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Pakistani court orders probe into ex-minister’s arrest
Legal Business | 2022/05/23 09:33
A court in Pakistan’s capital has ordered an investigation into the controversial arrest of a former human rights minister over a decades-old land dispute.

Chief Justice Ather Minallah of the Islamabad High Court late Saturday ordered the probe in response to a petition from the daughter of former minister Shireen Mazari.

Minallah questioned the decision by officials in Islamabad to allow police from a Punjab provincial district to make the arrest in the capital.

Mazari, who served in the Cabinet-level position under former Prime Minister Imran Khan, had been detained by police near her Islamabad home earlier in the day.

Fawad Chaudhry, former information minister in Khan’s administration, alleged that Mazari — the senior leader in Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party — had been politically targeted by the new administration of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif under the guise of a land dispute dating back to 1972.

Hours after Mazari’s arrest, Chief Minister of Punjab province Hamza Shahbaz ordered her release and late Saturday she was brought to the Islamabad court for an urgent hearing. She was then released.

Mazari has been critical of Sharif’s government on Twitter since Khan’s government was toppled in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last month. Khan’s party lawmakers resigned from the body’s lower house in protest and Khan is mobilizing supporters through public rallies across the country to pressure the government into an early election.


Kansas Supreme Court upholds Republican congressional map
Court News | 2022/05/18 12:33
Kansas’ highest court on Wednesday upheld a Republican redistricting law that makes it harder for the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation to win reelection in a big victory for the GOP.

The state Supreme Court declined for now to declare that overly partisan gerrymandering violates the Kansas Constitution. The ruling sets district boundaries less than a month before the state’s June 10 filing deadline for congressional candidates.

The court’s opinion was two paragraphs long, saying only that the voters and voting rights group challenging the map “have not prevailed on their claims” that the map violated the state constitution and that a full opinion would come later.

The brief decision was written by Justice Caleb Stegall, who is seen as the most conservative of the court’s seven justices, five of whom were appointed by Democratic governors. During arguments from attorneys on Monday, he questioned whether anyone could clearly define improper partisan gerrymandering.

Lawsuits over new congressional district lines have proliferated across the U.S., with Republicans looking to recapture a U.S. House majority in this year’s midterm elections. Congressional maps in at least 17 states have inspired lawsuits, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

In the past, congressional district lines have been reviewed by federal judges and not the state Supreme Court. The conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in 2019 that complaints about partisan gerrymandering are political issues and not for the federal courts to resolve.

The state’s Republican-appointed solicitor general argued in defending the GOP-drawn map that because the state constitution doesn’t specifically mention gerrymandering or congressional redistricting, the Kansas Supreme Court should reject the legal challenges. He and other state officials said that the justices had no guidance on how to define improper political gerrymandering.


Abortion rights protesters rally in cities around US
Attorney News | 2022/05/12 08:54
Abortion rights protesters rallied in cities around the United States on Saturday, vowing to fight to ensure that abortion remains a legal option for women nationwide.

Hundreds gathered in Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and other cities days after a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion was leaked to the public suggesting the court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide. The draft opinion, which comes amid nearly 50 years of federal abortion protections, could change before the ruling is finalized in coming weeks.

“To think that, after all this time, people still want to control what women can do and our rights to make our personal healthcare decisions is just really outrageous,” Carole Levin, chair of Courts Matter Illinois, told WMAQ-TV during the rally in Chicago.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker attended the rally and vowed to protect reproductive rights in Illinois.

“I’m proud Illinois is an island for reproductive freedom in the Midwest,” he said. “Our shores remain open for any person left marooned by these extremist politicians.”

In the nation’s capital, abortion rights protesters stood outside the Supreme Court, holding signs that said abortion is a human right, or “Abort the Court.” Protesters who oppose abortion demonstrated across the street.

In Atlanta, demonstrators carried signs in favor of abortion rights as they marched through that city’s downtown and chanted, “Not the church and not the state, women must decide our fate.”

In Houston, thousands attended a reproductive rights rally headlined by Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running for Texas governor. Texas is one of several states that would automatically ban abortion, leaving no exceptions for rape or incest, if the high court overturns the nationwide right to abortion.

An investigation is underway to determine who leaked the Supreme Court draft opinion to Politico.



California governor backs plan to pay for some abortions
Court Watch | 2022/05/09 08:55
California taxpayers would help pay for abortions for women who can’t afford them under a new spending proposal Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday to prepare for a potential surge of people from other states seeking reproductive care if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

California already pays for some abortions through its Medicaid program, the taxpayer-funded health insurance plan for the poor and the disabled.

But some women don’t qualify for Medicaid and don’t have private health insurance. When that happens, clinics will sometimes perform abortions for free, known as “uncompensated care.” Wednesday, Newsom said he wants the state to give $40 million worth of grants to clinics to help offset those costs.

An abortion can cost between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand dollars in California, depending on how far along the pregnancy is and what kind of insurance a patient has.

“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights; we’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women – not just those in California – know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights,” Newsom said in a news release.

While the grants could potentially pay for abortions for women from other states, the money would not pay for those women to travel or stay in California.

A bill in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature would set up a fund to help pay for the logistics of getting an abortion in California, including things such as travel, lodging and child care. The California Legislative Women’s Caucus has asked Newsom for $20 million to put into that fund. But Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday did not include that money.


Man who stormed Capitol in caveman costume gets prison
Court Watch | 2022/05/06 12:10

A New York City judge’s son who stormed the U.S. Capitol wearing a furry “caveman” costume was sentenced on Friday to eight months in prison.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg told Aaron Mostofsky that he was “literally on the front lines” of the mob’s attack on Jan. 6, 2021.

“What you and others did on that day imposed an indelible stain on how our nation is perceived, both at home and abroad, and that can’t be undone,” the judge told Mostofsky, 35.

Boasberg also sentenced Mostofsky to one year of supervised release and ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service and pay $2,000 in restitution.

Mostofsky had asked the judge for mercy, saying he was ashamed of his “contribution to the chaos of that day.” “I feel sorry for the officers that had to deal with that chaos,” said Mostofsky, who must report to prison on or after June 5.

Federal sentencing guidelines in his case recommended a prison sentence ranging from 10 months to 16 months. Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 15 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.




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