248 entries in 'Court News'
2019/08/07   Appeal in John Steinbeck lawsuit heard in court
2019/07/18   Records detail frenetic effort to bury stories about Trump
2019/07/18   Dutch Supreme Court upholds Srebrenica deaths liability
2019/07/16   Women urge jail until trial for Epstein as judge weighs bail
2019/07/04   High court keeps citizenship question off census for now
2019/07/03   Appeals court puts Trump abortion restrictions on hold again
2019/06/28   Supreme Court sends Florida cross case back to lower court
2019/06/25   High court strikes down ‘scandalous’ part of trademark law
2019/06/19   Court rules UK must reconsider arms sales to Saudi Arabia
2019/06/08   Supreme Court rules against oil drilling platform workers
2019/06/02   Carnival will pay $20m over pollution from its cruise ships
2019/05/26   Utah judge suspended for making anti-Trump comments
2019/05/24   Brazil's supreme court votes to make homophobia a crime
2019/05/11   Students in Colorado shooting face murder, other charges
2019/05/07   Georgia high court to hear appeal in election challenge
2019/04/21   Supreme Court to take up LGBT job discrimination cases
2019/04/19   Accuracy at core of Supreme Court case over census question
2019/04/17   Nissan ex-chair Ghosn appeal on extended detention rejected
2019/04/12   Court overrules judge in Coryell County hospital explosion dispute
2019/04/11   Chief Justice Unveils Opioid-Related Court Initiative
2019/04/10   Judges reject Afghanistan probe; cite lack of cooperation
2019/04/02   Loughlin, Huffman due in court in college admissions scam
2019/03/26   Coaches, others due in court in college admissions scam
2019/02/12   Opera singer, husband appear in court on sex assault charge
2019/02/06   Man accused of kidnapping Wisconsin girl to appear in court
2019/02/05   Appellate judge announces run for Supreme Court seat
2019/02/03   NC high court sidesteps decision on tracking sex offenders
2019/01/26   North Carolina Supreme Court to examine Smithfield payments
2019/01/21   Congress to Probe Report that Trump Directed Lawyer to Lie
2018/12/31   Low-key days at Supreme Court may be ending soon
2018/12/24   Myanmar court hears appeal of convicted Reuters journalists
2018/12/20   Spain court grants $1.7 billion compensation for oil spill
2018/12/11   Thai court extends detention of refugee sought by Bahrain
2018/12/02   Sri Lanka court orders prime minister to refrain from duties
2018/11/30   Indicted US lawmaker to return to court after re-election
2018/11/28   Court could deal blow to porn star, award Trump legal fees
2018/11/18   Lawyer for WikiLeaks’ Assange says he would fight charges
2018/10/26   North Carolina top court orders study of courtroom portraits
2018/10/22   Poland: Top court judges return from forced retirements
2018/10/20   Court to hear case over ID of Texas execution drug supplier
2018/10/16   Georgia high court won't stop vote on creation of new city
2018/10/03   UN court orders US to lift some Iran sanctions
2018/10/01   Supreme Court won't hear case over California beach access
2018/09/29   Supreme Court term amid starts in shadow of Kavanaugh
2018/09/23   Trump picks combat over caution in court fight
2018/09/23   Idaho high court considers defamation lawsuit
2018/09/13   The Latest: New Mexico court blocks straight-ticket option
2018/08/26   Poland likely to ignore EU court ruling on justice overhaul
2018/08/15   Court document details moments before fatal police shooting
2018/08/12   N Carolina Supreme Court race lawsuit returning to court
2018/08/02   With scant record, Supreme Court nominee elusive on abo
2018/07/31   Donald Trump Jr., wife due in court for divorce hearing
2018/07/30   High court gives mixed verdict on Burgum-Legislature spat
2018/07/21   New Jersey court proposes tossing out old open-warrant cases
2018/07/16   India's top court calls for new law to curb mob violence
2018/07/14   German court: Catalan politician can legally be extradited
2018/07/02   Schumer rallies opposition to Trump anti-abortion court pick
2018/06/26   For new Supreme Court justice, a host of big issues awaits
2018/06/23   Man charged in bike path killings speaks in court of 'Allah'
2018/06/22   Indonesia court sentences cleric behind attacks to death
2018/06/17   State appeals court reinstates California's right-to-die law
2018/06/12   Gamers in court for first time after Kansas 'swatting' death
2018/06/04   Detroit-area couple in court over control of frozen embryos
2018/05/13   Court rules Italy's Berlusconi can run for office again
2018/05/01   Law firm hired to investigate economic development agency
2018/05/01   Arkansas officials ask court to keep voter ID law in place
2018/04/22   Judge fights for job after admitting to courthouse affair
2018/04/05   SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Diabetes, decisions and justice math
2018/04/01   Drug companies want Supreme Court to take eye drop dispute
2018/03/18   Another key redistricting case goes in front of high court
2018/02/24   Court leaves black judge on case against white officer
2018/02/22   Supreme Court sides with Chicago museum in terror case
2018/02/07   Supreme Court blocks some redrawn North Carolina districts
2018/02/06   Greek court postpones decision in Turkish extradition case
2018/02/04   Prosecutor asks for prison terms in Paris terror trial
2018/02/01   Nassar to face another sentence, victims in return to court
2018/01/28   Pennsylvania GOP take gerrymandering case to US high court
2018/01/16   Hong Kong court to rule later on 3 activists' prison terms
2018/01/16   Supreme Court to hear sales tax collection case
2018/01/15   Doctor charged in wife's death moved after threat to him
2018/01/11   Doctor charged in wife's death moved after threat to him
2018/01/10   State high court upholds ex-police chief's murder conviction
2018/01/04   Western powers warn Kosovo on changing war crimes court law
2018/01/02   Spanish court reviews custody of ex-Catalan vice president
2017/12/06   Arkansas judge blocks state from issuing birth certificates
2017/12/04   Prosecutors ask court to send Russia's ex-minister to prison
2017/11/30   Court: Congregation's display doesn't deserve tax exemption
2017/11/27   Court: Stress no grounds for rescinding guilty pleas
2017/11/21   Belgian court pushes back extradition hearing for 5 Catalans
2017/11/16   German Court: Kuwait Airways Can Refuse Israeli Passengers
2017/11/10   High court to hear appeal in Newtown school shooting case
2017/10/30   Illinois to require veterans courts across the state in 2018
2017/10/21   Court, for now, blocks immigrant teen's access to abortion
2017/10/10   Australia's High Court to consider fate of 7 lawmakers
2017/10/07   Court nixes class-action status for TGI Friday's drink suit
2017/09/27   Pakistan ex-PM criticizes judiciary for his disqualification
2017/09/23   Ski Resort Fraud Court Case to Get Started in Vermont
2017/09/18   Rooney gets road ban after pleading guilty to drunk driving
2017/09/14   FBI Searched Ex-Oklahoma Senator's Office for Porn
2017/09/08   Abortion clinic dispute to be argued in Ohio Supreme Court
2017/08/29   Supreme Court justice blocks ruling on redrawing Texas districts
2017/08/20   Judge refuses to end Roman Polanski sex assault case
2017/08/16   Missouri Supreme Court rejects request to stop execution
2017/08/12   Prosecutors ask court to imprison Samsung heir for 12 years
2017/08/07   Court complicates Trump's threat to cut 'Obamacare' funds
2017/08/01   Man suspected in Indiana officer's killing due in court
2017/07/24   Driver due in court after deaths of migrants in tractor-trailer
2017/07/24   Court hearing could decide fate of dog pardoned by governor
2017/07/21   Court ends hearing into corruption charges against PM
2017/07/13   Hearing In San Diego Unified Suit Against The College Board
2017/07/11   Rob Kardashian's ex-fiancee arrives at court for hearing
2017/07/10   Relatives of Slain US Troops Describe Loss to Jordan Court
2017/07/04   Court: Energy firm can pass $55M cleanup costs
2017/06/25   Attention on Supreme Court as justice weigh Trump travel ban
2017/06/14   Court filing: Marsh seeks OK to sell 26 grocery stores
2017/06/13   Indiana governor names Judge Goff to state Supreme Court
2017/06/09   Roman Polanski sex victim to appear in court for first time
2017/05/31   Mom sentenced in Australian court for drowning 3 children
2017/05/30   Kim Jong Nam murder suspect asks her parents to pray for her
2017/05/28   Trump travel ban showdown headed for Supreme Court
2017/05/08   New Mexico Supreme Court won't restore funds to Legislature
2017/05/03   Supreme Court says cities can sue banks under anti-bias law
2017/05/01   Idaho Judicial Council accepting applications for high court
2017/04/22   Fresno killings suspect shouts out during 1st court hearing
2017/04/20   Not guilty pleas entered for accused in Canada polygamy case
2017/04/18   Ohio high court will review full autopsies from 8 slayings
2017/04/13   2 inmates seek execution stays from Arkansas high court
2017/04/06   US court ruling could bring more suits over Nazi-looted art
2017/04/02   Democrats tighten opposition of high court pick
2017/03/30   High Court Struggles Over Hospital Pension Dispute
2017/03/20   Court: Student prayers OK at school board meetings
2017/03/17   China praises courts for punishing state security crimes
2017/03/17   Kansas Supreme Court receptive to protecting abortion rights
2017/03/13   Alleged jewel thief arrested after missing court hearing
2017/03/12   Airport shooting suspect in court on mental health issues
2017/03/06   Immigration courts: record number of cases, many problems
2017/03/02   Florida Legislature at "Open War" with State Supreme Court
2017/02/24   US appeals court upholds Maryland assault weapons ban
2017/02/21   Trial court election changes considered by North Carolina House
2017/02/15   Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear open meetings case
2017/02/14   NC court blocks law stripping governor of election powers
2017/01/28   Philippine president's drug crackdown faces court challenge
2017/01/27   Driver due in court in Cleveland officer's hit-and-run death
2017/01/26   Student guilty of black church arsons wants pro-white group
2017/01/22   Ethics measure backers ask high court to let them join case
2017/01/21   Aaron Hernandez expected in court as murder trial nears
2016/12/06   State high court to hear wind power appeal
2016/12/01   German court upholds former Auschwitz guard's conviction
2016/11/29   Supreme Court rejects church's appeal over marijuana laws
2016/11/20   French court restores far-right candidate's ties to father
2016/11/18   Supreme Court stays execution of Alabama inmate
2016/11/03   Supreme Court won't hear challenge to FBI fitness test
2016/11/01   Supreme Court gives new chance to 5 Arizona inmates
2016/10/26   Greece court cancels TV license overhaul; blow to government
2016/10/10   Iraq's federal court rules against prime minister's reforms
2016/10/03   US Supreme Court won't hear Arizona death sentence case
2016/09/22   European court dismisses case brought by Srebrenica families
2016/09/19   Court rules man treated for mental illness can have a gun
2016/09/18   Court halts construction of another section of pipeline
2016/09/11   Biden, Supreme Court nominee on Hill to pressure GOP
2016/09/08   Court denies asylum to 28 detained Latin American mothers
2016/08/24   Appeals court: Week of early voting shouldn't return to Ohio
2016/08/19   Polish prosecutors investigate court head for abuse of power
2016/08/13   North Carolina shooting victim's family hires lawyer
2016/08/09   Appeals court hands loss to New Jersey sports betting effort
2016/07/29   Courts derail voting limits pushed by GOP in 3 states
2016/07/27   Court won't reinstate church official's conviction
2016/07/12   Court denies hospital's bid to perform brain death test
2016/07/08   Thai military court adds to singer's jail term for insults
2016/07/06   Court orders release of Chicago police disciplinary records
2016/07/05   Obama rebukes Poland over paralysis of constitutional court
2016/06/25   Scalia's death, Senate inaction leave Supreme Court in bind
2016/06/14   Spain court orders Operation Puerto blood bags released
2016/06/13   Court Vacates $1.8M Ventura Award in 'American Sniper' Case
2016/06/12   High Court won't hear dispute over birthright citizenship
2016/06/08   Appeals court denies Hope Solo's bid to avoid trial
2016/06/06   British court gives 22 life sentences to pedophile
2016/06/03   Missouri Appeals Court to decide fight over frozen embryos
2016/05/31   Bahrain court more than doubles opposition leader's sentence
2016/05/28   Man admits kidnapping teen girl, raping her during captivity
2016/05/27   Court upholds $3M judgment against Gerber Products Co.
2016/05/26   Swedish court upholds arrest warrant for Julian Assange
2016/05/25   Swedish court upholds arrest warrant for Julian Assange
2016/05/22   Court rejects blocking health warning on sugary drinks ads
2016/05/10   Kansas Supreme Court reviews lawmakers' school aid changes
2016/05/08   Court: Slipknot bassist's child born after he died can sue
2016/05/04   Tribunal: India, Italy should agree on Italian marine's bail
2016/04/25   Stoddard firefighter charged with arson due in court
2016/04/13   Supreme Court to swear in large group of deaf lawyers
2016/04/12   Appeals court rules Mississippi can resume Google inquiry
2016/03/27   Attorney: Court ruling lets Ohio political candidates lie
2016/03/20   Supreme Court rejects states' challenge to Colorado pot law
2016/03/18   Man accused of terrorism charge with fiancee pleads guilty
2016/03/15   RNC launches campaign to oppose Obama's Supreme Court pick
2016/03/12   Teen changes plea to guilty in deaths of mother, stepfather
2016/03/10   Federal appeals court to rehear Texas voter ID case
2016/02/23   German court ends fight over estate of Iran shah's 2nd wife
2016/02/07   Kenya: Supreme court judge to be investigated over bribery
2016/01/30   Texas renews bid for court-imposed refugee restrictions
2016/01/23   Appeals court upholds Virginia health care facility law
2016/01/18   Ohio's top court declines to change rules on plea deals
2016/01/15   High court raises doubts over Puerto Rico sovereignty
2015/12/12   Mexico issues first permits for marijuana under court ruling
2015/11/17   India court orders action on crematorium near Taj Mahal
2015/11/12   Ruling gives Sandusky back $4,900-a-month Penn State pension
2015/11/03   German court: former SS Auschwitz guard fit for trial
2015/11/02   High court rejects ex-stockbroker's appeal in fraud case
2015/10/18   'Whitey' Bulger's lover heads to court on contempt charge
2015/10/17   Man pleads guilty in threats against Wichita courthouse
2015/10/17   Court records: Ohio man on electronic monitor raped teen
2015/10/10   Quaid expected in Vermont court to face charge
2015/09/14   Ferguson panel recommends police, court reform, transparency
2015/09/08   German court rules against Lufthansa pilot strike
2015/09/07   Kentucky court session planned in former women's coach case
2015/09/05   U.S. military chooses rarely-used charge for Bergdahl
2015/08/27   Burkina Faso court rejects candidate of former ruling party
2015/08/12   Man charged with killing Memphis officer to appear in court
2015/08/11   Penn State ex-officials' case heads to appeals court hearing
2015/08/03   UK jury says trader guilty of manipulating key interest rate
2015/07/27   Appeals court revives challenge to consumer agency
2015/07/25   Appeals court revives challenge to consumer age
2015/07/24   NY state Sen. Sampson found guilty of obstruction
2015/07/19   Ill. high court rejects intervention on state paychecks
2015/07/13   Pakistan court grants bail to top model arrested with cash
2015/07/09   Court revises test on determining Native American status
2015/07/04   Bryant tells court it should affirm same-sex marriage ruling
2015/06/29   Supreme Court will re-hear Texas affirmative action
2015/06/20   Illinois high court: Comcast must reveal anonymous commenter
2015/06/10   Man accused of Jewish site shootings to appear in court
2015/06/04   Judge grants new trial in death of intern Chandra Levy
2015/04/23   California court ruling could limit drought fighting tools
2015/03/23   Bond hearing scheduled for millionaire Durst in New Orleans
2015/02/25   Philippine court enters not guilty plea for US Marine
2015/02/09   Former Massey Energy CEO asks court to dismiss charges
2015/02/09   Alabama begins issuing marriage licenses to gay couples
2015/02/03   Supreme Court halts 3 upcoming executions in Oklahoma
2015/02/03   Two justices once open to cameras in court now reconsider
2015/01/30   Fugitive treasure hunter to appear in Florida federal court
2015/01/19   Arizona sheriff could face civil contempt hearing in court
2015/01/08   Nebraska court could hold up Keystone pipeline
2015/01/05   Idaho gay marriage fight appealed to Supreme Court
2014/12/11   Woman at center of 1961 Supreme Court case dies
2008/12/02   Sen. Kennedy awarded honorary degree from Harvard
2008/03/07   Prospective Lawyers May Face Higher Bar Exam Fees
2008/03/06   S.C. giving 1st bar exam since test ruled flawed
2008/03/06   DC Young Lawyers in for Bar Exam Sticker Shock
2008/02/29   2008 Arizona Bar Exam Deadlines and Fees
2008/02/28   February 2008 CA Bar Exam Deadlines


Appeal in John Steinbeck lawsuit heard in court
Court News | 2019/08/07 08:23
Both sides had another day in court Tuesday in a family battle that has been waged for decades over who controls the works of iconic author John Steinbeck.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments to an appeal by the estate of Steinbeck’s late son, Thomas Steinbeck. The panel was in Anchorage to hear various cases.

Thomas Steinbeck’s estate is contesting a 2017 federal jury verdict in California that awarded more than $13 million to the author’s stepdaughter, Waverly Scott Kaffaga, whose mother was John Steinbeck’s third wife. The lawsuit said Thomas Steinbeck and his wife, Gail Steinbeck, impeded film adaptations of the classic works. A judge earlier ruled in the same case that the couple breached an agreement between Kaffaga’s late mother and Thomas Steinbeck and his late brother, John Steinbeck IV.

Neither Gail Steinbeck nor Waverly Kaffaga attended Tuesday’s proceeding.

Attorney Matthew Dowd, representing the Thomas Steinbeck estate, told the circuit judges the appeal contends the 1983 agreement was in violation of a 1976 change to copyright law that gave artists or their blood relatives the right to terminate copyright deals. The appeal also disputes the award handed up by the jury, maintaining it was not supported by substantial evidence of Gail Steinbeck’s ability to pay.

Kaffaga’s attorney, Susan Kohlmann, told the circuit judges multiple courts, including an earlier Ninth Circuit decision, have already upheld the agreement as binding and valid, and deemed it enforceable. She called the contract argument a “complete red herring.”

Dowd disagreed. He said previous decisions on the agreement didn’t completely deal with the particular issue involving the 1976 statute. He said Gail Steinbeck was not allowed to fully address the issue in court.

The appeals panel did not rule immediately on the case. Dowd earlier said he didn’t expect a decision for several months.

The judges appeared skeptical that the contract issue wasn’t adequately dealt with in previous rulings, and they questioned whether they were being asked to review another circuit court’s decision.

The judges also said the punitive damages of about $8 million awarded by the Los Angeles jury in 2017 appeared to have been decided without evidence of Gail Steinberg’s ability to pay. If that part was stricken from the award, there would still remain $5.25 million in compensatory damages, they noted.


Records detail frenetic effort to bury stories about Trump
Court News | 2019/07/18 18:06
Court records released Thursday show that President Donald Trump took part in a flurry of phone calls in the weeks before the 2016 election as his close aides and allies scrambled to pay porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an alleged affair.
   
The investigation involved payments Michael Cohen helped orchestrate to porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal after they claimed they had affairs with Trump. (Source: MSNBC / YouTube via MGN)

The documents detailing calls and text messages were made public as federal prosecutors closed their investigation into the payoff ? and a similar payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal ? with no plans to charge anyone in the scandal beyond Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

Federal prosecutors in New York said in a court filing that they investigated whether other people gave false statements or otherwise obstructed justice. In the end, the decision was made not to bring additional charges, according to two people briefed on the matter.


Dutch Supreme Court upholds Srebrenica deaths liability
Court News | 2019/07/18 02:07
The Dutch Supreme Court upheld Friday a lower court’s ruling that the Netherlands is partially liable in the deaths of some 350 Muslim men who were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The Netherlands’ highest court ruled that Dutch United Nations peacekeepers evacuated the men from their military base near Srebrenica on July 13, 1995, despite knowing that they “were in serious jeopardy of being abused and murdered” by Bosnian Serb forces.

Presiding Judge Kees Streefkerk said “the state did act wrongfully” and told relatives of the dead they can now claim compensation from the Dutch government.

“They are responsible and they will always have a stain,” Munira Subasic, one of the relatives who brought the case, said angrily of the Dutch. “We know what happened; we don’t need this court to tell us.”

The ruling upholding a 2017 appeals court judgment was the latest in a long-running legal battle by a group of relatives known as The Mothers of Srebrenica to hold the Dutch government accountable for the deaths of their family members in Europe’s worst massacre since World War II.

Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten said the government accepted the ruling.

“We want to express again our sympathy to the relatives of the victims,” she said in a statement. “The Srebrenica genocide must never be forgotten.”

The 350 men were among 5,000 terrified Muslim residents of the Srebrenica area who took shelter in the Dutch peacekeepers’ base when the region was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was convicted of genocide by a U.N. war crimes tribunal in 2017 for masterminding the massacre that left some 8,000 Muslim men and boys dead. Mladic has appealed.


Women urge jail until trial for Epstein as judge weighs bail
Court News | 2019/07/16 02:07
Two Jeffrey Epstein accusers urged a judge Monday to keep the wealthy financier behind bars until he goes on trial on federal charges that he sexually abused underage girls.

The women stood just feet from where Epstein was seated in his blue jail outfit as they asked a federal judge to reject a request by Epstein’s lawyers that he remain under house arrest in his $77 million Manhattan mansion until trial on conspiracy and sex trafficking charges.

Courtney Wild, an unnamed victim in the 2008 lawsuit against the Department of Justice for the secret plea deal that allowed Epstein to avoid similar charges, spoke for the first time in court with a fellow accuser.

Annie Farmer said she was 16 when she met Epstein in New York. She said he later flew her to New Mexico to spend time with him there.



High court keeps citizenship question off census for now
Court News | 2019/07/04 05:43
In a surprising move, the Supreme Court on Thursday kept the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census for now, and the question’s opponents say there’s no time to revisit the issue before next week’s scheduled start to the printing of census forms.

But President Donald Trump said on Twitter after the decision that he’s asked lawyers if they can “delay the Census, no matter how long” until the “United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision” on the issue. Under federal law the census must begin on April 1, 2020. A former director of the Census Bureau said he believed Congress would have to change the law for the count to be delayed.

The issue of whether to add the citizenship question to the census is a politically charged one. Democratic cities and states who oppose adding it argue that they’d get less federal money and fewer representatives in Congress if the question is asked because it would discourage the participation of minorities, primarily Hispanics, who tend to support Democrats.

During arguments in the case at the Supreme Court in April it seemed as though the Trump administration would win because Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservatives appointed by Republican presidents did not appear to see anything wrong with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the question. Ultimately, however, Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in saying the administration’s current justification for the question “seems to have been contrived.”

The Trump administration had said the question was being added to aid in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box. But the Justice Department had never previously sought a citizenship question in the 54-year history of the landmark voting rights law.



Appeals court puts Trump abortion restrictions on hold again
Court News | 2019/07/03 05:43
Trump administration rules that impose additional hurdles for low-income women seeking abortions are on hold once again.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday vacated a unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel and said a slate of 11 judges will reconsider lawsuits brought by more than 20 states and several civil rights and health organizations challenging the rules.

The rules ban taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals and prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers.

Critics say the rules would force many clinics to find new locations, undergo expensive remodels or shut down.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The agency previously said its position “is supported by long-standing Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident we will ultimately prevail on appeal.”

Federal judges in Washington, Oregon and California blocked the rules from taking effect. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane in Oregon called the new policy “madness” and said it was motivated by “an arrogant assumption that the government is better suited to direct women’s health care than their providers.”


Supreme Court sends Florida cross case back to lower court
Court News | 2019/06/28 18:32
Court decisions directing the removal of a cross from a public park in Florida should get another look, after a Supreme Court ruling that upheld a different cross in Maryland, the high court said Friday.

The justices sent the Florida case back to a lower court to decide whether previous decisions that the cross should be removed were correct or if the cross should stay given the Supreme Court’s latest opinion.

In the Maryland case decided last week, the justices let stand a war memorial in the shape of a cross that is located on a public highway median and maintained by public officials. The approximately 40-foot-tall cross was completed in 1925 and honors soldiers who died in World War I. Seven of the court’s nine justices sided with supporters of the cross in ruling it should stand.

A majority of justices signed on to an opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that said “when time’s passage imbues a religiously expressive monument, symbol or practice with this kind of familiarly and historical significance, removing it may no longer appear neutral.” Alito also wrote that the Maryland cross’ connection to World War I was important in upholding it because crosses, which marked the graves of American soldiers, became a symbol closely linked to the war.

The Florida case involves a cross that was first put up in Pensacola’s Bayview Park in 1941 for a community Easter service. It has been the site of annual Easter services since. The cross was at first made of wood but was replaced in 1969 by a 34-foot-tall concrete cross.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Washington-based American Humanist Association sued over the cross on behalf of four current or former residents, arguing that it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over others. A trial court and appeals court agreed.

Luke Goodrich, an attorney at the Washington-based Becket Fund For Religious Liberty, which is representing the city of Pensacola and defending the cross, said he believes the Supreme Court’s recent Maryland case is “very helpful” to their case. He pointed to a line in Alito’s opinion that suggests a “presumption of constitutionality for longstanding monuments, symbols and practices.” And he said the cross is “part of the history and culture of the city of Pensacola.” While the Pensacola cross was not, like the Maryland cross, put up to memorialize World War I veterans, it was put up on the eve of World War II and has become a gathering place, Goodrich said.


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