Category Archives: Civil Rights

Justices will review challenge to census citizenship question

Justices will review challenge to census citizenship question: In Plain EnglishIn March 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the 2020 census would ask whether each person being counted by the census is a U.S. citizen. Ross explained that the Department of Justice’s civil rights division wanted the data to better enforce federal voting rights laws, and he characterized the decision as routine: From 1820 until 1950, the census had generally included a question about citizenship, and from 1960 until 2000, the census asked some respondents whether they were U.S. citizens. But in January a federal district court in New York barred the government from including the question on the census, concluding that the voting-rights explanation was simply a rationale that the government came up with after it had already decided to add the question. On April 23, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the dispute.

The challenge to the citizenship question was filed in federal district court by a group of states, cities and counties, along with several civil rights groups. They argue that asking about citizenship could – and was perhaps intended to – lead to the population count being too low, because households with undocumented or Hispanic residents, fearing deportation, would be less likely to respond. And, the argument goes, the inaccurate count could lead to a reduction in federal funding and fewer representatives in Congress for states with large populations of undocumented or Hispanic immigrants, which tend to lean Democratic.

Over the last several months, the justices have repeatedly been asked to intervene in the dispute. In October, the federal government urged the Supreme Court to block depositions of both Ross and John Gore, who served as the acting head of DOJ’s civil rights division, and to prohibit additional fact-finding outside the official administrative record for the decision. The challengers hoped to show, as U.S. solicitor general Noel Francisco has explained, that the decision to bring back the citizenship question “was driven by secret motives, including animus against racial minorities.”

The justices gave the government a partial victory in that round, prohibiting the challengers from deposing Ross but allowing the Gore deposition and the other fact-finding to go forward. At the end of October, the government returned to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to put the trial in the district court – scheduled for November 5 – on hold until the justices could rule on the government’s petition for review of the discovery issues. The justices declined to step in and block the trial, but on November 16 they announced that they would hear oral argument in February in the dispute over the evidence.

Meanwhile, the district court went ahead with the trial and issued its decision in early January, barring the government from using the citizenship question on the 2020 census. Relying on the official record, the district court ruled that the government’s conduct involved a “smorgasbord of classic, clear-cut” violations of the federal law governing administrative agencies. Any additional evidence beyond the official administrative record, the district court explained, “merely confirms that the Court’s conclusions and illustrates how egregious the” violations were.

On January 18, the Supreme Court announced that it had removed the case from the February argument calendar. A week later, the federal government asked the justices to review the district court’s new ruling right away. Normally the government would go first to the court of appeals, and then ask the Supreme Court to weigh in if necessary, but the government argued that quick action on the case is essential so that it can finalize the census questionnaire by the end of June and get the forms printed on time. The justices agreed on February 15 to take up the case, fast-tracking it for oral argument on April 23.

In its brief on the merits, the federal government reiterates that the citizenship question is “wholly unremarkable” and “has been asked in one form or another for nearly 200 years.” The government first disputes whether this case should be in court at all. It argues that the challengers do not have a legal right to sue – known as “standing” – because they can’t show how they will be hurt by the decision to bring back the citizenship question. All they have, the government contends, is speculation – that people won’t answer the census questionnaire completely and truthfully because they fear that the government will use answers from the citizenship question to ferret out people who are in the country illegally, even though doing so would itself be illegal.

The challengers counter that their legal right to sue does not rest on speculation. The government’s own analysis indicates that if the citizenship question is included, approximately 6.5 million people won’t respond to the census, which will create the risk that states in which the groups’ members live will lose seats in the House of Representatives and federal funding for programs that they use. When we have this kind of data showing how people will react to the inclusion of the question, the state and local governments add, it doesn’t matter whether those reactions are illegal or irrational.

Even if the challengers had standing, the government continues, the lawsuit should not be in court because the Trump administration’s decision to reinstate the citizenship question is not the kind of decision that a court can review. Instead, the government explains, the Constitution gives Congress “virtually unlimited” discretion to carry out the census, and Congress has delegated that same kind of broad discretion to the Secretary of Commerce.

The challengers push back, noting that there is a general presumption that courts can review agencies’ actions, and that nothing in either the Census Act or the Administrative Procedure Act, the federal law governing review of actions by federal agencies, indicates that federal courts should not review the decisions that the secretary makes in carrying out the census. Indeed, the challengers observe, the Census Act – the law in which Congress delegated authority to conduct the census to the Secretary of Commerce – does not give the secretary complete discretion, but instead contains a variety of standards that courts can use to review the secretary’s actions.

Even if the decision to add the citizenship question were the kind of decision that courts could review, the government argues, courts should only overturn it if it was “arbitrary and capricious,” or lacking any rational explanation. That low bar is “easily passed” here, the government says. The question was routinely included in early versions of the census, and Ross outlined his reasons for deciding to reinstate the question in a detailed memorandum that specifically “acknowledged the very concerns” that the challengers have raised but ultimately concluded that “the value of more complete and accurate” information “outweighs such concerns.”

Because Ross had a good reason to bring back the citizenship question, the government contends, it doesn’t matter whether he might have had some other motivation for the decision, as the district court ruled. However, the government emphasized, there is in any event nothing to support “the district court’s extraordinary charge that the Secretary of Commerce lied to Congress, the judiciary, and the public” about his decision to restore the question, and the challengers did not bring forward any evidence that in making his decision, Ross was biased against minorities.

The challengers argue that Ross’ decision to add the citizenship question violated federal laws governing administrative agencies in several ways. First, they say, Ross based his decision on assurances that adding the question would not reduce response rates and that combining the citizenship answers with administrative records would result in more accurate data – but both of those assumptions are “flatly contradicted” by the record, which indicates that, if a citizenship question is included, millions of noncitizens and Hispanics will not return their questionnaires. This, they contend, makes the secretary’s decision the kind of “arbitrary and capricious” action that courts can and should overturn.

The decision to use the citizenship question, they continue, also violates two specific provisions of the federal law governing the census – a provision that requires the use of administrative records instead of adding new and direct questions on the census, and a provision that requires the secretary to propose the subjects of the census questions to Congress three years before the census takes place.

But “perhaps most egregiously,” the groups argue, the DOJ request for the data was simply a pretext: Ross had made the decision to include the citizenship question long before the voting-rights issue came up. The government’s argument “that agencies can make decisions for reasons that are completely different from those they publicly disclose,” the groups contend, “violates the transparency in decision making that is a hallmark purpose of the” Administrative Procedure Act, “and would prevent meaningful judicial review.”

The two sides spend relatively little time addressing the evidence issues that originally prompted the court to grant review. The challengers contend that the dispute over the evidence is, for all intents and purposes, no longer a live one now that the district court has reached its decision based only on the official administrative record. But if the Supreme Court decides to reach the issue, they add, it should uphold the district court’s discovery orders because they were necessary to reveal how the decision-making process actually unfolded, which should have been part of the record in the first place.

The government counters that when a court is reviewing a decision by a federal agency, it should only go outside the administrative record when there is a “strong showing of bad faith or improper behavior” by the decisionmaker – which there is not in this case.

Last month the Supreme Court expanded the scope of the case to include whether the decision to include the citizenship question violates the Constitution – specifically, the enumeration clause, which requires that an “actual Enumeration” of the population take place every 10 years to divide members of the House of Representatives among the states.

In this case, the district court in New York dismissed the challengers’ claims under the enumeration clause last year. The lower court cited the “nearly unbroken practice” of including a citizenship question on earlier versions of the census, along with the “longstanding historical practice of asking demographic questions generally” as evidence that the citizenship question “is not an impermissible exercise of the power granted by the Enumeration Clause to Congress.”

But in early March, a federal district court in California ruled that the addition of the citizenship question violates both federal administrative laws and the enumeration clause. Shortly after that decision, the federal government urged the Supreme Court to add the constitutional question to this case, to ensure that the justices can also weigh in on the issue before the June 2019 deadline to finalize the census questionnaire. Otherwise, the government warned, it could find itself in an impossible position: Even if the Supreme Court reversed the New York court’s decision and ruled in this case that the citizenship question does not violate federal administrative laws, other lower courts could still rely on the enumeration clause to block the government from including it. On March 15, the justices granted the government’s request.

The government argues that the citizenship question passes constitutional muster. It notes that questions about the makeup of the U.S. population “have a long tradition on the” census even if they are not “strictly necessary” to count the number of people in the United States.

The challengers disagree. They contend that the enumeration clause requires the Secretary of Commerce’s decisions about the census to be at least “reasonably related” to the goal of getting an accurate count of the total population. But here, they stress, we know that adding a citizenship question would have precisely the opposite effect, by leading to an undercount of the population.

Oral argument in the case is scheduled for April 23 at 10 a.m. Notably, it is the only case on the calendar that morning; the other cases already scheduled for argument that day were moved to the afternoon. The shift leaves the justices with the option to extend the argument beyond 60 minutes if they want to – which, given the significance of the case, seems entirely possible.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

The post Justices will review challenge to census citizenship question: In Plain English appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Facebook Charged With Housing Discrimination Over Targeted Ads

Facebook on the Skyline Again

One of the great features of Facebook, for advertisers, is the ability to target people based on their location and interests. Where Facebook gets into trouble, however, is when it lets certain advertisers restrict access to ads based on gender or race.

The social network has already been sued for allowing employers to exclude women and non-binary users from receiving certain job postings and accused of allowing advertisers to exclude specific groups from seeing advertisements based on “Ethnic Affinities.”

Now, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act by “encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination” in allowing companies to decide who can see certain housing ads.

Slamming the Door

“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”

Under the Fair Housing Act, it’s illegal to “make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.”

“Because of the way [Facebook] designed its advertising platform,” HUD claims, “ads for housing and housing-related services are shown to large audiences that are severely biased based on characteristics protected by the Act, such as audiences of tens of thousands of users that are nearly all men or nearly all women.”

According to the official charging document, Facebook allowed housing advertisers to limit their audience to users classified as “Christian” or “Childfree,” while blocking those whose attributes included “women in the workforce,” “moms of grade school kids,” “foreigners,” “Puerto Rico Islanders,” or people interested in “parenting,” “accessibility,” “service animal,” “Hijab Fashion,” or “Hispanic Culture.”

Opening a Window?

The charges caught the social media giant off guard, according to Facebook representative Joe Osborne. “We’re surprised by HUD’s decision, as we’ve been working with them to address their concerns and have taken significant steps to prevent ads discrimination,” Osborne told the Washington Post. “We’re disappointed by today’s developments, but we’ll continue working with civil rights experts on these issues.”

you think you’ve been discriminated against when it comes to housing, based on your sex, race, or gender identity, contact an experienced civil rights attorney for help.

Related Resources:

Good and Bad: Impact of Police Body-Worn Cameras is Limited

Examining the Pros and Cons of Police Bodycams

As police use of body-worn cameras increases rapidly, an examination of 70 studies found that while officers and citizens support the devices, they may not have had significant or consistent impact on officer behavior or on citizens’ views of the police.

The study from the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University (GMU) appears in Criminology & Public Policy, a journal of the American Society of Criminology.

“Expectations and concerns surrounding body-worn cameras among police leaders and citizens have not yet been realized by and large in the ways anticipated by each,” said GMU criminologist Cynthia Lum, who led the study.

“It’s likely that body-worn cameras alone will not be an easy panacea for improving police performance, accountability, and relationships with citizens.”

A survey by the Police Executive Research Forum published last year found that more than one-third of U.S. law enforcement agencies had some or all officers wearing body-worn cameras and another 50 percent had plans to do so.

The adoption of body-worn cameras increased quickly after highly publicized incidents like the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer in 2014 and the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody in 2015.

Many departments, especially smaller ones, are dropping or delaying their plans to buy cameras, finding it too expensive to store and manage the thousands of hours of footage, the Washington Post reported in January.

“The easy part is buying the body cameras and issuing them to the officers. They are not that expensive,” Jim Pasco of the National Fraternal Order of Police told the newspaper.

“But storing all the data that they collect — that cost is extraordinary. The smaller the department, the tougher it tends to be for them.”

GMU researchers reviewed 70 empirical studies of body-worn cameras that were published globally through last June.

The studies addressed the impact of body-worn cameras on officers’ behavior and on officers’ attitudes toward body-worn cameras, the devices’ impact on citizens’ behavior, and citizens’ and communities’ attitudes toward cameras.

Some studies considered the impact of body-worn cameras on criminal investigations and on law enforcement organizations.

In general, officers seem supportive of body-worn cameras, especially as they use them more. However, the devices have not produced dramatic changes in police behavior, the study found.

Among other findings:

  • Body-worn cameras seem to reduce complaints against officers . It is unclear how much these changes reflect citizens’ reporting behaviors or improvements in officers’ behavior. It is also unclear if the devices improve citizen satisfaction with police encounters, as might be expected if the cameras affected police behavior substantially.
  • Wearing body-worn cameras has not led to de-policing, sometimes known as a “Ferguson effect” in which officers pull back from some of their duties. Cameras do not seem to discourage police contacts or officer-initiated activities.
  • Private citizens generally support body-worn cameras, but it’s unclear that their use improves citizens’ views of police, their behaviors toward police officers, or  their relationships with police.

“To maximize the positive impacts of body-worn cameras, we suggest more attention to
the ways and contexts—organizational and community—in which the devices are most
beneficial or harmful,”says GMU criminologist Christopher Koper, who co-authored the study.

“Attention should also be paid to how the cameras can be used in police training, management, and internal investigations to improve police performance, accountability, and legitimacy in the community.”

Improving Accountability

The study’s authors say that “improving accountability for police misconduct has been a primary motivation for advocates of body-worn cameras. Prosecutors, however, rarely bring cases against the police, and it remains to be seen whether this will change much as a result” of the cameras.

The new study notes that body-worn cameras were adopted around the U.S. without the benefit of much research. It said that “unfortunately, researchers have consistently found that police technology may not lead to the outcomes sought, and often it has unintended consequences for police officers, their organizations, and citizens.”

Lum and Koper were assisted in the study by GMU doctoral students Megan Stoltz and J. Amber Scherer.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington Bureau Chief of The Crime Report

Sorting out a statute-of-limitations question in False Claims Act case

Argument analysis: Sorting out a thorny statute-of-limitations question in False Claims Act case

The Supreme Court engaged in a relatively lively argument today over a thorny issue of statutory interpretation under the False Claims Act: how two separate statute-of-limitations provisions apply to whistleblower, or “qui tam,” actions when the federal government has not intervened in a suit brought by a private party, or relator.

“These types of actions are exceptional in many ways,” Chief Justice John Roberts observed about the qui tam suits brought under the 1863 statute that was meant to battle rampant fraud by contractors during the Civil War.

Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. for petitioners (Art Lien)

Cochise Consultancy Inc. v. United States, ex rel. Hunt stems from a more recent period of U.S. military history — the deployment of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Whistleblower Billy Joe Hunt alleges that Cochise Consultancy and another defense contractor defrauded the federal government in a contract to clean up munitions left behind by Iraqi forces.

The FCA helps the federal government recover some $3 billion in fraudulent contracting expenses annually, with the government taking the lead in about one-quarter to one-third of cases, while private relators initiate the rest (with the possibility of the government stepping in at any point).

If the government intervenes in a civil action brought by a relator under the statute, the relator is generally entitled to between 15 percent and 25 percent of any monetary recovery. If the government declines to intervene and the relator successfully prosecutes the action, the relator receives between 25 percent and 30 percent of the recovery.

The case before the court centers on the FCA’s two statute of limitations provisions.

As explained in David Engstrom’s preview, the law’s original statute of limitations, Section 3731(b)(1), requires lawsuits to be filed within six years of the alleged fraud. In 1986, Congress added a second statute of limitations, Section 3731(b)(2), which permits suits up to three years after “the official of the United States charged with responsibility to act in the circumstances” learns the “facts material to the right of action,” but not more than 10 years after the alleged fraud. Both statutes of limitations apply to a “civil action under section 3730,” and “whichever occurs last” controls the case.

Hunt’s FCA suit was filed in 2013, more than six years after the alleged fraud, which occurred in 2006 and 2007. Hunt argues that his case qualifies for Section 3731(b)(2)’s alternative statute of limitations because he filed suit less than three years after the relevant “official of the United States” learned of the alleged fraud in 2010.

If the federal government had intervened in Hunt’s suit, the alternative statute of limitations plainly would have applied. But the government did not intervene. The district court dismissed the suit as untimely, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed, taking a position different from conflicting views in several other circuits. As Engstrom’s preview explained, the 11th Circuit held that relators can invoke Section 3731(b)(2) in suits in which the United States is not a party and that Section 3731(b)(2)’s three-year limitations period does not begin until the government learns of the alleged fraud, regardless of when the relator discovers it.

Arguing on behalf of the contractors today, lawyer Theodore Boutrous said that under the 11th Circuit’s approach, “a relator could conceal from the United States and could wait to sue for a decade and still take advantage of the principle of equitable tolling.”

According to Boutros, that approach conflicts with Graham County Soil & Water Conservation District v. United States, ex rel. Wilson, in which the Supreme Court held that the six-year statute of limitations did not apply to actions brought under an FCA provision that governs retaliation.

Graham “held that these provisions must be interpreted in context, not in isolation,” Boutrous said.

Boutrous quickly ran into difficulty. Justice Neil Gorsuch said:

I just put my cards on the table so you can play them as you wish. In Graham, we held that retaliation claims just simply aren’t covered by this provision at all, and they don’t qualify under that introductory language for either purposes of [Section 3731] (b)(1) or (b)(2). Here, you’re asking us to split the baby, as it were. And we normally don’t read the same language to mean two different things. And I believe that’s a problem you face that we did not face in Graham.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor told Boutrous that the provisions appear to give relators a longer statute of limitations than the government, but it may be important to look at the broader purpose of the FCA, which is “is to ensure that when some fraud has occurred against the U.S., that there is recovery for the United States.”

Boutrous observed that Hunt waited seven years to file his qui tam suit, “and one of the cases that creates the conflict that brings us here was eight or nine years. It is so contrary to the very essence of equitable tolling to allow someone to lie in the weeds and conceal from the United States.”

Roberts interrupted him to say that seems to be more of an “academic concern.”

The relators “know if they don’t move promptly, another relator might preempt them,” the chief justice said. “They know that if they don’t move promptly, the government itself might find out before they have a chance to file, and that would preempt their action as well. The theory of a relator just sort of, as you say, waiting in the weeds I think is not a realistic one.”

Boutrous repeated several times that statutes of limitations serve important purposes.

“Ten years in civil litigation, memories fade, people — witnesses die,” Boutrous said. “They disappear. And so the difference between six years and 10 years is a very long time.”

Justice Samuel Alito seemed most sympathetic to the contractors’ side.

“This is an interesting case because it really does create a statutory interpretation dilemma,” Alito said. “This is a terribly-drafted statute. It may serve wonderful purposes, but if I were to grade whoever drafted it—anyway, I’ll pass that.”

But “you have a real problem trying to fit this into the statutory text,” he told Boutrous.

Two attorneys argued that relators can rely on the longer statute of limitations even when the government declines to intervene in a case.

Earl Mayfield, representing Hunt, said “the absurdity here would be if the statute didn’t result in the United States obtaining more funds or if there was some anomalous result.”

Mayfield said that Congress has “built a statutory scheme that confines the very harms” that petitioners raise.

“Virtually all relators bring their suits … as soon as they get a lawyer who is able to identify the fraud and bring it forward, because otherwise … they’ll lose everything,” he said. “It would be like taking a lottery ticket and dropping it in the toilet. No one does that. And at the end of the day, every time a relator acts, no matter when he does it, whether it be year one, year five, or year ten, it is the government that ultimately benefits.”

Matthew Guarnieri, an assistant to the U.S. solicitor general, also argued in support of Hunt’s position.

“The key thing to keep in mind” with respect to the policy result, Guarnieri said, “is that a relator is permitted to sue to vindicate an interest of the United States. The United States is the injured party in all of these cases. The United States is a real party in interest regardless of whether or not it elects to intervene in the action, the majority of any recovery would go to the United States. And in that context, it made good sense that Congress chose to make the tolling rule in (b)(1) applicable based on the knowledge of the injured party; that is, the United States.”

Despite some persistent questioning from Alito, both Mayfield and Guarnieri apparently felt confident enough in their arguments to finish well before their time had expired.

***

Past case linked to in this post:

Graham Cty. Soil Water Con. v. U.S. ex Rel. Wilson, 545 U.S. 409 (2005)

[Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel on an amicus brief in support of the respondent in this case. The author of this post, however, is not affiliated with the firm.]

The post Argument analysis: Sorting out a thorny statute-of-limitations question in False Claims Act case appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

SCOTUS Round-Up 431

Monday round-up

This morning the Supreme Court begins its March sitting with two oral arguments. The first case is Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, an appeal by Republican legislators of a lower-court ruling that requires 11 state legislative districts to be redrawn to correct racial gerrymandering. Amy Howe had this blog’s preview, which was first published at Howe on the Court. Amanda Wong and Jared Ham preview the case at Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, and Subscript Law has a graphic explainer. For The Washington Post, Gregory Schneider reports that “[i]n agreeing to hear the appeal, the Supreme Court said it would first consider the issue of whether the House Republicans have legal standing to bring it,” which “hinges on whether the House leaders can show they would be harmed by the ruling.”

Today’s second argument is in Smith v. Berryhill, which asks whether dismissal as untimely of a Supplemental Security Income claimant’s request for review is a final decision subject to judicial review. Kathryn Moore previewed the case for this blog. Garion Liberti and Tayler Woelcke have Cornell’s preview.

On Friday, the Supreme Court added a constitutional question to Department of Commerce v. New York, a challenge to the Trump administration’s decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, instructing the parties to brief and argue whether the decision violates the enumeration clause. Amy Howe covers the order for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. At his eponymous blog, Lyle Denniston reports that “[t]he case up to now has been only a test of whether asking everyone in America about their citizenship would be a violation of two federal laws.” Additional coverage comes from Greg Stohr at Bloomberg, who reports that in another challenge to the government’s decision, a district-court judge recently ruled that “a citizenship question would lead to a less accurate count, violating the constitutional requirement of an ‘actual enumeration’ of the population every 10 years.”

For The Washington Post, Robert Barnes reports that “[w]hen the U.S. Supreme Court takes up Flowers v. Mississippi on Wednesday, it won’t be considering the evidence against [Mississippi death-row inmate Curtis Flowers:] Essentially, it will be Doug Evans’s prosecutorial tactics that are on trial, and whether he discriminated against African Americans in keeping them off the jury in [Flowers’] 2010 trial.” At Jurist, Chris Kemmitt weighs in on the case, urging the Supreme Court “to continue its long-standing commitment to the principle that racial prejudice has no place in jury selection—especially when the defendant’s life is on the line.”

Briefly:

  • For The New York Times, Adam Liptak writes that the challengers in on of next week’s two partisan-gerrymandering cases, Rucho v. Common Cause, a challenge to North Carolina’s congressional map, “will be making their arguments to a new audience, one that may not be as receptive as the court that included Justice Kennedy.”
  • At Law.com, Marcia Coyle reports that “[t]he Tenth Circuit Judicial Council on Friday denied 20 appeals of its earlier dismissal of misconduct complaints against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh stemming from his nomination and confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
  • At NPR, Nina Totenberg reviews Evan Thomas’ new biography of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, calling it “an unvarnished and psychologically intuitive look at the nation’s first female Supreme Court justice, and some of her contradictory characteristics.”
  • At Bloomberg Law, Kimberly Robinson explains that, even after the retirement of “swing” justice Anthony Kennedy, “there’s still potential for the court’s outnumbered liberals to cobble together majorities in certain types of cases, based on past votes and the newest justices’ histories.”
  • At The Hollywood Reporter, Eriq Gardner looks at a movie producer’s cert petition challenging “a conviction for defrauding Louisiana’s movie tax credit system [that] has now picked up support from 14 retired federal judges, nine criminal law professors and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.”

The post Monday round-up appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Justices add constitutional question to citizenship on the census case

Justices add constitutional question to citizenship case

The citizenship question on the census issue just hit center stage

On April 23, 2019 the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the challenge to the decision to reinstate a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. The justices had originally granted review to decide whether that decision violated federal laws governing administrative agencies, but today the justices announced that they will also consider whether the decision violates the Constitution.

The justices’ order adding the constitutional issue to the case came four days after U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco sent a letter to Scott Harris, the clerk of the Supreme Court. The letter informed Harris (and, by extension, the justices) that a federal district court in California had ruled that the addition of the citizenship question violates both federal administrative laws and the Constitution’s enumeration clause, which requires the “actual Enumeration” of the U.S. population every 10 years, to allow congressional representatives to be evenly divided among the states. The only way to finally resolve whether the federal government can bring back the citizenship question, the government stressed, is to have the justices take up the constitutional issue too: Otherwise, even if the Supreme Court were to agree with the federal government that the citizenship question does not violate federal administrative laws, lower courts could still rely on the enumeration clause to block the government from including it.

With the June 2019 deadline to finalize the census questionnaire looming, the government continued, the best course of action would be for the justices to add the constitutional issue to the case slated for oral argument on April 23, which hails from a federal district court in New York. That is exactly what the justices did today, giving the challengers – states and civil rights groups, led by New York – an extra 2000 words to address the issue in their briefs, which are due on April 1. The justices gave the federal government (which had already addressed the enumeration clause in its opening brief) an extra 1000 words in its reply brief.

This post was first published at Howe on the Court.

The post Justices add constitutional question to citizenship case appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Minnesota Archdiocese Reaches Historic $210 Million Settlement With Clergy Abuse Victims

OPINION: Disgusting. Richest church on the planet and one of the top three landowners on the planet**, but instead of ponying up some REAL compensation for the horrific damage their pedophile priests have done, they declare bankruptcy and skate out dirt-cheap after yet another group of their perverts destroyed the lives of 450 more innocent children.

While $210 million may SOUND like a lot, let’s give this some perspective. First, figure 40% will go immediately to the attorneys. With what’s left, if they divided it evenly among the 450 victims, that means the Catholic Church puts the value of an entire life starting at early childhood destroyed by their ubiquitous sexual predator priests at less than $280,000. Still a nice chunk of change, right? Not so fast.

Now think about this: If a victim only lives to the age of 75, before inflation or any mandatory deductions, that divides out to $3,733 per year. And that breaks down to just $72 per week, per person, to pay for all of the psychiatrists, therapy and counseling they will probably need for the rest of their lives. $72 a week.

What kind of mental healthcare do you get for $72 a week? About 2 large bottles of Jack Daniels or a nice bag of Meth, that’s what.

Richest church on the planet and their idea of “justice” is $72 a week for a shattered life!

And to add insult to injury, keep this little nugget in mind: NONE of  these pedophile priests are ever arrested, ever go on trial, ever go to prison or ever face criminal charges like every other child rapist does. In fact, many times they just get tossed right back into circulation at a new location where they can keep on raping kids and destroying more lives. All with the cheerful endorsement of the Catholic Church. Absolutely disgusting.

So here’s a question:

If it takes a village to raise a child, and EVERYBODY in the village has known that these sexual predator pedophile priests have been preying on children since, well, basically forever, and have done nothing except keep quiet, not talk about it and keep sending their kids off to be sexually abused some more, what does that say about EVERYBODY IN THE VILLAGE i.e. the Catholic congregations that continue even to this day to attend, protect and financially support the catholic church and their never-ending supply of sexual predator pedophile priests?

** The Church has been acquiring land since its inception in 313 A.D., and as of 2011, the Pope was one of the world’s top three largest landowners, behind King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Queen Elizabeth II. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to calculate exactly how much real estate the Catholic Church has because it’s protected as a religious institution but worldwide holdings total roughly 177 million acres. Source

Minnesota Archdiocese Reaches $210 Million Settlement With 450 Clergy Abuse Victims

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has reached a $210 million settlement agreement with 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse as part of a bankruptcy reorganization, officials announced Thursday.

At $210,290,724, it is estimated to be the second …

Original post

Twin Cities parishes step up to help pay clergy sex abuse settlement

To date, more than half of the roughly 100 parishes in the archdiocese with clergy sex abuse claims have made or pledged a contribution, said Finnegan, whose church is among them.

“Other parishes without [abuse] claims have done the same,” he said.

Original post

Judge denies request from individuals named in grand jury report into clergy sex abuse

which is only fair.” Previous grand jury reports into clergy sex abuse out of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown named dozens of priests and church officials in the findings.

Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Berks County state lawmaker …

Original post

Twin Cities parishes react to archdiocese’s $210 million settlement with abuse survivors

Father Dan Griffith took the last few minutes of Mass to fill everyone in about the landmark $210 million settlement between the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and 450 survivors of sexual abuse by priests.

The agreement, announced Thursday …

Original post

Judge rejects attempt to postpone a Pennsylvania grand jury report on child sex abuse by priests

Five years before that, the second of two grand juries investigating the Philadelphia Archdiocese concluded, uncovering unreported sexual abuse allegations against about 100 priests.

Krumenacker published decision came about three weeks after Harrisburg …

Original post

Catholic church in Minnesota to make second-largest US payout over sexual abuse

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has agreed to establish a $210 million trust fund for 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse, church officials announced Thursday.

The payout is believed to be the second highest by the Catholic church in the U.S …

Original post

More suits filed against Delbarton ifor priest sexual abuse

http://omgili.com/ri/jHIAmI4hxg8081ES3bebblkU_cZMoi643CMFZ_fF8HHyQiZIoAuZIDavVY4.wXU7pC17rNSayBVd5AD_ABdEE3UkQEC.kQNFDiMSsGoBkIjxFE6LOzj2KIrT5JPMgMGqhdTUVj_6T78F6bofQ1gRR3xucweBwqoO82zmVRyJXbtPt3McNQ78wMhvtFAhiSRq6UNwB2Niiy_kEudCToY2Qpf69dlmz9lxThree lawsuits were filed in Superior Court in Morristown on Tuesday, May 29 against St. Mary’s Abbey that runs the Delbarton School and the Order of St. Benedict of New Jersey in Morristown that runs St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Linden involving sexual abuse charges by former students against priests and lay personnel at the two schools.

In all there have been 11 suits filed recently, five involving Delbarton were settled in the past month and a half, according to the attorney for all 11 plaintiffs, Gregory Gianforcaro of Phillipsburg.

The three pending suits filed on May 29 and three other pending suits filed earlier involve both Delbarton and St.

Full story

Vatican denies protecting founder of Peruvian movement accused of abuse

Rome denied claims it had ‘hidden’ Luis Fernando Figari, founder of Sodalitium Christianae Vatican officials have denied protecting the founder of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Peru-based religious movement, who is accused of sexual, physical and psychological abuse of minor and young adult members of the group.

In a communique dated May 25 and released by the Peruvian bishops’ conference on June 1, the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life said it was responding to claims that it had “hidden” Luis Fernando Figari in Rome and was “protecting him.”

Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Guayaquil, Ecuador, announced that he is awaiting a final ruling from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the case of a priest who is accused of physical and sexual abuse of adolescents while he was affiliated with Sodalitium in that city.

The communique from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life responded to criticism of guidelines issued to Sodalitium more than a year ago in the case of Figari, who founded the movement in 1971.

In January 2017, the congregation informed Sodalitium’s superior general, Alessandro Moroni, that an investigation begun in 2015 determined that Figari had been authoritarian and had committed “acts against the Sixth Commandment,” including at least one case of sexual abuse involving a minor.

At that time, the congregation said that Figari should not be expelled from Sodalitium but should be ordered not to return to Peru except under serious circumstances and with written permission from the movement’s superior general.

Full story

$600K awarded in wrongful incarceration case

Texas mom convicted in foster son’s salt-poisoning death to get nearly $600G for wrongful jailing

ABC News reported that the Texas comptroller told Hannah Overton on Tuesday that she would receive a check for $573,333.33 for wrongful incarceration.

She also is qualified to receive insurance and education benefits, and next year she’ll get an annuity …

Read more

After 23 Years of Wrongful Imprisonment, Not One Dime

How much are 23 years of a person’s life worth?

Nothing, if those years were spent in a Kansas prison after a wrongful conviction.

Last October, Lamonte McIntyre was set free after he was exonerated of the double murder for which he was convicted in 1994.

Read more

Man gets nothing from state after 23-year wrongful imprisonment

The wrongful conviction of a teenager in Kansas has the state attorney reexamining the circumstances leading to his more than two decades in prison.

The case is also turning up possible problems with about a dozen other convictions.

Read more

 

Washington prison guard accused of sexual misconduct with inmate

Washington prison guard accused of sexual misconduct with inmate

A Cowlitz County corrections officer was arrested Wednesday for having sexual contact with a female inmate and giving her marijuana, police said.

The suspect, 50-year-old Kelly Burgin, is being held in the Clark County Jail and will be …

Read more

Lackawanna County takes action and fires 5 prison guards charged with abuse

Five of the six Lackawanna County Prison guards charged with sexually …

Read more

Transgender Woman Seeks Immediate Protection from IDOC Guards

Officers have sexually harassed her, threatened her, and subjected her to verbal and physical abuse.

Prison guards also have made it clear they will not protect her from prisoners who seek to do her harm: on one occasion, guards stood by and allowed a …

Read more

Six Lackawanna County Prison guards fired in wake of sex scandal

Six Lackawanna County Prison guards have been caught up in a sex scandal.

The arrests came after a grand jury investigation looking into the systemic sexual abuse and harassment of female inmates in Lackawanna …

Read more

‘Culture of cover-up:’ Warden forced to retire from prison where whistleblower says teen inmates abused

During her four years as the supervisor of a program for teen inmates jailed at the Clemens Unit in Brazoria, an adult prison, Dominique Mitchell repeatedly alleged abuse and neglect: A mentally ill teenager was taunted by guards who told him to kill himself. Read more

 

UPDATE: Discrimination Lawsuits Around The Country

Ex- Dolphins cheerleader claims virginity, religion discrimination in lawsuit

SARASOTA, Florida
A former Miami Dolphins cheerleader claims she faced discrimination after revealing she is a virgin and devout Christian.

Now she’s filing a discrimination complaint against the NFL with her Sarasota lawyer, Sara Blackwell.

Original story

Harvard admissions discrimination case could go to trial this summer

A lawsuit that claims Harvard caps the number of high achieving Asian-Americans it admits could go to trial in Boston as early as this summer, according to a new filing in the case.

The lawsuit, begun in 2014 by a conservative advocate who has long …

Full report

Fox News Settles Gender Discrimination Lawsuit With Former Reporter Diana Falzone

Fox News has settled a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by former reporter Diana Falzone, her lawyer told TheWrap Friday.

“We resolved Diana Falzone’s case against Fox News and she no longer works there,” said Nancy Erika Smith, who declined to …

Full report

Stores likely to face more lawsuits over ban on under-21 gun sales

But there’s no exception for firearms.

20-year-old sues Dick’s, Walmart over new gun policies “I am confident that Walmart and Dick’s are violating Oregon’s discrimination in public accommodations laws,” said Max Whittington, the lawyer who …

Full report

A woman is suing Whole Foods for racial and pregnancy discrimination, and her story is infuriating

Florida who is suing Whole Foods for discrimination and being unjustly fired.

Moore says she was treated unfairly after her pregnancy and because of her race.

According to the lawsuit, Moore started working at Whole Foods in December 2014.

In November 2016 … Full report

Attorney believes court will side with client in gun age discrimination case

MEDFORD, Ore. — The attorney representing a southern Oregon man in a discrimination lawsuit said he is confident the court will side with his client.

Tyler Watson, 20, filed lawsuits on March 5 against both Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart, after store …

Full report

WSU Christian group reinstated after suing for discrimination

“Wayne State’s attempt to tell InterVarsity how to define its faith and select its leaders is anti-religious discrimination,” the lawsuit reads in part.

The lawsuit also states, “Wayne State rightly allows fraternities to have only male leaders, female …

Full report

Michigan Man Sues Dick’s Over Gun Age Restriction Policy

A Michigan man has filed a lawsuit alleging that the decision by Dick’s Sporting Goods to bar sales of all guns to anyone under 21 years of age violates that state’s age discrimination laws.

Full report

Air Canada’s Flight Attendant Union Files Human Rights Complaint, Alleging Sexual, Racial Discrimination

Just this week, two former United Airlines flight attendants were awarded $800,000 in a discrimination suit.

Jennie Stroup and Rubin Lee—who had a combined 71 years at the company—were, despite stellar track records, fired in 2013 for watching a …

Full report

IT Staffing Company Pays $50,000 To Settle EEOC Age Discrimination Suit

Diverse Lynx, LLC, a Princeton, New Jersey-based IT staffing firm with offices in Princeton and Noida, India, will pay $50,000 and will undertake significant remedial measures to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal …

Full report

Albrechta: Federal courts split on sexual orientation discrimination

The court in Zarda’s case ultimately found that Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

This decision also has a political element.

Under President Barack Obama, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a ruling …

Full report