JURIST Legal News

JURIST's legal news service, powered by a team of over 40 law student reporters and editors led by Professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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US President Donald Trump signed the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology, orINTERDICT Act [text, PDF], on Wednesday, with the purpose of affording border protection agents enhanced opioid screening technology. The act authorizes appropriation of up to $9 million to enhance the ability of US Customs and Border Patrol [official website] to "prevent, detect, and interdict the unlawful importation of fentanyl, other synthetic opioids, and other narcotics and psychoactive substances," including the acquisition of new...
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official profile], Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, on Wednesday condemned [press release] the rise in civilian casualties in the Eastern Ghouta region of Syria resulting from the recent increase in airstrikes and ground-based attacks by government forces and its allies, highlighting that all parties are "obliged under international law to distinguish between lawful military targets, and civilians and civilian objects." Zeid also expressed "grave concern" about the situation of an estimated two million people...
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio [official website] on Wednesday announced a lawsuit [complaint] against BP, Chevron Corporation, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corporation and Royal Dutch Shell [corporate websites] for their role in climate change. Extensive quantities of greenhouse gasses (GHGs), specifically carbon dioxide (CO2), have been emitted through production, marketing, and selling of fossil fuels—primarily natural gas and oil. The complaint asserts that these companies produce a product that causes severe harm with intended use and should therefore be...
A three judge panel for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania [official website] on Wednesday rejected 2-1 [opinion, PDF] a constitutional challenge to Pennsylvania's electoral map. Although there was no unified majority opinion in Agre v. Wolf [JURIST archive], two judges found that Plaintiffs failed to bring a cognizable claim under the federal Constitution's Election Clause [Art. I § 4 text]. Chief Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith held that partisan gerrymandering claims could not be brought...
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Wednesday that a 17-year-old immigrant in government custody was blocked [ACLU] by the Trump administration from obtaining an abortion. The unidentified 17-year-old girl, referred to as Jane Moe, is believed to be in her second trimester of pregnancy and made it clear that she wanted an abortion about two weeks ago. She has the means to obtain one, but the government will not allow it, making her the fourth undocumented immigrant to be...
Canada filed a 32-page complaint [text, PDF] against the US at the World Trade Organization (WTO) [official website] on Wednesday concerning certain laws, regulations and other measures in relation to US anti-dumping or countervailing duty investigations, reviews or other proceedings. Canada alleges [press release] that the challenged laws, regulations and measures are inconsistent with US obligations under the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement [text], the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade of 1994...
The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday upheld [text, PDF] a 2014 citizen vote to amend the state constitution to remove the right to abortion. The question before the court was not whether such a provision was constitutional, but whether the voting method used to ratify the amendment was consistent with Tennessee's constitution. The challenged amendment states:Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion....
The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments on Wednesday in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute [docket], a case challenging Ohio's voter registration maintenance policy, which permits the government to remove individuals from the voter registration list after several years of absence at the polls. Ohio implemented a law to maintain and update its voter registration lists pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which forbids states from...
Myanmar prosecutors said Wednesday that two Reuters journalists have been charged with obtaining state secrets. Journalists Wal Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on December 12, 2017, while investigating the government's crackdown on the Rohingya minority group in the nation's Rakhine region. They were reportedly invited to meet with police officers in a restaurant. Police officers gave the journalists some documents, and both journalists, along with two police officers, were arrested soon after. Prosecutors charged the journalists with possession...
The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice issued an opinion [opinion PDF] Wednesday urging the court to void the EU's fisheries agreement with the Kingdom of Morocco. Advocate General Melchior Wathelet grounded his decision [press release] in the concepts of self-determination, sovereignty over natural resources and humanitarian rules concerning disputed or occupied territories. The principle concern is over the status of the Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco has claimed since 1975 but which remains partially administered by...
The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted Tuesday to legalize recreational marijuana [HB 656 materials]. After a committee recommendation that the lawmakers kill the bill, the House voted [NHPR report] against killing the bill. The House then voted 207-139 to pass an amended version [text, PDF] of the bill that would allow [AP report] adults to cultivate up to six plants at home, as well as possess up to one ounce of marijuana and certain marijuana-infused products. The bill does...
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, filed two defamation lawsuits on Monday regarding BuzzFeed's [media website] publication of the Steele Dossier [materials, PDF], a condemning but unsubstantiated report indicating collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian agents. The first suit [complaint] names BuzzFeed along with four staffers as defendants for the publication of the materials and was filed in the New York Supreme Court [official website], while the second [complaint] was filed in the US District Court for the...
[JURIST] The Inter-American Court of Human Rights [official website] on Wednesday issued a unanimous advisory opinion [text, PDF, in Spanish] that member states "must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex." The ruling establishes [press release, PDF] that couples in same-sex marriages have the same family and financial rights as heterosexual couples. Due to the difficulty in passing such laws in countries where there is strong opposition to...
A three-judge panel in the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina [official website] struck down [opinion, PDF] North Carolina's 2016 congressional redistricting plan Tuesday. The case was brought by consolidated plaintiffs Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina [advocacy websites], among others, who argued that the districts constitute a partisan gerrymander in violation of the First Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I, Sections 2 and 4 of the...
Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website] on Tuesday temporarily blocked [order, PDF] the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [official website] program, which gives undocumented immigrants brought into the US as children, known as "Dreamers," protection from deportation. In September the Trump administration announced plans to end [JURIST report] the DACA program, which was subsequently challenged by state attorneys general and individuals [JURIST reports]. Alsup...
[JURIST] Eight states have filed an amicus brief [text, PDF] in a case concerning a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant's attempt to obtain an abortion without parental consent while in government custody. Arkansas, Michigan, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and South Carolina argue that minor undocumented immigrants have no right to an abortion in the US because of their immigration status. The Department of Justice [official website] (DOJ) has already acknowledged [JURIST report] that the issue is moot because the minor,...
The US Supreme Court [official website] heard two Fourth Amendment [text] cases Tuesday involving the search of motor vehicles. In the first case, Byrd v. United States [argument transcript, PDF], the court heard arguments as to whether a driver has a reasonable expectation of privacy in a rental car when that individual is not listed as an authorized driver in the rental agreement. Terrence Byrd was pulled over by a state trooper for driving in the left lane. The trooper...
A US federal judge on Monday terminated [order, PDF] a consent decree [text, PDF] requiring the Republican National Committee (RNC) [political website] to get court approval for any "ballot security" measures it planned to implement. Judge John Michael Vazquez of the US District Court for the District of New Jersey [official website] found that the DNC had failed to prove [opinion, PDF] that the RNC had violated the consent decree prior to December 1, 2017. In November, Vazquez had declined...
Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released a 72-page report [text] on Monday documenting widespread discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) individuals in Ghana both in public and private or family settings. The report, titled "No Choice but to Deny Who I Am: Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People in Ghana," highlights that § 104(1)(b) of the Criminal Offences Act of 1960 [text, PDF] prohibiting and punishing "unnatural carnal knowledge," criminalizes same-sex activity and fails to actively address...
US authorities are deliberately concealing information about how they obtained evidence in criminal proceedings, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report [text] Tuesday. HRW divulged findings from over a year of investigating a police practice known as "parallel construction," in which law enforcement illegally obtain evidence and then hide the illegality through legally obtaining supporting evidence. From April 2016 to October 2017, HRW suspected 95 criminal cases of parallel construction. The group also utilized interviews, court records, documents disclosed...

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