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A court in Bavaria has ruled against restrictions on wearing headscarves for law students who are undergoing practical training in the justice system in the German state.

The Augsburg administrative court upheld a complaint by a 25-year-old Muslim student who was told that, under Bavaria's 8-year-old rules, she wasn't allowed to wear a headscarf when doing work that involves public appearances — for example, in a courtroom.

It found Thursday there was no legal basis for such an intrusion into freedom of religion and education, news agency dpa reported.

State Justice Minister Winfried Bausback said the regional government will appeal. He said all participants in legal proceedings must be able to trust in the independence and neutrality of judges and prosecutors, and that confidence must not be "shaken by appearances."



The Supreme Court has agreed to referee a dispute about an odd piece of U.S. citizenship law that treats men and women differently.
 
The justices said Tuesday they will hear a case about a law that applies only to children born outside the U.S. to one parent who is an American and one who is not.

The law makes it easier for children whose mother is a citizen to become citizens themselves. Even after reform legislation in 1986, children of American fathers face higher hurdles claiming citizenship for themselves.

A federal appeals court struck down the law in the case of Luis Ramon Morales-Santana. He challenged the law and asserted he is a U.S. citizen after U.S. authorities sought to deport him following convictions for robbery and attempted murder.



The Kansas Supreme Court signed off Tuesday on a new state law increasing aid to poor school districts, formally ending a threat that the state's public schools could be shut down.
 
But the court's brief order resolves only a small part of a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts. The court will consider next whether the state is spending enough money overall on its schools, and it could rule on that issue by early next year.

The court issued its three-page order , signed by Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, only a day after Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed the education funding measure into law. The measure boosts aid to poor districts by $38 million for 2016-17, redistributing some dollars from wealthier districts and diverting funds from other corners of state government because Kansas faces ongoing budget problems.

The GOP-dominated Legislature approved the measure last week in a special session forced by a Supreme Court order last month . The justices said the state's education funding system remained unfair to poor school districts, despite three rounds of changes in the past three years. The court warned that schools might be unable to reopen after Thursday if lawmakers didn't make more revisions.

"We are pleased that Kansas schools will remain open," said Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley.

The lawsuit was filed by the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, school districts. They contend that legislators aren't fulfilling their duty under the state constitution to finance a suitable education for all children, whether they live in rich or poor areas.

The first part of the dispute before the Supreme Court narrowed to an amount of spending equal to less than 1 percent of the more than $4 billion a year the state spends on aid to its 286 school districts. Most of the new aid for poor districts will push down their property taxes levies for schools under a funding system that aims to prevent too much reliance on local taxes so that educational offerings across the state don't vary too widely.



A Supreme Court opinion setting aside the bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will make it harder for Justice Department prosecutors to bring similar cases in the future and is welcome news to other elected officials investigated for or charged with corruption, legal experts say.

The court unanimously held Monday that the actions McDonnell took to benefit a businessman who gave him luxury gifts may have been distasteful but did not cross the line into illegal conduct.

The decision clarifying the boundaries between illegal conduct and what's merely unseemly will almost certainly be used by other elected officials to argue that they have broader leeway in what's permissible. And it means that prosecutors will have to think twice before charging elected officials simply for arranging access for a friendly benefactor.

"There is no question that this decision will result in a review of the theories that the Justice Department is using in open prosecutions as well as ongoing investigations," said Jacob Frenkel, a white-collar defense lawyer in Washington and former prosecutor. He predicted that in ongoing prosecutions, defense lawyers will seek to get charges dismissed because of Monday's decision.






Spain's National Court judge has shelved an investigation into two puppeteers for allegedly praising terrorism in a theater show.

The court said Tuesday there was insufficient evidence that the puppeteers had committed an offence by using a sign during a performance in Madrid that said "Long Live Alka ETA." The message was a word-play reference to Spain's armed Basque group ETA and al-Qaida.

The Feb. 5 puppet show also showed the hanging of a judge in effigy and police beatings, prompting some parents attending the Carnival event with children to complain to authorities. Praising terrorism is a crime in Spain.

The puppeteers have denied the allegations, saying their show was satirical.

They were initially arrested and jailed for five days, triggering much criticism from social and political groups.


A unanimous Supreme Court on Monday overturned the bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in a ruling that could make it harder for prosecutors to bring corruption cases against elected officials.

McDonnell had been found guilty in 2014 of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement. He was sentenced to two years in prison, but was allowed to remain free while the justices weighed his appeal.

The justices voted to narrow the scope of a law that bars public officials from taking gifts in exchange for "official action," saying it does not cover routine courtesies like setting up meetings or hosting events for constituents.

The high court took no position on whether prosecutors can try McDonnell again. The case now returns to lower courts to decide that question.

McDonnell said he never took any official action to benefit Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams or pressured other state officials to do so. McDonnell claims he did nothing in return except help a constituent gain access to other public figures.

Prosecutors insisted that McDonnell accepted personal benefits with the understanding he would try to take official action to help Williams.

Chief Justice John Roberts agreed with McDonnell that the jury instruction of "official acts" at his trial was so broad it could include virtually any action a public official might take while in office, leaving politicians across the country subject to the whims of prosecutors. Roberts said setting up a meeting, talking to another official or organizing an event does not — without more evidence — meet the definition of an official act under the law.

McDonnell had won the support of several influential former White House attorneys — both Democrat and Republican — as well as dozens of state attorneys general who told the court that upholding McDonnell's conviction would cripple the ability of elected officials to do their jobs.



Justice Antonin Scalia's unexpected death in February and the Senate's refusal to confirm a successor has left the Supreme Court in a bind on several closely divided cases.
 
Even as some justices have said the short-handed court will continue to get its work done, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has noted, "Eight is not a good number."

The court's 4-4 tie Thursday in a case about President Barack Obama's plan to help millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally was the latest illustration of what Ginsburg meant. The justices were unable to resolve a case without Scalia's vote and unwilling to keep the case on hold for an indefinite period because they don't know when a ninth justice will join them.

The high court has been operating with eight justices instead of its full complement of nine since Scalia died. Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia's place, but Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing or a vote.

Garland wouldn't have been available to take part in this term's cases even if the Senate had acted quickly on his nomination. But the other justices might have ordered new arguments in some cases in which they split 4 to 4 if they knew Garland would be on the bench by the time the next term begins in October.


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