JURIST Legal News

JURIST's legal news service, powered by a team of over 40 law student reporters and editors led by Professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
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Zimbabwe's parliament on Monday voted to amend its constitution to empower the president to handpick the nation's top judges. With this amendment, President Robert Mugabe [Britannica profile] will have substantially greater power [Guardian report] than he did under the 2013 constitution. Under the previous version, the president's power in selecting top judges was limited, as he could only choose justices from the judiciary services commission's list of candidates. The decision sparked political tensions in Zimbabwe, since many who oppose an...
The Texas Senate [official website] voted Tuesday to advance SB 3 [text, PDF], which has been referred [Texas Tribune report] to as the "bathroom bill." The bill requires persons using multi-occupancy restrooms, showers and changing facilities in a political subdivision, which includes public and open-charter schools, to use the restroom which matches the sex designated on their birth certificate or driver's license, personal identification certificate or license to carry a handgun. The bill also disallows a person whose birth certificate...
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] on Tuesday rejected [text, PDF] a DC legal restriction that required an applicant to have "good reason to fear for their person or property" in order to acquire a concealed carry permit. The law was blocked by a 2-1 vote. The opinion stated that the "good reason" law is equivalent to a total ban on an enumerated right. According to the decision, "the Second Amendment's core lies...
An Egyptian court sentenced 43 individuals to life in prison Tuesday for crimes of vandalism, rioting and attacking Egyptian authorities. The acts for which the protesters were convicted took place in 2011, among an outbreak of demonstrations against then-president Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile]. The defendants were also fined [Reuters report] 17 million Egyptian pounds. Ten other protesters were handed down lesser sentences of five or ten years, 96 protesters were acquitted of their charges. The convicted parties may appeal their...
Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] issued an expansive report [press release] on Tuesday calling for a "moratorium" on surgeries designed to "normalize" intersex children, those who are "are born with chromosomes, gonads, sex organs, or genitalia that differ from those seen as socially typical for boys and girls." The 160-page report, titled "I Want to be Like Nature Made Me: Medically Unnecessary Surgeries on Intersex Children in the United State" [text], is the product of a collaborative effort by...
[JURIST] Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte [official profile] promised Monday to continue to escalate the war on drugs in his country despite international concern over human rights violations. The war on drugs, which has been a staple aspect of his presidency and his public rhetoric, has been met with strong opposition from the international community, which has pointed to the increase in extrajudicial killings [JURIST report] since Duterte took office. Duterte responded to the critics [Reuters report] by stating that they...
[JURIST] In a statement [press release] to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website], Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar Yanghee Lee [UN profile] voiced her concern on Monday over the worsening human rights situation in Myanmar. During her 12-day visit at the invitation of the Myanmar government, Lee stated she witnessed government security forces use humans as shields in violent encounters and numerous deaths of detainees while in custody. Lee also voiced...
A federal district judge on Monday allowed [opinion, PDF] President Donald Trump's election commission to move forward by dismissing the need for a prior privacy impact assessment before collecting voter data. US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly [official profile] denied a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction requested [JURIST report] by Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI). Kollar-Kotelly determined that only agencies must go through a privacy impact assessment required by E-Government...
Iran's judiciary chief asked [TNA press release] the US Monday to release Iranians jailed in the US and to return Iran's assets after President Donald Trump called on [Reuters report] the state to release three detained US citizens. Iran's Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani [Reuters backgrounder] renounced the US claims and brought his own in a televised speech to other top-ranking judicial officials. "We tell them: 'You should immediately release Iranian citizens held in American prisons in violation of...
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] on Monday that immigrants cannot be detained solely at the request of federal law enforcement officials. The decision comes out of Lunn v. Commonwealth, a case concerning a Cambodian refugee who was arrested for unarmed robbery in Boston last October. When the charges were dismissed because the prosecution failed to present a case, federal authorities issued a civil detainer request to hold Lunn for 48 hours until officers could...
Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro [Reuters profile] announced on Sunday that a controversial election for a new national assembly will go forth as planned next weekend. The new Constituent Assembly will have the power [Reuters report] to rewrite the nation's constitution which was adopted in 1999. Opponents to the move, including the European Union [official website] and other Latin American countries, are calling for a boycott of the vote. Many have accused the efforts for a constitutional rewrite to be undemocratic...
Polish President Andrzej Duda [official website] announced on Monday that he is vetoing two proposed laws that threaten to limit the judiciary's independence. One of the bills, passed [JURIST report] by the Polish Parliament [official website] last week with two others aimed at judicial reform, would allow members of parliament to appoint Supreme Court judges, a move that many citizens of Poland strongly opposed. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party [party website, in Polish] pushed the bill through just...
On Saturday, Venezuela's opposition party, Unidad Democratica [official website], made a call [press release, in Spanish] for a 48-hour general strike to be held next Wednesday and Thursday. The strike [Bloomberg report] comes in response to President Nicolas Maduro's call to rewrite the country's constitution and to elect a new assembly next week. The opposition party had organized [Reuters report] a separate 24-hour strike earlier this week that involved millions of participants. There are also plans for marches to be...
On Saturday, Poland's upper house of parliament, the Senate [official website], passed a law [PDF, in Polish] that would give the government control over the Supreme Court. The law still needs to be approved [CNN report] by President Andrzej Duda [official profile]. The law would allow the president to force Supreme Court judges into retirement and appoint new judges. The president has 21 days to approve the law. Proponents of the law say that it is necessary to reform the...
The House of Representatives and the Senate reached an agreement on Saturday to impose a new sanctions bill [materials] on Russia that would give Congress a new veto power in any presidential attempt to roll back the sanctions. The development was brought by both congressional Republicans and Democrats following concerns that President Donald Trump may return two Russian compounds previously taken in response to the cyber attacks surrounding the American election. The bill had previously faced a blue slip constitutional...
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) [official website] released a report [text] on Friday welcoming a program, almost five years in the works, to register undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan. UNHCR estimates that between 600,000 to one million undocumented Afghans, currently living in Pakistan, will be now able to receive Afghan Citizen (AC) cards. The cards will identify the holder as an Afghan Citizen, and will legally protect them from arbitrary arrests, detention or deportation...
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [official website] signed a bill [press release] into law on Friday directing New Jersey school boards to "addres[s] common issues concerning the needs of transgender and LGBTQ students, and to assist schools in establishing policies and procedures that ensure a supportive and nondiscriminatory environment for transgender students." S-3067/A-4652 [text] directs the Commissioner of Education to follow eleven basic guidelines in ensuring transgender and LGBTQ students are ensured a school environment free of discrimination. Those guidelines,...
UN Secretary-General António Guterres [official website] issued a statement [text] through his spokesman on Friday condemning the escalating violence [TheGuardian report] between Israelis and Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem. Ongoing clashes between the two groups have left three Palestinian men dead [Al Jazeera report] in East Jerusalem, while three Israelis were stabbed to death in a West Bank settlement overnight. In addition to the six deaths, over 140 have been reported injured. Guterres stated [press release] that he...
The US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky [official website] issued an order [PDF] Friday holding the state of Kentucky responsible for attorneys' fees related to litigation involving a county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Two years after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis [official website] defied the US Supreme Court [official website] ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges [SCOTUSblog materials] by refusing to issue the licenses, citing her religious beliefs, Judge David Bunning stated...
Abortion rights groups filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday that seeks an injunction against against a Texas law that bans a common method of second-trimester abortions. The complaint was filed in response to Senate Bill 8 [materials], which was signed in law [JURIST report] in June by Texas Governor Greg Abbott [official website]. The bill bans second trimester dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedures, a safe and widely used method that can be performed in an outpatient setting. Whole Woman's...

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