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Kansas’ highest court on Wednesday upheld a Republican redistricting law that makes it harder for the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation to win reelection in a big victory for the GOP.

The state Supreme Court declined for now to declare that overly partisan gerrymandering violates the Kansas Constitution. The ruling sets district boundaries less than a month before the state’s June 10 filing deadline for congressional candidates.

The court’s opinion was two paragraphs long, saying only that the voters and voting rights group challenging the map “have not prevailed on their claims” that the map violated the state constitution and that a full opinion would come later.

The brief decision was written by Justice Caleb Stegall, who is seen as the most conservative of the court’s seven justices, five of whom were appointed by Democratic governors. During arguments from attorneys on Monday, he questioned whether anyone could clearly define improper partisan gerrymandering.

Lawsuits over new congressional district lines have proliferated across the U.S., with Republicans looking to recapture a U.S. House majority in this year’s midterm elections. Congressional maps in at least 17 states have inspired lawsuits, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

In the past, congressional district lines have been reviewed by federal judges and not the state Supreme Court. The conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision in 2019 that complaints about partisan gerrymandering are political issues and not for the federal courts to resolve.

The state’s Republican-appointed solicitor general argued in defending the GOP-drawn map that because the state constitution doesn’t specifically mention gerrymandering or congressional redistricting, the Kansas Supreme Court should reject the legal challenges. He and other state officials said that the justices had no guidance on how to define improper political gerrymandering.


Judges in Ohio would be required to consider criminal suspects’ threat to public safety when setting bail amounts under both legislation and a proposal for a state constitutional amendment that House Republicans were expected to approve Wednesday.

The GOP proposals followed a ruling by a divided Ohio Supreme Court earlier this year that said a $1.5 million bond for a Cincinnati man accused of fatally shooting a man during a robbery was too high.

The Supreme Court majority said safety concerns expressed by the victim’s family members, and evidence that the suspect presented a false ID when confronted after fleeing to Las Vegas, weren’t factors relevant to the amount of bail.

The court did say that public safety concerns could be met by other requirements, such as electronic monitoring, which was done in the case of the Cincinnati murder suspect, according to court records. He was also banned from contacting the victim’s family.

The proposals come at a time of a debate in Ohio and nationally over changes to bail systems. Opponents of cash bail have long argued its use should be reduced or eliminated to avoid the hardship it presents to defendants who can’t afford to pay even low amounts, and end up losing jobs and contact with family while they remain in jail before their case is resolved.

In Ohio, separate legislation still in the committee process would eliminate the presumption that cash bail is the first recourse of a judge when setting terms of release. Supporters of this bipartisan measure, which include several conservative groups, say it gives judges more discretion to keep dangerous offenders behind bars while awaiting trial, while creating a fairer release system for offenders who don’t pose a risk.


A top Kansas government attorney argued Monday that congressional redistricting is naturally political and that the Kansas Supreme Court shouldn’t try to decide when partisanship goes too far, only to be chastised by one of the justices for making a “boys will be boys” argument.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the state’s appeal of a lower court ruling that represented the first time that a Kansas court declared that partisan gerrymandering violates the state constitution. The lower court ruling struck down a Republican congressional redistricting law that would make it harder for the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation to win reelection this year. The GOP-controlled Legislature enacted it over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto.

Federal judges — not the Kansas courts — have typically reviewed congressional boundaries, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2019 that complaints about partisan gerrymandering are political issues and not for the federal courts to resolve.

Kansas Solicitor General Brant Laue argued that Kansas’ top court should take the same position. The Kansas Constitution mentions only legislative redistricting and does not contain any specific provisions prohibiting gerrymandering.

“Congressional redistricting is political by design,” Laue said. “The Legislature, and not the state judiciary, is designed and equipped to make the political determinations that cannot be avoided.”

The Supreme Court did not say when it would rule, though both sides are hoping it will be within days. Also, the Legislature is set to reconvene next week for a day or two of work if the justices reject the new congressional map or new boundaries for legislative districts that the court also reviewed Monday. The Kansas secretary of state’s office on Monday delayed the filing deadline for congressional and legislative candidates to June 10 from June 1.

During Monday’s hearing, the seven-member court wrestled with how to determine when improper political gerrymandering has occurred. Justice Caleb Stegall questioned whether the term can be clearly defined.


Israel’s Supreme Court rejected four petitions on Sunday that sought to derail controversial plans to build a cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City, paving the way for the project to progress.

Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem, environmentalists, urban planners, archaeologists and a small community from the Jewish Karaite sect had all lodged protests with the court in recent years. They said the project would harm the holy city’s historic character, desecrate a Karaite cemetery, and impact the lives and businesses of local residents.

The proposed cable car is being advanced by Israel’s Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality as a transportation solution to the city’s traffic-snarled streets and poor accessibility to the ancient walled Old City. Critics have pointed out that a cable car is not a suitable transit solution and the massive steel towers supporting the cables will mar the historic landscape.

The route would start near the “First Station,” a renovated old railway station that’s now a popular pedestrian mall, and span the biblical Valley of Hinnom to Mount Zion and terminate at the Dung Gate, the entrance to the Old City closest to the Western Wall, 2 kilometers away.

It is further complicated by the fact that it will be constructed in east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing in the 1967 Mideast war, but which the Palestinians seek as capital of a future state. Most of the international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over east Jerusalem.

In its decision, the court said any decision to relieve congestion around the Old City “even if it was decided not to do anything, would harm someone one way or another. There is no ‘perfect’ solution.”

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion wrote on Facebook that the cable car would get underway following the court ruling.


Abortion rights supporters demonstrating at hundreds of marches and rallies Saturday expressed their outrage that the Supreme Court appears prepared to scrap the constitutional right to abortion that has endured for nearly a half-century and their fear about what that could mean for women’s reproductive choices.

Incensed after a leaked draft opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, activists spoke of the need to mobilize quickly because Republican-led states are poised to enact tighter restrictions.

In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered in drizzly weather at the Washington Monument to listen to fiery speeches before marching to the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by two layers of security fences.

The mood was one of anger and defiance, three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade.

“I can’t believe that at my age, I’m still having to protest over this,” said Samantha Rivers, a 64-year-old federal government employee who is preparing for a state-by-state battle over abortion rights.

Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black T-shirt with an image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “dissent” collar on it and a necklace that spelled out “vote.”

“I think that women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it unsafe and can cost a woman her life,” Loehr said.

A half-dozen anti-abortion demonstrators sent out a countering message, with Jonathan Darnel shouting into a microphone, “Abortion is not health care, folks, because pregnancy is not an illness.”

From Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, and Nashville, Tennessee, to Lubbock, Texas, tens of thousands participated in events, where chants of “Bans off our bodies!” and “My body, my choice!” rang out. The gatherings were largely peaceful, but in some cities there were tense confrontations between people on opposing sides of the issue.

Polls show that most Americans want to preserve access to abortion — at least in the earlier stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court appeared to be poised to let the states have the final say. If that happens, roughly half of states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to quickly ban abortion.


An accountant who worked for the consultant at the center of the college admissions bribery case has avoided prison for his role in the sweeping scheme.

U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani on Friday sentenced Steven Masera, 72, to time already served, ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine and remain on three years’ supervised release.

Masera pleaded guilty in 2019 to a charge of racketeering conspiracy in Boston federal court. Masera, of Folsom, California, was an accountant for Rick Singer, the mastermind of the bribery scheme that involved rigged test scores and bogus athletic credentials.

Prosecutors say Masera created fake donation receipt letters and bogus invoices that allowed the wealthy parents who paid bribes to write their payments off as donations or business expenses.

Prosecutors argued that Masera is less culpable than the parents and coaches involved in the scheme, noting that he was working at Singer’s direction and “stood to gain nothing beyond his hourly compensation.”

An email seeking comment was sent Friday to lawyers for Masera. His attorneys wrote in court documents that he is “ashamed that he would agree to be involved in such conduct, but is nevertheless handling the situation with grace.”

Singer pleaded guilty to a slew of charges and has yet to be sentenced. Others convicted in the case have received sentences ranging from probation to 15 months behind bars.


A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a judge’s ruling overturning a federal agency’s approval of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc.’s plan for a new open-pit copper mine in southeastern Arizona.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of a permit for the Rosemont Mine project in a valley on the eastern flank of the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson went beyond what is allowed under a federal mining law.

The appellate court cited the planned use of Coronado National Forest land for long-term storage of waste rock, not actual mining, and the lack of valuable minerals on that property.

Hudbay Minerals officials said in a statement Thursday they were reviewing the ruling and would continue to pursue alternative plans for mining part of the Rosemont copper deposit on nearby private lands.

A coalition of environmental and tribal groups challenging the mining hailed the appellate court’s decision, the latest in a series of legal obstacles to the project.

“This momentous decision makes it clear that Hudbay’s plan to destroy the beautiful Rosemont Valley is not only a terrible idea, it’s illegal,” said Allison Melton, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Hudbay has another mine project in the works on the western flank of the Santa Ritas.

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