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Legal News for July

JURIST – News – Legal News & Commentary
US Supreme Court upholds order to block Keystone XL pipeline
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 17:26:33 +0000

The US Supreme Court stayed the Montana District Court’s vacatur and injunction of pipeline permits on Monday, except as applied to the Keystone XL pipeline. The Supreme Court did not issue a full explanation of its decision.

Previously, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the Trump Administration’s request to stay the Montana District Court’s decision. The Montana District Court revoked the use of Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12) for pipeline projects pending a completed environmental impact assessment on endangered species. The US Supreme Court’s stay now allows NWP 12 to go back into effect for most pipelines, except for the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Overall, the Keystone XL pipeline is delayed. TC Energy must obtain NWP 12 to build the pipeline across US rivers and streams and to discharge into waters of the US.

The Ninth Circuit must now make a final decision on the appeal.

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Category: scotus
US and China impose mutual visa restrictions over Tibet
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 21:02:37 +0000

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian announced Wednesday that China would impose visa restrictions on US personnel “behaving badly” on Tibet-related issues. The announcement followed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Tuesday announcement that visa restrictions on certain Chinese officials would be imposed under the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018, for the lack of “fair, transparent and reciprocal treatment” from the People’s Republic of China.

The Reciprocal Access Act seeks to deny access to the US for Chinese officials known to be involved in restricting visits to Tibet. The visa restrictions are applicable to an unspecified number of Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party officials determined to be “substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas”.

Pompeo’s announcement came a day after US Senate approval of a bill laying out economic sanctions against Chinese officials and Hong Kong police, as well as banks doing transactions with them.

Pompeo said that China continued systematically to obstruct travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas by US diplomats and other officials, journalists, and tourists, while Chinese officials and other citizens enjoy far greater access to the United States.

He concluded his statement by saying that the US will continue to work to advance the sustainable economic development, environmental conservation, and humanitarian conditions of Tibetan communities within China and abroad.

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Category: visa
HRW report: mass executions in Burkina Faso
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 21:22:46 +0000

According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released Wednesday, more than 180 bodies have been found on the outskirts of Djibo, a town in northern Burkina Faso.

Human Rights Watch reports that those buried were all men. Residents found the bodies in groups ranging from 3 to 20 on the outskirts of Djibo from November 2019 to June 2020.

The report said residents believed “the majority of the victims were ethnic Fulani or Peuhl men, identified by their clothing and physical features.” Furthermore, “many were found blindfolded and with bound hands, and had been shot.”

The military openly controls Djibo. Residents had to obtain authorization by the military to bury the dead. Although, many remain unburied as resident fear burying them will associate them with accused terrorists.

HRW is urging Burkina Faso authorities to investigate who turned Djibo into a “killing field.” Corinne Dufka, HRW’s Sahel director said, “Existing information points toward government security forces, so it’s critical to have impartial investigations, evidence properly gathered, and families informed about what happened to their loved ones.”

Further, HRW urges Burkina Faso to invite the UN or other neutral forensic experts to help preserve and analyze evidence at the scene. HRW additionally claims exhumations without experts can destroy evidence and compromise identification.

The New York Times claims the HRW report matches eyewitness accounts from their report on extrajudicial killings. It is unclear how many people have been killed in recent months, as Burkina Faso passed a law preventing journalists from reporting anything that could demoralize defense forces.

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Category: mass execution
Supreme Court denies Congress access to Trump finance records but rules Manhattan DA can pursue them
Thu, 09 Jul 2020 20:12:35 +0000

In two decisions issued on Thursday, the US Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot access US President Donald Trump’s financial records, but the Manhattan District Attorney (DA) can pursue the records.

In Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, the Supreme Court stated that the subpoenas issued by Congress for Trump’s financial records posed separation of powers concerns. Congressional committees wanted access to the records to guide legislative reform in areas concerning money laundering, terrorism, and foreign interference in United States elections. The Supreme Court stated that, when Congress seeks information that it needs to legislative action, citizens have a duty to cooperate. However, when Congress issues subpoenas for information from the president, there are “special concerns regarding the separation of powers.” The courts below did not adequately take this into account.

In Trump v. Vance, the case between Trump and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, the Supreme Court stated that the court established two hundred years ago that “no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding.” The court reaffirmed that principle, holding that the president is not absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers. The president is also not entitled to a heightened standard of need.

The court vacated the decision of the lower court in Trump v. Mazars USA LLP and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the opinion. In Trump v. Vance, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgement of the Court of Appeals, remanding the case for proceedings consistent with the court’s opinion. The case will be returned to the district court, where Trump can raise further arguments.

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Category: US Supreme Court
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