Boxing-‘Power is in your spirit,’ says challenger Usyk ahead of Joshua showdown

Boxing – Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk News Conference – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain – September 23, 2021 Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk pose with promoter Eddie Hearn during the press conference Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

September 23, 2021

LONDON (Reuters) – Ukrainian challenger Oleksandr Usyk on Thursday dismissed concerns that he did not possess the size and strength to take out world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, saying that the “power is in your spirit”.

The Briton will put his IBF, WBA and WBO belts on the line on Saturday against the undefeated Usyk, a former cruiserweight who is 18-0 in his professional career.

“People talk a lot… we’ll see on Saturday what happens… because the power is in your spirit, it’s not about being big or small,” said Usyk, who has fought only twice before as a heavyweight.

While new to the heavyweight division, Usyk tore through the cruiserweight class after turning pro eight years ago, becoming one of boxing’s rare unified champions in 2018 by winning all four belts in the category.

“… David Haye was three times smaller than Nikolai Valuev which shows that it doesn’t matter,” he said. The 34-year-old added that he expected a chess match in the initial rounds of the bout.

Joshua, who last fought in December 2020 when he knocked out Bulgarian challenger Kubrat Pulev, said: “Happy to be back again, you have to want to train and put the work in and improve and practise… I’m not an easy fight for anyone, I like fighting. God has blessed me, shown me the path to get into boxing.”

The 31-year-old was slated to take on compatriot Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia this year but the fight was cancelled after an American arbitrator ordered Fury to take on Deontay Wilder in a third bout.

“This fight gives me the motivation to practise. I want to give more and more each day. I’m still in camp now, this is just another day in camp… if you tell me I was fighting King Kong I would give it a go. This is my job,” said Joshua ahead of the bout at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Usyk said that the fight had the potential to make history. “I’m grateful that this is happening… people will remember this fight for a long time.”

Joshua added that he had studied a lot of his opponent and was a fan of the Ukrainian’s style of boxing. “(Usyk) was fighting 10 or 12 years as an amateur before he went to the Olympics, and the worlds, so he is probably happy to be in this position — the cream always rises to the top.”

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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Prof. Joshua Braver Responding to Randy Barnett’s Argument About Court-Packing –

In July, Randy blogged about his testimony on court-packing; his testimony relies on a study by Prof. Joshua Braver (Wisconsin). Prof. Braver sent along this response to Randy’s position, which I’m happy to blog:

Court-packing is constitutional. I weigh in on this matter because Randy Barnett provocatively reaches the exact opposite conclusion relying, in part, on my scholarship. Specifically, in written and oral testimony before the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court, Barnett generously quotes and cites my article on the history of changes in the Supreme Court’s size to claim that Congress lacks the authority under the Necessary and Proper clause to change the number of seats on the Supreme Court in order to change its ideological composition.

In this blog post, I focus on how Barnett invokes my article and a key 1937 Senate report to suggest that his argument his historical roots.  I have two observations. First, additional context, not included in my article, suggests that Barnett’s claim has little or no historical support and demonstrates the relative novelty of Barnett’s claim. Second, Barnett’s testimony is a self-conscious effort to mainstream what has long been an unorthodox argument. Scholars and the Presidential Commission should proceed with caution in deciding how or even whether to engage Barnett on the terms he seeks. Indeed, I fear that just by writing this blog post, I have granted Barnett a significant victory.

[I.] The Past

Randy Barnett argues that “Partisan court-packing is … unconstitutional because it violates both the letter and spirit of the Constitution.” The Necessary and Proper clause is the source of Congress’ authority to pass statutes changing the size of the Supreme Court. Drawing on the landmark 1819 case of McCulloch v. Maryland, Barnett emphasizes that the first step of any analysis must be whether “the end be legitimate.” Since packing the Court to change its ideological composition is illegitimate, partisan packing is unconstitutional. Barnett anticipates an objection: the Court’s size has changed seven times. Surely, the political animals in Congress must have enacted these changes for partisan reasons. Barnett rightly rebuts this assumption and in so doing “urge[s] the commission to consult Professor Braver’s nuanced analysis before accepting such a characterization.”

We agree! Consult my work! And I appreciate Barnett’s careful and thoughtful engagement with it. (For my full article, read here and here is a short summary.) We also agree on what that work says: In my view, there has only been one successful partisan packing of the Court—that occurred with a pair of changes during Reconstruction, one in 1866 and the other in 1869. That accounts for two of the seven alterations, leaving five more to account for. Three of those five alternations were mostly administrative and related to the now obsolete practice of circuit riding. The last two, a pair with one in 1801 and another in 1802, are another example of an attempt to pack the court. But unlike the attempt during Reconstruction, this one failed. The 1801 court-packing attempt is not a precedent because it was repealed and repudiated in 1802. Barnett in no way mischaracterizes or distorts my conclusions.

But from this point on, we diverge. We diverge on what this history tells us about the constitutionality of court-packing. There is a messy, but important division of labor between legal historians and constitutional law professors. For history to be useful to constitutional law (not just to the Supreme Court), lawyers develop and apply theories of interpretation. Barnett, at great length and over many years, has developed such a theory, filtered the facts I provided through it, and reached a conclusion. That is the way law and constitutional theory often works. My article was historical and did not address the constitutionality of court-packing in anyway. But greater familiarity with the primary sources gives me a unique vantage point to offer additional context that casts doubt on Barnett’s argument.

I cannot recall a single example of political actors arguing that court-packing is unconstitutional in the 18th or 19th centuries. To be sure, I did not read the sources with that objective in mind. I wrote in response to the upsurge in progressive advocacy for court-packing based on inaccurate historical arguments. When I wrote the article in 2019 no one in contemporary debates had yet taken the position that court-packing was unconstitutional and this was despite the proliferation of tweets, blog posts and op-eds for and against court-packing. The argument had not even occurred to me as a serious one, so I could not have used it as a self-conscious lens for engaging the historical materials. It is plausible that someone in the 19th or 20th century argued that court-packing is unconstitutional and that I missed it. But I doubt that it was a prominent argument in any of the debates and even more skeptical that such an argument was rooted in the Necessary and Proper clause. This absence is all the more striking because from the founding until today, scarcely any political question arose that did not resolve sooner or later into a constitutional question. If Barnett’s argument truly follows from the 1807 McCulloch v. Maryland‘s gloss on the Necessary and Proper clause, I would expect Congressman, newspaper columnists, and other political actors to be chomping at the bit to make the argument. Instead, there is silence.

Nor was this argument prominent during the New Deal debate over Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme. This absence is telling: the New Deal debate is more extensive, richer, and has been subject to much more historical analysis than the episodes I write about in the 19th century. Of the many books on Roosevelt’s court-packing plan, including the forthcoming one from Laura Kalman who testified before the Supreme Court Commission, to the best of my recollection none give any attention to arguments that court-packing was unconstitutional. Again, the lack of Barnett like arguments is striking.

Barnett may be able to move past the secondary literature because he provides his own New Deal era evidence: he repeatedly excerpts the Senate Judiciary Committee’s June 1937 adverse report on Roosevelt’s court-packing plan. Scholars and historians often discuss the report because the report and the extensive hearings that accompanied them were both an effective delay tactic and a rich source of sophisticated debate over the court-packing plan. Indeed, many of the witnesses were prestigious legal minds, including a young Robert H. Jackson would go onto become a Supreme Court justice. The forty-nine page report is an excellent distillation of the opposition’s argument against the court-packing.

Barnett has again turned to the right place, and again we draw different conclusions. First, the report does not mention the Necessary and Proper clause at all. This clause is the central hook for Barnett’s argument. Perhaps this absence is because the report is a political document and hence its tone and style is less doctrinal. The relevant audience is not fellow lawyers or the court, but political elites and the general public. One should not grant this point too quickly given long history of elaborate legal arguments made from the Congressional floor. Nonetheless, it is worth considering, and some differences in tone between a law professor like Randy Barnett and a Senate committee report is to be expected.

Nonetheless, it is unclear at best whether the report, even in a political style, actually argues that court-packing is unconstitutional. Barnett’s first excerpt comes from the report’s introduction and Barnett quotes all its seven enumerated central points. IV is the most relevant and states, “The theory of the bill is in direct violation of the spirit of the Constitution.” Note the use of the word “spirit.” A distinction between letter and spirit is most important when there is a divergence between the two and for that reason it has played a central role in debates about court-packing. Many lawyers, both in 1937 and today, believe that court-packing violates the spirit of the Constitution because it undermines the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. But the letter of the law still holds that court-packing is constitutional. Now, of course, in this quote, the Senate Report does not say that the letter of the law approves court-packing, but it heavily implies it by solely focusing on the spirit. If the letter of the law supported the committee’s opposition to court-packing, it would have mentioned it upfront. Since the letter undermines the committee’s conclusion, it omits a discussion of it altogether.  This quote then does not support, but rather undermines Barnett’s argument that court-packing is unconstitutional.

In constitutional law, the relationship between letter and spirit is complicated and contested, but I think Barnett captures the consensus well:

“We always have to look at the letter. And then we have to enforce the letter according to its spirit. That doesn’t mean the spirit of the Constitution overrides the letter. But it means that as you are pursuing the letter, and in this case it is letter of the necessary and proper clause, the functions, purposes, ends and objects for which we have a Constitution needs to be taken into account.”

Barnett acknowledge that in a conflict between the letter and the spirit, the former must prevail.

Barnett’s second and again lengthy excerpt of the report is better evidence for his position, but ultimately falls short. The Senate’s adverse report concludes

“[Court-packing] points the way to the evasion of the Constitution … It stands now before the country, acknowledged by its proponents as a plan to force judicial interpretations of the Constitution, a proposal that violates every sacred tradition of American democracy. Under the form of the Constitution, it seeks to do that which is unconstitutional.”

Whether this excerpt is calling court-packing unconstitutional as a matter of letter or spirit is ambiguous. On the one hand, the language about the “evasion” and “form” of the Constitution might be interpreted as again reiterating that court-packing violates the spirit, though not the letter, of the constitution. On the other hand, unlike the previous excerpt, this quote does, for the first and only time in the report, the authors explicitly call the court-packing scheme “unconstitutional.”  Perhaps the right meaning of this passage is a close call, but it is still not a clear victory for Barnett.

To prepare the report, the 1937 Senate Committee called many witnesses, but in these hundreds of pages of testimony from many prominent legal minds, Barnett lacks a counterpart. In their study of the hearings, Curtis Bradley and Neil Siegel argue what is most “significant about” the possible constitutional objections “is their ambiguity.” It is unclear “whether the objection[s] [were] that Court-packing would be normatively improper but legally permissible, or would be normatively improper and legally impermissible.” Some testimony took the conventional position that we are all familiar with today: it distinguished between the letter and the spirit of the Constitution to concede court-packing’s constitutionality. In his 1937 testimony, for example Yale Law School Professor Edwin Borchard notes that “[i]n a narrow sense [the Court-packing plan] is legal, and it is within the letter of the Constitution. In a broader sense, the Webster or English sense, it is unconstitutional, because in the minds of many it is calculated to make the Supreme Court subservient to the Executive.” However, no one seems to have done the opposite of Borchard and strictly argued, as Barnett does today, that court-packing is unconstitutional. Certainly, none of these witnesses, including many lawyers and law professors, declared court-packing unconstitutional in the rigorous and doctrinal style that Barnett employs.

Quotations from the Senate adverse report are the final note on which Barnett rests his case. He states, “In conclusion, I cannot improve upon the final words of the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee’s 1937 report.” Barnett implies that he is standing on the shoulders of those giants who defeated Roosevelt’s court-packing plan. But who is the Randy Barnett of 1937? I can think of no one, but further study would be necessary to confirm a total absence from all possible significant sources. Even if there was someone with Barnett’s platform and prominence in the past and who argued for a similar position, did their arguments have any real purchase? I doubt it.

[II.] The Present

Let us get meta. I want talk about how exchanges with Barnett, like my own, might play a role in legal change.  Barnett’s testimony is an effort to take a novel idea and make it a part of our legal discourse. This raises a thorny dilemma about how best to respond to what was until recently a laughable argument. Is it best to just keep laughing? Or twitter style dismiss and mock the assertions of unconstitutionality? While I personally find this kind of uncivil discourse off-putting, politically it has a very important role to play. How else should scholars respond to noxious arguments that Kamala Harris cannot run for president or that Mike Pence can declare Trump to be the winner of the electoral college? Treating these arguments with respect is a mistake. And to be clear, Barnett’s argument does not have the same foul moral odor as the examples I’ve cited. The larger point though is that since Barnett’s argument is out of the mainstream, merely taking it seriously grants it legitimacy and makes it viable. Respectful engagement with marginalized arguments is already a concession with possible real-world consequences.

Barnett does not hide his objective to legitimate his argument. In his testimony, Barnett disclaims any burden to be convincing. “The question for this commission” Barnett writes is “not whether you all agree that the argument I have just sketched is ultimately correct… The question is how plausible this argument will seem to those who may disagree with you. Is it truly “off the wall”? …

“Off the wall” is a term of art. Jack Balkin, a member of the President’s Supreme Court Commission, popularized the term to capture how through social, political and legal movements’ once fringe arguments can enter into the mainstream and even become judicial doctrine. Off the wall now commonly employed by law professors. And Randy Barnett is one of Balkin’s prime examples of his theory because it was Barnett who originated the once dismissed distinction between activity and inactivity that became so influential in NFIB v. Sebelius. In response to Balkin’s use of Barnett as an example, Barnett has responded that Balkin “is right about this. I and others are trying to do exactly this.” To be clear, for both Barnett and Balkin “off the wall” is a neutral term and such arguments can be perfectly consistent with each of their own distinctive originalist methodology. By invoking the term, Barnett is subtly acknowledging that he is engaged in a project of taking once laughable arguments and making them into laudable ones.

One common tactic to keep an argument on the fringe is to briskly dismiss it. Barnett anticipates the tactic and preemptively fights back. Barnett warns the that he is an expert player at the off-the-wall game, plays for keeps, and won big in NFIB v. Sebelius. In his written testimony, Barnett writes:

I hope [to have] provided reason to believe that the argument is plausible enough to be “on the wall”—or at least it could move onto the wall in the future. If so, you should include this potential constitutional difficulty in your report to the President and do so respectfully rather than derisively. As a group, constitutional law professors are often too quick to deride arguments which they find unpersuasive (but others do not). As a group, they’ve been wrong before.

For the last sentence referring to how constitutional law professors have “been wrong before”, he Barnett to his own article about NFIB v. Sebelius. The article is entitled “Why Did so many Law Professors Miss the Boat.” Barnett suggests the perils of ignoring or mocking his arguments. Do liberal members of the commission want to “miss the boat” a second time? If not, they must not engage with his argument “respectfully rather than derisively.”

Indeed, since testifying, on twitter Randy Barnett has repeatedly asked for his argument to be treated with decency and respect. Barnett tweets, “Pro-tip: ‘I don’t buy it’ is not an argument. Nor is any variation on that a response.” In another tweet he writes, “Before deciding on the constitutionality of court-packing, everyone should read my *written* testimony…It’s only 19 pages. I’m open to counter-arguments—from those who have actually read mine.” At this stage, he just wants a “response” that wrestles with the arguments in his paper. Barnett can’t engage with “counter-arguments” because no one is truly taking the argument seriously. If people stopped mocking the argument, it would then have some possibility of creeping into the mainstream.

By writing a serious response, have I fall into Barnett’s trap? I don’t think so. Barnett invokes my work at length, and that gives me some authority to engage on those specific grounds. And that engagement has not been doctrinal. Rather, I tried to illuminate how Barnett’s argument has never been in the mainstream. To accept his argument would be a break with history, not a continuation of it.

The commission, however, is invested with a different and more far-reaching influence over legal discourse than I possess. I am not sure what their best response should be. Perhaps silence or perhaps a quick one sentence dismissal is best. But I do beseech them: do not let Barnett throw constitutional gum at the Commission’s walls.

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Joshua Hall, Trump family Twitter impersonator, arrested on charges of fraud, identity theft

Joshua Hall, a 22-year-old Pennsylvania man who admitted to posing online as family members of former President Donald Trump, has been arrested on related federal wire fraud and identity theft charges.

A criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York accuses Mr. Hall of having duped hundreds of Trump supporters into donating money to a fictitious “Gay Voices for Trump” group that he purported to run.

Federal prosecutors say Mr. Hall masqueraded on Twitter as Mr. Trump‘s younger brother and teenage son in 2020 to promote his own profile on the platform and get attention for the fake political group.

The complaint says Mr. Hall manage to raise thousands of dollars for his nonexistent “Gay Voices for Trump” group through a crowdfunding site and used that money to cover his personal living expenses.

Mr. Hall acknowledged he was behind several bogus Trump family Twitter accounts and the fake “Gay Voices for Trump” group when he was profiled by the New York Times in December after they evaporated.

“I didn’t end up ever really doing anything with the Gay Voices for Trump,” Mr. Hall, a self-described Trump supporter, told The New York Times. “So I never got the funds from it.”

The crowdfunding website contacted Mr. Hall in December requesting documentation showing how the funds were used, and it closed his account when he did not comply, the criminal complaint says.

Audrey Strauss, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that Mr. Hall “pocketed” the funds for his own use.

“Hall led hundreds of people to believe they were donating to an organization that didn’t exist by pretending to be someone he wasn’t, as alleged,” added FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. “As we continue to investigate fraud in all its many forms, we urge the public to remain aware of the prevalence of online scams and exercise due diligence when making donations online.”

Mr. Hall, of Mechanicsburg, west of Harrisburg, could not be reached for comment, and public court records did not list any lawyer representing him as of Wednesday afternoon.

The New York Times described Mr. Hall in December as a delivery food driver who dreamed of becoming a conservative talk radio host. It reported on him after he had tricked Mr. Trump a few weeks earlier.

In late November, Mr. Hall used a Twitter account to impersonate Elizabeth Trump Grau, the former president’s rarely seen sister, to post a message denying her sibling had lost his race for reelection.

Mr. Trump subsequently thanked his sister on Twitter for her support and shared an article written about the bogus tweet. Twitter has suspended that account and several others run by Mr. Hall.

The New York Times previously reported that Mr. Hall had impersonated five of Mr. Trump‘s relatives on Twitter between February and December 2020, including his brother, sister and teenage son, among others.

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Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong sentenced for Tiananmen vigil

HONG KONG (AP) – Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was sentenced to more jail time Thursday for participating in an unauthorized vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, as Hong Kong authorities exert more control over dissent in the city.

For years, Hong Kong was the only place in China where people were allowed to mark the anniversary of Beijing‘s crushing of the Chinese democracy movement.

Despite the commemoration being banned for the first time last year, thousands of protesters defied authorities and proceeded to Victoria Park to light candles and sing songs. Police who were present at the vigil warned the protesters they may be breaking the law but made no arrests on the day itself.

Wong and three district councilors had pleaded guilty to knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly, and could have faced a maximum of five years in prison. Twenty other people face charges over the Tiananmen vigil but have not entered pleas.

Wong, who rose to prominence as a student activist and was the face of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, is already in jail after being convicted of illegal assembly in other protests and was sentenced to an additional 10 months. Councilors Lester Shum, Jannelle Leung and Tiffany Yuen received sentences that range from four to six months for the Tiananmen vigil.

Wong was also among the 47 activists charged under the city’s sweeping national security law for taking part in unofficial primary elections held last year by the pro-democracy camp to determine candidates to field in the legislative elections, which were later postponed.

Authorities have launched an intense crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong following months of anti-government protests in 2019. In addition to the new national security law, the criteria for elections has been changed and many outspoken democracy advocates have been jailed.

“We are very disappointed in how our courts have been failing to safeguard our rights to peaceful assembly, safeguard our rights to freedom of expression,” said Chow Hang-tung, vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organizes the annual Tiananmen vigil.

“The courts keep on stressing that none of has more freedom than others, but it’s not, we are not seeking more freedom than others, we are seeking our guaranteed rights under our constitution, under the Basic Law, under the Bill of Rights,” she said.

The Basic Law is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution and promises civic freedoms not allowed on the mainland. Democracy activists say those freedoms have been all but erased in the recent crackdown.

Chow urged Hong Kong people and others around the world to continue remembering the Tiananmen crackdown by lighting a candle on June 4, wherever they are.

On the night of June 3-4, 1989, Chinese military tanks and troops moved into Beijing‘s Tiananmen Square to break up weeks of student-led protests that had spread to other cities and were seen as a threat to Communist Party rule. Hundreds and possibly thousands of people were killed.

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Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong jailed for four months for 2019 protest

HONG KONG – Joshua Wong, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists and among 47 people charged under a national security law, was sentenced to four months in jail on Tuesday for unauthorized assembly and violating an anti-mask law.

Wong, 24, had pleaded guilty to both charges, including taking part in and using a facial covering at an unauthorized assembly in October 2019 during the height of anti-government protests, the court heard.

He had faced a maximum possible sentence of three years in jail. The sentence will extend a 13-and-a-half-month sentence he is already serving for organising an illegal assembly.

Wong, whom magistrate Daniel Tang called an “iconic figure”, thanked his supporters, some of who chanted, “I miss you” and “Hang in there.”

In October 2019, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam invoked colonial-era emergency powers for the first time in more than 50 years to enact a regulation banning face masks, which many pro-democracy protesters used to hide their identities from authorities.

Under the law, it was illegal to wear a mask at both lawful and unlawful assemblies. Offenders faced a maximum one year in jail and a HK$25,000 fine.

People who needed to wear masks for health, religious or job-related reasons were exempt, although critics said the ban was confusing.

Wong was among 47 democrats charged with conspiracy to commit subversion in late February under the city’s national security law for running in an unofficial primary election in July last year, the largest single crackdown on the opposition since the law was implemented.

He is currently serving a 13-and-a-half-month sentence for organising and inciting an unlawful assembly near the city’s police headquarters in June 2019.

The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise of wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms that pro-democracy activists, who brought parts of the city to frequent halts in sometimes violent protests in 2019, say are being whittled away by Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

China denies interference.

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Alabama Patriot Joshua James “Overwhelmed with Emotion” after Americans Raise over $100,000 for His Family after His Arrest and Harassment by FBI

UPDATE: Alabama Patriot Joshua James “Overwhelmed with Emotion” after Americans Raise over $100,000 for His Family after His Arrest and Harassment by FBI

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