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Supreme Court: Detainees Can't Sue Government for Jailing After 9/11

The U.S. Supreme Court said illegal aliens who were jailed after the Sept. 11 attacks cannot sue top government officials, but they may proceed against the jailer.

In Ziglar v. Abassi, the court acknowledged that the six named plaintiffs -- including five Muslims -- suffered for months in a Brooklyn jail before they were deported. The court said what happened to them was "tragic," but the principal defendants were not liable for damages.

"There is ... a balance to be struck, in situations like this one, between deterring constitutional violations and freeing high officials to make the lawful decisions necessary to protect the nation in times of great peril," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court. "The proper balance is one for the Congress, not the Judiciary, to undertake."

Supreme Court: Sex Offenders Have Free Speech Rights to Use Social Media

Absolving a sex offender for posting on Facebook, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that banned registered sex offenders from using social media.

In the unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court said the statute violated the First Amendment. It abridges "lawful speech as the means to suppress unlawful speech," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in Packingham v. North Carolina.

"A fundamental principle of the First Amendment is that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more," the Court said in affirming and remanding the widely reported case.

Law Can't Favor Women in Child's Citizenship Case, Supreme Court Rules

In a victory for gender equity but a hollow one for a man facing deportation, the U.S. Supreme Court said immigration laws unlawfully discriminated against men by requiring them to be citizens longer than women when they seek citizenship for their children.

"The gender line Congress drew is incompatible with the requirement that the government accord to all persons 'the equal protection of the laws,'" Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority in Sessions v. Morales-Santana.

The Immigration and Nationality Act had required an American man to be a resident for 10 years to confer citizenship on a child born later outside the United States. A woman, on the other hand, needed to be a resident for only one year.

The court said that law was unconstitutional. It did not help Luis Ramon Morales-Santana, however, whose father was an American.

Generics Win Brand-Name Drug Battle at Supreme Court

In a set-back to brand-name drug companies, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for a generic drug-manufacturer to sell its products after gaining approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

The court lifted an injunction against Sandoz, Inc., which markets a biologic drug to stimulate production of white blood cells. The company had been marketing Zarxio in the United States, until Amgen, Inc. obtained an injunction for alleged patent infringement in Sandoz v. Amgen.

However, the justices reversed and said injunctive relief was not available under the applicable federal law.

High Court Says No Joint and Several Liability in Forfeiture

The U.S. Supreme Court said two brothers were not jointly and severally liable under a forfeiture statute for conspiring to distribute products used to make methamphetamine.

In Honeycutt v. United States, the High Court turned back prosecutors' claims that both brothers owed $269,751 in the case -- even though one of them did not profit personally from the crimes. The justices said the Comprehensive Forfeiture Act, 21 U. S. C. sec. 853(a)(1), limits forfeiture to property flowing from the crime.

"Forfeiture pursuant to sec. 853(a)(1) is limited to property the defendant himself actually acquired as the result of the crime," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the unanimous panel.

Religious Hospitals Win Pension Dispute at Supreme Court

Church-affiliated hospitals are exempt from federal pension regulations, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

The unanimous Court said Congress established the law favoring church-affiliated organizations decades ago, exempting them from regulations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The Court rejected employees' arguments to narrow the church plan exemption, saying it would have led to a "must be wrong" outcome.

"We conclude that the hospitals have the better of the argument," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton.

After Trump's Travel Ban Reaches the Supreme Court, What's Next?

After being rebuffed by several courts that blocked his travel bans, President Trump may finally see his opponents in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump's lawyers filed a request for emergency relief in the High Court, saying it is a matter of national security. Justice Neil Gorsuch, newly appointed and the potential fifth conservative vote on the court, will have an opportunity to tip the scale in his favor.

But it is too early to tell how the court will handle the request. Observers say the court will likely agree to hear the case, but probably not rule on the travel ban until after a hearing in the fall.

Immigrant Can't Be Deported for Sex With Teen Girlfriend Under Federal Law

A 20-year-old immigrant who pleaded guilty to statutory rape of his 16-year-old girlfriend cannot be deported under federal law for sexual abuse of a minor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

In a unanimous ruling in Esquivel-Quintana v. Sessions, the High Court said that the age of consent for statutory rape is younger than 16 under federal law. The defendant was convicted under California law, which criminalizes consensual sex between an adult and anyone who is under 18.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court, said that difference doesn't work for deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

High Court Tosses Ninth Circuit's 'Provocation Rule' in Excessive Force Cases

In what the U.S. Supreme Court called a 'fundamental flaw' in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, the high court said the 'provocation rule' cannot be used to hold police liable for excessive force.

Reversing the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the unanimous court said that the circuit's "provocation rule" was a "novel and unsupported path to liability." When police had not used excessive force, the rule allowed courts to hold them liable anyway if they provoked victims to act in ways that brought a forceful response.

"The rule's fundamental flaw is that it uses another constitutional violation to manufacture an excessive force claim where one would not otherwise exist," Justice Samuel Alioto wrote for the court in County of Los Angeles v. Mendez.

Supreme Court Ruling Stymies Patent Trolls

In a blow to 'patent trolls,' the U.S. Supreme Court said venue for corporate defendants in patent litigation is where they are incorporated.

The decision threw a roadblock in the way of companies that buy patents just to demand royalties and sue. The high court said patent claims must be made in a defendant's home state -- not in some other jurisdiction.

As applied to domestic corporations, "residence" under the patent venue statute, 28 U.S.C. section1400(b) refers only to the state of incorporation, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court in TC Heartland v. Kraft.