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Minimum Competence
Legal News for Thurs 12/21 - Trump to Challenge CO Ballot Ruling Before SCOTUS, CA law Barring Guns in Public Blocked, M&A Poised for Strong 2024 and Coming Nasdaq Diversity Rules

Legal News for Thurs 12/21 - Trump to Challenge CO Ballot Ruling Before SCOTUS, CA law Barring Guns in Public Blocked, M&A Poised for Strong 2024 and Coming Nasdaq Diversity Rules

Trump challenging CO ruling before SCOTUS, CA law barring guns in public blocked, M&A seems to be making a comeback, and new Nasdaq board diversity rules set to take effect.

Montgomery Bus Boycott, pencil sketch.

This Day in Legal History: Racially-Integrated Bus Service Begins in Montgomery

On this day in legal history, December 21st, we spotlight a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement: the start of racially-integrated bus service in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 21, 1956, a significant change unfolded in the streets of Montgomery as buses began operating under a new, integrated system. This historic shift came after enduring federal court rulings that conclusively terminated the practice of on-board segregation.

The genesis of this transformative moment can be traced back to the courageous efforts of the African American community in Montgomery. Their resilience was epitomized in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a protest sparked by Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger. This boycott, lasting over a year, was a strategic and peaceful defiance against segregation and racial injustice.

Two key figures in this historic change were Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rev. Ralph Abernathy. As prominent leaders of the bus boycott, they symbolized the relentless struggle for equality and justice. On that significant day, they were among the first to ride the buses under the newly implemented integrated service.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the subsequent integration of the bus service marked a crucial victory in the civil rights movement. It not only challenged and changed segregation laws but also galvanized the fight for civil rights across the United States. This event is a testament to the power of collective action and the enduring pursuit of equality.

The legacy of December 21, 1956, continues to resonate as a reminder of the long and ongoing journey towards racial equality. It stands as a beacon of hope and a symbol of the enduring spirit of resistance against injustice. Today, we remember and honor this monumental day in legal history, a day that forever changed the fabric of American society.

The U.S. Supreme Court, reshaped by former President Donald Trump, is set to confront a series of cases that could significantly impact the 2024 presidential election. Central to these cases is Trump's role in the events leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, where his supporters attempted to obstruct the certification of Joe Biden's victory. These cases mark the Supreme Court's most politically charged involvement in elections since the decisive 2000 ruling in favor of George W. Bush.

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Berkeley Law School, highlights the unprecedented potential of the court to influence the upcoming election, particularly regarding Trump's ballot eligibility and the progression of his federal criminal prosecution. Amidst a conservative shift in American law, the court's approach to these cases is closely watched, especially after recent rulings on key issues like abortion and gun rights.

A pivotal moment is Trump's vow to challenge a Colorado court ruling disqualifying him from the state's primary ballot. The outcome of this appeal could set a precedent for similar challenges in other states. Currently, Colorado is the only state among 32 to disqualify Trump based on the 14th Amendment, which prohibits those involved in insurrection from holding federal office. The Supreme Court's decision in the Colorado case could influence similar efforts nationwide, with Michigan, a politically critical state, also considering a related case.

Leah Litman, a law professor at the University of Michigan, underscores the high stakes of these disputes for democracy, particularly in their implications for upholding the peaceful transition of power.

The court is also entangled in criminal cases against Trump. Special Counsel Jack Smith has requested the court to rule on Trump's claim of immunity from prosecution for actions related to his 2020 election defeat. Additionally, the court will decide if obstruction charges related to the January 6 assault are applicable, which could affect Trump, who faces similar charges.

Trump, facing four criminal prosecutions, has pleaded not guilty in all cases. His legal team may soon seek Supreme Court intervention in a defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll. Despite the court's conservative leaning, experts like Stanford Law's Michael McConnell do not anticipate bias in favor of Trump, even though the legal issues are more nuanced than in post-election litigation.

Trump legal clashes reach US Supreme Court as 2024 election nears | Reuters

A U.S. federal judge has temporarily blocked a California law set to ban the carrying of guns in most public places from January 1. U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, of the Central District of California, issued a preliminary injunction stating that the law would unconstitutionally deprive concealed carry permit holders of their Second Amendment right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense. He described the law as "sweeping" and "repugnant to the Second Amendment."

California Attorney General Rob Bonta expressed intentions to appeal the decision, arguing that if the ruling stands, it would put communities at risk by allowing guns in areas frequented by families and children. Governor Gavin Newsom criticized the decision, voicing concerns about the proliferation of guns in sensitive areas like hospitals, libraries, and playgrounds.

The law, signed in September, aimed to prohibit concealed firearms in 26 types of "sensitive places," including hospitals, playgrounds, and places of worship. Judge Carney's ruling pointed out that the law would turn almost every public place in California into a 'sensitive place,' effectively negating the Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves in public.

The Second Amendment's interpretation has long been debated in the U.S., especially with gun violence being a leading cause of death among children since 2020. Judge Carney referenced recent Supreme Court rulings that have expanded gun rights, stating that individuals must be able to exercise their right to self-defense, including bearing arms responsibly.

Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, which filed the lawsuit, argued that the state's politicians are refusing to accept Supreme Court rulings that uphold gun carrying rights. Michel hailed the court's decision as a recognition of the state's overreach in gun control measures.

US federal judge blocks California law barring guns in public | Reuters

In 2023, global mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity dropped to its lowest point in a decade, influenced by high interest rates and economic slowdowns. The total M&A volume fell 18% to around $3 trillion, the lowest since 2013. Dealmakers attribute this decline to increased financing costs for acquisitions and economic uncertainties making price agreements challenging.

Despite the downturn, experts foresee a rebound in M&A activity. In the United States, M&A volumes decreased by 8% to $1.42 trillion, while Europe and the Asia Pacific regions saw sharper declines. Private equity-led buyout volumes globally also fell by 38%. However, the fourth quarter of the year showed a 19% increase in deal volumes, mainly driven by significant transactions in the oil and gas industry, including Exxon Mobil's $60 billion acquisition of Pioneer Natural Resources and Chevron Corp's $53 billion purchase of Hess Corp.

The report highlights the challenges in deal-making due to a tough antitrust environment and lengthy regulatory reviews, especially for cross-border deals. The uncertainty of regulatory regimes due to upcoming elections in the U.S. and India may also affect M&A activities. However, corporate buyers are expected to continue their strategic M&A planning.

Shareholder activism is rising, potentially driving more M&A activity. M&A advisers are optimistic, noting a more robust pipeline of deals for 2024 compared to the previous year. This optimism is echoed by Jim Langston of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, who notes an acceleration in market confidence and active transaction dialogues.

Dealmakers see rebound after global M&A volumes hit decade-low | Reuters

Nasdaq Inc.'s rules requiring listed companies to have diverse boards or explain their absence will take effect by December 31, following the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) approval in 2021. These regulations, surviving a legal challenge from two conservative groups in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, are based on the premise that board diversity information is significant to investors.

Companies must now include at least one board member who is a woman, belongs to an underrepresented minority, or identifies as LGBTQ+, or publicly explain non-compliance. Nasdaq's definition of underrepresented minorities includes various racial and ethnic groups. Exceptions are provided for newly listed companies and those with small boards.

By the end of 2025, companies on Nasdaq’s Global or Global Select market tiers must have at least two diverse directors—one being a woman and the other from an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+ community. Smaller firms have until 2026 to meet this requirement. Companies with small public floats or revenues can satisfy this with two female directors, regardless of minority or LGBTQ+ status. Foreign companies and smaller boards have more lenient requirements.

Since 2022, companies have disclosed board demographics using Nasdaq's diversity matrix. However, a Bloomberg Law analysis observed a decrease in boards with women and minority or LGBTQ+ directors from 2022 to 2023.

The Fifth Circuit could still overturn these rules if the full court decides to review the decision by the three-judge panel, which was composed of judges appointed by Democratic presidents. The majority of judges on the full court are appointed by Republicans.

Non-compliant companies will receive a grace period from Nasdaq’s Listing Qualifications Department. Persistent non-compliance could lead to delisting, subject to an appeal to a Nasdaq hearings panel.

Contested Nasdaq Board Diversity Rules Take Effect: Explained

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
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