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Kavanaugh's support for surveilling Americans raises concern
Court Center | 2018/08/28 00:36
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has frequently supported giving the U.S. government wide latitude in the name of national security, including the secret collection of personal data from Americans.

It's a subject Democrats plan to grill Kavanaugh about during his confirmation hearings scheduled to begin next Tuesday. Beyond his writings as an appeals court judge, some senators suspect Kavanaugh was more involved in crafting counterterrorism policies during the George W. Bush administration than he has let on.

Kavanaugh stated in past congressional testimony that he wasn't involved in such provocative matters as warrantless surveillance and the treatment of enemy combatants in the years immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But legal experts say he could shift the court on national security issues, if he is confirmed to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor whose expertise includes national security and counterterrorism, cites opinions he says show Kavanaugh "is a lot less willing (than Kennedy) to look at international law as a relevant source of authority and constraint." He said on matters such as Guantanamo detention, Kavanaugh is "much more deferential to the executive branch in this context than Kennedy would have been."

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, calls Kavanaugh "incredibly well-qualified." The former U.S. trade representative and White House budget director knows Kavanaugh from their time together in the Bush administration. He said Kavanaugh "believes strongly in the Constitution" and the Bill of Rights.

"I think he's in the mainstream with regard to these issues, and frankly, I don't think it's a difference with any meaning between where he is and where the court is currently," Portman said.

Democrats facing an uphill battle in blocking Kavanaugh's nomination have focused less on his judicial counterterrorism record than whether he misled senators about his role in Bush policies while testifying in 2006 confirmation hearings.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Vermont Sen. Pat Leahy are among Democrats who want to see more records from Kavanaugh's White House days, saying news media accounts after he was seated on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia raised new questions. White House spokesman Raj Shah said Durbin has been doing the misleading by taking Kavanaugh's answers out of context.


Israeli court allows entry to Hamas kin for medical care
Court Center | 2018/08/26 00:36
Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that five critically ill women from Gaza may enter Israel for urgent medical treatment despite a government decision preventing relatives of Hamas members from doing so.

The five women appealed to the court last month after their requests to enter Israel were rejected on the grounds of their relation to Hamas members.

The government decision denies entry for health care to relatives of Hamas members and is meant to exert pressure Gaza's rulers who currently hold the remains of two Israeli soldiers.

The court ruled late Sunday that the government decision was unreasonable and could not stand up to a legal test.

Four human rights groups representing the women said the government was using them and others seeking care unavailable in Gaza as "bargaining chips."


California high court rules for immigrant kids in visa fight
Court Center | 2018/08/16 08:15
The California Supreme Court on Thursday made it easier for some immigrant children who are abused or abandoned by a parent to seek a U.S. visa to avoid deportation in a ruling that advocates said would help thousands of children.

State judges cannot require that children drag an absentee parent living abroad into court in their visa application process, the justices said in a unanimous decision. Immigration rights advocates had warned that such a requirement would make it nearly impossible for the children to fight deportation. That's because courts in California cannot establish authority over a foreign citizen and the parent may want nothing to do with a child claiming abuse, and would refuse to participate in a court proceeding in the U.S., immigration groups said.

The ruling overturned a lower court decision. The California Supreme Court said it was sufficient to adequately notify the absent parent of the court proceedings, but that parent did not have to be a party to the case.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in court documents that the case had implications for a "substantial portion" of the thousands of children who have fled to the U.S. from Central America and Mexico and settled in California. Kristen Jackson, an attorney for the plaintiff in the case, estimated the ruling would affect thousands of children.


N Carolina Supreme Court candidate sues over party label law
Court Center | 2018/08/06 21:25
A North Carolina Supreme Court candidate has made good on his threat to sue Republican legislators to challenge a law finalized over the weekend preventing him from having his party designation next to his name on the November ballot.

Chris Anglin filed a lawsuit Monday against Republican legislative leaders and elections officials in state court. He wants the law declared unconstitutional and his GOP designation retained.

The law prevents judicial candidates from having party labels next to their names if they changed affiliations less than 90 days before filing. Anglin switched from a Democratic affiliation three weeks before filing.

Anglin says the law gives unfair benefit to opponent Justice Barbara Jackson, who will have a Republican label. The race's other candidate — Anita Earls — will have a Democratic label.


Oklahoma lawsuit against opioid makers back in state court
Court Center | 2018/08/06 04:25
A U.S. judge determined Friday that a lawsuit the state of Oklahoma filed against the makers of opioids does not "necessarily rise" to a federal issue.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange in Oklahoma City sends the matter back to state court. Drugmakers had it moved to federal court in June.

Oklahoma, one of at least 13 states that have filed lawsuits against drugmakers, alleges fraudulent marketing of drugs that fueled the opioid epidemic in the lawsuit filed in June 2017. It is seeking unspecified damages from Purdue Pharma, Allergan, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals and several of their subsidiaries.

Opioid manufacturers had argued the state was asking them to make different safety and efficacy disclosures to the public than required by federal law and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug manufacturers listed as defendants said opioid abuse is a serious health issue, but they deny wrongdoing.

An attorney for the companies did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

The ruling came just minutes after Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby and Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton joined Hunter and Michael Burrage, a private attorney representing the tribes and the state, in announcing that the tribes are joining the state in suing the opioid manufacturers in state courts for unspecified damages.

Hunter did not immediately return a phone call for comment, but Burrage said during the news conference that the effort to return to lawsuit to state court was to keep it from potentially being folded into more than 800 similar lawsuit pending in Ohio.


The Latest: Zimbabwe's president welcomes court challenge
Court Center | 2018/08/05 04:25
Zimbabwe's president says people are free to approach the courts if they have issues with the results of Monday's election, which he carried with just over 50 percent of the vote.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke to journalists shortly after opposition leader Nelson Chamisa called the election results manipulated and said they would be challenged in court. Chamisa received 44 percent of the vote but says his supporters' own count gave him 56 percent.

Mnangagwa is praising the vote as free and fair despite the opposition concerns and those of international election observers who noted the "extreme bias" of state media and the "excessive" use of force when the military cracked down on opposition protesters in the capital on Wednesday.

The president also is looking forward to his inauguration, saying that under the constitution it should happen nine days after election results are declared.

Zimbabwe's president is praising "a free, fair and credible election, as we have always promised" and "unprecedented flowering of freedom and democracy in our beloved homeland" even as the opposition loudly rejects the results.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa spoke shortly after opposition leader Nelson Chamisa said Monday's peaceful election had been manipulated and said the results would be challenged in court.

Mnangagwa, a former enforcer of longtime leader Robert Mugabe, has tried to recast himself as a voice of change. He is calling the deadly violence against opposition supporters in the capital on Wednesday "unfortunate" and says Chamisa has a crucial role to play in Zimbabwe's future.


Judge, calm in court, takes hard line on splitting families
Court Center | 2018/07/23 13:55
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw appeared conflicted in early May on whether to stop families from being separated at the border. He challenged the Trump administration to explain how families were getting a fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution, but also expressed reluctance to get too deeply involved with immigration enforcement.

"There are so many (enforcement) decisions that have to be made, and each one is individual," he said in his calm, almost monotone voice. "How can the court issue such a blanket, overarching order telling the attorney general, either release or detain (families) together?"

Sabraw showed how more than seven weeks later in a blistering opinion faulting the administration and its "zero tolerance" policy for a "crisis" of its own making. He went well beyond the American Civil Liberties Union's initial request to halt family separation — which President Donald Trump effectively did on his own amid a backlash — by imposing a deadline of this Thursday to reunify more than 2,500 children with their families.

Unyielding insistence on meeting his deadline, displayed in a string of hearings he ordered for updates, has made the San Diego jurist a central figure in a drama that has captivated international audiences with emotional accounts of toddlers and teens being torn from their parents.

Circumstances changed dramatically after the ACLU sued the government in March on behalf of a Congolese woman and a Brazilian woman who were split from their children. Three days after the May hearing, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the zero tolerance policy on illegal entry was in full effect, leading to the separation of more than 2,300 children in five weeks.



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