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Legal News for July

JURIST – News – Legal News & Commentary
US appeals court sends fossil fuel climate crisis lawsuit back to state court
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:19:55 +0000

The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed a district court’s order refusing to remove a lawsuit against ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy from state to federal court on Tuesday. The lawsuit, originally filed in the District Court for the County of Boulder, Colorado in 2018, alleges that the two fossil-fuel companies are liable for the climate crisis, like “heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, and floods”, affecting the city and county of Boulder and the county of San Miguel.

In June of 2018, the defendant energy companies filed a notice of removal in an attempt to move the case to Federal court. In response, the plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the case to state court for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction. After the district court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to remand, the defendants appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

After a lengthy discussion on appellate jurisdiction, the court determined it could only review one of the defendants’ six bases for removal: federal officer jurisdiction. ExxonMobil asserted federal officer removal jurisdiction, which allows removal with private persons who “lawfully assist” federal officers “in the performance of their official [duties]”, because of its mining of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) under government contract. The appellate court concluded that ExxonMobil’s drilling of the OCS did not satisfy the “acting under” requirement for removal based on federal officer jurisdiction: “We agree with the district court’s determination that under the OCS leases “the government does not control the manner in which Defendants drill for oil and gas, or develop and produce the product.”

This is the second judicial loss for the fossil-fuel industry this week: a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to shut down pending an environmental impact review on Monday.

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Category: oil
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
Movement for Black Lives introduces proposed BREATHE Act
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 19:21:06 +0000

The Movement for Black Lives coalition unveiled proposed federal legislation Tuesday seeking to radically transform the US criminal justice system.

The proposals, collectively referred to as the BREATHE Act, follow protests against the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Elijah McClain, as well as countless other individuals who perished at the hands of police years ago. This legislation seeks to “divest our taxpayer dollars from brutal and discriminatory policing and invests in a new vision of public safety—a vision that answers the call to defund the police and allows all communities to finally BREATHE free.”

The BREATHE Act has four main goals—divert federal resources from jails and police, invest in other methods of community safety, allot funds to rebuilding communities, and hold law enforcement officials accountable for civil rights violations. The act seeks to accomplish its first goal by eliminating federal programs used to support the criminal justice system. The policing, prosecution, sentencing, and jailing practices used in the criminal justice system adversely impact black and brown communities. Through this first goal, the BREATHE Act seeks to reverse the deleterious effects these communities experience on a daily basis. The second goal aims to provide community-led approaches to public safety by defunding local police forces. The act seeks to implement its third goal by promoting educational judgment, which would provide equal funding among all public institutions, close youth detention centers and replace them with community-based, rehabilitation focused centers and remove both armed police and security guards and surveillance equipment from schools. The last goal seeks to prevent voter suppression and disenfranchisement, which currently affects black and brown communities at a greater rate than white communities.

The four goals articulated in the BREATHE act seek to fulfill the Movement for Black Lives’ mission, which is:

“We are rising up against all the ways that the criminal-legal system has harmed and failed to protect Black communities. The current moment requires a solution that fundamentally shifts how we envision community-care and invest in our society. History is clear that we cannot achieve genuine safety and liberation until we abandon police, prisons, and all punishment paradigms.”

Members of Congress have yet to comment on whether they will introduce the BREATHE Act.

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Category: Uncategorized
Federal appeals court overturns FDA tobacco warnings rule
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:12:08 +0000

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit overturned a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule on tobacco warnings on Tuesday, holding that the FDA did not adequately consider whether its regulation would have an impact on the number of smokers.

The case, Cigar Associations of America v. United States Food and Drug Administration, rose over the FDA’s promulgation of regulations that require “extensive health warnings on packaging and in advertising for cigars and pipe tobacco.” The FDA issued the rule to communicate health risks associated with smoking, but the DC Court stated that it “failed to consider how the warnings would likely affect the number of smokers.”

Taking into consideration whether a regulation will increase or decrease the number of smokers is a requirement under the Tobacco Control Act. The court drew particular attention to the fact that the FDA stated that “[r]eliable evidence on the impacts of warning labels . . . on the users of cigars [and] pipe tobacco . . . does not, to our knowledge, exist.”

The lower court had granted summary judgment to the FDA, and the DC Court reversed that ruling.

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Category: Tobacco Control Act
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