On Tuesday, a federal judge in Kentucky struck down part of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, requiring state officials to recognize marriages performed legally in other states.
In one quote, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II explained why “tradition” was not a good enough argument for a conservative state like Kentucky to outlaw same-sex marriages:
“For years, many states had a tradition of segregation and even articulated reasons why it created a better, more stable society. Similarly, many states deprived women of their equal rights under the law, believing this to properly preserve our traditions.
By DARA KAM
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
Published: December 31, 2013 | Updated: December 31, 2013 at 04:38 PM
TALLAHASSEE — A federal judge ruled today that a 2011 law requiring welfare applicants to undergo drug tests is unconstitutional, striking a blow to Gov. Rick Scott’s administration over the controversial tests.
Scott quickly said he would appeal U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven’s ruling, the latest defeat for the governor in a drawn-out battle over drug testing some of the state’s poorest residents.
Scriven ruled that the urine tests violate the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.
In a harshly worded, 30-page opinion, Scriven concluded that “there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing at issue in this case could be constitutionally applied.”
SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge on Friday struck down Utah’s Amendment 3 — which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman — finding that it violates rights to due process and equal protection as set forth in the 14th Amendment.
Within hours, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill confirmed that, in light of the ruling, he saw no reason to prohibit Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
A Federal Judge in Portland Oregon ruled yesterday that air travel is not a “mere convenience” as the government maintains, but a constitutional right that cannot be taken away without due process. The decision puts in jeopardy the use of the current ‘No Fly’ list because the government does not even inform citizens their names are being added, much less give them an opportunity to contest their inclusion. Judge Anna J. Brown ruled:
“Although there are perhaps viable alternatives to flying for domestic travel within the continental United States such as traveling by car or train, the Court disagrees with Defendants’ contention that international air travel is a mere convenience in light of the realities of our modern world. Such an argument ignores the numerous reasons an individual may have for wanting or needing to travel overseas quickly such as for the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, a business opportunity, or a religious obligation… the Court concludes on this record that Plaintiffs have a constitutionally-protected liberty interest in traveling internationally by air, which is affected by being placed on the list.”
The lawsuit was brought by the ACLU on behalf of thirteen people, including four former servicemen, whose names appear on the government’s No Fly List, though they say they have no idea why. News of the favorable decision was posted on the ACLU website last evening.
Gov. Rick Perry slammed the move. “Once again, the Obama Administration is demonstrating utter contempt for our country’s system of checks and balances, not to mention the U.S. Constitution,” he said in a statement. “This end-run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process.”
Lance Armstrong is urging a federal judge to dismiss the Justice Department’s False Claims Act lawsuit against him, arguing that the claims are barred by the statute of limitations.
In the filing Tuesday, lawyers for the disgraced Austin cyclist also argue that the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored Armstrong’s team, got exactly what it bargained for — that is, tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity.
The Justice Department this year joined former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis’ whistle-blower lawsuit against Armstrong.
It [Obama Administration] said storing a large volume of information is necessary to ensure that a much smaller subset of terrorist-related phone records are preserved, since phone companies store data for a limited period. The letter added that aggregating the data is necessary as well to identify records that involve different telecommunications networks.
The U.S. government has defended its use of a phone-tracking program that collects the telephone records of millions of Americans in a letter to a federal judge, saying it is a program monitored by all three branches of government that is necessary to learn the contacts of known or suspected terrorists and thwart terrorism.
The letter sent Thursday by assistant U.S. attorneys in Manhattan [Obama Appointees] said the “highly sensitive and, in many respects, still classified intelligence-collection program” required the collection and storage of a large volume of information about unrelated communications to fight terrorism.
It said that under the program, the FBI obtains authorization from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [Kangaroo Court with Chief Justice Roberts pulling the strings] to collect data from certain telecommunications service providers.
“The program has contributed to the disruption of multiple potential terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad,” according to the letter.
Democtratic Senators Wyden and Udall disagree about how well it works. Wyden is on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee.
Thanks to disclosures made by Edward Snowden, Americans have learned that their email records are not necessarily safe from the National Security Agency—but a new ruling shows that they’re not safe from big oil companies, either.
Last month, a federal court granted Chevron access to nine years of email metadata—which includes names, time stamps, and detailed location data and login info, but not content—belonging to activists, lawyers, and journalists who criticized the company for drilling in Ecuador and leaving behind a trail of toxic sludge and leaky pipelines. Since 1993, when the litigation began, Chevron has lost multiple appeals and has been ordered to pay plaintiffs from native communities about $19 billion to cover the cost of environmental damage. Chevron alleges that it is the victim of a mass extortion conspiracy, which is why the company is asking Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, which owns Hotmail, to cough up the email data. When Lewis Kaplan, a federal judge in New York, granted the Microsoft subpoena last month, he ruled it didn’t violate the First Amendment because Americans weren’t among the people targeted.
A federal judge ruled on Monday that Ohio must recognize the out-of-state marriage of John Arthur and James Obergefell, though the limited ruling will only apply to Arthur and Obergefell’s union. Still, the court’s decision is being celebrated by gay rights supporters as a positive sign for marriage equality in the state.
A former federal judge who granted government surveillance requests has broken ranks to criticise the system of secret courts as unfit for purpose in the wake of recent revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
James Robertson, who retired from the District of Columbia circuit in 2010, was one of a select group of judges who presided over the so-called Fisa courts, set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which are intended to provide legal oversight and protect against unnecessary privacy intrusions.
But he says he was shocked to hear of recent changes to allow more sweeping authorisations of programmes such as the gathering of US phone records, and called for a reform of the system to allow counter-arguments to be heard.
While President Obama and his intelligence advisers have spoken of the surveillance programs leaked by Mr. Snowden mainly in terms of combating terrorism, the court has also interpreted the law in ways that extend into other national security concerns. In one recent case, for instance, intelligence officials were able to get access to an e-mail attachment sent within the United States because they said they were worried that the e-mail contained a schematic drawing or a diagram possibly connected to Iran’s nuclear program.
In the past, that probably would have required a court warrant because the suspicious e-mail involved American communications. In this case, however, a little-noticed provision in a 2008 law, expanding the definition of “foreign intelligence” to include “weapons of mass destruction,” was used to justify access to the message.
Later on Tuesday afternoon, the workshop also heard from a number of other experts who called for the decisions of the Fisa courts to be made public.
James Baker, a Department of Justice lawyer who has represented the government in surveillance requests before the Fisa court, said that an unclassified summary of its findings could be produced fairly easily .
The Obama administration, in a new court filing, urged the nation’s surveillance court to throw out a request by civil liberties groups to disclose its secret rulings about the scope and legality of the Patriot Act.
In the filing, embedded below, the Obama Administration Justice Department quotes with approval the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s own view of its power, expressed in 2007, that “[t]he FISC is a unique court … [o]ther courts operate primarily in public, with secrecy the exception; the FISC operates primarily in secret, with public access the exception.”
The filing, which comes in response to a June lawsuit from the ACLU, coincides with a critical profile by the New York Times that claims the FISA court has “become almost a parallel Supreme Court” with its own “secret body of law” that bolsters the powers of the NSA.