born r naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.' Amend. art. 14. In this, as in other respects, it must be interpreted in the light of the common law, the principles and history of which were familiarly known to the framers of the constitution. Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162; Ex parte Wilson, 114 U.S. 417, 422, 5 S. Sup. Ct. 935; Boyd v. U. S., 116 U.S. 616, 624, 625 S., 6 Sup. Ct. 524; Smith v. Alabama, 124 U.S. 465, 8 Sup. Ct. 564. The language of the constitution, as has been well said, could not be understood without reference to the common law. 1 Kent, Comm. 336; Bradley, J., in Moore v. U. S., 91 U.S. 270, 274. [Emphasis added.]
Here is Justia's U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark two months later, in June 2008, five months before the presidential election:
The Constitution nowhere defines the meaning of these words, either by way of inclusion or of exclusion, except insofar as this is done by the affirmative declaration that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States." In this as in other respects, it must be interpreted in the light of the common law, the principles and history of which were familiarly known to the framers of the Constitution. 88 U. S. 422; Boyd v. United States, 116 U. S. 616, 116 U. S. 624, 116 U. S. 625; Smith v. Alabama, 124 U. S. 465. The language of the Constitution, as has been well said, could not be understood without reference to the common law. Kent Com. 336; Bradley, J., in Moore v. United States,@ 91 U. S. 270, 91 U. S. 274. [Emphasis added.]
Ah, but look at what else is changed. It's not a straight swap of "Minor v. Happersett ,21 Wall. 162" for "88 U.S. 422." Also missing is the citation that was originally right after the Minor citation: "Ex parte Wilson, 114 U.S. 417, 422."

It seems that whoever was going through replacing "Minor v. Happersett, 21 Wall. 162" with "88 U.S. 165" made a copy and paste mistake. They deleted both the original Minor citation and all of Ex Parte Wilson except for the 422, and in place of this excision put back in, not the full "88 U.S. 165" citation, but just "88 U.S."

Well, that is what happens when human beings are tasked with robotic functions. Ask someone to replace a whole slew of existing citations with new cut-and-paste citations and they will occasionally select more text to replace than they intended, select less text to past in than they intended, etcetera.

And that's how you get a really big "neeeeever mind." Good going Gilda. You got 'em.

I haven't looked at all the examples, so there still could be more going on, but given that the highlighted examples are quite certainly innocent (and actually made Minor EASIER to find) it seems very unlikely that the un-highlighted examples are not innocent as well.


UPDATE I left some comments on Clayton Cramer's post and, at my urging or on his own, he seems to have figured it out:

Clayton said...

If the goal was to surgically remove Minor from Wong Ark Kim, why did they leave references to that case in later paragraphs? In addition, 88 U.S. 422 was not a reference to Minor or to Ex parte Wilson, but to Minor's volume and Wilson's page number--which is what you might expect if someone wrote a script intended to stick in a hyperlink to Minor (which was not present on April 20, 2008) that was defective: you could perhaps end up with something that scrambled these together.

There are aspects of what justia did that are worrisome. If they recognized that they had unintentionally damaged these cases, they should have admitted this, rather than silently restore everything, and use robots to stop further archiving.

Clayton said...

Yet the hyperlink actually pointed to 88 US 162, even though the text was 88 US 422. Yes, I suppose that someone might have intentionally made those mismatch, but if you were going to do that to make it hard to find the relevant case, why not make the hyperlink point to 88 US 422 as well?

This really smells of a defective script that tried to insert a hyperlink pointing these cases to the correct location, and scrambled the results. I have written a few scripts over the years that tried to do things like this, and even a few peculiarities in the underlying HTML could cause this. It certainly is more plausible of an explanation than removing Minor v. Happersett from one paragraph, but leaving it in the next paragraph.


Unfortunately, Leo Donofrio is digging his heels in, claiming that he has been holding his strongest evidence in reserve and promising to publish it tomorrow. Here is our back and forth from his site. Leo's replies are in bold:

Alec Rawls Says:

Leo: Given how far this story has gotten, I decided to write a post on my discovery of what actually happened:

“Justia did NOT expunge references to key natural-born case, they just changed citations to modern format”

http://errortheory.blogspot.com/2011/10/justia-did-not-expunge-references-to.html

My email is alec@rawls.org

[ed. Perhaps if it happened one time, your theory might be plausible in some way. But it happened 25 times... the case name was removed, the citations were changed and in some cases whole sentences of text were removed. Regardless, I have been out in front of your argument and have planned for it accordingly.

As to the specifics of your theory, you claim that when Justia updated the cases to include hyperlinks, somebody screwed them up - in all three ways, case name and citation... 25 times...which you claim was totally due to human error... and you also infer that the removal of full sentences directly on point as to POTUS eligibility was also due to human error... Even without the evidence I (and others) are in possession of, evidence which I have not published yet... your theory is ridiculously naive at best and intentionally fraudulent at worst. I don't know you and I won't guess which side of that curve you fall on. But you have made an argument that by removing the case name, "Minor v Happersett", this somehow made the case easier to find. That is truly one of the classics of Seussian hooplah and it goes in the hall of fame.

Regardless, since I anticipated your EXACT theory... I protected the story by documenting the following evidence... as well as the evidence I have previously reported on. Having dealt with this kind of subterfuge before, I utilized a few skills I learned from my poker and chess fanaticism... it's called thinking ahead and planning ahead... moves and moves ahead... The evidence I haven't published yet only became relevant after the other side played two moves in this game. The first move that was required was for Justia to place robot.txt blocking over their entire domain. That happened today. Second, someone had to come along espousing the theory you have stated. Both of those moves have been made, so now it is my turn to move. Now I will discuss the evidence which I have not previously discussed.

Your theory is that when the cases were updated to include hyperlinks, the citations were "modernized". Here is what you wrote at your blog:

"Much todo about nothing, as it turns out. Minor was NOT suppressed, and the proof is in Leo Donofrio's own screen-shots...The obvious explanation is that Justia must have been going through its postings and adding active links. Whoever was doing it just got overzealous and replaced the Court's actual citation with a modern format citation (not required in order to add a link)...Well, that is what happens when human beings are tasked with robotic functions. Ask someone to replace a whole slew of existing citations with new cut-and-paste citations and they will occasionally select more text to replace than they intended, select less text to past in than they intended, etcetera."

But you skipped a step Errol. You skipped a very big step.

It is correct that many of the first snapshots from 2006 did not have hyperlinks at Justia... but then at various points between 2006 and early 2008 all of the cases were changed to add hyperlinks.
All 25 of the cases were just fine after they were hyperlinked and not sabotaged in any way. The citations were perfect including the official reporter citation, ie 88 US 162 or 88 Wall. 162... as well as a secondary citation to the actual page in question. Beautiful. The benevolent update from non-hyper linked cases... to complete hyper-linked cases... was accomplished at Justia PRIOR to any of the sabotage. This is proved by the timeline of Wayback Machine snapshots.

I have those snapshots saved because I was waiting for this argument.

So, the pattern is as follows:

1) In 2006, all 25 cases are published by Justia in full with their original text but most hyperlinks are missing.

2) Then, at various times between 2006 and early 2008, all 25 cases were changed to include hyperlinks and none of the cases were sabotaged upon those benevolent updates. Hyperlinks are perfect, case name is there, citations and opinions are perfect.

3) Then in 2008, all 25 cases are sabotaged to remove the case name, screw up the citations and in some cases remove whole sentences of text.

It was the second revision which exhibits the sabotage, not the first. The first revision was accomplished by Justia PERFECTLY with no human error leaving no reason for the second revision other than sabotage. The cases had already been updated, or "modernized" as you put it... This was accomplished perfectly to include the case name, full citation to official reporter, secondary citation to page number, and no text was removed. There was no human error. Then, the cases were revised again. Benevolently? Uh... not so much. How about not at all.

The Wayback Machine snapshots tell the story, but I guess Justia thought that by removing their entire site from the scrutiny of the Wayback Machine (so much for freedom of information for the benefit of society) they might be protected by the fatal flawed theory you have forwarded.

I am preparing a follow up on this no later than tomorrow with screenshots from the Wayback Machine.

Foresight. It's a wonderful concept. - Leo]

Alec Rawls Says:

Leo: If Justia really did what you say–if their first revision left their pages as they are now, with the original citation intact but adding a modern-format citation with a hyperlink, and only afterwards did they go back and delete the original-format citations–then THAT is the evidence that they were trying to hide Minor v.Happersett. But that is not what you published, and what you did publish–at least the examples from Luria and Wonk Kim Ark that were promoted by WND and the Examiner–do NOT evidence suppression. Why would you do that? Why would you publish an account that doesn’t include the REAL evidence of wrongdoing?

[ed. The evidence we published proved the case firmly. That's why it's gone viral as is. Your theory made absolutely no sense. Seriously. Mistakes are not made systematically 25 times... and over three criteria. Not to mention that as you published, you failed to state that Justia had blocked access to the Wayback Machine this morning. And your theory - that clipping the actual case name made searching the case easier - was total bunk. Arguing that changing the official citation made it easier to find the case is also bunk. Hyperlinking didn't make it easier to search for references to Minor in other cases, that's also bunk. Hyperlinking made it easier to ACCESS the case once you've found a reference to it. But if the cases name is clipped when one is searching for the case name, one is not going to find the case. Same for bogus citations. Nobody is searching for 88 US 448 or even 88 US 171... they are searching for 88 US 162 or 88 Wall. 162... the hyperlink doesnt help them find the reference, it only makes it easier to access the case once the reference is found. That doesn't help one find something which isn't showing up in a search. If they find the reference because the case is cited properly, then they are certain to find the case even if no hyperlink exists. Not so if one searched for the case name and it's been clipped.

The rest of the evidence was kept in reserve to smash this bogus theory. I'll grant you the benefit of the doubt and assume your intentions were well... but really, I am not impressed. I saw this coming and planned for it. The story was proved on the evidence presented. 25 cases, 25 sabotaged cases is not human error. Furthermore, your report was very arrogant stating conclusions you had no ability to even research as access to the Wayback Machine was shut down by Justia.

Before you put your name behind something, maybe you would consider checking the evidence at the Wayback Machine first. And if all access was blocked, maybe you would put that mind of yours to work trying to find out why it was blocked. After all, why does Justia have to block access to US Supreme Court cases that are in the Public Domain if they don't have something to hide? They're entire mission statement has been to champion freedom of information across the web. Why aren't you calling them out for hiding the goods.

So don't give me slack for playing better chess. I published the goods. Now I'll publish the back up plan. Word.- Leo]

Frankly, that makes no sense. It is not chess. It is not thinking ahead on your part. It is failure to think ahead. Once people see that your initial report got the story wrong, how many people are going to give you a second chance? If the evidence actually is as you now say, that is an important story, but you have made it harder to get that story out, to say nothing of wasting a significant chunk of my time. Why should I need to spend all night exposing your proclaimed evidence of wrongdoing as non-evidence before you are willing to be forthcoming with the real evidence? Don’t expect WND and the Examiner to be too happy either.

[ed. You haven't exposed anything but a serious lack of credibility and a failure to see the truth in front of your own eyes. And nobody is happy about this fraud by Justia. There's nothing to be happy about. It's a damn shame. Dianna Cotter at the Examiner is very pleased with the story and everything I've written in this comment to you and my previous comment. Maybe you should try asking her what she thinks before you assume. Try that sometime, Sherlock. That benefit of the doubt is fading fast. -Leo]

If the truth is that you just made a mistake and did not realize that “88 U.S. 165″ was an alternate citation for “Minor v.Happersett, 21 Wall. 162,” well mistakes happen, and nobody will hold it against you.

[ed. It's not an alternate citation. It's a citation to a page in Minor which is not an official citation. Big difference. Nobody is searching for 88 US 165... they are searching for references to the case, which is 88 US 162. And since it's not there, they won't find it... be design of Justia. - Leo]

It’s a little embarrassing, but no harm done. On the other hand, intentionally withholding your real evidence of wrongdoing until after your first proclaimed-evidence is exposed as non-evidence, that would be a kind of bad behavior that WND, the Examiner, myself, and a lot of your readers would all justifiably be a bit annoyed at.

[ed. Just speak for yourself, and not for people who you haven't interviewed. You had the ability to look for the evidence before you published your wack theory. The other evidence of wrongdoing which I did not publish was available to the public at the time this story went to press. Therefore, I didn't hold anything from the public that wasn't available to the public. If Justia didn't remove the evidence a few days later, the evidence would still be available to the public. So, when I published the story, anyone could have found the evidence by doing a Wayback Machine search. I'm not the one who hid the evidence that was available to the public at the time I published. The situation has now changed. Justia has removed the evidence and it is no longer available to the public. Therefore, I will fill the gap they created. Why don't you go get the info from Tim Stanley, bastion of freedom of information? Why do you need to get it from Leo Donofrio? I will supply it, but the need for me to supply is caused by Justia removing it. You had a few days to see it before they hid it. But that doesn't bother you. Benefit of doubt... caput. - Leo]

If there IS real evidence of suppression, I’ll be glad to help expose it, but you don’t really seem like the bad-behaving type, and the only evidence I have seen so far is evidence of error on your part, so at this point, that is what I am thinking is the real story here. If it is, you would by far be best to admit it.

[ed. You should already have the evidence in your possession. Don't blame me because you don't have it. It was freely available since I first published back in July all the way through this morning. Maybe you do have it, which must be considered since you mentioned something about staying up all night writing this blog of yours...and Justia didn't block access to their entire domain until this morning. And the fact that you haven't mentioned Justia's removal of evidence is kind of telling.

The bottom line is this... the evidence which disproves your theory was available to the public when I published the story... not just this story, but the one on July 1 as well. Justia hid the evidence by blocking Pope and Boyd at the Wayback Machine back in July. And now they've blocked their entire domain. Had they not blocked it, you would have had access to it right now as everyone did for the last few days. Now that Justia has hid the evidence, I will present what they have hidden. But it was their act of hiding it which makes the evidence so relevant now. Your theory was a fantasy I foresaw might come to pass... but only if Justia hid the evidence. Before they hid the evidence, your theory could not have existed because you, like the rest of the free world, would have seen in the Wayback Machine that there were two revisions, not one. It was the removal by Justia of that evidence which gave rise to your mis-guided theory.

I am out for the night. I will post more comments tomorrow. I couldn't moderate comments other than Alec's posts which needed special attention more than the numerous messages of praise and various points in favor of the story. I will get to the rest of your comments tomorrow.- Leo]




UPDATE CORRECTION: It turns out that Leo's real evidence, what he says above that he has been sitting on, has already been public since July. Very surprising that he didn't say that, but the upshot is that he seems to be right. It seems that before Justia decided to remove the Court's original citations for Minor v. Happersett they had already gone through and added the modern-format citations with the active links. Thus when they went in and removed the Courts original Minor v. Happersett language they were NOT substituting a modern-form citation for an older-form citation, but were simply removing the older-form citation. It does not seem that there could possibly be an innocent explanation for that, so this evidence changes the picture entirely. Here is the comment I added to our exchange in Leo's comment thread:
Leo: I looked at your screenshots for Boyd (Feb 19 2008 and Oct 2 2008) and see that they do indeed show what you say: that the changes Justia had made by February left the original citations intact and only added the modern-form citation. So why in the world does WND's publicization of your work contrast the expurgated version, not with the full earlier version, but with the earlier version that lacks the modern-form citation? Dianna Cotter's piece does the same thing! Neither of these publicizations shows the actual evidence that proves your case.

Of course these publicizations are how I heard about your work: I got an email from a friend early Monday alerting me to the WND and Examiner stories. I guess you can't control what these publicizers do, but their reporting is a major fail. Hadn't you better let them know? As for your response to me, you could have pointed out that you had already posted screenshots of Justia's pre-expurgated pages that include the modern-form citations, instead of telling me that you have been holding this evidence in reserve, just waiting for someone to made the criticisms that I made. Sheesh. I'm Glad to see that that is not actually what you were doing.

So there is the source of our conflict. The examples that were put forward by Bob Unruh and Dianna Cotter as your strongest evidence were not actually showing the evidence at all. Okay, so now Gilda Radner is laughing at me, and I'll update my post accordingly, but this a really REALLY bad job of publicity by Unruh and Cotter. They MANGLED your story. And you didn't realize it?
Obviously I could have been more thorough before posting, but when I followed the links from Examiner and WND to Leo's site, he was endorsing the WND and the Examiner pieces at the top of his post, which I took as an endorsement of their assertions that they were highlighting his strongest evidence. That's why I didn't feel the need to look at his other findings. I had supposedly already seen his strongest stuff.

Not so as it turns out. So I'll take my share of the blame, but Cotter, Unruh and Mr. Donofrio himself all led me down that garden path. I also let Leo know that I had updated:
Hi Leo:

I updated my post to credit your solid evidence of suppressive tampering by Justia:

http://errortheory.blogspot.com/2011/10/justia-did-not-expunge-references-to.html

Too bad Unruh and Cotter did not lead with this. I hope that oversight didn’t cost you a window of opportunity to reach a broader audience.

Comments:
Your theory was debunked at my blog in response to your comment posted there. Linked


http://naturalborncitizen.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/justia-com-surgically-removed-minor-v-happersett-from-25-supreme-court-opinions-in-run-up-to-08-election/#comment-19292
 
Thanks for the lucid explanation. Since Donofrio and the lunatics will never admit they're wrong, they'll make elaborate bullshit arguments. To them everything is a conspiracy. Indeed, right now 308 million people are conspiring against these loons.
 
Why are you moderating comments and not letting my comment appear?
 
A small tactical error on your part: Donofrio basically invented the birther "theory" that natural-born citizenship requires two U.S. citizen parents (and he thinks Minor supports this idea).

WND and Cotter (the Examiner blogger) are pro-birther. They will unflinchingly publish anything that casts doubt on President Obama's legitimacy.

Don't expect them ever to agree with you, or admit that Donofrio is wrong. Expect the opposite, really.
 
Sally-Hill: I do not moderate comments and have not deleted any comment. I did recieve email notification that you posted a comment at 11:31 AM this morning. I have no idea why it is longer visible, but am glad to repost it for you:

Sally-Hill said:

I don't buy your explanation.

If, when Justia replaced the updated citations in Minor leaving off the Prefix of the case name, had also left off the prefix of the case names in other updated citations, it MIGHT be believable. However, from what I can tell, that is not the case. The case name was stripped ONLY from the Minor case, making it a bit too suspicious.

Also, you seem to want us to believe that a human did a page by page copy/paste exercise, whereby you explain away the mistake to human error. Are you crazy or do you just think the rest of us couldn't possibly be as smart as you? LOL

At a site the size of Justia, there is absolutely no way updates to cases are made individually. Especially when the data is contained within a database. The updates to the citations would have all be done via an executed remove and replace script, where each and every change would be identical. They would most likely have all been prepared previous to running the script.

So there would have been a column of changes that contained ALL number except for the one case of Minor which would have contained the name AND number; therefore the error would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

Additionally, if the changes had been legit or inconsequential, why were they quietly corrected when the error was brought to their attention, AND...why place robot.txt on each page in order to prevent the WayBack Machine from keeping their site transparent?

Your explanation is neither lucid or plausible.

People such as Anonymous can call us names all he wants, he can jump up and down and claim he is right and the rest of the nation is wrong, but it is my belief that I take with me into the voting booth, not his.
 
And has Donofrio performed the basic and mind numbingly simple task of seeing if OTHER obscure, not actually relevant to citizenship, citations went through the same changes at similar times...?

I'm willing to bet the answer is ....no.

Just as a reminder to all and sundry, the case is one about voting rights for women, the citizenship of the woman in question was never questioned and the case EXPLICITLY does not define the requirements of NBC status.

I quote

"The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts.

Magic words...."For the purposes of THIS case it is NOT necessary to solve these doubts"

A RELEVANT case would be the only Birther case to ever get past the hysterical laughter stage, specifically Ankeny v Indiana which explicitly stated that the current President meets all the Constitutiional NBC requirements. I quote

"Based upon the language of Article II, Section 1, Clause 4 and the guidance provided by Wong Kim Ark, we conclude that persons born within the borders of the United States are “natural born Citizens” for Article II, Section 1 purposes, regardless of the citizenship of their parents. Just as a person “born within the British dominions [was] a natural-born British subject” at the time of the framing of the U.S. Constitution, so too were those “born in the allegiance of the United States [] natural-born citizens.”
 
cnet picked up the story:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20124882-281/was-legal-site-rewrite-a-liberal-plot-not-quite/
 
As for the actual state of law and precedent, my understanding is that Congtess passed a post-WWII law that clarified the issue in such a way that would leave someone born in Hawaii to a non-citizen father IN as a natural-born citizen and someone born in Panama to a pair of American citizens OUT as natural born.

Thus McCain should NOT have been allowed on the ballot, while the Obama case depends on whether he was actually born in Hawaii. This clarification by Congress seems to be consistent with Wong Kim Ark, as related by Anonymous above, while Minor really isn't relevant.

But the actual relevance of Minor isn't the question when it comes to Justicia's suspicious behavior. Just as an anti-Obama partisan like Leo Donofrio can think that Minor is important, so too could a pro-Obama or pro-McCain partisan think it might be important.

What stands to be revealed by the Justia tampering, if it turns out to be real, is how far some partisans were willing to go in using dishonest means. The tangential nature of the possible tampering does not alter that, but would in itself be a form of extremity.
 
@ Anonymous
Do you think SCOTUS just willy nilly decides all cases that come before them, even for people who are citizens of another country?

SCOTUS would have first determined if Minor were a US Citizen PRIOR to making a ruling on the voting issue, for if Minor had been a foreign national no decision would be necessary since our laws would not have applied to a non-citizen.

They made not only the determination that Minor was a US Citizen, but that Minor was a Natural Born Citizen of the US.

"it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners."

Your quote goes on to state:
"Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first."

Here is where you need to re-read the opinion for what it actually says and not for what you wish or want it to say. The quote says "include as citizen", it does not say "include as natural born citizens".....you seem not to see the striking difference between a US Citizens and a Natural Born Citizen. They further went on to say to these 'plain' citizens there have been doubts whether they are NBC, but for the first class they described (US Soil and 2 US Citizen parents) there is no doubt that they are NBC.

You cannot change the meaning of their words to suit you. You must read them for what they are actually saying.

And not solving the doubts of whether someone such as Obama - born on US soil, of only 1 US citizen parent - was not necessary because Minor didn't possess those qualities since Minor had 2 US citizen parents.

Again, you need to check your reading comprehension skills. You cannot wish it to say one thing while it actually says something else.
 
Alec, I'm very curious where you get the idea that Donofrio is anti-Obama?

I've been following his blog since he first posted it and while I would never propose to speak for Donofrio, I've never gotten that feeling or even read those sentiments from him.

Do you feel he is pro-McCain? He feels that McCain was not eligible either.

If Justia.com actually did tamper with the opinions, and, as you say Minor has no bearing on Obama, why would they have taken the chance to have tampered with those cases - knowing that would be a 'go to' case for the birthers? That makes no sense....if it had absolutely no bearing, why not just leave it alone? And why when caught, would you then block access to the whole site history?

Additionally, instead of referencing an unnamed post-WWII law, could you be so kind as to give the actual law name so we could do some research on it?

Thank you.
 
The McCain case is analyzed here:

http://www.michiganlawreview.org/articles/why-senator-john-mccain-cannot-be-president-eleven-months-and-a-hundred-yards-short-of-citizenship

I was remembering wrong. It wasn't a post-WWII law that is relevant. Rather, a law was passed in 1937 that granted CITIZENSHIP to people previously born in the Canal Zone (like McCain, then 11 months old), but since he hadn't been BORN a citizen, he still fails the natural born test.
 
Professor Chin holds the minority view on McCain's eligibility; most scholars (and the Senate) believe McCain was eligible.

Professor Chin has also said that anyone born in the United States is a natural-born citizen, which would of course make President Obama eligible.
 
I have never been much concerned with the details of whether McCain or Obama actually qualifies as natural born because there is a more fundamental legal question that has to come first. We have a constitutional requirement with no enforcement mechanism. That alone should qualify any significant question about a candidates birth to be heard all the way to the Supreme Court, as Justice Scalia has already already intimated. (And didn't Roberts say something similar?)

Not only should the eligibility question be heard, but the Courts should give them automatic priority as the only available remedy in the face of Congress shirking its duty to pass such laws as are necessary to effect the provisions of the Constitution. It is a travesty that no legal authority ever compelled Obama to submit the full Hawaii record of his birth as soon as any challenge was made.

Age and natural born citizenship are the only constitutional requirements for eligibility and there is no mechanism for verifying them? No mechanism for forcing Obama and McCain to prove their status in the face of legitimate questions? It's insane.

So I am 100% behind the eligibility lawsuits as a matter of fundamental constitutional law, regardless of the particulars of the case that is being made against eligibility. This is a legal question. That it is being left to public opinion instead of to a compulsive legal process violates the rule of law.
 
Judges, scholars, and other experts agree those born in the United States are eligible to serve. (And most agree those born to two citizen parents, such as McCain, are also eligible to serve even if not born in United States.)

There several methods to challenge eligibility: An ineligible candidate can be challenged by another candidate. With respect to the presidency, the U.S. Constitution gives the Electoral College an opportunity to disqualify a candidate (and Congress can refuse to certify the Electoral College's vote). And Congress can impeach.

To suggest there is no method to challenge ineligibility is a fundamentally ignorant statement. And Scalia told Taitz the basics of Supreme Court review: A case will only get heard there if four justices vote to hear it; that these cases have repeatedly been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court is a pretty clear indication that none of these cases have merit.

Because you may not be familiar with the minutia of birthers: The Indiana Court of Appeals already has ruled (in "Ankeny"; search for it) that President Obama was eligible.

Here's a question you can ask your new BFF Donofrio: Why didn't Donofrio cite Minor to the U.S. Supreme Court in his case?
 
@Anon 11:44

All eligibility cases have been thrown out on STANDING, not on the merits of the case.
 
Ankeny was not dismissed for lack of standing; it was thrown out on the merits.

And that no one with standing has bothered to file one of these suits is a good indicator that no one takes them seriously (because there is no disputed issue).
 
First of all "Ankeny" was a state case and has no bearing on a federal office. Secondly, it was dismissed for failure to state a claim. Thirdly, the definition of NBC in "Ankeny" is dicta and meaningless.
 
When I say there is "no enforcement mechanism," I mean there is no mechanism that ensures compliance. Here is what Anonymous wants to call enforcement mechanisms:

"An ineligible candidate can be challenged by another candidate. With respect to the presidency, the U.S. Constitution gives the Electoral College an opportunity to disqualify a candidate (and Congress can refuse to certify the Electoral College's vote). And Congress can impeach."

Sorry, but leaving it up to the whim of candidates, the electoral college and Congress whether the natural-born requirement will be enforced does not ensure enforcement. And he calls me "fundamentally ignorant." More like he is being fundamentally stupid.

Obama has still never been required to submit evidence of his natural born status to any legal body. And it shouldn't just be candidates who have to provide evidence, but those state agencies that have relevant information should be compelled to submit it directly to a designated determiner of fact.

This should be done for EVERY CANDIDATE. Come on, there are only TWO requirements for presidential candidates. Congress, which is charged to establish such laws as are necessary to enforce the Constitution, is shirking its constitutional duty when it fails to either establish its own determiner of fact for this matter, or require the states to do so.
 
Shift the goalposts and change the definition of "enforcement mechanism" if it makes you feel better. But there are already methods to disqualify ineligible candidates.

If you want to compel candidates (or states) to submit documentation, the answer is simple: Pass a law. That no state government (nor the federal government) has indicates this a solution in search of a problem. Every president so far has been eligible to serve, as has been every nominee from the two major parties. Surely there are more important issues to worry about.

And there are three requirements for the presidency: age, residency, and natural-born citizenship. But feel free to continue to call others fundamentally stupid.
 
So we should not bother to establish a mechanism for ensuring compliance with a very-simple-to-comply-with constitutional requirement because "surely there are more important things to do"? Fundamentally perverse.

Congress can find time to socialize medicine and do a hundred other things it is NOT empowered to do under the Constitution, leaving it too busy to pass a law ensuring that a very simple constitutional requirement is met, and Anonymous approves!

Who cares about that Constitution thingy anyway?
 
That Constitution thingy is doing fine: All presidents and major-party presidential candidates have been eligible, and there are already mechanisms to weed out ineligible candidates.

I thought conservatives favored smaller government, and were against over-regulation. *shrug*
 
Slightly off-topic: a man named Ron Polland researched the Obama long-form birth certificate for 800 hours and determined that it was deliberately forged to look like an amateur forgery (but is actually a sophisticated forgery). Quote from article: He acknowledged that readers of his analysis may question his thesis and ask, "Why would a forger create a complex PDF document just to have it exposed as a lousy forgery?

"The answer is that the forger wanted to direct people's attention to certain anomalies more than others, knowing that many people would identify anomalies that could also be produced naturally as a function of Adobe Acrobat."

Article here: part 1 of 2: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=356005 part 2 of 2: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=357621
 
This Ron Polland?

http://barackryphal.blogspot.com/2009/07/meet-ronald-jay-polland.html
 
"This Ron Polland"? I don't know, probably. Questions about his credentials are a separate issue; I wouldn't attempt to blur that together with the evidence he presented (unless I knew, in advance, that I wanted to dismiss such evidence without examining it).
 
Polland lies about his credentials, and the credentials that he does have show that he's over his head. He's not an expert, despite he's lies to contrary.
 
It feels awe-inspiring to read such informative and distinctive articles on your websites.bestcitation.com
 
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