Friday, December 14, 2018

Trump administration asks Supreme Court to allow asylum ban

The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow enforcement of a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Two federal courts have temporarily blocked the policy President Donald Trump announced in November in response to caravans of migrants that were approaching the border. Last week, the federal appeals court in San Francisco said the ban is inconsistent with federal law and an attempted end-run around Congress. The administration said in court papers filed Tuesday that the nationwide order preventing the policy from taking effect “is deeply flawed” and should be lifted pending an appeal that could reach the high court. Trump’s proclamation is among measures that “are designed to channel asylum seekers to ports of entry, where their claims can be processed in an orderly manner; deter unlawful and dangerous border crossings; and reduce the backlog of meritless asylum claims,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in his Supreme Court filing. Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing immigrant advocacy groups challenging the asylum policy, said, “The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to short-circuit the normal judicial process and reinstate a blatantly unlawful policy.” Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency appeals from California and other western states, called for a response from opponents of the asylum policy by midday Monday. In the first court ruling on the issue, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar said on Nov.19 that U.S. law allows immigrants to request asylum regardless of whether they entered the country legally. The president “may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” the judge said in his order. The ruling prompted Trump’s criticism of Tigar as an “Obama judge” and led to an unusual public dispute between Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts, who rebuked the president with a statement defending the judiciary’s independence.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Supreme Court sends bar fees case back for further look

The Supreme Court is telling a lower court to take another look at a case challenging mandatory fees lawyers pay to a state bar association. The case the justices sent back for further consideration Monday involves North Dakota attorney Arnold Fleck, who sued after learning that bar fees were being used to oppose a ballot measure he supported. Fleck says he should have to affirmatively consent to paying for the bar association's political activities instead of being able to opt out. North Dakota's fees range from $325 to $380. Lawyers who don't want to support the bar's political activities can deduct about $10. The justices say the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should reconsider the case in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling about fees paid to unions.

Indicted US lawmaker to return to court after re-election

Indicted Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Will is set to return to court Monday for the first time since being re-elected to a sixth term in California amid corruption charges. The congressman and his wife have pleaded not guilty to a 60-count indictment alleging they spent more than $250,000 in campaign finance funds on family trips, tequila shots and other items. A judge could set a trial date at the hearing in San Diego. Hunter, a 41-year-old Marine veteran, has said he is looking forward to the trial to defend his name. Prosecutors say the couple used campaign money to go on $11,000 shopping sprees at Costco and to buy more than $400 in tequila shots. They also went to Italy and Hawaii with their children on the campaign's dime, according to the indictment. The couple tried to cover their tracks by lying on their campaign reports to the Federal Election Commission, prosecutors say.

Dutch court rejects man’s request to be 20 years younger

Dutch motivational speaker Emile Ratelband may feel like a 49-year-old but according to Dutch law he is still 69. A Dutch court on Monday rejected Ratelband’s request to shave 20 years off his age in a case that drew worldwide attention. “Mr. Ratelband is at liberty to feel 20 years younger than his real age and to act accordingly,” Arnhem court said in a press statement . “But amending his date of birth would cause 20 years of records to vanish from the register of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships. This would have a variety of undesirable legal and societal implications.” Ratelband went to court last month, arguing that he didn’t feel 69 and saying his request was consistent with other forms of personal transformation which are gaining acceptance in the Netherlands and around the world, such as the ability to change one’s name or gender. The court rejected that argument, saying that unlike in the case of a name or gender, Dutch law assigns rights and obligations based on age “such as the right to vote and the duty to attend school. If Mr. Ratelband’s request was allowed, those age requirements would become meaningless.” Ratelband, perhaps unsurprisingly given his background as self-described advocate of positive thinking, was undeterred by the court’s rejection and vowed to appeal. “This is great!” he said. “The rejection of (the) court is great ... because they give all kinds of angles where we can connect when we go in appeal.” He said he was the first of “thousands of people who want to change their age.” The court said it acknowledged “a trend in society for people to feel fit and healthy for longer, but did not regard that as a valid argument for amending a person’s date of birth.” Ratelband also insisted his case did have parallels with requests for name and gender changes.

Supreme Court sends bar fees case back for further look

The Supreme Court is telling a lower court to take another look at a case challenging mandatory fees lawyers pay to a state bar association. The case the justices sent back for further consideration Monday involves North Dakota attorney Arnold Fleck, who sued after learning that bar fees were being used to oppose a ballot measure he supported. Fleck says he should have to affirmatively consent to paying for the bar association's political activities instead of being able to opt out. North Dakota's fees range from $325 to $380. Lawyers who don't want to support the bar's political activities can deduct about $10. The justices say the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should reconsider the case in light of a recent Supreme Court ruling about fees paid to unions.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

No holiday respite for Trump's criticism of nation's courts

President Donald Trump and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts are engaging in an extraordinary public dispute over the independence of America's judiciary, with Roberts bluntly rebuking the president for denouncing a judge who rejected Trump's migrant asylum policy as an "Obama judge." Trump, still seething over that Monday ruling, began his Thanksgiving Day by asserting that the courts should defer to his administration and law enforcement on border security because judges "know nothing about it and are making our Country unsafe." And taking aim at a co-equal branch of government, Trump said "Roberts can say what he wants" but the largest of the federal appellate courts, based in San Francisco and with a majority of judges appointed by Democratic presidents, "is a complete & total disaster." That's where an appeal of the asylum ruling would normally go. Roberts had issued a strongly worded statement Wednesday defending judicial independence and contradicting Trump over his claim that judges are partisans allied with the party of the president who nominated them. Never silent for long, Trump responded with a "Sorry Justice Roberts" tweet. The dustup is the first time that Roberts, the Republican-appointed leader of the federal judiciary, has offered even a hint of criticism of Trump, who has several times gone after federal judges who have ruled against him.

Russian court challenges International Olympic Committee

Court ruled Wednesday that bobsledder Alexander Zubkov, who carried the Russian flag at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Games, should still be considered an Olympic champion despite having been stripped of his medals because of doping. A CAS ruling upholding his disqualification is not enforceable in Russia, the court said. CAS, however, is the only valid arbiter for sports disputes at the games, according to the Olympic Charter. In rare instances, Switzerland's supreme court can weigh in on matters of procedure. "The CAS decision in this case is enforceable since there was no appeal filed with the Swiss Federal Tribunal within the period stipulated," the IOC told The Associated Press in an email on Thursday. "The IOC will soon request the medals to be returned." The law firm representing Zubkov said the Moscow court found the CAS ruling violated Zubkov's "constitutional rights" by placing too much of a burden on him to disprove the allegations against him. Zubkov won the two-man and four-man bobsled events at the Sochi Olympics but he was disqualified by the IOC last year. The verdict was later upheld by CAS. Zubkov and his teams remain disqualified in official Olympic results, but the Moscow ruling could make it harder for the IOC to get his medals back. "The decision issued by the Moscow court does not affect in any way the CAS award rendered ... an award which has never been challenged before the proper authority," CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb told the AP. "The fact that the CAS award is considered as 'not applicable in Russia' by the Moscow court may have local consequences but does not constitute a threat for the CAS jurisdiction globally." The IOC's case against Zubkov was based on testimony from Moscow and Sochi anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov, who said he swapped clean samples for ones from doped athletes, and forensic evidence that the allegedly fake sample stored in Zubkov's name contained more salt than could be possible in urine from a healthy human. Zubkov, who says he never doped, retired after the Sochi Olympics and has since become president of the Russian Bobsled Federation. The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation didn't respond to a request to comment.