Is Virtual Currency Legislation On Congress’ Agenda?

Based on remarks made recently by Securities and Exchange Chairman Jay Clatyon, the United States Congress may be asked to pass legislation soon that will help regulate various types of virtual currencies, most notably Bitcoin. As these currencies have risen in popularity in recent years, many industry regulators have become concerned about a lack of oversight in this area. These concerns, coupled with recent market losses that have led to Bitcoin losing half its value, have prompted legislators to take a closer look at the issue.

The SEC, working in conjunction with the U.S. Treasury Department and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is currently examining how new laws regulating virtual currency would impact national and international financial markets. With some banks now refusing to allow customers to use credit cards to purchase Bitcoin, regulators are concerned about such issues as market volatility, investor protections, and the threat of cyber criminals hacking into various virtual currency markets, which could cause chaos in other financial markets.

According to lawmakers, the recent incident involving hackers stealing $530 million from the Japanese bitcoin exchange Coincheck had much to do with the sense of urgency to pass legislation. As the current rules stand, virtual currencies are essentially unregulated, falling into what regulators consider to be cracks that exist between federal and state regulators, the SEC, Treasury Department, and other related agencies.

If legislation is passed on this matter, congressional legislators believe there would be numerous benefits to companies as well as investors. Along with having laws that are much clearer to everyone involved, investors would also have many more protections in place to guard them against cyber thieves. If this occurs, SEC Chairman Clayton and heads of other agencies have said they would be very aggressive in pursuing those who attempt to defraud investors, and would also coordinate efforts with the FBI if there were suspicions of money laundering associated with funding terrorist operations.

According to Chairman Clayton, senators, and other agency heads, if legislation is passed to regulate virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, one concern all agencies will have is funding which will be necessary to hire additional staff. In order to be effective at regulating virtual currencies, the SEC and related agencies will need new personnel to staff trading and markets divisions, cyber crime divisions, and other areas. For additional information on the status of virtual currency legislation, visit Reuters.com.

The Government Shutdown Game is Over for Two Years

Over the past year the United States Congress has played politics with the national operating budget by trying to connect the necessary authorization to other political issues, such as the wall along the Mexico border and extending the DACA program. Both the Democrats and Republicans have apparently realized this is a dangerous game, at least for their careers, and now have averted what President Trump recently said he welcomed.

The needs of the military and the law enforcement community was one of the primary concerns for the agreement according to members of Congress, but there is surely an underlying personal priority in the approval for all congressional members. Unnecessary government workers are commonly off work during a government shutdown, which includes their staffs. The “shutdown” usually merely becomes a short-term suspension from daily operation. Issues such as concerns over North Korea and the renewal of the Iran agreement were also identified.

The fact that 2018 is an election year surely impacted how all Congress members voted, both in the House and Senate, with the House of Representatives approving a budget version first shortly followed by the Senate approval. This means that all members who are running for re-election can claim a victory of sorts on both sides of the aisle. It is surely interesting how both sides of the political duopoly can agree on any measure if it will directly impact their careers, which also leads to the current career politician problem in Washington.

With the manufactured budget crisis behind them, now Congress can focus on doing the people’s work to an extent. If history has taught the U.S citizens anything, it is that the Belt Way operatives always take care of themselves first before any voting decisions are made including what issues will even get a vote. During an election year focus is not so much about ideas in heads as it is about protecting the republican or democrat affiliation of the seat holders, who are ultimately controlled legislative voters.

A two-year budget, which should have been done long ago, will now put Congress back on the regular funding cycle of the government ensuring that pay for all government workers will not be interrupted as well. And, of course, it is in place until the next election cycle of 2020 that will also include a presidential race. Even with the so-called crisis side-stepped and the “can kicking” stopping, it was still vital to develop a time frame where this unnecessary political tool can be used again. The more things change, the more they stay the same in the political power monger game that is Washington D.C.

 

 

 

Federal Judge Strongly Admonished Florida Governor Over Voting Rights

United States District Judge Mark Walker issued a very strong opinion against Florida Governor Rick Scott and his insistence upon maintaining an Office of Executive Clemency that decides whether convicted felons should be allowed to vote. Judge Walker was very clear and firm in his opinion, which he construed as a violation of the First and 14th Amendments of the Constitution.

Florida is one of four states that do not allow convicted felons to exercise their right to vote after being released from prison unless they go through a restoration process. In general, those who are incarcerated are not allowed to participate in elections; however, 46 states restore this right as soon as a sentence is completed. In Virginia, Kentucky and Iowa, this process consists of an application and confirmation; in Florida, however, the Office of Executive Clemency is known to drag cases along for years and issue very few approvals, thereby infringing upon the rights of individuals to participate in the democratic process.

Judge Walker described the process in Florida as a nonsensical and onerous exercise in disenfranchisement. One of the salient issues in this process is that the Office of the Governor has veto power, which is routinely applied, which has prevented hundreds of thousands of people from voting over many decades. The judge has looked at the way that Florida officials conduct the process, and he described it as extremely unconstitutional.

As of 2018, more than a million residents of Florida are not allowed to vote, and in some cases they are not allowed to hold certain professional licenses in the notarial, real estate, mortgage, and finance fields.

In meetings convened to review clemency cases, Governor Scott has stated to the panel that they can do anything that they wanted with regard to review and approval of applications; this display of arbitrary behavior did not sit well with Judge Walker, particularly when at another meeting the Governor approved an application from a former felon who admitted to have skirted the process to vote for Scott in 2010.

A spokesman for Governor Scott suggested that an appeal may be in the works, but legal analysts believe that such a move may not get too far in appellate court and it will certainly fizzle out before the U.S. Supreme Court should the Florida Attorney General decide to continue fighting. Voting rights advocates are closely watching this case and may sue the state if it does not acknowledge the opinion of Judge Walker.

Equality Debate Rages as Transgender Student Denied Locker Room Access

The debate about gender equality and educational rights continues as an Illinois judge ruled that a Chicago transgender student can’t have open access to use the girl’s locker room at school. Instead, the student has to use a private area for changing inside the locker room. Judge Thomas Allen of Cook County heard the case.

The student attends Palatine High School. Her lawyers asked for a preliminary injunction in the case that would permit the student full use of the locker room until the case could be heard for a final decision. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed the lawsuit on the student’s behalf. The judge says that there’s no need for a preliminary injunction, because there’s no irreparable harm in waiting for a decision at the end of the case.

The Chicago case is one of a number of cases that have emerged challenging gender equality in education. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded policies that Barack Obama’s administration put in place regarding transgender students in schools. In the Chicago case, school district policy allows transgender students to use the locker room of the gender they prefer. However, the policy also requires transgender students to use a separate, private changing area.

The transgender student says that they only want to be “accepted.” The student says she’s insisting only on equal treatment compared to others at her school. She says that having to use a private changing area makes her late to class and even hurts her grade. She says when she’s accepted for who she is, her grades improve and she’s happier.

The school superintendent says that it’s a tough issue. He says that they want to provide access for all students based on gender identity. They also want to protect the privacy of all of their students. The superintendent says that they have to balance both issues. They say asking transgender students to use private changing stalls is the correct balance for everyone involved.

Gender equity groups say it amounts to discrimination. They say they aren’t asking for male students to have unrestricted access to the girl’s locker room. They say they’re only asking for everyone who identifies as female to have the same access. If the transgender student has to use a private changing area, they say, all students should have to change in private areas. Equality groups say that they’re still considering what to do in light of the judge’s decision.

President Trump Gives Dreamers a Path to Citizenship and Asks for Change to Immigration Policy

President Trump is extending a welcoming hand to the 1.8 million youngsters currently classified as illegal immigrants. At the same time, President Trump is also calling on the Department of Homeland Security and Congressmen from both sides of the aisle to get tough on legal immigration programs. For the past year, Trump has been hammering on the idea that immigration should be merit-based and not simply a lottery.

Dreamers are technically children who were brought to the United States illegally. President Obama had a policy of deferred action, hence DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Under President Obama, dreamers were protected against the threat of deportation. Some Republicans factions viewed President Obama’s ostensibly compassionate move to bar mass deportations through the cynical lens of Obama trying to score more votes for Democrats.

President Trump’s recent dealmaking gambit comes to serious concessions from Democrats, though. The Democratic Party led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer conceded a few things in order to put a stay on deportation for millions of dreamers. Among the concessions were a requirement that would mean a sharp reduction in family sponsorship of immigrants and much more robust border security.

The latter may not be as controversial as previously thought since many Democrats concede that something needs to be done about our porous Southern border with Mexico. Democrats have been loathe to grant President Trump his campaign promise of a border wall because of logistical problems with implementation and the high cost of erecting a thirty-foot high wall spanning over 2,000 miles on the United States’ Southern border.

Surprisingly, both Democratic-leaning pro-immigration factions and conservative groups howled at the outcome of Trump’s dealmaking. Both sides averred that the concessions made across the aisle were antithetical to ideological principles. The Democratic-leaning groups say that the deal is a poor quid pro quo because of what it portends for the immigration system moving forward while right-leaning groups say that the current deal brokered between Democrats and Republicans is nothing more than amnesty for immigrants here illegally.

Congressman Lujan Grisham, head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, argued that dreamers are now being used as bargaining chips and a means for fulfilling Trump’s campaign promise to shore up support for American workers. The sweeping immigration reform brokered between Democrats and Republicans is set to come up for vote in a few weeks. Nine Democratic votes are needed to pass the measure.

Bill Renewing NSA Internet Surveillance Program Advances Senate, Expected to Be Signed Into Law

The Senate this week made a move to advance a bill that renews a controversial National Security Agency internet surveillance program, Reuter’s reports.

The program, which allows the NSA to monitor a suspect’s internet usage without a warrant, has come under fire by some privacy advocates. The bill was advanced by a margin of one vote.

The advancement comes a few years after a 2013 leak by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed classified information regarding the program’s surveillance measures. Since the leak, many liberal Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans have been trying to redefine the measures by which the program is run.

The bill must now be signed by the senate and U.S. President Donald J. Trump. Otherwise, the program is set to expire on Friday, January 19, though the Reuters report notes that members of the intelligence community have said it could last through April.

If signed, the bill would extend the authorization, formally know as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), for another six years. No significant changes to the NSA’s scope of authority have been modified within the initial draft of the bill.

Last week, the same bill passed the House of Representatives. It was cleared easily by majority vote there.

While the surveillance program is supposed to primarily target foreigners, it incidentally can pick up communications by American citizens, including any communications an American might make with a suspect of interest overseas — without a warrant. This, says privacy advocates, is the program’s main flaw, and some have called into question the authorization’s constitutionality as it relates to American’s data being incidentally collected without a warrant.

Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden are two elected officials very much critical of the program, and subsequently the bill to renew its authorization. In a letter to their fellow senators earlier this week, the two acknowledged that the program in its current form, “without additional meaningful constraints,” could lead to the government collecting data on its citizen without a warrant.

The bill is expected to earn the simple majority vote in the Senate sometime later this week. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law once it reaches his desk.

 

US Supreme Court turns Away Legal Challenge to LGBT Law in Mississippi

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court ended the first legal challenge that had been sponsored by a law that was backed by legislators from the Republican Party. The law stipulated that government and business employees should not serve transgender, bisexual or lesbian American citizens because of their religion. The US Supreme Court Justice left in place a ruling that was issued in June last year by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals based in New Orleans. The plaintiffs who include, civil rights advocates such as the leader of the state NAACP and couples from same-sex marriages and church leaders did not have the legal authority to challenge the legislation in a higher court.

The legislation was passed by the state legislature which is controlled by the Conservative Party and was assented into law by the state Governor Phillip Bryant who also hails from the Republican Party. The bill also had the backing of Republican activists from the church and now has not gone through implementation, and it is expected that there will be more legal battles. This challenge is set to be presented by attorneys who represent gay rights groups. One of the attorneys with the Lambda Legal gay rights group has said that that they will keep staging legal battles in the state of Mississippi until the bad law is overturned.

Once the law has been implemented, people who are denied services by business enterprises and government institutions may be forced to have a legal standing to stage a civil rights case against the legislation. The law was passed in 2016 after the historic ruling by the United States Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that made it legal to have same-sex marriage in America. The proponents of the law refer to it as a bill to religious liberty which gives protection to their sincerely held convictions and beliefs of their businesses and them on an individual level.

Critics say that the law gives authorization to have LBGT American citizens to be subject to discriminations which are a violation of the founding documents of the United States which decree that all men are created equal. The US constitution also stipulates that every American citizen should be accorded equal protection by the state and federal law enforcement and that the state and the church should be separated. One of the groups that are assisting the state of Mississippi in defending the law is the Alliance Defending Freedom which is a Republican Christian legal group.

A federal Judge blocks the Move to end the DACA Program by the Trump Administration

The move by President Donald Trump to terminate a program that was enacted by the Obama administration that a judge has blocked protected undocumented children who were brought to the United States from deportation. Judge William Alsup, who serves as a US District judge in San Francisco made a ruling on Tuesday that the DACA program must be maintained as the litigation unfolds over the decision by President Trump. The DACA program which stands for the deferment action on childhood arrivals allowed immigrants who amounted to over 800,000 to live, school and work in the United States without fear of being deported since its authorization in 2012 by former president Barrack Obama.

The DACA program was rescinded in September last year by the trump administration which has placed the fate of the undocumented immigrants popularly known as the dreamers in the decision that awaits to be made by Congress. The decision by President Donald Trump has triggered individuals, organizations and even state authorities to file lawsuits in US federal courts. The administration gave a 30-day grace period for applicants to respond or appeal to their decision after they announced on September 5, 2017. The program is set to expire on the 5th of March this year. However, the deadline to renew any applications made by the immigrants have already expired which in some way has sealed the fate of the 800,000 dreamers who are chasing the American dream.

In the ruling that was issued by Judge Alsup, DACA protection recipients who had in the past failed to register must be given another opportunity to register for the privileges and benefits of the Obama era program. However, the judge was very categorical that the federal government would not process applications which had never been received by the program before. Almost 22,000 recipients of the DACA program were not able to submit their application for the eligibility of the program successfully according to a survey that has been carried out by the Center for American Progress.

The study reveals that a median number of 122 recipients of the DACA program would eventually lose their legal protection on a daily basis in the six months period between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018. In a detailed judgment by judge Alsup, he noted that the Trump administration had failed to have the program needs of 689,800 DACA recipients who had to rely on the legal protection of the program to work and live in the United States.

German Officials Oppose Social Media Hate Speech Law

In late October of last year, German officials enacted new legislation that would foist incredible accountability upon social media sites for their users’ content. Twitter, Facebook, and similar online communities have historically been largely immune to the actions of their users. While outright illegal content could find the companies behind these websites in legal trouble, for the most part the actual degree of liability has been fairly negligible.

The new law authorized the government to bring hefty fines against websites that allow posts which violates the country’s notoriously strict hate speech laws. According to the law, fines can range as high as $60 million, making it a serious issues for websites that otherwise rely on ad revenue to stay online. Online communities with user counts above two million were specifically targeted, meaning sites like Facebook and Twitter, which boasts hundreds of millions for the latter and over a billion for the former, could face countless fines due to the difficulty of moderating such a large community.

The courts prudently gave websites until 2018 to improve their moderation staff and software, which in most cases occurred throughout the latter half of 2017. Facebook, for example, pushed to hire an additional 10,000 live moderators and also added improvements to their automated moderation tools, a tactic also adopted by video sharing site YouTube.

While the new law initially saw much support from within the German government, user responses were more divisive. Members of Twitter and other communities have rallied against the new law as an unabashed overstep into free speech rights, a perspective which is now being mirrored by several opposition parties within Germany. Free Democrats general secretary Nicola Beer argued that the ability to censor content in violation of German hate speech laws needed to remain in the hands of government officials and prosecuting authorities, rather than a foreign website’s moderation staff.

Green party leader Simone Peter echoed this sentiment, pointing out the problem of having U.S.-based companies wield such a degree of control over discourse in a foreign country. Peter highlighted the banning of an account held by Titanic, a popular German humor magazine which was accused of offensive comments towards Muslims. Alternative for Germany, a far-right group opposed to immigration, was similarly banned for alleged hate speech against Muslim communities. Parliament leader Sahra Wagenknecht also came out in support of dropping the law, thus bringing Germany’s Left Party to bear against the legislation.

 

Federal Government to Enforce Marijuana Laws

As states across the country move to legalize recreational marijuana, the federal government is doing just the opposite. Under the direction of President Donald Trump, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is ending long-standing federal policy of looking the other way at marijuana grow operations in the United States. Barack Obama and his administration refused to enforce federal marijuana offenses in the United States. Sessions is walking back that policy.

Sessions isn’t directing U.S. attorneys throughout the nation to aggressively go after marijuana growers. Instead, he’s leaving it up to each local U.S. attorney to make the judgment call. If the local U.S. attorney believes that it’s best to bring the charges, they’re able to bring the marijuana charges in federal court.

Obama’s representatives said that state marijuana regulations are “strong and effective.” They didn’t think it was necessary to put additional resources from the federal government into marijuana enforcement. Obama’s administration directed federal attorneys not to prioritize marijuana violations. Instead, they focused on violence, drug use and organized crime. Sessions and his supporters say that rooting marijuana out at the source will address problems of violence, drug use and organized crime too.

Some U.S. attorneys say that they’re hesitant to prosecute marijuana offenses if state law makes marijuana legal. Even though federal laws overrule state law, some say that it’s hard to enforce federal marijuana laws when the public perception is that marijuana use is legal. There’s nothing that a state or local government can do to override a federal law. However, defendants have a right to a jury trial in federal court, and prosecutors may encounter a practical problem of little support on the jury.

The marijuana debate is shaping up to be another point of controversy for the already controversial Sessions. California’s new year brought with it the state legalization of recreational marijuana use. Michigan also has new laws for commercialized production of marijuana. Now, federal attorneys are free to pursue prosecution of these establishments. The industry is up in limbo. Sessions’ supporters say that’s a good thing for public safety. Opponents say that it’s not good for the tax revenue that legalized marijuana is expected to generate.

Another question is the effect that the policy shift will have on medical marijuana production and distribution. There’s a federal law that prohibits U.S. officials from pursuing and prosecuting medical marijuana production. Some wonder if the policy shift will have a cooling effect on medical marijuana production in the United States.

New Law Will Affect Pet Ownership In Divorces

A new law in Illinois will affect the way that pet ownership will be handled in divorce cases. Pets will be treated the same way that children are treated. People could get joint or partial custody after a divorce.

Jennifer Behme is an attorney who practices in Belleville, Illinois. She stated that states will have the ability to award sole or joint custody to pet owners. She also stated that the only pets that will be affected are the ones that were adopted during the marriage. If a spouse had an animal before they got married, then they will be able to keep it.

Jennifer stated that there are a lot of things that the judge will consider before awarding custody. Who is taking care of the pet, who takes the animal to the veterinarian, and the agreement that the party made before the divorce are some of the things that will be taken into consideration. A judge will award joint custody if it is the best interest of the dog. This law will not affect service animals.

Jeffrey Knipmeyer is an attorney who practices in Chicago. He stated that most couples do not have a hard time determining custody arrangements. He has been in practice for 21 years, and this has never been an issue. There has been a 30 percent decrease in pet custody cases going to court over the past three years.

However, if a pet custody case does reach the court, then this law can be beneficial. Pet custody cases are more common among two-income couples who do not have any children. This law allows the judge to decide what is best for the pet instead of what the people want. Many people only think of a pet as property. Others see their pets as members of the family.

 

New Year, New Marijuana Laws

As the new year begins, new laws go into effect across the country. One of the most controversial laws is California’s new law legalizing recreational use of marijuana. If you’re at least 21, when you’re in California, you can walk into a pot shop and walk out with the marijuana of your choice. Marijuana is big business, and now the world’s biggest marijuana sales market is the Golden State.

Marijuana enthusiasts eagerly lined up as early as 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day to begin making purchases. California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control oversees licensing and regulation of marijuana shops. They expect marijuana sales to boom throughout the state.

Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom welcomes the changes. He says law enforcement officials can focus their efforts on “real crime.” Legalizing marijuana is a matter of economy, he says, because law-enforcement officials can now spend their time on more important matters. He says it’s best to move marijuana out of the black market.

California has always been at the forefront of the marijuana movement. Voters legalized medical marijuana 20 years ago. Voters approved the move to fully-legalized marijuana in 2016. Analysts say that the marijuana economy is worth as much as $7 billion. They say sales will bring approximately $1 billion into tax coffers each year.

Sellers see the legalization of marijuana sales as an opportunity. They expect busy sales. Only eight states allow marijuana use without a medical need.

The world is watching. If all goes well, it could pave the way for more states to fully legalize marijuana. If there are problems, it could be a warning sign to other states.

Analysts expect the industry to thrive in California because of the booming tourism industry. Millions of people visit California each year. Economists expect many tourists to make marijuana a part of their travel plans. Proponents of the legalization of marijuana say it’s a great opportunity to show all tourists that legalized marijuana can work.

Good or bad, California’s marijuana economy is about to take the spotlight. Adults can have as much as an ounce of marijuana. It’s also okay to grow six marijuana plants at home. Just like it’s illegal to smoke a cigarette in public, it’s illegal to use marijuana in public. In addition to these changes, people with marijuana convictions from years past can petition the court to have the convictions removed from the public record. However, some say it’s unfair to remove a record of a person breaking a law even if marijuana is now legal.

Reviewing President Trump’s Inaugural Year from a Legal Perspective

Millions of Trump voters cast their vote for the president out of hopes that he would appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court. In that sense, conservative voters got what they bargained for in that President Trump nominated – and the Senate later confirmed – Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s Supreme Court Appointment

Surprisingly, this game-changer of a shakeup on the Supreme Court may have been overshadowed by Trump’s travel ban and the ongoing dispute of whether Trump’s divestments from his business violate the Constitution’s emoluments clause or not. In other words, lawyers and legal experts had their hands full throughout 2017 trying to parse exactly how the Trump administration’s actions fit into an historical and legal context.

The most remarkable aspect of Trump’s Supreme Court appointment may not have had anything to do with Trump per se. Before the 2017 appointment of Neil Gorsuch, there were two dozen individual instances in which a Supreme Court vacancy sprang up in the president’s final term of office. In 21 of those 24 instances (over 85%), the U.S. Senate rushed to confirm the nominee.

Obama experienced something rather unprecedented in the sense that his nomination of Merrick Garland, an erstwhile darling of the Republicans, was blocked around every turning. There were no hearings for Merrick Garland, let along a Senate vote for the nominee. Democrats, though, may have the last laugh in 2018 if they win back one or both houses in the mid-term elections.

Cooper Vs. Harris Case

The Supreme Court voted 5-3 to preclude the use of race in drawing election districts.

Trump’s Ongoing Interaction with the Supreme Court

President Trump has been one of the more vociferous critics of Supreme Court decisions in recent history. The Gloucester County School Board Vs. G.G. case that questioned whether civil rights laws ushered in under President Johnson applied to discrimination against transgender students seemed to inspire a wealth of opinions from President Trump.

Another Supreme Court case was heard vis-a-vis the National Labor Relations Act and its safeguarding of employee arbitration agreements. Trump took a position contrary to Obama’s and essentially sided with management over labor. The resulting division had the National Labor Relations Board on the side of labor and the solicitor general on the side of management. Similar splits are expected in 2018.

Supreme Court Mulls Over Same-Sex Cake Decision

Is it unconstitutional to refuse to make a wedding cake if you disapprove of the marriage? That’s the question the U.S. Supreme Court is debating right now. After hearing oral arguments on the matter, the Supreme Court justices are debating the issues and preparing a decision. Supreme Court watchers say that the case may come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy. They say that he’s a moderate justice whose vote could make the difference in the case.

It all started when a Colorado bakery declined to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding. They refused to make the cake on religious grounds, saying that they believe marriage should be between only a man and a woman. Lawyers for the bakery say that they should have the right to practice religion on their own terms. They also say that requiring them to make the cake violates their right to free speech which includes artistic expression.

Justices like Elena Kagan wondered out loud where to draw the line. Kagan pointed out that any business owner could violate the rights of others citing religious grounds. Kennedy worried that voting in favor of the bakery might lead to outright harassment of same-sex couples.

On the other hand, Kennedy also expressed agreement with the bakery owner’s right to practice his own religion. He seemed to agree with the bakery’s lawyer that individuals in a free society must tolerate beliefs that they don’t agree with. If this decision hinges on Kennedy, it’s ironic, because he’s the same judge who wrote the opinion that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. However, experts say that Justice Kennedy is known for taking free speech rights seriously.

Public accommodation laws require places like hotels and restaurants to provide services without discrimination. A hotel can’t turn away an interracial couple, for example. The bakery says this is different because their religion isn’t racism. They say that they don’t make cakes for Halloween, either.

When the bakery refused to make the cake, same-sex marriage wasn’t yet legal in Colorado. The men said that their marriage was in another state. When the baker offered to make other goods for them, he said that the men “stormed out.” They made a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission which ruled against the baker. From there, the baker took the case to the Colorado Court of Appeals. For their part, the couple says that the case is about more than just a wedding cake. They say that it’s about equality for everyone.

 

 

A US Court directs that the Travel Ban by Trump Should Not Affect Citizens of Friendly Countries

The United States courts of appeal has said that the ban on immigration by the Trump administration to citizens of six nations that have a Muslim majority should not apply to individuals with close ties to the United States. The 9th US circuit court of appeals based in San Francisco said that the Friday ruling would be put on hold. The court of appeals which has jurisdiction in some west coast states noted that the latest version of Trump administration travel ban that was ruled by the United States Supreme Court would be put on hold.

Since Trump took the reins of power in January, he has struggled with the enactment of a federal ban that qualifies for court muster. A previous decision from a subordinate court was narrowed by a bench made up of three judges from the 9th US circuit of the court of appeals to favor those people who had close ties with America. The court of appeals defined the condition for exclusion as any individual who had bona fide relations that were credible with the United States.

The court of appeals also stated that although the US president had a broad array of powers to restrict immigrants into the US, those powers also had limits. The three-judge bench said that the issuance of the immigration proclamation by President Trump exceeds the scope of his powers of delegation.

The Trump immigration ban has targeted citizens from Iran, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Chad who want to travel to the United States. President Trump argued that the ban was applied to protect American citizens from the threat of terrorism. The state of Hawaii, however, challenged the travel ban in court and a federal judge in Honolulu ordered that the ban exceeded the powers of the US president under the US laws of immigration.

The travel ban by the Trump administration also includes citizens from Venezuela and North Korea. Lower courts have given an order that allowed the law to be implemented. The travel ban issued by the US president in January to ban citizens of Muslim majority nations from entering the US sparked protests and chaos in immigration offices and airports. After courts of the law blocked the first travel ban, President Trump issued a revised version of the ban in March. The March version would expire in September this year after numerous court battles and be replaced by the current version of the travel ban.