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Mississippi's governor and attorney general will have to decide whether to challenge a federal appeals court ruling that is keeping the state's only abortion clinic in business.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 Tuesday to block a 2012 Mississippi law that requires abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

When Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law, he said he hoped it would end abortion in the state. In defending the law, state attorneys said women with unwanted pregnancies could always travel to other states. But the appellate judges ruled that every state must guarantee constitutional rights, including abortion.

Bryant, in a statement late Tuesday, said he was disappointed by the court's ruling.

"This measure is designed to protect the health and safety of women who undergo this potentially dangerous procedure, and physicians who provide abortions should be held to the same standards as physicians who perform other outpatient procedures," Bryant said.



An appeals courts' decision to strike down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban adds to the growing list of decrees on a hot-button issue that will likely end up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, is the second federal appellate court to overturn gay marriage bans, after the Denver circuit, and is the first to affect the South, a region where the rising tide of rulings favoring marriage equality is testing concepts of states' rights and traditional, conservative moral values that have long held sway.

"I am proud that the Commonwealth of Virginia is leading on one of the most important civil rights issues of our day," said Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who had refused to defend the state ban when he took office in January. "We are fighting for the right of loving, committed couples to enter the bonds of marriage."

Virginians voted 57 percent to 43 percent in 2006 to amend their constitution to ban gay marriage and state law prohibits recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states, which the court said infringes on its citizens' fundamental right to marry.

German court receives suit against EU bank union

  Business  -   POSTED: 2014/07/28 08:53

A group of German professors has filed a complaint to the country's highest court against the European Union's plans to create a so-called banking union, a central part of the effort to make the continent's financial system more resilient.

The Federal Constitutional Court said Monday it had received the complaint. It wasn't clear when the court might rule; verdicts on previous attempts to block measures meant to stem Europe's debt crisis took at least several months.

The group behind the complaint says the banking union "has no legal basis in the European treaties."

It objects to handing the European Central Bank direct supervision of the eurozone's biggest lenders with binding powers over national authorities, and opposes plans for a separate authority with the power to dissolve or restructure failing banks.



Gov. Jerry Brown has named a senior aide to become an associate justice on the Sacramento-based Third District Court of Appeal.

Brown announced the appointment of Jonathan Renner on Friday.

The 44-year-old Democrat from Sacramento has been Brown's legal affairs secretary since 2011.

He was senior assistant attorney general at the California Department of Justice from 2009 to 2010, when Brown was the state's attorney general. Renner previously held other high-ranking positions within the attorney general's office.

The appointment requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. It includes the current attorney general, Kamala Harris, and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye ("TAWNY canTILL SOCK-a-OO-ay").

If confirmed, Renner will begin his term Jan. 5. He would fill the vacancy created when Cantil-Sakauye moved to the California Supreme Court.

Court throws out Chiquita terror payment claims

  Business  -   POSTED: 2014/07/25 09:18

A divided federal appeals court on Thursday threw out claims potentially worth billions of dollars against produce giant Chiquita Brands International made by relatives of thousands of Colombians killed during years of bloody civil war.

A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that federal courts have no jurisdiction over the Colombian claims. The lawsuits accused Chiquita of assisting in the killings by paying $1.7 million to a violent right-wing paramilitary group known as the AUC, the Spanish acronym for United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

Chiquita, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, formerly operated large banana plantations in Colombia through its Banadex subsidiary. Chiquita insists it was the victim of extortion and was forced to pay the AUC or face violence directed at its employees and assets in Colombia.

The majority cited a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum that imposed limits on attempts by foreigners to use U.S. courts to seek damages against corporations for human rights abuses abroad. Chiquita had insisted that ruling meant the Colombians' lawsuit had to be tossed out.

"We are gratified that the U.S. Court of Appeals has now agreed with us and the claims have been dismissed," said Chiquita spokesman Ed Loyd in an email statement. "The decision reinforces what Chiquita has maintained from the beginning — that Chiquita is not responsible for the tragic violence that has plagued Colombia."



A state appeals court on Thursday upheld a proposed route for California's high-speed rail line connecting the San Francisco Bay Area to the Central Valley.

The decision is a short-term win for Gov. Jerry Brown, who has prioritized the $68-billion project that has become bogged down by legal and regulatory challenges.

The Third District Court of Appeals in Sacramento heard an appeal from San Francisco Bay Area cities arguing that a planned path through Pachecho Pass hurts the environment.

The state argued the project was exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because it is overseen by the federal Surface Transportation Board.

The court upheld the environmental review but also said the project must still abide by state environmental rules.

"Today's court ruling reaffirms our successful compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act," Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said in a written statement.

Plaintiffs' attorney Stuart Flashman says it's not clear if his clients will appeal to the California Supreme Court. He noted that the ruling preserved a valuable tool for future challenges.


Argentina's embattled Vice President was back in court Wednesday, this time over false data in documents for an old car that he bought about 20 years ago.

Amado Boudou appeared before a federal judge and presented a written statement instead of speaking in his defense. Boudou is accused of transferring a Honda CRX automobile to his name irregularly in 2003.

The judge is expected to decide in 10 days whether to charge Boudou or dismiss the case for lack of evidence.

In a separate case, the vice president was charged last month with bribery and conducting business incompatible with public office. He is accused of using shell companies and secret middlemen to gain control of a company that was given contracts to print Argentine currency as well as material for President Cristina Fernandez's election campaign.

Boudou is the first sitting Argentine vice president to face such charges. If convicted, he could be sentenced to between one and six years in prison and be banned for life from elective office.

The charges against the vice president come as Fernandez is struggling to curb double-digit inflation and court rulings in the United States that threaten to force Argentina into default on its debts.


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