Supreme Court strengthens government’s power to jail immigrants who face deportation

The Supreme Court on Tuesday strengthened the Trump administration’s power to hold immigrants in jail for months or years as they fight deportation, ruling federal law gives these detainees no right to a bail hearing nor a chance to go free. In the 5-3 decision, the court’s majority found that federal law says immigrants who face deportation “shall be detained” while their cases are being considered. The court’s conservatives rejected the view of federal judges in California who said detained immigrants have a right to a bail hearing after six months in jail. The ruling is a setback, but not a final defeat, for immigrants’ rights activists in Los Angeles who brought a class-action suit on behalf of tens of thousands of non-citizens who are arrested and held for possible deportation. They include people who seek asylum because they fled persecution as well as people who have a lawful status here but were arrested because they had a crime on their records. Many of these immigrants eventually win their cases, but only after they have spent a year or more in jail. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided they should have a hearing after six months and a right to go free if they could show they were not a danger to the community or likely to flee. The case of Jennings vs. Rodriguez began in lower courts a decade ago, before Barack Obama was elected president. It was first argued at the high court in November 2016, a few weeks after Donald Trump won election. Trump’s campaign pledge to round up and deport more immigrants had raised the stakes in the case. At the end of the last term, the court said it would rehear the case in the current term, presumably to allow the newly arrived Justice Neil M. Gorsuch to cast a vote. Even after an unusually long time to reach a decision, the court issued only a partial ruling. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., speaking for the high court, said the federal immigration law does not call for bail Continue Reading

5 important stories you need to know from Thursday: Two caught in Portage with BB-style guns near school released by police, charges pending. Indiana Supreme Court rules Lake Michigan shoreline belongs to all Hoosiers.

LATEST: Two caught in Portage with BB-style guns near school released by police, charges pending PORTAGE — Two men target shooting with BB-style guns Thursday triggered a district-wide lockdown of the city's public and private schools, Portage police said.The two men were later apprehended near Fegely Middle School, but have been released from police custody.Police Chief Troy Williams said the men were brought back to the station and later released. The reports will be forwarded to the Porter County Prosecutor's office for potential charges. The names of the two men were not released pending the filing of formal charges."It is not a crime to walk on a street with a rifle, but it's not the norm," Williams said.Reports of men with weapons near the school triggered a flood of police response just after 7:30 a.m.Williams said the incident is a reminder of the public safety concern created by people who carry weapons near public school buildings, especially 24 hours after a mass school shooting in Florida."They appeared to have had no ill intentions, however one was arrested for false informing, and the other subject is being brought back to the Portage Police Department for further questioning," Williams said in a prepared statement."We have recovered and confiscated their Air Soft guns."The lockdown was later lifted, said Portage Township Schools Superintendent Amanda Alaniz."Today/tonight would be a good time to have a conversation about being aware of events in America and that our actions have consequences," Williams said.The incident came one day after a 19-year-old in Florida was accused of carrying out the deadliest school shooting in the country in five years. Wednesday's shooting left 17 dead and 14 wounded."We know this incident likely filled the community, school staff, parents and students with some anxiety, concern and maybe even a little fear," Williams said of the local disturbance."We also want you to know that your schools were on point with their Continue Reading

Supreme Court leaves California’s ban on suction-dredge mining alone

By Bob Egelko Published 1:34 pm, Monday, January 8, 2018 Photo: AL DRAGO, NYT Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 The Supreme Court building in Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, to California’s ban on suction-dredge mining for gold. (Al Drago/The New York Times) The Supreme Court building in Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, to California’s ban on suction-dredge mining for gold. (Al Drago/The New York Times) Photo: AL DRAGO, NYT Supreme Court leaves California’s ban on suction-dredge mining alone 1 / 1 Back to Gallery The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge Monday to California’s ban on suction-dredge mining for gold, a technique that extracts minerals from riverbeds while dumping residue that can include toxic mercury back into the environment. The high-pressure underwater vacuums, used mostly in mountain and foothill waterways, has been prohibited by the state since 2009. Brandon Rinehart, who holds a federal mining claim in the Plumas National Forest, argued in a lawsuit that the state was effectively prohibiting gold mining in the area and that federal law forbids state interference with mining on federal lands. LATEST SFGATE VIDEOS Now Playing: Now Playing Skier rescued at Mammoth Mountain after dangling upside down on chairlift sfgate The worst commutes in the Bay Area sfgate The most unusual things the TSA confiscated in 2017 sfgate Santa Clara cardboard factory fire sfgate Dozens participate in annual 'No Pants BART Ride' in San Francisco sfgate Dangers in National Parks sfgate Commuters sound off on the large pigeon population at Powell St. BART sfgate SFPD search for suspect wearing a Santa hat and armed with handgun in the Tenderloin Continue Reading

Trump administration sides with employers in Supreme Court labor case

By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration on Friday sided with employers in a Supreme Court case over the rights of workers to bring class action lawsuits against companies, court documents showed. Reversing a position staked out earlier by the Obama administration, which backed employees, the administration said in a court filing it would no longer defend the position of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that employment agreements requiring workers to waive their rights to bring class action claims are invalid. The waivers compel workers to individually arbitrate disputes with their employers rather than bring collective lawsuits with their co-workers. The NLRB, an independent agency in the federal government, said in letter to the court on Thursday that its own lawyer would represent the board in the employees' class action rights case. It is unusual for the government to change positions in a case already pending at the Supreme Court, and marks a sharp break from the administration of former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, which had originally pursued the case on behalf of the NLRB. The NLRB currently has a Democratic majority, isolating it politically from the Republican Trump administration. In January the Supreme Court agreed to review three lower court rulings, including one involving global professional services firm Ernst & Young, over the legality of the waivers. Employers have increasingly required workers to sign them as part of their arbitration agreements to guard against the rising tide of worker lawsuits seeking unpaid wages. In Friday's court filing, acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall said the Supreme Court should find that class action waivers are legal and enforceable under federal law. Workers that waive the right to collective litigation cannot "escape the consequences of that choice," he said. Companies say the waivers allow for speedier and more cost-effective resolution Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court ruling threatens massive talc litigation against J&J

By Nate Raymond (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson is seizing upon a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from Monday limiting where injury lawsuits can be filed to fight off claims it failed to warn women that talcum powder could cause ovarian cancer. New Jersey-based J&J has been battling a series of lawsuits over its talc-based products, including Johnson's Baby Powder, brought by around 5,950 women and their families. The company denies any link between talc and cancer. A fifth of the plaintiffs have cases pending in state court in St. Louis, where juries in four trials have hit J&J and a talc supplier with $307 million in verdicts. Those four cases and most of the others on the St. Louis docket involve out-of-state plaintiffs suing an out-of-state company. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in a case involving Bristol-Myers Squibb Co that state courts cannot hear claims against companies that are not based in the state when the alleged injuries did not occur there. The ruling immediately led a St. Louis judge at J&J's urging to declare a mistrial in the latest talc case, in which two of the three women at issue were from out of state. It also could imperil prior verdicts and cases that have yet to go to trial. "We believe the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Bristol-Myers Squibb matter requires reversal of the talc cases that are currently under appeal in St. Louis," J&J said in a statement. The question of where such lawsuits can be filed has been the subject of fierce debate. The business community has argued plaintiffs should not be allowed to shop around for the most favorable court to bring lawsuits, while injured parties claim corporations are trying to deny them access to justice. Along with talc cases, large-scale litigation alleging injuries from Bayer AG's Essure birth control device in Missouri and California and GlaxoSmithKline's antidepressant Paxil in California and Illinois are examples of other cases where Continue Reading

Fan injured by hot dog thrown by KC Royals mascot has case before Missouri Supreme Court

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - If it had been a foul ball or broken bat that struck John Coomer in the eye as he watched a Kansas City Royals game, it’s unlikely the courts would have forced the team to pay for the surgeries and suffering he’s endured. But because it was a hot dog thrown by the team mascot — behind the back, no less — he just may have a case. The Missouri Supreme Court is weighing whether the “baseball rule” — a legal standard that protects teams from being sued over fan injuries caused by events on the field, court or rink — should also apply to injuries caused by mascots or the other personnel that teams employ to engage fans and justify steep ticket prices. Because the case could set a legal precedent, it could change how teams in other cities and sports approach interacting with fans at their games. Coomer, of Overland Park, Kan., says he was injured at a September 2009 Royals game when the team’s lion mascot, Sluggerrr, threw a 4-ounce, foil-wrapped wiener into the stands that struck his eye. He had to have two surgeries — one to repair a detached retina and the other to remove a cataract that developed and implant an artificial lens. Coomer’s vision is worse now than before he was hurt and he has paid roughly $4,800 in medical costs, said his attorney, Robert Tormohlen. Coomer, 53, declined to discuss the case. His lawsuit seeks an award of “over $20,000” from the team, but the actual amount he is seeking is likely much greater. Tormohlen declined to discuss the actual amount. The Jackson County jurors who first heard the case two years ago sided with the Royals, saying Coomer was completely at fault for his injury because he wasn’t aware of what was going on around him. An appeals court overturned that decision in January, however, ruling that while being struck by a baseball is an inherent risk fans assume at games, being hit with a hotdog Continue Reading

Gay marriage: Which case will the Supreme Court choose?

WASHINGTON — It's getting so you can't tell the potential Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage without a scorecard.When the justices sit down for their first fall conference Sept. 29, they will consider the initial requests from states to review decisions striking down gay-marriage bans. Unless they quickly agree to hear one or more cases, those petitions won't be the last.Lawyers on both sides predict the justices will act soon to decide the issue by next June. That makes it likely they will choose from among the three cases pending. Some of the nation's premier Supreme Court advocates, sensing history in the making, have signed on to represent gay couples or state officials."The issue is moving so fast," says John Bursch, a former Michigan solicitor general defending Utah's gay-marriage ban. "People want an answer soon, and I think the court is going to want to give it to them."Here's the betting line:UTAH: As the first case decided by a federal district judge and an appeals court panel after the Supreme Court's rulings in June 2013 in favor of gay marriage, Herbert v. Kitchen is the front-runner.Arguments for: State officials back the ban, guaranteeing a vigorous defense. Former acting U.S. solicitor general Neal Katyal, who has argued 21 cases before the court, has joined the gay couples' legal team, along with Mary Bonauto, who won the nation's first same-sex marriage lawsuit in Massachusetts in 2003.More than 1,000 couples got married before the district court decision was stayed by the Supreme Court in January, leaving them in a marital limbo that the justices might feel compelled to resolve, having created it themselves.Among the plaintiffs are couples who want to marry; who were married before the district court ruling was blocked; and who want their Iowa marriage recognized in Utah. That covers all the bases. "This court's resolution of the question presented can mark the end of marriage litigation in all respects," the state's brief Continue Reading

Health-law subsidies at risk in Supreme Court case

More than 126,500 Arizona residents could lose health-insurance coverage if the U.S. Supreme Court this month rejects the federal government's method of helping people pay for health insurance.The case, King v. Burwell, examines whether Affordable Care Act subsidies that help offset monthly health insurance premiums are allowed only in marketplaces that are "established by the state."The challengers contend that the phrase, written into President Barack Obama's signature health-care overhaul, forbids subsidies in at least 34 states that use the health-care law's federal marketplace, monthly subsidies are at the heart of the health law's attempt to make insurance affordable for moderate– to middle–income families who purchase health coverage. If those subsidies go away, that would trigger a 132 percent average increase in the monthly health-insurance tab for Arizona residents enrolled in subsidized marketplace plans, according to Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit health foundation.Many would find no-subsidy plans too expensive and drop their coverage, experts say."Even with the subsidies, it's a stretch for some people," said Tom Zumtobel, CEO of Meritus, a non-profit health insurance cooperative. "We are talking about people for whom $10 to $20 a month matters. They just don't have the money for that."But the impact would be more dramatic than higher health-insurance bills for working-class Arizonans. Without subsidies, experts predict it would ripple through the individual health-insurance market as healthy people drop coverage rather than pay more costly insurance bills. That could send monthly premiums soaring in 2016 as the insurance pools become dominated by sicker people who use more prescription drugs and visit doctors more frequently — a phenomenon called the death spiral.The Urban Institute estimated that 8.2 million people nationwide would lose their health insurance as non-subsidized enrollees drop coverage, Continue Reading

Neil Gorsuch sails through Supreme Court confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON — Federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch appeared headed for eventual confirmation to the Supreme Court Wednesday as Democratic senators sought to influence him on issues ranging from arbitration to women's rights that may come before the justices in the future.What had been a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing a day earlier morphed into a sort of civics lesson on legal and legislative problems in which the senators and the nominee chatted about potential solutions.Thus it was that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., implored the 49-year-old Gorsuch not to stick rigidly to the words of a Constitution written more than two centuries ago. “For the life of me, I really don’t know -- when you’re there -- what you’re going to do with it," she said, already imagining Gorsuch on the high court.Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked whether Gorsuch would recuse himself as often on the Supreme Court as he has on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, rather than rule on cases in which he may have a conflict. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., urged Gorsuch to consider overruling the high court's 2010 Citizens United decision that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending on elections.“Judge Gorsuch, this is probably the last time you’ll pay attention to me,” Whitehouse said -- because he no longer argues cases before the Supreme Court.Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., engaged the judge in a lengthy debate about the Supreme Court's rulings on forced arbitration. At one point, he jovially apologized to Gorsuch for saying the Federal Arbitration Act was enacted in 1924, rather than 1925. But he also explained why Democrats were so concerned with Gorsuch's pending confirmation.“This is a job interview. You are applying for lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land," Franken said.“There’s so much at stake here," he said. "What we’re Continue Reading

‘Birther’ leader Orly Taitz ordered by Supreme Court to pay $20,000 fine for ‘frivolous’ lawsuit

Supreme Court tells “birther" leader to pay up A leader of the generally ridiculed movement which believes President Obama was not born in the United States must pay a $20,000 fine she was slapped with in 2009, the nation’s highest court ruled Monday. Orly Taitz, a dentist and lawyer in California, received the fine for a lawsuit she filed in Georgia on behalf of Army Capt. Connie Rhodes, who refused to be deployed to Iraq, arguing that the orders weren't legitimate since Obama is not eligible to be President. The judge in that case called the lawsuit "frivolous," and accused Taitz of wasting the court's time. "The Court finds that counsel's conduct was willful and not merely negligent," Judge Clay Land said in a statement in October. "It demonstrates bad faith on her part. As an attorney, she is deemed to have known better." The judge added: "Counsel's frivolous and sanctionable conduct wasted the defendant’s time and valuable judicial resources that could have been devoted to legitimate cases pending with the Court." Taitz was also accused by Land of not following the rules of the court and of failing "to make coherent legal arguments." She seemed more interested in wasting time with "press conference sound bites and speeches," he said. The 49-year-old vows she will continue to fight in order to avoid paying the fine, which she says she will be able to do thanks to donations from "birther" supporters. "I have the means to pay," she told Talking Points Memo on Monday. "Within a month, I will have the $20,000." Donations have been coming to her in small contributions, she said. "There's a lot of support," Taitz claimed. The "birther" leader vows to keep up the fight, however, comparing herself to persecuted anti-apartheid freedom fighter and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. "Mandela was in prison for years, he went against the regime, but ultimately he prevailed," Taitz said. In a Daily News online poll, Continue Reading