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A Brooklyn man who prosecutors say twice pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and encouraged deadly “lone-wolf” attacks in New York City’s subways and elsewhere was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison.

Zachary Clark’s penalty was announced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald.

The judge said she wanted to send the message that “provide or attempt to provide materials or support to a foreign terrorist organization and you will spend a very long time in jail.”

The bearded Clark, in an orange prison jumpsuit and black glasses, tried along with his lawyer to persuade Buchwald that he had reformed himself behind bars since his November 2019 arrest, in part by attending drug and anger-management programs.

But the judge remained unconvinced. “I have no confidence Mr. Clark can be a productive and law abiding citizen,” Buchwald said as she ordered supervision for life once he is freed.

Clark, 42, pleaded guilty in August to attempting to provide support to the Islamic State group. The 20-year sentence was the maximum.

Prosecutors had requested it, noting that he posted maps and images of the subway system online in encrypted chat rooms, encouraged Islamic State supporters to attack it and urged “lone-wolf” attacks in the United States and elsewhere.




The Supreme Court appeared ready Tuesday to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona in a key case that could make it harder to challenge a raft of other voting measures Republicans have proposed following last year’s elections.

All six conservative justices, appointed by Republican presidents, suggested they would throw out an appellate ruling that struck down the restrictions as racially discriminatory under the landmark Voting Rights Act. The three liberal members of the courts, appointed by Democrats, were more sympathetic to the challengers.

Less clear is what standard the court might set for how to prove discrimination under the law, first enacted in 1965.  The outcome could make it harder, if not impossible, to use the Voting Rights Act to sue over measures making their way through dozens of Republican-controlled state legislatures that would make it more difficult to vote.

Civil rights group and Democrats, argue that the proposed restrictions would disproportionately affect minority voters, important Democratic constituencies.

Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have proposed national legislation that would remove obstacles to voting erected in the name of election security.


A federal appeals court has rejected Maine’s law requiring cable companies to give subscribers the option of purchasing access to individual cable channels rather than bundled packages.

A federal judge already delayed the law from going into effect in 2019, and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston agreed that the law raises constitutional concerns.

Comcast, joined by Disney, Fox Cable and NBC/Universal, Fox Cable and others, sued the state over the law.

The appeals court noted that state acknowledged there’s an insufficient record to justify that the law could withstand muster when it came to First Amendment arguments raised by the cable companies. Cable companies contended they were unfairly singled out, among other things.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey had no immediate comment on the ruling, which was issued Wednesday.

Comcast contended the law would mean limited choices and higher prices than the current packages it offers to consumers.

It argued it would’ve been forced to overhaul ordering, distribution and billing systems along with providing new digital cable boxes to many customers. It also contended it would have had to renegotiate contracts with programmers and content providers.

The law was adopted in response to consumer frustration over the growing cost of cable TV packages.

Independent Rep. Jeff Evangelos, the bill’s sponsor, said TV viewers complain about paying for unwanted channels. The Democratic-controlled Legislature passed the law largely on party lines.


Supreme Court ends Trump emoluments lawsuits

  Business  -   POSTED: 2021/01/24 10:50

The Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to lawsuits over whether Donald Trump illegally profited off his presidency, saying the cases are moot now that Trump is no longer in office.

The high court’s action was the first in an expected steady stream of orders and rulings on pending lawsuits involving Trump now that his presidency has ended. Some orders may result in dismissals of cases since Trump is no longer president. In other cases, proceedings that had been delayed because Trump was in the White House could resume and their pace even quicken.

The justices threw out Trump’s challenge to lower court rulings that had allowed lawsuits to go forward alleging that he violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting payments from foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel and patronize other businesses owned by the former president and his family.

The high court also ordered the lower court rulings thrown out as well and directed appeals courts in New York and Richmond, Virginia, to dismiss the suits as moot now that Trump is no longer in office.

The outcome leaves no appellate court opinions on the books in an area of the law that has been rarely explored in U.S. history.

The cases involved suits filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia, and high-end restaurants and hotels in New York and Washington, D.C., that “found themselves in the unenviable position of having to compete with businesses owned by the President of the United States.”

The suits sought financial records showing how much state and foreign governments have paid the Trump Organization to stay and eat at Trump-owned properties.

The cases never reached the point where any records had to be turned over. But Karl Racine and Brian Frosh, the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland, respectively, said in a joint statement that a ruling by a federal judge in Maryland that went against Trump “will serve as precedent that will help stop anyone else from using the presidency or other federal office for personal financial gain the way that President Trump has over the past four years.”

Other cases involving Trump remain before the Supreme Court, or in lower courts.

Trump is trying to block the Manhattan district attorney ’s enforcement of a subpoena for his tax returns, part of a criminal investigation into the president and his businesses. Lower courts are weighing congressional subpoenas for Trump’s financial records. And the justices also have before them Trump’s appeal of a decision forbidding him from blocking critics on his Twitter account. Like the emoluments cases, Trump’s appeal would seem to be moot now that he is out of office and also had his Twitter account suspended.

Republican senators and some legal scholars have said that Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate cannot proceed now that he is once again a private citizen. But many scholars have said that Trump’s return to private life poses no impediment to an impeachment trial.

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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear two cases involving Trump administration policies at the U.S.-Mexico border: one about a policy that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for U.S. court hearings and a second about the administration's use of money to fund the border wall. The justices’ decision to hear the cases continues its practice of reviewing lower court rulings that have found President Donald Trump's immigration policies illegal over the past four years.
Most notably, the high court reviewed and ultimately upheld Trump's travel ban on visitors from some largely Muslim countries. In June, the court kept in place legal protections for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

The justices will not hear either new case until 2021, and the outcome of the presidential election could make the cases go away, or at least reduce their significance. If Democrat Joe Biden wins the White House, he has pledged to end “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which Trump considers a cornerstone policy on immigration.

In the border wall case, much of the money has already been spent and wall constructed. It is unclear what could be done about wall that has already been built if the administration loses, but it could conceivably be torn down. Biden has said he would cease wall construction if elected but would not tear down what was built under Trump’s watch. The court has allowed both policies to continue even after they were held illegal by lower courts, a sign the challengers could face long odds when the justices ultimately decide the cases.

The Trump administration policy known informally as “Remain in Mexico” began in January 2019. It became a key pillar of the administration’s response to an unprecedented surge of asylum-seeking families from Central American countries at the border, drawing criticism for having people wait in highly dangerous Mexican cities. Lower courts found that the policy is probably illegal. But earlier this year the Supreme Court stepped in to allow the policy to remain in effect while a lawsuit challenging it plays out in the courts.

More than 60,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico under the policy. The Justice Department estimated in late February that there were 25,000 people still waiting in Mexico for hearings in U.S. court. Those hearings were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement after the high court agreed to take the case, Department of Justice spokeswoman Alexa Vance said the administration is pleased the court agreed to hear the case, calling the program “a critical component of our efforts to manage the immigration crisis on our Southern Border.”

Judy Rabinovitz, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the policy, called the policy “illegal and depraved.” “The courts have repeatedly ruled against it, and the Supreme Court should as well,” she said in a statement. The high court also agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeal of a lower court ruling that it improperly diverted money to build portions of the border wall with Mexico.



Those backing a plan to put an independent commission in charge of Oregon’s redistricting process will get additional time to gather signatures and a lower threshold to qualify their initiative for the November ballot because of the pandemic, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum had asked the federal appeals court last week to step in to halt the effort, after a federal judge in Eugene ordered Secretary of State Bev Clarno to either accept the signatures the campaign gathered by the deadline or give organizers more time and a lower bar to qualify for the ballot.

Clarno, who is a Republican, opposed the People Not Politicians campaign’s request for more time and a lower signature requirement but she chose the option of lowering the threshold to 58,789 valid signatures by Aug. 17. The normal requirement was 149,360 valid signatures by July 2.

Rosenblum, a Democrat, appealed U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane’s decision to the 9th Circuit. The two appeals court judges appointed by Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton who upheld McShane’s order did not explain their reasoning, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Only Judge Consuelo M. Callahan, appointed by President George W. Bush, explained her dissent, writing that “adherence to Oregon’s constitutionally mandated signature threshold for ballot initiatives either does not implicate the First Amendment at all or does not do so in a way” that does not violate the People Not Politicians campaign’s free speech rights.

Oregon’s Legislature is in charge of redrawing the state’s legislative and congressional district lines once a decade, with the secretary of state handling it when lawmakers are unable to finish. Secretaries of state have completed Oregon’s redistricting process nearly every time over the last century, according to the City Club of Portland.

Initiative Petition 57 would transfer the job of carving up Oregon’s electoral map from the Legislature to a new 12-member commission. Supporters include groups such as the League of Women Voters, business associations and branches of the NAACP. They have argued lawmakers face a conflict in setting the boundaries of their own electoral districts.

“We are thrilled that our people-powered campaign to make redistricting in Oregon fair and transparent has scored another victory in court,” said Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause Oregon which is part of the campaign.


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