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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez’s appeal of his corruption indictment, setting the stage for a federal trial in the fall.

The justices let stand a lower court ruling that refused to dismiss charges including conspiracy, bribery and fraud against the Democratic lawmaker.

Menendez was indicted in 2015 after prosecutors said he took official action on behalf of a longtime friend who had given him gifts and campaign donations including flights aboard a luxury jet and a Paris vacation.

The friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, currently is on trial in Florida on multiple counts of Medicare fraud that are separate from the counts he faces in the Menendez indictment.

The indictment alleges Menendez used his official influence to set up meetings with government officials aimed at helping Melgen in a Medicare dispute and with a business interest involving port security in the Dominican Republic.

Menendez has contended he was seeking to influence future policy instead of advocating on behalf of his friend, and that the government is attempting to use the timing of campaign donations to create a quid pro quo between him and Melgen that he claims never existed.


Private businesses in Europe can forbid Muslim women in their employ from wearing headscarves if the ban is part of a policy of neutrality within the company and not a sign of prejudice against a particular religion, the European Court of Justice said Tuesday.

Such a ban doesn't constitute what Europe's high court calls "direct discrimination."

The conclusion by the highest court in the 28-nation European Union was in response to two cases brought by a Belgian and a French woman, both fired for refusing to remove their headscarves. It clarifies a long-standing question about whether partial bans by some countries on religious symbols can include the workplace.

The court's response fed right into the French presidential campaign, bolstering the platforms of far-right leader Marine Le Pen, a leading contender in the spring election who wants to do away with all "ostentatious" religious symbols in the name of secularism, and conservative Francois Fillon, who hailed the court's decisions. France already bans headscarves and other religious symbols in classrooms as well as face-covering veils in streets.

However, critics quickly voiced fears that the decision risks becoming a setback to all working Muslim women.

"Today's disappointing rulings ... give greater leeway to employers to discriminate against women — and men — on the grounds of religious belief," said a statement by Amnesty International. "At a time when identity and appearance has become a political battleground, people need more protection against prejudice, not less."

The Open Society Justice Initiative, which submitted a brief supporting the women, expressed disappointment.

"The group's policy officer, Maryam Hmadoum, contended that the decision "weakens the guarantee of equality that is at the heart of the EU's antidiscrimination directive," which the Court of Justice cited in weighing the cases.



The Republican-dominated Legislature's tense relationship with the state Supreme Court is hanging over this year's legislative session as lawmakers take up two bills to deal with the aftermath of court rulings that Republicans don't like.

One of them is a fix to the state's death penalty rules and the other a revision of the "stand your ground" law to better protect defendants claiming self-defense.

It's no surprise that two other bills are seen as a shot back at the court - a proposal to limit justices' terms to 12 years and a bill that would require them to file reports to the governor and Legislature on the timeliness of their decisions.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says one of his highest priorities is to "reign in" the Supreme Court.

Former Supreme Court Justice James Perry said the Legislature is at "open war" with the judiciary, but he said the Legislature can't control the court.


Intel, Yahoo, Pandora and Spotify are the latest big-name tech companies to sign on to a legal brief supporting transgender rights, a source told Axios.

The firms join Apple, Salesforce, eBay, IBM, Microsoft and others, who will file arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia high school student who is fighting for the right to use the restroom and other facilities that line up with his gender identity.

The Trump administration has withdrawn Obama-era guidance that sided with Grimm, but ultimately it will be the Supreme Court that gets to decide whether existing sex discrimination law protects protects the rights of transgender people.

Who's still not on board: Google and Facebook have yet to sign on, sources said.



How a U.S. Border Patrol argent’s use of lethal force at the U.S-Mexican border implicates constitutional rights and foreign affairs dominated arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday in Hernandez v. Mesa. The lawyer arguing that the agent should be held liable had a rough day in front of the justices.

Both sides agree that while standing on American soil at the border on June 7, 2010, Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa fatally shot Sergio Hernandez, a 15-year-old Mexican national standing on the Mexican side. But then the factual accounts diverge.

According to Hernandez’s family, the teenager was playing with his friends near the border opposite El Paso, Texas, where the border runs through the middle of a concrete culvert. There is a fence on the U.S. side of the culvert.

According to Mesa and the federal government, Mesa was detaining one of Hernandez’s companions on the U.S. side of the border, when Hernandez and the other teenagers started throwing rocks at Hernandez. Mesa claims that the rocks posed a danger to his safety. He repeatedly ordered then to stop and back away, but they persisted. Finally Mesa fired in what he claims is self-defense, fatally striking Hernandez.

Hernandez’s family sued, and Mesa filed a motion to dismiss. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, when considering a motion to dismiss, a federal court must consider the plaintiff’s allegations as true when deciding whether to throw out the lawsuit versus letting it continue. The parties later present evidence to prove their version of the facts if the lawsuit goes forward, but when deciding whether to end the case before it gets started, judges must consider only plaintiff’s version.




A man from Syria who says he was tortured in his home country after converting to Christianity has no legal recourse against an Oklahoma church that published his name and baptism online, the state's highest court ruled on Wednesday.

The former Muslim, identified in the lawsuit only as "John Doe," says that after his baptism in 2012 at the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Tulsa he returned to Syria and was kidnapped, tortured and nearly beheaded by radical Muslims who learned of his baptism online. He claims he escaped by killing a relative who aided his captors and now is wanted for murder in Syria.

"Appellant asserts that he suffered numerous physical injuries and psychological damage, all proximately caused by appellees' publication of his baptism, in contravention of promises they supposedly made to him that it would be kept confidential," the court wrote in its majority opinion.

But the court upheld a lower court ruling and decided that despite the plaintiff's injuries, courts must refrain from "undue interference with religious beliefs and practices."

"Per the church autonomy doctrine, the courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over the matter," Chief Justice Douglas Combs wrote in the majority opinion.

The plaintiff's attorney, Keith Ward, said his client is considering whether to petition the court for a rehearing. He said that since the lawsuit was filed in 2014, his client has become a U.S. citizen and now lives in Tulsa, but struggles with injuries he suffered in the attack and fears every day that Muslim extremists might try to kill him.



The Michigan Supreme Court has given new life to a lawsuit by a Flint police officer who says he was put on road patrol in a dangerous area because he criticized how tax dollars were spent.
 
The court reversed a decision by the state appeals court and sent Kevin Smith's case back to a Genesee County judge.

Smith was a full-time police union president until Flint's emergency manager eliminated the position in 2012. He says he later got in trouble when he criticized how Flint was spending a special property tax for public safety.

In an order Friday, the Supreme Court says Smith has sufficiently alleged discrimination under Michigan's whistleblower law on the basis of a job reassignment during undesirable hours at an undesirable location.


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