“No union more profound”: The US Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage

Photo credit: Guardian

Photo credit: Guardian

The Supreme Court of the United States has decided that same-sex couples have a constitutionally protected right to marry.

In the history of American jurisprudence, there are a handful of cases which are so significant that they will be known to all US law students, much of the domestic population at large, and even large segments of the international community. Brown v Board of Education, which ended racial segregation in schools, is one example. Roe v Wade, which upheld the right of women to access abortion serves, is another. To that list may now be added the case of Obergefell v Hodges.

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When the Sh*t hits the Ban

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination ActJack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds, Plaintiffs v Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services

The first prosecution under the 2008 US Genetic  Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) has won $2.25 million jury damages for the individuals involved .

I have posted about genetic discrimination here and here. In the US some of these problems have been foreseen and legislated against: GINA prohibits discrimination against healthy individuals for employment decisions or health insurance purposes on the basis of genetic information alone; it also prevents employers and insurance providers from demanding or using information from genetic tests.

The law does include limited exemptions, however. Forensic laboratories can ask workers for their DNA to check that employees’ genetic material does not contaminate the genetic samples that they analyse. Continue reading

The Round-up: One nation justice – but will the Government pay for it?

Credit: The Telegraph

In the news

In his first major speech as Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove this week set out his vision for ‘one nation justice’. At present a two-tier system provides the “gold-standard” of British justice to the wealthy and a “creaking, outdated system to everyone else”. The emphasis was on making use of technological developments, closing under-used courts and requiring the “most successful in the legal profession” to help “protect access to justice for all”. Continue reading

Supreme Court on EU and ECHR proportionality – back to basics

seo-marketing-320x200R (ota Lumsdon) v Legal Services Board [2015] UKSC 41, 24 June 2015 (see judgment)

The Supreme Court has reminded us, in a tour de force by Lord Reed, that there is no such thing as one-stop proportionality. It varies between ECHR and EU law, and the tests of EU proportionality then vary according to the nature of the EU issue in play.

And all this in a case about trying to improve standards for barristers’ advocacy.

Barristers challenged the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates or QASA, on EU grounds. QASA requires barristers in the criminal courts to be assessed by judges before they are allowed to take on certain categories of cases.

Its EU-ness arises in this way.

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Care arrangements for severely autistic man did not deprive him of his liberty

Court of protectionBournemouth Borough Council v PS and another [2015] EWCOP (11 June 2015) – read judgment

Mostyn J in the Court of Protection was asked to determine whether care arrangements in place for a 28-year-old man (BS) with severe autism and who lacked capacity constituted a deprivation of his liberty. He concluded that the care arrangements in place were in his best interests and did not constitute a deprivation of his liberty under Article 5 of the ECHR. Although he was subject to observation and monitoring in his own home he was not under continuous supervision and he was afforded appreciable privacy; there were no locks on the doors and he was free to leave.

Interestingly, comments made in this case shows that judges, or some of them, do engage with what is being said about them in the blogosphere. Continue reading

The 50 human rights cases that transformed Britain

50cases_desat

Today, I am delighted to launch a major new RightsInsfo infographic, the 50 Human Rights Cases That Transformed Britain.  For the full experience, make sure you access it on a desktop computer.

Since RightsInfo launched two months ago, we have had over 300,000 hits and now have over 10,000 followers across social media. It has already been an amazing journey and we feel that this is the beginning of something very special.

v-9#50cases has been contributed to by top legal academics, writers and human rights experts through crowdsourcing on this blog. Along with our amazing infographic, each of the 50 landmark cases has also been translated  into a plain-English, bitesize story. It is by the most comprehensive study so far as to what human rights have done for Britain.

v-12As the government seeks to reform human rights laws, it is crucial for people to understand what effect human rights have had on our society. This project shows that the European Convention on Human Rights and Human Rights Act have had a profound impact on British society. The #50cases project shows that human rights are not just for terrorists and criminals, but affect all of us.

The RightsInfo volunteer team, Information is Beautiful Studio and I have put a lot of work into this project. Please explore, engage and, most of all, enjoy.

Click here to begin your journey.

Asylum is a high hurdle. Can aspirants for UK try the Convention on Human Trafficking instead?

Default_en-Stop_Trafficking_Still-1R (on the application of Hoang Anh Minh) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2015] EWHC 1725 (Admin) – read judgment 

This case concerned the proper approach to establishing whether there are “reasonable grounds” for believing that a person has been a victim of trafficking under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (“the Trafficking Convention”). It also touched on the scope of the state’s positive obligations under Article 4 ECHR (which protects citizens of Council of Europe Countries from subjected to slavery, servitude, or forced or compulsory labour).

Background

The claimant arrived in the UK from Vietnam via Russia, where he claimed he had been forced to work in a factory for several years before being released. On arrival here he claimed asylum, which was refused.

In parallel with asylum proceedings, however, his case was referred to the Home Office’s competent authority to determine whether he was entitled to protection and assistance under the Trafficking Convention. The question in this context was different from that in the asylum claim – the competent authority was required to consider whether there were “reasonable grounds” to consider that the Claimant had been a victim of trafficking.

The competent authority gave an emphatic “no” to that question, by way of three decisions (an initial decision and two further decisions which reconsidered the first) which were in effect treated as a single decision for the purposes of the claim. The Claimant challenged those decisions by way of judicial review. Continue reading