Court: British surveillance violates European law
Legal Business | 2018/09/14 18:43
Europe's human rights court handed a partial victory Thursday to civil rights groups that challenged the legality of mass surveillance and intelligence-sharing practices exposed by American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that some aspects of British surveillance regimes violated provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights that are meant to safeguard Europeans' rights to privacy.

Specifically, the court said there wasn't enough independent scrutiny of processes used by British intelligence services to sift through data and communications intercepted in bulk.

The ruling cited a "lack of oversight of the entire selection process" and "the absence of any real safeguards."

The court's seven judges also voted 6-1 that Britain's regime for getting data from communications service providers also violated the human rights convention, including its provisions on privacy and on freedom of expression.

But the ruling wasn't all bad for British spies. The court said it is "satisfied" that British intelligence services take their human rights convention obligations seriously "and are not abusing their powers."

The court also gave a green light to procedures British security services use to get intelligence from foreign spy agencies, saying the intelligence-sharing regime doesn't violate the convention's privacy provisions.


The Latest: New Mexico court blocks straight-ticket option
Court News | 2018/09/13 18:43
The New Mexico Supreme Court is blocking a ballot option that would have allowed voters to select candidates from one particular party in all races by marking a single box.

The court made its decision Wednesday after listening to oral arguments about a plan from the state's top elections regulator to reinstate straight-ticket voting in the November general election.

The court found that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver did not have authority to impose such a change.

Critics of the practice say it primarily harms independent, minor-party and Republican candidates in a state dominated by registered Democrats.

They argued in court that state law doesn't clearly say whether authority to design ballot forms extends to substantive decisions about straight-party voting, and that Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver should have consulted the public through the rulemaking process.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has indicated it will decide Wednesday whether voters should be allowed to select candidates from a particular party in all races by marking a single ballot box.

At issue is a plan from the state's top elections regulator to reinstate straight-ticket voting in the November general election.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver argued she has authority over ballot forms, including the discretion to determine whether to include a straight-party voting option.

Critics questioned that authority Wednesday, saying such decisions should be made by the Legislature and should be informed by data on voting behavior. They also raised concerns that no public hearings were held before Toulouse Oliver announced the change.


Nebraska’s top court: Voters to decide on expanding Medicaid
Court Watch | 2018/09/13 04:43
The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that voters will decide in November whether to expand Medicaid in the state.

The court’s rejection of a Republican-led lawsuit Wednesday is a victory for advocates who say a vote favoring expansion would ensure coverage for about 90,000 low-income residents who earn too much to qualify for regular Medicaid but too little to be eligible for assistance under the Affordable Care Act.

Nebraska’s Republican-dominated Legislature rejected six previous attempts to expand Medicaid. Utah and Idaho have similar ballot measures pending. Maine became the first state to expand Medicaid by ballot measure last year.

The lawsuit was filed by state Sen. Lydia Brasch and former state Sen. Mark Christensen, both Republicans who helped derail similar bills in the Legislature.


The Latest: International court 'undeterred' by Bolton
Legal Interview | 2018/09/12 08:44
The International Criminal Court says it will continue to do its work "undeterred," despite National security adviser John Bolton's condemnation.

olton asserted Monday the court "threatens American sovereignty and U.S. national security interests."

The Netherlands-based court said in a statement Tuesday it was established by a treaty supported by 123 countries. It says it prosecuted cases only when those countries failed to do so or did not do so "genuinely."

The court pledges to "continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law."

Bolton's speech came as an ICC judge was expected to soon announce a decision on a request from prosecutors to open an investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network militants and U.S. forces and intelligence in Afghanistan.

Iran's foreign minister is criticizing the United States for its opposition to the International Criminal Court.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said on his Twitter account Tuesday, "The US threatens to impose sanctions on the ICC & even prosecute its judges in American courts. Where is the outrage?"

He says, "The boorishness of this rogue US regime seems to know no bounds."

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Monday denounced the legitimacy of the Netherlands-based court, which was created in 2002 to prosecute war crimes.


Court: Free speech protects Trump comments at Kentucky rally
Opinions | 2018/09/11 18:44
A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit alleging President Donald Trump incited a riot during a 2016 Kentucky campaign rally that led to assaults of three protesters.

Kentucky residents Kashiya Nwanguma (kah-SHY'-ah wan-GOO'-mah), Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau filed the lawsuit in 2016. They attended Trump's campaign rally in Louisville on March 1, 2016.

Security officers removed them after Trump said from the stage: "Get 'em out of here." The protesters were pushed and shoved on their way out. A 26-year-old white nationalist was later fined and given a suspended jail sentence for his actions.

The lawsuit sought damages against Trump for inciting a riot, which is a misdemeanor under Kentucky law. But the court ruled Trump's comments are protected as free speech under the First Amendment.


Audit: West Virginia Supreme Court skirted pay law
Legal Topics | 2018/09/11 07:55
A new legislative audit report says West Virginia's Supreme Court skirted state law concerning pay for senior status judges.

News outlets report the audit released last week found 10 senior-status judges were authorized overpayments. State law prohibits them from making more than active circuit judges. The audit said that to circumvent the law, Supreme Court officials began converting senior status judges from employees to independent contractors.

The audit by the Legislative Auditor's Office Post Audit Division also pegged renovations for Supreme Court offices between 2012 and 2016 at $3.4 million, including $1.9 million for the five justices' chambers. Auditors say invoices for renovations to the court's law library and administrative offices were not made available.

Four justices who were impeached by the House of Delegates are due to go before the state Senate on Tuesday.


Indiana high court to consider city rental registration fee
Court Watch | 2018/09/10 20:01
The Indiana Supreme Court is preparing to review the constitutionality of a 2015 state law targeting the city of Hammond's rental registration revenue.

The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that the state's high court will hear oral arguments Thursday about a law limiting housing rental registration fees to $5 per unit per year. The law exempts Bloomington and West Lafayette due to their unique rental market as college towns, but applies to Hammond, which charges rental registration fees of $80 per unit.

The state Court of Appeals struck down the law in February, concluding that lawmakers violated the constitutional ban on special laws "relating to fees or salaries" by allowing only the two college towns to charge a rental registration fee distinct from what applies across the rest of Indiana.



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