Much ink has been spilled over the potential ramifications of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court across a broad range of issues—from executive power and reproductive rights to redistricting and gun control. That commentary has included multiple examinations of his likely impact on the wide spectrum of recurring First Amendment questions that have come before the Court in recent years. The same exercise was undertaken just last year prior to the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch. The sample size is not statistically significant. Since John Roberts became Chief Justice in 2005, the Supreme Court has not decided a single “media law” case as that term is defined in the preceding paragraph. And, although those Justices that have left the Court in the last dozen years had each participated in several such cases, the “holdovers,” like the Chief Justice himself, have decided very few. Thus, despite its well-deserved reputation as a “First Amendment” Court, the holdover Justices that have served on it have no real track record that can be used to predict how they might vote in future media law cases.
Indeed, of the nine justices who participated in the Court’s last media law decision—Bartnicki v. Vopper in 2001—only three (Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer) remain. Much ado about nothing? The first sentence of the preceding paragraph bears emphasis for an additional reason—at least for the moment, the Court has largely gotten out of the business of deciding media law cases at all. The last two departures are perhaps the most significant. Predictions about the impact of “new” Justices are of dubious value. History has shown that predictions about newly appointed Justices’ votes in media law cases, based on either their past judicial performance or the identity and party affiliation of the President who appointed them are worth very little. We are dealing with a moving target. History also teaches another important lesson—i.e., Justices change over time, so predictions about their voting proclivities on a given issue, even if accurate today, may not hold true tomorrow. Discretion may be the better part of valor (or maybe not). So, where does this leave a lawyer who needs to decide whether to seek Supreme Court review in a media law case? Given the predictive uncertainty, there is ample room for legitimate differences of opinion about that.
The 1967 Abortion Act legalised abortion under certain circumstances in England and Wales and Scotland but was never extended to Northern Ireland. Abortion in Northern Ireland remains banned except under very limited circumstances. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment and there are no exceptions for fatal foetal abnormalities, rape or incest. In 2016, the Northern Ireland Assembly voted against changing the law in Northern Ireland. Justice Gap 30th October 2017 – Abortion law in the UK is plagued by hypocrisy and cowardice. Nowhere more so than in Northern Ireland. ] UKSC 41. The case is discussed in some detail on the Bristol University Law School blog. Funding for women from Northern Ireland became available in England as a result of action in Parliament. This was followed in Wales and in Scotland. The consent of the Irish people is needed before the Constitution can be amended. This means that amendments to the Constitution can only be made by way of a constitutional referendum. To date, 35 constitutional referendums have been held, of which 29 resulted in amendments to the Constitution.
The European Union has published factsheets on the Rights of Defendants in Criminal Proceedings. The Bar Council and Criminal Bar Association played a leading role in preparing the factsheet for England and Wales – (see Bar Council Press release). The UK link has further links to the separate jurisdictions in the UK. On 1st February, the Supreme Court commenced hearing the appeal by Julian Assange relating to the request by Sweden to extradite him. The UK Supreme Court blog has a preview of the case. Law and Lawyers previously looked at the case on 2nd November 2011 – “Assange – European Arrest Warrants” The Supreme Court hearing will end on 2nd February. European Union Member States – except for the UK and the Czech Republic – agreed to proceed to a Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union – see Europa. The aim is that Member States will sign up in March and will enter into force once it has been ratified by at least 12 euro area member states. It will be legally binding as an international agreement and will be open to the EU countries which do not sign it at the outset. Interestingly, the Europa website states that the aim is to incorporate the Treaty into EU law within five years of its entry into force. The Treaty will impose a “balanced budget rule” rule and Court of Justice of the EU will have certain jurisdiction in this area. The Prime Minister’s statement to the House of Commons is here.
Everything has changed in that on Wednesday an African American president will offer his reflections on King’s speech and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Now, there are African American members of Congress, CEOs, doctors, lawyers, police officers and firefighters when there were few, if any, in King’s time. The high school graduation rate of African Americans and Caucasians is significantly closer than it was then, and the percentage of African Americans who voted in 2012 was higher than Caucasian. But nothing has changed in that, much like 50 years ago, African Americans earn about half as much as Caucasian people, and their unemployment rate is twice as high. Now, as then, many African Americans are worried about their ability to vote after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that key portions of the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act were unconstitutional. More than a quarter of African Americans say little or no progress has occurred.
Yolanda Lewis, CEO and president of the Black Economic Council in Oakland. 1 million in receipts in 2007, according to census figures, compared with 5 percent for all U.S. 50,000 in receipts and employ fewer than 1 percent of all workers. They have lived in the home for 45 years and were joined by Alteresa Thomas, who has lived on the same block for 49 years, and other friends and relatives they’ve known for decades. And while African Americans now can attend the same schools as Caucasians, “it’s not the same education,” said Shante Wilson, Mary Washington’s 37-year-old niece, who attended schools in California. The schools in black neighborhoods are generally not of the same quality as the ones in white neighborhoods, the group agreed. A half-century later, King’s speech resonates with everyone in the room, in different ways. For Wilson, it’s a reminder that President Obama’s election shows young African Americans that they can dream to grow up to be president.
It is the opinion of the Right to Food campaign that the Tendulkar Committee estimates will exclude the counting of considerable sections of poor in India. The Right to Food campaign, via its public interest litigation, PUCL vs. Union of India, lodged in the Supreme Court in 2002, questioned the definition and identification of poverty in India. The final paragraph of the committee report summary again betrays its interests which do not coincide with that of the poor of India. Once the Tendulkar Committee had accepted its bogus benchmark, it felt it necessary to justify the same. It would be an ideal world if that were to happen. The tragedy is that today we live in one where economists are deciding amongst themselves what defines poverty, without a clue about what it means to be poor in India. The revised FAO intake norm stands at 1770 for India and 1900 for China as India has a greater proportion of children. But does the FAO itself consider the fact that at least 1/3rd Indian children are pushed to child labour involving physical work?
FAO calculation is simply a weighted average based on standardised figures for gender and age, ignoring a host of other details such as what work children do in India and factors like climate and quality of water. Basing its whole analysis on NSSO figures, the Tendulkar Committee further justifies its poverty line by arguing that the expenditures of health and education at the urban poverty line are adequate at the all-India level. Once again it would be a privilege to witness this ‘expert committee’ and the entire planning commission take care of their families’ health and education needs at this ‘acceptable’ expenditure. Will someone please explain to the expert economists in the Planning Commission that there is a difference between median and mean? The median expenditure on education in India for example is much lower than the mean expenditure because of high inequality. If the Tendulkar Committee had chosen to use the mean expenditure instead of the median expenditure it would have found that expenditure at the urban poverty line in education to be far lower and not the other way around.
Furthermore, there is no space for a detail such as families at the poverty line taking loans to fulfil their health needs (the number one cause of poverty in India), which should not be included as real expenditure. The fact is that the Planning Commission has used the statistical tools it needs to present a certain pre-set picture of poverty in India. By accepting the Tendulkar Committee report the Planning Commission appears to be more interested in presenting an improved image of Indian poverty to the world at the mid-term appraisal of the Millenium Development Goals in September this year. The Right to Food campaign has maintained, in terms of PDS, BPL, and the impending Food Security Act, that basic services such as food, education, health, work and social security must be universally available for all Indians. In relation to PDS, the Right to Food campaign demands that all residents of the country must be covered under the same and that PDS should play the role of ensuring food security for all.
While arguing for universal services, the campaign also understands that these social schemes cannot be uniform in nature and further affirmative action is required for those that are socially excluded. In terms of affirmative action, the Supreme Court has already directed the government of India to add old aged, destitute, primitive tribal groups, disabled, single women, widows, and pregnant and lactating women to the category of poor. Tendulkar Committee sidesteps this inclusion of vulnerable groups without a mention. The Dr. NC Saxena Committee report on the other hand presents an improvement in this regard by arguing for the automatic inclusion of socially excluded groups (without any ‘caps’) and automatic exclusion of those who are relatively well-off. For all those that fall in between, a scoring method is recommended with scores based on occupation, caste, and religion. The Dr. Saxena Committee report therefore provides comparably more verifiable and simple and targeted criteria for the identification of the poor of this nation, leaving fewer opportunities vulnerable groups being unprotected. The Supreme Court in its interim order in Right to Food case categorically asked the government of India to take the Supreme Court Commissioner Dr. N.C. Saxena on board to resolve the poverty estimation issue. Despite this, the Dr. Saxena Committee recommendations have been set aside and have gone unrepresented in the Planning Commission’s recent decision to accept the Tendulkar Committee recommendations. If the estimates of the Tendulkar Committee are accepted for determining BPL it will cause severe repercussions under the proposed national food security act. The correct identification of BPL becomes imperative at this point in time. The Right to Food campaign maintains that the process of identifying poor for any targeted scheme must be disassociated from any externally calculated poverty line, such as that proposed by the Tendulkar Committee.
In 2005, the Illinois legislature passed the third set of tort reform laws in the state which capped the amount of damages available to victims of medical malpractice cases. 1,000,000 from hospitals in non-economic damages (i.e. damages for pain and suffering, permanent disability and other intangible losses). This February, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the damages cap was a violation of the state constitution’s separation of powers clause. Despite this ruling, however, it is unlikely that this will be the last attempt by self-proclaimed “tort reformers” to limit the rights of people injured by medical malpractice in the state of Illinois. In response to the growing public confusion over the true impact of tort reform on the health care industry, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA) recently released a white paper to clear up some of this confusion. The white paper addresses each one of the arguments in favor of tort reform to show how these arguments rely on falsehoods. Court records and insurance companies’ regulatory filings both reveal that the number of medical malpractice claims filed in the state of Illinois prior to and after the 2005 tort reforms has been steadily decreasing.
Illinois’ largest medical malpractice insurance provider, ISMIE, changed its reporting standards in 2003, which artificially increased the overall number of medical malpractice claims filed against its insureds. Prior to 2003, ISMIE counted a claim filed against a physician and medical corporation by a single claimant as one claim. After 2003, ISMIE began counting these same claims as two separate ones, which falsely inflated the actual number of claims. The insurance industry, not the legal system, is to blame for the increase in medical malpractice insurance premiums. Insurance companies, however, continued to increase their rates against physicians and health care providers during this same time period even though the number of claims did not increase. As a result, insurers raked in record profits. Insurance companies themselves have admitted that market conditions and losses on their investment returns and not a rise in medical malpractice lawsuits have caused them to increase insurance premiums paid by health care providers. The best way to keep medical malpractice insurance premiums low is to pass insurance reforms, not tort reforms, which will keep rates lower by introducing more competition into the market. Claim 3: Without Reform, the Number of Physicians in Illinois Has Increased!
One of the biggest arguments fueling tort reform is that without it, there will be a mass exodus of doctors from the state because they cannot afford to practice medicine here. Several studies released within the last year demonstrate that tort reform laws do not significantly affect the overall costs of the health care system. Medical negligence is one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. Capping malpractice damages does not improve the health care system or reduce the rate of injury. Instead, these caps unfairly restrict the rights of patients to recover the full amount of damages they have suffered as the result of another’s negligent acts. Further, caps on damages reduce the incentives for doctors to ensure that they are providing all of their patients with the best care possible. For more information on your rights to file a medical malpractice claim, contact an experienced trial lawyer today.
The SIPA South Asia Association (SAA) hosted Mr. Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday, a senior judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday April 15th for a discussion with students and faculty members. Professor Hassan Abbas and Professor Quaid-i-Azam of the South Asia Institute moderated the interactive session. Justice Ramday is currently on a speaking tour of the United States and was invited to SIPA to speak to students as part of the tour. He chose to take the opportunity to speak about his experiences during the Lawyers Movement in Pakistan, as well as on the broader topic of the role of religion, specifically Islam, in jurisprudence and society. As part of this discussion, some students asked the judge to comment on recent events in Pakistan involving the targeted killing of individuals who had been perceived to support the amendment of a blasphemy law in Pakistan. There was a general feeling among the questioners that these events contradicted the judge’s views. There was however some disagreement amongst the audience members as to the topic that the judge ultimately chose to focus most of his time on. This was because during the time he was a permanent judge of the Supreme Court, he, along with several other judges, was illegally removed from his position by the military dictator General Pervez Musharraf. All of these judges were subsequently reinstated as a result of a popular mass movement in Pakistan from 2007-2009, a movement which has also been credited with the restoration of democracy in the country. Some students had hoped he would spend more time speaking about this movement. Some felt that the judge failed to take this opportunity to bring attention to Pakistan as a leader and very much a part of the discussion on democratic transition.