CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

February 2013 Archives

Pro Gay Marriage Supreme Court Briefs Filed by Businesses, Cities

National businesses and prominent cities filed two amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of same-sex marriage.

The groups urged the court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in U.S. v. Windsor and Proposition 8 in Hollingsworth v. Perry.

The businesses include financial institutions, medical centers, airlines, energy and high technology businesses, law and professional firms, retailers, restaurants, non-profit organizations, and several others. Both briefs state an interest for the businesses in their desires to recruit, retain, and secure a talented workforce, and state that the laws in question impinge upon those interests.

The issue of same sex marriage is also dividing the Republican Party as a group of more than 80 prominent members of the GOP reportedly have signed a separate amicus brief advocating for the legalization of gay marriage.

A member of the 80 Republicans has said it would be submitted to the United States Supreme Court this week. The deadline to submit briefs is Thursday.

There is No Right to Conceal a Firearm, 10th Cir. Rules

The 10th Circuit has ruled that permits allowing people to carry concealed weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment and gun control remain controversial issues in the U.S. A federal district court judge tossed out Gray Peterson’s 2011 lawsuit filed against Denver and Colorado’s Department of Public Safety. Peterson had claimed that being denied a concealed-weapons permit because he was not a Colorado resident violated his Second Amendment right to bear firearms.

The 10th Circuit on Friday ruled that carrying concealed firearms is not protected by the Second Amendment or the Privileges and Immunities Clause, nor is the right of people to keep and bear arms infringed upon by laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons. The Court held:

“Given that the concealed carrying of firearms has not been recognized as a right, and the fact that concealed carry was prohibited for resident and non-resident alike for much of our history, we cannot declare this activity sufficiently basic to the livelihood of the Nation.”

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with an American father on Tuesday in a strange international custody dispute over a girl who has been living outside the country under a lower court order.

The Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, ruled in favor of Chafin, who challenged the awarding of his daughter Eris to her mother, Lynne Chafin, a Scottish national.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed Jeffrey Chafin’s appeal, saying the issue was moot because the girl by then was already in Scotland and beyond its control.

The High Court disagreed.

Michigan Right-to-Work Law Unconstitutional: Union Lawsuit

Labor unions filed a federal lawsuit alleging that a Michigan law banning compulsory union membership for private sector employees is unconstitutional.

The right-to-work law, which goes into effect in late March, contains provisions that go “well beyond” the limits of federal law, said Andrew Nickelhoff, an attorney for the Michigan AFL-CIO, one of the unions that filed the lawsuit.

For example, the Michigan law allows for a $500 civil fine and the possibility of criminal liability for violators, which is not done under the National Labor Relations Act, Nickelhoff told Reuters.

The lawsuit is one of three that have been filed challenging Michigan’s right-to-work laws, which prompted protests of more than 12,000 unionized workers and supporters at the state Capitol in Lansing after it was enacted on December 11.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries are Illegal: Mich. Supreme Court

Medical marijuana users in Michigan aren’t allowed to buy pot from businesses or other patients, Michigan’s highest court recently ruled. The ruling may shutter most of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries.

In a 4-1 decision, the Michigan Supreme Court held that transfers of marijuana between two authorized medical marijuana patients are not legal. The high court upheld a 2011 state Court of Appeals ruling that said patient-to-patient sales of marijuana are illegal under the state’s medical marijuana law.

Marijuana dispensaries can be considered a “public nuisance,” according to the Supreme Court’s opinion. Enforcement since the appeals’ court decision has depended on the attitudes of local police and sheriff’s agencies.

Legal to Blacklist Suspected Illegal Immigrants in Alabama?

Should law enforcement be required to publish an immigrant “black list”?

A portion of Alabama’s latest immigration law requires state law enforcement to publish a list of immigrants who may be undocumented. HB 658, signed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley last May, was designed to “simplify and clarify” the state’s existing immigration law.

The ACLU criticized the immigrant “black list” which offers no mechanism for persons on the list to challenge their inclusion.

“This law violates privacy laws and basic constitutional rights, as well as conflicts with fundamental American values of fairness and equality,” said Justin Cox, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. He called the provision unconstitutional and called on Alabama to consider alternatives.

The ACLU lawsuit asks the court to issue a permanent injunction blocking the provision of the law that mandates the immigrant black list.

The U.S . can lawfully kill an American citizen overseas if it determines the target is a "senior, operational leader" of al-Qaeda or an associated group and poses an imminent threat to the country, according to a Justice Department document published by NBC News.

The document defines "imminent threat" expansively, saying it does not have to be based on intelligence about a specific attack since such actions are being "continually" planned by al-Qaeda.

"In this context," it says, "imminence must incorporate considerations of the relevant window of opportunity" as well as possible collateral damage to civilians. The document also provides a legal rationale behind the Obama administration's use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects.

Exactly what constitutes an "imminent" threat is not specifically defined, however.