Constitucional Law

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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Switzerland Supreme Court overturns nationwide referendum on income tax                

Source: Jurist

April 12, 2019

 Switzerland’s Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the outcome of a nationwide referendum on the grounds that voters were given insufficient information.

The 2016 referendum concerned married couples being unfairly taxed for their joint incomes compared to cohabiting partners who are taxed separately. Through a narrow margin, the referendum to equally tax cohabiting partners was rejected with a 50.8 percent vote to reject the proposal. During the 2016 vote, the federal government indicated that 80,000 married couples are unfairly taxed under the current tax regime. However, the government later revised the figure to almost 500,000 married couples who were impacted.

Due to the tight margins for the measure, the court ruled that this misleading information could have potentially changed the outcome of the referendum vote.

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Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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India Supreme Court to consider plea on women in mosques  

Source: Jurist

April 17, 2019

India’s Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear a petition from a Muslim couple to allow entry of women to mosques without restrictions, and issued a notice to the government.

Yasmeen Zuber Ahmad Peerzade and her husband Zuber Ahmad Nazir Ahmad Peerzade said the restrictions on the entry of women into certain mosques should be set aside as such “practices of prohibition” violate Articles 14 (equality), 15 (non-discrimination), 21 (life and liberty), 25 (religious freedom) and 29 (protection of minorities) of the constitution.

At present, women are allowed to offer prayers at mosques under the Jamaat-e-Islami and Mujahid denominations but are barred from mosques under the predominant Sunni faction. “The Quran does not differentiate between man and woman. It speaks only about the faithful. But Islam has become a religion in which women are being oppressed,” said in the petition.

Justices S.A. Bobde and S. Abdul Nazeer were initially averse to issuing notices since mosques are not under the control of the state. But the court later relented in the light of last year’s ruling in the Sabarimala case, which allowed women of all ages to enter the Kerala shrine, lifting the ban on those of childbearing age.

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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Supreme Court to take up LGBT employment discrimination cases       

Source: Jurist

April 22, 2019

-United States-

 The US Supreme Court agreed Monday to take on two cases asking whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees are protected by federal employment discrimination laws, as well as two additional cases pertaining to maritime vessel safety and immigration permanent resident policy.

First, in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, consolidated with Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, the court will decide whether discrimination “because of sex” under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes discrimination based on sexual orientation. Courts of appeals have come to mixed conclusions about these questions.

In Bostock, the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision last May that sexual orientation was not included within the meaning of the statute. The Second Circuit on the other hand, in Altitude, held that Title VII does apply based on sexual orientation because such discrimination “is a subset of sex discrimination.”

In R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, the court will decide whether Title VII bars discrimination against transgender people based on either their status as transgender or stereotyping.

A transgender employee was fired from her work at a funeral home for what the funeral home owner believed would violate the home’s dress code and “God’s commands” by allowing her to wear woman’s clothing. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the transgender employee, represented by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Two more cases were also added to the docket Monday, including CITGO Asphalt Refining Co. v. Frescati Shipping Co., Ltd., to determine whether under federal maritime law a safe-berth clause in a voyage charter contract is a guarantee of a ship’s safety, as the US Courts of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits have held, or one a duty of due diligence, as the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has held.

The other case is Barton v. Barr, which asks whether a lawfully admitted permanent resident who is not seeking admission to the United States can be “render[ed] … inadmissible” for the purposes of the stop-time rule, when a period of continuous residence ends if the legal alien commits an offense that would make him inadmissible to the country.

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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Cubans overwhelmingly ratify constitution enshrining socialist government   

Source: Jurist

February 26, 2019

Cubans have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new constitution that enshrines the country’s one-party socialist system as “irrevocable” and institutes other economic and social reforms.

The president of Cuba’s national electoral commission, Alina Balseiro Gutierrez, claims that 84.4 percent of Cuba’s 7.8 million potential voters participated in the Sunday referendum. Of the potential electorate, 73.31 percent voted to ratify, while 7.6 percent opposed ratification and 4.5 percent spoiled or left ballots blank.

The new constitution contains references to “markets and recognition of private property, foreign investment, small businesses, gender identity, the internet, the right to legal representation upon arrest and habeas corpus.” It includes the addition of a prime minister and imposes term limits on the presidency, among other changes to government structure.

Debate over the new constitution has dominated Cuba’s politics for months. The government initially organized a grassroots debate on a draft of the constitution last year. However, after approving a final version of the referendum in December it utilized its control of traditional media and public spaces to campaign for ratification. Meanwhile, dueling campaigns for and against the constitution battled on the internet.

There are no exit polls in Cuba, but social media and reports of local vote tallies seem to confirm the results.

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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Supreme Court denies international organization absolute immunity from lawsuits    

Source: Jurist

February 27, 2019

-United States-

 The US Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an international organization, “absolute immunity” from lawsuits in the US.

About 10 years ago, IFC, an IOIA international organization, entered into a loan agreement with an Indian company to finance the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Gujarat. Local farmers, fishermen and a small village sued the IFC, seeking injunction relief, claiming that pollution from the plant harmed the surrounding air, land and water.

The IOIA of 1945 grants international organizations the same immunity from suit, virtually absolute immunity, as is enjoyed by foreign governments. The FSIA 1952 gives foreign sovereign governments presumptive immunity from suit, subject to several statutory exceptions, including an exception for actions based on commercial activity with a sufficient nexus with the US. The court admits that under the rules applicable in 1945, the extent of immunity from suit was virtually absolute. However, under the rules applicable today, it is more limited.

The court reasoned that the international organization immunity and the foreign sovereign immunity are equivalent. The IOIA’s reference to the immunity enjoyed by foreign governments is to an external body of potentially evolving law, and its scope and content should be given only by reference to the rules governing foreign sovereign immunity. The court rejected the IFC’s concern that interpreting the IOIA immunity provision to grant only restrictive immunity would defeat the purpose of granting the clause. “This concern is inflated.”

The court held that the IOIA of 1945 affords international organizations the same immunity from suit that foreign governments enjoy today under the FSIA of 1976.

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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Supreme Court orders lower court to determine competency of death row inmate with dementia      

Source: Jurist

February 27, 2019

-United States-

The US Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered a new state court hearing to determine whether an Alabama death row inmate battling dementia is incompetent to be executed.

The justices ruled 5-3 in favor of inmate Vernon Madison, who was sentenced to death for killing a police officer in 1985. While awaiting execution, Madison suffered a series of strokes and was diagnosed with vascular dementia. The justices have previously said the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment means that people who are insane, delusional or psychotic cannot be executed.

In 2016 Madison petitioned for a stay of execution on the ground that he was mentally incompetent, as he failed to remember committing the crime for which he was sentenced to die. The state responded that even if Madison could not remember the crime, he has a rational understanding of the reasons for his execution.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Eighth Amendment “may permit executing Madison even if he cannot remember the crime,” and that the Eighth Amendment may prohibit executing Madison even though he suffers from dementia, rather than delusions. Ultimately, “the sole question on which Madison’s competency depends is whether he can reach a ‘rational understanding’ of why the State wants to execute him.”

Justice Elena Kagan delivered the majority opinion. Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas dissented. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was not yet on the court when arguments took place in early October.

Derecho Constitucional / Constitucional Law

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Reconocida a una funcionaria como tiempo de servicio activo la excedencia por cuidado de hijos        

Fuente: Noticias Jurídicas

27 de febrero, 2019

-España-

 El Colegio de Secretarios, Interventores y Tesoreros de Administración Local, con habilitación de carácter nacional de la provincia de Valencia, recurre la resolución que publica la relación individualizada de méritos generales de los funcionarios de administración local con habilitación nacional, porque el periodo concedido por excedencia por el cuidado de familiares no se ha computado como periodo de servicio activo.

El Tribunal de Justicia rechaza el argumento de la Administración que sostiene que sólo se puede valorar el trabajo efectivo.

La sentencia reconoce legitimación activa al Colegio Profesional recurrente porque lo que pretende es la interpretación de la Orden por la que se dictan normas sobre concursos de provisión de puestos reservados a funcionarios de administración local con habilitación nacional, en aras a lograr una aplicación favorable a la conciliación de la vida familiar y laboral, con clara repercusión en la carrera profesional de la funcionaria afectada. Además, la estimación de la pretensión redunda en una ventaja para todos los asociados del Colegio.

Para el Tribunal Superior de Justicia se debe acceder a la pretensión formulada por el Colegio, porque siendo de aplicación en el momento en el que se dicta la resolución impugnada la LO 3/2007, para la igualdad efectiva de mujeres y hombres, el EBEP, el tiempo de permanencia en situación de excedencia por cuidado de hijos o familiares, conforme a estas normas, es una situación asimilada a la sityuación de activo y, como tal, debe desplegar sus efectos en la valoración de los méritos.

La funcionaria, tras el nacimiento de su hijo, disfrutó de baja maternal, acumulación de permiso de lactancia y vacaciones, y a su finalización y sin solución de continuidad, solicitó excedencia por cuidado de familiares.

La Administración va en contra de sus propios actos porque en la resolución en que se le concede la excedencia se hace constar su derecho durante ese tiempo al cómputo de trienios, carrera y derechos en el Régimen de la Seguridad Social, mientras que la resolución impugnada no le reconoce en forma completa la antigüedad durante ese periodo de tiempo, y elimina los puntos que le correspondieran por permanencia al no reconocer como servicio activo el tiempo de excedencia por cuidado de hijos.

Si el tiempo de duración de los permisos, licencias, y bajas maternales, y por extensión los períodos de excedencia por cuidado de hijos, que se disfrutan por la mujer con ocasión de su maternidad, no son asimilados a la situación de servicio activo a los efectos de ser incluidos en el cómputo de los méritos de experiencia profesional, se vulnera el derecho a la igualdad efectiva entre hombres y mujeres.

Por ende, para el TSJ, sólo equiparando el periodo de disfrute de la excedencia para el cuidado de hijos/familiares como asimilada a la situación de servicio activo, se logra una adecuada conciliación de la vida familiar y laboral sin menoscabar la “carrera” del empleado público.