This Week In Legal News

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Alabama issued an order halting same-sex marriages, in spite of Federal court direction to issue licenses.

Also on Tuesday, Slovenia became the eleventh nation in the European Union to recognize same-sex marriage.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice released a report indicating that it will not prosecute the former Ferguson, MO, police officer who shot and killed unarmed African-American teenager, Michael Brown, in August of 2014.  Read the full report here.  Another DOJ report investigating the Ferguson police department, also released Wednesday, found that African Americans were frequently victims of discriminatory and illegal conduct by the law enforcement system in Ferguson.

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, which challenges the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

A Massachusetts teen has been charged with involuntary manslaughter after allegedly using text messages to encourage a friend’s suicide.




This Week in Legal News

On Tuesday, President Obama vetoed legislation authorizing the Keystone LX pipeline.

On Tuesday night, a Texas jury convicted Eddie Ray Routh of murder and sentenced him to life in prison for the fatal shootings of “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield.

Also on Tuesday, Alaska became the third state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana use, although the sale of marijuana remains illegal.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed the nomination of Loretta Lynch for the position of U.S. Attorney General.  The nomination now moves on for consideration by the full Senate.

Also on Thursday, the FCC approved net neutrality, and will now regard Internet providers as public utilities, subject to regulation.

An appeals court in Utah has granted a widow the right to sue herself for causing an auto accident that resulted in the death of her husband.  Read the full opinion here.

The operator of a defunct revenge-porn website has filed a takedown request with Google, stating that his own photograph and personal information are being used without his permission.



This Week in Legal News

news icon for blogOn Monday night,  U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, of the Brownsville Division of the Southern District of Texas, issued a temporary injunction to block implementation of President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.  The injunction was a response to a challenge to the orders filed by 26 states, a suit that the administration contends is without merit.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review overturned the terrorism convictions of David Hicks, a former detainee at Guantanamo.

Two U.S. law schools, the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School and the University of Iowa College of Law,  have announced that they will admit some students without requiring that they take the LSAT.


This Week in Legal News

The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the nation’s ban on physician-assisted suicide.  Meanwhile, in the U.S., news icon for blogColorado legislators have rejected a bill that would have made assisted suicide available to terminally-ill patients.  Five states currently permit physician-assisted suicide: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, New Mexico and Montana.

On Monday, Alabama became the latest state to recognize marriage equality, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from the state Attorney General for the extension of a stay of a federal injunction prohibiting him from enforcing Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages.  Probate courts in a majority of Alabama’s 67 counties, however, are refusing to issue marriage licenses, either rejecting same-sex couples outright or closing their offices, after a call to such action by Chief Justice Roy Moore.  On Thursday, a federal judge ordered Mobile County to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Marriage equality supporters hope that this order will clarify the issue in other counties.

On Wednesday, the captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia was found guilty and sentenced to 16 years on various charges related to the 2012 shipwreck.

On Thursday, Facebook announced that it will permit users to name a “legacy contact” who will be able to administer a page following a user’s demise.  This is a departure from Facebook’s previous policy of freezing an account upon verification of an account-holder’s death.





In the News: Vaccinations

Child vaccinations have been a huge issue vaccinein the news lately.  All states have legislation mandating certain vaccines for students; all state laws also have exceptions for medical reasons.  Other types of exceptions include religious or philosophical exceptions.

The National Center for State Legislatures recently posted a 50-State Summary of school vaccine requirements and exceptions.  South Carolina’s student vaccination statute is found in the South Carolina Code Annotated § 44-29-180.  According to the NCSL’s chart and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, South Carolina allows religious exemptions, but not philosophical ones.

West Virginia and Mississippi are the only states which do not give exemptions for religious or philosophical reasons, but California lawmakers are thinking about joining them by getting rid of their  philosophical exemption.  California is one of five states (including WV and Mississippi) that does not grant religious exemptions.

Supreme Court to Make Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

Supreme CourtOn Friday, January 16th, the Supreme Court decided to rule on same-sex marriage, granting certiorari in four cases.

The Court limited the petitions (coming from four states: Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee) to just two questions.  First, does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?  And second, does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?  The court has allotted one hour and ninety minutes for oral arguments, but a date for the oral arguments has not yet been set.

To see the documents for the four cases involved, click the case names:  Tanco v. Haslam, Obergefell v. Hodges, DeBoer v. Snyder, and Bourke v . Beshear.

More coverage to follow on what will likely be a ground-breaking decision regardless of how the Court decides…


This Week in Legal News

A few interesting legal news stories from the past week:

  • The Supreme Court denied petitions for certiorari in seven cases challenging state laws barring recognition of same sex marriages.  Perhaps not such a huge surprise given that there was no split among the lower courts.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently held that a lifetime registration requirement for juveniles offenders to be unconstitutional.
  • Jury selection in the Boston Marathon bombing trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev began on Monday, after a federal appeals court denied his argument to change venue.
  • Kazakhstan’s new Criminal Procedure code will require police to read suspects their rights when making an arrest; the rights are based on the U.S.’s Miranda warnings.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a New York state rule barring children who are not immunized from public schools, due in large part to an exception allowing children whose parents have “genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to” the rule not to be immunized.

What’s on your legal news radar this week?  Let us know in the comments!

Legal News of the Day: Supreme Court Tackles Unusual Precedent Question

Tomorrow, March 5, the U.S. Supreme Court will tackle an unusual question regarding its precedent. Rather than determining how a prior case should be interpreted, the Court will address whether the case should be overruled altogether. In arguments for Halliburton Co. v. Erica P. John Fund, the Court will decide whether to overrule or substantially limit its holding in Basic Inc. v. Levinson. Both cases deal with the “fraud-on-the-market” theory of liability in SEC Rule 10b-5 class action suits.

Read more about the arguments for tomorrow here.