US Legal Issues

As victims’ families call for criminal prosecution

Senate hearing sets stage for cover-up of GM, government role in fatal crashes

By Barry Grey, 3 April 2014

For the second consecutive day, General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared before a congressional panel and refused to provide answers regarding the company’s cover-up of an ignition switch defect linked to at least 13 deaths and 31 crashes.

The state assassination of a US citizen foretold

By Tom Carter, 12 February 2014

If the government can order the assassination of US citizens in the name of national security, what can it not do? All the methods of a police state dictatorship become equally possible.

Supreme Court denies back pay to 800 US Steel workers

By Tom Carter, 30 January 2014

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the unions had bargained away steel workers' right to receive overtime pay for time spent putting on personal protective equipment.

Oklahoma carries out second execution this year using pentobarbital

By Nick Barrickman, 25 January 2014

Authorities utilized a three-drug protocol for the lethal injection that included a lethal dose of pentobarbital, an anesthetic commonly used to euthanize animals.

Texas executes Mexican national in defiance of international law

By Bill Van Auken, 23 January 2014

Edgar Tamayo was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday night after Texas authorities rejected a World Court ruling requiring that they review his case and those of other Mexicans on death row.

US appeals court strikes down “net neutrality” rules

By Thomas Gaist, 16 January 2014

The Open Internet regulations prohibited the selective blocking of slowing of legal Internet content by Internet providers.

Outrage over acquittal of California police who beat homeless man to death

By John Andrews, 16 January 2014

The acquittal of two officers captured on video beating to death a homeless, mentally ill man in Orange County, California has been met with widespread anger.

The pseudo-legal arguments for a police state

By Tom Carter, 31 December 2013

US District Judge William H. Pauley’s ruling in the case of ACLU v. Clapper on December 27, which sanctions NSA surveillance of the telephone records of the entire country’s population, has immense significance for democratic rights.

“Almost Orwellian”: US Judge indicts NSA spying

By Bill Van Auken, 18 December 2013

The ruling by Judge Richard Leon, while doing nothing to curb the NSA’s mass spying operations, nonetheless acknowledges that they embody the methods of a police state.

Federal judge holds NSA telephone surveillance unconstitutional

By John Burton, 17 December 2013

A federal judge in Washington, DC has ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone data on virtually every person in the United States violates the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Federal prosecutors charge Los Angeles deputy sheriffs in jail abuse probe

By John Burton, 17 December 2013

FBI agents arrested 18 Los Angeles County Sheriff employees on charges of conspiracy, abuse of inmates and lying.

US in sweetheart deal with JPMorgan over complicity in Madoff Ponzi scheme

By Barry Grey, 17 December 2013

Deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements have proliferated under the Obama administration, in accordance with its policy of not prosecuting major banks or corporations.

Obama administration defends NSA against civil liberties lawsuit

By John Burton, 26 November 2013

Administration lawyers used the standard “war on terror” pretext to justify the NSA’s collection of telephone data on virtually every person in the United States.

Obama administration asks Supreme Court to back warrantless cell phone searches

By Kate Randall, 23 August 2013

The Justice Department petition argues that warrantless cell phone searches do not violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

US Drug Enforcement Agency conceals use of information from NSA mass surveillance programs

By Niles Williamson, 6 August 2013

A Reuters report describes how federal law enforcement agencies that utilize evidence obtained from illegal domestic spying programs are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail in a manner that violates defendants’ right to a fair trial.

Obama administration officials testify at Manning sentencing

By Matthew MacEgan, 6 August 2013

The sentencing phase of the Bradley Manning court martial continued Monday with the testimony of Undersecretary of State Patrick Kennedy.

US Supreme Court allows police to take DNA samples of arrestees

By Joseph Kishore, 4 June 2013

The US Supreme Court decision is a major attack on the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Supreme Court bars US lawsuits against overseas human rights abuses

By John Burton, 23 April 2013

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that foreign citizens subjected to human rights abuses outside the US cannot sue corporations or individuals in US courts.

Interview with Paul Hoffman, lawyer for the plaintiffs

By John Burton, 23 April 2013

Paul Hoffman, a partner in the Venice, California law firm of Schonbrun, DeSimone, Seplow, Harris, Hoffman & Harrison, has been representing plaintiffs in cases under the Alien Tort Statute for the last 30 years.

US Supreme Court hears arguments on gay marriage

By Barry Grey, 30 March 2013

There is a clear issue of democratic rights in the same-sex marriage question. Having said that, claims that recognition of same-sex marriage signifies a new flowering of democratic rights lack any credibility.

Plans for military surveillance of Americans’ financial records

By Ed Hightower, 19 March 2013

The Treasury’s proposal represents yet another front in the escalating attack on democratic rights, especially the rights to privacy and freedom of association.

US Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit challenging secret wiretaps

By John Burton, 28 February 2013

In dismissing the suit, the Supreme Court majority adopted the positions urged by Obama administration lawyers in their briefs and at oral argument last October.

Obama administration claims power to authorize pre-emptive cyberwar strikes

By Joseph Kishore, 5 February 2013

Secret legal arguments prepared by the government are part of an effort to expand cyberwar strikes against other countries, particularly Iran and China.

Federal Circuit Court upholds Wisconsin anti-worker law

By Niles Williamson, 24 January 2013

A US appeals court upheld the unpopular 2011 Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill (also known as Act 10) that sparked mass protests in the spring of 2011.

US Supreme Court refuses to hear lawsuit on suicide crisis facing war veterans

By Eric London, 11 January 2013

Eighteen veterans kill themselves each day, and the three branches of government have each answered with callous indifference.

US Army judge rejects motion to dismiss charges in Bradley Manning case

By Naomi Spencer, 10 January 2013

Manning was granted only a 112-day reduction in sentencing on a life term in hearings this week.

Bradley Manning testifies on his detention

By Naomi Spencer, 30 November 2012

Bradley Manning took the stand to speak on his pre-trial detention Thursday. It was the first public statement from the accused whistleblower in over two years.

Psychiatrists testify on military mistreatment of Bradley Manning

By Naomi Spencer, 30 November 2012

Psychiatrists testified Wednesday that recommendations to end Manning’s solitary confinement were ignored.

FBI entraps Bangladeshi student in fake terror plot

By Bill Van Auken, 19 October 2012

In the latest in a seemingly endless series of “sting” operations, the FBI ensnared a 21-year-old Bangladeshi student in a fabricated plot to blow up the New York Federal Reserve.

US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in affirmative action case

By Tom Carter, 19 October 2012

The arguments in favor of affirmative action further exposed the gulf that separates a program for genuine social equality from the essentially undemocratic affirmative action policy.

Democratic rights under threat as US Supreme Court opens new term

By Tom Carter, 4 October 2012

In a significant number of cases expected to come before the US Supreme Court this term, democratic rights are in jeopardy.

US appeals court upholds Texas ban on Medicaid funds for Planned Parenthood

By Ed Hightower, 30 August 2012

In a ruling handed down August 21, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a Texas regulation that effectively cuts off funding to clinics operated by Planned Parenthood.

Obama administration to respond to lawsuit challenging assassination program

By Tom Carter, 20 August 2012

The Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta lawsuit highlights the extent to which democratic rights and the rule of law have been eroded under the Obama administration.

A barbarous dissent: The US Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama

By Richard Hoffman, 28 June 2012

The unremarkable reasoning underlying the majority’s decision only places in sharper relief the barbarous character of the four dissenting judgments.

Arizona v. United States

Supreme Court unanimously upholds antidemocratic attack on immigrant workers

By Kevin Kearney, 26 June 2012

The court ruling leaves in place the most reactionary and antidemocratic feature of Arizona’s SB 1070 law, the mandate that local and state police check the immigration status of anyone they detain or question.

Arizona anti-immigrant law argued before US Supreme Court

By Tom Carter, 26 April 2012

The oral arguments yesterday before the US Supreme Court over Arizona’s anti-immigrant act are chiefly remarkable for the refusal of the Obama administration to mount any serious opposition to the unprecedented and authoritarian provisions of the law.

Unanimous US Supreme Court expands reactionary “qualified immunity” doctrine

By Tom Carter, 19 April 2012

With the support of the Obama administration, the US Supreme Court Tuesday expanded the reach of a reactionary legal doctrine that immunizes government agents who violate the Constitution from litigation.

The Obama administration and the Supreme Court decision on strip searches

By John Burton, 5 April 2012

The Obama administration played a key role in Monday’s Supreme Court decision to allow blanket strip searches of people arrested for minor offenses.

US Supreme Court hears challenge to Obama health care law

By Kate Randall, 27 March 2012

The US Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments Monday into the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s health care legislation.

The 2012 elections and the assault on voting rights in the US

By Ed Hightower, 27 March 2012

The 2010 mid-term elections put Republicans in control of many state legislatures, largely due to the disaffection, arising from the administration’s right-wing policies, of many who had voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Since then, at least 17 states have attempted to restrict voting rights in advance of the November ballot.

US Supreme Court issues reactionary rulings on warrants and interrogations

By John Burton, 20 March 2012

The Supreme Court continues to weaken key provisions of the Bill of Rights, last month issuing reactionary decisions protecting police who serve illegal warrants and conduct interrogations without giving people their rights.

Anti-democratic actions by the US Supreme Court

By Tom Carter, 24 January 2012

Recent Supreme Court opinions involving religion, voting rights and warrantless surveillance cast a shadow over existing democratic legal protections.

Lawsuit demands that Obama administration release Guantanamo torture tapes

By Tom Carter, 12 January 2012

The videotapes sought by the Center for Constitutional Rights constitute important evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Supreme Court intervention in Arizona anti-immigrant law poses threat to democratic rights

By Tom Carter, 14 December 2011

The announcement Monday by the US Supreme Court that it will review a decision striking down provisions of Arizona’s unprecedented anti-immigrant law casts a shadow over what had been considered historically settled questions affecting democratic rights.

US Supreme Court to review Arizona immigration law

By Kevin Kearney, 13 December 2011

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will review a lower court decision striking down provisions of an Arizona anti-immigrant law.

US Supreme Court to hear challenge to Obama health care law

By Patrick Martin, 16 November 2011

The high court is expected to make a decision on the constitutionality of the health care law in the midst of next year’s presidential election campaign.

Police reign of terror intensifies at Los Angeles County Jail

By Alan Gilman, 14 October 2011

The Los Angeles County Jail, the nation’s largest, with over 17,000 inmates, continues to be plagued by brutal assaults upon its inmates by deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The legal implications of the al-Awlaki assassination

By Tom Carter, 10 October 2011

Anwar al-Awlaki was selected for assassination as a test case that, if successful, would set a precedent according to which the executive branch of the US government has the unreviewable power to secretly liquidate its political opponents, including US citizens.

White House urges Supreme Court to approve health care “reform” and deepen attacks on democratic rights

By John Burton, 4 October 2011

Obama administration lawyers have filed briefs in many of the cases set for review by the Supreme Court this term, urging approval of the cost-cutting health care overhaul and rollbacks on constitutional rights.

US government targets open access activist

By Patrick Zimmerman, 5 August 2011

Aaron Swartz, a researcher at Harvard is being pursued by government authorities for alleged wire fraud.

Five New Orleans police officers stand trial for post-Katrina killings

By Naomi Spencer, 12 July 2011

A federal trial has begun against five current and former New Orleans police officers charged in the killing and maiming of six unarmed residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The acquittal of Casey Anthony

By David Walsh, 8 July 2011

The acquittal of 25-year-old Casey Anthony in Orlando, Florida Tuesday on charges of murdering her child in June 2008 points to a fact of some social significance.

The Supreme Court and corporate America

By Tom Carter, 27 June 2011

The US Supreme Court is steadily shielding corporate criminality while cutting back fundamental democratic rights.

US Supreme Court undermines class action lawsuits in Wal-Mart ruling

By Tom Carter, 21 June 2011

The US Supreme Court ruling yesterday means that the larger the corporation, the less susceptible it will be to class action lawsuits by its employees.

US Supreme Court gives green light to warrant-less searches of homes

By Tom Carter, 19 May 2011

A decision Monday by the US Supreme Court represents a further major step in abolishing the basic civil liberties protections in the Bill of Rights and enhancing the arbitrary powers of the police.

CIA terrorist Posada Carriles acquitted in immigration trial

By Bill Van Auken, 12 April 2011

The travesty of a trial of Posada Carriles on immigration-related charges let the veteran terrorist and CIA agent walk free, despite being wanted for the killing of scores of civilians.

Supreme Court rules against New Orleans’ frame-up victim, upholds religious school credits

By John Burton, 11 April 2011

In two reactionary rulings, the Supreme Court cancelled a jury award to a man falsely convicted of murder due to prosecutorial misconduct and ruled that taxpayers cannot sue for the diversion of tax revenue to religious schools.

US Supreme Court further weakens right to face one’s accuser

By Michael Stapleton, 9 March 2011

On February 28, in the case Michigan v. Bryant, the US Supreme Court issued yet another decision undermining the right of someone accused of a crime to question his or her accusers.

US Justice Department drops investigation of sub-prime mortgage mogul Angelo Mozilo

By Andre Damon, 3 March 2011

The US Department of Justice has quietly dropped its investigation of Angelo Mozilo, the former head of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial and one of the most culpable figures in the financial meltdown of 2008.

Obama administration indicts ex-CIA whistleblower

By Ed Hightower and Tom Carter, 4 February 2011

The persecution of ex-CIA agent and whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling reveals that the Obama administration is prepared use any means necessary to keep the lid on its dirty secrets.

US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas violated conflict of interest law

By Tom Eley, 27 January 2011

For years Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas violated a law requiring justices reveal their spouse’s income and employers, during which time his wife, Virginia Thomas, received hundreds of thousands dollars from right-wing and pro-corporate groups.

US government pursues bogus criminal prosecution of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange

By Don Knowland, 11 January 2011

A subpoena obtained by the US government amounts to confirmation that prosecutors have convened a grand jury in an effort to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and perhaps others on charges of conspiring to steal documents with Army private Bradley Manning.

New York settles fraud charges with ex-Auto Task Force head Steven Rattner

By Barry Grey, 4 January 2011

On December 30, two days before assuming the governorship of New York, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced a settlement of fraud charges against the Wall Street financier and former head of President Obama’s Auto Task Force, Steven Rattner.

New York suit charges Lehman auditor Ernst & Young with collusion in fraud

By Barry Grey, 24 December 2010

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a civil suit Tuesday charging the accounting firm Ernst & Young with complicity in massive fraud committed by Lehman Brothers in the months leading up to the investment bank’s September 2008 collapse.

New Orleans police convicted in post-Katrina killing

By Naomi Spencer and E.P. Bannon, 14 December 2010

Three New Orleans police officers have been convicted for an unprovoked killing and cover-up following Hurricane Katrina.

Judge dismisses case challenging targeted killing of US citizens by Obama administration

By Tom Carter, 9 December 2010

The dismissal Tuesday of a lawsuit that challenged the Obama administration’s targeted killing program underscores the decay of democratic processes in the United States.

Obama’s car czar faces new lawsuits in kickback scheme

By Jerry White, 23 November 2010

Steven Rattner—the chief architect of the attack on GM and Chrysler workers—has been implicated in a scheme aimed at channeling millions into his former private equity firm.

Guantánamo detainee, acquitted on 284 of 285 charges, faces 20 years

By Tom Eley, 19 November 2010

A federal court jury on Wednesday unexpectedly acquitted Guantánamo detainee Ahmed Khaifan Ghailani on 284 charges related to the 1998 terrorist attacks on the US Embassy in Tanzania.

Obama lawyers oppose suits enforcing separation of church and state

By John Burton, 19 November 2010

The Obama administration has argued in the Supreme Court that taxpayers have no right to challenge unconstitutional governmental expenditures on religion.