Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy


Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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10 Fun Facts About Wyoming Senate Candidate Liz Cheney

| Tue Jul. 16, 2013 7:09 PM EDT

Liz Cheney is running for Senate. On Tuesday, the former State Department official and daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney kicked off her primary challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) with a YouTube video warning that, among other things, President Obama is "working to preemptively disarm America":

Cheney has never run for elected office, but she's no stranger to national politics. Here's a quick primer:

1. She moved to Wyoming last year.

2. She is Darth Vader Dick Cheney's daughter. (Did we mention that?)

3. She thinks the president isn't serious about disarming Al Qaeda. It's a good thing he waited until after he killed Osama bin Laden.

4. Not only that, but she's convinced he's doing this because he actually wants to make America weaker: "The president has so effectively diminished American strength abroad that there is no longer a question of whether this was his intent. He is working to pre-emptively disarm the United States."

5. She thinks it's "libelous" to call waterboarding "torture."

6. Her organization, Keep America Safe, referred to lawyers who advocated for the rights of Guantanamo detainees as the "Al Qaeda Seven" and suggested they sympathized with terrorists:


8. She fought the construction of the Park 51 Islamic center in Lower Manhattan, arguing that it would be a victory for terrorists:

9. She defended birthers by explaining that "people are fundamentally uncomfortable and fundamentally I think increasingly uncomfortable with an American president who seems to be afraid to defend America, stand up for what we believe in."

10. She supported the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. No really.

Wyoming, a state with two working escalators, has two senators in Washington due to the infallibility of the Founding Fathers. The official state dinosaur is the triceratops. In February 2012, legislators in Cheyenne briefly considered building an aircraft carrier to prepare for a societal collapse.

This Man Has an IQ of 70. Will Georgia Execute Him Tonight? (Update: No)

| Mon Jul. 15, 2013 2:13 PM EDT

Update: A Fulton County judge has stayed Hill's execution, pending a hearing on Thursday.

At 7 p.m. EST on Monday, Georgia is set to execute Warren Hill, who has been on death row since 1989 for murdering his cellmate with a wooden board. (Hill had, at the time, been serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend.) That in itself isn't especially unusual, except that according to every expert who has examined him, Hill is mentally disabled—and states are prohibited from executing mentally disabled individuals under a 2002 Supreme Court decision.

At this point, no one seems to dispute that Hill meets even the state's high standard for proving he's mentally handicapped. But Georgia contends—and in April, a federal appeals court agreed—that his mental capacities are irrelevant, because he is procedurally barred from making that case. That is, even though there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Hill is unfit for execution, Georgia is going ahead with the lethal injection anyway, on a technicality; he's all out of options.

But there's another wrinkle. In February, a state court granted a stay of execution for Hill due to questions about the legality of the state's lethal injection cocktail. The difficulty in acquiring new lethal injection cocktails is such that in February, Georgia sought to expedite the executions of its 94 death row inmates before its cocktails reached their March 1 expiration date. So in May, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed the Lethal Injection Secrecy Act, which classifies the state's execution drug cocktail as a "state secret," and therefore immune from judicial oversight:

The identifying information of any person or entity who participates in or administers the execution of a death sentence and the identifying information of any person or entity that manufactures, supplies, compounds, or prescribes the drugs, medical supplies, or medical equipment utilized in the execution of a death sentence shall be confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure under Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50 or under judicial process. Such information shall be classified as a confidential state secret.

Under the new law, judges—or anyone else, really—are prohibited from finding out what drugs are actually being used to execute death row inmates, and where those drugs are coming from. (In Oklahoma, for instance, lawyers have successfully blocked executions that make use of new, more experimental drugs.) Because the cocktail is unknown, it is impossible to know whether such an execution process would square with other Constitutional tenets, such as the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Hill's last best hope now is the US Supreme Court, which had previously announced it would conference on the case in September. But that's only pushed Georgia to speed up its own deadline. The law went into effect on July 1. On July 3, Georgia set the new execution date for Hill. We'll keep you updated.

Rick Perry's New Quest: Middle East Peace

| Fri Jul. 12, 2013 10:16 AM EDT

On Monday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced that he won't run for re-election for a third time. That leaves the former presidential candidate with a little bit of free time on his hands, and now, by way of an interview with the Washington Times, we know he plans to spend it: international conflict resolution.

"We will be going to Israel to bring together Arabs, Christians and Jews in an educational forum," Mr. Perry told The Washington Times in an interview just three days after he announced he would not seek an unprecedented fourth term as Texas governor.

Most Christians living in the Middle East are Arabs. The people Perry should be inviting are called Muslims. Then again, counting to three has never really been his forte.

A Nevada Man Says His 3rd Amendment Rights Were Violated. Wait, What?

| Thu Jul. 11, 2013 12:30 PM EDT

For all the problems facing the United States in the early years of the 21st century—mission creep, gridlock, cat poop—the unlawful quartering of soldiers in Americans' homes during times of peace is one we've managed to avoid. The Third Amendment, which bans quartering, was adopted in 1791 in response to British conduct during the American Revolution. Since then, quartering hasn't been a significant problem. Just take it from the Onion, which a few years ago heralded the unparalleled success of the "National Anti-Quartering Association," the nation's most successful civil rights lobbying group. Until now, anyway.

Last week, a homeowner in Henderson, Nevada, filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that police had violated his Third Amendment rights by forcibly entering his home to gain a "tactical advantage" in resolving a domestic violence incident next door. But it's not clear that police officers would count as "soldiers" under the Third Amendment (in the one similar case I found, the court rejected that idea), nor is it clear whether the Third Amendment applies to the states at all.

With the exception of a cameo in the landmark case Griswold v. Connecticut, which established a constitutional right to privacy, Third Amendment lawsuits have been limited to bizarre claims about airplane flight paths, cattle ranches, and rent control. Rent control? Rent control. Here's a look:

Bennett v. Wainwright, US District Court for the District of Maine, 2007

Topic: Police raids.

Argument: The plaintiffs argued that a police raid that ended with a resident being shot and killed by a state trooper constituted an illegal occupation.

Ruling: "There is no sense in which a single state trooper and several deputy sheriffs can be considered 'soldiers' within the meaning of that word as it is used in the amendment nor in which the use of a house presumably owned by one of the plaintiffs for a period of fewer than 24 hours could be construed as 'quartering' within the scope of the amendment."


Johnson v. United States, US District Court for the Western District of Texas, 2001

Vladimir Melnik/Shutterstock

Topic: Chemical storage.

Argument: "Plaintiffs essentially contend the defendant United States of America, while doing its best in the military defense of its citizens, nevertheless quartered its chemicals on plaintiffs' properties without permission or reasonable compensation, leaving a toxic footprint on the earth." In the words of the plaintiffs, they had been "invaded and occupied by toxic chemicals."

Ruling: Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.


Custer County Auction Association v. Garvey, US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, 2001

Stephen McSweeny/Shutterstock

Topic: Airplanes.

Argument: "Petitioners insist they have a Third Amendment right 'to refuse military aircraft training in airspace within the immediate reaches of their property,' and that military overflights occurring in the immediate reaches of their property during peacetime, and without their consent, 'are per se unconstitutional.'"

Ruling: "We simply do not believe the Framers intended the Third Amendment to be used to prevent the military from regulated, lawful use of airspace above private property without the property owners' consent."


Ramirez de Arellano v. Weinberger, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, 1984

lakov Kalinin/Shutterstock

Topic: Cows.

Argument: "Temistocles Ramirez de Arellano (Ramirez), a United States citizen, claims that the Secretaries of State and Defense are operating a large military facility for training Salvadoran soldiers on his private [cattle] ranch without permission or lawful authority, in violation of the Constitution."

Ruling: The case was dismissed.


Engblom v. Carey, US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1981


Topic: Prison housing.

Argument: "[P]laintiffs-appellants contend that their due process and Third Amendment rights were violated during a statewide strike of correction officers in April and May of 1979 when they were evicted from their facility-residences without notice or hearing and their residences were used to house members of the National Guard without their consent."

Ruling: "[Plaintiffs] must have known that substitute personnel would be required during a strike. Since they are employees of a prison, they may properly be charged with knowledge of the risks and limitations on their 'rights' as occupants of prison housing."


Securities Investor Protection Corp. v. Executive Securities Corp., US District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1977

Orange Line Media/Shutterstock

Topic: Subpoenas.

Argument: Trustee for a securities firm couldn't be compelled to testify by subpoena because that would constitute unlawful quartering. (It didn’t make sense to us, either.)

Ruling: "The Court will not address itself at any length to Bertoli's claim of privilege based on the first, third, fourth, sixth, eighth, ninth and fourteenth amendments, since they are completely inapposite under the facts and circumstances of this case."


Jones v. Secretary of Defense, US District Court for the District of Minnesota, 1972

Keystone Pictures USA/ZumaPress.com

Topic: Marching with Vice President Spiro Agnew.

Argument: Army reservists were compelled against their will to march in a civil parade with political candidates they opposed.

Ruling: "By no stretch of the imagination can it be said that the reservists in this action are being banded together to execute the civil or criminal laws of the United States or of a state or county. Equally inapposite is plaintiffs' claim that the parade order violates the Third Amendment of the constitution, which prohibits the quartering of soldiers in peace time without the owner's consent, or other specific Constitutional provisions."


United States v. Valenzuela, US District Court for the Southern District of California, 1951

Topic: Rent control.

Argument: "The 1947 House and Rent Act as amended and extended is and always was the incubator and hatchery of swarms of bureaucrats to be quartered as storm troopers upon the people in violation of Amendment III of the United States Constitution."

Ruling: "The Housing and Rent Act of 1947 does not violate constitutional provisions that no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law, on ground that the act is an incubator and hatchery of swarms of bureaucrats to be quartered as storm troopers on the people."

Given the nature of the Third Amendment, if the Supreme Court ever does comes around to making a broad interpretive ruling on the armed occupation of civilian homes, we'll probably have bigger problems on our hands. For now, we need to talk about those cats.

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