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Separating Families at the Border Violates Due Process, Judge Rules

It is "brutal," "offensive," and offends "fair play and decency" to take children from their mothers seeking asylum, a federal judge said.

And if that's not enough, it violates the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution. Judge Dana Sabraw minced no words in refusing the government's motion to dismiss a complaint by two immigrant mothers.

In Ms. L. v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the mothers said they were forcibly separated from their minor children for months. Now that the court has ruled, the government will have to answer for much longer.

Judge Blocks Collections Against Students Defrauded for Loans

Jamal Cornelius borrowed more than $25,000 to attend an information technology program, only to end up working at Taco Bell with a debt he couldn't afford to pay.

That's also how he ended up as a plaintiff in Manriquez v. DeVos. Cornelius and others sued to stop the Secretary of Education from collecting against some 60,000 students for loans they say are "worthless."

A federal judge granted them relief by issuing a preliminary injunction in the case. But they say there is no free lunch in America, not even at Taco Bell.

Ninth Circuit Upholds Campaign Finance Reform

In legal research, it is not usually a priority to look for unpublished decisions.

But sometimes they give insights to courts and the law that may be useful. In Montanans for Community Development v. Mangan, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals chose not to publish the case because it was not precedential.

The case caught the attention of major media, however, because campaign finance law is really important to some people -- like the President of the United States.

9th Circuit Stops SLAPP Shot at Planned Parenthood

The Center for Medical Progress released a video from inside Planned Parenthood that brought on a social maelstrom.

The video, which showed the abortion providers talking about selling fetal tissue, shocked legislators, the media and others. But privacy rights lawyers and a coalition of Planned Parenthood groups fought back.

In Planned Parenthood Federation of America v. Center for Medical Progress, the plaintiffs say the anti-abortion activists wrongfully captured the videos by posing as investigative journalists. Over objections by the defendants, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the case will go forward.

Apple v. Samsung Patent Case Back in Court

In law and in sports, sometimes the game is over long before the final score.

That's what is happening in Apple v. Samsung, a patent infringement case pending in a California federal court. Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a $399 million award to Apple and sent it back for further proceedings.

The high court having framed the issue, the trial court will have to bring it home. It's a big game for tech companies that are waiting to see how much Apple wins this time.

Special Prosecutor Will Oppose Arpaio in Pardon Case

President Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio last year, but his case is far from over.

Although Arpaio was pardoned for contempt of court, he is appealing because the trial judge refused to vacate the conviction. Judge Susan Bolton said the pardon spared him the punishment, but not the record.

In United States of America v. Arpaio, a divided U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has appointed a special prosecutor to oppose the former sheriff. The majority and dissenting opinions seem to agree on one thing, however: the government is broken.

Artists Return to Royalty Battle in 9th Circuit

Angrily, an artist shoved and yelled at the man who had bought his painting.

Robert Rauschenberg was upset because the buyer later sold it at auction for nearly 10,000 percent more than he paid. "I didn't work so hard for you to make that profit!" the artist famously declared.

The incident inspired the California Resale Royalties Act, which requires sellers to pay visual artists five percent of any profit from resale. The artists are suing for those payments in a case before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- again.

Court: Prior Salary Can't Justify Lower Pay for Women

A federal appeals court ruled that employers may not pay women less than men based on prior salaries when hiring for the same job.

The decision was a turnaround for the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which last year ruled that employers could consider salary history in hiring. But the full court stepped over that decision by a three-judge panel, and also reversed its own ruling in a related case more than 35 years ago.

It is a significant opinion, in part because it was penned by Judge Stephen Reinhardt before he died last month. The "liberal lion" spared no one in thrashing a history of unequal pay for women.

Ninth Circuit Burns Pot Growers in California Case

Talk about a buzz kill.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave the go-ahead to prosecute marijuana growers in California, where voters approved recreational pot nearly two years ago. It's been legal to use medical marijuana in the Golden State for more than a decade.

But that's not important right now, the appeals court said in United States of America v. Gilmore and a companion case. Federal law trumps state law in more ways than one.

Court: Government Must Protect Salmon, Steelhead

Migrating salmon will breathe easier this spring, thanks to a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed orders that government-operated dams release more water on the Columbia and Snake rivers to help endangered salmon and steelhead. It was a win for environmentalists who claim the dam operations have been killing off the species for years.

The decision in National Wildlife Federation v. National Marine Fisheries Service was also good news for the fish. At least until fishing season.