The 9th Circuit Clears California’s Foie Gras Ban

In January of 2015 a federal district court invalidated a California state law that sought to ban the sale of foie gras. Specifically, California’s law prohibited the sale of the delicacy if it was produced from forced-fed birds. Birds were being excessively fed in order to fatten their livers; this produced a much more savory dish for luxury diners.

California’s ban was originally issued in 2004. However, it did not go into effect until 2012. In 2015, several duck and geese producers (as well as Hot’s Restaurant Group) got their day in court to challenge what they viewed as an unconstitutional statute. A federal judge, the Hon. Stephen Wilson, of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles agreed with them. He ruled that the state law was preempted by the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. Recently, the 9th Circuit disagreed.

The Pasadena branch of the 9th Circuit issued a 3-0 decision last Friday which supports the legality of California’s law. The court held that the Poultry Products Inspection Act did not seek to prevent a state’s ability to ban certain poultry products. The court added that California had the right to prohibit a practice that it deemed uncompassionate and cruel. In the end, the court did not find a conflict between the state statute and existing federal law.

Although the 9th Circuit’s decision is being hailed as a victory for state legislators and animal rights activists many in the culinary world are dismayed. Many chefs view the regulation as an excessive restraint on their ability to practice their trade. The expensive delicacy is a favorite of high-end patrons and chefs across the state enjoy preparing the dish.

California’s foie gras supporters are now contemplating taking further legal action. The plaintiffs/appellees may request that the case be heard by a full panel of the 9th Circuit. If the decision is affirmed, the appellees may need to look towards the Supreme Court.

The Constitutional Dilemma Revolving Around Physician Assisted Suicide

New York’s court of appeal recently ruled against physician assisted suicide. The claim was made against the Attorney General by three chronically ill patients. The court defined physician assisted suicide as the right of a terminally ill and mentally competent person to acquire a prescription for a deadly medication from a doctor, to be taken for the purpose of causing death. The plaintiff’s argument was that physician assisted suicide was a constitutional right. The court held that there is no right to suicide; however, there is the right to cease relying on life-sustaining treatment. The court’s ruling, based on a rational standard of review, was that the act of criminalizing physician promoted suicide was meant to prevent suicide and protect patients from abuse.

A Background on Physician Assisted Suicide Laws

For a long time, U.S. law enforcement agencies have struggled with the right to die. In 2016, a “Death with Dignity” bill was approved by the District of Columbia Council. The bill was passed by an 11-2 vote. The bill permitted patients with terminal illnesses to end their lives without a physician’s help. According to the bill, a patient who is terminally ill, at least 18 years of age, a resident of Washington DC, and capable of making their health care decisions, is eligible to make a request to end their life. The bill does not permit physicians to agree with a patient’s requests. It further prohibits physicians from giving patients medication if they are suffering from mental disorders or depression.

The bill is similar to another passed in 1997, the “Oregon Death with Dignity Act”. In 2006, the Oregon statute was upheld by the Supreme Court. In 2008, the First Judicial District of Montana passed a ruling protecting physicians from prosecution for providing terminally ill patients with lethal drugs. Washington and Vermont followed suit by approving similar initiatives in 2008 and 2013 respectively.

The California Superior Court recently went on record for rejecting a challenge to the state’s aid in dying law. Colorado also approved a proposition to grant terminally ill patients the right to administer lethal medication after the approval of two physicians.

In February 2017, the “Death with Dignity” bill was blocked by the House. During the same time, Montana introduced a bill that would see doctors involved in physician assisted suicide charged with homicide. In May, physician assisted dying was approved by the Nevada Senate.

Lawsuits Against President Trump Ban on Transgender People

Two groups of Human rights filed two different lawsuits against President Trump and other administrations on the ban of the transgender rule in the military. Human rights claim that the ban is unconstitutional and will not be accepted. Plaintiff is among the transgender individuals who are now serving in the military, but they are not currently able to serve because of the transgender ban rule.

Sarah McBride is the secretary of Human Rights Campaign National Press. She issued a statement and said that it is an unconstitutional and unconscionable breach of trust for President Trump and his administration to single out the service of transgender people in the military. President Trump announced this ban on a series of the statement in July. He stated that the US Government would not allow or accept transgender people to serve in any capacity or position in the military of the USA.

President Trump appealed the recent administration of Obama that lifted the ban on transgender people. President Trump signed a memo on Friday indicating the implementation of the change of policy that deters transgender individuals from being enlisted. He did not report what would happen to the current transgender people who are still serving in the Department of Defense.

The first law suit was filed in a federal court in Seattle on Monday. The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal and OutServe, SLDN. He acts on behalf of two people. These include a transgender individual who needs to be enlisted but cannot because of the ban and another transgender woman who has served in the military for 12 years. The second lawsuit was also filed by ACLU in Maryland on behalf of the transgender individuals who wished to be enlisted but failed due to the ban.

Both lawsuits argue the same thing. They claim that this is a violation of human rights. It is also a practice of unequal protection among the members of the society. They also indicate that it is the violation of free speech protection. The lawsuits highlighted what transgender people have contributed in the US military. One of the numerous commendation of transgender service in the military was the Petty Officer. This is a plaintiff who has served the military for 11 years and was among the officers who had been deployed to Afghanistan. The two lawsuits want the ban to be abolished by the federal court.

Public Outrage As Police Arrest Nurse

The tables have turned on the Salt Lake City Police Department after video became public of one of their own arresting a nurse at the University of Utah’s hospital. Law enforcement officer Jeff Payne became irate after nurse Alex Wubbels refused to draw blood from an unconscious patient. The police department didn’t have a warrant for the man’s blood, and the police had not placed the man under arrest.

The trouble began in the middle of a police chase. The man who was later unconscious in a hospital bed was a victim of the chase. The fleeing individual clipped the man’s truck during the chase. The suspect died in the crash.

Even though the police had no suspicion that the unconscious man had done anything wrong, they directed nurse Wubbels to draw the man’s blood. Wubbels explained to officer Payne that nurse protocol and a prior agreement between the hospital and the police prevented them from doing that without a warrant. Wubbels went so far as to show the officer a copy of the written agreement. She also got a supervisor on the phone who confirmed the policy.

At that point, Payne chased the nurse and performed a take down maneuver. He put the woman and handcuffs and dragged her to a police car as she screamed and sobbed. The police accused her of interfering with a law enforcement investigation. More than one officer justified the arrest.

At first, the Salt Lake City Police Department declined to put officer Payne on leave. They took him off the blood draw program. They explained that the incident caused a rift between the hospital employees and the police. It wasn’t until the video became public that they decided to place Payne on administrative leave. They now say that they’re conducting a criminal investigation into the officer’s conduct.

After about 20 minutes of arrest in a law enforcement cruiser, Payne let Wubbels go. She does not face criminal charges. The hospital released a statement commending Wubbels for following policy. In addition, the unconscious man’s employer also issued a statement thanking Wubbels for protecting the privacy of their employee. Wubbels said that she was just doing her job.

Wubbels says that she feels angry and confused. Police claim that they wanted the blood in order to protect the trucker even though they haven’t accused him of any wrongdoing. Wubbels says she hopes the incident can begin a civil discourse and prompt the police to do the right thing.

Judge dismisses lawsuit brought be Sanders’ supporters

A Florida judge on Friday dismissed a class action lawsuit brought by supporters of Bernie Sanders against the Democratic National Committee for its handling of the 2016 presidential primary there. Federal Judge William Zloch, in a scathing rebuke of the suit’s plaintiffs, said the plaintiffs “had not presented a case that is cognizable in federal court.”

According to The Washington Post, the lawsuit grew out of hacked emails from DNC computers that were then published on Wikileaks. The plaintiffs claimed they proved the DNC plotted behind the scenes to ensure the success of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and “actively concealed its bias [thereby] defrauding its donors, and exposing them to harm.”

In dismissing the suit, the judge said even if the accusations could be proven, the plaintiffs “have no standing nor have they demonstrated any recognizable injury.” After saying the case was basically without merit, he then strongly suggested the plaintiffs redress their grievances “through the ballot box, the DNC’s internal workings, or their right of free speech — not through the judiciary.”

Of course, Clinton won the Florida primary, went on to win the democratic nomination for president then lost to Donald Trump in the general election. This clearly irked Sanders” supporters who thought a democratic, populist candidate would have had a better chance of defeating the republican, populist candidate than did traditional candidate Clinton.

The Bernie-backers alleged they made donations to the DNC because they believed it was a “neutral” organization that did not favor one candidate over another, that they were victims of fraud, and that they deserved retribution. The judge disagreed, lashing-out at the group bringing the suit, essentially saying it had wasted the court’s time.

In a 28-page ruling, Judge Sloch wrote: “The Plaintiffs asserting each of these causes of action specifically allege that they donated to the DNC or to Bernie Sanders’s campaign. But not one of them alleges that they ever read the DNC’s charter or heard the statements they now claim are false before making their donations. And not one of them alleges that they took action in reliance on the DNC’s charter or the statements identified in the First Amended Complaint (DE 8). Absent such allegations, these Plaintiffs lack standing.”

Florida attorneys Jared and Elizabeth Beck originally filed the lawsuit In July of 2016. Hundreds of other disgruntled Bernie backers have joined them in forming the class.

Judge Zloch is a Reagan appointee.

Company Sued For Denying Health Insurance to Same-Sex Partner

California-based mortgage company Cherry Creek Mortgage faces a federal lawsuit that alleges they denied health insurance coverage to the same-sex partner of one of their employees. Judith Dominguez filed the complaint in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The claim says that failing to provide the insurance violates equal protection and discriminates against same-sex couples.

Dominguez signed her spouse up for health insurance. For a year, she believed insurance company UnitedHealthcare was providing the insurance according to plan. The next year, Dominguez tried to re-enroll her spouse in the health insurance program. She claims that the company denied the re-enrollment because the spouse didn’t fit the definition of a married couple. Dominguez says the explanation that she received was that a legal union only qualifies if it’s between a man and a woman.

Dominguez complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In exchange, she says Cherry Creek Mortgage demoted her to a branch that was about to close. She says that they fired her shortly thereafter.

A representative from Cherry Creek mortgage said that they can’t comment on pending litigation. Health insurance company UnitedHealthcare says that they were just acting at the direction of Cherry Creek Mortgage. In addition to refusing to allow Dominguez to re-enroll her spouse, they also retroactively cancelled her insurance for the previous year.

Dominguez’ spouse used the health insurance in order to pay for treatment for two recent heart attacks. She requires ongoing care to monitor her health. Dominguez says that since UnitedHealthcare retroactively cancelled her insurance, they’ve received bills of more than $40,000 for care that should have been covered. They say that they’re sick of bill collectors calling.

Attorneys for the couple say that the company is claiming their Christian values prevent them from providing the insurance. The attorneys say that it’s unfair for the company to use religion as a way to deny health care. Dominguez also points out that the company has no problem selling mortgages to same-sex couples. She said they even train employees for how to keep records of mortgages to same-sex couples.

Dominguez says that even after they fired her, they continued to use her name on their website along with a forged signature. The Dominguez lawsuit is one of many that are currently pending across the United States on the issues of LGBTQ rights. Dominguez and her wife worry about their ability to meet their medical needs in the future.

Lawyer Fired for Fake Match Profile

One Illinois lawyer has met his match, but not in the way that he was intending. The lawyer created a fake Match.com profile for another lawyer. The fake online profile was filled with insults and falsehoods. The lawyer now finds himself the subject of a disciplinary inquiry. He’s also out of a job.

Drew Quitschau used to be a partner at Thomson & Weintraub in Bloomington. He used his office computer to make the fake profile. He listed the other attorney as a smoker that was separated from her husband. The profile said her children lived with her some of the time. It said that she liked buffets and the grocery store and does not exercise. Quitschau used a picture of the lawyer for the profile.

Quitschau didn’t stop there. He signed the victim up for emails about obesity. He even arranged to have a lap band kit sent to her office. He also signed her up for emails about pork and diabetes.

In addition to Match.com, Quitschau created a fake profile to leave online reviews of the victim. He gave her low ratings for professional ability. He left the reviews on multiple websites.

The angst dates back to when Quitschau and his victim were opposing counsel in multiple legal matters in Illinois courts. He initially denied making the profile but later admitted it when bar officials confronted him with the evidence. The victim had to file a court action to get Match.com to give her the IP address that the profile came from. Comcast was the internet provider involved, and they agreed to hand over the information. The trail led back to Quitschau and his office computer.

Bar officials say that Quitschau’s conduct involves dishonesty and deceit. That makes the conduct a violation of the bar’s code of ethics for attorneys. If he’s found responsible, he faces a range of possible discipline from the Illinois bar. The woman says that the statements Quitschau made are not true. She says that she’s happy with her marriage and wouldn’t make a Match.com profile.

The man’s former employers say that they’re disappointed in his conduct. They say that they fired him immediately when the allegations came to light. The victim sought and received a personal protection order against Quitschau. She later agreed to drop the order. The exact motive is unknown, other than speculation that Quitschau was unhappy with his interactions with the victim.

 

Department Of Justice Gets Its Guilty Plea In Prosecution Of Attempted Hate Crime

A federal investigation led to the arrest of a Florida man, who allegedly planned to bomb an area Jewish synagogue. Appearing on court for that arrest on Wednesday, the individual pleaded guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and to violating federal hate crime laws.
Although the guilty plea entered by James Gonzalo Medina seems to come on the heels of the recent violence in Charlottesville, North Carolina, this case was a long time in the making. Federal investigators had begun looking into Medina’s actions early in 2016, after attention had been drawn to the defendant’s anti-Semitic views. Concern was raised, when James discussed his plans to attack Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center with associates.
Mr. Medina had been “scoping out” the southern Florida synagogue in search of vulnerabilities, say authorities. Additionally, James had told one unnamed associate that he thought a Jewish holiday would be the optimal time to launch his attack and proceeded with that plan by purchasing a bomb.
In reality, the explosive device was only a facsimile provided by investigators and the seller of the device was an undercover agent.
Prosecutors have asked Medina how he would have felt, if the bomb had exploded, or if he felt remorse in connection to causing many deaths.
“Whatever happens,” Mr. Medina responded.
James Gonzalo Medina Faces A Long Prison Term
Pleading guilty, 41-year-old Medina faces a 25 year prison term for his hate crime and for attempting to damage religious property. Initially, James was reluctant to confess to his crimes, saying that he felt the undercover agent “manipulated” him into putting his plan into action.
Eventually, Medina told U.S. District Judge Robert Scola that he was guilty of plotting the bombing with the intention of killing innocent Jewish synagogue members. James added that he planned to carry out the violence and give credit to ISIS. The confession helped James avoid a life sentence and a lengthy criminal trial.
Instead, the plea agreement agreed upon by public defenders Hector Dopico and Eric Cohen and federal prosecutors Marc Anton and Michael Thakur sentences Medina to 25 years in prison.
Part of the agreement allows Mr. Medina to spend a portion of that term in a prison with a mental health facility. While there, he can be treated for schizophrenia and a bipolar condition, before returning to another maximum security prison to finish out his term.
The official sentencing hearing for James Gonzalo Medina is set for November 17.

Oregon Set To Ban Cigarette Sales To People Who Are Under The Age Of 21

Kate Brown, who is the governor of Oregon, recently signed a bill that will make it illegal for people who are under the age of 21 to buy cigarettes. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2018. California, Hawaii and New Jersey have the same law. Maine will also raise the smoking age to 21 in 2018.

The bill was approved by the House in March. In July, the bill was approved by the Senate. Kate Brown, who is a Democrat, was pleased to sign the bill.

Kate stated that she hopes that they will be able to reduce the number of young people who smoke. She also hopes that the number of people who smoke will drastically decrease. People who are for this law have stated that addiction rate among Oregons can be reduced. Additionally, they believe that the number of people who suffer from health-related issues due to cigarette smoking can also be decreased.

Diseases that are caused by smoking are among the leading causes of death in Oregon. According to the Oregon Health Authority, 7,000 deaths per year are caused by cigarette smoking. The earlier one starts smoking, the more likely they are to develop health problems due to it. People believe that raising the smoking age can prevent people from becoming addicts.

There are also some people who are against the law. They believe that people who are underage will still continue to buy cigarettes after the smoking age is raised. Some people have also compared this law to the alcohol prohibition, which took place from 1920 to 1933. Many people still brought alcohol during this time. Furthermore, there are some people who believe that this new law will violate personal freedom. They believe that if an 18-year-old can join the military, then they should be able to buy cigarettes.

Sujit Choudhry’s Address at the Semi-Presidentialism Round-table in Ukraine

On 10th July 2017, top researchers and constitutional experts converged at Kiev, Ukraine to discuss the constitutional challenges that Ukraine is experiencing. The event was hosted by the major think tanks in Ukraine, a global intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), and the Center for Policy and Legal Reform. Sujit Choudhry adequately utilized the opportunity to speak at the semi-presidentialism roundtable and his remarks are to be implemented soon. The main agenda was on how to improve the governance system considering the semi-presidential system used in Ukraine.

 

Sujit Choudhry recognized the fact that it was privilege reasoning together with the top researchers and constitutional experts from Ukraine. He also pointed out that there has been instability in the governance of Ukraine for the past two decades and it’s mainly attributed to the executive powers and electoral system for the legislature. Other factors that Sujit Choudhry noted were the existence of separation of powers within the dual executive between the Prime minister and the President, weak political parties and the concentration of powers on the presidency. Also contributing to this instability is a poor electoral system for the legislature. He gave recommendations that could be applied for better governance of Ukraine.

Other notable persons who shared the forum with Sujit Choudhry included Thomas Sidelius of Dalarna University and Sumit Bisarya who represented International IDEA. There were other persons who shared the roundtable with Choudhry such as the UN representative of human rights council in Ukraine, Vladimir Vasilenko. The constitutional commission of Ukraine was represented by Sergyi Holovatyi while Viktor Musiaka represented the president in the supreme council of 1996. Also present was Ihor Koliushko who is a former MP and served as an advisor to the President of Ukraine from 2005 to 2006. The list of attendance is endless.

Having lectured in more than 24 countries globally, Sujit Choudhry is popularly known for being a constitutional advisor and he recently released a collection of notable academic contributions and case studies. Besides, classical articles on topics regarding constitutional law are also a part of his release. This book basically recounts examples of constitutional making decision and their outcomes. He also points out stable democracies like Chile are demanding for new constitutions untainted by their difficult and unpromising past. Each modern nation-state finds constitution as a central feature that is vital to its prosperity. It is important to note that a constitution is a backbone of democracy in all the countries and royalties all over the world.

More about constitutional transitions

The constitutional transitions is responsible for the generation and mobilization of knowledge in support of the constitutional building. This is done by assembling and leading international experts who are senior policy practitioners and scholars. The experts also boast of a vast field experience and are sourced from more than 25 countries. The constitutional transition is responsible for the generation of Journal Articles, Opinions, Policy Manual and working reports.

Choudhry had an opportunity to elaborate on changes in constitutional decisions put in place by transitional democracies. He further notes that it becomes a major challenge for leaders elected constitutionally to come up with evidence based policies in to back up the overall constitutional reform process.

 

Who is Sujit Choudhry?

Sujit Choudhry is a Professor of law at the Berkeley School of Law, University of California. He has also served as the dean at this institution. Sujit is an internationally acknowledged authority with an undoubted expertise in comparative constitutional law. Choudhry has an exhaustive experience in the constitution development process. He has been a part of constitution building process in many countries all over the world. Some of the democracies that have been beneficiaries of Choudhry’s expertise are Egypt, Jordan, Nepal, Libya, Sri Lanka Ukraine and Tunisia. He has also conducted several lectures in more than 24 countries. As part of the United Nations Mediator, a service based in United Nation Department of Political Affairs, he has ensured the success of a variety mediation processes in most of the UN member states. Sujit Choudhry also provides consultancy services to the UN Development Program and other the World Bank programs.

 

As the Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, he is a part of a great team that supports constitutional building by bringing together and leading interactions consortium of experts. The policy options have proven prudent to decision makers in several sectors such as NGOs, multilateral organizations and global networks all over the world. Currently, Choudhry is working with three global collaborative research projects in the constitutional building process. These projects will produce a series of research outputs and policies that are to be published this year. The projects are,

· Security sector oversight that will ensure the protection of Democratic Consolidation from Partisan abuse and Authoritarian Backsliding.

· Dealing with Territorial Cleavages that exist in Constitutional Transitions.

· Constitutional Transitions and security sector reforms in Emerging democracies.

In addition to the professional competence already highlighted, Professor Choudhry has published more than 90 articles, working papers, reports and book chapters. He has contributed extensively to the Canadian constitutional law. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law, the Institute of Integrated Transitions and the Indian Constitutional Law Review. Choudhry’s research addresses many issues regarding comparative constitutional laws and politics. Constitutional design which forms part of his research also ensure smooth transition from a chaotic conflict to tranquil politics. This constitutional design is characterized into minor categories such as, language policy, bills of rights and proportionality amongst others. All these are encompassed in Sujit’s research documents.

Overall the success of a nation relies on proper constitutional policies and good governance systems. The contribution of professionals like Sujit Choudhry in the success of a state like Ukraine cannot be underrated. A country also needs experienced policy makers to see it through every transitions. In fact, it is such policy makers and advisors to governments that lead to economic prosperity in a sovereign nation. The recommendations by Choudhry and the team of experts will be a great solution to problems facing Ukraine once implemented.

Further reading:

Constitutional Law Expert Sujit Choudhry Presents an Analysis of Freedom of Speech

Sujit Choudhry: A Proponent for Peace Through Constitutional Law

Constitutional Law Authority Sujit Choudhry Attends Workshop in Ukraine

 

Supreme Court Throws Out Gender Biased Immigration Law

A new Supreme Court ruling rejects gender bias in determining citizenship for children born to Americans overseas. The ruling threw out an immigration law that treated mothers and fathers differently when it comes to determining the citizenship of their children. The ruling in the Morales-Santana case said that immigration laws must treat both mothers and fathers the same.

The Supreme Court challenge was brought by a man born outside of the United States. Even though he wasn’t born in the United States, he moved to the United States soon after his birth. Later he committed a series of crimes. Because of his criminal convictions, U.S. officials tried to deport him. He replied that they couldn’t deport him, because he’s an American citizen. He argued he was a citizen even though his father didn’t meet the residency requirement.

The law said that in order for a child to receive American citizenship because of their American father, the father must have lived in the United States for at least 10 years. At least 5 of those years have to be after age 14. Mothers, on the other hand, could transmit American citizenship to their child by living in the United States for only one year. Thus, the law treats mothers and fathers differently.

If that rule applied, Morales-Santana wouldn’t have had American citizenship. His father hadn’t met the requirement for living in the United States for 10 years. However, his father had lived in the United States for more than 1 year.

The Supreme Court agreed that the rule was unfair. They ruled that the law treating mothers and fathers differently is sexist. Justice Ginsburg wrote that the law assumes that fathers are generally strangers to their children, while mothers are not. That kind of assumption is unconstitutional and unacceptable, the justices said.

They talked about a scenario where a father acknowledges paternity and raises the child in the United States from birth. Under the law as it was written, that child wouldn’t be an American citizen. They believed that this was unfair. The Supreme Court said that the United States must rewrite the law so that it’s equal to all groups. That includes married parents, unwed fathers and unwed mothers.

Although this law change may help children of unwed fathers born abroad, the ruling didn’t spare Morales-Santana from deportation. The court declined to extend citizenship to Morales-Santana. Instead, they’re applying a five-year residency requirement for all parents going forward. The U.S. government can still pursue deportation for Morales-Santana. The ruling overturns a Court of Appeals opinion that declared Morales-Santana a U.S. citizen.

Read More: https://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/supreme-court-gender-based-distinctions-immigration-law-violate-equal-protection

Supreme Court Finds Ban on Offensive Trademarks Unconstitutional

On July 31st, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a federal rule that had prohibited any trademarks deemed to be “disparaging.” The court’s ruling was 8-0 in favor of throwing out the prohibition.

The court case, which is being heralded by proponents as a strong win for free speech, originally focused on a Portland, Oregon based band called The Slants. The Asian-American band had been denied a trademark on its name on the basis that the government believed their name to be disparaging towards Asian individuals. In order to challenge that ruling, The Slants’ band members argued that the prohibition against their name was a violation of their guaranteed constitutional rights to free speech under the First Amendment. In their ruling, the Supreme Court agreed.

It is not only The Slants who stand to benefit from the court’s ruling. The ruling will likely prove beneficial for the Redskins, a National Football League team who took their name in the 1930s but have been recently under criticism by Native American activists due to the racial associations of the word “redskins.” In 2014, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled the team’s trademarks, citing that they were disparaging to Native Americans. The team’s dispute against the ruling had been put on hold while The Slants’ case was taking place.

Many individuals had comments to offer based on the ruling. The Redskins’ lawyer, Lisa Blatt, commented to Reuters that the ruling would put an end to the “long-standing dispute with the government” that the team had. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) were instrumental in filing the legal papers for The Slants, and they cited the ruling as a true victory for The First Amendment. The ACLU was quick to point out that the government was attempting to protect minorities, but had in fact hurt the Asian-American members of the band.

As for the band, frontman Simon Tam has argued that the name was chosen in order to reclaim slurs often given to Asian people by other races. Moreover, Tam has said that the band wore their name as a “badge of pride” against others’ racial hatred. In a released statement, the band has acknowledge that the ruling has bigger consequences far beyond the band, and they encourage the government to recognize the ability of marginalized communities to determine what’s best for their own lives without government interference.

Resource:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-band-idUSKBN19A1YP

Utah Passes Lowest Legal Limit in the United States

The legal limit used to be a .08 in the vast majority of states. That is, a driver is presumed to be a drunk driver if their bodily alcohol content is at or above a .08 per 210 liters of breath. The move to lower the legal limit to a .08 across the country began in the 1980s and continued until nearly all states enacted the limit by the early 2000s.

Now, the State of Utah is taking it a step further. They’ve enacted the lowest legal limit in the country. The .05 legal limit is set to take effect in 2018. Authorities say that a person can be over the legal limit after as few as just two drinks.

Utah lawmakers say that they’re basing the change on recommendations from federal traffic safety experts. They say that data shows a person’s ability to drive is influenced at as low as a .05. Others say that severe alcoholics that can drink to very high bodily alcohol levels are the drivers who cause most of the actual crashes and fatalities, so the law change is inappropriate.

Consumer groups say that they worry about what the law might do for tourism. They worry that large conference groups are likely to look for other locations because of the law. They worry that families and solo travelers might choose other places for personal vacations because of the change.

Lawmakers are reviewing the changes again to see if they want to make any changes before the law goes into effect. One of the things on the table is the possibility of reduced penalties for lower alcohol levels. Lawmakers also say they want to make sure that collateral consequences such as a driver’s license suspension that typically accompanies a conviction are proportional to the crime.

Utah Highway Patrol Capt. Steve Winward says that there are some that benefit from the new law. He says that ride-sharing services have seen a spike in traffic because many already believe the law is in place. He says that this is a sign that the law is helping drivers make responsible choices.

Legislators say the end goal is to reduce the number of drunk drivers on the road. They hope to do that in a way that doesn’t unfairly restrict freedoms or unnecessarily punish drivers. However, they say they’re serious about taking steps to make the roads as safe as possible. If there aren’t any changes, the law goes into effect as written in 2018.

Tony Blair Won’t Have To Fear Prosecution Over Iraq War

Officials in the London High Court ruled that Tony Blair shouldn’t be subjected to war crime charges over actions taken in the 2003 Iraq War. Previously, Iraqi general Abdulwaheed al-Rabbat sought to initiate a private war crimes prosecution against Mr. Blair, but that action has now been blocked.

High Court Justices Say Tony Blair Hasn’t Broken Any Laws

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, who serves as the lord chief justice of the high court and senior judge, Justice Ouseley, have declared that there was no applicable law under which Tony Blair could be charged. The justices sought a crime of aggression in compliance with Rabbat’s allegations, but nothing could be found.
In their statement, the two justices acknowledged the recent addition of a crime of aggression to international law, but added that there was no clause to allow for applying the law retroactively.

A Chilcot inquiry determined that the 2003 attack on Iraq was unprovoked and undermined the authority of the United Nations. As a result, the inquiry concluded Tony Blair should be prosecuted.

The purpose of that finding was to force former Prime Minister Tony Blair, former foreign secretary Jack Straw, and former attorney general Lord Goldsmith to answer for their actions in a court of law.

Michael Mansfield QC argues that a law against waging a war of aggression has been implied into English law since the 1940s. He explained that the law had been accepted, when then UK attorney general Sir Hartley Shawcross QC used the concept to prosecute Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials.
In response, Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC argued that, until recently, the people of England and Wales were unfamiliar with the concept of a war of aggression law. In effect, Mr. Wright says that makes the desire to prosecute Mr. Blair a “hopeless” claim.

While the high court justices did admit that there should be an allowance for the prosecution of the crime of aggression, there currently isn’t a domestic law of that nature. Instead, the high court left it up to the parliament to establish such a law.

Upon hearing this judgment, Imran Khan, solicitor for Abdulwaheed al-Rabbat, said the high court has indirectly granted immunity to English officials.
“As long as it fails to enact legislation which makes the crime of aggression a domestic criminal offense, any leader can act as he/she chooses knowing that whatever action they take, it can be taken with complete impunity,” said Khan.
Meanwhile, other countries, including Kosovo, Germany, and Serbia, have enacted domestic laws governing war of aggression crimes.

Does President Trump Have Complete Power to Pardon?

On Saturday, President Donald Trump, through his twitter handle, stated that he had the absolute power to pardon. The tweet came hot on the heels of a Washington Post alleging that Trump had inquired from his advisers whether he had the authority to pardon aides, his own family, or himself. However, Trump’s lawyers dismissed the story on pardons as untrue. This story has spurred a huge debate among legal experts on the question of whether the president has the power to pardon himself. Some argue that the president cannot fight his own impeachment while others argue there is no legal provision to back this claim.

Different Opinions on The President’s Power to Pardon

Norman Eisen, former white house ethics lawyer, wrote an oped for the Washington Post disputing the power of the president to pardon himself. Eisen states the argument of the Justice Department that no one can be a judge in their own case. The constitution forbids the president from exploiting the pardon power to prevent his removal and impeachment. Additionally, the constitution states that any one removed through an impeachment is fully subject to criminal prosecution. This provision would be senseless if the president was allowed to pardon himself.

According to Jonathan Turley, a law professor at the George Washington University, the Constitution does not specifically forbid self pardons. In an article for the Hill, Turley argues that Article II of the constitution allows the president to grant pardons and reprieves for offenses against the U.S. except in circumstances involving impeachment. The constitution does not state who is not subject to a pardon. The president basically has the power to pardon federal crimes.

Some scholars refer to Article 1 of the constitution which says that impeached individuals are subject to an indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment. However, some law experts argue that if the president were to pardon himself, he could claim to be doing so in accordance with the constitution.

In the case of Schick v. Reed, the court stated that the pardoning power is provided for in the constitution and that its limitations should also be derived in the constitution.

Summing It Up

It is not clear what Trump meant when he stated that he had the absolute power to pardon. Although the constitution allows the president to issue pardons, the limitations of this law are not clear. However, one thing is for sure, no one is above the law. Therefore, no president can pardon themselves from an impeachment.