Court rejects Department of Defense policy banning transgenders in military

In this March 27, 2018, file photo, plaintiffs Cathrine Schmid, second left, and Conner Callahan, second right, listen with supporters during a news conference in front of a federal courthouse following a hearing in Seattle.  Photo credit: Elaine Thompson/AP as reported in the Military Times on 8/24/18.

In this March 27, 2018, file photo, plaintiffs Cathrine Schmid, second left, and Conner Callahan, second right, listen with supporters during a news conference in front of a federal courthouse following a hearing in Seattle. Photo credit: Elaine Thompson/AP as reported in the Military Times on 8/24/18.

In Doe v. Trump, a federal court has ruled that the government “failed to show what deliberative process it undertook to decide some transgender personnel should not be allowed to serve,” according to Military Times.

“In the lawsuit, Doe v. Trump, transgender service members and recruits are challenging the Pentagon’s new policy on transgender service members, which forbids any recruit or service member experiencing ‘gender dysphoria’ from serving, and implements additional restrictions on those transgender personnel already serving,” the publication reported.

“Since last fall, attorneys have filed four federal cases challenging the ban: Doe v. Trump in Washington, D.C.; Karnoski v. Trump in Washington State; Stockman v. Trump in California and Stone V. Trump in Maryland,” Military Times reported.

According to the New York Times, the Obama administration announced in 2016 its plan for the armed services to begin accepting transgender recruits at the start of this year. President Trump “abruptly reversed course, announcing on Twitter in July 2017 that the military would ‘no longer accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity. …”

Trump Ponders Next Steps After Court Nixes Immigration Order

Several prominent legal experts are encouraging President Donald Trump to withdraw his current order and redraft it. | AP Photo

Several prominent legal experts are encouraging President Donald Trump to withdraw his current order and redraft it. | AP Photo

The D.C.-based Politico newspaper is outlining what options President Trump’s team has after the California-based 9th Circuit appeals court nixed his travel order this week. Politico said the Trump group was “… licking their wounds following a stinging appeals court defeat, President Donald Trump’s aides went into triage mode Friday as they consider options for salvaging his contested travel ban executive order.”

The story notes that “… Trump rarely backs down from a fight, but there were initial signs that the White House might not proceed as originally expected with an emergency application to the Supreme Court. Legal experts said it was doubtful Trump could muster what he’d need to get immediate relief there: the votes of five justices on the high court, which remains shorthanded with only eight justices. A 4-4 deadlock would leave the ruling suspending enforcement of Trump’s ban in place.”

See the story here: Trump team mulls next steps on travel ban order

Central California Justice Among The Nation’s Most Rationed Court

Eastern California is home to some of the nation’s most fertile agricultural regions, but it’s also growing a reputation as the nation’s slowest federal court district. Bakersfieldnow, the online home of ABC’s Eyewitness News in the area, explains in a new report that “… the problem area is the Eastern District of the 9th Circuit Court that serves much of the eastern half of the state, from Bakersfield to the Oregon border.

The story is illustrated with the story of Wesley Morris, a gun-store owner involved in a lawsuit against the state. The plaintiffs, affiliated with the Calguns Foundation, are “… bringing a first amendment challenge to an old state law that regulates handgun advertising.”
Morris’ group filed their case in 2014. It’s not scheduled for trial until 2017. And the news report says that “… a three year wait for a civil case is not uncommon in the Valley. It’s the average, according to federal data obtained by Eyewitness News via public record request. Nationwide, the average civil case takes 26.8 months to finish. In the Eastern District of our circuit court, the average is 37.8 months.”

Read about the rationing here:
http://bakersfieldnow.com/news/investigations/central-valleys-federal-justice-system-among-slowest-in-the-nation

Court Upholds FCC’s ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules

In the photo taken June 19, 2015, the entrance to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) building in Washington. (Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)

In the photo taken June 19, 2015, the entrance to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) building in Washington.
(Photo: Andrew Harnik, AP)

A three-member U.S. Court of Appeals panel has ruled 2-1 to uphold the FCC’s rules regulating ‘net neutrality.”
 
USA Today explains that “… those Open Internet rules, or net neutrality rules, were crafted to prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs), mainly large cable or telephone companies, from blocking and slowing the transmission of content and from the practice of “paid prioritization,” paying an ISP for faster delivery of content.”
 
The offered a comment from the FCC leadership: “Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who cast one of the three commission votes to pass the rules. “After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the Commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections – both on fixed and mobile networks – that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future.”
Read more about the significant court case here: 

Federal court upholds FCC’s net neutrality rules

SCOTUS Chief Justice Praises New Rules

In his annual state of the courts address, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts last week said that civil actions are sometimes “too expensive, time consuming, and contentious” and praised new rules aiming to streamline evidence discovery and encourage judges to help manage cases. That was among a spate of new rules approved Dec. 1 and going into effect this month.
 
One of the changes is that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has posted revised forms on its website that can be used by people seeking to represent themselves in federal civil cases. While the overall federal judges’ caseload is down a bit from last year, the chief justice called for more assistance and less expensive process.
 
See the NBC report on the judge’s annual comments here: New Rules Will Streamline Federal Cases: Chief Justice

WSJ Report Outlines Delays For Federal Civil Court Dockets

Detailing the case of a man awaiting his day in court since 2007, the Wall Street Journal notes that the example is only one of “… more than 330,000 such cases” and that “… thee number of cases awaiting resolution for three years or more exceeded 30,000 for the fifth time in the past decade.”
 
The report gives reasons, and makes the case that the civil justice system slows when the criminal justice system gets busy: “… the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a jury trial in civil cases. But the Sixth Amendment gives people in criminal cases the right to a “speedy” trial. The upshot: Criminal cases often displace and delay civil disputes, creating a backlog.”
 
It also says that “… federal court for California’s Eastern District [where the example case is located] has a particularly deep backlog. The number of cases filed per judge, 974 last year, is almost twice the national average. More than 14% of civil cases in that district have been pending for three years or more.” The report outlines the political challenges to fixing the tardy system. Read the WSJ story here: In Federal Courts, the Civil Cases Pile Up

NYT Notes ‘Border Kid’ Crisis Is Not Over, But Has Moved

As reported by NPR: Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed at a U.S. Customs facility in Nogales, Texas.

As reported by NPR: Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed at a U.S. Customs facility in Nogales, Texas.

The New York Times has an important story about the “Border Kids” who arrived in the country amid headlines last summer. The paper notes that the number of kids has dropped, but the crisis has moved to courts. Meanwhile, a federal judge in California has given the U.S. government mere weeks to shut down several “family detention” centers because they are illegal.
 
On the court crisis, the NYT backgrounder is that “… about 84,000 children were apprehended at the Southwest border during the 2014 fiscal year and the first six months of the 2015 fiscal year, according to the Border Patrol. Of the 79,088 removal cases initiated by the government, 15,207 children had been ordered deported as of June, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.
 
“While a small percentage of children have been granted asylum, most are seeking relief from deportation by applying for special immigrant juvenile status, federal officials said. And yet, rather than their claims being expedited, 69 percent of the children on the priority docket still have cases pending, statistics show.
 
“The burden is far more difficult for children if they do not have a lawyer — a right not granted to defendants in immigration courts — especially because of the accelerated time frame the government established for their cases. After being released to a sponsor, usually a relative, they are on the clock: They are required to make their first court appearance within 21 days of the court’s receiving their case to contest their deportation.”
 
Read the excellent report here: Immigration Crisis Shifts From Border to Courts
 
For a refresher on the Family Detention Center, check out our late August blogs, “Obama Admin. Fighting To Keep Family Detention Centers” and “Judge Orders Govt. To Release Detained Kids.”

Judge Orders Govt. To Release Detained Kids

A federal judge in Los Angeles has given the federal government until Oct. 23 to release thousands of “border kids” seeking refuge in the United States. The Los Angeles Times explains that Judge Dolly Gee said that children should not be held for more than 72 hours unless they are a significant flight risk or a danger to themselves and others.
 
As reported by NPR: Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed at a U.S. Customs facility in Nogales, Texas.

As reported by NPR: Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed at a U.S. Customs facility in Nogales, Texas.

The LAT story also noted that “… the case centers on 1997 legal settlement — known as the Flores agreement — that set legal requirements for the housing of children seeking asylum or in the country illegally. In July, Gee found that the government had violated that agreement; she repeated that findingFriday. Federal attorneys had argued that Gee’s initial ruling would spark another surge of illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border. Gee denied the government’s request for reconsideration, equating that argument to “fearmongering.”
 
The Times feels that “… it’s likely that hundreds of immigrant families will remain locked up and in limbo as the case makes its way through the courts — possibly up to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.”
 

Federal court to video-stream most important cases

The federal appeals court for California and other western states is expanding its Internet video streaming to include important cases heard by the full court, as opposed to lesser cases heard by panels of the full court. The Ninth Circuit, which usually meets in San Francisco and is known for allowing more media access than other courts, will broadcast five cases slated for oral arguments betweenDec. 9 and 11. It is believed that this is the first time a federal appellate court has allowed live broadcast of a proceeding.
 
“The Ninth Circuit has a long history of using advances in technology to make the court more accessible and transparent,” 9th Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said in a statement. “Video streaming is a way to open the court’s doors even wider so that more people can see and hear what transpires in the courtroom, particularly in regard to some of our most important cases.” 
 
You can find Associated Press coverage of the decision, via the Mercury News, here.