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Appeals court sides with Trump in transgender military case
Court Line | 2019/01/04 07:36

A federal appeals court is siding with the Trump administration in a case about the Pentagon's policy of restricting military service by transgender people.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that a lower-court judge was wrong to block the Pentagon from implementing its preferred policy. The unsigned ruling will not allow the Pentagon to put in place its desired policy, however, because three other judges have entered orders blocking the administration in similar cases.

Military policy until a few years ago had barred service by transgender people. That changed under President Barack Obama, but President Donald Trump said he would reverse course, leading to lawsuits by transgender people.

The administration already has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue. The high court has not said whether it will.



Missouri death row inmate asks US Supreme Court to intervene
Court Line | 2019/01/01 08:19

A Missouri death row inmate who lost substantial brain tissue during a surgery plans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case, saying his planned execution by lethal injection could subject him to severe pain.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Thursday that Ernest Lee Johnson plans to argue that the loss of brain tissue could mean he has seizures and severe pain in reaction to Missouri’s execution drug.

Johnson was sentenced to death for killing three convenience store workers during a Columbia robbery in 1994.

Johnson’s appeal is moving through lower courts. But Johnson’s attorneys plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene because the high court is currently considering a similar case of another Missouri death row inmate with a rare medical condition that causes blood-filled tumors.

Both argue complications with their conditions and the execution drug could lead to cruel and unusual punishment.


Prominent Chinese rights lawyer tried in closed proceedings
Court Line | 2018/12/27 09:19

The trial of a prominent human rights lawyer began in northern China on Wednesday with about two dozen plainclothes officers stationed outside a courthouse and at least one supporter taken away by police.

Reporters, foreign diplomats and supporters were prevented from approaching the municipal court in Tianjin city where lawyer Wang Quanzhang was being tried. Wang's wife, Li Wenzu, was kept from attending the proceedings by security agents who had blocked the exit of her apartment complex since Tuesday.

Li told The Associated Press by phone Wednesday that Liu Weiguo, Wang's government-appointed lawyer, confirmed the trial had started. But he did not tell her whether it was now over or whether a verdict had been reached.

The court said in a statement on its website that it "lawfully decided not to make public" the trial hearings because the case involved state secrets. A decision will be announced at a future date, the court said.

Wang is among more than 200 lawyers and legal activists who were detained in a sweeping 2015 crackdown. A member of the Fengrui law firm, among the most recognized in the field broadly known in China as "rights defending," he was charged with subversion of state power in 2016. He has been held without access to his lawyers or family for more than three years.

Fengrui has pursued numerous sensitive cases and represented outspoken critics of the ruling Communist Party. Wang represented members of the Falun Gong meditation sect that the government has relentlessly suppressed since banning it as an "evil cult" in 1999. Group leaders have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms and ordinary followers locked up as alleged threats.


Cancer the latest health woe for resilient Justice Ginsburg
Court Line | 2018/12/25 04:18

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is resting in a New York hospital following surgery to remove two malignant growths in her left lung, the third time the Supreme Court’s oldest justice has been treated for cancer and her second stay in a hospital in two months.

Worries over Ginsburg’s health have been a constant of sorts for nearly 10 years, and for liberals, particularly in the last two. Ginsburg, the leader of the court’s liberal wing and known to her fans as the Notorious RBG, has achieved an iconic status rare for Supreme Court justices.

If she did step down, President Donald Trump would have another opportunity to move a conservative court even more to the right. “Wishing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a full and speedy recovery!” Trump tweeted after the court’s announcement Friday.

But Ginsburg has always bounced back before, flaunting her physical and mental fitness. After past health scares, she has resumed the exercise routine popularized in a book written by her personal trainer and captured in a Stephen Colbert video. Weeks after cracking three ribs in a fall at the Supreme Court in November, the 85-year-old Ginsburg was asking questions at high court arguments, speaking at a naturalization ceremony for new citizens and being interviewed at screenings of the new movie about her, “On the Basis of Sex.”

Ginsburg will remain in the hospital for a few days, the court said. She has never missed arguments in more than 25 years as a justice. The court next meets on Jan. 7.

While it’s hard to refer to good luck and cancer diagnoses in the same breath, this is the second time for Ginsburg that cancerous growths have been detected at an apparently early stage through unrelated medical tests.

The nodules on her lung were found during X-rays and other tests Ginsburg had after she fractured ribs in a fall in her Supreme Court office on Nov. 7, the court said. In 2009, routine follow-up screening after Ginsburg’s colorectal cancer 10 years earlier detected a lesion on her pancreas. Doctors operated and removed the growth they’d previously spotted, plus a smaller one they hadn’t seen before. The larger growth was benign, while the smaller one was malignant.



Dutch court upholds Amsterdam’s ban on new tourist stores
Court Line | 2018/12/19 18:48

The Netherlands’ highest administrative court has upheld an Amsterdam municipality ban on new stores in the city’s historic heart that sell goods specifically to tourists.

The Council of State ruling Wednesday is a victory for the Dutch capital’s attempts to rein in the negative effects of the huge number of visitors crowding its streets.

The court says that the ban on new tourist stores in downtown Amsterdam, which went into force in October 2017, doesn’t breach European Union rules.

The ban is aimed at halting the spread of stores selling products like mementos and cheese that cater almost exclusively to tourists. The municipality argues that they spoil the city for local residents.

Millions of tourists visit Amsterdam every year, leading to overcrowding of its narrow, cobbled streets and resident complaints.




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