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Legal News Archive

Legal News Archive

Previous legal news is archived on this page by category. Links to other websites may no longer be valid.

Court decisions on Constitutional rights/issues:

Criminal Law

  • New U.S. Supreme Court decision, holding that a crime suspect has to assert that he wants to remain silent, in order to invoke that right to remain silent. After being advised by the police of his rights to an attorney and to remain silent, the suspect in this case just sat for a time without responding. He then finally answered some questions, without ever saying that he did not want to talk or answer questions. At his murder trial in Court, he tried to get his answers to those questions suppressed from being used as evidence. Berghuis, Warden v. Thompkins.
  • Obligation of attorney to advise non-citizen (whether here legally or illegally) clients about immigration consequences of criminal charges they face or plea bargains that are offered by the prosecution, see Padilla v. Kentucky, U.S. Supreme Court.

1st Amendment: Free Speech

  • Public university policies: On a close 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2010 that public universities can require student groups which seek official university club status to admit any and all students as members, regardless of the nature and purpose of the club. Here it was a Christian religious club that required members to adhere to certain religious beliefs and avoid unrepentant immoral sexual behavior. The California Hastings Law School had a policy that there can be no discrimination based on religion or sexual orientation, and claimed during the litigation that it intended an “all-comers” open policy for its school. The club asserted this impeded their right to assert a view-point, and to protect itself from take-over by students who disagreed with the group’s viewpoint. The Court left open a challenge later if this problem did arise, but held generally that discrimination on religious belief or sexual conduct of members was not allowed, while discrimination on other grounds (i.e. political party for the student Democratic and Republican party organizations, environmental beliefs for the student environmental concerns club, etc.) was OK. The dissenting opinion, starting on page 49 of the published report, does a good job setting out the concerns of the religious club here, as backed by other specific view-point groups who filed friend-of-the court briefs. Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.
  • Curious Theatre Company v. Colo. Dept. of Public Health and Environment, in the Colorado Supreme Court.
  • Elections:Ruling that the new Colorado constitutional provision originating from ballot initiative Amendment 54 in the 2008 elections, is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution. Amendment 54 attempted to address the question of campaign contributions by people who were currently contracting with the government, whether business or labor union, and who arguably stood to benefit by re-election of public officials in the State or local government body with whom the campaign donor was contracting. The amendment language was found to be too broad, covering extended family members of the donor, etc., among other grounds to invalidate the amendment. See Dallman v. Ritter, Colorado Supreme Court.

Laws in the news:

New Arizona legislation penalizing illegal entry into the U.S., providing for State and local law enforcement to take a larger role in apprehending illegal immigrants, and further penalizing employers for the hiring of foreign citizens not authorized to work in the U.S. While the immigration issue has been simmering in Arizona for several years, the recent killing of an Arizona rancher on his ranch near the Mexican border, apparently by someone entering the U.S. illegally, and a dramatic rise in kidnapping and other crimes in Arizona which are believed to be related to cross-border drug crimes, provided heavy impetus for the passing of this legislation. Constitutional challenges to the law are pending.

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