U.S. top court backs church in major religious rights case
Churches and other religious entities cannot be flatly barred public money even in states where constitutions explicitly ban such funding, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a major religious rights case that narrows the separation of church and state. The justices, in a 7-2 ruling, sided with a Missouri church that had been denied state funding for a playground improvement project.
U.S. court hears challenge on Texas law to punish 'sanctuary cities'
A small border town and some of the largest cities in Texas asked a federal judge on Monday to block a new state law aimed at punishing "sanctuary cities," arguing it promotes racial profiling, diverts resources from police and is unconstitutional. The Republican-backed law in Texas, the U.S. state with the longest border with Mexico, takes effect on Sept. 1. It is the first of its kind since Republican Donald Trump became president in January, promising to crack down on illegal immigration.
Boston man found guilty of murder in 'Baby Doe' case
Michael McCarthy, 37, escaped conviction on the more serious charge of first-degree murder for allegedly punching 2-1/2-year-old Bella Bond to death in the apartment he shared with his former girlfriend, Rachelle Bond, and dumping her plastic-wrapped body in Massachusetts Bay. Defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro had tried to undercut Bond's testimony during the trial, which included describing seeing McCarthy punch the child so hard that her body bounced off a bed. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley told reporters after the verdict was read that Bond's testimony was truthful.
Platinum receiver asks to resign over disagreements with SEC
The man in charge of unwinding a large portion of the assets held by hedge fund firm Platinum Partners wants to resign after disagreements with U.S. securities regulators about its liquidation, according to a court filing. Bart Schwartz, chairman of professional monitoring firm Guidepost Solutions LLC, was appointed by the government as a receiver for two of Platinum's three hedge funds after prosecutors in December accused leaders of the firm of running a more than $1 billion fraud.
Baltimore woman accused of killing six children in fire faces retrial
A Baltimore woman accused of killing six of her children in a 1992 fire that shocked the city is to stand trial again on Monday, after discredited arson evidence led her murder convictions to be overturned. The criminal case against Tonya Lucas is one of dozens in the United States in recent decades in which faulty arson investigation has led to reversed convictions and exonerations. Prosecutors believe they still have enough evidence to prove Lucas, 53, intentionally set fire to her Baltimore home, killing six children ages 2 months to 12 years.
Arizona lawman to face criminal contempt trial in Phoenix
A former Arizona lawman known for his hard-line stance against illegal immigrants is to appear before a judge on Monday on a criminal contempt charge for violating a court order related to a 2007 racial-profiling case. Ex-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ousted from office in an election last November, will stand trial in U.S. District Court for defying a 2011 injunction that barred his deputies from stopping and detaining motorists solely on the suspicion of being in the country illegally. The controversial traffic stops continued for about 18 months despite the judge's order.
Private U.S. property insurers have highest first quarter catastrophe losses since 1994 quake
Net income for the sector plunged by 42.2 percent, to $7.7 billion from $13.4 billion for the prior year quarter, said ISO, a Verisk Analytics Inc and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). Catastrophe losses totaled $2.3 billion more than in the prior year quarter, they said.
U.S. top court to hear baker's religious objection to making cake for gay couple
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide a major case on whether business owners can refuse to service gay couples if they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds involving a Christian baker in Colorado who declined to make a wedding cake for two men. The court took up an appeal by Jack Phillips, a baker who runs Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, just outside Denver, of a state court ruling that his refusal violated a Colorado anti-discrimination law. Phillips contends the law violated his rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.
U.S. top court leaves in place California concealed guns curbs
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped one of the most hotly contested gun rights disputes in years, declining to rule in a California case on whether a person's constitutional right to keep firearms for self-defense extends outside the home. Gun owners had taken aim at a California law that bars them from being granted a permit to carry a concealed gun in public places unless they show "good cause" for having it, with county sheriffs making the determination. The justices let stand a lower court's ruling upholding a San Diego County sheriff's policy of denying such permits unless the gun owner documents a need for self-defense.
Slain Minnesota man's family in $3 million police-shooting settlement
The agreement between the Minnesota city and Valerie Castile, the victim's mother, comes a week after the officer who shot Castile, 32, five times was found not guilty of any crime - the bloody aftermath that was seen by millions of people after Castile's girlfriend livestreamed it online. Castile's death drew national attention, coming amid a wave of high-profile police killings of black men, which sparked street protests in cities across the United States.
Missing North Carolina girl found in Georgia; alleged captor due in court
A Georgia man is due in court on Monday on charges related to the disappearance of a North Carolina teenager found alive over the weekend after she had been missing for more than a year, authorities said. After authorities received a tip late Saturday regarding her possible whereabouts, they found her being held at a house in Duluth, Georgia, about 25 miles north of Atlanta, FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said on Monday. ?Agents from the local office and Gwinnett County police went out to the location and took the suspect in custody without trouble," Lynch said in a phone interview.
U.S. high court to review scope of Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to consider whether corporate insiders who blow the whistle on their employers are shielded from retaliation if they only report alleged misconduct internally rather than to the government's Securities and Exchange Commission. The justices will hear Digital Realty Trust Inc's appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of Paul Somers, an executive fired by the San Francisco-based company after he complained internally about alleged misconduct by his supervisor but never reported the matter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC rules, adopted in 2011, prohibit corporate employers from retaliating in any way against whistleblowers who try to report allegations of securities law violations.
U.S. high court overturns Arkansas ruling blocking birth certificates for same-sex couples
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overturned a state court ruling that allowed Arkansas to refuse to list both same-sex spouses on birth certificates, a decision that helps clarify the scope of protections provided by the high court's landmark 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage. The justices ruled in favor of lesbian couples by throwing out a December ruling by the Arkansas Supreme Court decision that upheld state officials' refusal to name the wives of the birth mothers as parents on birth certificates. The Arkansas court said state officials do not have to list both same-sex spouses as named parents on birth certificates, even though state law allows a birth mother's opposite-sex husband to be listed when the baby is not biologically related to him.
U.S. top court rejects appeal of felon gun ownership ruling
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Trump administration's appeal of a lower court ruling loosening the federal prohibition on convicted felons possessing guns in a case involving two Pennsylvania men convicted of non-violent crimes who challenged the ban. The justices let stand a lower court's 2016 ruling that suggested denying felons whose crimes were not serious the right to own guns violated the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment, which protects the right to "keep and bear arms." That ruling, which allows individuals to challenge the prohibition as applied to them, was a blow to gun control advocates, while the Trump administration called it a threat to public safety. Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have granted the appeal to hear the case.
New York Pride marchers target Trump as San Francisco parties
By Riham Alkousaa and Lisa Fernandez NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Large crowds turned out for Pride marches on Sunday in New York City and San Francisco, the two U.S. places most associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement, with the East Coast city bringing a more political flavor to the event sparked by events there almost 50 years ago. Participants included Chelsea Manning, the transgender U.S. Army soldier who served seven years in prison for leaking classified data before former President Barack Obama granted her clemency. "Honored to represent the ACLU at this years NYC Pride March," Manning said on Twitter, posting a photo of her riding in a red convertible.