Clicking “I Agree” Could be a Big Mistake

Clicking “I Agree” has become a routine activity. It’s necessary to “Agree” to pages of legalese when installing new apps, completing commercial transactions or whenever a website owner chooses. Do very many people actually know what they just agreed to?

Those terms of service could include some strange conditions. Some of the things people have agreed to – probably without knowing it – would make a reasonable person wonder if they really needed this app. Certain ridiculously inclusive terms of service could also make someone wonder about the company’s legal department.

Airbnb

Airbnb is a popular online vacation and apartment rental service. In their terms and conditions, users must agree not to develop, design, manufacture or product missiles or biological, chemical or nuclear weapons. Not only that, but Airbnb wants to be able to run a credit check on users. Are illegal weapons makers generally truthful?

Lyft

This car transportation services promises “a ride whenever you need one.” Users must not count on location data being reliable if precise location information is necessary or if inaccurate location data results in personal injury, death or environmental or property damage. Precise location data would seem to be necessary to use the service.

23andMe

People seem to love genetic testing as a means of learning more about their ancestry. They might be assuming that their DNA will be safeguarded and kept confidential, but customers must agree that their sample can be used in research or potential commercial products without receiving any compensation.

Tinder

Tinder is one of the most popular dating sites, but users are warned that it’s a “buyer beware” service. Tinder performs no criminal background checks or makes any attempt to verify anything said by users. Perform your own checks on anyone you’re interested in.

unroll.me

Unroll.me is a free email service with some attractive features. They are very particular about how users link to their homepage, as detailed in their terms of service. They aren’t as particular about selling user data to Uber.

It would undoubtedly be a great idea for everyone to understand the terms of service that preceded the “I Agree” button, but that’s probably unrealistic. There are too many demands on everyone’s time to read all the fine print before downloading another great app. However, everyone needs to remember that “buyer beware” is alive and well on the internet.

Ref: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/common-website-navigation-mistakes/

Michigan Takes a Step Towards Allowed Concealed Carry Without a License

The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed a bill that removes permitting and licensing requirements for concealed carry in Michigan. The legislation now moves to the Senate. If it’s successful there it heads to Governor Snyder for consideration.

The bill doesn’t change the law that prohibits felons from owning or possessing a firearm. However, in addition to removing the permitting requirement, the bill also reduces penalties for failing to have identification and for failing to disclose the weapon to a law enforcement officer. There are a few other notable provisions in the bill including a repeal of the current law that prohibits security guards from carrying concealed except while they’re performing their duties. The law also removes firearms from the list of included weapons when a law or regulation prohibits possession of dangerous weapons.

Michigan law currently allows residents to openly carry without training or a permit. Some people say that requiring a permit for concealed carry but not open carry is unfair, and that it only creates costs and bureaucracy. Others say that regulations are justified because of ongoing struggles with gun violence and because training requirements improve gun use and safety. The vote fell largely on party lines with Republicans voting for the measure while Democrats opposed it.

Currently, a person who wants to concealed carry in Michigan must apply for a permit. The applicant must file the application in the county where they live. There are fees to pay, and a person must submit their fingerprints as part of the application process. They must complete a training course that teaches them how to use and care for their weapon.

In addition, an applicant for a concealed carry permit in Michigan may not be the restrained party in a personal protection order or have been found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity. There are other requirements that prohibit people with certain criminal convictions from receiving a permit. There’s also a residency requirement for a successful application.

There’s no indication as to whether Governor Snyder would approve the bills. In 2012, Snyder vetoed legislation to allow concealed carry in gun-free zones like schools. Snyder vetoed that bill in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting that took the lives of twenty students and six adults.

Source: Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/story/news/2017/06/07/no-permit-training-needed-concealed-carry-guns-passed-house/378659001/

Supreme Court Rules for Veteran in Family Law Pension Dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court came down unanimously on May 15, 2017 in favor of a U.S. veteran. His ex-wife claimed that he owed her reimbursement for his waived retirement pay that the court awarded to her in the divorce. Justice Breyer authored the opinion in favor of U.S. Air Force veteran John Howell. The justices ruled that Howell doesn’t have to reimburse his ex-wife for waived pension pay despite the divorce judgment calling for the same.

John and Sandra Howell divorced more than twenty-five years ago. The judgment called for John to pay half of his retirement pay to Sandra. Since that time, John elected to waive portions of the retirement pay. For the waiver, he received disability pay instead. While a veteran pays taxes on retirement pay, they don’t pay taxes on disability pay. Because of the waiver, John’s disability pay was $250 per month less than his pension pay would have been.

Even though the divorce judgment calls for John to reimburse Sandra for the difference of $125 per month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the provision of the divorce judgment is unenforceable. John doesn’t have to reimburse Sandra anything even though the waiver is his choice. Sandra is simply out the money.

The lower state courts ruled in succession in the former wife’s favor. They focused on making the ex-wife whole for what she lost because of the ex-husband’s disability election. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the state rulings citing the federal Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). They said that the USFSPA allows a court to split disposable retired pay except any portion waived for disability benefits. They cited the prior case Mansell v. Mansell which concluded that the state courts can’t divide veteran disability benefits.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states just don’t have the authority to divide disability benefits even if the result is that an ex-spouse doesn’t get what they expected. They also ruled that requiring reimbursement of the amount from one spouse to another isn’t a lawful substitute, either. Even though the court admits that the ruling might create a difficulty for former military spouses, they say that state courts always have the option to adjust spousal support.

Sources: http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/05/opinion-analysis-unanimous-court-rules-veteran-family-law-case/

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/15-1031_hejm.pdf

President Trump’s Travel Ban Slated For Supreme Court Decision

On March 6th of 2017 President Trump signed an executive order that banned entry by people from six Muslim-majority countries. These countries included: Somalia, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Iran, and Yemen. The executive order, which is being challenged by multiple courts, sought to prohibit entry from the aforementioned nations for 90 days.

The Trump administration wanted 90 days so that a more stringent visa screening process could be worked out and put into effect in the meantime.

On June 1st the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to reinstate his original executive order, which would temporarily ban travelers from places like Syria and Iran from entering the United States. Lower courts have found the travel ban signed into an executive order by President Trump to be discriminatory.

The upcoming decision from the nine Supreme Court justices will weigh a number of factors before deciding whether to reinstate Trump’s plan. The Supreme Court justices are set to weigh in on whether Trump’s fiery campaign rhetoric, which some found discriminatory against Muslims, can be used as evidence that Trump meant to discriminate against Muslims when crafting the executive order banning travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Over the ensuing months President Trump and his legal team have done anything but sit idly by. In late May a Virginia Circuit Court of Appeals decided to uphold a Maryland ruling that blocked the executive order’s effects. In response, the Trump administration’s busy legal team filed an appeal against that particular motion.

Many legal experts working for the Trump administration feel that the U.S. Constitution lays out broad powers for the president to limit who comes into the country. Trump’s legal team feels good about its chances vis-a-vis the upcoming Supreme Court decision because of the president’s constitutionally protected duties to keep the country safe and out of harm’s way.

Still, the upcoming decision is anticipated to be extremely close. As usually happens in cases like this that split geopolitics with domestic security, Justice Kennedy’s swing vote will more likely than not prove decisive. Trump’s recent Supreme Court appointment, Neil Gorsuch, is anticipated to side with the national security argument.

The Trump administration has forwarded an emergency request. If granted, the Trump’s administration emergency request would immediately halt travelers from places like Somalia, Yemen, and Iran from entering the United States. Uncharacteristically, the U.S. Justice Department has asked the case be expedited.

Read More: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/fourth-circuit-travel-ban/528222/

Sujit Choudhry: A Proponent for Peace Through Constitutional Law

Sujit Choudhry

No constitutional democracy is complete without a constitution and no constitution is complete without an expert in comparative constitutional law. That’s where Sujit Choudhry comes in.

 

Sujit Choudhry, an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law, is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, an organization which assembles leading global experts to produce evidence-based policy options for decision-makers and agenda-setting. But this position does not come without a variety of law degrees, a multicultural upbringing, and years of experience of serving as a constitutional advisor for emerging democracies. After years of traveling around the world to forge constitutions in ethnically divided societies, Choudhry was drawn to the idea of building a global knowledge network to help these new constitutional democracies. He found there was a severe lack of up-to-date sufficient research when it came to implementing these constitutions, which hindered his constitutional advice. Out of this gap, sprouted the Center for Constitutional Transitions.

 

As an immigrant with degrees from three different countries, Choudhry’s global background inspired him to approach public policy from a more objective and worldly stance. This global viewpoint is important in today’s times now more than ever. Comparative experience, Choudhry claims, is vital to the current climate so that all constitutional democracies may learn from the successes and failures of other countries.

 

As someone who was worked with people of all different cultures, Choudhry has learned to take on a more empathetic approach to constitution building. The first step to assisting other constitutional democracies should be to first understand their point-of-view. The second step should be to not fear change, but to welcome new ideas. In the future, Choudhry would love to see a new organization which organizes and hosts the most important constitutional case-law from around the world, which would change the history of constitutionalism. But for now, Choudhry is proud to foster a community of experts to create global knowledge networks. And in the meantime, Choudhry is preparing to launch three global collaborative research projects with the with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in the fall.

 

Born in India and raised in Canada, Choudhry’s multicultural upbringing shaped his global perspective and future career. Additionally, his well-educated parents fostered a home based on intellectual stimulation. With a father who taught economics at the University of Toronto and a mother who taught nursing, Choudhry was inspired to pursue an academic path from an early age. Choudhry now holds law degrees from Toronto, Harvard, and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar

 

Now Choudhry is the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley – School of Law, where he served as Dean. Previously, he was the Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University, and the Scholl Chair at the University of Toronto. Since his intellectually-stimulating childhood, Choudhry has gone on to speak in over two dozen countries and publish over ninety articles, book chapters, working papers and reports. His books include The Migration of Constitutional Ideas (Cambridge, 2006), Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation? (Oxford, 2008), The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (Oxford, 2016) and Constitution Making (Edward Elgar, 2016).

 

His wide-ranging research agenda is combined with in-depth field experience as an advisor to constitution building processes. Professor Choudhry’s research addresses a broad range of issues in comparative constitutional law and politics, from using constitutional design as a tool to manage the transition from violent conflict to peaceful democratic politics to basic methodological questions in the study of comparative constitutional law.

Twitter: @sujit_choudhry

What Does an Elder Law Attorney Do?

If you are a person of an age that is considered “senior”, or if you care for or care about such a person, you know that there are many confusing issues that impact the lives of seniors. Having someone with knowledge and experience to help you deal with these issues can bring real peace of mind. Many of the problems that seniors deal with are related to health and medical care; some involve finances; some have to do with government programs; and some are purely legal in scope. For legal issues and, in fact, for many of the other problems as well, you may benefit from the services of an elder law attorney.

Elder law

Elder law has been growing as a specialized field of practice over the last fifty years, since Medicare was first created in 1965. Elder law attorneys help clients navigate the many Federal, state and local laws, the numerous rules and regulations, and the various programs and institutions specific to older persons:

  • Healthcare decisions and advance directives
  • Medicaid, Medicare and Medigap options
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Nursing homes, assisted living and other care options
  • Elder housing issues, including reverse mortgages
  • Social Security, pension plans and other income
  • Guardianship and its alternatives
  • Age discrimination
  • Elder abuse and neglect

Of all these topics, those dealing with financial matters—from sources of retirement income to ways to pay for medical care—will have to be dealt with by most people, whether planning for their own senior years or caring for elderly loved ones.

Elder law attorneys help their clients in many ways. They provide guidance in understanding the legal aspects of making decisions regarding health care: What is informed consent? What is an advance health care directive and when does a person need one? What is a living will?

Elder law attorneys help their clients understand government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid: How can these programs help the client? How does one go about getting the most help out of them?

Attorneys specializing in elder law are able to represent their clients’ interests if any problems should arise regarding income from Social Security or pension plans.

The client can rely on an elder law attorney to be an advocate when there are problems regarding nursing home care, assisted living facilities, or other aspects of housing for the elderly.

Elder law attorneys are dedicated to helping seniors stay in control of their lives to the greatest extent possible as they enjoy more years of life.

When should you seek the services of an elder law attorney?

  • When you are planning for your own senior years and would like clarification about any aspect of retirement income, healthcare decisions, government programs, or senior legal issues.
  • When you are caring for a senior family member and problems arise that you just don’t feel capable of handling on your own.
  • When you need the help of an advocate to deal with issues such as age discrimination or elder abuse.

In short, you will benefit from the knowledge and experience of an elder law attorney whenever you have to deal with issues regarding the comfort and self-determination of the elderly. Living longer is a wonderful aspect of modern life, but with our modern longevity come problems that were not encountered by previous generations. Elder law attorneys are available to help.