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A federal appeals court will decide whether Kansas has the right to ask people who register to vote when they get their driver's licenses for proof that they're citizens, a decision which could affect whether thousands have their ballots counted in November's election.

Three judges from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the case Tuesday from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and the American Civil Liberties Union but didn't indicate how soon they could rule.

Kansas wants the court to overturn a ruling by a federal judge in May that temporarily blocked the state from disenfranchising people who registered at motor vehicle offices but didn't provide documents such as birth certificates or naturalization papers. That was about 18,000 people at the time. If the order is allowed to stand, the state says up to an estimated 50,000 people who haven't proven they're citizens could have their votes counted in the fall.

Since 1993, states have had to allow people to register to vote when they apply for or renew their driver's licenses. The so-called motor-voter law says that people can only be asked for "minimal information" when registering to vote, allowing them to simply affirm they are citizens.

The ACLU claims the law intended to increase registration doesn't allow states to ask applicants for extra documents. It also says that motor vehicle clerks don't tell people renewing existing licenses that they need to provide the documents, leaving them under the mistaken impression that their registration is complete when they leave the office.


A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld an Ohio law that trims a week of early voting in the swing state, reversing a judge's decision that had restored the time.

Democrats had challenged a series of Republican-backed voting changes they claimed disproportionately burdened black voters and those who lean Democratic. Among the policies was the elimination of early voting days in which Ohioans could also register to vote, a period known as golden week.

The state's attorneys argued that scrapping the days helped alleviate administrative burdens for local elections officials while reducing costs and the potential of fraud. But plaintiffs, who include the state's Democratic Party, said the burden on voters outweighed any benefit to the state.

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled the golden-week cut still allows for "abundant" opportunities to vote within a 29-day window. Prior to the law, Ohioans had a 35-day period.



Two days after Russia finished fourth in the Olympic medal table, its Paralympic team was barred from the next big games in Rio de Janeiro as punishment for a state-backed doping program.

Sport's highest court on Tuesday upheld a decision by the International Paralympic Committee to exclude the sports superpower. It was a step the IOC declined to take when it had the chance last month.

The 267 entries which Russian Paralympic athletes earned in 18 sports for the Sept. 7-18 games in Rio will now be allocated to other nations not judged responsible for orchestrated cheating.

Russia won 36 gold medals at the 2012 Paralympics, second most in London, and was a runaway table-topping leader at its home 2014 Winter Paralympics.

Still, the Sochi Winter Games and Winter Paralympics are now notorious for results corrupted by state-funded agencies plotting to swap tainted doping samples from Russian athletes for clean ones at official testing laboratories.

In the fallout from those recent revelations — by the Russian lab director who has fled to the United States, and a World Anti-Doping Agency inquiry set up to investigate his claims — the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced its urgent verdict Tuesday.

CAS dismissed the Russian Paralympic Committee's appeal against exclusion from competing in Rio after a hearing was held in Brazil on Monday.


Differences aside, Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are strongly united on one issue — ideological balance on the Supreme Court.
 
While Democrats are pushing the GOP-led Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland by the end of President Barack Obama's term, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has been resolute in blocking him, saying the next president should fill the high court vacancy. Republicans maintain it's a winning political strategy in a year when some GOP rank and file are struggling with reasons to vote for their nominee.

"I would argue that it's one of the few ties that binds right now in the Republican Party," said Josh Holmes, McConnell's former chief of staff. "It's one of the things that's kept a Republican coalition together that seems to be fraying with Donald Trump."

Trump himself has made the same argument.

"If you really like Donald Trump, that's great, but if you don't, you have to vote for me anyway," Trump told supporters at a rally last month. "You know why? Supreme Court judges, Supreme Court judges. Have no choice ... sorry, sorry, sorry."

The billionaire businessman has made the future ideological balance of the high court a key issue in the campaign, promising to nominate a conservative in the mold of former Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February. He often mentions the issue in campaign speeches, as does his vice presidential nominee, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Pence often spends several minutes of his standard campaign speech reminding crowds of the importance of the court and conservative values. To loud cheers, he warns that a court in Hillary Clinton's hands could push through amnesty for immigrants living in the country illegally and strip individuals' rights to own guns, a reversal of the Second Amendment that Clinton has rejected.



California's Supreme Court could clear the way for a new era of gold prospectors more than a century after the state's historic Gold Rush.

The court is set to rule Monday on the legality of the state's ban on the use of suction dredges to extract gold from rivers.

At issue is whether a 19th century federal law that allows mining of gold and other minerals on federal land overrules the state's ban.

Suction dredges are powerful underwater vacuums that suck up rocks, gravel and sand from riverbeds to filter out gold.

Miners say the ban on dredges amounts to a ban on gold mining because mining by hand is labor intensive and makes the enterprise unprofitable.

"Congress did not permit California arbitrarily to destroy what is perhaps the oldest industry in California: small-scale mining on federal lands," attorney James Buchal, who is representing gold miner Brandon Rinehart, said in court documents. California's famed gold rush began in the mid-19th century when gold was discovered and tens of thousands of "forty-niners" flocked to the state from around the country.

State officials say suction dredge mining risks killing fish and stirring up toxic mercury. They say they have a right to protect the state's environment that is not pre-empted by federal mining law.

"At issue here is the ability of California to exercise its police power to protect the environment, even on federal land," the state attorney general's office said in its petition asking the California Supreme Court to review the case.


The New Hampshire Supreme court says a man convicted of kidnapping his pregnant girlfriend should not have been punished for later seeking to see the child.

Christopher Long pleaded guilty in 2013 to six crimes. Three of his prison sentences were suspended, but included the condition that he have no contact with the victim or her family.

In 2014, Long requested a parenting plan for the child. The state then imposed part of his suspended sentence saying that Long's request violated the no-contact order. Long appealed, and the state Supreme Court recently sided with him.

The justices said Long could not have reasonably understood that the no-contact provision prohibited him from exercising his constitutional right to access the courts.



Polish prosecutors have opened an investigation into the head of the country's Constitutional Tribunal to determine if he abused his power in not allowing judges appointed by the ruling party to take part in rulings.
 
The investigation into Andrzej Rzeplinski, which opened Thursday, is the latest development in an ongoing conflict between the Polish government and the constitutional court, whose role is similar to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The government's conflict with the court has raised international concerns about the state of democracy in Poland, and the political opposition and other critics have slammed the investigation into Rzeplinski as an attack on the separation of powers.

Amid the conflict, Rzeplinski has emerged as one of the key symbols of resistance against the right-wing government, which has moved to centralize power since winning elections last year. The investigation is seen by many as an attempt to discredit him since he enjoys, at least for now, immunity from prosecution. His term as head of the court also expires in December.

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