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US Judge Shelves Guantanamo Detainee Lawsuits February 1, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Judiciary, US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–Sixteen lawsuits by Guantanamo Bay detainees were put on hold Wednesday by a federal judge who said he may no longer have jurisdiction to hear their cases.

U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton in Washington said the Military Commissions Act, signed into law in October, has left him unable to consider whether the detainees can challenge being held at the Marine facility in Cuba.

An appeals court in Washington is considering whether civilian jurists can rule on those cases. Until that issue is resolved, Walton said, “it is this court’s view that it lacks the authority to take any action in these cases.”

Walton’s six-page order denying the motions challenging detention of the 16 men left open the possibility refiling the requests if the appeals court decides civilian courts can review detainee cases.

If the appeals panel “concludes that this court retains some degree of jurisdiction over any or all of the above-captioned cases, the matters will be automatically reopened as appropriate,” he wrote.

The Justice Department did not have an immediate comment.

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the detainees, said that Walton’s decision will delay justice for an estimated 200 people imprisoned at Guantanamo.

US Supreme Court Justices Defend Decision That Made Bush President January 24, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Judiciary, US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–Three of the five U.S. Supreme Court justices who handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 say they had no choice but to intervene in the Florida recount.

Comments from Justice Anthony Kennedy and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor are in a new book that was published this week. Justice Antonin Scalia made his remarks Tuesday at Iona College in New York.

Scalia, answering questions after a speech, also said that critics of the 5-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore need to move on six years after the electoral drama of December 2000, when it seemed the whole nation hung by a chad awaiting the outcome of the presidential election.

“It’s water over the deck – get over it,” Scalia said, drawing laughs from his audience. His remarks were reported in the Gannett Co.’s (GCI) Journal-News.

The court’s decision to halt the recount of Florida’s disputed election results, thus giving Bush the state’s electoral votes, has been heavily criticized as an example of the court overstepping its bounds and, worse, being driven by politics.

Rather than let the recount take place and leave state officials and possibly Congress to determine the outcome of the election, the court’s five conservative justices decided to intervene.

They eventually overturned a ruling of the Florida Supreme Court and halted the recount of the state’s disputed election results 36 days after the voting. The decision effectively gave Bush Florida’s electoral votes – and the presidency – by 537 votes.

“A no-brainer! A state court deciding a federal constitutional issue about the presidential election? Of course you take the case,” Kennedy told ABC News correspondent Jan Crawford Greenburg in her new book, “Supreme Conflict.”

Kennedy said the justices didn’t ask for the case to come their way. Then- Vice President Al Gore’s legal team involved the courts in the election by asking a state court to order a recount, Kennedy said.

Legal scholars and the four dissenting justices have said the Supreme Court should have declined to jump into the case in the first place.

In a decision made public on the evening of Dec. 12, 2000, the court said the recount violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause because Florida counties were allowed to set their own standard for determining whether to count a vote.

“Counting somebody else’s dimpled chad and not counting my dimpled chad is not giving equal protection of the law,” Scalia said at Iona. Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died in 2005, also were part of the majority.

O’Connor said the Florida court was “off on a trip of its own.”

She acknowledged, however, that the justices probably could have done a better job with the opinion if they hadn’t been rushed.

Still, O’Connor said the outcome of the election would have been the same even if the court hadn’t intervened.

She was referring to studies that suggest Bush would have won a recount limited to counties that Gore initially contested, although other studies said Gore might have prevailed in a statewide recount.

US Supreme Court Urged To Toss Out Antitrust Suit Vs Bankers January 23, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Judiciary, US News.
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By Robert Schroeder

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the Supreme Court on Tuesday to throw out a lower court’s ruling against investment banks, saying an antitrust suit against them shouldn’t be allowed to go forward.

In March, the high court is set to hear a case involving Credit Suisse Group (CS) and other banks that are accused of anticompetitive tactics in drumming up their business in underwriting initial public offerings.

The Chamber of Commerce says banks should have immunity from antitrust laws while carrying out IPOs, adding that the Securities and Exchange Commission strongly regulates the IPO process.

“Allowing this lawsuit to continue will result in uncertainty and increased risk for everyone who participates in the process of capital formulation – including millions of investors,” said Robin Conrad, senior vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, in a statement.

In the case at issue, a class-action suit charges that Credit Suisse and other investment banks manipulated technology company IPOs in the 1990s, in violation of antitrust law. The plaintiffs objected to the way the banks shared information during the offering periods.

In a court filing, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission recommended the Supreme Court send the case back to a lower court for further study.

Oral arguments are set for March 27 at the Supreme Court.

US Supreme Court To Hear Challenge To Campaign Ad Ban January 19, 2007

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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Supreme Court Friday undertook its second review of a Wisconsin anti-abortion group’s challenge to federal campaign laws that restricts political advertising by companies, unions and interest groups in the final weeks of federal elections.

The justices accepted an appeal from the Federal Election Commission and will rule in the case during the 2006-2007 term. The FEC in December 2006 lost a challenge brought by Wisconsin Right to Life Inc. after the high court last year sent the case back for additional evaluation.

The anti-abortion group in 2004 sued the FEC in an attempt to run three television ads against Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., criticizing the senator for delaying Senate votes on judicial nominees. The group wanted to run the ads, which also mentioned Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., during the final two months of Feingold’s bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 bars “electioneering communication” by private companies, unions and political groups within two months of general elections and one month of a primary election.

But a special panel of the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. District Court ruled 2-1 that the content of Wisconsin Right to Life Inc.’s advertisements didn’t fall within the law’s restrictions. The majority said the “anti-filibuster ads are neither express advocacy nor its functional equivalent” and ruled the political advertisements were allowed.

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, in the government’s appeal, said the D.C. District Court’s “mode of analysis is seriously flawed.” Clement urged the Supreme Court to hear the appeal and clarify how the election advertising restrictions apply.

The case is FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life Inc., 06-969. A decision is expected by July.

By Mark H. Anderson, Dow Jones Newswires

US Supreme Court Will Hear Powerex Appeal Over California Suit January 19, 2007

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WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–The U.S. Supreme Court Friday said it will review a lawsuit against Canadian-owned Powerex Corp. over its role in California’s 2000-01 energy markets crisis to determine how the case should be handled in U.S. courts.

Powerex is a unit of the British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority, which is owned by the British Columbian government.

The company has argued it has immunity from a state-level lawsuit seeking the refund of several billion dollars from numerous power suppliers and traders to California consumers. The company instead said its lawsuit must be heard in federal court with a nonjury trial, according to limits in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Powerex sells excess electricity generation for BC Hydro and sold power in California during the state’s energy crisis that could lead to hundreds of millions in liability if it is included in the giant lawsuit.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December 2004 that Powerex didn’t qualify as an entity of a foreign nation that is immune from a state lawsuit.

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, in a court brief filed in November, said that ruling was erroneous. “A proper analysis of the question demonstrates that petitioner is an organ of the province,” Clement said.

Clement urged the Supreme Court to take up the Powerex case and use it to clear up discrepancies in how federal appeals courts are handling the state immunity question.

The case is Powerex v. Reliant Energy Services, 05-85. Oral arguments will be held in early 2007 and a decision is likely by July.

By Mark H. Anderson, Dow Jones Newswires