US Legal Issues

US president-elect says flag burners should be stripped of their citizenship

By John Burton, 30 November 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s tweet that people who burn the American flag in protest should be stripped of their citizenship is a repudiation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Rolling Stone, journalist found responsible for defamation in University of Virginia rape story

By David Walsh, 8 November 2016

“A Rape on Campus” was a lengthy and sensationalistic piece, focused on the alleged horrific assault of a then-18-year-old female student, “Jackie,” at a fraternity house in September 2012.

Supreme Court overturns bribery conviction for former Virginia governor

By Tom Carter, 4 July 2016

The unanimous decision is a green light for the ever-more direct domination of corporate and financial interests over the American political system.

The right-wing campaign over the Stanford University sexual assault case

By Tom Carter, 11 June 2016

The media and political campaign that is unfolding in America around the sentencing of Stanford University freshman Brock Allen Turner is fundamentally reactionary.

US Supreme Court avoids ruling on corporate religious objections to birth control

By Tom Carter, 23 May 2016

The Zubik case highlights the unprincipled prostration of the entire political establishment before the protracted assault on the separation of church and state.

Missouri carries out first execution of 2016, Alabama execution stayed

By Kate Randall, 13 May 2016

Earl Forrest died by lethal injection Wednesday in Missouri, while Vernon Madison received a stay just hours before his scheduled execution on Thursday in Alabama.

Political prisoner Gary Tyler freed from Angola prison after 41 years

By Helen Hayes, 2 May 2016

Gary Tyler’s frame-up and decades-long incarceration expose the brutal class character of the American judicial system and its vast prison complex.

Federal appeals court dismisses drone lawsuit

By Tom Hall, 23 April 2016

The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union sought to compel the CIA to release information on its secret drone warfare program.

US Supreme Court hears arguments on corporate “religious right” to bar birth control to employees

By Tom Carter, 11 April 2016

The cases are based on a tendentious conception of “religious liberty,” as well as the pseudo-legal doctrine of supposed constitutional “rights” for corporations.

Supreme Court ruling favors unions in agency shop dues case

By Tom Carter, 30 March 2016

The hard-fought Friedrichs case reflects ongoing divisions within the American ruling class over the best means of exploiting workers and suppressing their struggles.

US federal appeals court ruling could speed up executions

By Kate Randall, 29 March 2016

The Ninth US Circuit Court’s ruling comes as the number of death row exonerees continues to grow, including 156 individuals since 1973.

Obama high court pick Merrick Garland: A record of support for police powers

By Tom Carter, 28 March 2016

Garland’s judicial career parallels the rightward trajectory of the American judiciary over the past two decades, and especially since the launch of the “war on terror.”

Scalia’s final junket linked to aristocratic hunting society

By Tom Carter, 29 February 2016

Supreme Court Justice Scalia, who vigorously opposed the principle of separation of church and state, spent his final hours with wealthy members of an aristocratic Catholic order.

As official veneration of right-wing justice continues

Divisions emerge over appointment of Scalia’s successor to US Supreme Court

By Tom Carter, 22 February 2016

While the American political establishment and media have united to present Scalia as an “extraordinary legal figure,” the appointment of his replacement is generating conflict.

The glorification of Antonin Scalia

By Tom Carter, 16 February 2016

The sickening tributes across the official US political and media spectrum to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly on Saturday at the age of 79, are a barometer of the putrefaction of American democracy.

The legacy of Antonin Scalia

By Tom Carter, 15 February 2016

Scalia has personified the rightward march of the American political establishment over the past three decades, as it jettisoned what remained of its commitment to democratic institutions.

US Supreme Court threatens to limit class actions and access to jury trials

By John Andrews, 14 November 2015

The Supreme Court is considering a case that could overturn almost seven decades of law by throwing out a verdict against a large corporation found to have denied workers required wages.

Chelsea Manning found guilty of violating prison rules

By Kevin Martinez, 21 August 2015

The imprisoned whistleblower was sentenced to 21 days of restrictions but was spared indefinite solitary confinement following public outrage over the trial.

US police expanding use of potentially warrantless cellphone trackers

By Josh Varlin, 20 August 2015

New documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal reveal that law enforcement agencies are expanding their use of cellphone-tracking devices.

Supreme Court invalidates federal air pollution rules for power plants

By John Burton, 30 June 2015

The Supreme Court struck down Environmental Protection Agency regulations that would have sharply reduced airborne toxins from oil- and coal-fueled power plants.

US Supreme Court overturns death row appeal

By Tom Carter, 24 June 2015

The Supreme Court decided it was “harmless” for Hector Ayala’s attorney to be excluded from hearings that eliminated all of the black and Hispanic jurors from the jury pool.

Special prosecutor brings reduced charges against Albuquerque cops who killed James Boyd

By D. Lencho, 24 June 2015

The reduced charge of second degree murder gives the judge discretion to suspend the sentence if a conviction is reached.

US deported 260,000 for drug offenses over five-year period

By Tom Hall, 18 June 2015

Even legal immigrants spend months or years in prison without bail awaiting deportation for minor drug offenses, according to a report issued this week by Human Rights Watch.

US Supreme Court upholds arbitrary executive power in immigration visa case

By Tom Carter, 16 June 2015

The Supreme Court endorsed the Obama administration’s assertion of the arbitrary power to deny immigration visas based on vague invocations of the so-called “war on terror.”

The Magna Carta and democratic rights

By Richard Hoffman and Mike Head, 15 June 2015

Today, 800 years after the Magna Carta, the international working class confronts an historic assault on its fundamental democratic rights.

US Court of Appeals finds NSA phone data collection is illegal

By Ed Hightower, 8 May 2015

Avoiding the vast constitutional issues at stake, the court essentially called on Congress to provide a more robust pseudo-legal basis for unlimited warrantless spying.

ACLU sues White House over drone “kill list”

By Eric London, 17 March 2015

A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenges the secrecy of the Obama administration’s “targeted killing” drone assassination program.

Lawsuit challenges use of pepper spray in Birmingham, Alabama schools

By Shelley Connor, 2 February 2015

Police in Birmingham City Schools used pepper spray on students 300 times between 2006 and 2011, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s lawsuit.

US federal appeals court upholds state bans on same-sex marriages

By John Andrews, 11 November 2014

In a reactionary ruling, a federal court of appeals has struck down lower court decisions upholding same-sex marriages, setting the stage for a US Supreme Court ruling.

US Supreme Court to hear challenge to Obamacare subsidies

By Kate Randall, 10 November 2014

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear King v. Burwell comes just days before the beginning of open enrollment for the second year of the Affordable Care Act.

Pennsylvania boy, 10, charged as adult in murder case

By Tom Eley, 16 October 2014

A 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy has been charged as an adult and jailed for the death of a 90-year-old woman.

US Supreme Court Justice Scalia attacks separation of church and state

By Tom Carter, 6 October 2014

In a speech Wednesday, Scalia declared that the Constitution does not prohibit the government from favoring “religion over nonreligion,” calling for a fight against “secularists” who contend otherwise.

2004 Bush administration memos advocate unlimited presidential powers

By Tom Carter, 9 September 2014

Recently declassified documents detail the early stages of the ongoing effort to create the pseudo-legal framework for a police state in America.

Court rules BP acted with “gross negligence” in 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill

By Tom Hall, 8 September 2014

The oil giant’s potential fine of $18 billion is less than its more-than $23 billion in profits last year.

US appeals court rules defendant has no right to secret surveillance documents

By Gabriel Black, 19 June 2014

A federal appeals court overturned a previous ruling allowing a terrorism defendant’s lawyer access to FISA material.

Supreme Court issues unanimous decision defending police in fatal shooting

By Tom Carter, 29 May 2014

The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled Tuesday in favor of three Arkansas police officers who fired 15 bullets at a fleeing motorist and his passenger, killing both.

Supreme Court stops Florida execution, requiring more evidence to assess mental competency

By Gabriel Black, 29 May 2014

The Supreme Court stopped the execution of a man from Florida on the basis that the judge needed to allow more evidence to assess his mental competency and that an IQ test was not always enough.

Obama nominates author of drone memo for appellate court judge

By Ed Hightower, 8 May 2014

President Barack Obama has nominated David Barron, the author of pseudo-legal memos that authorize the drone assassination of US citizens, as a judge for a top appellate court.

Supreme Court reinstates Michigan ban on affirmative action

By John Andrews, 24 April 2014

In a fractured ruling with five separate decisions by the eight participating justices, the US Supreme Court has upheld a voter-enacted prohibition of racial preferences in Michigan.

US Supreme Court strikes down limits on political contributions

By John Burton, 3 April 2014

The Supreme Court has invalidated the provision of the federal election finance law that limits wealthy individuals from donating more than $123,000 to candidates and committees during any two-year election cycle.

As victims’ families call for criminal prosecution

Senate hearing sets stage for cover-up of GM, government role in fatal crashes

By Barry Grey, 3 April 2014

For the second consecutive day, General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared before a congressional panel and refused to provide answers regarding the company’s cover-up of an ignition switch defect linked to at least 13 deaths and 31 crashes.

The state assassination of a US citizen foretold

By Tom Carter, 12 February 2014

If the government can order the assassination of US citizens in the name of national security, what can it not do? All the methods of a police state dictatorship become equally possible.

Supreme Court denies back pay to 800 US Steel workers

By Tom Carter, 30 January 2014

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the unions had bargained away steel workers' right to receive overtime pay for time spent putting on personal protective equipment.

Oklahoma carries out second execution this year using pentobarbital

By Nick Barrickman, 25 January 2014

Authorities utilized a three-drug protocol for the lethal injection that included a lethal dose of pentobarbital, an anesthetic commonly used to euthanize animals.

Texas executes Mexican national in defiance of international law

By Bill Van Auken, 23 January 2014

Edgar Tamayo was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday night after Texas authorities rejected a World Court ruling requiring that they review his case and those of other Mexicans on death row.

US appeals court strikes down “net neutrality” rules

By Thomas Gaist, 16 January 2014

The Open Internet regulations prohibited the selective blocking of slowing of legal Internet content by Internet providers.

Outrage over acquittal of California police who beat homeless man to death

By John Andrews, 16 January 2014

The acquittal of two officers captured on video beating to death a homeless, mentally ill man in Orange County, California has been met with widespread anger.

The pseudo-legal arguments for a police state

By Tom Carter, 31 December 2013

US District Judge William H. Pauley’s ruling in the case of ACLU v. Clapper on December 27, which sanctions NSA surveillance of the telephone records of the entire country’s population, has immense significance for democratic rights.

“Almost Orwellian”: US Judge indicts NSA spying

By Bill Van Auken, 18 December 2013

The ruling by Judge Richard Leon, while doing nothing to curb the NSA’s mass spying operations, nonetheless acknowledges that they embody the methods of a police state.

Federal judge holds NSA telephone surveillance unconstitutional

By John Burton, 17 December 2013

A federal judge in Washington, DC has ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone data on virtually every person in the United States violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Federal prosecutors charge Los Angeles deputy sheriffs in jail abuse probe

By John Burton, 17 December 2013

FBI agents arrested 18 Los Angeles County Sheriff employees on charges of conspiracy, abuse of inmates and lying.

US in sweetheart deal with JPMorgan over complicity in Madoff Ponzi scheme

By Barry Grey, 17 December 2013

Deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements have proliferated under the Obama administration, in accordance with its policy of not prosecuting major banks or corporations.

Obama administration defends NSA against civil liberties lawsuit

By John Burton, 26 November 2013

Administration lawyers used the standard “war on terror” pretext to justify the NSA’s collection of telephone data on virtually every person in the United States.

Obama administration asks Supreme Court to back warrantless cell phone searches

By Kate Randall, 23 August 2013

The Justice Department petition argues that warrantless cell phone searches do not violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

US Drug Enforcement Agency conceals use of information from NSA mass surveillance programs

By Niles Williamson, 6 August 2013

A Reuters report describes how federal law enforcement agencies that utilize evidence obtained from illegal domestic spying programs are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail in a manner that violates defendants’ right to a fair trial.

Obama administration officials testify at Manning sentencing

By Matthew MacEgan, 6 August 2013

The sentencing phase of the Bradley Manning court martial continued Monday with the testimony of Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy.

US Supreme Court allows police to take DNA samples of arrestees

By Joseph Kishore, 4 June 2013

The US Supreme Court decision is a major attack on the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Supreme Court bars US lawsuits against overseas human rights abuses

By John Burton, 23 April 2013

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that foreign citizens subjected to human rights abuses outside the US cannot sue corporations or individuals in US courts.

Interview with Paul Hoffman, lawyer for the plaintiffs

By John Burton, 23 April 2013

Paul Hoffman, a partner in the Venice, California law firm of Schonbrun, DeSimone, Seplow, Harris, Hoffman & Harrison, has been representing plaintiffs in cases under the Alien Tort Statute for the last 30 years.

US Supreme Court hears arguments on gay marriage

By Barry Grey, 30 March 2013

There is a clear issue of democratic rights in the same-sex marriage question. Having said that, claims that recognition of same-sex marriage signifies a new flowering of democratic rights lack any credibility.

Plans for military surveillance of Americans’ financial records

By Ed Hightower, 19 March 2013

The Treasury’s proposal represents yet another front in the escalating attack on democratic rights, especially the rights to privacy and freedom of association.

US Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit challenging secret wiretaps

By John Burton, 28 February 2013

In dismissing the suit, the Supreme Court majority adopted the positions urged by Obama administration lawyers in their briefs and at oral argument last October.

Obama administration claims power to authorize pre-emptive cyberwar strikes

By Joseph Kishore, 5 February 2013

Secret legal arguments prepared by the government are part of an effort to expand cyberwar strikes against other countries, particularly Iran and China.

Federal Circuit Court upholds Wisconsin anti-worker law

By Niles Williamson, 24 January 2013

A US appeals court upheld the unpopular 2011 Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill (also known as Act 10) that sparked mass protests in the spring of 2011.

US Supreme Court refuses to hear lawsuit on suicide crisis facing war veterans

By Eric London, 11 January 2013

Eighteen veterans kill themselves each day, and the three branches of government have each answered with callous indifference.

US Army judge rejects motion to dismiss charges in Bradley Manning case

By Naomi Spencer, 10 January 2013

Manning was granted only a 112-day reduction in sentencing on a life term in hearings this week.

Bradley Manning testifies on his detention

By Naomi Spencer, 30 November 2012

Bradley Manning took the stand to speak on his pre-trial detention Thursday. It was the first public statement from the accused whistleblower in over two years.

Psychiatrists testify on military mistreatment of Bradley Manning

By Naomi Spencer, 30 November 2012

Psychiatrists testified Wednesday that recommendations to end Manning’s solitary confinement were ignored.

FBI entraps Bangladeshi student in fake terror plot

By Bill Van Auken, 19 October 2012

In the latest in a seemingly endless series of “sting” operations, the FBI ensnared a 21-year-old Bangladeshi student in a fabricated plot to blow up the New York Federal Reserve.

US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in affirmative action case

By Tom Carter, 19 October 2012

The arguments in favor of affirmative action further exposed the gulf that separates a program for genuine social equality from the essentially undemocratic affirmative action policy.

Democratic rights under threat as US Supreme Court opens new term

By Tom Carter, 4 October 2012

In a significant number of cases expected to come before the US Supreme Court this term, democratic rights are in jeopardy.

US appeals court upholds Texas ban on Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood

By Ed Hightower, 30 August 2012

In a ruling handed down August 21, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a Texas regulation that effectively cuts off funding to clinics operated by Planned Parenthood.

Obama administration to respond to lawsuit challenging assassination program

By Tom Carter, 20 August 2012

The Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta lawsuit highlights the extent to which democratic rights and the rule of law have been eroded under the Obama administration.

A barbarous dissent: The US Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama

By Richard Hoffman, 28 June 2012

The unremarkable reasoning underlying the majority’s decision only places in sharper relief the barbarous character of the four dissenting judgments.

Arizona v. United States

Supreme Court unanimously upholds antidemocratic attack on immigrant workers

By Kevin Kearney, 26 June 2012

The court ruling leaves in place the most reactionary and antidemocratic feature of Arizona’s SB 1070 law, the mandate that local and state police check the immigration status of anyone they detain or question.

Arizona anti-immigrant law argued before US Supreme Court

By Tom Carter, 26 April 2012

The oral arguments yesterday before the US Supreme Court over Arizona’s anti-immigrant act are chiefly remarkable for the refusal of the Obama administration to mount any serious opposition to the unprecedented and authoritarian provisions of the law.

Unanimous US Supreme Court expands reactionary “qualified immunity” doctrine

By Tom Carter, 19 April 2012

With the support of the Obama administration, the US Supreme Court Tuesday expanded the reach of a reactionary legal doctrine that immunizes government agents who violate the Constitution from litigation.

The Obama administration and the Supreme Court decision on strip searches

By John Burton, 5 April 2012

The Obama administration played a key role in Monday’s Supreme Court decision to allow blanket strip searches of people arrested for minor offenses.

US Supreme Court hears challenge to Obama health care law

By Kate Randall, 27 March 2012

The US Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments Monday into the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s health care legislation.

The 2012 elections and the assault on voting rights in the US

By Ed Hightower, 27 March 2012

The 2010 mid-term elections put Republicans in control of many state legislatures, largely due to the disaffection, arising from the administration’s right-wing policies, of many who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Since then, at least 17 states have attempted to restrict voting rights in advance of the November ballot.

US Supreme Court issues reactionary rulings on warrants and interrogations

By John Burton, 20 March 2012

The Supreme Court continues to weaken key provisions of the Bill of Rights, last month issuing reactionary decisions protecting police who serve illegal warrants and conduct interrogations without giving people their rights.

Anti-democratic actions by the US Supreme Court

By Tom Carter, 24 January 2012

Recent Supreme Court opinions involving religion, voting rights and warrantless surveillance cast a shadow over existing democratic legal protections.

Lawsuit demands that Obama administration release Guantanamo torture tapes

By Tom Carter, 12 January 2012

The videotapes sought by the Center for Constitutional Rights constitute important evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Supreme Court intervention in Arizona anti-immigrant law poses threat to democratic rights

By Tom Carter, 14 December 2011

The announcement Monday by the US Supreme Court that it will review a decision striking down provisions of Arizona’s unprecedented anti-immigrant law casts a shadow over what had been considered historically settled questions affecting democratic rights.

US Supreme Court to review Arizona immigration law

By Kevin Kearney, 13 December 2011

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will review a lower court decision striking down provisions of an Arizona anti-immigrant law.

US Supreme Court to hear challenge to Obama health care law

By Patrick Martin, 16 November 2011

The high court is expected to make a decision on the constitutionality of the health care law in the midst of next year’s presidential election campaign.

Police reign of terror intensifies at Los Angeles County Jail

By Alan Gilman, 14 October 2011

The Los Angeles County Jail, the nation’s largest, with over 17,000 inmates, continues to be plagued by brutal assaults upon its inmates by deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The legal implications of the al-Awlaki assassination

By Tom Carter, 10 October 2011

Anwar al-Awlaki was selected for assassination as a test case that, if successful, would set a precedent according to which the executive branch of the US government has the unreviewable power to secretly liquidate its political opponents, including US citizens.

White House urges Supreme Court to approve health care “reform” and deepen attacks on democratic rights

By John Burton, 4 October 2011

Obama administration lawyers have filed briefs in many of the cases set for review by the Supreme Court this term, urging approval of the cost-cutting health care overhaul and rollbacks on constitutional rights.

US government targets open access activist

By Patrick Zimmerman, 5 August 2011

Aaron Swartz, a researcher at Harvard is being pursued by government authorities for alleged wire fraud.

Five New Orleans police officers stand trial for post-Katrina killings

By Naomi Spencer, 12 July 2011

A federal trial has begun against five current and former New Orleans police officers charged in the killing and maiming of six unarmed residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The acquittal of Casey Anthony

By David Walsh, 8 July 2011

The acquittal of 25-year-old Casey Anthony in Orlando, Florida Tuesday on charges of murdering her child in June 2008 points to a fact of some social significance.

The Supreme Court and corporate America

By Tom Carter, 27 June 2011

The US Supreme Court is steadily shielding corporate criminality while cutting back fundamental democratic rights.

US Supreme Court undermines class action lawsuits in Wal-Mart ruling

By Tom Carter, 21 June 2011

The US Supreme Court ruling yesterday means that the larger the corporation, the less susceptible it will be to class action lawsuits by its employees.

US Supreme Court gives green light to warrant-less searches of homes

By Tom Carter, 19 May 2011

A decision Monday by the US Supreme Court represents a further major step in abolishing the basic civil liberties protections in the Bill of Rights and enhancing the arbitrary powers of the police.

CIA terrorist Posada Carriles acquitted in immigration trial

By Bill Van Auken, 12 April 2011

The travesty of a trial of Posada Carriles on immigration-related charges let the veteran terrorist and CIA agent walk free, despite being wanted for the killing of scores of civilians.

Supreme Court rules against New Orleans’ frame-up victim, upholds religious school credits

By John Burton, 11 April 2011

In two reactionary rulings, the Supreme Court cancelled a jury award to a man falsely convicted of murder due to prosecutorial misconduct and ruled that taxpayers cannot sue for the diversion of tax revenue to religious schools.

US Supreme Court further weakens right to face one’s accuser

By Michael Stapleton, 9 March 2011

On February 28, in the case Michigan v. Bryant, the US Supreme Court issued yet another decision undermining the right of someone accused of a crime to question his or her accusers.

US Justice Department drops investigation of sub-prime mortgage mogul Angelo Mozilo

By Andre Damon, 3 March 2011

The US Department of Justice has quietly dropped its investigation of Angelo Mozilo, the former head of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial and one of the most culpable figures in the financial meltdown of 2008.

Obama administration indicts ex-CIA whistleblower

By Ed Hightower and Tom Carter, 4 February 2011

The persecution of ex-CIA agent and whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling reveals that the Obama administration is prepared use any means necessary to keep the lid on its dirty secrets.