JURIST Supported by the University of Pittsburgh
Serious law. Primary sources. Global perspective.
Listen to Paper Chase!

Legal news from Thursday, June 9, 2011

Supreme Court finds fleeing in vehicle is violent felony
Julia Zebley on June 9, 2011 1:59 PM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] 6-3 in Sykes v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] that fleeing after being ordered to stop is a violent felony within the meaning of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) [18 USC § 924(e)]. Delivering the opinion for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy analyzed the case by comparing the violence in running to the violence in burglaries:
Burglary is dangerous because it can end in confrontation leading to violence. The same is true of vehicle flight, but to an even greater degree. The attempt to elude capture is a direct challenge to an officer's authority. It is a provocative and dangerous act that dares, and in a typical case requires, the officer to give chase. The felon's conduct gives the officer reason to believe that the defendant has something more serious than a traffic violation to hide.
Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurrence. Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissented, writing that she believes there are too many distinctions in ways to flee a police officer to rule all of them "violent felonies": "a person may fail to heed an officer's command to pull over, but otherwise drive in a lawful manner, perhaps just trying to find a better place to stop." Justice Antonin Scalia also dissented, and focused his remarks on the vagueness of the ACCA.
We try to include an ACCA residual-clause case in about every second or third volume of the United States Reports. As was perhaps predictable, instead of producing a clarification of the Delphic residual clause, today's opinion produces a fourth ad hoc judgment that will sow further confusion. Insanity, it has been said, is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. Four times is enough. We should admit that ACCA's residual provision is a drafting failure and declare it void for vagueness.
Kennedy addressed this in the majority opinion: "Although this approach may at times be more difficult for courts to implement, it is within congressional power to enact."

The residual clause of the ACCA states that, "the term 'violent felony' means any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, or 'otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." The ACCA's intent is to impose harsher and longer sentences on "career criminals." The Court has analyzed it several times in recent terms. Earlier this month, the Court unanimously ruled in McNeill v. United States [JURIST report] that a federal sentencing court must determine whether "an offense under State law" is a "serious drug offense" under the ACCA by consulting the "maximum term of imprisonment" applicable to a defendant's prior state drug offense at the time of the defendant's conviction for that offense. In March 2010, they ruled in Johnson v. United States [JURIST report] that a "violent felony" requires the use of physical force. The Court declared in Chambers v. United States [JURIST report] that failure to report to prison does not constitute a "violent felony" in January 2009. United States v. Rodriquez [JURIST report], decided in May 2008, clarified that for purposes of increasing a sentence under the ACCA a conviction qualifies as a predicate serious drug offense even when the crime is made punishable by a 10-year prison term only because of additional penalties imposed on repeat offenders.

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

Germany court rejects Spain Demjanjuk extradition request
Maureen Cosgrove on June 9, 2011 1:34 PM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] A Munich court on Thursday denied Spain's request to extradite retired US autoworker and convicted Nazi guard John Demjanjuk [NNDB profile; JURIST news archive] to stand trial in Madrid. The Spanish National Court in January sought Demjanjuk's extradition so he could stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity relating to his alleged involvement with the Flossenburg [HRP backgrounder] concentration camp where 60 Spanish citizens were killed during World War II. The German court said Spanish authorities failed to provide requested information [AP report] about whether Demjanjuk was involved in the alleged crimes. The German court also indicated that Spain likely did not have jurisdiction over the case because the alleged crimes took place in Germany and Germany's statute of limitations had expired.

A German court in May convicted Demjanjuk [JURIST report] on 28,060 counts of helping to murder thousands during the Holocaust, sentencing him to five years in prison and then releasing him pending appeal. The judge found that Demjanjuk, 91, served as a guard at the at the Sobidor death camp, assisting in the deaths of nearly 28,000 Jews. The five-year sentence is less than the six years sought by the prosecution [JURIST report]. Judge Ralph Alt ordered his release [DW report] because of his advanced age and because the verdict is not final. Demjanjuk's trial, which began [JURIST report] in November 2009, was marked by extensive delay. Last May, the court denied a motion to dismiss the charges [JURIST report] filed by the defense, which argued there was a lack of credible evidence. The court rejected the argument, saying they found the evidence against Demjanjuk to be strong. In October 2009, Demjanjuk was found fit to stand trial after the court rejected appeals relating to his health [JURIST reports], although the court limited hearings to no more than two 90-minute sessions per day. Demjanjuk fought a lengthy legal battle over his alleged involvement with Nazi death camps during World War II. He was deported to Germany after the US Supreme Court [official website] denied his stay of deportation [JURIST report].

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

Alabama governor signs immigration bill into law
Maureen Cosgrove on June 9, 2011 12:46 PM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] Alabama Governor Robert Bentley [official website] on Thursday signed into law an immigration bill [HB 56 text; materials] expanding restrictions on undocumented immigrants. The bill, passed by the Alabama legislature [JURIST report] last week, includes measures comparable to those passed in Arizona [JURIST report] last year. The bill permits police officers to detain a person stopped for a traffic violation if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the country illegally. The officer must then try to determine the individual's identity by checking other records if the motorist is unable to provide documentation. The bill also requires businesses to use the federal E-Verify system [official website] to determine whether potential employees are legal residents. Businesses cited multiple times for hiring undocumented workers could lose their business licenses. Furthermore, undocumented immigrants are prohibited from applying for a job, and anyone transporting or harboring undocumented immigrants will be punished by a fine or jail time. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [official website] announced that it, along with other civil liberties groups, will challenge the constitutionality [press release] of the law. ACLU of Alabama Executive Director Olivia Turner condemned the governor's decision:
By signing this bill into law, Gov. Bentley is willing to sacrifice the civil liberties of all Alabamans, eroding the rights of millions of people living and working in this state. This law undermines core American values of fairness and equality, subjecting both citizens and non-citizens alike to unlawful racial profiling, and does nothing to ensure the safety and economic security of Alabama.
Alabama's law, which will go into effect on September 1, is more restrictive than Arizona's employment immigration law, which the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] upheld [JURIST report] last month.

Early in June, the ACLU, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [official website] and a coalition of other civil rights groups filed a class action [JURIST report] lawsuit challenging a similar Georgia immigration law. Last month, the Supreme Court upheld an Arizona employment law that imposes penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, ruling that the law is not preempted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) [text]. The ruling opens the door for states to enact similar restraints on immigration. Several states have already enacted or proposed [JURIST reports] tough new immigration laws. In March, the Oklahoma State Senate [official website] approved [JURIST report] a bill that would give police officers the authority to question the citizenship status of any person lawfully stopped for a traffic violation and arrest them without a warrant if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is in the country illegally. Also in March, Utah Governor Gary Herbert [official website] signed an immigration law requiring police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for an alleged felony or serious misdemeanor, but a federal judge blocked [JURIST reports] it less than 24 hours after it took effect. In February, the Indiana Senate [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] requiring suspected illegal immigrants to provide proof of their legal status and calls for all public meetings, websites, and documents to be in English only.

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

Supreme Court rules for FCC interpretation of Telecommunications Act
Julia Zebley on June 9, 2011 12:12 PM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] unanimously in Talk America Inc. v. Michigan Bell Telephone Co. [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] that a state utility commission may require an incumbent carrier like Bell Telephone to provide connectivity to its network for a small, independent carrier, without hindrance. The Court agreed with the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) [official website] interpretation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 [text, PDF], proposed in their amicus brief [text, PDF]. The Court also explained that the FCC should be given deference to interpret the statute, referencing the Court's decision in Auer v. Robbins [Cornell LII backgrounder]. Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the opinion:
In sum, the Commission's interpretation of its regulations is neither plainly erroneous nor inconsistent with the regulatory text. Contrary to AT&T's assertion, there is no danger that deferring to the Commission would effectively "permit the agency, under the guise of interpreting a regulation, to create de facto a new regulation."
The case was consolidated with Isiogu v. Michigan Bell Telephone Co. [Sixth Circuit opinion text, PDF]. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself from the decision. Justice Antonin Scalia concurred, stating he agreed with the result, but suggested a change in the Court's reliance on the "Auer deference": "But when an agency promulgates an imprecise rule, it leaves to itself the implementation of that rule, and thus the initial determination of the rule's meaning. ... It seems contrary to fundamental principles of separation of powers to permit the person who promulgates a law to interpret it as well."

The cases centered on charges for "entrance facilities." Essentially, to ensure fair competition, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 required the major telecommunications companies to grant access to their network, as well as other provisions, to smaller telecommunications companies. In this instance, Michigan Bell (AT&T in the region), could charge only cost-based rates to competitors, rather than market-based. Further, the FCC found that Michigan Bell had an obligation to aid competitors in "connecting" to their entrance facilities.

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

Supreme Court says 'cocaine base' has broad definition
Zach Zagger on June 9, 2011 11:44 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website, JURIST news archive] Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] in DePierre v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder] that the harsher sentences under a federal anti-drug statute for "cocaine base" applied to more than just "crack cocaine," but to all forms of cocaine in its basic form. All the justices joined in the opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejecting an argument that the term "cocaine base" in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 (ADAA) [21 USC § 841(a), as amended] referred only to "crack cocaine." The ADAA imposes harsher penalties for those convicted of selling "cocaine base" than the penalties for "powder cocaine." Franz DePierre argued was convicted for selling two bags of cocaine base to government informant. At trial, a federal district court judge denied his request that the jury be instructed that in order to find him guilty of the cocaine base crime they must find that it involved crack cocaine. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] that decision. The Supreme Court held that Congress' use of the term "cocaine base" was broader than "crack cocaine" referring to base forms of cocaine rather than the powder form. The Court recognized that chemically cocaine is a base by definition but said it was Congress' intention to distinguish that the harsher penalties did not apply to powder cocaine. The Court also rejected DePierre's argument that since the US Sentencing Commission (USSC) [official website] changed its definition of cocaine base to mean crack cocaine that the Court should do the same with the ADAA. Under the ADAA at the time, there was a 100:1 ratio for sentences between powder cocaine and cocaine base where to receive a five-year sentence an individual would have to be convicted of selling 500 kilograms of powder cocaine compared to just 5 kilograms of cocaine base.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in this case in February, in which DePierre's counsel argued that the ADAA was passed to address the specific problem of crack cocaine so Congress must have intended "cocaine base" to mean "crack cocaine." The Obama administration is trying to reduce the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences. Earlier this month, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] testified before the USSC calling for the retroactive application of a new law bringing the sentences for crack cocaine more in line for those of powder cocaine. The USSC is considering retroactively applying the Fair Sentencing Act [S 1789 materials] signed into law [JURIST report] by President Barack Obama last year. However, all the courts of appeals that have heard cases on the new law's retroactivity have held against it [JURIST report].

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

Supreme Court rules against Microsoft in patent infringement case
Maureen Cosgrove on June 9, 2011 11:08 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] unanimously ruled [opinion, PDF] against Microsoft [corporate website] Thursday in Microsoft v. i4i Limited Partnership [docket], holding that a patent will be invalidated only if the challenging party meets the "clear and convincing evidence" standard. The Supreme Court affirmed a US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [official website] ruling, which held [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that a challenger to a patent claim must prove invalidity by clear and convincing evidence. In 2007, i4i [corporate website] claimed that Microsoft's products infringed i4i's patent, which "claims an improved method for editing computer documents, which stores a document's content separately from the metacodes associated with the document's structure." § 282 of the Patent Act of 1952 [35 USC §§ 1–376 text] declares that "[a] patent shall be presumed valid" and "[t]he burden of establishing invalidity of a patent or any claim thereof shall rest on the party asserting such invalidity." Microsoft claimed it needed to prove the patent invalid by a preponderance of the evidence. Justice Sotomoyor, writing for the court, said that common law precedent established a higher burden for patent challengers:
[B]y the time Congress enacted §282 and declared that a patent is "presumed valid," the presumption of patent validity had long been a fixture of the common law. According to its settled meaning, a defendant raising an invalidity defense bore "a heavy burden of persuasion," requiring proof of the defense by clear and convincing evidence.
Accordingly, she wrote, Congress adopted that high standard when it enacted the Patent Act in 1952, even though the Act does not expressly mention the burden of proof. Chief Justice John Roberts did not take part in the consideration or decision.

Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Samuel Alito, filed a concurring opinion emphasizing that the "clear and convincing evidence" standard of proof applies to fact finding, and not to finding questions of law. Justice Clarence Thomas also wrote a concurring opinion disagreeing with the majority's assertion that Congress codified a standard of proof within the language of the Patent Act. In other words, though Congress stated "a patent shall be presumed valid," it did not necessarily mean to attach the "clear and convincing evidence" standard typically associated with such language.

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

UN rights chief urges Syria to stop violence against its people
Zach Zagger on June 9, 2011 10:20 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] Thursday condemned reported violence by Syria against its own people, calling on it to allow UN investigators into the country [press release]. Pillay said that reports show the number killed since protests began last March has exceeded 1,100 with up to 10,000 in detention, noting that at least 50 people were killed in a protest last Friday. In April, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] authorized an investigation [JURIST report] into reports of violence against protesters, but Pillay said that Syria has not responded to official requests to allow UN fact-finders into the country. Pillay urged Syria to stop using the military against protesters:
We are receiving an increasing number of alarming reports pointing to the Syrian Government's continuing efforts to ruthlessly crush civilian protests. It is utterly deplorable for any government to attempt to bludgeon its population into submission, using tanks, artillery and snipers. I urge the Government to halt this assault on its own people's most fundamental human rights.
Despite a not being able to enter the country, the UN fact-finding commission is still expected to file its report on June 15.

This is not the first time Pillay has called on Syria to end violence. In April, she urged Syria to immediately halt the killings [JURIST report] and violence against civilian protesters in response to the fatal shootings of peaceful anti-government protesters. Syria has also been reluctant to allow UN relief efforts into the country. Last month, a UN rights official expressed concern [JURIST report] regarding humanitarian aid access to Syrian cities where armed forces have been trying to put down anti-government protests. Repeated entreaties to Syrian authorities for access were unsuccessful. Even a direct phone call from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [Al Jazeera profile] regarding the proposed assessment proved unavailing. In April, the UNHRC, in emergency special session, publicly condemned [text, PDF] the violence used by Syrian authorities against peaceful protesters. Additionally, the council immediately called for a full investigation of "all alleged violations of international human rights law" in Syria. Also in April, Assad ended the 48-year-old state of emergency [JURIST report], an event of significant historical note, but protests have continued.

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

Brazil high court rejects extradition of Italy fugitive
Maureen Cosgrove on June 9, 2011 9:56 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The Brazilian Supreme Court [official website, in Portuguese] ruled 6-3 on Wednesday that it would not extradite former Italian guerrilla Cesare Battisti back to Italy and said that Italy did not have standing to challenge the decision. The court upheld last year's decision by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva [BBC profile] against extradition and ordered that Battisti be released from a Brasilia prison. In 2009, the Brazilian Supreme Court voted 5-to-4 to extradite [press release, in Portuguese; JURIST report] Battisti, but left the final decision to Lula, who granted him asylum earlier that same year. In December 2010, Lula denied the extradition request. Italy said it would appeal [Al Jazeera report] the high court decision to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] in The Hague. Italian President Silvio Berlusconi [official website] denounced [press release, in Italian] the Brazil court's decision.

Lula granted Battisti political refugee status in January 2009 due to doubts about the fairness of his trial where he was convicted in absentia of four murders in the late 1970s. Battisti has firmly protested his extradition, going on a hunger strike [BBC report] in the Brazilian prison where he is being held. Italy considers Battisti a terrorist and has been pressuring the Brazilian government to extradite him. Battisti was sentenced to life in prison in Italy for murders committed by the Armed Proletarians for Communism, an arm of a radical communist group known as the Red Brigades to which Battisti belonged. He escaped [BBC report] from an Italian prison in 1981 and fled to Brazil after spending 10 years as a refugee in France. Battisti was arrested in Rio de Janeiro in March 2007. Other members of the Red Brigades group have been convicted for murders in Italy over the past few years. In 2005, three members, who were among five people sentenced to life in prison for the murder of government economic advisor Marco Biagi, were sentenced [JURIST reports] to another life term for the murder of Massimo D'Antona, a professor and legal consultant to the Minister of Labour. The murders occurred three years apart, but both victims were government advisers who were killed to deter reforms which would introduce greater flexibility to Italy's labor market. Four defendants were acquitted and nine other defendants received sentences ranging from four to 10 years in prison.

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

Iowa House passes 18-week abortion ban
Julia Zebley on June 9, 2011 9:26 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The Iowa House of Representatives [official website] on Wednesday voted 54 - 37 [Des Moines Reporter] in favor of a bill [HF-1736 text, PDF] that would effectively ban abortions [JURIST news archive] after 18 weeks of pregnancy, making it the most restrictive abortion law in the country. The Iowa House passed a late-term abortion ban in April [JURIST report], but the Senate decided not to vote on the bill by a slim margin of 26 - 23 [Senate Journal text, PDF]. The Senate later introduced SF-534 [text, PDF], forcing late-term abortion providers' clinics to be "located in close proximity to a hospital licensed [...] that is a level II regional neonatology center." There are only five hospitals with neonatal wards in Iowa [Des Moines Register report], in the state's four major cities. The House's bill amends SF-534 significantly, banning abortions after the beginning of the gestation period, which occurs at a woman's last period before her pregnancy, thus potentially banning abortions as early as 18 weeks. There is no exception in the bill for the health of the mother, although there is for her life.
Any person who intentionally terminates a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after a gestation period of twenty completed weeks where death of the fetus results commits feticide. Feticide is a class C felony. Any person who attempts to intentionally terminate a human pregnancy, with the knowledge and voluntary consent of the pregnant person, after a gestation period of twenty completed weeks where death of the fetus does not result commits attempted feticide. Attempted feticide is a class D felony.
These felony charges could attach 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. It is unknown when the Senate will vote on the bill, but it is unlikely they will ratify it.

The Obama administration took a stand earlier this month against a controversial Indiana law that prevents health care providers with abortion services from receiving Medicaid funds, saying the law violates federal law [JURIST report]. Several other states have acted recently to tighten restrictions on abortions. Last month, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy websites] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging a South Dakota law requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days before obtaining an abortion. Earlier that week, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton [official website] vetoed a pair of bills [JURIST report] that restricted state funding for abortions and banned them altogether after 20 weeks. Also in May, Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] signed into law a bill that requires women seeking an abortion to first get a sonogram [JURIST report]. Multiple states have acted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain, including Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Ohio, Oklahoma, Kansas and Idaho [JURIST reports].

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

France Muslim couple to challenge burqa ban in ECHR, Spain court upholds city ban
Zach Zagger on June 9, 2011 9:02 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] A French Muslim couple living in the UK filed a challenge Thursday in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] over a French ban [materials, in French] on full face coverings, while a Spanish court upheld a city ban on veils in municipal buildings for identification and security purposes. A French husband and wife, who have chosen to remain anonymous, argue that the ban restricts their right to free movement [AFP report] across the EU. They are seeking £ 10,000 (USD $16,400) for the claimed human rights breach, The couple is being represented by Robina Shah of the Immigration Advisory Service in Birmingham [advocacy website] and claim they were forced to leave France because of the ban. The controversial French law bans the wearing of full Muslim veils, including burqas, nigabs and other facial coverings in public. Also on Thursday, a Spanish court overturned a lower court ruling and upheld a ban on the Muslim face coverings [AP report] for identification and security purposes. The city of Lleida, in Catalonia, was the first Spanish city to impose such a ban, but only about 3 percent of its population is Muslim.

Under the French ban, people caught wearing facial coverings in public can be fined € 150 (USD $215) and/or ordered to take a citizenship class. In addition, anyone convicted of forcing a someone else to cover their face may be fined up to 30,000 euro and jailed for one year [AFP report, in French], and the penalties double if the incident involves a minor. The ban affects citizens, residents and tourists alike, and extends to all public places [Le Figaro backgrounder, in French], including airports, hospitals, government offices and even places of worship that are open to the public. In October, the French Constitutional Council ruled that the ban conforms with the Constitution [JURIST report]. The bill was approved by the National Assembly in July and by the Senate [JURIST reports] in September. Legislation banning the use of Islamic burqas has been a point of contention recently in many European countries. In October, Dutch politician Geert Wilders [personal website, in Dutch] said that the Netherlands will ban the burqa [JURIST report] as part of the government's plan to form a minority coalition. In August, Austria's conservative Freedom Party [official website, in German] called for a special vote [JURIST report] on whether to ban face veils and the construction of minarets, two of the most visible symbols of the Islamic faith. In July, Spain's lower house of parliament rejected a proposal [JURIST report] to ban the burqa and other full face veils by a vote of 183 to 162 with two abstaining.

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

ACLU: Utah law restricting Internet speech unconstitutional
Maureen Cosgrove on June 9, 2011 8:49 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah (ACLU) [official website] on Wednesday asked a federal judge to permanently block [press release] a Utah law that restricts Internet speech. Utah Code §§ 76-10-1206 and 76-10-1233 [texts] regulate Internet material, including artwork, photography and graphic novels that might be "harmful to minors." In its memorandum [text, PDF] supporting the motion for summary judgment [text, PDF], the ACLU argues that the statutes violate the First Amendment [text] and the Commerce Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] and are unconstitutionally vague. The ACLU contends that the burdens of the Utah statutes outweigh the benefits:
Although protecting minors from material harmful to them is an important goal, it is a goal the Challenged Statutes cannot achieve. The State concedes that the Challenged Statutes "will not reduce the availability in Utah of material that may be harmful to minors over the Internet." This conclusion is almost unavoidable in light of the fact that a significant portion—perhaps even most—of all sexual content on the Internet is hosted overseas (and is thus far outside of the reach of the Challenged Statutes). In light of these facts and the State' concession, no significant local benefit exists. On the other hand, the burdens associated with the Utah statutes are substantial and include chilling the First Amendment activities of entire classes of adult Americans.
The statutes, which were passed in 2005, have not been enforced because Utah consented to a temporary injunction.

In 2008, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] affirmed [decision, PDF; JURIST report] a lower court's decision [PDF; JURIST report] granting a permanent injunction against enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) [text], a federal law that imposes civil and criminal penalties on website operators for making sexually explicit materials available to minors over the Internet. The ACLU lauded [press release] the Third Circuit's decision, calling it a "clear victory for free speech." In 2004, the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in Ashcroft v. ACLU [opinion, text] that COPA was likely an unconstitutional violation of free speech and remanded the case to a lower court for findings on what technology, if any, would allow adults to see and buy material while keeping that material out of the hands of children.

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

Rights groups seek injunction against Georgia immigration law
Erin Bock on June 9, 2011 7:28 AM ET

Photo source or description
[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in conjunction with the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [advocacy websites] and other rights groups, filed a motion for preliminary injunction [text, PDF] on Wednesday to block a Georgia immigration law from going into effect. The motion comes one week after the groups filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF; JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia [official website] against HB 87, which was signed into law last month [JURIST report]. The law, which the groups claims was inspired by Arizona's SB 1070 [JURIST news archive], allows authorities to ask individuals to produce papers to prove their immigration status during routine stops, allows law enforcement to detain individuals that fail to produce the necessary papers and makes it a crime for Georgians to interact with undocumented individuals. The groups contend [press release] that the law violates the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures, violates the Supremacy Clause by interfering with the federal government's right to regulate immigration and impedes the right to travel freely throughout the US. Group members argue that the court needs to grant the injunction to prevent the law from infringing on the rights of immigrants as well as Georgians who are US citizens:
Unless this law is blocked, countless Georgians—native-born and immigrant alike—will suffer grave constitutional rights violations, be subject to racial profiling or criminalized because of their interactions with their neighbors and family. These people should not be subject to these irreparable harms simply because an unconstitutional law is on the books.
The law is set to go into effect on July 1.

The Georgia suit does not mark the first time the ACLU and other groups have taken legal action against immigration laws in recent months. Last month, the ACLU filed a class action suit challenging an Indiana immigration law [JURIST report] that requires individuals to provide proof of their legal status at all times and calls for all public meetings, websites and documents to be in English only. Also last month, the ACLU and other groups filed a class action suit against a Utah immigration law [JURIST report] that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested for an alleged felony or serious misdemeanor. Similar legislation has also been approved in Alabama, Virginia and Oklahoma [JURIST reports]. Arizona's law, signed into law last April, is currently enjoined, and Governor Jan Brewer has pledged to appeal to the US Supreme Court [JURIST reports].

Link | | subscribe | RSS feeds | latest newscast | archive | Facebook page

For more legal news check the Paper Chase Archive...


Unprecedented Notice of Warrantless Wiretapping in a Closed Case
Ramzi Kassem
CUNY School of Law

Get JURIST legal news delivered daily to your e-mail!


Add Paper Chase legal news to your RSS reader or personalized portal:
  • Add to Google
  • Add to My Yahoo!
  • Subscribe with Bloglines
  • Add to My AOL


Subscribe to Paper Chase by e-mail. JURIST offers a free once-a-day digest [sample]. Enter your e-mail address below. After subscribing and being returned to this page, please check your e-mail for a confirmation message.

R|mail e-mails individual Paper Chase posts through the day. Enter your e-mail address below. After subscribing and being returned to this page, please check your e-mail for a confirmation message.


Join top US law schools, federal appeals courts, law firms and legal organizations by publishing Paper Chase legal news on your public website or intranet.

JURIST offers a news ticker and preformatted headline boxes updated in real time. Get the code.

Feedroll provides free Paper Chase news boxes with headlines or digests precisely tailored to your website's look and feel, with content updated every 15 minutes. Customize and get the code.


Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible, ad-free format.


Paper Chase welcomes comments, tips and URLs from readers. E-mail us at JURIST@jurist.org