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The Trump administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court to lift a freeze on Pentagon money it wants to use to build sections of a border wall with Mexico.

Two lower courts have ruled against the administration in a lawsuit over the funding. Last week, a divided three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco kept in place a lower court ruling preventing the government from tapping Defense Department counterdrug money to build high-priority sections of wall in Arizona, California and New Mexico.

At stake in the case is billions of dollars that would allow Trump to make progress on a major 2016 campaign promise heading into his race for a second term. Trump ended a 35-day government shutdown in February after Congress gave him approximately $1.4 billion in border wall funding, far less than the $5.7 billion he was seeking. Trump then declared a national emergency to take cash from other government accounts to use to construct sections of wall.

The money includes $3.6 billion from military construction funds, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities and $600 million from the Treasury Department's asset forfeiture fund. The Treasury Department funds have so far survived legal challenges, and the transfer of the military construction funds has not yet been approved.

At issue in the case before the Supreme Court is just the $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds, which the administration says will be used to construct more than 100 miles of fencing. The lawsuit challenging the use of those funds was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition. Late Friday, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan gave the groups until the afternoon of July 19 to respond in writing to the Trump administration's filing.



New Hampshire's Supreme Court on Friday denied a request for a new trial for an elite prep school graduate who argued the failures of his star-studded legal team resulted in his conviction for using a computer to lure an underage student for sex.

Owen Labrie, 23, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was acquitted in 2015 of raping a 15-year-old classmate as part of "Senior Salute," a game of sexual conquest, at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. But he was found guilty of a felony computer charge and several misdemeanor counts of sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. The computer law says no one shall knowingly use a computer online service "to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child" to commit sexual assault.

In its 3-0 ruling Friday, the court dismissed arguments from Labrie's attorney that his trial lawyers were ineffective for failing to mount a defense against the computer charge, including arguing that his use of the school's intranet network did not constitute computer services under the law or effectively communicate that Labrie had no intention of having sex with Chessy Prout when he sent her the messages.



In a courtroom packed with environmental activists, federal judges wrestled Tuesday with whether climate change violates the constitutional rights of young people who have sued the U.S. government over the use of fossil fuels.

A Justice Department attorney warned three judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowing the case to go to trial would be unprecedented and open the doors to more lawsuits.

“This case would have earth-shattering consequences,” Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark said.

He called the lawsuit “a direct attack on the separation of powers” and said the 21 young people who filed it want the courts to direct U.S. energy policy, instead of government officials.

The young people are pressing the government to stop promoting the use of fossil fuels, saying sources like coal and oil cause climate change and violate their Fifth Amendment rights to life, liberty and property.

The judges seemed to feel the enormity of the case, which the plaintiffs’ lawyer compared in scope to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling that mandated desegregation of schools in the 1950s.

If the case moves forward, the judiciary would be “dealing with different branches of government and telling them what to do,” said Judge Andrew Hurwitz, instead of issuing court orders telling officials to stop doing something deemed unconstitutional.

The dire threat to people, particularly the young, demands such action, said Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust, which is representing the plaintiffs.



Two students suspected of opening fire at their school are charged with over a dozen counts of murder and attempted murder as well as theft and arson, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The charges came on the same day a memorial service was being held for the one student who was killed in the May 7 shooting at the STEM School Highlands Ranch on May 7. Wight students were injured.

The accused gunmen, 18-year-old Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Alec McKinney, were arrested at the school and investigators say they opened fire inside using handguns.

The charges were listed in electronic court records. It wasn't clear if McKinney was being charged as an adult.

The celebration of 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo's life will be held at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch. The senior was just days from graduating when he was fatally wounded.

Castillo along with classmates Brendan Bialy and Joshua Jones are credited with helping minimize the bloodshed by charging at one of the suspects in a classroom.

According to Bialy, Castillo sprang into action against the shooter "and immediately was on top of him with complete disregard for his own safety." Jones said he was shot twice in the leg during the ordeal. Bialy said he was able to take the attacker's weapon.

All the injured students have been released from hospitals.



The state Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging a firearms website that enabled a man to illegally purchase the pistol he used in a mass shooting at a suburban Milwaukee spa six years ago is liable in the killings, ruling that federal law grants the site operators immunity.

The court ruled 5-1 that the federal Communications Decency Act protects Armslist LLC, a firearms classifieds website. The act absolves website operators of any liability resulting from posting third-party content.

Radcliffe Haughton’s wife, Zina Daniel Haughton, had taken out a restraining order against him that prohibited him from possessing a firearm. But he bought a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition in October 2012 from a person he met through Armslist.com, according to court documents.

The next day he opened fire at Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield, where his wife worked. He killed her, two of her co-workers and wounded four others before he took his own life.

According to court documents, Haughton used an Armslist.com function that allowed him to bypass ads from licensed dealers, enabling him to avoid a background check.

The lawsuit filed in 2015 alleged Armslist’s operators should have known that the design of the site enabled illegal gun purchases. But Chief Justice Pat Roggensack, writing for the majority, said Tuesday that if a website’s features can be used lawfully the act immunizes the operators from liability when third parties use the sites unlawfully. Therefore all that’s left is to consider the site a publisher, triggering immunity under the act, she said.

“Regardless of Armslist’s knowledge or intent, the relevant question is whether (the) claim necessarily requires Armslist to be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content,” Roggensack wrote. “Because it does, the negligence claim must be dismissed.”

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley was the lone dissenter. She accused the majority of allowing Armslist to hide behind the federal law and called the decision a “manufactured interpretation” of the lawsuit’s arguments.


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