Court rules UK must reconsider arms sales to Saudi Arabia
Court News | 2019/06/19 22:46
A British court ruled Thursday that the U.K. government acted unlawfully in selling weapons to Saudi Arabia that were used in the Yemen war, though it did not order a halt to the exports.

The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of anti-weapons campaigners, who argued that the sales should not have been allowed because there was a clear risk the weapons might be used in violation of international humanitarian law.

The British government plans to appeal the ruling, but while the case is ongoing, Trade Secretary Liam Fox said no new licenses for arms sales to Saudi Arabia would be granted.

Campaign Against Arms Trade argued that British bombs and fighter jets are fueling violence in Yemen, where a Saudi-led war against Iran-backed rebels has raged since 2015. The Gulf kingdom faces wide international criticism for indiscriminate airstrikes that have struck markets, hospitals and other civilian targets.

Three judges said the British government's decision-making "was wrong in law in one significant respect" — that they had "made no attempt" to find out whether the Saudi-led coalition had breached international law.


High court avoids new case over same-sex wedding case
Legal Business | 2019/06/17 15:46
The Supreme Court is throwing out an Oregon court ruling against bakers who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The justices' action Monday keeps the high-profile case off the court's election-year calendar and orders state judges to take a new look at the dispute between the lesbian couple and the owners of a now-closed bakery in the Portland area.

The case involves bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, who paid a $135,000 judgment to the couple for declining to create a cake for them in 2013.

The justices already have agreed to decide whether federal civil rights law protects people from job discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The case involves bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, who paid a $135,000 judgment to the couple for declining to create a cake for them in 2013.

The justices already have agreed to decide whether federal civil rights law protects people from job discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.


High court lets Virginia voting go ahead under redrawn map
Court Watch | 2019/06/16 22:46
Virginians will elect members of the House of Delegates using a map seen as favorable to Democrats, according to ruling Monday by the Supreme Court.

The 5-4 decision was perhaps telegraphed by the fact that the justice previously allowed election planning to go forward with the new map. Virginia held its primary last week, and the November general election will be the last time the state uses this map because legislative districts will need to be redrawn to account for results from the 2020 census.

The political boundaries are important because Republicans currently control the House by a 51-49 margin.

The justices let stand a lower court decision putting in place the new map, saying Republicans in the state House did not have right to appeal to the Supreme Court. The state could have decided to bring the case but did not, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote.

“One House of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process,” she wrote. The four justices who joined her were Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch, a lineup that included conservatives and liberals. Dissenting were Chief Justice John Roberts and three other justices — Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh.

The case stemmed from a map drawn by Republican lawmakers in 2011, after the last census, and used in the four elections since. Democratic voters sued in 2014, accusing Republicans of packing black voters into certain districts to make surrounding ones whiter and more Republican.

A lower court ruled 2-1 last year that the previous, legislative-crafted map improperly factored race into the drawing of 11 of the 100 House districts. After lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on a redistricting plan, the lower court chose a new map from a series of proposals submitted by a special master.


Brazil's supreme court votes to make homophobia a crime
Legal Topics | 2019/06/14 16:37
Brazil's supreme court officially made homophobia and transphobia crimes similar to racism on Thursday, with the final justices casting their votes in a ruling that comes amid fears the country's far-right administration is seeking to roll back LGBT social gains.

Six of the Supreme Federal Tribunal's 11 judges had already voted in favor of the measure in late May, giving the ruling a majority. The final justices voted Thursday for a tally of eight votes for and three against.

Racism was made a crime in Brazil in 1989 with prison sentences of up to five years. The court's judges ruled that homophobia should be framed within the racism law until the country's congress approves legislation specifically dealing with LGBT discrimination.

The court's judges have said the ruling was to address an omission that had left the LGBT community legally unprotected.

"In a discriminatory society like the one we live in, the homosexual is different and the transsexual is different. Every preconception is violence, but some impose more suffering than others," said justice Carmen Lucia.

Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, one of the judges who voted against the measure, recognized the lack of congressional legislation on the issue but said he voted against putting homophobia inside the framework of the racism legislation because only the legislature has the power to create "types of crimes" and set punishments.


Former FIFA official to challenge life ban at sports court
Legal Topics | 2019/06/11 21:02
Former FIFA Council member Kwesi Nyantakyi will challenge his life ban from soccer for financial corruption at the Court of Arbitration for Sport next month.

The court says the hearing is on July 4. Verdicts typically follow within a few months.

Nyantakyi was filmed by a Ghanaian television program accepting $65,000 in cash from undercover reporters posing as businessmen seeking favors.

He resigned days before the 2018 World Cup as the senior vice president of African soccer's governing body and president of Ghana's soccer federation.

Nyantakyi also left FIFA's ruling committee, which paid an annual $250,000 stipend. He was one of Africa's elected delegates since 2016.


Supreme Court sides with Alabama company in patent dispute
Legal Topics | 2019/06/11 04:02
The Supreme Court sided Monday with an Alabama technology company over the U.S. Postal Service in a patent dispute.

The dispute before the justices had to do with U.S. Patent No. 6,826,548. That's the patent Birmingham-based Return Mail has for a system that uses barcodes, scanning equipment and computer databases to process returned mail almost entirely automatically. The Postal Service initially expressed interest in Return Mail's invention but ultimately developed its own, similar system. That led to a dispute over the company's patent.

On Monday, the court sided 6-3 with Return Mail. Of the Postal Service's arguments, Justice Sonia Sotomayor deadpanned in an opinion : "None delivers."

The dispute began when the Postal Service tried and failed to get Return Mail's patent invalidated. Return Mail sued, arguing that the government should pay for using its invention without permission.

Just as Return Mail thought it might be gaining the upper hand, the Postal Service switched tactics, using a 2011 law to challenge Return Mail's patent. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act says that a "person who is not the owner of a patent," can file a patent challenge using the law. The Postal Service argued it counted as a "person" under the law, but the Supreme Court disagreed.



Supreme Court Rejects Challenge To Regulation Of Gun Silencers
Areas of Focus | 2019/06/09 04:02
The Supreme Court is rejecting a challenge to federal regulation of gun silencers, just days after a gunman used one in a shooting rampage that killed 12 people in Virginia.

The justices did not comment Monday in turning away appeals from two Kansas men who were convicted of violating federal law regulating silencers. The men argued that the constitutional right “to keep and bear arms” includes silencers.

Kansas and seven other states joined in a court filing urging the justices to hear the appeal. The states said the court should affirm that the Second Amendment protects “silencers and other firearms accessories.”

President Donald Trump’s administration asked the court to stay out of the case and leave the convictions in place.

Shane Cox, owner of a military surplus store, was convicted of making and transferring an unregistered silencer, and customer Jeremy Kettler was convicted of possessing one, all in violation of the 85-year-old National Firearms Act. Both men were sentenced to probation.



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