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Same-sex marriage is now legal in all of Mexico’s states
Class Action News | 2022/10/27 20:40
Lawmakers in the border state of Tamaulipas voted Wednesday night to legalize same-sex marriages, becoming the last of Mexico’s 32 states to authorize such unions.

The measure to amend the state’s Civil Code passed with 23 votes in favor, 12 against and two abstentions, setting off cheers of “Yes, we can!” from supporters of the change.

The session took place as groups both for and against the measure chanted and shouted from the balcony, and legislators eventually moved to another room to finish their debate and vote.

The president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Arturo Zaldívar, welcomed the vote. “The whole country shines with a huge rainbow. Live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love,” he said on Twitter.

A day earlier, lawmakers in the southern state of Guerrero approved similar legislation allowing same-sex marriages.

In 2015, the Supreme Court declared state laws preventing same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but some states took several years to adopt laws conforming with the ruling.


Idaho Supreme Court won’t weigh legality of child marriage
Employment Law | 2022/10/24 23:40
A legal loophole in Idaho that allows parents of teens to nullify child custody agreements by arranging child marriages will remain in effect, under a ruling from the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

In a split decision, the high court declined to decide whether Idaho’s child marriage law — which allows 16- and 17-year-olds to marry if one parent agrees to the union — is unconstitutional. Instead, the justices said that once a child is emancipated by marriage, the family court loses jurisdiction over custody matters.

The case arose from a custody battle between a Boise woman and her ex-husband, who planned to move to Florida and wanted to take their 16-year-old daughter along. The ex-husband was accused of setting up a “sham marriage” between his daughter and another teen as a way to end the custody fight.

It’s not a rare scenario — all but seven states allow minors below the age of 18 to marry, according to Unchained At Last, an organization that opposes child marriage. Nevada, Idaho, Arkansas and Kentucky have the highest rates of child marriage per capita, according to the organization. Although minors are generally considered legally emancipated once they are married, they generally still have limited legal rights and so may be unable to file for divorce or seek a protective order.

Erin Carver and William Hornish divorced in 2012, and only their youngest was still living at home last year when both sides began disputing the custody arrangements.

Carver said she learned Hornish was planning a “sham marriage” for the teen to end the custody battle, and asked the family court magistrate to stop the marriage plans. Several days later, the magistrate judge agreed, but it was too late. The teen had already married.

The high court heard arguments in March, and Carver’s attorney contended that the child marriage law is unconstitutional because it allows one parent to terminate another parent’s rights without due process. Hornish’s attorney, Geoffrey Goss, countered that his client had acted legally and followed state law.

In Tuesday’s ruling, a majority of the Supreme Court justices said that because the marriage had occurred before an initial ruling was made, the family court lost jurisdiction. Once a child is married, they are emancipated and no longer subject to child custody arrangements, the high court said.


Ohio governor’s race split by pandemic, abortion, gun rights
Law & Politics | 2022/10/21 02:06
Just three years ago, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a Democrat, stood side by side, promising to push together for gun control proposals after a gunman killed nine people and wounded more than two dozen in the city’s nightclub district. It was a short-lived pledge.

Allies then, DeWine and Whaley are now facing each other in a partisan governor’s race defined by events that neither could have predicted at the time: the coronavirus pandemic and a U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

They no longer see eye-to-eye on guns either. Their gun control proposals never came about, and since the Dayton mass shooting DeWine signed legislation loosening gun restrictions — including a so-called stand your ground bill eliminating the duty to retreat before using force and another making concealed weapons permits optional for those legally allowed to carry a weapon.

“The politics got hard and Mike DeWine folded,” Whaley said this year.

Both candidates survived contested primaries to face each other in November. DeWine overcame two far-right opponents who criticized him for his aggressive decisions early in the pandemic, including a business shut-down order and a statewide mask mandate. Despite more than four decades in Ohio politics, DeWine failed to secure 50% of the primary vote.

Whaley easily defeated former Cincinnati mayor John Cranley and is now trying to regain a seat last won by Democrats 16 years ago.

Since the primary, Whaley has hammered DeWine for signing those gun bills and for his anti-abortion positions, including his 2019 signing into law of Ohio’s anti-abortion “ fetal heartbeat bills.”

But despite criticism that DeWine took from members of his own party over his approach to the coronavirus and Democratic furor over the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, most polls show DeWine comfortably ahead. Ultimately, that still comes down to DeWine’s long years in Ohio politics, said Tom Sutton, a political science professor at Baldwin-Wallace University.

Sutton noted that a September Marist poll found that 42% of adults statewide had either never heard of Whaley — who also ran briefly for governor in 2018 — or didn’t know how to rate her. Meanwhile, DeWine has previously won statewide races for lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, attorney general and governor.


Court rejects appeal to give American Samoans citizenship
Criminal Law Updates | 2022/10/17 18:19
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal seeking to give people born in American Samoa U.S. citizenship.

In leaving in place an appeals court decision, the court also passed up an invitation to overturn a series of decisions dating back to 1901 known as the Insular Cases, replete with racist and anti-foreign rhetoric. Justice Neil Gorsuch had called for the cases to be overturned in April.

But the justices refused to take up an appeal from people born in American Samoa, and living in Utah, who argued that a federal law declaring that they are “nationals, but not citizens, of the United States at birth” is unconstitutional.

A trial judge in Utah ruled in their favor, but the federal appeals court in Denver said Congress, not courts, should decide the citizenship issue. The appeals court also noted that American Samoa’s elected leaders opposed the lawsuit for fear that it might disrupt their cultural traditions.

American Samoa is the only unincorporated territory of the United States where the inhabitants are not American citizens at birth.

Instead, those born in the cluster of islands some 2,600 miles (4,184 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii are granted “U.S. national” status, meaning they can’t vote for U.S. president, run for office outside American Samoa or apply for certain jobs. The only federal election they can cast a vote in is the race for American Samoa’s nonvoting U.S. House seat.

The Insular Cases, which arose following the Spanish-American War, dealt with the administration of overseas territories.

In their conclusion that residents of territories had some, but not all, rights under the Constitution, justices wrote in stark racial and xenophobic terms. Citizenship could not be automatically given to “those absolutely unfit to receive it,” one justice wrote.

That history prompted Gorsuch to comment in a case involving benefits denied to people who live in Puerto Rico, decided in April. He wrote that the Insular Cases were wrongly decided because they deprived residents of U.S. territories of some constitutional rights.


Fishermen hire Bush-era official in challenge to whale laws
Headline News | 2022/10/11 17:56
Maine lobster fishermen have hired a former high-ranking U.S. Department of Justice official to represent them in their case against new laws intended to protect whales.

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is appealing its case against the new rules to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The group said Tuesday it has hired Paul Clement, who served as U.S. solicitor general from 2004 to 2008, to represent it in the case.

The solicitor general supervises all Supreme Court litigation for the U.S., and Clement has argued dozens of cases in front of the high court. That’s where the lobstermen’s case could ultimately be headed, he said Tuesday.

The new fishing restrictions have pushed the industry to the brink of collapse, Clement said.

“You have administrative overreach. The implications are easy to understand,” he said. “It directly threatens really one of the most iconic American industries. Everyone who has ever enjoyed a lobster can appreciate this.”

The lobster fishermen sued the National Marine Fisheries Service, and in September a judge denied their request to stop the regulators from placing the new restrictions on fishing. The restrictions are designed to protect the North Atlantic right whale, which numbers less than 340 and is vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear.

The fisheries service has declined to comment on the lawsuit. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association also said it planned to file court papers on Tuesday asking for its appeal to be expedited because of the jeopardy posed to the fishery by the new rules.

Environmental groups have long pushed for stronger protections for the right whales, which were devastated generations ago during the commercial whaling era. The groups have made their own case in court that the federal government should be doing more to protect the whales.

The American lobster fishery is based mostly in Maine, though lobsters also come to the docks elsewhere in New England and in New York and New Jersey. U.S. lobsters were worth a record figure of more than $900 million at the docks last year.


W.Va. Supreme Court hears arguments in school voucher case
Business Law Info | 2022/10/07 00:03
A voucher program that would provide West Virginia parents state money to pull their children out of K-12 public schools is blatantly unconstitutional and would disproportionately impact poor children and those with disabilities, a lawyer representing parents who sued the state argued Tuesday in West Virginia’s Supreme Court.

The Hope Scholarship Program, which was passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature last year and would have been one of the most far-reaching school choice programs in the country, “negatively and intentionally” impacts West Virginia’s system of free schools, lawyer Tamerlin Godley told justices during oral arguments.

“It decreases enrollment, and thus funding,” said Godley, who is representing two parents of children who receive special education supports in West Virginia public schools. “It utilizes public funding for subsidizing more affluent families that have chosen private and homeschooling and it silos the poor and special needs children who cannot use the vouchers.”

Signed by Republican Gov. Jim Justice last year, the program was set to go into effect this school year but was blocked by Circuit Court Judge Joanna Tabit in July. In a lawsuit supported by the West Virginia Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools, three parents of special education students said the scholarship program takes money away from already underfunded public schools and is prohibitive because there aren’t local private schools that could meet their children’s needs. One family has since withdrawn from the case.

The state immediately appealed the ruling. It’s unclear when justices will make a decision on the program, although the court’s current term ends in November.

The law that created the Hope Scholarship Program allows families to apply for state funding to support private school tuition, homeschooling fees and a wide range of other expenses. More than 3,000 students had been approved to receive around $4,300 each during the program’s inaugural cycle, according to the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office.

Families could not receive the money if their children were already homeschooled or attending private school. To qualify, students had to have been enrolled in a West Virginia public school last year or set to begin kindergarten this school year.


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