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Supreme Court rejects fast-track review of health care suit
Headline News | 2020/01/20 08:14
The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to consider a fast-track review of a lawsuit that threatens the Obama-era health care law, making it highly unlikely that the justices would decide the case before the 2020 election.

The court denied a request by 20 mainly Democratic states and the Democratic-led House of Representatives to decide quickly on a lower-court ruling that declared part of the statute unconstitutional and cast a cloud over the rest.

Defenders of the Affordable Care Act argued that the issues raised by the case are too important to let the litigation drag on for months or years in lower courts, and that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans erred when it struck down the health law's now toothless requirement that Americans have health insurance.

The justices did not comment on their order. They will consider the appeal on their normal timetable and could decide in the coming months whether to take up the case.


WikiLeaks' Assange in UK court fighting extradition to USA
Headline News | 2020/01/10 02:52
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange made a brief court appearance Monday in his bid to prevent extradition to the United States to face serious espionage charges.

He and his lawyers complained they weren't being given enough time to meet to plan their battle against U.S. prosecutors seeking to put him on trial for WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents.

The 48-year-old was brought to court from Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London. He saluted the public gallery, which was packed with ardent supporters including the musician MIA, when he entered the courtroom. He later raised his right fist in defiance when he was taken to holding cells to meet with lawyer Gareth Peirce.

Peirce said officials at Belmarsh Prison are making it extremely difficult for her to meet with Assange.

“We have pushed Belmarsh in every way ?- it is a breach of a defendant's rights,” she said.

Assange refrained from making political statements. He confirmed his name and date of birth, and at one point said he didn't understand all of the proceedings against him during the brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

He faces 18 charges in the U.S., including conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer. He has denied wrongdoing, claiming he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.

Many advocacy groups have supported Assange's claim that the charges would have a chilling effect on freedom of the press.



Mother of Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts dies at age 90
Headline News | 2020/01/03 19:38
Rosemary Roberts, the mother of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, has died. She was 90. A spokeswoman for the court said Rosemary Roberts died Saturday. Roberts was born Rosemary Podrasky in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and married John G. Roberts Sr. in 1952, according to an obituary published in The Tribune-Democrat.

She worked in Pennsylvania and New York as a customer service representative for A&P supermarkets and the Bell Telephone Company, according to the obituary.

The family moved around over the years for Roberts Sr.’s job at Bethlehem Steel Corp. and lived in New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Maryland. They later moved to Ohio and South Carolina for other business opportunities and for retirement.

Rosemary Roberts participated in local religious and charitable organizations and served as a hospital and library volunteer, the obituary said. She and her husband moved to Maryland in 2001 to be closer to their family.

Their son, John Roberts, was nominated in 2005 by President George W. Bush to be chief justice of the Supreme Court. He replaced the late William Rehnquist.

Rosemary Roberts is survived by four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Her husband died in 2008 after a long illness.



Mississippi man freed months after court rules racial bias
Headline News | 2019/12/17 01:25
A Mississippi man whose murder conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court for racial bias was released from custody Monday for the first time in 22 years.

Curtis Flowers walked out of the regional jail in the central town of Louisville hours after a judge set his bond at $250,000. A person who wanted to remain anonymous posted $25,000, the 10% needed to secure Flowers’ release, said his attorney Rob McDuff.

At the bond hearing earlier Monday in the city of Winona, Circuit Judge Joseph Loper ordered Flowers to wear an electronic monitor while waiting for the district attorney’s office to decide whether to try him a seventh time or drop the charges. Flowers also must check in once a week with a court clerk, McDuff said. He said attorneys would file papers asking the judge to dismiss the charges.

Flowers was accompanied from the jail Monday by his attorneys and two sisters, Priscilla Ward and Charita Baskin. The siblings said they were going home to fry some fish for dinner and hang out together.

“It’s been rough,” Flowers said. “Taking it one day at a time, keeping God first ? that’s how I got through it.”

When asked another question, Flowers sighed, smiled and tossed his hands in the air.  “I’m so excited right now, I can’t even think straight,” he said with a laugh.

Flowers was convicted four times in connection with a quadruple slaying in Winona in 1996: twice for individual slayings and twice for all four killings. Two other trials involving all four deaths ended in mistrials.



Court to consider bathroom use by transgender student
Headline News | 2019/12/06 08:33
A transgender student’s fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will hear arguments about whether a Florida school district should be ordered to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys’ restroom. The district has appealed, arguing that although it will permit transgender students to use single-occupancy, gender-neutral restrooms, it shouldn’t be forced to let students use the restroom of the gender they identify with.

The 11th Circuit could become the first federal appeals court to issue a binding ruling on the issue, which has arisen in several states. The ruling would cover schools in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and could carry the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th Circuit had ruled in favor of a Virginia student, but the Supreme Court sent the case back down for further consideration. That’s because the U.S. Department of Education, under President Donald Trump, withdrew guidance that said federal law called for treating transgender students equally, including allowing them to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.


Lawmakers asked to boost spending on New Mexico court system
Headline News | 2019/11/25 04:57
New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Barbara Vigil is asking legislators to boost spending on the state court system.

The Albuquerque Journal reports Vigil joined other court officials Friday in Santa Fe to request an 8.9% increase in appropriations from the state’s general fund.

Vigil says the money would be used to hire five new district judges, expand pretrial services that supervise defendants awaiting trial and improve security, especially for magistrate courts.

If the request is approved, the judiciary will receive about $199 million in the fiscal year that begins in July.

It’s part of a broader state budget expected to exceed $7 billion. Two of the five new judges would be stationed in Albuquerque, and the other three would be based in Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Alamogordo.


New North Dakota Supreme Court chief justice to be chosen
Headline News | 2019/11/23 04:56
North Dakota is getting a new Supreme Court chief justice.

The new chief justice will be chosen by their colleagues and district court judges on Monday. Ballots will be counted at 4 p.m. at the state Capitol in Bismarck.

Justices Daniel Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, and Jon Jensen filed to fill the chief justice position that was left open after 86-year-old Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle announced in September he would not seek reappointment to the top post when his term expires at the end of the year.

Justice Jerod Tufte was the only justice who did not express interest.

VandeWalle was elected chief justice five times since 1993. The chief justice is appointed to five-year terms.


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