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Court restores voting rights of 100,000 jail inmates
Court Feed News | 2006/12/29 03:21

A state appeals court is restoring the voting rights of about 100,000 local jail inmates statewide who are serving a year or less for felony convictions.

The state said it would not appeal last week's decision from the 1st District Court of Appeal. The affected inmates were eligible to vote until last year, when the state disenfranchised them.

For three decades, California's secretary of state had interpreted the state Constitution as barring voting by those in state prisons and those on parole after their release. The appeals court said the state wrongly changed the policy last year to include persons convicted of felonies but sentenced to a year or less in a local county jail.

The League of Women Voters brought the case on behalf of three San Francisco County jail inmates.



New EPA Smog Rules Infringe Clean Air Act
Court Feed News | 2006/12/27 18:04

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the new federal rules for smog reduction on Friday, stating that the Environmental Protection Agency "has failed to heed the restrictions on its discretion set forth in the Act." The smog standards were introduced in 2004 and required roughly 470 counties designated as "non-attainment" areas to reduce the level of smog within a three to seventeen year period. The court said the time period did not align with the federal Clean Air Act and held that EPA enforcement was not strict enough in states where smog levels have increased.

The EPA has not yet determined if it will seek an en banc rehearing of the case, according to EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood, stating that the "EPA is committed to ensuring our nation's ozone air quality standards are implemented to protect public health and the environment."



Groups sue Dallas suburb over immigration law
Court Feed News | 2006/12/27 17:52

Two civil rights groups filed suit in federal court Tuesday to block enforcement of a town ordinance passed in November by the Dallas suburb of Farmer's Branch requiring apartment renters to show proof of US residency and penalizing landlords who rent to illegal immigrants. The ACLU of Texas, in conjunction with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), sued to bar the city from implementing the act beginning January 12, alleging that federal immigration law preempts state and local ordinances aimed at regulating immigration, and that the law as drafted is impermissibly vague.

Some local landlords have also spoken against the ordinance, saying they are not trained to determine whether immigration papers produced by potential renters are forgeries. Two other recent lawsuits have challenged the ordinance, one filed last Friday on behalf of three apartment complexes, and one filed earlier in December alleging that the Mayor of Farmer's Branch broke the Texas Open Meetings Act during deliberations concerning the ordinance. AP has more.

Last November a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against the town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, preventing the town from promulgating a similar landlord-tenant ordinance designed to discourage illegal immigration.



Court tells EPA they can't Relax Smog rules
Court Feed News | 2006/12/26 23:30

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the new federal rules for smog reduction on Friday, stating that the Environmental Protection Agency "has failed to heed the restrictions on its discretion set forth in the Act."

The smog standards were introduced in 2004 and required roughly 470 counties designated as "non-attainment" areas to reduce the level of smog within a three to seventeen year period. The court said the time period did not align with the federal Clean Air Act and held that EPA enforcement was not strict enough in states where smog levels have increased.

According to EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood, the EPA has not yet determined if it will seek an en banc rehearing of the case, stating that the "EPA is committed to ensuring our nation's ozone air quality standards are implemented to protect public health and the environment." 



Appeals Court Tosses Out Bush Smog Rules
Court Feed News | 2006/12/26 18:19

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected the new federal rules for smog reduction on Friday, stating that the Environmental Protection Agency "has failed to heed the restrictions on its discretion set forth in the Clean Air Act."

The smog standards were introduced in 2004 and required roughly 470 counties designated as "non-attainment" areas to reduce the level of smog within a three to seventeen year period. The court said the time period did not align with the federal Clean Air Act and held that EPA enforcement was not strict enough in states where smog levels have increased.

According to EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood, the EPA has not yet determined if it will seek an en banc rehearing of the case, stating that the "EPA is committed to ensuring our nation's ozone air quality standards are implemented to protect public health and the environment."



Appeals court suspends order for FEMA
Court Feed News | 2006/12/25 03:55

A federal appeals court Friday suspended a November order by US District Judge Richard Leon requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reinstate certain housing payments  to Hurricane Katrina victims. The US DC Circuit Court of Appeals suspended the order in response to FEMA's request to allow the agency to delay action on the shelter program at least until March when the appeals court will hear arguments in the case.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) filed the lawsuit on behalf of displaced hurricane evacuees alleging violations of their due process rights. Leon granted the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction against the payments stoppage, maintaining that FEMA had failed to provide evacuees with adequate explanations for their denials of housing assistance and their means of appeal under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Leon's order also required FEMA to explain to evacuees in plain English why they are no longer eligible for funding.



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