Judicial Branch

Amid its bankruptcy filing, a $90 million wheat-trading loss settlement dating back to 2008 is in doubt due to MF Global’s losses

November 10, 2011

“A $90 million settlement of an investor lawsuit against MF Global Holdings Ltd. and its former parent, Man Group Plc, over a 2008 wheat-trading loss was cast into doubt by the futures broker’s bankruptcy filing.

A Manhattan federal judge is scheduled to decide on Nov. 18 whether to approve the settlement of the class-action, or group, suit against MF Global, Man Group, underwriters of MF Global’s initial public offering in July 2007, and some of the firm’s officers and directors.

The settlement allows investors to back out of the deal if they’re not paid the full $90 million, according to court records. Lawsuits against the firm were automatically halted after MF Global filed for bankruptcy protection on Oct. 31. A bankruptcy judge must decide whether MF Global may contribute to the accord. MF Global’s portion of the settlement, which is on behalf of shareholders from July 2007 to February 2008, is $2.5 million.”

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Ohio voters choose to opt out of the health care mandate

November 10, 2011

“Voters in Ohio have approved a ballot measure intended to keep government from requiring Ohioans to participate in any health care system.

The constitutional amendment passed is largely symbolic, coming in response to the 2009 federal health care overhaul, a provision of which mandates that most Americans purchase health care.

Supporters hope it will prompt a challenge of the overhaul before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The tea party and Republican groups backing the amendment say the Affordable Care Act was an overreach by the Obama administration and Congress.”

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U.S. Appellate Court backs the Obama Health Care Law

November 9, 2011

“President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law got a boost on Tuesday when a U.S. appeals court agreed with a lower court that dismissed a challenge and found the law’s minimum coverage requirement was constitutional.

The U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that had found it constitutional to require Americans to buy healthcare insurance coverage by early 2014 or face a penalty and had dismissed a lawsuit challenging it.

“It certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race … or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family,” wrote Judge Laurence Silberman in the majority opinion, citing past federal mandates that inspired legal fights.

“The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems, no matter how local — or seemingly passive — their individual origins.”

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Supreme Court to hear case on downed livestock slaughter

November 8, 2011

“California’s ban on the commercial slaughter of downed livestock will come before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, in a case that pits state against federal power.

Gruesome videos and gory facts drove California lawmakers to impose the ban on downed animal slaughter. Justices, though, will be focused on something a little more antiseptic: whether federal law pre-empts the 2008 state law.

The Obama administration says it does, siding with the National Meat Association in challenging California’s prohibition.

“If enforced,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. argued in a legal brief, the California law “would have a significant potential to create confusion and confrontation between those federal inspectors and state officials.”

California lawmakers, allied with Humane Society of the United States activists who exposed the slaughter of downed animals at a San Bernardino County facility, claim that states have the authority to act on their own.

“Cruelty to animals, in particular, has traditionally been regulated by the states, going back nearly 400 years to the Massachusetts Bay Colony,” noted J. Scott Ballenger, an attorney for the Humane Society and other groups.

Ballenger, in his legal brief supporting California, cited the 17th-century colony’s prohibition, written in the language of the time, against “any Tirrany or Crueltie towards any bruite Creature which are usuallie kept for man’s use,” as well as less archaically spelled modern state regulations.”

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U.S. District Court Judge blocks graphic images from being required on cigarette packages

November 8, 2011

“A judge on Monday blocked a federal requirement that would have begun forcing tobacco companies next year to put graphic images including dead and diseased smokers on their cigarette packages.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that it’s likely the cigarette makers will succeed in a lawsuit to block the new standard. He stopped the requirement until after the lawsuit is resolved, which could take years.

A similar case brought by the tobacco companies against the labels is pending before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley upheld most of the marketing restrictions in the law in January 2010. The appeals court heard arguments in the case in July but is not expected to rule for several months.

Leon found the nine graphic images approved by the Food and Drug Administration in June go beyond conveying the facts about the health risks of smoking or go beyond that into advocacy – a critical distinction in a case over free speech.”

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Supreme Court to hear GPS surveillance case

November 7, 2011

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday is scheduled to hear arguments about whether investigators need to get a warrant before doing so. Legal experts say the case, which stems from a D.C. nightclub owner’s conviction on drug charges, is one of the most important Fourth Amendment cases in decades, and will determine how police conduct investigations and privacy in the high-tech age.

“No one believes that GPS surveillance by law enforcement is inappropriate,” said John Verdi, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “The question is: What is the standard that law enforcement will be held to? Is law enforcement simply permitted to track anyone, at any time, for no reason?”

The nightclub owner, Antoine Jones, was arrested on Oct. 24, 2005 on cocaine-distribution charges after police used a GPS device to track his vehicle for a month. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. D.C. police initially obtained a warrant for the GPS, but it expired. Now the government now argues it never needed one.”

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Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura in response to the TSA lawsuit dismissal: I’m gonna spend more time in Mexico and less time in the “Fascist States of America”

November 5, 2011

“Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is so upset by the dismissal of his airport security lawsuit that he threatened Friday to apply for dual citizenship so he can spend more time in his beloved Mexico — or run for president of what he labeled “the Fascist States of America.”

Ventura, also a former wrestling star, sued the U.S. government in January, alleging that airport scans and pat-downs amounted to unreasonable search and seizure. A district judge threw out his lawsuit Thursday, ruling it should have been filed in a Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ventura has said a titanium hip implanted in him in 2008 sets off metal detectors and that agents previously used hand-held wands to scan his body. He said he was subjected to a body pat-down after an airport metal detector went off last November. Ventura said he hasn’t flown since and won’t fly commercially again.”

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Federal Judge dismisses former Governor Jesse Ventura’s lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security over the use of full-body scans and pat-downs

November 4, 2011

“A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in which he sought to challenge the use of full-body scans and pat-downs at airport checkpoints.

Ventura sued the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration in January alleging that the scans and pat-downs violated his right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizure.”

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