Canada Supreme Court allows non-resident citizens to vote
January 11, 2019
The Supreme Court of Canada on Friday struck down a restrictive law that prevented Canadian citizens living outside the country from casting ballots in national elections.
The question before the court revolved around a section of the Canada Elections Act that stated that citizens of Canada have the right to vote as long as they have “been absent from Canada for less than five consecutive years.” This section of the law had the effect of disenfranchising more than a million and a half Canadian citizens who lived outside the country for five or more years, including Gillian Frank and Jamie Duong, two Canadian citizens who teach at universities in the US. The two sued the Canadian government after being barred from voting in the election of 2011, alleging that the five-year limitation was “arbitrary” and blocking their right to vote was unconstitutional. The Canadian government argued that the limitation of voting rights was justified under Section 1 of the Canadian Charter, which allows for constitutional rights to be curtailed in a “reasonable” and “minimally impairing” manner if there is a strong policy reason for doing so.
In its 5-2 decision, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with Frank and Duong. In the judgment, Chief Justice Richard Wagner stated that the government’s invocation of Section 1 of the Charter “must be carefully scrutinized and cannot be tolerated without a compelling justification.” Without a clear and reasonable policy reason for limiting the rights of non-resident citizens, the court felt that the government’s use of Section 1 to justify the five-year residency limitation on the right to vote of the Charter was improper. “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy,” Wagner stated, going on to write that “denial of the fundamental right to vote, in and of itself, inflicts harm on affected citizens.” The two dissenting judges stated, however, that the five-year limitation was justifiable, writing that “a five-year time period falls within the range of reasonable options that were open to Parliament, and it is not this Court’s prerogative, let alone within this Court’s expertise, to second-guess the precise location at which Parliament chose to draw the line” in their dissent.
Supreme Court hears arguments related to Native American hunting rights and copyrights
January 09, 2019
The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases on Tuesday. The first case, Herrara v. Wyoming, concerns whether Crow Tribe members have the right to hunt on Bighorn National Forest lands. The second case, Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, concerns when a copyright is registered.
In Herrara v. Wyoming, Herrara’s attorney argued that an 1868 treaty that gave members of the Crow Tribe authorization to hunt in the lands that now make up Bighorn National Forest is still in effect. The case centers on whether Wyoming entering statehood ended the treaty, or if the national forest is considered occupied lands. The treaty stated that the agreement would end if the lands became occupied. Frederick Liu, Assistant to the Solicitor General of the Department of Justice, gave oral arguments in support of Herrara.
In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation v. Wall-Street.com, the case centers on whether a copyright is considered to be registered when the application is submitted to the Copyright Office, or when the Copyright Office acts on the application. The attorney for Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corporation argued that registration occurs when the proper application material is submitted. The attorney for Wall-Street.com argued that registration occurs when the Copyright Office has made an official action on the application. Jonathan Ellis, Assistant to the Solicitor General of the Department of Justice, gave oral arguments in support of Wall-Street.com.
Supreme Court declines to rule on border wall environmental concerns
December 03, 2018
The US Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from three conservation groups challenging President Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border over potential environmental concerns.
The Center for Biological Diversity, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Defenders of Wildlife alleged in their lawsuits that Section 102(c) of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act gave the federal government the ability to waive environmental laws in order to expedite the construction of barriers and roads like the border wall.
“(c) WAIVER.—The provisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 are waived to the extent the Attorney General determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.”
The conservation groups argued that the waiver was unconstitutional and gave the Department of Homeland Security too much power in its ability to bypass the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. The border wall construction could potentially harm plants, wildlife habitats, and many coastal species.
The case was decided in February by US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel who granted summary judgment in favor of the Trump administration. Curiel did not find the 1996 law’s waiver provision unconstitutional. He held that the Department of Homeland Security should get wide discretion on border security issues and that the Trump administration did not abuse this discretion in proceeding with constructing border wall prototypes.
Supreme Court hears arguments on Oklahoma jurisdiction in ‘Indian territory’
November 28, 2018
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday heard oral arguments in a case concerning an appeal of class action status and a capital case challenging Oklahoma’s jurisdiction over a crime committed in Native American territory. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
Sri Lanka Supreme Court overturns president’s decision to dissolve parliament
November 14, 2018
The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on Tuesday overturned the president’s decision to dissolve parliament and called for a halt in preparations for a snap election on January 5. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
Ethiopia Supreme Court swears in first female head
November 02, 2018
Meaza Ashenafi, a prominent East African women’s rights activist, has been appointed President of Ethiopia’s Federal Supreme Court, becoming the court’s first female head. She has worked as a judge and legal adviser in Ethiopia since 1992. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
Supreme Court declines to hear net neutrality case
November 5, 2018
The Supreme Court declined Monday to review a 2016 case brought by various broadband service providers challenging Federal Communications Commission (FCC) net neutrality protections from the Obama era. Leer el resto de esta entrada »