Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Justices open big term with new human rights case

Times wires

The Supreme Court has plunged into its new term. Meeting on the first Monday in October, as required by law, the justices entered the crowded marble courtroom for the first time since a momentous decision in June that upheld President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Here are some highlights:

Cases dismissed. The justices began the day by handing out an 87-page list of the hundreds of appeals that were turned down without a hearing.

Nigerians lawsuit. The first arguments before the court focused on whether foreign victims of torture, genocide and other violations of international law may seek justice by suing the perpetrators in American courts. Several Nigerian plaintiffs sued the Shell Oil Co. for allegedly aiding the former Nigerian regime in a 1990s campaign of torture, murder and imprisonment against opponents of oil drilling. In their questions, the court's conservatives suggested that foreign claims brought by foreign victims have no business being decided in the United States.

a house or a boat? The court seemed torn on when the law should treat floating homes as boats and when it should treat them as houses. The question arose as the court tried to figure out whether Riviera Beach, near West Palm Beach, should have used maritime law to seize Fane Lozman's floating home. He argues no, saying it was a house, not a boat.

No glasses. The lineup of justices was the same as in June, but the bench had a different look nonetheless. Justice Antonin Scalia was without glasses. He no longer needs them after cataract surgery over the summer.

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