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May 24, 2013 | By Michael Mello, Los Angeles Times
TUCSON - A federal judge has ruled that the immigration enforcement policies of the man who calls himself "America's toughest sheriff" violated the Constitution by using racial profiling. For years, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has ordered his deputies to detain people they suspect of residing in the country illegally and to hold them for federal authorities. The 142-page ruling issued Friday by Judge G. Murray Snow came as part of a lawsuit brought on behalf of Latino plaintiffs who asserted that race was a major factor in initiating immigration enforcement stops.
May 8, 2013 | By Cindy Carcamo, Los Angeles Times
Cheerleaders in a small Texas town can continue to display their Bible verse banners at football games, after a district judge ruled Wednesday that their actions did not violate the Constitution. The cheerleaders in the football-dominated town of Kountze garnered national attention when they sued the school district in a case that pitted free-speech rights and religious freedom against the doctrine of separation of church and state. Hardin County 365th Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Thomas said the banners that included religious messages - such as "If God is for us, who can be against us?
May 7, 2013 | By Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK - If someone told you of a barnstorming TV host who interviewed people around the country about a given subject, you'd say it sounds like a lot of the road-trip reality series that have proliferated on cable TV. But what if that host had NPR credentials? And what if the show's theme wasn't burger stands or pawn brokers but the most important document in the history of self-governance? Then it might sound a little more like "Constitution USA," a four-part nonfiction series that debuts Tuesday on PBS (KOCE locally)
May 3, 2013 | By Scott Moore
Last week, Texas and Oklahoma squared off in a Supreme Court battle over water rights that has the drought-ridden West on edge. At issue is a state's control over its own water: Texas seeks to buy or otherwise tap water from Oklahoma under the terms of an interstate water compact, actions that Oklahoma has so far refused to permit despite the compact. The stakes of the court's decision are high. Interstate water agreements provide the legal foundation for the economies of most Western states, which are disproportionately dependent on irrigated agriculture.
April 27, 2013 | By David G. Savage and Richard A. Serrano, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The federal rules say a person making an arrest "must take the defendant before a magistrate without unnecessary delay. " And the Supreme Court has said the judicial process must begin within 48 hours. This rule aims to "prevent secret detention," wrote former Justice David H. Souter, adding that "no one with any smattering of the history of 20th-Century dictatorships needs a lecture on the subject. " Despite criticism from Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill that the questioning of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was prematurely curtailed, legal experts say the only way to have avoided triggering that process once he was arrested a week ago would have been to declare him an enemy combatant.
April 23, 2013
Re "Legal debate swirls around treatment of suspect," April 21 I am glad the Boston bombing suspect has been caught. But however despicable his alleged crimes are, do we want to deny a U.S. citizen his right to a trial, as guaranteed by our Constitution? Terrorist prosecutions enjoy a near-perfect conviction rate. A cowardly attack on innocent people is scary because it is hard for us to understand why anyone would do something so uncivilized. But it is also scary when those who have sworn to protect and defend the Constitution use such an act to attack our constitutional rights.
April 23, 2013 | By Erwin Chemerinsky
On Monday morning, Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. According to a transcript of that proceeding, a magistrate at Tsarnaev's hospital bedside read him the Miranda warning, informing him of his right to counsel and his right to remain silent. But among the things we don't know is if, or to what extent, Tsarnaev was interrogated before being informed of his rights. Over the weekend, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. gave every indication that he intended to have Tsarnaev questioned without the Miranda warning.
April 16, 2013
NEW YORK - An independent review of the U.S. government's anti-terrorism response after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks found that it was "indisputable" the U.S. engaged in torture and the George W. Bush administration bore responsibility. The report released Tuesday by the Constitution Project, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, is an ambitious review of the Bush administration's approach to the problems of holding and interrogating detainees after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
March 28, 2013 | By Cindy Chang
Religious leaders may deliver opening prayers at Lancaster city council meetings and mention Jesus if they like, as long as a variety of denominations are invited, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris says the prayers have unified the community, and the lawsuit was about “making Jesus a dirty word.” Sectarian prayers are not prohibited at government meetings, the court said, and the city has not endorsed one religion over another, even though a majority of the prayers are Christian.
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