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Court: Transgender asylum seekers can't be equated with gays
Legal Interview | 2015/09/04 20:19
Transgender people can be especially vulnerable to harassment and attacks and shouldn't be equated with gays and lesbians by U.S. immigration officials determining whether to grant asylum, a federal appeals court said Thursday.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling in the case of a transgender Mexican woman who sought shelter in the U.S. on the grounds that she would likely be tortured if returned to Mexico.

Edin Avendano-Hernandez said she had been sexually assaulted by uniformed Mexican police and a military official for being transgender.

The Board of Immigration Appeals wrongly relied on Mexican laws protecting gays and lesbians to reject Avendano-Hernandez's asylum request, the ruling states.

The 9th Circuit said transgender people face a unique level of danger and are specifically targeted in Mexico by police for extortion and sexual favors.

"While the relationship between gender identity and sexual orientation is complex, and sometimes overlapping, the two identities are distinct," Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote. "Significant evidence suggests that transgender persons are often especially visible, and vulnerable, to harassment and persecution due to their often public nonconformance with normative gender roles."




Illinois high court: Comcast must reveal anonymous commenter
Legal Interview | 2015/06/23 21:47
The Illinois Supreme Court has affirmed a lower court opinion ordering Comcast Cable Communications to identify a subscriber who posted an anonymous message suggesting a political candidate molests children.

The court said Thursday that the internet service provider must identify the subscriber who commented on a 2011 article in the Freeport Journal Standard about Bill Hadley's candidacy for the Stephenson County board.

The commenter, who used the online name "Fuboy," wrote that "Hadley is a Sandusky waiting to be exposed" because he can see an elementary school from his home. The comment was an apparent reference to former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky who was convicted of child sex abuse in 2012.

Hadley filed a defamation lawsuit against the commenter and subpoenaed Comcast demanding that it identify the subscriber.



Court says net neutrality rules will go into effect Friday
Legal Interview | 2015/06/13 00:22
Rules that treat the Internet like a public utility and prevent companies from blocking or slowing down some online traffic will go into effect Friday after a federal appeals court refused to delay them.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it won't postpone implementation of the net neutrality regulations even though AT&T, Verizon, and other companies are fighting against them. The panel said the United States Telecom Association, the plaintiffs in the case, did not satisfy the requirements for a stay.

The ruling is a setback for the industry, but the litigation will go on. The court accepted the Telecom Association's request to speed up the proceedings and asked the two sides to submit a schedule for briefing within two weeks.

Last February, the FCC agreed in a 3-2 vote to new rules that specifically prohibit service providers from blocking or slowing Internet traffic. To make sure the FCC has the authority to punish violators, the agency agreed to put Internet service in the same regulatory camp as the telephone and other utilities. That means providers would have to act in the "public interest" when supplying Internet service and refrain from "unjust or unreasonable" business practices.



Nebraska court could hold up Keystone pipeline
Legal Interview | 2015/01/08 21:21
The Republican-led Congress appears ready to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but no matter what actions are taken in Washington, the entire 1,179-mile project could be delayed until Nebraska signs off on the route.

After several years of intense debate, the routing process is before the Nebraska Supreme Court, and depending on how the justices rule, months or years could pass before construction begins in that state.

Even if approval comes from Washington and the high court, opponents are looking for new ways to block the project, including filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of Native American tribes in Nebraska and South Dakota over the possible disruption of Indian artifacts.

The court is considering whether an obscure agency known as the Nebraska Public Service Commission must review the pipeline before it can cross the state, one of six on the pipeline's route. Gov. Dave Heineman gave the green light in 2013 without the involvement of the panel, which normally regulates telephones, taxis and grain bins.

The justices have given no indication when they will render a decision.

President Barack Obama has said he is waiting for the court's decision, and the White House on Tuesday threatened to veto the bill in what was expected to be the first of many confrontations with the new Congress over energy and environmental policy.


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