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Stories about New Jersey

Supreme Court issues opinions on cases involving property fraud and immigration

On May 7, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in two cases argued during its October 2019 term. The court has issued 31 decisions this term.

Kelly v. United States concerned a scheme to reduce local traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge as retaliation after Fort Lee’s mayor refused to endorse New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s (R) 2013 re-election bid. The scheme is known as Bridgegate. The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and was argued on January 14, 2020.

  • The issue: Whether the defendants committed property fraud.
  • The outcome: In a unanimous ruling, the court reversed the 3rd Circuit’s decision, overturning Kelly’s and Baroni’s wire fraud and fraud from federally funded programs convictions. The court held Kelly and Baroni could not have violated the federal program fraud or wire fraud laws because their actions were regulatory in nature and did not seek to obtain money or property. Justice Elena Kagan delivered the opinion.

United States v. Sineneng-Smith concerned 8 U.S.C. §1324, which makes it a federal felony to “encourag[e] or induc[e] an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of the law.” The case originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and was argued on February 25, 2020.

  • The issue: “Whether the federal criminal prohibition against encouraging or inducing illegal immigration for commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) and (B)(i), is facially unconstitutional.”
  • The outcome: The court vacated the judgment of the 9th Circuit and remanded the case in a 9-0 ruling. The court held that the 9th Circuit’s departure from the principle of party presentation, as set forth by Greenlaw v. United States (2008), by reaching to decide a question that was not raised by the respondent in the case constituted an abuse of discretion.

The party presentation principle is a legal principle where parties frame the issues for decision and courts generally serve as neutral arbiters of matters the parties present.



Saleh appointed to Jersey City Council, replacing late councilman who died of COVID-19

Members of the Jersey City Council appointed Yousef Saleh to the council’s vacant Ward D seat on April 30 by a 6-2 vote. Saleh, a compliance and regulation officer at J.P. Morgan who ran for Jersey City’s Board of Education in 2017 and 2018, replaces the late councilman Michael Yun. Yun died of complications related to COVID-19 on April 6.

Saleh will serve on the council until a special election for the seat takes place on November 3. The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Yun’s term, which expires in December 2021.

Council positions in Jersey City are officially nonpartisan, as is the mayoral position, though city officials are often affiliated with a political party. Ballotpedia covers municipal elections in the top 100 largest U.S. cities by population. In 2020, we’re covering local elections in 33 states and Washington, DC.

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New Jersey closes schools to in-person instruction for remainder of academic year

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Monday that schools would be closed to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. The order applies to both public and private schools. Private schools with longer school years must remain closed through June 30.
Forty-six states have closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Those states account for 97% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country. The four states that have not are: Connecticut, Maryland, Montana, and Wyoming.
Of the four states that have not announced that schools will close for the remainder of the year, one has a Democratic trifecta, one has a Republican trifecta, and two have divided governments. New Jersey has a Democratic trifecta.


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