Party Lines: SCOTUS Rules on Gay Therapy, Google Snooping, Fuel Standards, Unions, 9/11 and More

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, file)It's another one of those manic Mondays, where the highest court in the land accepts or rejects appeals and cases with a dedicated furvor. This week's challenges include cases that address the banning of gay therapy, Google's prying eyes, fuel standards in California, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, union dues, 9/11 civil suits, Bernie Madoff and Arab banks. There's a lot churning through the judiciary branch this summer...
 

Gay Therapy Ban
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to California's law that bars mental counseling aimed at turning gay minors straight.

The justices on Monday let stand an appeals court ruling that said the state's ban on so-called conversion therapy for minors doesn't violate the free speech rights of licensed counselors and patients seeking treatment.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that California lawmakers properly showed that efforts to change sexual orientation were outside the scientific mainstream and have been rejected for good reason.

Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal aid group, had challenged the law along with other supporters of the therapy. They argue that lawmakers have no scientific proof the therapy does harm.

Google's Snooping
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has declined to hear Google's appeal of a ruling that it pried into people's online lives through their Wi-Fi systems as part of its drive to collect information for its Street View mapping project.

The justices did not comment Monday in leaving in place a ruling that Google employees violated the federal wiretap law when they rolled through residential streets with car cameras to shoot photos for Street View.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco said the information picked up from unencrypted Wi-Fi signals included emails, usernames, passwords, images and documents.

Google had argued that it did not run afoul of the wiretap law because data transmitted over a Wi-Fi network is a radio communication that is readily accessible to the public.
 

Fuel Mandates to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court won't hear a challenge to California's first-in-the-nation mandate requiring fuel producers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The justices on Monday turned away appeals from fuel makers that say the law discriminates against out-of-state producers.

The mandate requires petroleum refiners and fuel distributors to make cleaner-burning fuels for the California market.

Out-of-state oil refiners and ethanol companies say the law provides an unfair advantage to in-state producers by giving a higher "carbon-intensity score" to fuels transported from other states.

The state says the law simply offers incentives for companies that make cleaner-burning fuels.

A U.S. district judge agreed with the challengers. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, saying the law gives all fuel makers options to get their product to market.
 

Job Discrimination
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider a dispute over the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's duty to try and settle charges of job discrimination before filing lawsuits against employers.

The issue has riled business groups as the Obama administration has aggressively stepped up enforcement of the nation's anti-discrimination laws.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal from an Illinois mining company that was sued by the EEOC for failing to hire qualified female job applicants. The government alleges that Mach Mining has never hired any female miners since it began operations in 2006 despite getting applications from many qualified women.

The company says the lawsuit should be thrown out because the EEOC didn't try hard enough to negotiate a settlement before going to court. The Obama administration claims it is up to the EEOC — not the courts — to decide whether terms of a settlement are acceptable.
 

Union Fees from Health Care Workers
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says public sector unions can't collect fees from home health care workers who object to being affiliated with a union.

The justices on Monday said collecting the fees violates the First Amendment rights of workers who are not union members.

The ruling is a financial blow to labor unions that have bolstered their ranks in Illinois and other states by signing up hundreds of thousands of home health care workers.

The case was brought by a group of Illinois in-home care workers who said they didn't want to pay fees related to collective bargaining. They claimed the "fair share fees" violate their constitutional rights by compelling them to associate with the union.

Lower courts had thrown out the lawsuit.
 

9/11 Victims' Families and Survivors
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says lawsuits by victims' families and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks can proceed, but without relatives of Osama bin Laden and businesses that allegedly supported al-Qaida before the terrorist attacks as defendants.

The justices declined Monday to review a lower court ruling that dismissed claims against 25 defendants. The lawsuits were filed by more than 3,000 Sept 11 survivors, relatives, victims' representatives and insurance carriers. Among the defendants are al-Qaida, its members and associates, along with charities, banks, front organizations, terrorist organizations and financiers.

Among those dismissed were four bin Laden relatives who purportedly managed the Saudi Binladin Group, one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the Arab world and a successor to a company founded by bin Laden's father, and the company itself.
 

Madoff's Mad Schemes
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will not let the trustee working to recover money for Bernard Madoff's investors sue major financial institutions for their role in Madoff's massive fraud.

The court refused Monday to hear an appeal from trustee Irving Picard, who wants to pursue tens of billions of dollars from UBS AG, HSBC Bank PLC and other institutions.

Picard, as trustee for the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, has brought claims in bankruptcy court alleging that the institutions were complicit in Madoff's vast Ponzi scheme because they provided him with financial services while ignoring obvious signs he was a con artist. A federal appeals court ruled that Picard doesn't have legal standing to make claims against the financial institutions that Madoff's burned customers could make themselves.
 

Sanctions on Arab Banks Connected to Terror
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal to lift sanctions imposed by a judge on Arab Bank, PLC in lawsuits seeking to hold the bank partially responsible for terrorist acts in the Middle East.

The high court let stand a lower court ruling penalizing the Jordan-based bank for not turning over financial records. Survivors and relatives of victims of terrorist attacks in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza between 1995 and 2004 claim in lawsuits that the institution supported terror groups by providing financial services to them.

The bank said turning over the records would break the law in other countries.

But a judge imposed sanctions that would make it easier for the plaintiffs to prove their case and recover treble damages.

The case is Arab Bank v. Linde, 12-1485.

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