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Urban League Challenges Illinois School Funding
Topics | 2008/08/21 14:09
Poor schools in Illinois suffer the nation's second-largest funding gap with wealthy districts because of the state's unconstitutional school funding formula that disparately hurt black and Latino students, the Chicago Urban League claims in Cook County Court.

As a result, poor and minority students face financial crises that force them into larger classes in poorly maintained facilities; programs for music, arts and sports have been slashed; and students are denied a "high quality" elementary and secondary education guaranteed under the Illinois Constitution, the complaint states.

Despite its great capacity for raising revenue and its obligations under the Illinois Constitution to take "primary responsibility" for school funding, the State over-relies on local property taxes to finance schools, states the complaint against the State of Illinois and the State Board of Education.

Plaintiffs, the Chicago Urban League and the Quad County Urban League, are represented by Lisa Scruggs with Jenner & Block.


Ninth Circuit rules on 'no-fly' list
Court Watch | 2008/08/20 14:07
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday that those placed on the government's "no-fly list" can challenge their inclusion on the list in federal district courts. The issue came before the court in a case brought by a woman on the list, in which a district court had ruled that it lacked jurisdiction because of a law exempting Transportation Security Administration orders from federal trial court review. Reversing the decision, the Ninth Circuit held that the Terrorist Screening Center which actually maintains the list is a subsection of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is therefore subject to review by the district courts:
Our interpretation of section 46110 is consistent not merely with the statutory language but with common sense as well. Just how would an appellate court review the agency’s decision to put a particular name on the list? There was no hearing before an administrative law judge; there was no notice-and comment procedure. For all we know, there is no administrative record of any sort for us to review. So if any court is going to review the government’s decision to put Ibrahim’s name on the No-Fly List, it makes sense that it be a court with the ability to take evidence.
The court also held that the woman could not bring two related claims because they were “inescapably intertwined” with TSA orders. The San Francisco Chronicle has more.

In July, the US terror watchlist, which includes the no-fly list, was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union for being too large, containing inaccuracies, and lacking safeguards to prevent the unnecessary targeting of passengers for additional security screenings. In March, the US Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General issued a report saying that FBI had submitted inaccurate information to the list, that the information was rarely reviewed before its submission, and even if discrepancies become apparent they were often left unchanged. In response to the audit, FBI Assistant Director John Miller said that the agency was working with the DOJ and other partner agencies to "ensure the proper balance between national security protection and the need for accurate, efficient, and streamlined watchlist processes."


Sixth Circuit Upholds Nudity Ban in Ohio
Court Issues | 2008/08/19 14:27
Ohio's prohibition on nudity and sexual activity at establishments where alcohol is served is not unconstitutional, the 6th Circuit ruled.

The district court had issued an injunction preventing the enforcement of the Ohio Liquor Control Commission's Rule 52.

J.L. Spoons Inc., the owner of a group of Ohio strip clubs, had claimed that Rule 52 violated its First Amendment rights, because some artistic dance performances may be found to violate the rule.

Judge Siler overruled the district court, stating that the rule is not unconstitutionally over-broad.

"Persons desiring to perform mainstream works of art involving nudity and sexual activity may do so in an establishment that is not licensed to sell liquor," Siler wrote. "Mainstream works of art that merely suggest sexual activity will not be burdened."


Second Circuit Protects Plaintiff's Anonymity
Court Watch | 2008/08/18 15:27
A woman who filed a lawsuit for physical and sexual assault should be allowed to remain anonymous, the 2nd Circuit ruled in a question of first impression.

Judge Cabranes found that the district court improperly dismissed the plaintiff's case due to her refusal to give her name.

While plaintiffs usually must state their names to give the opposition a chance to mount a defense, Cabranes ruled that the district court stuck to the letter of the law without considering whether plaintiff had a legitimate need to keep her identity hidden.

"The district court did not balance the plaintiff's interest in proceeding anonymously against the interests of the defendants and the public," Cabranes wrote.


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