US Legal News Round Up for Saturday, 17 February 2018

US Legal News Round Up for Saturday, 17 February 2018

Here’s the domestic legal news we covered this week:

[JURIST] A federal grand jury in Washington, DC, indicted [indictment, PDF] 13 Russian citizens and three Russian organizations for interfering in the 2016 US presidential election.
Nine local government and health care organizations filed four lawsuits on Thursday in US federal district courts challenging the Trump administration’s July 2017 termination of grants for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP Program), a congressionally mandated initiative funding programs to prevent teen pregnancy.
The Oregon House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill [text] aimed to expand the state’s gun control laws.

House Bill 4145 seeks to amend existing provisions and add new ones to the state’s already existing gun control statutes.

The US Senate [official website] received HR 4675 [text] on Wednesday [actions list] regarding providing funding for researching the health effects of low doses of radiation.

The bill, known as the Low-Dose Radiation Research Act of 2018, will provide $100 million between 2018 and 2021 for researching the effects of radiation exposure under 100 mSv (10 Rem).

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary [official website] on Thursday advanced [summary] S 1917 [text], which will reduce minimum sentences for some drug related crimes.

The bill, also known as the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017, reduces the minimum sentence from 20 years to 15 years for individuals who have a previous serious drug felony conviction or serious violent felony conviction and were later convicted of manufacturing, distributing or dispensing controlled substance of a certain quantity.

The US House of Representatives [official website] passed the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 [text] on Thursday in a 225-192 vote [roll call] changing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) [materials].

The bill adds a provision requiring the Department of Justice to develop an educational program for state and local governments and property owners on how to improve accommodations for persons with disabilities.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio [advocacy website] has filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] challenging Ohio H.B.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] on Thursday upheld [opinion, PDF] a lower court’s preliminary injunction [JURIST report] preventing enforcement of US President Donald Trump’s most recent travel ban [JURIST news archive].

The appellate court concluded, based on “official statements from President Trump and other executive branch officials, along with the Proclamation itself, …

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] on Wednesday denied [opinion, pdf] one group’s secession from an Alabama school district on racially discriminatory grounds, reversing a previous decision [opinion, pdf] by the U.S.
The Indiana Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the process the state uses to choose its lethal injection drugs in constitutional.

Roy Ward, an inmate on death row, argued that the process was unconstitutional because a change in the combination of drugs is a substantive rule that must be promulgated by the Indiana Administrative Rules and Procedures Act (ARPA) [text, PDF].

A group of UN experts urged [press release] the US government Wednesday to respect the rights of human defenders after concerns involving Maru Mora Villalpando, a Mexican immigrant activist who campaigns to protect migrants’ rights.

Villalpando, co-founder of a group which highlights human rights concerns about the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, is facing deportation after leading a campaign against human rights standards in the privatized facility.

Ahmad Khan Rahimi was sentenced [press release] to two life terms in prison for both his execution and attempted execution of bombings in New York City on September 17, 2016.
Oregon’s House of Representatives [official website] on Tuesday approved a bill to amend the constitution [text, PDF] to make access to health care a fundamental right.

The amendment would add a section to the state’s constitution that reads: “It is the obligation of the state to ensure that every resident of Oregon has access to cost-effective, medically appropriate and affordable health care as a fundamental right.”

The bill will now be sent to the Senate [official website] and, if approved, will go before voters at the next general election.

Mitch Greenlick, the Chair of the House Committee on Health Care [official websites], introduced the Hope Bill with approximately 40 co-sponsors between the House and Senate.

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York [official website] has blocked [opinion, PDF] the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [official website] program, which gives undocumented immigrants brought into the US as children, known as “Dreamers,” protection from deportation.

The lawsuit was originally filed by 17 state attorneys general who primarily argued that the repeal of DACA was “arbitrary and capricious.” That standard holds that there must be a “legally adequate” reason for actions such as repealing any legislation.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf [official website] on Tuesday told the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that he rejects [letter] the new proposed congressional map submitted last week by House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) [official websites].

Wolf told [press release] the court that the proposed map still acts as a partisan gerrymander.

Four survivors of a church massacre that occurred during the Liberian civil war filed a civil suit [complaint, PDF] in US court Monday against the commander of the armed forces allegedly responsible for the massacre.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Monday unsealed an indictment [text, PDF] against five Venezuelan officials for allegedly participating in an international bribery and money laundering scheme involving Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA), a state-owned oil and natural gas company.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) [official websites] said Monday they had reached a settlement [text, PDF] with Shell Chemicals LP [corporate website] over the alleged Clean Air Act (CAA), National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) and Louisiana state law violations committed by failing to properly operate industrial flares at the company’s Norco, Louisiana, plant.

The settlement, lodged in the Eastern District Court of Louisiana as a consent decree, requires [press release] Shell to spend roughly $10 million to monitor, install, and operate technology, “estimated to reduce air emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by approximately 159 tons per year, and reduce other harmful air pollutants, including benzene, by approximately 18 tons per year.” The press release detailed the significance of the settlement and impact, stating:

Industrial flares burn waste gases that otherwise would be released to the atmosphere.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] announced [press release] Monday that it has filed a complaint against the three biggest dental supply companies, “alleging that they violated U.S.