U.S. Supreme Courte Notebook

High court won’t hear challenge to consumer agency actions


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear a challenge to enforcement actions the government’s consumer finance watchdog agency took while its director was serving under an invalid appointment.

The justices on Monday declined to hear an appeal from California attorney Chance Gordon, who said the agency filed an invalid enforcement action against him in 2012. At the time, the bureau was headed by Richard Cordray, who was appointed by President Barack Obama while the Senate was in recess. The appointment was later found to be unauthorized.

Cordray was renominated in 2013 and confirmed by the Senate. He retroactively ratified the actions that took place while his tenure was unauthorized.

Gordon argued that Cordray could did not have the power to retroactively approve the unauthorized enforcement actions against him and others.

 

Justices rule against death row inmate over lawyer errors
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled against a Texas death row inmate who said his lawyers failed to challenge a faulty jury instruction at his trial and on appeal.

The justices ruled 5-4 on Monday that Erick Davila could not bring a claim that his appeals lawyer was ineffective for failing to challenge the work of his trial lawyer.

Davila was convicted in 2009 of the shooting deaths of a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother at a children’s birthday party in Fort Worth. Prosecutors said Davila was trying to shoot someone else as part of a gang dispute.

Davila claimed the jury should have been instructed it could find him guilty of both murders only if he meant to kill two people. He said he only meant to kill one.

 

Supreme Court rejects gun  rights appeal


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is rejecting yet another call to decide whether Americans have a constitutional right to carry guns with them outside their homes.

The justices on Monday left in place an appeals court ruling that upheld the San Diego sheriff’s strict limits on issuing permits for concealed weapons.

The high court decided in 2008 that the Constitution guarantees the right to a gun, at least for self-defense at home.

But the justices have refused repeated pleas to spell out the extent of gun rights in the United States, allowing permit restrictions and assault weapons bans to remain in effect in some cities and states.

More than 40 states already broadly allow gun owners to be armed in public.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch said the court should have reviewed the appellate ruling. Thomas said the decision not to hear the case “reflects a distressing trend: the treatment of the Second Amendment as a disfavored right.”

The high court also turned away a second case involving guns and the federal law that bars people convicted of crimes from owning guns.

The Trump administration had urged the court to review an appellate ruling that restored the rights of two men who had been convicted of non-violent crimes to own guns.

The federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled for the two men. The crimes were classified as misdemeanors, which typically are less serious, but carried potential prison sentences of more than a year. Such prison terms typically are for felonies, more serious crimes.

The administration says that the court should have upheld the blanket prohibition on gun ownership in the federal law and rejected case-by-case challenges.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have heard the administration’s appeal.

Daniel Binderup of Manheim, Pennsylvania, was 41 when he pleaded guilty to “corruption of minors” after acknowledging that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old employee of his bakery business. The crime is a misdemeanor yet carries with it a maximum prison term of five years, although Binderup was given probation instead of time behind bars.

Julio Suarez was convicted in Maryland of carrying a handgun without a license, a misdemeanor with a possible prison term of up to three years. Suarez received a six-month sentence, which was suspended, and a year of probation.

 

Supreme Court won’t reinstate a botched execution lawsuit


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is declining to reinstate a civil rights lawsuit filed by the brother of an Oklahoma man whose botched execution in 2014 lasted nearly three-quarters of an hour.

The justices on Monday left in place lower court rulings dismissing the suit against Gov. Mary Fallin and other officials. The suit was filed by Gary Lockett, brother of Clayton Lockett.

Clayton Lockett writhed on the gurney, mumbled and strained to lift his head before he was declared dead 43 minutes after the execution began.

An investigation determined that the execution team didn’t have the proper equipment and that an intravenous line in Lockett’s groin hadn’t been properly set, resulting in the execution drugs being injected into his tissue instead of his bloodstream.

 

Supreme Court sides with same-sex couples in Arkansas suit


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has ruled for same-sex couples who complained an Arkansas birth certificate law discriminated against them.

The justices on Monday issued an unsigned opinion reversing an Arkansas high court ruling that upheld the law.

Under the law, married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children’s birth certificates.

Arkansas routinely lists a woman’s husband as a child’s father, even if he is not the biological parent of the child. The same-sex couples want the same presumption applied to the married partner of a woman who gives birth to a child.

Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented from the ruling.

 

Justices turn away appeal in Somali farmer torture case
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal in the case of a Somali farmer who alleges he was tortured by a former Somali military officer now living in Virginia.

The justices on Monday left in place an appeals court ruling that said part of Farhan Warfaa’s lawsuit against Yusuf Abdi Ali could move forward.

Warfaa claims Ali tortured him for three months in 1987 and 1988 before shooting him and leaving him for dead. Ali settled in northern Virginia in 1992.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the lawsuit to proceed under the Torture Victim Protection Act. But it dismissed another claim under the Alien Tort Statute.

Both men appealed. Ali said he was immune from the lawsuit for acts performed on behalf of a foreign nation.

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