Sixty percent of those surveyed by the New York Times and CBS News said they believe that appointing Supreme Court justices for life is a bad thing because it gives them too much power. Thirty-three percent, on the other hand, said lifetime appointments were a good thing because it keeps the justices independent.”
U-T San Diego: “A judge ruled Wednesday that SeaWorld will have to find a way to protect its trainers during performances involving killer whales, a decision that stemmed from a trainer’s 2010 death at the Orlando park.
The ruling, which followed a nine-day hearing last year before an administrative law judge, could potentially keep trainers out of the water during SeaWorld’s iconic Shamu performances at its parks, including San Diego’s.
Long an integral part of the show, the water work was immediately suspended in February 2010 when Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at the Orlando park was battered and drowned by Tilikum, a 12,000-pound male orca, as spectators looked on.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration had fined SeaWorld $75,000 and issued three safety violations, the most serious of which accused the park of exposing its employees to the possibility of being struck by or drowned by killer whales.”
ABA Journal: “A federal appeals court has struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law discriminates against married gay couples who are denied federal benefits, the Associated Press reports. The case is “all but certain to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court,” AP says.
Ruling on equal protection and federalism grounds, the appeals court said rationales offered in support of the federal benefit ban are not sufficient.”
CNN: “Retired Justice John Paul Stevens had harsh words for his former conservative colleagues Wednesday, saying they have inconsistently applied the law two years after a sweeping ruling dealing with campaign finance reform.
That controversial decision, known as Citizens United, gave corporations — individuals, unions, businesses and advocacy groups — greater power to spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose federal election candidates. Stevens issued a bitter dissent in that case, months before stepping down from the high court after 35 years on the bench. He said Congress had long imposed reasonable limits on corporate spending as a way to curb the potentially corrupting influence by the wealthy, whose voices would be heard above those of others in the crowded political landscape.”
Thomson Reuters: “Apple Inc and five major book publishers have failed to persuade a U.S. judge to throw out a lawsuit by consumers accusing them of conspiring to raise electronic book pricestwo years ago.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York is related to government charges in April accusing Apple and publishers of colluding to break up Amazon.com’s low-cost dominance of the digital book market. HarperCollins Publishers Inc, Simon & Schuster Inc and Hachette Book Group reached settlements with the Department of Justice’s anti-trust division.
Apple and two of the publishers, Macmillan and Penguin, said in court last month that they want to go to trial to defend themselves against the government charges. The judge has scheduled the next pre-trial hearing for June 22.
The consumers’ main allegation is that the publishers worked together to raise prices and decrease retail competition with Apple coordinating the agreement among them.”
ABA Journal: “A suit filed on Monday by Common Cause claims the Senate filibuster is anti-democratic and unconstitutional.
“The principle of majority rule was so basic to the concept of a democratically elected legislative body that it did not need to be expressly stated in the Constitution,” the suit (PDF) says. Other plaintiffs include several Democratic lawmakers and three immigrants who would be aided by passage of the Dream Act, according to Politico, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a press release.”
New York Times: “On April 30, the Treasury Department announced that 461 Americans had renounced their citizenship in the first quarter of 2012. A 1996 law requires that every person doing so be named, with their names published in the Federal Register. The idea is to shame those who may be renouncing their citizenship solely to escape taxation.
The extreme step of renouncing one’s citizenship is necessary to escape taxation by the United States, because the United States, alone among the major nations of the world, taxes its citizens wherever on earth they live.
Other countries tax only those who live and work within their borders; if their citizens live and work in another country, they are liable only for taxes incurred in that country.
Americans living abroad, however, must not only pay taxes in the country in which they are living, but United States taxes as well, although there is an exemption of $93,000 that is adjusted for inflation annually. The only legal way for American citizens to avoid American taxes is to renounce their citizenship and live their lives permanently in another country.”
Law.com: “I long have believed that the best predictor of whether the U.S. Supreme Court finds a violation of the Fourth Amendment is whether the justices could imagine it happening to them. For example, the Supreme Court upheld drug-testing requirements in every case until it considered a Georgia law that required that high-level government officials be subjected to it. The two Fourth Amendment decisions this term, U.S. v. Jones and Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of Burlington County, powerfully illustrate that the justices only seem to care if it could happen to them.”
Legal Insurrection: The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today about Arizona’s controversial illegal immigratio law, SB 1070. Based on the initial reports, it appears that the Court may uphold at least one key provision of the law, which allows state law enforcement to inquire about a person’s immigration status. Even some of the Court’s liberal Justices seemed skeptical about prohibiting state law enforcement from checking the immigration status of a person within the state’s borders. What remains unclear is how the Court will view the provisions of the law that make it a state crime to violate federal immigration law.
ABA Journal: “Oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court’s October Term 2011 will end April 25 with one of the most important and politically controversial cases of the year: Arizona v. United States. The issue before the court is whether key provisions of Arizona’s statute SB 1070—which calls on state and local law enforcement to aggressively enforce federal immigration laws—are preempted by federal law. The case poses basic questions about the allocation of power between federal and state governments and does so in a context that arouses deep emotion on both sides.
In 2010, Arizona adopted SB 1070, titled, “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act.” It sought to use the resources of Arizona state and local governments to help control illegal immigration. Its preamble states that its purpose is to make “attrition