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Texas clinics ask Supreme Court to abortions during pandemic
Lawyer Blog News | 2020/04/12 01:42
Abortion clinics in Texas on Saturday asked the Supreme Court to step in to allow certain abortions to continue during the coronavirus pandemic.

The clinics filed an emergency motion asking the justices to overturn a lower-court order and allow abortions when they can be performed using medication.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order last month that bars non-essential medical procedures so that medical resources can go to treating coronavirus patients. Texas' attorney general has said that providing abortions other than for an immediate medical emergency would violate the order.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday allowed abortions to proceed in cases where a woman would be beyond 22 weeks pregnant, the legal limit for abortions in Texas, on April 22, the day after the governor's order barring non-essential medical procedures is set to expire.


North Carolina wins court piracy case over Blackbeard's ship
Lawyer Blog News | 2020/04/03 01:02
The Supreme Court sided unanimously Monday with North Carolina in a copyright fight with a company that has documented the salvage of the pirate Blackbeard's ship off the state's coast.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that the company's copyright infringement lawsuit, which she called “a modern form of piracy," could not go forward because the Constitution generally protects states from lawsuits in federal courts.

The 21st century dispute arose over the Queen Anne's Revenge, which ran aground more than 300 years ago.

The ship is the property of the state, but under an agreement North Carolina-based Nautilus Productions has for nearly two decades documented the ship's salvage. In the process, the company copyrighted photos and videos.

North Carolina first posted photos on a state website, and later put videos on a YouTube channel and included a photo in a newsletter. Nautilus sued in federal court, but the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, ruled North Carolina could not be sued.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that states could not be sued in federal court over patent infringements. Patent and copyright protections come from the same constitutional provision that outlines Congress' powers. Kagan noted that the earlier case, known as Florida Prepaid, “all but prewrote our decision today."

Among artifacts that have been brought to the surface are cannons and the anchor, but roughly 40 percent of the Queen Anne's Revenge remains on the ocean floor. The ship was sailing under the French flag when Blackbeard, the Englishman Edward Teach, captured the vessel in the fall of 1717 and made it his flagship.


Roberts will tap his inner umpire in impeachment trial
Lawyer Blog News | 2019/12/24 01:38
America’s last prolonged look at Chief Justice John Roberts came 14 years ago, when he told senators during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing that judges should be like baseball umpires, impartially calling balls and strikes.

“Nobody ever went to a ballgame to see the umpire,” Roberts said.

His hair grayer, the 64-year-old Roberts will return to the public eye as he makes the short trip from the Supreme Court to the Senate to preside over President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. He will be in the national spotlight, but will strive to be like that umpire ? doing his best to avoid the partisan mire.

“He’s going to look the part, he’s going to play the part and he’s the last person who wants the part,” said Carter Phillips, who has argued 88 Supreme Court cases, 43 of them in front of Roberts.

He has a ready model he can follow: Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who never became the center of attention when he presided over President Bill Clinton’s Senate trial.

As Roberts moves from the camera-free, relative anonymity of the Supreme Court to the glare of television lights in the Senate, he will have the chance to demonstrate by example what he has preached relentlessly in recent years: Judges are not politicians.


Gunmaker asks US Supreme Court to hear Sandy Hook appeal
Lawyer Blog News | 2019/08/02 08:31
The maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal Thursday of a state ruling against the company.

Remington Arms, based in Madison, North Carolina, cited a much-debated 2005 federal law that shields firearms manufacturers from liability in most cases when their products are used in crimes.

Gunman Adam Lanza opened fire at the Newtown, Connecticut, school with a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle on Dec. 14, 2012, killing 20 first graders and six educators. The 20-year-old gunman earlier shot his mother to death at their Newtown home, and killed himself as police arrived at the school. The rifle was legally owned by his mother.

A survivor and relatives of nine victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Remington in 2015, saying the company should have never sold such a dangerous weapon to the public and alleging it targeted younger, at-risk males in marketing and product placement in violent video games.

Citing one of the few exemptions in the federal law, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in March that Remington could be sued under state law over how it marketed the rifle to the public. The decision overturned a ruling by a trial court judge who dismissed the lawsuit based on the 2005 federal law, named the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

The federal law has been criticized by gun control advocates as being too favorable to gun makers, and it has been used to bar lawsuits over other mass killings.

The case is being watched by gun control advocates, gun rights supporters and gun manufacturers across the country, as it has the potential to provide a roadmap for victims of other mass shootings to circumvent the federal law and sue firearm makers.


Court to Trump: Blocking Twitter critics is unconstitutional
Lawyer Blog News | 2019/07/15 01:37
President Donald Trump lost a major Twitter fight Tuesday when a federal appeals court said that his daily musings and pronouncements were overwhelmingly official in nature and that he violated the First Amendment whenever he blocked a critic to silence a viewpoint.

The effect of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision is likely to reverberate throughout politics after the Manhattan court warned that any elected official using a social media account “for all manner of official purposes” and then excluding critics violates free speech.

“The government is not permitted to ‘amplify’ favored speech by banning or burdening viewpoints with which it disagrees,” the appeals court said.

Because it involved Trump, the ruling is getting more attention than a January decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that found a Virginia politician violated the First Amendment rights of one of her constituents by blocking him from a Facebook page.

Still, the appeals court in New York acknowledged, not every social media account operated by a public official is a government account, and First Amendment violations must be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“The irony in all of this is that we write at a time in the history of this nation when the conduct of our government and its officials is subject to wide-open, robust debate,” Circuit Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel.

The debate generates a “level of passion and intensity the likes of which have rarely been seen,” the court’s decision read.

“This debate, as uncomfortable and as unpleasant as it frequently may be, is nonetheless a good thing,” the 2nd Circuit added. “In resolving this appeal, we remind the litigants and the public that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the best response to disfavored speech on matters of public concern is more speech, not less.”

The Department of Justice is disappointed by the ruling and is exploring possible next steps, agency spokesperson Kelly Laco said.

“As we argued, President Trump’s decision to block users from his personal twitter account does not violate the First Amendment,” Laco said in an emailed statement.

Appeal options include asking the panel to reconsider, or seeking a reversal from the full 2nd Circuit or from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision came in a case brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. It had sued on behalf of seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing his policies.


Supreme Court Rejects Challenge To Regulation Of Gun Silencers
Lawyer Blog News | 2019/06/11 04:13
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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