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The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said his panel is reviewing “serious allegations” in a report that a former anti-abortion leader knew in advance the outcome of a 2014 Supreme Court case involving health care coverage of contraception.

The report Saturday in The New York Times followed the stunning leak earlier this year of a draft opinion in the case in which the high court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion. That decision was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who is also the author of the majority opinion in the 2014 case at the center of the new report.

In the Times story, Rev. Rob Schenck said he learned the outcome of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case weeks before the decision was made public. In a 5-4 decision, Alito wrote that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care legislation.

Schenck, who previously headed the group Faith and Action, has said in other recent stories in Politico and Rolling Stone that he was part of a concerted effort to forge social and ministry relationships with conservative justices.

In the Times story, Schenck said the information about the Hobby Lobby decision came from Gail Wright, a donor to his organization who was part of the outreach effort to the justices and who had dined with Alito and his wife. Wright herself denied obtaining or sharing any information in an interview with the Times.

The New York Times also published a letter Schenck said he wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in July alerting him to the alleged breach years ago. Schenck wrote that he thought the information might be relevant as part of a probe into the leak of the abortion decision.



A Pennsylvania judge has recommended the state’s high court impose civil contempt penalties against a Republican-majority county government that this summer secretly allowed a third party to copy data from voting machines used in the 2020 election lost by former President Donald Trump.

Commonwealth Court President Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer’s 77-page report issued late Friday said the July inspection and copying of computer data from machines rented by Fulton County was a willful violation of a court order designed to prevent evidence from being spoiled.

She recommended that the justices find that the county, based on the actions of Republican Commissioners Stuart Ulsh and Randy Bunch, “engaged in vexatious, obdurate, and bad faith conduct” in their lawsuit against the Department of State over whether a 2021 inspection by another outside group meant the machines could no longer be used.

Cohn Jubelirer, an elected Republican, recommended that the county be ordered to pay some of the state’s legal fees and that the Dominion Voting Systems Inc. machines in question be turned over to a third party for safekeeping at the county’s expense.

Dominion has been the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories about the election supposedly being stolen from Trump. It has since filed a number of defamation lawsuits against his allies and right-wing broadcasters.

Messages seeking comment were left Friday and Saturday for Pottstown lawyer Thomas J. Carroll, who represents Fulton County, Ulsh and Bunch. Messages were left Saturday for Ulsh, and Bunch did not answer his phone.

The judge noted that during a three-day hearing earlier this month, Ulsh and Bunch invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination “in response to the vast majority of questions asked of them on direct examination.”

Cohn Jubelirer’s report was commissioned by the state Supreme Court after lawyers for acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman sought a contempt order. The request for the order was based on Bunch and Ulsh’s disclosure in separate litigation in September that Speckin Forensics LLC of Lansing, Michigan, had copied hard drives in July from Democracy Suite 5.5A voting machines that Fulton County had rented from Dominion.

The Department of State ordered the county to stop using its rented Dominion machines after Bunch and Ulsh allowed one group, Wake TSI, access to them as part of an effort to help Trump’s failed efforts to reverse his defeat. Fulton County, Bunch and Ulsh sued to challenge the state’s order that the machines could not be used in future elections, and Fulton County has since been using other machines.


The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the state Department of Environmental Quality illegally issued a Clean Water Act permit for the proposed Resolution Copper Mine, which is being opposed by the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

The decision overturns a Maricopa County Superior Court ruling and orders ADEQ to restart the permit process.

San Carlos Apache officials say the mine will destroy Oak Flat, a sacred tribal religious site on the Tonto National Forest.

Meanwhile, a group called Apache Stronghold that is authorized by the San Carlos Apache tribe to protect Oak Flat, said the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will rehear the case in front of a full panel of 11 judges.

The court previously ruled that the federal government could give Oak Flat to a foreign-owned mining company that wants to construct a massive underground copper mine in Superior, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) east of Phoenix.

Resolution Copper company officials say the mine could produce up to 40 billion pounds of copper over 40 years, making it the largest copper mine in North America.

The state appeals court ruled that ADEQ improperly issued an Arizona Pollution Discharge Elimination Permit to Resolution Copper before it set pollution limits on what Resolution Copper could release into Queen Creek.


Officials in Mississippi’s capital city are scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposed agreement with the federal government for how to fix the city’s water system, which came dangerously close to collapsing more than two months ago.

Details of the proposal had not been revealed Wednesday. EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Tuesday in Jackson that if the Jackson City Council approves the agreement, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba would sign it. The Justice Department would then file a case in federal court in Jackson and ask a judge to approve the proposed path forward.

Regan’s appearance was his fourth visit to Jackson during the past year and his third since the city’s latest water crisis began in late August. Jackson has had water problems for years.

“The EPA and the United States Department of Justice want to develop a judicially enforceable solution — one that is approved by and overseen by a federal court, that will deliver safe and reliable drinking water for Jackson,” Regan said during a meeting a Jackson State University. “That’s something that we’ve been working hard on since September, and I’m optimistic about the progress that we’re making.”

Regan said he would return to Jackson and meet with the mayor and representatives from the state for a discussion about longer-term solutions that would include an opportunity for more public engagement. Officials will also look at funding sources available to assist the city and work with state agencies to help the city access federal money through the bipartisan infrastructure law and the American Rescue Plan, he said.

Jackson is set to receive $71.3 million to upgrade its water system with funds from the American Rescue Plan and a state dollar-for-dollar match program. Lumumba has said that it could cost as much as $1 billion to fix the water system. State leaders say the system needs far less.

“I’m confident, working with the state and the city, that we can continue to identify resources currently and in the future to help stabilize Jackson’s water system,” Regan said. He said the EPA, Mississippi and Jackson have a confidential agreement that prohibits him from talking in-depth about the plan.


A federal judge on Friday will decide whether disgraced Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes should serve a lengthy prison sentence for duping investors and endangering patients while peddling a bogus blood-testing technology.

Holmes’ sentencing in the same San Jose, California, courtroom where she was convicted on four counts of investor fraud and conspiracy in January marks a climactic moment in a saga that has been dissected in an HBO documentary and an award-winning Hulu TV series about her meteoric rise and mortifying downfall.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila will take center stage as he weighs the federal government’s recommendation to send Holmes, 38, to federal prison for 15 years. That’s slightly less than the maximum sentence of 20 years she could face, but far longer than her legal team’s attempt to limit her incarceration to no more than 18 months, preferably served in home confinement. Her lawyers have argued that Holmes deserves more lenient treatment as a well-meaning entrepreneur who is now a devoted mother with another child on the way.

Prosecutors also want Holmes to pay $804 million in restitution. The amount covers most of the nearly $1 billion that Holmes raised from a list of sophisticated investors that included software magnate Larry Ellison, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and the Walton family behind Walmart.

While wooing investors, Holmes leveraged a high-powered Theranos board that included former U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who testified against her during her trial, and two former U.S. Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz, whose son submitted a statement blasting Holmes for concocting a scheme that played Shultz “for the fool.”

Davila’s judgment – and Holmes’ reporting date for a potential stint in prison -- could be affected by the former entrepreneur’s second pregnancy in two years. After giving birth to a son shortly before her trial started last year, Holmes became pregnant at some point while free on bail this year.


A Texas inmate seeking to stop his execution over claims of religious freedom violations and indifference to his medical needs is scheduled to die Wednesday evening for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old son more than 17 years ago.

Stephen Barbee, 55, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was condemned for the February 2005 deaths of Lisa Underwood, 34, and her son Jayden. Both were suffocated at their home in Fort Worth. They were later found buried in a shallow grave in nearby Denton County.

Barbee’s attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his execution, arguing his religious rights are being violated because the state prison system, in the wake of a ruling by the high court on what spiritual advisers can do while in the execution chamber, did not create a written policy on the issue.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court said states must accommodate the wishes of death row inmates who want to have their faith leaders pray and touch them during their executions. Texas prison officials didn’t formally update their policy but said they would review inmates’ petitions on a case-by-case basis and would grant most reasonable requests.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt in Houston issued a preliminary injunction, saying the state could only execute Barbee after it had published a clear policy on spiritual advisers that protects an inmate’s religious rights. Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Hoyt’s injunction, saying it was overbroad.


The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal from an Arizona prisoner who faces execution on Wednesday in the 1980 killings of two people, clearing the way for the state’s third execution since it started carrying out the death penalty in May after a nearly eight-year hiatus.

Murray Hooper, 76, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the state prison in Florence for his murder convictions in the killings of William “Pat” Redmond and his mother-in-law, Helen Phelps, at Redmond’s home in Phoenix. Redmond’s wife, Marilyn, also was shot in the head during the attack but survived and testified against Hooper at his trial.

Hooper’s lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to review his claim that that authorities had until recently withheld that Marilyn Redmond had failed to identify him in a photo lineup. The high court made no comment in rejecting his appeal.

Authorities say the killings were carried out at the behest of a man who wanted to take over Redmond’s printing business.

The courts rebuffed attempts by Hooper’s lawyers to postpone the execution and order fingerprint and DNA testing on evidence from the killings.

His lawyers said Hooper is innocent, that no physical evidence ties him to the killings and that testing could lead to identifying those responsible. They say Hooper was convicted before computerized fingerprint systems and DNA testing were available in criminal cases.

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