Kansas’ highest court appeared receptive Thursday to declaring for the first time that the state constitution recognizes abortion rights, with a majority of the justices skeptical of the state’s argument against the idea as it defended a ban on a common second-trimester procedure.
The state Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by Kansas City-area father-daughter physicians against a 2015 first-in-the-nation law that has become a model for abortion opponents in other states. The key issue is whether the Kansas Constitution protects abortion rights independently of the U.S. Constitution, which would allow state courts to invalidate restrictions that have been upheld by the federal courts.
Abortion opponents fear that such a decision by state courts could block new laws — or invalidate existing ones — even if President Donald Trump’s appointments result in a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court. Janet Crepps, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the doctors, argued that it’s important for Kansas residents to know what rights their constitution protects.
“The federal constitutional protection seems to ebb and flow with the political tide,” Crepps said.
Abortion-rights supporters contend broad language in the state constitution’s Bill of Rights protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. The Bill of Rights says residents have “natural rights” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and that “free governments” were created for their “equal protection and benefit.”
The state argues there’s no evidence that when the constitution was written in 1859, its drafters contemplated the issue in a legal environment in which abortion generally was illegal.
Everyone was in place for the hearing in Atlanta immigration court: the Guinean man hoping to stay in the U.S., his attorney, a prosecutor, a translator and the judge. But because of some missing paperwork, it was all for nothing.
When the government attorney said he hadn't received the case file, Judge J. Dan Pelletier rescheduled the proceeding. Everybody would have to come back another day.
The sudden delay was just one example of the inefficiency witnessed by an Associated Press writer who observed hearings over two days in one of the nation's busiest immigration courts. And that case is one of more than half a million weighing down court dockets across the country as President Donald Trump steps up enforcement of immigration laws.
Even before Trump became president, the nation's immigration courts were burdened with a record number of pending cases, a shortage of judges and frequent bureaucratic breakdowns. Cases involving immigrants not in custody commonly take two years to resolve and sometimes as many as five.
The backlog and insufficient resources are problems stretching back at least a decade, said San Francisco Immigration Judge Dana Marks, speaking as the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges.
Milwaukee's sheriff does not have to release information on people at his jail suspected of being in the country illegally because the federal government prohibits it, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday.
The 4-2 decision from the court's conservative majority reverses lower-court decisions that ordered Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to disclose the information under the state's open records law, following a request from an immigrant advocacy group.
The ruling is a victory for Milwaukee's sheriff, who has pledged to follow President Donald Trump's directive to crack down on illegal immigration and expand the number of people prioritized for deportation.
Milwaukee-based Voces de La Frontera filed the request in February 2015, asking for records identifying who the sheriff had held at the request of immigration authorities for the prior two months. The group said it wanted to know who the sheriff was detaining and whether they had a criminal record to meet the narrower guidelines former President Barack Obama previously set for deportation.
The immigrant advocacy said it also wanted to monitor whether any U.S. Citizens were being mistakenly detained because they're aware of one case where that happened.
State and federal lawyers will argue before a panel of federal appellate court judges Tuesday in the pitched fight over President Donald Trump's travel and refugee ban that could reach the Supreme Court.
The legal dispute involves two divergent views of the role of the executive branch and the court system. The federal government maintains the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States, while states suing Trump say his executive order is unconstitutional.
Seattle U.S. District Judge James Robart, who on Friday temporarily blocked Trump's order, has said a judge's job is to ensure that an action taken by the government "comports with our country's laws."
The Justice Department filed a new defense of Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations as a federal appeals court weighs whether to restore the administration's executive order. The lawyers said Monday the travel ban was a "lawful exercise" of the president's authority to protect national security and said Robart's order that put the policy on hold should be overruled.
The filing with the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was the latest salvo in a high-stakes legal fight surrounding Trump's order.
Washington state, Minnesota and other states say the appellate court should allow a temporary restraining order blocking the travel ban to stand as their lawsuit moves through the legal system.
U.S. immigration courts are making a change to focus on deportation hearings for immigrants jailed by the federal government, giving less urgency to cases of children and families who were stopped on the U.S.-Mexico border and released.
Chief Immigration Judge MaryBeth Keller said in a memo Tuesday that the top priority for immigration judges will be scheduling quick hearings for anyone who is detained. That might potentially free up space in an immigrant jail system that is already well beyond capacity, immigration lawyers said.
While immigrants in jail have always been a priority, the Obama administration also had judges focus on children and families stopped on the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to deter more people from coming.
The brother of one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terror attack pleaded guilty Tuesday in an immigration fraud case stemming from the probe into the killings.
Syed Raheel Farook entered the plea in federal court in Riverside to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, the U.S. attorney's office said.
The 31-year-old is the brother of Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed along with his wife in a shootout with police after the Dec. 2, 2015 attack in which 14 people were slain and 22 injured.
Syed Raheel Farook, his wife and Russian sister-in-law were accused last year of conspiring to arrange a fraudulent marriage between the sister-in-law and Enrique Marquez Jr., who is charged with plotting with Syed Rizwan Farook to carry out earlier attacks and with supplying guns used in the 2015 killings.
Immigrants in the United States illegally are not automatically eligible for asylum on the basis that they are former gang members who risk persecution if they return home, a federal appeals court panel ruled Wednesday.
Three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld federal immigration standards that exclude former gang members from social groups that can clearly qualify for protection.
The ruling could affect thousands of immigrants who are fleeing gang-related violence in Central America, immigration experts said.
"We have so many asylum seekers form Central America, and we have a lot of people who are forced to join gangs," said Fatma Marouf, a professor at Texas A&M University School of Law who wrote a brief in the case.
The ruling came in a deportation proceeding against a man from El Salvador, Wilfredo Garay Reyes, who left a gang in his home country and entered the United States illegally in 2001 at the age of 18, after being shot in the leg by a gang leader upset about his defection. Garay sought to stay in the United States under a law that prevents U.S. authorities from sending immigrants to countries where their lives would be threatened because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Garay argued that former members of his El Salvador gang constituted a "particular social group," and the gang members would kill him if he returned to El Salvador — possibly by placing a gasoline-filled tire around him and burning it, a method they prefer, he said.
Immigration officials rejected Reyes' claim on the grounds that former gang members do not constitute a particular social group.
The Board of Immigration Appeals said to qualify as a particular social group, there must be evidence showing that society "perceives, considers, or recognizes persons sharing the particular characteristic to be a group."
Garay's proposed group — members of the Mara 18 gang in El Salvador who have renounced their gang ties — was too broad, and there was little evidence society recognized them as a distinct group, the board said. The appeals court panel upheld the decision.