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Alaska Supreme Court to Hear Youths’ Climate Change Lawsuit
Headline News | 2019/10/10 05:23
The Alaska Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit that claims state policy on fossil fuels is harming the constitutional right of young Alaskans to a safe climate.

Sixteen Alaska youths in 2017 sued the state, claiming that human-caused greenhouse gas emission leading to climate change is creating long-term, dangerous health effects.

The lawsuit takes aim at a state statute that says it’s the policy of Alaska to promote fossil fuels, said Andrew Welle of Oregon-based Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting natural systems for present and future generations.

“The state has enacted a policy of promoting fossil fuels and implemented it in a way that is resulting in substantial greenhouse gas emissions in Alaska,” Welle said in a phone interview. “They’re harming these young kids.”

A central question in the lawsuit, as in previous federal and state lawsuits, is the role of courts in shaping climate policy.


Transgender woman in Supreme Court case 'happy being me'
Headline News | 2019/10/02 02:09
Aimee Stephens lost her job at a suburban Detroit funeral home and she could lose her Supreme Court case over discrimination against transgender people. Amid her legal fight, her health is failing.

But seven years after Stephens thought seriously of suicide and six years after she announced that she would henceforth be known as Aimee instead of Anthony, she has something no one can take away.

The Supreme Court will hear Stephens' case Oct. 8 over whether federal civil rights law that bars job discrimination on the basis of sex protects transgender people. Other arguments that day deal with whether the same law covers sexual orientation.

The cases are the first involving LGBT rights since the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court's gay-rights champion and decisive vote on those issues. They probably won't be decided before spring, during the 2020 presidential campaign.

The 58-year-old Stephens plans to attend the arguments despite dialysis treatments three times a week to deal with kidney failure and breathing problems that require further treatment. She used a walker the day she spoke to AP at an LGBT support center in the Ferndale suburb north of Detroit.


Activist loses UK court case on police facial recognition
Headline News | 2019/09/10 22:31
A British court ruled Wednesday that a police force's use of automated facial recognition technology is lawful, dealing a blow to an activist concerned about its implications for privacy.

Existing laws adequately cover the South Wales police force's deployment of the technology in a trial, two judges said , in what's believed to be the world's first legal case on how a law enforcement agency uses the new technology.

The decision comes amid a broader global debate about the rising use of facial recognition technology. Recent advances in artificial intelligence make it easier for police to automatically scan faces and instantly match them to "watchlists" of suspects, missing people and persons of interest, but it also raises concerns about mass surveillance.

"The algorithms of the law must keep pace with new and emerging technologies," Judges Charles Haddon-Cave and Jonathan Swift said.

Ed Bridges, a Cardiff resident and human rights campaigner who filed the judicial review, said South Wales police scanned his face twice as it tested the technology - once while he was Christmas shopping in 2017 and again when he was at a peaceful protest against a defense expo in 2018.

"This sinister technology undermines our privacy and I will continue to fight against its unlawful use to ensure our rights are protected and we are free from disproportionate government surveillance," he said in a statement released by Liberty, a rights group that worked on his case.


Florida high court set to clarify voting rights for felons
Headline News | 2019/09/02 05:22
The Florida Supreme Court waded into the legal wrangling over the voting rights of felons, agreeing Thursday to examine whether the state can continue restricting voting privileges to felons who have unpaid fines and fees.

Voters last year overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to as many as 1.4 million felons who have completed their sentences.

But the Republican-controlled Legislature then stipulated that to complete sentences, felons must pay all fines and fees before getting their voting rights restored. DeSantis signed the bill into law.

Voting rights groups immediately sued in federal court and likened the requirement to an illegal poll tax.

Gov. Ron DeSantis then asked the state Supreme Court for an advisory on the issue, which the court has agreed to consider.

“The Governor has the duty to implement both the amendment and the law, which must be done appropriately,” said the governor’s spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferre. “That is why he is asking the Florida Supreme Court to provide an opinion on this matter and he is pleased that they have agreed to do so.”


Suspect in Norway mosque attack bruised but smiling in court
Headline News | 2019/08/14 16:27
A suspected gunman accused of an attempted terrorist attack on an Oslo mosque and separately killing his teenage stepsister appeared in court on Monday looking bruised and scratched, but smiling.

The suspect did not speak, and his defense lawyer Unni Fries told The Associated Press he “will use his right not to explain himself for now.”

Philip Manshaus, 21, was arrested Saturday after entering a mosque in Baerum, an Oslo suburb, where three men were preparing for Sunday’s Eid al-Adha Muslim celebrations. Police said he was waving weapons and several shots were fired but did not specify what type of weapon was used. One person was slightly injured before people inside the Al-Noor Islamic Center held the suspect down until police arrived on the scene.

Police then raided Manshaus’ nearby house and found the body of his 17-year-old stepsister. He is also suspected in her killing, police said, but did not provide details.


Puerto Ricans get their 3rd governor in 6 days
Headline News | 2019/08/08 23:24
Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez became Puerto Rico’s new governor Wednesday, just the second woman to hold the office, after weeks of political turmoil and hours after the island’s Supreme Court declared Pedro Pierluisi’s swearing-in a week ago unconstitutional.

Accompanied by her husband, Judge Jorge Diaz, and one of her daughters, Vazquez took the oath of office in the early evening at the Supreme Court before leaving without making any public comment. She then issued a brief televised statement late Wednesday, saying she feels the pain that Puerto Ricans have experienced in recent weeks.

“We have all felt the anxiety provoked by the instability and uncertainty,” Vazquez said, adding that she would meet with legislators and government officials in the coming days. “Faced with this enormous challenge and with God ahead, I take a step forward with no interest other than serving the people ... It is necessary to give the island stability, certainty to the markets and secure (hurricane) reconstruction funds.”

The high court’s unanimous decision, which could not be appealed, settled the dispute over who will lead the U.S. territory after its political establishment was knocked off balance by big street protests spawned by anger over corruption, mismanagement of funds and a leaked obscenity-laced chat that forced the previous governor and several top aides to resign.

But it was also expected to unleash a new wave of demonstrations because many Puerto Ricans have said they don’t want Vazquez as governor.

“It is concluded that the swearing in as governor by Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia, named secretary of state in recess, is unconstitutional,” the court said in a brief statement.


Puerto Ricans await court decision on potential new governor
Headline News | 2019/08/04 23:22
Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court on Monday agreed to rule on a lawsuit that the island’s Senate filed in a bid to oust a veteran politician recently sworn in as the island’s governor.

The court gave all parties until Tuesday at noon to file all necessary paperwork, noting that no extensions will be awarded.

The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction ordering Pedro Pierluisi to cease his functions immediately and also asks that the court declare unconstitutional a 2005 law that says a secretary of state does not have to be approved by both the House and Senate if he or she has to step in as governor.

“I want to put an end to this, but I want to do it correctly,” Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz said during a special session in which he stated he would let the court decide the outcome, adding that Pierluisi only had five of 15 votes needed from the Senate for his earlier nomination as secretary of state.

It is unclear how quickly the Supreme Court might rule or whether it would hold a hearing or simply issue a written opinion. The announcement comes as Puerto Ricans who successfully ousted the previous governor from office following nearly two weeks of protests await yet another twist in what is a deepening constitutional crisis.


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