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The Supreme Court will consider Monday whether banning homeless people from sleeping outside when shelter space is lacking amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

The case is considered the most significant to come before the high court in decades on homelessness, which has reached record levels in the United States.

In California and other Western states, courts have ruled that it’s unconstitutional to fine and arrest people sleeping in homeless encampments if shelter space is lacking.

A cross-section of Democratic and Republican officials contend that makes it difficult for them to manage encampments, which can have dangerous and unsanitary living conditions.

But hundreds of advocacy groups argue that allowing cities to punish people who need a place to sleep will criminalize homelessness and ultimately make the crisis worse as the cost of housing increases.

Dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the court Monday morning with silver thermal blankets and signs like “housing not handcuffs.”

The Justice Department has also weighed in. It argues people shouldn’t be punished just for sleeping outside, but only if there’s a determination they truly have nowhere else to go.

The case comes from the rural Oregon town of Grants Pass, which started fining people $295 for sleeping outside to manage homeless encampments that sprung up in the city’s public parks as the cost of housing escalated.

The measure was largely struck down by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which also found in 2018 that such bans violated the Eighth Amendment by punishing people for something they don’t have control over. The 9th Circuit oversees nine Western states, including California, which is home to about one-third of the nation’s homeless population.

The case comes after homelessness in the United States grew a dramatic 12%, to its highest reported level as soaring rents and a decline in coronavirus pandemic assistance combined to put housing out of reach for more Americans, according to federal data. The court is expected to decide the case by the end of June.


The final jurors were seated Friday in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, and an appellate judge rejected the former president’s latest bid to halt the case as a hectic day in court set the stage for opening statements to begin Monday.

The panel of New Yorkers who will decide the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president took final shape after lawyers spent days quizzing dozens of potential jurors on whether they can impartially judge Trump in the city where he built his real estate empire before being elected in 2016.

The trial thrusts Trump’s legal problems into the heart of his hotly contested race against President Joe Biden, with Trump’s opponent likely to seize on unflattering and salacious testimony to make the case that the presumptive Republican nominee is unfit to return as commander in chief.

Trump, meanwhile, is using the prosecution as a political rallying cry, casting himself as a victim while juggling his dual role as criminal defendant and presidential candidate. Judge Juan Merchan said lawyers will present opening statements Monday morning before prosecutors begin laying out their case alleging a scheme to cover up negative stories Trump feared would hurt his 2016 campaign. He has pleaded not guilty and says the stories were false.

Despite the failure of repeated previous attempts to delay the trial, a Trump attorney was in an appeals court hours after the jury was seated, arguing that Merchan rushed through jury selection and that Trump cannot get a fair trial in Manhattan.

Just after the jury was seated, emergency crews responded to a park outside the courthouse, where a man had set himself on fire. The man took out pamphlets espousing conspiracy theories and spread them around the park before dousing himself in a flammable substance and setting himself aflame, officials said. He was in critical condition Friday afternoon.

Trump has spent the week sitting quietly in the courtroom as lawyers pressed potential jurors on their views about him in a search for any bias that would preclude them from hearing the case. During breaks in the proceedings, he has railed against the case on social media or to TV cameras in the hallway, calling it a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

“This Trial is a Long, Rigged, Endurance Contest, dealing with Nasty, Crooked People, who want to DESTROY OUR COUNTRY,” he wrote Friday on social media.

Over five days of jury selection, dozens of people were dismissed from the jury pool after saying they didn’t believe they could be fair. Others expressed anxiety about having to decide such a consequential case with outsized media attention, even though the judge has ruled that jurors’ names will be known only to prosecutors, Trump and their legal teams.


The Supreme Court is allowing Idaho to enforce its ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth while lawsuits over the law proceed, reversing lower courts.

The justices’ order Monday allows the state to put in a place a 2023 law that subjects physicians to up to 10 years in prison if they provide hormones, puberty blockers or other gender-affirming care to people under age 18. Under the court’s order, the two transgender teens who sued to challenge the law still will be able to obtain care.

The court’s three liberal justices would have kept the law on hold. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote that it would have been better to let the case proceed “unfettered by our intervention.”

Justice Neil Gorsuch of the conservative majority wrote that it is “a welcome development” that the court is reining in an overly broad lower court order. A federal judge in Idaho had blocked the law in its entirety after determining that it was necessary to do so to protect the teens, who are identified under pseudonyms in court papers.

Lawyers for the teens wrote in court papers that the teens’ “gender dysphoria has been dramatically alleviated as a result of puberty blockers and estrogen therapy.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, representing the teens and their families, called the Supreme Court’s order “an awful result for transgender youth and their families across the state. Today’s ruling allows the state to shut down the care that thousands of families rely on while sowing further confusion and disruption.”

Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador said in a statement that the law “ensures children are not subjected to these life-altering drugs and procedures. Those suffering from gender dysphoria deserve love, support, and medical care rooted in biological reality. Denying the basic truth that boys and girls are biologically different hurts our kids.”

Gender-affirming care for youth is supported by every major medical organization, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association.

Medical professionals define gender dysphoria as psychological distress experienced by those whose gender expression does not match their gender identity.

The action comes as the justices also may soon consider whether to take up bans in Kentucky and Tennessee that an appeals court allowed to be enforced in the midst of legal fights.

At least 23 states have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors, and most of those states face lawsuits. A federal judge struck down Arkansas’ ban as unconstitutional. Montana’s ban also is temporarily on hold.

The states that have enacted laws restricting or banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.


The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money trial ordered the media on Thursday not to report on where potential jurors have worked and to be careful about revealing information about those who will sit in judgment of the former president.

Judge Juan Merchan acted after one juror was dismissed when she expressed concerns about participating in the trial after details about her became publicly known.

The names of the jurors are supposed to be a secret, but the dismissed juror told Merchan she had friends, colleagues and family members contacting her to ask whether she was on the case. “I don’t believe at this point I can be fair and unbiased and let the outside influences not affect my decision-making in the courtroom,” she said.

Merchan then directed journalists present in the courthouse not to report it when potential jurors told the court their specific workplaces, past or present. That put journalists in the difficult position of not reporting something they heard in open court.

Some media organizations were considering whether to protest having that onus placed on them. Generally, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution bars judges from ordering journalists not to disclose what they hear and see in courtrooms open to the public, though there are exceptions, such as when military security is at stake.

New York criminal defense lawyer Ron Kuby said that while judges typically can’t control what the media reports, other options are available to protect juror anonymity, including restricting what reporters see and hear in the courtroom.

“There are actions the judge could take,” he said. “Courts have extraordinary powers to protect jurors from tampering and intimidation. It is really where a court’s power is at its peak.”

The court action underscored the difficulty of trying to maintain anonymity for jurors in a case that has sparked wide interest and heated opinions, while lawyers need to sift through as much information as possible in a public courtroom to determine who to choose.

Despite the setback, 12 jurors were seated by the end of Thursday for the historic trial. Trump is charged with falsifying his company’s business records to cover up an effort during the 2016 presidential election campaign to squash negative publicity about alleged marital infidelity. Part of the case involves a $130,000 payment made to porn actor Stormy Daniels to prevent her from making public her claims of a sexual meeting with Trump years earlier. Trump has denied the encounter.

New York state law requires trial attorneys to get the names of jurors, but the judge has ordered the lawyers in Trump’s case not to disclose those names publicly. The jurors’ names haven’t been mentioned in court during three days of jury selection.

Still, enough personal information about the jurors was revealed in court that people might be able to identify them anyway.

Some news organizations described details including what Manhattan neighborhoods potential jurors lived in, what they did for a living, what academic degrees they had earned, how many children they had, what countries they grew up in and what their spouses did for a living.

On Fox News Channel Wednesday night, host Jesse Watters did a segment with a jury consultant, revealing details about people who had been seated on the jury and questioning whether some were “stealth liberals” who would be out to convict Trump.


The Supreme Court on Wednesday made it easier for workers who are transferred from one job to another against their will to pursue job discrimination claims under federal civil rights law, even when they are not demoted or docked pay.

Workers only have to show that the transfer resulted in some, but not necessarily significant, harm to prove their claims, Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court.

The justices unanimously revived a sex discrimination lawsuit filed by a St. Louis police sergeant after she was forcibly transferred, but retained her rank and pay.

Sgt. Jaytonya Muldrow had worked for nine years in a plainclothes position in the department’s intelligence division before a new commander reassigned her to a uniformed position in which she supervised patrol officers. The new commander wanted a male officer in the intelligence job and sometimes called Muldrow “Mrs.” instead of “sergeant,” Kagan wrote.

Muldrow sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion and national origin. Lower courts had dismissed Muldrow’s claim, concluding that she had not suffered a significant job disadvantage.

“Today, we disapprove that approach,” Kagan wrote. “Although an employee must show some harm from a forced transfer to prevail in a Title VII suit, she need not show that the injury satisfies a significance test.”

Kagan noted that many cases will come out differently under the lower bar the Supreme Court adopted Wednesday. She pointed to cases in which people lost discrimination suits, including those of an engineer whose new job site was a 14-by-22-foot wind tunnel, a shipping worker reassigned to exclusively nighttime work and a school principal who was forced into a new administrative role that was not based in a school.

Although the outcome was unanimous, Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas each wrote separate opinions noting some level of disagreement with the majority’s rationale in ruling for Muldrow.

Madeline Meth, a lawyer for Muldrow, said her client will be thrilled with the outcome. Meth, who teaches at Boston University’s law school, said the decision is a big win for workers because the court made “clear that employers can’t decide the who, what, when, where and why of a job based on race and gender.”

The decision revives Muldrow’s lawsuit, which now returns to lower courts. Muldrow contends that, because of sex discrimination, she was moved to a less prestigious job, which was primarily administrative and often required weekend work, and she lost her take-home city car.


President Joe Biden is calling for a tripling of tariffs on steel from China to protect American producers from a flood of cheap imports, an announcement he planned to roll out Wednesday in an address to steelworkers in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

The move reflects the intersection of Biden’s international trade policy with his efforts to court voters in a state that is likely to play a pivotal role in deciding November’s election.

The White House insists, however, that it is more about shielding American manufacturing from unfair trade practices overseas than firing up a union audience.

In addition to boosting steel tariffs, Biden also will seek to triple levies on Chinese aluminum. The current rate is 7.5% for both metals. The administration also promised to pursue anti-dumping investigations against countries and importers that try to saturate existing markets with Chinese steel, and said it was working with Mexico to ensure that Chinese companies can’t circumvent the tariffs by shipping steel there for subsequent export to the U.S.

“The president understands we must invest in American manufacturing. But we also have to protect those investments and those workers from unfair exports associated with China’s industrial overcapacity,” White House National Economic Adviser Lael Brainard said on a call with reporters.

Biden was set to announce that he is asking the U.S. Trade Representative to consider tripling the tariffs during a visit to United Steelworkers union headquarters in Pittsburgh. The president is on a three-day Pennsylvania swing that began in Scranton on Tuesday and will include a visit to Philadelphia on Thursday.

The administration says China is distorting markets and eroding competition by unfairly flooding the market with below-market-cost steel.

”China’s policy-driven overcapacity poses a serious risk to the future of the American steel and aluminum industry,” Brainard said. Referencing China’s economic downturn, she added that Beijing “cannot export its way to recovery.”

“China is simply too big to play by its own rules,” Brainard said.

Higher tariffs can carry major economic risks. Steel and aluminum could become more expensive, possibly increasing the costs of cars, construction materials and other key goods for U.S. consumers.

Inflation has already been a drag on Biden’s political fortunes, and his turn toward protectionism echoes the playbook of his predecessor and opponent in this fall’s election, Donald Trump.


The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a decorated veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in a protracted fight with the government over 12 months of G.I. Bill educational benefits.

The court ruled 7-2 that the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly calculated the educational benefits for James Rudisill, a retired Army captain who lives in northern Virginia.

Rudisill, who’s now an FBI agent, is in a category of veterans who earned credit under two versions of the G.I. Bill. One version applied to people who served before the Sept. 11, 2001, attack. Congress passed new legislation after Sept. 11.

But Rudisill served both before and after the attack, including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Each program gives veterans 36 months of benefits, and there’s a 48-month cap. Rudisill thought he had 10 months of benefits remaining under the old program, plus another year in the new system. But the VA denied the additional year.

Rudisill said the decision forced him to give up his plan to attend Yale Divinity School, be ordained as an Episcopal priest and reenter the Army as a chaplain.

His lawyers said the decision could affect roughly 1.7 million veterans, but the VA disputed that the number is “anything close” to 1.7 million, noting that his lawyers didn’t identify any other cases that presented the same issue.

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