THE MAGAZINE

Legal Report Resources

Whistleblowers
A federal appeals court has thrown out a False Claims Act case against Verizon Communications Inc., ruling that the suit is barred by an earlier case in which the same whistleblower took a large settlement. In its opinion, the court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the two claims were related and that the first-to-file bar applied to the petitioner.

Surveillance
The House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee has introduced a bill to end the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone metadata collection program. The bill (H.R. 4291), known as the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act of 2014, would end bulk collection of metadata under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, including telephone, e-mail, and Internet metadata. If passed, the bill would also ban the bulk collection of firearm sales records, library records, medical records, tax returns, educational records, and other sensitive records.

Security Clearances
Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Mark Begich (D-AL) have introduced legislation to prevent security clearance contractors from reviewing and approving their own background investigations. The bill (S. 2061) is designed to prevent conflicts of interest in background investigation fieldwork services and investigative support services.

Gun Control
A Georgia law allowing guns in bars, schools, restaurants, churches, certain government buildings, and airports went into effect on July 1. Called The Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014, the law (formerly H.B. 60) allows religious leaders to “opt-in” to allow guns on their worship premises, where violators cannot be arrested or fined more than $100 each. Also, the law allows citizens to carry firearms in bars, nightclubs, libraries, sports facilities, senior citizen and youth centers, and on K-12 premises by authorized administrators and teachers.

Compensation
A federal court has overturned a lower court ruling and held that the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) overtime policies are in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and are not authorized by any other provision of law. In its ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of a group of air-traffic controllers, who alleged that the FAA’s overtime compensation policies did not comply with the time-and-a-half payment requirement under the FLSA.

Gun Rights
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a misdemeanor domestic assault qualifies as a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence and prohibits a person from possessing a firearm. In an opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Court held that a man’s state conviction of “intentionally or knowingly” causing “bodily injury” to the mother of his child qualifies as a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence and prevents him from lawfully having a firearm.

Discrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case in which the owners of a photography business had refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony on First Amendment grounds. Instead, the justices left in place a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling last year that ruled the business violated New Mexico’s Human Rights Act by refusing to photograph the same-sex ceremony “in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

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