Tennessee's attorney general wants a federal appeals court to set aside a recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to allow cities like Chattanooga to offer municipal broadband beyond their normal service area.
State Attorney General Herbert Slatery said in the filing with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the FCC had "unlawfully inserted itself between the state of Tennessee and the state's own subdivisions."
Slatery had been among several prominent Tennessee Republicans who had urged the FCC not to override a state law that blocks Chattanooga's electric utility from expanding its super-fast Internet network to surrounding areas. Other letter writers included Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the state House and Senate speakers.
The FCC nevertheless voted 3-2 last month in favor of the utilities in Chattanooga and Wilson, North Carolina. President Barack Obama had pushed for the FCC's decision, saying the state laws stifled competition and economic development.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who voted with the majority, said at the time that some states have created "thickets of red tape designed to limit competition." The ruling was opposed by the commission's two Republican members, who argued it was outside the panel's authority, violated states' rights and undermined private enterprise.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge to Wisconsin's voter identification law, allowing the law to stand and handing a victory to Gov. Scott Walker following a long fight by opponents who say it's a thinly veiled attempt to make it more difficult for Democratic backers to vote.
The law won't be enforced for an April 7 election because it's only two weeks away, but it will be in subsequent elections, the state attorney general said. Walker, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, is a longtime proponent of voter ID requirements and signed Wisconsin's into law in 2011. But it was only in effect for one low-turnout primary in 2012 before legal challenges kept it on hold.
The Supreme Court's decision not to take up the case ends the legal fight, for now. "This is great news for Wisconsin voters," Walker said in a statement. "As we've said, this is a common sense reform that protects the integrity of our voting process, making it easy to vote and hard to cheat."
Democratic critics, as well as a federal judge in Milwaukee who last year declared the law to be unconstitutional, say in-person voting fraud is extremely rare. In his ruling striking down the law, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman said there appears to have been one documented case of voter fraud in Wisconsin between 2004 and 2012, and that was committed by a man who obtained a ballot in the name of his deceased wife.
Opponents of the law say its true intent is to make it more difficult for older, poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats and are more likely not to have the proper ID. The American Civil Liberties Union and allied groups persuaded Adelman to declare the law unconstitutional last year. But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago later ruled that the law did not violate the Constitution.
Germany's highest court is asking authorities to provide more evidence that they no longer have paid informants inside the country's main far-right party, signaling a potential hitch in a move to ban the group.
Parliament's upper house, which represents Germany's 16 states, in 2013 applied for a ban of the National Democratic Party. It alleges that the party promotes a racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic agenda in violation of Germany's constitution.
In 2003, the Federal Constitutional Court rejected a previous attempt to ban the party because paid government informants within the group were partially responsible for evidence against it.
State governments say this application contains no information from informants. However, in a decision published Monday, the court demanded more evidence to back their assertion that they stopped using informants.
Millionaire Robert Durst, facing a murder charge in California and weapons charges in Louisiana, is scheduled for a bond hearing.
The hearing is scheduled for Monday in New Orleans on the weapons charges. Prosecutors say no bond should be allowed. Durst's lawyers want their client released.
They say the 71-year-old was illegally arrested at a New Orleans hotel March 14 on both the weapons charges and the warrant alleging that murdered a female friend in California. His lawyers also say his arrest was orchestrated to coincide with the last episode of an HBO show about him.
One of the weapons charges alleges Durst had a .38-caliber revolver; previous felony convictions make that illegal. The other charge says he had the weapon and illegal drugs: more than 5 ounces of marijuana.
Durst has been held for nearly a week in a mental-health unit in a prison about 70 miles from New Orleans. Jail officials say he's at risk for suicide.
Texas commemorates the Confederacy in many ways, from an annual celebration of Confederate Heroes Day each January to monuments on the grounds of the state Capitol in Austin. Among the memorials is one that has stood for more than a century, bearing an image of the Confederate battle flag etched in marble.
But you're out of luck if you want to put that flag on your license plate. Texas says that would be offensive.
Now the Supreme Court will decide whether the state can refuse to issue a license plate featuring the battle flag without violating the free-speech rights of Texans who want one. The justices hear arguments Monday in a challenge brought by the Texas division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The group sued over the state's decision not to authorize its proposed license plate with its logo bearing the battle flag, similar to plates issued by eight other states that were members of the Confederacy and Maryland.
The First Amendment dispute has brought together some unlikely allies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, anti-abortion groups, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, civil libertarian Nat Hentoff and conservative satirist P.J. O'Rourke.
The police shooting in Georgia earlier this month of a naked, unarmed man with bipolar disorder spotlights the growing number of violent confrontations between police and the mentally ill — an issue that goes before the Supreme Court this coming week.
At least half the people police kill each year have mental health problems, according to a 2013 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs' Association. On Monday, the nation's highest court will consider how police must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act when dealing with armed or violent people who have psychiatric problems or other disabilities.
The case involves a 2008 incident in San Francisco in which police responded to a call from a group home for the mentally ill. A resident who suffers from schizophrenia, Teresa Sheehan, threatened to kill her social worker with a knife and locked herself in her room. The social worker asked the police to help restrain Sheehan and get her to a hospital where she could be treated.
The incident ended with officers forcing their way into Sheehan's room and shooting after she charged them with the knife. She survived and filed a lawsuit, claiming police had a duty under the ADA to consider her mental illness and take more steps to avoid a violent confrontation.
The ADA generally requires public officials to make "reasonable accommodations" to avoid discriminating against people with disabilities. But lower courts have split on how the law should apply to police conduct when public safety is at risk.
Chris Brown has finally put his 2009 attack on Rihanna behind him, at least legally.
Superior Court Judge James R. Brandlin ended Brown's felony probation on Friday, more than six years after the R&B singer brutally attacked his then-girlfriend hours before the Grammy Awards.
The attack erased Brown's squeaky clean image, which he has failed to regain in the ensuing years after incidents such as throwing a chair through a window after a contentious "Good Morning America" interview and a parking lot brawl with singer Frank Ocean. Brown's career has partially rebounded, with the singer performing at the 2012 Grammy Awards and winning a trophy for best R&B album.
Brandlin's decision marks the first time since mid-2009 that Brown will not be under the supervision of court or probation officials. The singer initially avoided problems with the case, but since 2013 has struggled to complete his community service obligations and had his probation revoked in January after he performed a show in Northern California without permission.