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Day 05/05/2011

Stevens Urges Congress to Crack Down on Prosecutorial Misconduct

91 years old J. Stevens on Connick v. Thompson and why Monell got it wrong in dicta that municipalities are not liable under § 1983 for the torts of their employees under respondeat superior.

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens said Supreme Court decisions have given local prosecutors impunity for violating constitutional rights, and urged Congress to respond by authorizing victims of misconduct to sue.

In a speech Monday night to the Equal Justice Initiative, which advocates for indigent defendants, Justice Stevens criticized the court’s March decision overturning a jury’s $14 million award to an innocent man who spent 14 years on death row after prosecutors concealed evidence that could have cleared him. (Click to see the full text of Stevens’ speech.)

(via Wall Street Journal law blog)

NYT: Corporate Taxes Enter Debt Debate

From the NYT Caucus blog:

The Obama administration is preparing to inject an unpredictable new variable into its economic policy clash with Republicans: a plan to overhaul corporate taxes.

Economic advisers have nearly completed the process initiated in January by the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, at President Obama’s behest. That process, intended to make the United States more competitive internationally, has explored the willingness of business leaders to sacrifice loopholes in return for lowering the top corporate tax rate, currently 35 percent.

The approach officials are now discussing would drop the top rate as low as 26 percent, largely by curbing or eliminating tax breaks for depreciation and for domestic manufacturing.

… Balancing deficit concerns with its desire to improve relations with businesses, the Obama administration wants any corporate tax overhaul to be “revenue neutral” — that is, a new system should bring in no more or less money from businesses than the old one did. Thus some sectors with comparatively few major deductions could win big, including Wall Street. Others paying lower “effective rates,” like domestic manufacturers, could lose.

… Proposing to cut the top rate for corporations poses the risk of aggravating unease among Democrats as they negotiate with Republicans over spending cuts in the monuments of modern liberalism: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The recent revelation that the nation’s largest corporation, General Electric, paid no federal tax for 2010 despite $14.2 billion in worldwide profits makes a business tax-rate reduction an even tougher sell.