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Partisan struggle over NC governor's authority back in court
Headline News | 2017/02/11 16:01
Judges are hearing more arguments about North Carolina Republican lawmakers' efforts to reduce Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's authority in choosing his Cabinet.

A three-judge panel scheduled arguments Friday on whether to extend their recent temporary block of a law requiring Senate confirmation of Cooper's Cabinet secretaries.

The GOP-controlled legislature passed the law shortly before Cooper took office, one of several provisions designed to limit Cooper's powers.

Cooper's attorneys say confirmation usurps his authority to carry out core executive functions. Republicans respond that the state Constitution gives senators "advice and consent" powers with gubernatorial appointees.

The governor wants the law blocked at least until a hearing scheduled for March.

In another gubernatorial power issue, a state appeals court on Thursday temporarily reinstated a law stripping Cooper of his oversight of elections.


Travel ban decision in hands of federal appeals court judges
Headline News | 2017/02/07 16:02
A federal appeals court will decide whether to reinstate President Donald Trump's travel ban after a contentious hearing in which the judges hammered away at the administration's motivations for the ban, but also directed pointed questions to an attorney for two states trying to overturn it.

It was unclear which way the three judges of the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would rule, though legal experts said the states appeared to have the edge.

"I'm not sure if either side presented a compelling case, but I certainly thought the government's case came across as weaker," said Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

A ruling could come as early as Wednesday and could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump tweeted early Wednesday: "If the U.S. does not win this case as it so obviously should, we can never have the security and safety to which we are entitled. Politics!"

The appeals court challenged the administration's claim that the ban was motivated by terrorism fears, but it also questioned the argument of an attorney challenging the executive order on grounds that it unconstitutionally targeted Muslims.

The contentious hearing before three judges on the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals focused narrowly on whether a restraining order issued by a lower court should remain in effect while a challenge to the ban proceeds. But the judges jumped into the larger constitutional questions surrounding Trump's order, which temporarily suspended the nation's refugee program and immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries that have raised terrorism concerns.




Kyrgyz court confirms life sentence for journalist
Headline News | 2017/01/24 06:50
A court in Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday upheld a life sentence for an ethnic Uzbek journalist in a case that has drawn international criticism.

Azimzhan Askarov was convicted in 2010 for stirring up ethnic hatred, a charge related to ethnic unrest in the south of Kyrgyzstan in 2010 when more than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed and tens or even hundreds of thousands were displaced.

The majority of those convicted for taking part in the deadly clashes have been ethnic Uzbeks.

Askarov, who can appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court, shouted out after Tuesday's decision that he would go on hunger strike in protest.

Askarov's case was sent for review last year after the U.N. Human Rights Committee in April urged Kyrgyzstan to release him, finding that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured and denied his right to a fair trial.

Askarov's lawyer, Tolekan Ismailov, told reporters that his client would appeal the ruling, which he dismissed as unlawful.

Askarov had been documenting human rights violations by the police and prison authorities in his hometown near the Uzbek border for more than 10 years before he was arrested in 2010.



Supreme Court takes up cases about race in redistricting
Headline News | 2016/12/05 16:47
The Supreme Court is taking up a pair of cases in which African-American voters maintain that Southern states discriminated against them in drawing electoral districts.

The justices are hearing arguments Monday in redistricting disputes from North Carolina and Virginia.

The claim made by black voters in both states is that Republicans created districts with more reliably Democratic black voters than necessary to elect their preferred candidates, making neighboring districts whiter and more Republican.

A federal court struck down two North Carolina districts as unconstitutional because they relied too heavily on race. In Virginia, a court rejected a constitutional challenge to 12 state legislative districts. The justices have frequently considered the intersection of race and politics.


UK Supreme Court hears landmark challenge to Brexit plans
Headline News | 2016/12/04 16:48
Britain's Supreme Court began hearing a landmark case Monday that will decide who has the power to trigger the U.K.'s exit from the European Union — the government or Parliament.

The legal battle has major constitutional implications for the balance of power between the legislature and the executive, and has inflamed Britain's already raw wound over how and whether to leave the EU.

The court's most senior justice, David Neuberger, opened the four-day hearing by condemning the "threats of serious violence and unpleasant abuse" directed at Gina Miller, one of the claimants trying to ensure Parliament gets a say.

"Threatening and abusing people because they are exercising their fundamental right to go to court undermines the rule of law," Neuberger said, banning publication of the addresses of Miller and other parties in the case.

Neuberger and 10 other justices at the country's top court must decide whether Prime Minister Theresa May's government can invoke Article 50 of the EU's key treaty, the trigger for two years of divorce talks, without the approval of lawmakers.

May plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, using centuries-old government powers known as royal prerogative. The powers — traditionally held by the monarch but now used by politicians — enable decisions about joining or leaving international treaties to be made without a parliamentary vote.

Financial entrepreneur Miller and another claimant, hairdresser Deir Dos Santos, went to court to argue that leaving the EU would remove some of their rights, including free movement within the bloc, and that shouldn't be done without Parliament's approval.



Philippine court urged to order Marcos' remains exhumed
Headline News | 2016/11/20 18:20
Human rights victims who suffered during the rule of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos filed petitions Monday asking the Supreme Court to order the exhumation of his remains that were buried last week at the country's Heroes' Cemetery.

They also want the court to hold officials and his heirs in contempt for carrying out the burial before the court heard final appeals against it.

Former President Fidel Ramos, who played a key role in the peaceful army-backed revolt that ousted Marcos in 1986, called the former leader's burial at the military-run cemetery "an insult" to the sacrifices of soldiers and veterans.

Left-wing former lawmaker Saturnino Ocampo and other activists urged the court to hold Marcos' widow Imelda, their three children, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and two military officials in contempt for "the hasty, shady and tricky" burial on Friday of the long-dead president at the Heroes' Cemetery.

The petition said they should be fined and detained for mocking the legal process that gave petitioners 15 days to appeal the court's Nov. 8 ruling allowing the burial.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman, who represents another group of petitioners, sought a court order to have the remains exhumed "because the hasty and surreptitious interment was premature, void and irregular."

He asked that the remains be examined to determine if they are not a wax replica. The secrecy-shrouded burial at the cemetery reserved for presidents, soldiers and national artists shocked democracy advocates and human rights victims, prompting street protests in Manila and other cities.

Marcos's rule was marked by massive rights violations and plunder. After being ousted in 1986, he flew to Hawaii, where he lived with his wife and children until he died in 1989.


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