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18 entries in 'Opinions'
2018/06/20   High Court: Online shoppers can be forced to pay sales tax
2018/04/19   Trump's personal attorney has dropped a pair of libel suits
2017/10/15   Supreme Court to consider American Express fee dispute
2017/09/24   Vermont’s high court finds in favor of pipeline under park
2017/09/20   Court: State, Not Counties Accountable for Poor School Funds
2017/07/28   Court: Indiana layoffs of older workers not discrimination
2017/01/06   Ohio Supreme Court delays serial killer's execution date
2016/09/15   Court rules man treated for mental illness can have a gun
2016/07/10   Candidate filing begins Monday for appeals court seat
2016/05/03   High court seems poised to overturn McDonnell conviction
2016/04/09   US House staffers subpoenaed by federal court
2016/03/18   Lawyer: US citizen charged in UN case to plead guilty
2016/03/13   Man accused of terrorism charge with fiancée pleads guilty
2016/02/02   High court to hear arguments in Va. redistricting case
2015/12/09   EU court dismisses Barcelona football trademark case
2015/11/24   Lawyer: Don't judge Chicago officer based on shooting video
2015/09/12   Starting Up: The Balanced Approach
2011/07/01   Terms & Conditions


High Court: Online shoppers can be forced to pay sales tax
Opinions | 2018/06/20 04:33
The Supreme Court says states can force online shoppers to pay sales tax. The 5-4 ruling Thursday is a win for states, who said they were losing out on billions of dollars annually under two decades-old Supreme Court decisions that impacted online sales tax collection.

The high court ruled Thursday to overturn those decisions. They had resulted in some companies not collecting sales tax on every online purchase. The cases the court overturned said that if a business was shipping a product to a state where it didn't have a physical presence such as a warehouse or office, the business didn't have to collect the state's sales tax. Customers were generally supposed to pay the tax to the state themselves if they don't get charged it, but the vast majority didn't. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that the previous decisions were flawed.

"Each year the physical presence rule becomes further removed from economic reality and results in significant revenue losses to the States. These critiques underscore that the physical presence rule, both as first formulated and as applied today, is an incorrect interpretation of the Commerce Clause," he wrote.

In addition to being a win for states, the ruling is also a win for large retailers, who argued the physical presence rule was unfair. Retailers including Apple, Macy's, Target and Walmart, which have brick-and-mortar stores nationwide, generally collect sales tax from their customers who buy online. That's because they typically have a physical store in whatever state the purchase is being shipped to. Amazon.com, with its network of warehouses, also collects sales tax in every state that charges it, though third party sellers who use the site to sell goods don't have to.

But sellers that only have a physical presence in a single state or a few states could avoid charging customers sales tax when they're shipping to addresses outside those states. Online sellers that don't charge sales tax on goods shipped to every state range from jewelry website Blue Nile to pet products site Chewy.com to clothing retailer L.L. Bean. Sellers who use eBay and Etsy, which provide platforms for smaller sellers, also aren't required to collect sales tax nationwide.


Trump's personal attorney has dropped a pair of libel suits
Opinions | 2018/04/19 01:52
President Donald Trump's personal attorney dropped a pair of libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed and investigation firm Fusion GPS amid the stir caused by an FBI search of the lawyer's files.

Michael Cohen had sued in New York City over publication of the unverified dossier detailing alleged ties between Trump and Russia. He dropped the suits late Wednesday amid a separate legal battle over the seizure of documents and electronic files from his home, office and hotel room last week in a federal investigation of possible financial fraud.

The dossier claims that Cohen met with Russian operatives in Europe for a meeting to "clean up the mess" over disclosures of other Trump associates' reported ties to Russia.

Cohen's attorney, David Schwartz, said Thursday the decision to abandon the suits was difficult.

"We believe the defendants defamed my client, and vindicating Mr. Cohen's rights was - and still remains - important," he said in a statement. "But given the events that have unfolded, and the time, attention and resources needed to prosecute these matters, we have dismissed the matters, despite their merits."

In a statement, BuzzFeed called the suit against it meritless.

"Today's news suggests that Donald Trump's personal lawyer no longer thinks an attack on the free press is worth his time," it said.

Fusion GPS said in a statement that it welcomed Cohen's decision.

"With his decision, it appears that Mr. Cohen can now focus on his many other legal travails," it said.


Supreme Court to consider American Express fee dispute
Opinions | 2017/10/15 15:53
The Supreme Court is taking up an appeal by 11 states that argue American Express violated antitrust laws by barring merchants from asking customers to use other credit cards that charge lower fees.

The justices said Monday they would review a ruling by the federal appeals court in New York that sided with American Express.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by states and the Obama administration in 2010 against American Express, Mastercard and Visa. The lawsuit said that letting merchants steer customers to cards with lower fees for merchants or to other preferred cards would benefit consumers and increase incentives for networks to reduce card fees.

Visa and MasterCard entered into consent judgments in 2011 and stopped their anti-steering rules for merchants while American Express proceeded to trial.

A trial judge ruled against American Express in 2015, but the appeals court reversed that ruling last year.

The Trump administration said it agreed with the states, but still urged the Supreme Court to reject the case. The administration said the justices should let the issue percolate in the lower courts.

The 11 states that joined the appeal are Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont.

Other states that were part of the original lawsuit are Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Texas.

The court will hear argument in Ohio v. American Express, 16-1454, during the winter.


Vermont’s high court finds in favor of pipeline under park
Opinions | 2017/09/24 22:35
Vermont’s state supreme court has issued a decision that a Vermont Gas pipeline going under a public park will not impact its use.

Activists who oppose the pipeline going under the Hinesburg park argued the 85-acre park was already designated for public use, so it couldn’t be claimed under eminent domain.

WCAX-TV reports the high court ruled on Friday that the “prior public use” doctrine didn’t apply. It ruled the installation of the pipeline will have a negligible effect on existing use.

The park represented the final piece connecting a 41-mile Addison pipeline project completed earlier this year.



Court: State, Not Counties Accountable for Poor School Funds
Opinions | 2017/09/20 02:24
A North Carolina appeals court says students and parents still fighting for sufficient school funding decades after they were guaranteed the right to a sound, basic education should make demands of the governor and legislators, not county officials.

A divided state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that schoolchildren can't sue Halifax County commissioners over funding for the county's segregated public school districts.

Lawyers say though substandard Halifax County Schools' buildings sometimes force students to walk through sewage to reach their lockers, they get less local tax dollars than the majority white Roanoke Rapids schools.

Judges split 2-1 in ruling that local families should take their problems to Raleigh. The dissenting judge said counties can be sued since the legislature assigned them responsibility for funding buildings and supplies.



Court: Indiana layoffs of older workers not discrimination
Opinions | 2017/07/28 03:43
A federal appeals court has ruled against 20 former Lake County employees who claimed their layoffs were driven by age discrimination.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled Wednesday that the plaintiffs, many of whom are now in their 70s and 80s, weren't victims of deliberate discrimination.

The Northwest Indiana Times reports  falling tax revenues prompted county officials to terminate or send into early retirement employees older than 65 with promises that included a Medicare supplemental insurance plan.

But they later learned that insurance plan was only for retirees and opted to terminate the older workers in 2013 rather than buy another plan.

The court found the county wasn't practicing unlawful age discrimination because it retained a larger group of older employees not covered by that insurance.


Ohio Supreme Court delays serial killer's execution date
Opinions | 2017/01/06 02:13
The Ohio Supreme Court has agreed to delay the execution date for a Cleveland man convicted of killing 11 women and hiding the remains in and around his home.

The court on Thursday granted the request from attorneys for serial killer Anthony Sowell.

The execution had been set for Nov. 18, 2010. The court said the execution would be delayed until Sowell had exhausted all his appeals, most likely through the federal courts.

The court's action was similar to its approach to other death penalty cases. It regularly sets initial execution dates after upholding death sentences, then delays them on request.

Jurors found Sowell guilty of killing 11 women from June 2007 to July 2009.


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