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Organized labor case goes in front of Supreme Court
Opinions | 2018/03/03 21:59
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case that could deal a painful financial blow to organized labor.

All eyes will be on Justice Neil Gorsuch Monday when the court takes up a challenge to an Illinois law that allows unions representing government employees to collect fees from workers who choose not to join. The unions say the outcome could affect more than 5 million government workers in 24 states and the District of Columbia.

The court split 4-4 the last time it considered the issue in 2016. Gorsuch joined the court in April and has yet to weigh in on union fees. Organized labor is a big supporter of Democratic candidates and interests. Unions strongly opposed Gorsuch's nomination by President Donald Trump.

Illinois government employee Mark Janus says he has a constitutional right not to contribute anything to a union with which he disagrees. Janus and the conservative interests that back him contend that everything unions representing public employees do is political, including contract negotiations.

The Trump administration is supporting Janus in his effort to persuade the court to overturn its 1977 ruling allowing states to require fair share fees for government employees.

The unions argue that so-called fair share fees pay for collective bargaining and other work the union does on behalf of all employees, not just its members. People can't be compelled to contribute to unions' political activities.


Brazil court largely upholds law that some fear hurts Amazon
Headline News | 2018/03/03 21:58
Brazil's Supreme Court has batted down challenges to key parts of a law that environmentalists say has contributed to increasing deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

The 2012 law included an amnesty for illegal deforestation that occurred before July 2008, including releasing perpetrators from the obligation to replant areas in compensation. It also weakened protections for some preservation areas by expanding the sorts of activity allowed in them. It was backed by farming interests.

Wednesday's court ruling rejected most of the challenges to the law.

Brazil's non-governmental Socio-environmental Institute says researchers believe the law contributed to rising rates of Amazon deforestation starting in 2012 after years of decreases. However, the rate fell in 2017 as compared to 2016, which saw an exceptionally large swath of forest cut.




Court: Nike logo of Michael Jordan didn't violate copyright
Topics | 2018/03/02 21:58
A U.S. appeals court says an iconic Nike logo of a leaping Michael Jordan didn't violate the copyright of an earlier photograph of the basketball star.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that the logo was based on a photograph of Jordan by Nike that was inspired by a 1984 photo by Jacobus Rentmeester.

They both show Jordan leaping with his legs extended outward toward a basketball hoop with a ball above his head. But the court says the photos are unmistakably different in key elements.

Nike used its photo for the "Jumpman" logo — a silhouetted image of Jordan in the pose that the company has used to market billions of dollars of merchandise.

An email to a law firm representing Rentmeester wasn't immediately returned.


High court: Held immigrants can't get periodic bond hearings
Headline News | 2018/03/01 21:58
The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that immigrants the government has detained and is considering deporting aren't entitled by law to periodic bond hearings.

The case is a class-action lawsuit brought by immigrants who've spent long periods in custody. The group includes some people facing deportation because they've committed a crime and others who arrived at the border seeking asylum.

The San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had ruled for the immigrants, saying that under immigration law they had a right to periodic bond hearings. The court said the immigrants generally should get bond hearings after six months in detention, and then every six months if they continue to be held.

But the Supreme Court reversed that decision Tuesday and sided with the Trump administration, which had argued against the ruling, a position also taken by the Obama administration.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote for five justices that immigration law doesn't require periodic bond hearings. But the justices sent the case back to the appeals court to consider whether the case should continue as a class action and the immigrants' arguments that the provisions of immigration law they are challenging are unconstitutional.

But Justice Stephen Breyer, writing a dissenting opinion joined by two other liberal-leaning justices on the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said he would have read the provisions of immigration law to require hearings for people detained for a prolonged period of time.

"The bail questions before us are technical but at heart they are simple," Breyer wrote. "We need only recall the words of the Declaration of Independence, in particular its insistence that all men and women have 'certain unalienable Rights,' and that among them is the right to 'Liberty,'" he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case on behalf of the immigrants, had previously said that about 34,000 immigrants are being detained on any given day in the United States, and 90 percent of immigrants' cases are resolved within six months. But some cases take much longer.

In the case before the justices, Mexican immigrant Alejandro Rodriguez was detained for more than three years without a bond hearing. He was fighting deportation after being convicted of misdemeanor drug possession and joyriding, and was ultimately released and allowed to stay in the United States.


Court: US anti-discrimination law covers sexual orientation
Headline News | 2018/02/28 21:59
A New York federal appeals court says U.S. anti-discrimination law protects employees from being fired due to sexual orientation.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The decision stemmed from a rare meeting of the full appeals court, which decided to go against its precedents.

Three judges dissented. The ruling pertained to a skydiver instructor who said he was fired after telling a client he was gay.

The case led to two government agencies offering opposing views. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation. The Department of Justice had argued that it did not.

Donald Zarda was fired in 2010 from a skydiving job in Central Islip (EYEl-slihp), New York. He has since died.


Supreme Court declines to take up 'Dreamers' case for now
Law Center | 2018/02/26 21:59
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration's highly unusual bid to bypass a federals appeals court and get the justices to intervene in the fate of a program that protects hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation.

The decision affecting "Dreamers" means the case will almost certainly have to work its way through the lower courts before any Supreme Court ruling is possible. And because that could take weeks or months, Monday's decision also is likely to further reduce pressure on Congress to act quickly on the matter.

The ruling on the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, wasn't unexpected.

Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley acknowledged that the court "very rarely" hears a case before a lower appeals court has considered it, though he said the administration's view was "it was warranted" in this case.

O'Malley said the administration would continue to defend the Homeland Security Department's "lawful authority to wind down DACA in an orderly manner."

DACA has provided protection from deportation and work permits for about 700,000 young people who came to the U.S. as children and stayed illegally.

Last fall, Trump argued that Obama had exceeded his executive powers when he created the program. Trump gave lawmakers until March 5 to send him legislation to renew the program.

But in recent weeks, federal judges in San Francisco and New York have made Trump's deadline temporarily moot. They've issued injunctions ordering the Trump administration to keep DACA in place while courts consider legal challenges to Trump's termination of the program.



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