Here’s the domestic legal news we covered this week:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a statement of interest
[text, PDF] Thursday on behalf of two conservative student groups at the University of California, Berkeley
[official website] who are suing the school for violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech, due process and equal protection.
The US Supreme Court
[official website] on Thursday halted
[order, PDF] the planned execution of Alabama death row inmate Vernon Madison.
A federal judge granted a request to acquit
[order, PDF] Senator Bob Menendez and his friend Salomon Melgen Wednesday on several charges in a bribery case that ended in a mistrial
[JURIST] New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed an executive order
[text, PDF] mandating internet providers comply with net neutrality.
The order makes New York the second state after Montana [JURIST report] to update their procurement procedures to require that internet service providers comply with net neutrality standards.
The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU), together with the Abolitionist Law Center
[advocacy websites], and the law firms of Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing, Feiberg & Lin LLP
and Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
[firm websites] filed a class action suit
[complaint, PDF] against Pennsylvania’s “unconstitutional practice of holding prisoners sentenced to death in mandatory, permanent solitary confinement,” alleging that the practice “cruelly and baselessly hold death-sentenced prisoners in permanent, degrading, and inhumane solitary confinement until their capital sentence is overturned, or they die by execution or natural causes.”
The complaint has been field on behalf of plaintiffs Anthony Reid, Ricardo Natividad, Mark Newton Spotz, Ronald Gibson and Jermont Cox, who have been held in solitary confinement while on death row for a periods ranging between 16 to 27 years.
A federal judge ruled
[opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the Department of Defense
[official website] must give the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) [advocacy website] 72 hours notice before transferring an American detained abroad in order to allow for a legal challenge before the transfer happens.
The Alabama House of Representatives
on Wednesday approved a bill
[HB 17 materials] to eliminate special elections when there is a vacancy in the US Senate.
Under HB 17 [text, PDF], when a vacancy occurred the governor would appoint a person until the next general election.
[official website] released preliminary statistics
[materials] Tuesday outlining US crime metrics from January through June 2017, which indicated a downward trend in violent crime and rise in the homicide rate.
A newly declassified investigation has revealed that the US military knew about at least 75 reported human rights abuses by Afghan military and police but used a legal loophole to keep funding the Afghan units.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner
[official website] participated in meetings involving his share of a $67.5 million settlement shortly after taking office in 2015, according to a newly-unsealed lawsuit
[complaint] on Tuesday.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order
[text, PDF] on Wednesday to expand access to medical marijuana in the state.
[JURIST] Florida voters will have an opportunity to vote
[petition form text, PDF] on an amendment to the state constitution
[text] that would automatically restore voting rights to felons once they complete their sentences after election officials certified petition signatures Tuesday.
Currently, Article VI Section 6 of Florida’s constitution, the section which governs disenfranchisement, states that “[n]o person convicted of a felony …
Montana governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order
[text] on Monday that will make companies provide nondiscriminatory internet services in order to obtain a contract within the state.
The executive order takes effect starting July 1, 2018.
Vermont became the ninth state to legalize recreational marijuana and the first to do so by legislation on Monday after Phil Scott signed the bill
[text, PDF] passed earlier this month.
The law legalized possession of marijuana equal to one ounce or less, two mature plants, or four immature plants for those 21 years and older.
[JURIST] Military judge James Pohl ruled
report] on Friday that no wrongdoing occurred when the prosecution destroyed a CIA secret prison, or “black site,” on Pohl’s orders.
[JURIST] A former Department of Energy (DOE) [official website] has filed a whistleblower complaint claiming that he was fired after releasing controversial photographs
[In These Times report] of Energy Secretary Rick Perry
[official website] embracing coal executive Robert Murray during a private meeting last March.
During the meeting, Simon Edelman [official profile] also took photographs of a memo that allegedly outlined the steps coal executives hoped the Trump administration would take to help the coal industry.