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Legal News for July

JURIST – News – Legal News & Commentary
California first state to sue Trump administration over new international student visa rule
Fri, 10 Jul 2020 20:45:10 +0000

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday that the state of California is filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s new rule that international students must leave the US if all of their classes are online. 

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) announced Monday that international students would not be allowed to remain in the US if they took only online classes in the fall.

In a press release, Becerra stated that the new rule “threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students” who are currently studying in the US under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). International students would be required to attend in-person classes or face deportation. Becerra also said that the rule would further burden the educational system, which is already “struggling” to withstand the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.

Becerra alleged that the new rule is arbitrary and capricious and that it violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The complaint also requests that international students not be required to attend in-person classes during COVID-19 or face penalties for completing the fall semester online.

In the statement California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley also said:

With this lawsuit, California is standing up for the 21,000 international students who attend our community colleges and standing up for our right to continue teaching and learning in a safe and responsible way during the pandemic. We will not sacrifice the benefit of the diversity of experiences and perspectives that international students bring to our colleges, nor will we sacrifice the safety of any student, faculty, or staff member at our 115 colleges.

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Category: Xavier Becerra
Ninth Circuit upholds Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears
Fri, 10 Jul 2020 21:51:09 +0000

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a Montana District Court decision reinstating Endangered Species Act protections for the grizzly bear population in the Yellowstone region.

In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declared grizzly bears a “distinct population segment” and attempted to remove the species from protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This decision was subsequently challenged, and the court held that further agency consideration was necessary to remove the species from the list. The court’s decision to remand resulted in a second delisting attempt of the species in 2017, which the district court also vacated.

The FWS appealed “those aspects of the remand that require the study of the effect of the delisting on the remaining, still listed, grizzly population in the coterminous 48 states, as well as further consideration of the threat of delisting to long term genetic diversity of the Yellowstone grizzly.”

In its decision handed down Wednesday, the court stated: “We affirm the district court in all respects, with the exception of the order requiring the FWS to conduct a ‘comprehensive review’ of the remnant grizzly population. As to that order, we remand for the district court to order further examination of the delisting’s effect on the remnant grizzly population consistent with this opinion.”

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Category: Yellowstone
US Supreme Court rules Catholic schools cannot be sued for employment discrimination
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 19:07:28 +0000

The Supreme Court announced its opinion in the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v Morrissey-Berru on Wednesday. The Court ruled in favor of the Catholic schools, shielding them from employment discrimination suits under the First Amendment’s “ministerial exception.”

The lawsuit concerned two women who filed for employment discrimination from two Californian Catholic schools after their contracts were terminated. The Catholic schools used the 2012 Supreme Court’s “ministerial exception” precedent to argue that they were protected from employment discrimination suits, in order to “protect religious freedoms.” The legal issue justices ruled on was whether the termination of Biel and Morrisey-Berru’s employment qualified as ministers under the 2012 rule.

The 7-2 ruling deciding in favor of the schools reiterated that federal employment discrimination law did not apply to teachers in religion at church-run schools. The decision thus concluded that “the constitutional language that protects religious freedom barred [employees] from suing their religious schools for employment discrimination.”

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Category: Supreme Court
Federal court denies motion to reconsider emptying of Dakota Access Pipeline
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 18:20:21 +0000

Judge James E. Boasberg, of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, denied an emergency motion by Dakota Access, LLC on Tuesday to stay his July 6 order directing the company to empty the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) within 30-days.

Since July 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes, along with several environmental groups, have challenged the validity of the federal permits which allowed the DAPL to carry oil under Lake Oahe, the main source of drinking water for the nearby tribes. Judge Boasberg’s July 6 opinion noted that the “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] when it granted an easement to Defendant-Intervenor Dakota Access, LLC to construct and operate a segment of that crude-oil pipeline running beneath the lake.” The violation occurred “because the Corps had failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] despite conditions that triggered such a requirement.” This failure resulted in the matter being remanded to the Corps back on June 14, 2017 for the preparation of an EIS and a separate briefing on the appropriate interim remedy.

However, over the years following the remand, the parties continued to battle over whether an EIS was required, each side moving for summary judgment. Ultimately, Judge Boasberg held in his July 6, 2020 opinion that the permits should be vacated pending the remand to the Corps. Under the test articulated in Allied-Signal, Inc. v. Director, Division of Taxation, the court reasoned that vacatur was the only appropriate remedy “given the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm [to nearby Tribes] each day the pipeline operates.”

Dakota Access filed a notice of appeal immediately following the July 6 order and according to the latest docket updates, “the Court will set a status hearing to discuss scheduling as soon as it receives Dakota Access’s motion for a stay pending appeal.”

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Category: South Dakota
Supreme Court upholds contraception exemptions to Affordable Care Act
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 18:13:14 +0000

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday released its opinions in Little Sisters of the Poor Saints Peter and Paul Home v. Pennsylvania. 

The Little Sisters case reversed the opinion of the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. It centered on the requirement under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 for employers to provide women with “preventive care and screenings.” The Health Resources and Services Administration provided a discretionary exemption for religious organizations allowing them to opt-out of providing coverage for contraceptives. A newer rule allowing religious organizations to opt-out of coverage “by self-certifying that they met certain criteria” to exclude contraceptive coverage. In this situation, the plan would include separate payments for contraceptive services without cost-sharing requirements.

Organizations were also permitted to be exempt if they had moral objections to providing contraceptive coverage or religious reasons for objecting to it. Pennsylvania sued in response, alleging that the Departments promulgating the rules did not abide by notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Third Circuit allowed a preliminary nationwide injunction against these rules, but the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Thomas, held that the rules were not issued with procedural defects, and the Departments were allowed to permit these exemptions. They thus reversed the Third Circuit ruling and remanded the case. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented.

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Category: US Supreme Court