Court: Tennessee can enforce Down syndrome abortion ban
Attorney News | 2020/11/21 16:36
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Tennessee can begin outlawing abortions because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, as well as prohibit the procedure if it’s based on the race or gender of the fetus.

Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee enacted the so-called “reason bans” earlier this year as part of a sweeping anti-abortion measure. The law gained national attention because it banned abortion as early as six weeks ? making it one of the strictest in the country ? but it included several other anti-abortion components.

The law was immediately blocked by a lower federal court just hours after Lee signed it into law.

However, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision will allow the state to enforce the reason bans while abortion rights groups continue their court battle against that law.

The plaintiffs, which include Tennessee abortion providers being represented by reproductive rights groups, had argued the ban was improperly vague, but the court disagreed.

Currently, more than a dozen states have similar reason bans in place.

“These bans are just another way anti-abortion politicians are attempting to limit the constitutional right to abortion care and to create stigma,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. “Decisions about whether and when to continue or to end a pregnancy are best made by the individual and their family.”

The Attorney General’s office said in a statement that they “appreciate the Sixth Circuit lifting the lower court’s injunction” and looked forward to continuing defending the statute.

“Our law prohibits abortion based on the race, gender, or diagnosis of Down syndrome of the child and the court’s decision will save lives,” Lee said in a statement. “Protecting our most vulnerable Tennesseans is worth the fight.”

Immediately following the appeals court ruling, the plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a request in lower federal court for a temporary restraining order to block the reason bans once again, but this time argued the law illegally prohibits a patient from “obtaining constitutionally protected pre-viability abortion care.”

“(The) Sixth Circuit only addressed plaintiffs’ vagueness claims and explicitly declined to issue any ruling with respect to plaintiffs’ claims that the Reason Bans violate patients’ constitutional right to pre-viability abortion,” the attorneys wrote.

The court had not issued a ruling on that as of Friday evening.

Down syndrome is a genetic abnormality that causes developmental delays and medical conditions such as heart defects and respiratory and hearing problems.

According to the National Down Syndrome Society, about one in every 700 babies in the United States ? or about 6,000 a year ? is born with the condition, which results from a chromosomal irregularity.

The rarity of the condition has prompted abortion rights groups to paint the Down syndrome bans as part of yet another thinly veiled effort by lawmakers to continue chipping away at a patient’s right to an abortion.


Giuliani shows at Trump camp lawsuit hearing in Pennsylvania
Attorney News | 2020/11/18 04:02
A hearing on the Trump campaign’s federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania officials from certifying the vote results was set to begin Tuesday after a judge denied the campaign’s new lawyer’s request for a delay.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and the president’s personal attorney, entered the federal courthouse in Williamsport to cheers across the street from several dozen supporters of President Donald Trump.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann had told lawyers for Donald J. Trump for President Inc. and the counties and state election official it has sued that they must show up and “be prepared for argument and questioning” at the federal courthouse.

Giuliani filed Tuesday morning to represent Trump in the case. He has not entered an appearance in federal court since 1992, according to online court records. That was the year before he was elected mayor.

The Trump campaign wants to prevent certification of results that give President-elect Joe Biden the state’s 20 electoral votes, suing over election procedures that were not uniform across the state. Giuliani has promised a raft of lawsuits and to provide Trump with evidence of voter fraud in the drive to overturn the election result.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, has asked to have the lawsuit thrown out, calling its allegations in court filings “at best, garden-variety irregularities.”

Brann scheduled the hearing to discuss the campaign’s request for a temporary restraining order as well as the defendants’ request to have the case dismissed.

After Pittsburgh lawyers dropped out of representing Trump’s campaign on Friday, Philadelphia election lawyer Linda Kerns and two Texas lawyers also filed to withdraw Monday.

Camp Hill lawyer Mark Scaringi, a losing candidate in the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary, notified the judge he was stepping in but did not get the delay he sought.

The Associated Press has declared Biden the winner of the presidential contest, but Trump has refused to concede and is blocking Biden’s efforts toward a smoother transition of power. With Georgia the only uncalled state, Biden has collected at least 290 electoral votes ? just enough that overturning Pennsylvania’s result would not open an avenue to a second term for Trump.

Biden’s margin in Pennsylvania is now more than 73,000 votes.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and experts say Trump’s various lawsuits have no chance of reversing the outcome in a single state, let alone the election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well, and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.

The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.



Justice Alito: COVID restrictions ‘previously unimaginable’
Court News | 2020/11/17 08:34
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito sounded an alarm about restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic, saying they shouldn’t become a “recurring feature after the pandemic has passed.”

“The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty,” Alito said in an address Thursday to the conservative Federalist Society, which is holding its annual convention virtually because of the pandemic.

Alito noted that he was “not diminishing the severity of the virus’ threat to public health” or saying anything about “whether any of these restrictions represent good public policy.” He cautioned against his words being “twisted or misunderstood.”

But he said it is an “indisputable statement of fact” that “we have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020.”

“Whatever one may think about the COVID restrictions, we surely don’t want them to become a recurring feature after the pandemic has passed,” said Alito, who was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush.

Alito was particularly critical of two cases earlier this year where the court sided with states that, citing the coronavirus pandemic, imposed restrictions on the size of religious gatherings. In both cases, the court divided 5-4 in allowing those restrictions to continue with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the court’s liberals.

In May, the high court rejected an emergency appeal by a California church challenging attendance limits at worship services. The justices turned away a similar challenge by a Nevada church in July. Alito said in both cases the restrictions had “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship” and he warned that “religious liberty is in danger of becoming a second-class right.”

Both cases came to the court before the death in September of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The liberal justice’s replacement by conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett could change how the court might come out on similar cases in the future. Currently before the court is a case involving the Catholic church and limits on in-person services in New York.


St. Valentine's gift ideasSt. Valentine's gift ideas
Opinions | 2020/11/17 03:34

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Chapter 7 bankruptcy - The Bankruptcy Means Test
Legal Business | 2020/11/15 12:04
The means test makes it so that not everyone can simply file for bankruptcy and wipe out their debts. Those with a high amount of disposable income do not qualify. You will need to determine how your household income compares to the median in your state. If it is less, then you automatically qualify. If it is above the median, then you need to calculate your disposable income, which can get complicated.

When we calculate the means test, the formula allows certain amounts of expenses, and then the test calculates how much money you have left over. If it is higher than a certain amount, then you fail the means test. But, when we complete the means test, there are many items which vary for each person. We will use our experience to give you the best possible result to see if you qualify. It’s not simply plugging in a few numbers.

However, even if you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may still qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and the means test will determine how much of your debt you are required to pay back.

Chapter 7 for Individuals/

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good option for consumers who simply have too much debt and can not keep up with payments. They may have lost their job or come across unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or car repairs. If you take the means test and your income is below the median, then you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you want a fresh start, but do not have a regular income, Chapter 7 can wipe out the majority of your debts.

In this type of bankruptcy, we will consult with you to see what you own, and who you owe. We will then review your entire situation so that you know exactly what we expect will happen. In most cases, people can keep their house, car, and other household goods, and eliminate their unsecured debts.

A Trustee is assigned to review your case to see if you own more than you can protect. If you own more than what you are allowed to protect, the trustee may sell your assets, and use the proceeds to pay your debts. This happens in a very small number of cases.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy will wipe out unsecured debts such as credit card bills and medical bills. You are still on the hook for certain debts, such as tax debt, child support, alimony, and student loan debt. For student loan debt, you might be able to discharge that debt if you can prove that you have a permanent injury or illness that will prevent you from paying back your student loan debt. (Called the “Bruner” or “undue hardship” standard) Any attempt to discharge student loans are done in a separate and very difficult court proceeding.


Republicans face court setbacks, Trump law firm steps down
Attorney News | 2020/11/13 16:34
Republicans suffered setbacks to court challenges over the presidential election in three battleground states on Friday while a law firm that came under fire for its work for President Donald Trump’s campaign withdrew from a major Pennsylvania case.

The legal blows began when a federal appeals court rejected an effort to block about 9,300 mail-in ballots that arrived after Election Day in Pennsylvania. The judges noted the “vast disruption” and “unprecedented challenges” facing the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic as they upheld the three-day extension.

Chief U.S. Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith said the panel kept in mind “a proposition indisputable in our democratic process: that the lawfully cast vote of every citizen must count.”

The ruling involves a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision to accept mail-in ballots through Friday, Nov. 6, citing the pandemic and concerns about postal service delays.

Republicans have also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the issue. However, there are not enough late-arriving ballots to change the results in Pennsylvania, given President-elect Joe Biden’s lead. The Democratic former vice president won the state by about 60,000 votes out of about 6.8 million cast.

The Trump campaign or Republican surrogates have filed more than 15 legal challenges in Pennsylvania as they seek to reclaim the state’s 20 electoral votes, but have so far offered no evidence of any widespread voter fraud.

A Philadelphia judge found none as he refused late Friday to reject about 8,300 mail-in ballots there. The campaign has pursued similar litigation in other battleground states, with little to show for it.

In Michigan, a judge Friday refused to stop the certification of Detroit-area election results, rejecting claims the city had committed fraud and tainted the count with its handling of absentee ballots. It’s the third time a judge has declined to intervene in a statewide count that shows Biden up by more than 140,000 votes.

And, in Arizona, a judge dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit seeking the inspection of ballots in metro Phoenix after the campaign’s lawyers acknowledged the small number of ballots at issue wouldn’t change the outcome of how the state voted for president.

The campaign had sought a postponement of Maricopa County’s certification of election results until ballots containing overvotes ? instances in which people voted for more candidates than permitted ? were inspected.

Meanwhile, legal giant Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, which had come under fire for its work for the Trump campaign, withdrew from a lawsuit that seeks to stop Pennsylvania officials from certifying the election results.


Court blocks small number of ballots in Pennsylvania over ID
Opinions | 2020/11/11 16:34
A Pennsylvania judge sided with President Donald Trump’s campaign Thursday and ordered counties not to count a tiny number of mail-in or absentee ballots for which the voter didn’t submit valid identification within six days after the Nov. 3 election.

The injunction issued by Commonwealth Court Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt deals with an as-yet unknown number of ballots that may number a few thousand, or less.

While the Trump campaign’s general counsel, Matt Morgan, called the order a “win” for the campaign, the ballots affected may not have been tabulated yet and are unlikely to affect the outcome of the presidential race in Pennsylvania.

The court order affects a subset of about 10,000 ballots that arrived within a three-day period after polls closed Nov. 3, a period allowed by the state Supreme Court because of concerns over the pandemic and delays in the U.S. Postal Service.

Allegheny County, the state’s second-most populous county, did not have any ballots subject to the order, a spokesperson there said. Philadelphia had about 2,200 such ballots that may be subject to the order, a spokesperson there said.

In Thursday’s order, Leavitt agreed with a challenge by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee to guidance issued Nov. 1 by Pennsylvania’s top election official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat. In that guidance, Boockvar advised counties to allow voters to provide the necessary identification within nine days after the Nov. 3 election, or through Thursday.

That three-day extension was strictly for voters whose ballots that had arrived within a three-day grace period after Election Day allowed by the state Supreme Court.


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