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The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a 2012 law that sought to clarify property tax exemptions for charitable hospitals.

The court voted 7-0 in an opinion issued Thursday. It ruled on a law that allows issuing tax exemptions to hospitals when the value of the "charity care" or "free or discounted services" they provide exceed its estimated tax liability.

Constance Oswald argued in her lawsuit that the law requires issuing an exemption regardless of whether the constitutional requirements are met. The court found that the language of the law merely allows allowing an exemption in warranted cases.

Illinois Health and Hospital Association spokesman Danny Chun says the law has cleared up previous confusion and ensured financially stretched hospitals can serve their communities.



An Arkansas attorney told state's highest court on Thursday it should strike down a law that requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot, saying the measure circumvents a 2014 ruling against a nearly identical voter ID requirement.

The Arkansas Supreme Court heard arguments from the state, which is defending the law, and Jeff Priebe, who represents a Little Rock voter challenging the measure as unconstitutional. Justices in May halted a state judge's ruling preventing Arkansas from enforcing the voter ID law, keeping it in place while they consider the case.

The high court in 2014 struck down a previous version of the voter ID law as unconstitutional. The revived voter ID law, which was approved last year, requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. Unlike the previous measure, the new law allows voters to cast provisional ballots if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identities.

"It's closing the ballot booth doors," Priebe said during the roughly hour-long hearing.

Arkansas officials argue the new law complies with part of the Supreme Court's ruling striking down the 2013 measure. Justices in 2014 unanimously struck down the previous voter ID law, with a majority of the court ruling it unconstitutionally added a qualification to vote. Three justices, however, ruled the measure didn't get the two-thirds vote needed to change voter registration requirements. A majority of the court has changed hands since that ruling, and more than two-thirds of the House and Senate approved the new measure last year.

Deputy Secretary of State A.J. Kelly told the justices the lower court "has usurped the power of the Legislature to amend the Constitution" by blocking the law. "A single man has a driver's license and refuses to show it to vote, and he alone has put a constitutional amendment in jeopardy," Kelly said.

Justices did not indicate when they would rule. If they strike the law, it wouldn't affect a separate proposal on the ballot in November that would put a voter ID requirement in the state's constitution.

The court is considering the case weeks before voters head to the polls in an election where national Democrats are trying to flip a Little Rock-area congressional seat currently held by a Republican. Justice Courtney Goodson, who wrote the concurring opinion four years ago citing the two-thirds vote as the reason for striking the previous law, is seeking re-election in November in a race that has already drawn heavy spending from conservative groups opposing her bid.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is telling evangelical activists the Senate will "plow right through" and move to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

McConnell told the annual Values Voter conference Friday "in the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court." He urges the Republican-leaning activists to "keep the faith" and predicts senators will do their jobs.

McConnell's predictions come as California college professor Christine Blasey (BLAH'-zee) Ford accuses Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than 30 years ago when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Negotiations have been ongoing on whether Ford will testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee. President Donald Trump is challenging by name the woman accusing his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, saying if the attack she alleges were that "bad" then she would have filed charges.

Trump tweeted Friday: "I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!"

The president previously had avoided naming California college professor Christine Blasey (BLAH'-zee) Ford or casting doubt on her account. Ford alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than 30 years ago when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.


Three civilians wounded when a gunman opened fire outside a crowded courtroom have been released from a hospital, officials said Thursday.

The three were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, following Wednesday's shooting in southwestern Pennsylvania's Fayette County. The two men, ages 35 and 47, and a 39-year-old woman were all released Wednesday night, the hospital said.

The gunman, Patrick Dowdell, 61, of Masontown, was shot and killed by a German Township police officer. Another officer who was wounded, Masontown police Sgt. R. Scott Miller, was being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Dowdell entered the lobby in Masontown around 2 p.m. Wednesday with a handgun drawn and opened fire, authorities said. He had been due in court on charges related to domestic violence.

Miller first encountered Dowdell and was injured when he exchanged gunfire with the shooter. When Miller took cover, Fayette County prosecutor Richard Bower said, the gunman fired shots injuring the two men and one woman.

Dowdell had been arrested Aug. 25 and charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, strangulation, simple assault and harassment. It wasn't clear whether any of the wounded civilians were connected to that domestic violence case. Miller, who was shot in the hand, is expected to make a full recovery.



Kentucky's governor and attorney general are headed to the state Supreme Court to argue about the future of one of the country's worst-funded pension systems.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear says lawmakers did not follow the rules when they passed the bill. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin says the law is crucial to the system's solvency. The state Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on Thursday.

The case has political implications. Bevin is running for re-election in 2019 and Beshear wants to oppose him. Kentucky Educational Television will broadcast the hearing live. Beshear will argue the case himself.

The law would put new teacher hires into a hybrid pension system, among other changes. Thousands of teachers protested the law at the Capitol earlier this year.



A Hungarian appeals court has lowered to five years from seven the prison sentence of a Syrian man convicted of entering Hungary illegally and of complicity in throwing rocks at police during a 2015 border riot.

The case stems from rioting at the Hungary-Serbia border on Sept. 16, 2015, when dozens of police officers, migrants and some journalists were injured in clashes a day after Hungary closed the frontier, stranding hundreds of migrants.

Amnesty International said the “absurd” conviction exemplified “the erosion of the rule of law and human rights protections in Hungary.”

The appeals court in the southern city of Szeged said Thursday that Ahmed Hamed has to serve at least two-thirds of his sentence before he can be released.



An Alaska man linked to a missing 10-year-old girl's death made his first appearance in federal court Tuesday. Peter Wilson, 41, of Kotzebue is charged with making false statements as authorities tried to find Ashley Johnson-Barr.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Russo, the criminal chief for the U.S. Attorney's office in Alaska, said in court a grand jury also could return an indictment against Wilson this week. If that happens, Wilson would be arraigned Friday. If not, he would return to court Sept. 27.

The girl had been missing since Sept. 6. She was found dead Friday just outside Kotzebue, a town of about 3,100 people on Alaska's northwestern coast.

An FBI affidavit says Wilson had the girl's cellphone, whose GPS coordinates of where the phone traveled led to the girl's body. The affidavit says the girl's death appears to be a homicide, but her death remains under investigation. The federal Public Defender's office was appointed to represent Wilson.

An Alaska man charged in connection with a 10-year-old girl's disappearance and death will make his first appearance in Federal Court Tuesday. Forty-one-year-old Peter Wilson of Kotzebue is charged with making false statements as authorities tried to find Ashley Johnson-Barr.

The girl had been missing since Sept. 6. She was found dead Friday just outside Kotzebue, a town of about 3,100 people on Alaska's northwestern coast.


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