CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog


Given that carrying and using a cell phone is pretty much a requirement of participation in modern society, and that the amount of data phone companies can collect via the towers our phones are constantly "pinging" for a signal, the location data of our phones can provide quite the window into our daily lives. And if law enforcement wants to peek through that window, they need a warrant according to the Supreme Court.

Today, the Court ruled that police must obtain a warrant to get a phone's location information from cell towers, in certain circumstances. But not every justice agreed with the majority. You can read all the Supreme Court's reasoning right here.

It has not been a good year for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, politically speaking. The laundry list of petty corruption within his office (lavish and illegal spending on offices, residences, supplies, and raises for staff) is so long at this point that CNN has to update it every couple weeks.

It also hasn't been a great year for the EPA, legally speaking. State attorneys general sued the EPA and Pruitt in April, accusing them of ignoring the administration's duty to control methane emissions. Their attempt to delay gas guzzler fines was blocked by a federal judge that same month. In May, 17 states and D.C. filed a lawsuit in response to the agency's promise to rollback vehicle emissions standards. And then last week three conservation and public-health groups sued Pruitt and the EPA, claiming they have failed to address serious air pollution in 17 cities. You can read the latest legal filing below.

The Supreme Court today ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Jack Phillips' First Amendment rights to the free exercise of religion in the way it dismissed his religious reasoning for denying service to a same-sex couple who requested a cake for their wedding.

While the Court was careful not to rule that wedding vendors and other business owners have a right to refuse service to same-sex couples, it did say the state agency reviewing the case "showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating [Phillips'] objection." Therefore, the finding that Phillips violated Colorado's anti-discrimination laws was invalidated.

You can read the Supreme Court's full opinion, and its reasoning, below.

Few people, let alone presidents, use Twitter quite like Donald Trump. And now that he is president, Trump's Twitter use has a way of ruffling a few (ahem) feathers. His account can also be a lightning rod for some unsavory or unwelcome tweets. While the rest of us on Twitter would just block other users whose tweets become annoying, argumentative, or even abusive, President Trump no longer has that luxury.

A federal judge has ruled that blocking Twitter users from seeing Trump's @realDonaldTrump account violates the First Amendment. Here's the judge's ruling:

Sports gambling isn't a federal crime. After all, why can you go to Vegas and place wagers on just about any game you like? But a federal law did allow federal authorities and sports leagues to sue states for "authorizing" sports betting, and block them from doing so.

This small distinction was the statute's undoing, as the Supreme Court repealed the law, leaving it up to the states to legalize or criminalize sports betting. You can read the Court's ruling below:

According to some, the potential for stem cell therapy to treat chronic diseases and serious medical conditions is limitless. According to California Stem Cell Treatment Center, its stem cell products could treat cancer, arthritis, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, Parkinson's disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes, just to name a few.

And, according to the Food and Drug Administration, California Stem Cell Treatment Center ("CSCTC") never got approval that those treatments were either safe or effective. So the FDA is now suing California Stem Cell and another clinic in Florida in an effort to block them from marketing unproven treatments to thousands of patients. You can see the California lawsuit below.

The State of California, along with 16 other states and the District of Columbia, has filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to review possible new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, rolling back vehicle emissions standards. While those rules have yet to be written, the suit is an opening salvo in yet another battle between the Trump administration and states over greenhouse gas rules. Last month, a different federal court blocked the EPA's attempt to delay gas guzzler fines for cars and trucks failing to meet emissions standards.

Here's a look at the latest lawsuit:

Former Essex County College professor Lisa Durden was defending the decision of Black Lives Matter to exclude white people from a Memorial Day Event to Fox News' Tucker Carlson last year when she said: "What I say to that is, 'Boo hoo hoo.' You white people are angry because you couldn't use your 'white privilege' card to get invited to the Black Lives Matter's all-black Memorial Day celebration."

Two days later she was told to cancel a class and suspended, and three weeks after her television appearance, she was fired. Durden is now suing the school and administrators, claiming it violated her free speech rights, created a hostile work environment, and breached her contract. Here's the lawsuit.

The New York Police Department settled another lawsuit involving widespread surveillance of Muslim communities in New York, New Jersey, and beyond. The spying program, which spanned a decade and targeted hundreds of individuals, businesses, and mosques, failed to produce a single, actionable lead in a criminal investigation.

It did, however, consist of several constitutional violations, which the NYPD has promised to correct under the settlement, as well as compensate victims monetarily. You can read the full settlement, along with the allegations, below.

Nearly four years after Orange County's comprehensive jailhouse snitch program came to light, the American Civil Liberties Union is suing in an attempt to finally end it. For decades, sheriff's department personnel have cooperated with the district attorney's office in placing well-groomed informants next to unsuspecting criminal defendants in an effort to extract incriminating information.

The only problem is that these efforts likely violated those defendants' constitutional rights, and those involved are accused of lying under oath to keep the entire program concealed. You can see the ACLU's lawsuit below.