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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[JURIST] Dutch prosecutors on Thursday said that more than 5,000 people in the Netherlands have filed complaints against Party for Freedom (PVV) [official website, in Dutch] leader Geert Wilders [official website; JURIST news archive] for discrimination following anti-Moroccan comments Wilders made during municipal election campaigning. Prosecutors are currently reviewing the complaints [Reuters report] to determine whether they should result in formal criminal proceedings. The politician led a chant at a political event in The Hague last month calling for fewer...
[JURIST] Judge Myron Thompson of the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama [official website] on Wednesday set a trial date of May 19 to determine the constitutionality of an Alabama law passed last year requiring doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital admitting privileges. The Women's Health and Safety Act [text] was passed last year, but Judge Thompson extended [Reuters report] a temporary restraining order to keep the law from taking effect until a final judgment has...
[JURIST] The Mississippi Legislature [official website] on Tuesday passed a bill [text] that bans abortions from being performed beyond 20 weeks after a woman's last menstrual period, or 18 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, which grants an exception [AP report] for cases where pregnancy would endanger the life of the mother but not for victims of rape or incest, is very similar to an Arizona bill that was struck down [AP report] by a federal appeals court last year. The...
[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile; JURIST news archive] urged all nations on Wednesday to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty [UN backgrounder]. The treaty will take effect [UN news centre report] when it receives 50 ratifications. Eighteen member states ratified the treaty on Tuesday in response, bringing the total number of ratifications to 31. The treaty was adopted [JURIST report] by the UN General Assembly [official website] last April. It was the first global arms treaty approved by...
[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday overturned a ruling from US District Court for the Southern District of Texas that had required the Texas Department of Criminal Justice [official websites] to provide information about the supplier of lethal injection drugs. Lower court Judge Vanessa Gilmore had issued a temporary injunction [WP report] halting the execution of a convicted serial killer Wednesday, only for her decision to be overturned by the appellate court a few...
[JURIST] The United Nations [official website] confirmed [UN news centre report] on Thursday that Palestinian officials have delivered letters of accession to 15 international conventions and treaties [text]. Upon signing these letters of accession, President Mahmoud Abbas [official website, in Arabic] emphasized Palestine's effort to continue negotiations with Israel, which resumed in July 2013. Palestinian UN representative Riyad Mansour [official website], in regard to the letters, stated, "We are proud of this and consider it a step by our President...
[JURIST] An inquiry by the interim Ukrainian government on Wednesday implicated members of the special Berkut riot police [BBC backgrounder] in the deaths of 76 anti-government protesters in Kiev in February. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov presented initial findings [BBC report] before reporters indicating twelve members of the elite police force as snipers and arrested three on suspicion of shooting deaths. Avakov also identified Maj Dmytro Sadovnyk a commander of a Berkut unit suspected of the shooting death of seventeen protesters....
[JURIST] A Turkish official said Thursday that the government has lifted a ban on Twitter [corporate website] following a Constitutional Court [official website, in Turkish] ruling Wednesday. The court stated that the ban violated [Al Jazeera report] both individual rights as well as the freedom of expression. This decision came a week after an Istanbul court ruled [JURIST report] against Turkey's ban on the website, overturning an order that the social media website shut down an account accusing the government...
[JURIST] The Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website] announced [press release] Wednesday that it will file a new lawsuit against Texas House Bill 2 [text], which requires physicians performing "surgical abortions" to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and also required certain compliance protocols relating to the administration of drugs inducing "medication abortions." The new lawsuit will have two parts: first, it will seek to block the admitting privileges requirement as it applies to two clinics that are the...
[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] on Wednesday temporarily blocked [opinion, PDF] Arizona from enforcing a statute that will prohibit women from having a medication abortion after seven weeks of pregnancy. On Monday, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Arizona [official website] refused to block [JURIST report] the new abortion drug rules, allowing them to take effect Tuesday. Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) [advocacy websites]...
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] Wednesday on the requirements to allege breach of fiduciary duties over an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). In Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer [transcript, PDF], the court will determine the scope of the fiduciary duties that the trustees of an ESOP owe to the beneficiaries. As part of the benefits Fifth Third [corporate website] offers to employees, they are able to contribute to an ESOP that invests...
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled 5-4 Wednesday in McCutcheon v. FEC [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that limits on overall campaign contributions by individual donors are unconstitutional. The court previously held in Buckley v. Valeo [opinion] that limits on contributions implicate First Amendment interests but that limits may be imposed so long as they are narrowly drawn to further a compelling governmental interest. The Federal Election Campaign Act [text] limited individual donations to candidates to $2,600 and overall donations to...
[JURIST] The High Court of Australia [official website] ruled [text] on Wednesday that a person can be legally recognized as gender neutral. "Norrie," who was born male but underwent a "sex affirmation procedure" in 1989, sought to be officially categorized as gender "non specific." Though the NSW Regisry of Birth, Deaths, and Marriages [official website] initially granted the request, it later revoked [Telegraph report] that decision, leading to a number of appeals by Norrie. The High Court ultimately settled the...
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled Wednesday In Northwest Inc. v. Ginsberg [opinion, PDF] that federal aviation law preempts a state law claim for breach of contract. Rabbi Binyomin Ginsberg sued Northwest Airlines for breach of implied covenant of good faith in dealing under Minnesota state contract law after the airline removed him from their frequent flyer program. The airline argued that frequent flyer programs operate at the discretion of the airline, and they cannot tailor their programs...
[JURIST] The death toll in the three-year Syrian conflict has exceeded 150,000, a British-based human rights group announced on Tuesday. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) [advocacy website], 150,344 persons have died since the uprising began in March 2011. The death toll includes 51,212 civilians, including 7,985 children and 5,266 women. The numbers do not include the 18,000 detainees in regime prisons or the "thousands who disappeared during regime raids and massacres." SOHR estimates that the non-Syrian...
[JURIST] Thailand's Constitutional Court [official website] announced Wednesday that they will hear a case accusing Prime Minster Yingluck Shinawatra [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of misconduct for transferring her National Security Council [official website, in Thai] chief to another position. The complaint, filed by opposition leaders, accuses Shinwatra of violating the Constitution when in 2009 she demoted Tawin Pleansri from his position as head of the National Security Council to an adviser to the prime minister. The Supreme Administrative Court...
[JURIST] Mississippi lawmakers on Tuesday passed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act [SB 2681, PDF], pursuant to which the state would be prohibited from taking action that "burdens" a citizen's right to religious exercise if Governor Phil Bryant [official website] signs the measure into law. The law defines "burden" as including a state decision to withhold benefits, to assess criminal, civil or administrative penalties, or a decision to exclude a citizen from governmental programs or access to governmental facilities. Rights...
[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Wednesday urged the administration of US President Barack Obama [official website] to endorse the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty [text, PDF], which flatly prohibits land mines and requires their removal. HRW asserts that, while the US contributes to mine clearance and victim assistance more than any other nation, it should also ban formally the right to use mines in the future. HRW reports [press release] that 161 other nations have signed the treaty...
[JURIST] Lebanon's parliament [official website, in Arabic] passed a law on Tuesday criminalizing domestic violence. The new law comes after a long campaign by woman's rights groups triggered [AFP report] by the death of multiple woman [AP report] allegedly from abuse by their husbands. Such domestic violence sparked large-scale protests [Reuters report] through the streets of the Lebanese capitol of Beirut on March 8, International Women's Day [advocacy website]. The Lebanese woman's rights group KAFA [advocacy group, in Arabic] has...
[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the administration of Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website] violated federal law when attempting to remove "non-citizen" voters from the rolls in the 2012 presidential election. The court ruled that the voter purge before the election violated the National Voter Registration Act [text, PDF], which requires that all states complete any program that will systematically remove ineligible voters from official lists no later...

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