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Judiciary

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New York lawmakers began a special legislative session seeking to limit the proliferation of firearms in public after the Supreme Court gutted the state’s century-old handgun licensing law. The court ruled that ordinary citizens have a right to arm themselves in public for self-defense. New rules being rushed through an emergency session of the Legislature would allow many more gun owners to apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon. But they would also seek to set new restrictions on where firearms can be carried. Lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s staff had hoped to have a vote Thursday, but work continued early Friday.

R. Kelly could be in his 80s before the singer is free again, based on a 30-year prison term imposed this week by a New York federal judge for sexually abusing young fans. And if the 55-year-old loses at three related trials in coming months, he could be staring at yet more time. The next trial he faces is set for Aug. 15 in federal court in Chicago, Kelly's hometown. Steve Greenberg is a longtime Kelly lawyer and represents Kelly in a separate state case in Illinois. Greenberg says he suspects there have been discussions about a plea deal between Kelly’s federal trial-team lawyers and federal prosecutors in Chicago.

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Wisconsin’s conservative-controlled Supreme Court handed Republicans their newest weapon to weaken any Democratic governors in the battleground state. The court ruled this week that political appointees don’t have to leave their posts until the Senate confirms their successor. The court’s decision came in the case of a conservative who refused to step down from an environmental policy board for more than a year after his term expired. It marks another loss for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers as he faces reelection in November. It effectively hands Republicans the ability to strategically block appointees simply by declining to hold a nomination vote. They've been working to reduce Evers' power since even before he took office.

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New York Democrats are considering enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. It possibly could be part of a broader amendment that would also prohibit discrimination based on gender expression. Lawmakers held a special legislative session Thursday that Gov. Kathy Hochul called primarily to pass an emergency overhaul of the state’s gun permitting rules after they were struck down by a Supreme Court Court ruling. But the Democrats were talking privately about whether to also use the emergency session to launch the process of amending the state constitution to protect the right to abortions.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed enforcement of a 2021 Arizona law that lets prosecutors bring felony charges against doctors who knowingly terminate pregnancies solely because the fetuses have a genetic abnormality such as Down syndrome. Thursday's decision comes in the wake of the high court’s June 24 decision that said women have no constitutional right to obtain an abortion. It has no immediate effect because Arizona providers stopped all abortions following last Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. It was unclear if a pre-statehood law banning all abortions was enforceable, but Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Wednesday it can be. Democratic attorney general candidate Kris Mays says Brnovich “just took us back to 1901.”

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The U.S. Supreme Court is letting states set their own standards for meal and rest breaks by airline crews. On Thursday, the court declined to hear an appeal against a California law that gives flight crews that are based in the state meal and rest breaks not required by federal rules. It's a setback for airlines, which favor less-generous working rules set by the Federal Aviation Administration. An appeals court in San Francisco upheld the California law last year, saying that federal regulation of airlines is limited to prices, routes and services.

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The Supreme Court says the Biden administration can scrap a Trump-era immigration policy to make asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration courts. It's a victory for a White House that still must address the growing number of people seeking refuge at America’s southern border. The ruling will have little immediate impact because the policy has been seldom applied under President Joe Biden. He reinstated it under a court order in December. His predecessor, Donald Trump, launched the “Remain in Mexico” policy and fully embraced it. Two conservative justices joined their three liberal colleagues in siding with the White House.

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Deshaun Watson’s disciplinary hearing concluded Thursday with the NFL adamant about an indefinite suspension of at least one year and the quarterback’s legal team arguing there’s no basis for that punishment, two people with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press. Both sides presented their arguments over three days before former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson in Delaware, according to both people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the hearing isn’t public. Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by 24 women and settled 20 of the civil lawsuits.

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The Supreme Court ruling limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants could have far-reaching consequences for the energy sector. It could also make it harder for the Biden administration to meet its goal of having the U.S. power grid run on clean energy by 2035. The nation has been gradually transitioning away from coal to cleaner sources of electricity such as natural gas, solar energy and wind, often because they are less expensive. The ruling could slow the transition to clean energy in the future because it imposes constraints on what the EPA can do without exceeding its legal authority.

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Georgia’s highest court has thrown out a murder conviction for a once-prominent Atlanta attorney who fatally shot his wife as they rode in an SUV. The unanimous opinion says the jury should have had the option of a misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter charge. Seventy-nine-year-old Claud “Tex” McIver was convicted in 2018 of felony murder, aggravated assault, influencing a witness and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in the September 2016 killing of his wife, 64-year-old Diane McIver. The Georgia Supreme Court on Thursday reversed his convictions for felony murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony but affirmed his conviction for influencing a witness. He had been serving a life sentence.

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Georgia’s highest court has thrown out a murder conviction for a once-prominent Atlanta attorney who fatally shot his wife as they rode in an SUV. The unanimous opinion says the jury should have had the option of a misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter charge. Seventy-nine-year-old Claud “Tex” McIver was convicted in 2018 of felony murder, aggravated assault, influencing a witness and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in the September 2016 killing of his wife, 64-year-old Diane McIver. The Georgia Supreme Court on Thursday reversed his convictions for felony murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony but affirmed his conviction for influencing a witness. He had been serving a life sentence.

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The Supreme Court’s new climate change ruling is likely to hinder the Biden administration’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by the end of the decade and make the electric grid carbon-free by 2035. In its decision on Thursday, the court  limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The court’s 6-3 ruling declared that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming. Power plants account for roughly 30% of carbon dioxide output. The decision also could have a broader effect on other agencies’ regulatory efforts.

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has denounced a Kentucky law designed to impose a near-total ban on abortions as “extremist.” Beshear pointed to the measure's lack of exceptions for rape and incest victims. In doing so, he pushed back on an issue Republicans have made a policymaking priority. Beshear's comments came after a state judge on Thursday temporarily suspended enforcement of the state’s so-called trigger law. The 2019 measure took effect after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week to end federal constitutional protections for abortions. A ruling Thursday by Jefferson Circuit Judge Mitch Perry allowed abortions to resume in Kentucky.

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A Florida judge says he will temporarily block the state's 15-week abortion ban. The judge said Thursday that ban violates the state’s constitution and he will issue an order blocking it, but not before it is scheduled to take effect Friday. In Kentucky, a judge has temporarily blocked that state’s near-total ban on the procedure triggered by the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. The cases reflect battles being waged in courts across the country after the Supreme Court left it up to the states to decide whether abortion is legal within their borders.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The June 24 ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states. In anticipation of the decision, several states led by Democrats have taken steps to protect abortion access. The decision also sets up the potential for legal fights between the states over whether providers and those who help women obtain abortions can be sued or prosecuted.

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Ketanji Brown Jackson has been sworn in to the Supreme Court, shattering a glass ceiling as the first Black woman on the nation’s highest court. The 51-year-old Jackson is the court’s 116th justice and took the place Thursday of the justice she once worked for. Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement took effect at noon. Moments later, joined by her family, Jackson recited the two oaths required of Supreme Court justices, one administered by Breyer and the other by Chief Justice John Roberts. Jackson says she's “truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation” and extends thanks to her new colleagues for their “gracious welcome.”

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In a blow to the fight against climate change, the Supreme Court has limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. By a 6-3 vote Thursday, with conservatives in the majority, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming. The decision, environmental advocates, dissenting liberal justices and President Joe Biden said, was a major step in the wrong direction at a time of increasing environmental damage attributable to climate change amid dire warnings about the future.

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The family of an 11-year old boy who died on a water ride at the Altoona, Iowa amusement park Adventureland a year ago has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in state court alleging the park failed to properly maintain and repair its rides. David and Sabrina Jaramillo, of Cedar Rapids and three of their children filed the lawsuit Thursday. They and 11-year old Michael Jaramillo were on the Raging River ride at the park on July 3, 2021, when the raft carrying all six family members flipped over trapping them beneath the water. Michael Jaramillo drowned and other family members were injured. The family seeks monetary damages for negligence. An attorney for the park says safety has always been a priority and a number of extraordinarily unusual factors came together to cause the accident.

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A state court is permanently blocking Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to toll as many as nine major bridges on interstates in Pennsylvania, siding with three Pittsburgh-area municipalities that argued that his administration had violated procedures in getting to the advanced stage of considering the idea. A panel of Commonwealth Court judges on Thursday granted the municipalities’ request to effectively declare the plan dead because Wolf’s Department of Transportation hadn't followed the law. Wolf’s push for tolling comes as states increasingly look to user fees to make up for declining gas tax revenue that is not keeping up with the demands of fixing highways and bridges.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a North Carolina case that could dramatically change the way elections for Congress and the presidency are conducted. The case could ultimately hand more power to state legislatures and block state courts from reviewing challenges to the procedures and results. The justices will consider whether state courts, when finding violations of their state constitutions, can order changes to federal elections and the once-a-decade redrawing of congressional districts. The case  is an appeal from North Carolina Republicans. It challenges a state court ruling throwing out the congressional districts drawn by the state’s General Assembly that seemingly would have made GOP candidates likely victors in 10 of the state’s 14 congressional districts.

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Alabama  is using the U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion to argue that the state should also be able to ban gender-affirming medical treatments for transgender youth. The state is asking the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift an injunction against an Alabama law that would make it a felony to give puberty blockers or hormones to transgender minors to help affirm their gender identity. The case marks one of the first known instances in which a conservative state has tried to apply the abortion decision to other realms, just as LGBTQ advocates and others feared would happen.

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The dissonant realities of President Joe Biden’s second year in office were on display Thursday as he wound up a five-day trip to Europe that highlighted both the key U.S. role in mounting a strong allied response to Vladimir Putin’s aggression and the domestic turmoil that is dragging Biden down at home. Biden appeared to welcome the time away from Washington as a respite from his domestic predicament, insisting that despite turmoil at home from inflation to gun violence, world leaders still valued America’s — and his — leadership. Biden's success abroad drew rare praise from GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, who said, “Here we have a bipartisan delegation and a president who have a common goal. Back home, maybe not quite as much.'"

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The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed a long-standing precedent that allowed landowners to sue for damages when a neighboring hog farm causes water pollution or odor problems that affect quality of life. A majority of the court concluded Thursday that a 2004 decision was wrong. The reversal is a significant blow to property owners who live in rural areas  who want to take legal action over expanding hog farms. It’s a victory for the agriculture industry in Iowa because it strengthens the immunity law protecting livestock farmers from nuisance lawsuits. Iowa is the nation’s leading pork producer with 23 million pigs.

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