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News for, and by, our local legal community, curated and created by the Santa Clara County Bar. The opinions expressed in this blog are the authors' own and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, its members, its employees, or its governing board.

 

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Court order in San Bernardino case could force Apple to jeopardize phone security

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cybersecurity experts warned Wednesday that the battle over a court order requiring Apple to help the FBI access encrypted data on a cellphone belonging to the couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino will have far-reaching consequences for the tech industry. The dispute, the latest chapter in a long-brewing battle between Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., over the tech industry's role in combating terror plots, will now shift from a philosophical disagreement to a very real courthouse fight after Apple said it would not comply with the order.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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President Raises Stakes in Supreme Court Nominee Battle

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 17, 2016

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — President Obama on Tuesday challenged Republicans to offer a plausible rationale for refusing to consider aSupreme Court candidate to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, and he pledged to nominate someone with an “outstanding legal mind” who cares about democracy and the rule of law.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now,” Mr. Obama said during a news conference after a meeting in California with leaders of Southeast Asia. He said the Constitution demanded that a president nominate someone for the court and the Senate either confirms or rejects. “There’s no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not in the constitutional text.”

Read the whole story at The New York Times

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Kamala Harris Not Interested in a U.S. Supreme Court Nomination

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 17, 2016

California Attorney General Kamala Harris today threw cold water on speculation that she may be on President Obama’s short list for nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Harris said — point blank — she only wants to run for the U.S. Senate.

During a campaign stop at SEIU Local 521 headquarters in San Jose Tuesday morning, Harris stressed she had no interest in being nominated by President Obama for the U.S. Supreme Court after the sudden and unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I’m not putting my name in for consideration, I do not wish to be considered, I’m running for United States Senate,” said Harris.

This past weekend, Harris’ name started circulating at warp speed after former Obama White House adviser David Axelrod mentioned her on a news show discussing Scalia’s potential replacement.

Read the whole story at KQED

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Apple Fights Order to Unlock San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Apple is fiercely opposing a court order to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, accusing the federal government of an "overreach" that could potentially breach the privacy of millions of customers.

CEO Tim Cook published a bullish open letter late Tuesday, pledging to fight a judge's ruling that it should give FBI investigators access to encrypted data on the device.

"The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals," Cook wrote, calling the ruling a "dangerous precedent."

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles argued the FBI needed Apple to help it find the password and access "relevant, critical … data" on the locked cellphone of Syed Farook, who with his wife Tashfeen Malik murdered 14 people in San Bernardino, California, on Dec. 2. 

Read the whole story at NBC News

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Chemerinsky: The Failures of Scalia's Originalism

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Although Justice Antonin Scalia succeeded in many ways in moving the U.S. Supreme Court in a conservative direction, he also failed in some of his most important quests.

Scalia, for example, never could persuade a majority of his colleagues to embrace his originalist approach to interpreting the Constitution—and his belief that the meaning of a constitutional provision is fixed when it is adopted and can be changed only by amendment. In many cases, most notably in finding a constitutional right to marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, the court expressly rejected originalism and embraced the idea of a living Constitution whose meaning evolves by interpretation.

Similarly, Scalia never could get a majority of the court to adopt his view that statutes are interpreted solely based on their plain text without attention to the underlying legislative purpose or legislative history. For example, last spring, the court in King v. Burwell, over Scalia’s vehement objections, interpreted the Affordable Care Act based on its clear purpose to permit all who qualify economically to receive tax credits if they purchase insurance from a health care exchange.          

Scalia failed in some of the constitutional areas in which he seemed to care the most. The court did not overrule Roe v. Wade during his tenure or hold that all affirmative action is unconstitutional or adopt his view that the government only violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment if it literally adopts a religion or coerces religious participation. But Scalia was in the majority in allowing more government regulation of abortion, in imposing limits on affirmative action, and in permitting more of a religious presence in government, such as in prayers before legislative sessions and aid to parochial schools.

Read the whole story at National Law Journal

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Battle over Scalia's seat feeds perception that Supreme Court is less neutral and more partisan

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The coming partisan battle over who will fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia is certain to fuel growing public perceptions that the Supreme Court is becoming more of a political body than a neutral forum for deciding cases based on the law.

The court has long tried to maintain the image of being distinct from the expressly political branches of the government. Although legal scholars disagree about how much the justices’ political views determine their decisions, the justices themselves have taken pains to insist that they don’t.

But repeated political battles over confirmations and the partisan forces that have swirled around Congress and the White House have all but eroded that sense of distinctiveness.

An election-year power struggle between a Democratic president and a Republican-controlled Senate is in many ways the worst nightmare for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Read the whole story at LA Times


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Grim Sleeper serial killer trial begins, years after slayings terrorized South L.A.

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Debra, a waitress, was discovered shot in the chest three decades ago in an alley. The body of 25-year-old Janecia was found in a dumpster in 2007. There were at least eight other women. And one who got away.

They were young and black and leading troubled lives, some working as prostitutes. Most were killed along a corridor in the Manchester Square neighborhood of South Los Angeles.

Police kept the cases quiet -- a decision that later led to outrage over what seemed an apparent disregard for the victims as well as the community’s safety. The slayings were eventually linked to a serial killer, dubbed the Grim Sleeper

When affable Lonnie Franklin Jr., a local backyard mechanic, was arrested in the case in 2010, it shocked residents but signaled a key moment in the search for justice for the victims in a region that has often felt marginalized when it comes to solving homicides.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Supreme Court speculation about Kamala Harris shadows Senate bid

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Speculation that California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris could be on President Obama’s short list of possible nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court has reached a fever pitch — but don't fit her for a robe just yet.

The talk that Harris — simultaneously the first woman and African American to be elected to the statewide post — could fill the vacancy created by this weekend's unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia is just that, for the moment.

It's a line of thought that is coming mostly from media outlets and analysts offering commentary ahead of what is likely to be a deliberative process that will start in earnest when President Obama returns to Washington this week after spending several days in California.

Still, it's not hard to understand why court observers and the legal community would watch Harris, 51, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica. She is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., and earned her law degree at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

Read the whole story at LA Times

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Pregnancy Clinics Fight for Right to Deny Abortion Information

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 10, 2016

“Free Pregnancy Testing,” reads the large sign in front of the East County Pregnancy Care Clinic, on a busy intersection of this impoverished city east of San Diego.

Inside the clinic, a woman will not only get a free pregnancy test, but she will also see a counselor to discuss her options. She will see models of fetuses at early stages of development, which show that “at week 12, you see a recognizable human,” said Josh McClure, the executive director of the clinic. If she is pregnant, she can get a free ultrasound and attend childbirth classes. If she gives birth, she may receive help with diapers and a car seat.

What she will not get from this center is advice on where to obtain an abortion.

Read the whole story at NY Times

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Parole hearing set for Robert Kennedy killer Sirhan Sirhan

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 10, 2016

For nearly 50 years, Sirhan Sirhan has been consistent: He says he doesn't remember fatally shooting Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in a crowded kitchen pantry of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

The Jerusalem native, now 71, has given no inkling that he will change his version of events at his 15th parole hearing on Wednesday in San Diego. He is serving a life sentence that was commuted from death when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972.

During his previous parole hearing in 2011, Sirhan told officials about his regret but again said he could not remember the events of June 5, 1968. The parole board ruled that Sirhan hadn't shown sufficient remorse and didn't understand the enormity of the crime less than five years after the killing of President John F. Kennedy — the senator's older brother — and two months after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Read the whole story at The Tribune

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