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Legal news from Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Supreme Court takes up Arizona school tuition case
Jaclyn Belczyk on November 3, 2010 3:59 PM ET

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[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF; merit briefs] Wednesday in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn [oral arguments transcript, PDF; JURIST report] on the constitutionality of an Arizona tax credit for donations to organizations that provide scholarships at private schools, which allows scholarships funded by religious organizations to be granted only to students attending parochial schools. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that the taxpayers had standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law and allowed the claim to proceed. The outcome will determine if tax credit program unconstitutionally endorses or advances religion simply because taxpayers choose to direct more contributions to religious organization than nonreligious ones. Counsel for the petitioners argued that, "Arizona's tuition tax credit does not violate the Establishment Clause, because it's a neutral law that results in scholarship programs of private choice." Counsel for the US government argued as amicus curiae in support of petitioners. Counsel for the respondents clarified their argument: "Our claim is not that ... State money is going to religious schools. Our claim is that State money is being given to the beneficiaries of a State spending program on the basis of religion. It's a claim about discrimination in the distribution of these stated funds."

In Williamson v. Mazda Motor of America [oral arguments transcript, PDF], the court heard arguments on whether a federal minimum safety standard [text], which authorizes automobile manufacturers to install a lap-only seat belt at the inboard seating positions of a vehicle, preempts a state tort action alleging that the manufacturer should have installed a lap and shoulder belt in one of those seating positions. A California state appeals court held [opinion, PDF] that a state action was preempted by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208 [text], which requires lap and shoulder seat belt assemblies only for outboard seating. Petitioners claim that Mazda [corporate website] had a duty to warn of safety risks associated with lap-only seat belts under Wyeth v. Levine [opinion, PDF; JURIST report], in which the Supreme Court ruled that federal approval of labels giving warnings about effects of drugs does not bar lawsuits under state law claiming inadequate warnings of a health risk. Counsel for the petitioners argued, "[t]he claim is not preempted, because it is perfectly consistent with and would not frustrate the objectives of the operative 1989 version of Standard 208 governing Type 2 seatbelts in rear seats." Counsel for the US government argued as amicus curiae on behalf of petitioners. Counsel for respondents argued that the claim should be preempted because the federal government did not merely provide a minimum standard but left the option to the manufacturer because of safety trade-offs for each type of seatbelt.

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France court orders Rwanda rebel leader to face ICC trial
Ashley Hileman on November 3, 2010 3:44 PM ET

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[JURIST] A French court on Wednesday ordered Callixte Mbarushimana, the alleged leader of the rebel group the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] in The Hague. Mbarushimana will be tried [BBC report] on allegations that he committed 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] last year. French authorities arrested [JURIST report] Mbarushimana in October under a warrant from the ICC. Last week, an appeals court in Paris rejected a request [AFP report] from the accused for his release and, according to an ICC spokesperson, unless Mbarushimana's lawyers appeal the extradition order, he will be handed over to the court within a month. The French court authorized the transfer to the ICC on the condition that Mbarushimana not be taken back to Rwanda, a provision largely imposed due to fears that he would not receive a fair trial there.

Last month, UN peacekeepers and DRC forces arrested [JURIST report] rebel group Mai Mai Cheka [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] leader Lieutenant Colonel Sadoke Kokunda Mayele for allegedly leading mass rapes [JURIST news archive], along with the FDLR and other rebel groups, in the DRC in late July and early August. Also last month, the UN released a report on war crimes [text, PDF; JURIST report] and human rights abuses in the DRC. The report, originally expected to be released in September [JURIST report], lists 617 of the most serious violations of human rights, including violence against children, genocide and mass rape, committed between 1993 and 2003. In addition, October saw the UN Security Council [official website] issue a statement condemning the recent mass rapes [text; JURIST report] and calling for justice for the victims.

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Washington state votes down attempt to create state income tax
Julia Zebley on November 3, 2010 3:38 PM ET

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[JURIST] Washington state voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected an attempt [election results] to institute an income tax, with over 65 percent of the electorate voting against the initiative. Initiative 1098 [text, PDF] endeavored to establish a tax on those with incomes above $200,000, and those filing jointly with incomes over $400,000. In return for this, the initiative would have reduced the limit on statewide property taxes by 20 percent and increased the business and occupation tax credit to $4,800. The initiative provided for additional funds to go to education and health services. Opponents of the initiative at Defeat1098.com [advocacy website] were concerned that the income tax would eventually extend to all Washington citizens, not just those in the upper income bracket. Proponents at Yeson1098.com [advocacy website], however, believed the tax would aid small businesses while funneling money toward health and education.

Washington is one of seven states in the US that does not have a personal income tax [DOR backgrounder], instead raising revenue through sales taxes and business taxes. Voters have rejected any attempts to create personal income tax, through several ballot initiatives. Although a graduated income tax was accepted in 1932, the state supreme court found it unconstitutional in 1933. The court held that income was property and that Article VII, Section 1 of the state constitution [text] precludes the non-uniform taxation of property. Ballot initiatives are not uncommon in Washington, with nine other issues on the ballot this November. Last year, voters expanded domestic partnership rights, and the year before, physician–assisted suicides [JURIST reports].

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Nevada voters reject eminent domain ballot measure
John Paul Putney on November 3, 2010 2:54 PM ET

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[JURIST] Nevada voters rejected [official results] a ballot measure Tuesday to amend the state constitution [text] to repeal and amend provisions relating to the government's use of eminent domain to acquire private property. The amendment [summary, PDF] sought to define five exceptions to a general prohibition against exercising eminent domain to transfer property from one private party to another. In addition, the amendment defined "fair market value" and "just compensation" and shielded parties involved in eminent domain proceedings from being held liable for the other party's attorney's fees.

The measure would have repealed section 22, know as the People's Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land (PISTOL), which passed in 2006 and 2008 [JURIST reports] with 60 percent of the votes and remains a popular initiative [KOLO report]. Advocates of the measure claimed that, while well-intentioned, PISTOL contained several flaws that wasted taxpayer money on unnecessary lawsuits and interfered with efforts to maintain infrastructure including schools, roads, water supply and sewage systems. Advocates also noted that the changes were supported by government, private businesses, the public and even the original sponsors of PISTOL. Prominent Las Vegas eminent domain lawyer and PISTOL drafter, Kermitt Waters, indicated that all the core elements of PISTOL remain [Las Vegas Sun report]. Critics of the ballot measure claimed it would weaken the protections contained in PISTOL, expanding the government's power to use eminent domain.

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Niger voters approve new constitution
LaToya Sawyer on November 3, 2010 1:30 PM ET

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[JURIST] Voters in Niger have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new constitution, according to results published Tuesday. Military leaders of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD), who have held power after staging a coup [JURIST report] in February to oust then-president Mamadou Tandja [BBC profile], assert that the new constitution is pivotal in returning the country back to civilian rule. The CSRD suspended the previous constitution [JURIST reports], which allowed Tandja to remain in office for three more years and to run in any subsequent elections in fear that it expanded executive power beyond necessary limits. The new constitution will limit the power of the president to serve no more than two five-year terms and will also grant immunity to the military leaders who staged the coup. Opponents of the new constitution fear that less executive power will make it difficult to rule Niger in light of its grave poverty levels and chronic hunger crisis [BBC report]. However, supporters say the approval of the referendum helps to maintain Niger's timeline for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in January and a complete handover of power from the military junta to the president in April.

The constitution will be the seventh since Niger's independence from France in 1960. In September 2009, members of Nigerien opposition parties said that police had detained 30 former opposition lawmakers allegedly at the behest of Tandja. The 30 former members of parliament were arrested on charges of embezzlement [JURIST report], but were likely being targeted for their dissidence, as they refused to recognize Tandja's expansion of powers. Earlier this year, Nigerien rights group, the United Front for the Safeguard of Democratic Assets (Fusad), pushed for the prosecution [JURIST report] of Tandja on treason charges and corruption violating the constitution.

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Colorado voters reject anti-abortion amendment
Andrea Bottorff on November 3, 2010 1:14 PM ET

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[JURIST] Colorado voters struck down [Denver Post report] a ballot initiative [text, PDF] Tuesday that would have amended the state's constitution [text] to extend rights to fetuses and would have effectively outlawed abortion [JURIST news archive]. Proposed Amendment 62 [Project Vote Smart backgrounder], commonly known as the "Personhood Amendment," would have changed the definition of "person" to include "every human being from the beginning of the biological development." Such a measure would have extended to fetuses inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law under the Colorado Bill of Rights [text] and would have potentially ended legal abortion in the state. Supporters of the amendment argued that, currently, legal rights are not granted until after birth even though the state constitution does not define "person," and they hoped the changes would move Colorado toward the making abortion illegal. However, opponents claimed that the changes would harm individuals' ability to make health care decisions, would possibly inhibit access to birth control methods and would limit stem cell research. Critics also argued that since the proposed amendment did not define the term "beginning of the biological development," the use of such a definition would have forced the courts to decide its meaning in a wide array of legal situations. Supporters of Amendment 62 sued [Denver Post report] the Colorado Legislative Council [official website] in September for including allegedly biased descriptions of the measure in its ballot information booklet [text, PDF] that was widely distributed to voters. However, a district court judge dismissed the case [Personhood CO report] last month, saying that the books had already been circulated when the lawsuit was filed and that it was not feasible for the government to re-collect the books from voters.

While Colorado's "personhood" debate has surfaced in ballot initiatives [JURIST report] since 2007, other states have also been addressing abortion law. In August, Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning [official website] announced [JURIST report] that he agreed to a permanent injunction of a Nebraska abortion law [LB 594 materials] because he believed there was little chance that the law would withstand a court challenge. A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law was filed [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] in June by women's rights group Planned Parenthood of the Heartland [advocacy website], and a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] the same month prohibiting the law from going into effect. Also in June, Florida Governor Charlie Crist [official website] vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have required women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound or listen to a detailed description of the fetus before the procedure would be performed. In May, Oklahoma lawmakers approved a bill [JURIST report] requiring women seeking an abortion to complete a questionnaire containing information on marital status, reason for seeking the abortion and whether the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

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Croatia court sentences 6 men for 2008 death of top journalist
Sarah Miley on November 3, 2010 12:38 PM ET

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[JURIST] The County Court of Zagreb [official website, in Croatian] on Wednesday sentenced six men for the murder of top Croatian journalist, Ivo Pukanic, who was killed in a car bombing in 2008. The court held that the actions committed by the convicted men constituted organized crime, which targeted Pukanic for his extensive reporting on the topic in Croatia. Pukanic was the the founder and editor-in-chief of Croatian political weekly Nacional [official website]. He was a controversial figure in Croatia and was known for his close ties [AFP report] with both high-ranking Croatian officials and top criminal figures. Pukanic's death was the first of its kind since the country's independence in 1991 and caused the government to reinforce its campaign against corruption. The six men face individual sentences of 15 to 40 years, with an aggregate sentencing of more than 150 years.

Croatian officials have been under serious pressure to the tackle the issue of corruption in order to gain accession [EU materials] to the EU by 2012. The prosecution of individuals for organized crime and war crimes has been one of the major issues faced by Croatia in its accession process. In 2008 Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called on the EU to use Croatia's status as a candidate country to ensure that the Croatian government actively investigates and prosecutes [JURIST report] suspected war criminals. AI criticized the slow pace of war crimes investigations, and noted that Croatian courts have mostly focused on crimes allegedly committed by ethnic Serbs even though Croats have also been accused of ethnic-based war crimes. In March 2005, the EU suspended entry talks [JURIST report] on the grounds that Croatia was failing to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website; JURIST news archive] investigating war crimes in the area. The entry talks were resumed in October of that year after the ICTY declared that Croatia was fully cooperating [JURIST report].

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Kansas voters approve measure clarifying right to bear arms
Sarah Posner on November 3, 2010 12:19 PM ET

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[JURIST] The citizens of Kansas voted Tuesday to enact Senate Resolution 1611 [text, PDF], clarifying the right to bear arms. Kansas Amendment 1: Right to Bear Arms, which passed 89 percent to 11 percent [unofficial results], will amend section 4 of the Kansas Constitution [text, PDF], which previously read: "The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security." The newly-amended section will now state: "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, for lawful hunting and recreational use, and for any other lawful purpose." The Kansas Legislature [official website] passed the resolution in March with both the state house and senate meeting the requisite two-thirds majority in time to include the measure on the November ballot.

In June, the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in a 5-4 decision that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment applicable to states, as well as the federal government. In the case of McDonald v. Chicago [Cornell LII backgrounder] the Supreme Court struck down the Chicago ordinance that effectively banned the possession of handguns in the city. In 2008, the Supreme Court addressed the application of the Second Amendment in District of Columbia v. Heller [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. In this 2008 judgment, the Supreme Court held that the US Constitution prohibits the District of Columbia from banning private handgun ownership.

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Western voters reject propositions to expand access to legalized marijuana
Brian Jackson on November 3, 2010 11:34 AM ET

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[JURIST] Voters in California, Arizona, South Dakota and Oregon on Tuesday rejected a range of marijuana-based propositions, including legalization in California and medical marijuana initiatives in South Dakota and Arizona. In California, Proposition 19 [text, PDF], which was defeated by a 54-46 margin [LAT report], would have legalized the sale and possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the growth of cannabis plants for personal consumption. The proposition would also have empowered the state legislature to implement appropriate taxes on the sale of marijuana. In Arizona, Proposition 203 [text, PDF], which as of Wednesday morning was too close to call (50.3 against, 49.7 for) [Arizona Republic election coverage], would authorize the possession of up to two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana, or up to 12 cannabis plants, for individuals with any of a set list of medical conditions including cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and AIDS. In South Dakota, Initiated Measure 13 [text, DOC], which was defeated by a 63-37 margin [Rapid City Journal report], would have authorized the cultivation and possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by individuals with certain debilitating diseases who register with the state Department of Health. In Oregon, voters rejected Ballot Measure 74 by a 57-43 margin [Portland Tribune report]. That measure would have expanded the state's existing medical marijuana provisions to allow for private dispensaries. No matter what actions states take in this arena, however, marijuana is a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) [text], meaning it has no medically accepted use, it has a high potential for abuse and it is not considered safe for use, even under medical supervision. Under federal law, it cannot legally be prescribed by a doctor.

The full legalization of marijuana in California was the most contentious of the ballot propositions, with supporters [WSJ op-ed] and those in opposition [San Diego Union Tribune op-ed] divided relatively evenly up to election day. Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would continue to enforce the CSA [JURIST report], even if Prop 19 had passed. California had previously decriminalized possession of less than one ounce of marijuana under State Senate Bill 1449 [text]. Decriminalization is the process of reducing the punishment for possession of marijuana from a misdemeanor with the possibility of jail time to civil fines and/or mandatory drug education programs. In addition to California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and 10 other states [Boston Globe reports] have decriminalized possession, as has the city of Denver, Colorado. Fourteen states permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes, with New Jersey [JURIST report] becoming the most recent state to approve of the use.

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Turkish court reinstates YouTube ban
Ann Riley on November 3, 2010 11:23 AM ET

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[JURIST] A Turkish Magistrate Court in Ankara reinstated the nearly-three year ban on YouTube [media website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday, just days after it was lifted. The court ordered access to YouTube blocked [Anatolia report, in Turkish] after video of former opposition leader Deniz Baykal in a bedroom with a female aide surfaced on the site. Baykal resigned [BBC report] in May following the exposure of video revealing his affair. The court ordered the Telecommunication Transmission Directorate (TIB), which controls Internet accessibility in Turkey, to direct YouTube to remove the video of Baykal and block access to the site if it failed to comply. On Saturday, the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office of Ankara lifted the nearly three-year ban [JURIST report] on YouTube after videos allegedly insulting Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [Turkish News profile] were removed from the site's content. Insulting Ataturk is a criminal offense in Turkey, punishable by prison sentence. After confirming with the police department that the disputed content had been taken down, the prosecutor's office ordered the TIB to enable YouTube for Turkish Internet users.

Turkey's ban on YouTube was originally implemented [JURIST report] in 2008 after insulting clips of Ataturk were discovered on the site. Earlier this year, the TIB also placed a ban on certain Google sites [JURIST report], which made it difficult for Turkish citizens to access YouTube indirectly. Turkish President Abdullah Gul criticized these bans [JURIST report] on his Twitter account and called for them to be lifted. The OSCE has repeated called on Turkey to bring its penal code in line with OSCE commitments and international standards. Specifically, Article 301 [AI Backgrounder] of the Turkish penal code, which criminalizes insulting "Turkishness," has been criticized for too-strictly limiting free speech, a limitation that is seen as a stumbling block [JURIST report] for Turkey's admittance to the EU.

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Arizona voters approve amendment banning affirmative action
Aman Kakar on November 3, 2010 10:42 AM ET

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[JURIST] Arizona voters on Tuesday approved [results] Proposition 107, amending the state constitution [HCR 2019 text] to ban affirmative action [JURIST news archive] programs in state government agencies. The measure was passed by the state House of Representatives and placed on the ballot after the Senate [official websites] also approved the measure in June 2009. The language on the ballot read [materials]:
A "yes" vote shall have the effect of prohibiting the State from giving preferential treatment to or discriminating against any person or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. The prohibition applies to preferences or discrimination in public employment, education or contracting. It exempts reasonably necessary qualifications based on sex, existing court orders and actions that would result in the loss of federal funds. The State includes state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts.
The measure was sponsored by state representative Steve Montenegro (R) [official website].

In August, the Supreme Court of California [official website] held that a state affirmative action ban does not violate the federal constitution [JURIST report]. In November 2008, ballot measures banning affirmative action failed in Colorado and passed in Nebraska [JURIST reports]. In 2006, Michigan voters approved a similar state constitutional amendment, which was upheld [JURIST reports] in March 2008 by a federal district judge in a lawsuit alleging that such an affirmative action ban violated the US Constitution.

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UK investigation finds Google in 'significant breach' of data protection law
Ann Riley on November 3, 2010 10:33 AM ET

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[JURIST] The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) [official website] announced Wednesday that Google UK [corporate website; JURIST news archive] has committed a "significant breach" [press release, ashx] of the Data Protection Act [text] through its data collection practices for its Street View maps [website]. During the investigation, authorities found that when Google Street View cars gathered data over WiFi networks they also collected pieces of personal information including e-mails, complete URLs and passwords. Information Commissioner Christopher Graham is requiring Google to delete the data as soon as it is legally possible, saying:
It is my view that the collection of this information was not fair or lawful and constitutes a significant breach of the first principle of the Data Protection Act. The most appropriate and proportionate regulatory action in these circumstances is to get written legal assurance from Google that this will not happen again - and to follow this up with an ICO audit.
The ICO has required Google to implement [letter, ashx] company policies and employee training on privacy principles, security awareness and the requirements of the Data Protection Law. The ICO will undertake an audit on Google's collection practices nine months from the implementation of the new privacy policies to ensure that no future data protection breaches occur. The ICO has not imposed any monetary penalties on Google, but will commence enforcement action if Google fails to comply with data protection regulations in the future. The UK Metropolitan Police [official website] have indicated that they are not pursuing a further investigation after launching a probe [JURIST report] in June to determine whether Google violated privacy laws while mapping for Street View. The probe was initiated in response to a complaint filed [JURIST report] by Privacy International (PI) [advocacy website], which claimed that the information gathered in an independent audit [text, PDF] published by Google earlier that month proves that company's interception of unencrypted data was not inadvertent [JURIST report].

Several additional investigations have recently been launched into Google's unencrypted data collections to determine whether the Internet giant's practices have violated privacy laws. Last week, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] announced that it had ended an inquiry [JURIST report] into Google's internal policies and procedures that led to the company inadvertently collecting data on unsecured wireless networks. In October, Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart announced that Google was in violation [JURIST report] of the country's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act [text, PDF] (PIPEDA). In August, the South Korean National Police Agency (SKNPA) [official website, in Korean] raided the Google South Korean headquarters in Seoul in connection with accusations that the company has been illegally acquiring user data [JURIST report]. In July, Australian authorities completed an investigation [JURIST report] into the search giant's collection and storage of private data [JURIST news archive] over unsecured wireless networks, determining that the company violated the Australia Privacy Act [government backgrounder]. In June, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal [official profile] announced that he will lead a multi-state investigation [JURIST report] against Google and requested additional detailed information from the company on its data harvesting procedures.

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Oklahoma voters ban use of Islamic, international law in state court decisions
Dwyer Arce on November 3, 2010 9:19 AM ET

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[JURIST] Oklahoma voters on Tuesday approved State Question 755 [text, PDF], an amendment to the state constitution [text] that bans the use of Islamic or international law in state court decisions. The amendment, also known as the Save Our State amendment, was approved by voters 70 percent to 30 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment was overwhelmingly approved by the state legislature before Tuesday's vote and allows state courts only to look to legal precedents of other states for guidance, provided that state does not use Islamic law. The amendment also prevents courts from "look[ing] to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures."

The law was sponsored by state Representative Rex Duncan (R) [official website], who described it as a preemptive strike [Daily Mail report] against the use of Islamic law in Oklahoma. The necessity of the amendment has been questioned [CNN report], due to the fact that the use of Islamic law in US courts would likely violate the First Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] prohibition on laws respecting an establishment of religion in the US Constitution [text].

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Arizona, Oklahoma voters approve measures to block health care mandate
Dwyer Arce on November 3, 2010 8:12 AM ET

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[JURIST] The voters of Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado on Tuesday voted on state constitutional amendments seeking to make the individual mandate provision of the recent health care reform law [HR 3590 materials; JURIST news archive] unenforceable in their states. In Arizona, Proposition 106 [text] passed 55.4 percent to 44.6 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment purports to "preserve the freedom of Arizonans to provide for their health care" by prohibiting compulsory participation in "any health care system." In Oklahoma, Question 756 [materials] passed 65 percent to 35 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment states that it will "prohibit[] making a person participate in a health care system." In Colorado, Amendment 63 [text, PDF] was projected to have been rejected by voters as of 2:00 AM EST 53 percent to 47 percent [unofficial results]. The amendment would have affirmed that "all persons ... have the right to health care choice" by disallowing the required participation in health insurance plan. A similar provision was set to appear on the ballot in Florida as well [The Hill report], but was removed by a state judge due the misleading ballot language. The enforceability of these provisions has been questioned due to their conflict with federal law, which preempts state law under the Supremacy Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] of the US Constitution [text].

In August, Missouri voters approved a similar ballot initiative [JURIST report] with 71.1 percent of the vote. Similar laws have been passed by the legislatures of Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana and Virginia [JURIST report]. The health care law has faced ongoing legal challenges since it was signed into law [JURIST report] by President Barack Obama in March. In October, a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan upheld the individual mandate provision [JURIST report] of the law as constitutional, dismissing a lawsuit brought by the Thomas Moore Law Center. In August, a judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia denied a motion to dismiss another lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by the state of Virginia challenging the constitutionality of the same provision. In May, the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) [association website], a small business lobby group, joined 20 states in a third lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the health care reform law in the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

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Kosovo government collapses in aftermath of court ruling against president
Daniel Richey on November 3, 2010 7:14 AM ET

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[JURIST] The government of Kosovo dissolved its parliament [press release, in Albanian] Tuesday after the coalition led by the Democratic League of Kosovo (DLK) fell to a vote of no confidence brought by the opposition. The DLK's parliamentary majority was lost in September when its leader, then-president Fatmir Sejdiu, resigned [JURIST report] after the Constitutional Court [official website] ruled [press release] that his dual roles as head of the DLK and president violated the country's constitution. After dismantling the government Tuesday, acting president Jakup Krasniqi [official profile] announced that elections will be held on December 12 to form a new parliament, pursuant to Article 66 of the Kosovo Constitution [text, PDF], which requires parliamentary elections within 45 days of the passage of a vote of no confidence. The move is expected to complicate [AFP report] anticipated diplomatic negotiations with Serbia, as well as the country's intensifying bid [BBC report] to join the EU. The coalition government had ruled the fledgling republic since it declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

In July, the Serbian National Assembly [official website] passed a resolution [JURIST report] that Serbia would never recognize Kosovo's independence. Earlier that month, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ruled that Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia [JURIST reports] did not violate international law. In June, a group of 25 countries that recognize Kosovo's independence urged the government to increase its efforts [JURIST report] to battle crime and corruption after meeting with Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

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Unprecedented Notice of Warrantless Wiretapping in a Closed Case
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