University of California sues Trump administration for rescinding DACA

LOS ANGELES — The University of California sued the Trump administration Friday for rescinding protections for immigrant students without legal status, saying it unconstitutionally violates their rights on “nothing more than unreasoned executive whim.”

The lawsuit filed in the northern district of California is the first legal effort by a university to block the Trump administration’s decision to end protection from deportation of nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally before age 16, completed high school-level education and stayed out of trouble.

UC President Janet Napolitano, who was an architect of the program in 2012 as U.S. Homeland Security secretary, said the decision to sue the federal government was not taken lightly. The 10-campus system educates about 4,000 students — with teachers, researchers and health care providers — who are in the country illegally.

“It is imperative, however, that we stand up for these vital members of the UC community,” Napolitano said in statement. “They represent the best of who we are — hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers. To arbitrarily and capriciously end the DACA program, which benefits our country as a whole, is not only unlawful, it is contrary to our national values and bad policy.

“As a result of the defendants’ actions, the Dreamers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim,” the complaint reads.

“The University faces the loss of vital members of its community, students and employees. It is hard to imagine a decision less reasoned, more damaging, or undertaken with less care. … Defendants’ capricious rescission of the DACA program violates both the procedural and substantive requirements of the APA (Administrative Procedure Act), as well as the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

The lawsuit was filed with the pro bono support of the law firm Covington & Burling LLP.

—Los Angeles Times


Accused serial killer pleads guilty to 6 murders

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — William Devin Howell, who referred to the site behind a New Britain strip mall where he buried six bodies as his “garden,” pleaded guilty Friday to six counts of murder.

After months of back-and-forth plea negotiations, Howell appeared in New Britain Superior Court Friday afternoon and accepted a plea deal that in effect is a death sentence. Howell, 47, agreed to plead guilty to six murders and will be sentenced to a maximum of 360 years when he is sentenced on Nov. 17.

He has no possibility of ever getting paroled.

“By pleading guilty today, William Howell wanted to spare the victims’ families further emotional pain through a lengthy and drawn-out trial that would have taken several weeks if not months. Avoiding a trial also saves the taxpayers of the state nearly $1 million,” Howell’s attorneys said in a statement after Friday’s hearing.

Howell was arrested in September of 2015 for the murders of five woman and one man after authorities discovered their bones buried in separate plots in the woods behind a shopping mall.

Authorities were led to the burial ground by another inmate Jonathan Mills, himself a triple murderer, who befriended Howell in prison and drew police a detailed map of where the bodies were buried based on several jailhouse conversations with Howell.

The 13-page affidavit used by police to arrest Howell offered chilling details of the crimes police said Howell committed over a six-month period in 2003 and glimpses of the horrifying final moments in the lives of Diane Cusack, Joyvaline Martinez, Mary Jane Menard, Danny Lee Whistnant, Melanie Ruth Camilini and Marilyn Mendez Gonzalez.

Howell was already in prison serving a 15-year sentence for the slaying of Nilsa Arizmendi, the first one to disappear from a grocery store parking lot in Wethersfield. Her bones were among those recovered at the burial site off Hartford Road.

Three women were raped. Some bodies were mutilated. Others were strangled. One woman was beaten in the face with a hammer, a part of her jaw apparently buried somewhere in Virginia, where Howell had lived previously.

—The Hartford Courant


‘We’ve got more love in Texas than water’: 5 ex-presidents unite for hurricane relief

FORT WORTH, Texas — All five living former presidents got together in a video and appealed to the American people to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“Hurricane Harvey brought terrible destruction, but it also brought out the best in humanity,” former President Bill Clinton says in the video launching the One America Appeal campaign Thursday night.

“As former presidents, we want to help our fellow Americans begin to recover,” former President Barack Obama says.

“People are hurting down here,” says former President George W. Bush, “but as one Texan put it, ‘We’ve got more love in Texas than water.’”

The 30-second clip also includes words and thanks from former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

President Trump tweeted his support late Thursday: “We will confront ANY challenge, no matter how strong the winds or high the water. I’m proud to stand with Presidents for #OneAmericaAppeal.”

The joint appeal was launched to encourage fellow citizens to support recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana, but organizers say it will be expanded to include those affected by Hurricane Irma, which is threatening the southeastern U.S. coast.

More than 1 million people have been displaced by the hurricane, which has caused up to $180 billion in damages, according to Gov. Greg Abbott.

—Fort Worth Star-Telegram


2 Republicans say they didn’t mean to sign Supreme Court brief on gerrymandering

WASHINGTON — Two conservative Republican House members said they didn’t intend to put their names on a legal filing that urges the U.S. Supreme Court to curb partisan gerrymandering for the first time.

Reps. Mark Meadows and Walter Jones of North Carolina had been among 36 current and former House members of both parties who submitted the brief. It argues that gerrymandering — the practice of drawing voting lines to maximize partisan advantage — has “corrosive effects.” The filing includes several quotes from Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus.

Meadows’ spokesman, Ben Williamson, said in an email the congressman’s name was “added in error” after he had agreed to review the document. Jones’s spokeswoman, Allison Tucker, cited a “misunderstanding.” Both offices said the names had been removed from the brief, which was originally filed this week.

Meadows and Jones had been noteworthy names in a case likely to divide the court along ideological lines, with conservatives opposing constitutional limits on gerrymandering. The Oct. 3 argument will center on a Wisconsin map that a lower court said was designed to keep Republicans in control of the state legislature even if they didn’t win most of the votes.

—Bloomberg News

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