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The Supreme Court is upholding Texas' use of electoral districts that a lower court struck down as racially discriminatory.

The justices ruled 5-4 Monday in an unusual case involving congressional and state legislative districts that had first been adopted by the lower court on an interim basis, then approved by the Texas Legislature.

In 2017, the same judges who approved the interim maps in 2012 agreed with the challengers that the maps were the product of intentional discrimination.

But Justice Samuel Alito said for the court's conservative majority that the lower court made a mistake by striking down two congressional and seven state house districts. The high court struck down one safe Democratic House district in Fort Worth because the state relied too heavily on race when it increased the district's Latino population.

"We now hold that the three-judge court committed a fundamental legal error," Alito wrote. The lower court ignored evidence showing that the legislature adopted districting plans in 2013 primarily to try to end the litigation over the districts, Alito said.  The court's liberal justices dissented.

"The court today does great damage to that right of equal opportunity," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote. She said her colleagues had blinded themselves "to the overwhelming factual record below. It does all of this to allow Texas to use electoral maps that, in design and effect, burden the rights of minority voters."

Texas' congressional and legislative districting plans have been embroiled in court action for years, beginning in 2011. After the state's original maps were tossed out as probably unconstitutional, a three-judge federal court produced interim districting plans that were used in the 2012 elections.

In 2013, Republicans who control the state government rushed to permanently adopt those maps to use for the rest of the decade, until a new round of redistricting after the 2020 census. But opponents criticized the adopted maps as a quick fix that didn't purge all districts of the impermissible use of race.



The Supreme Court says police generally need a search warrant if they want to track criminal suspects’ movements by collecting information about where they’ve used their cellphones. The justices’ 5-4 decision Friday is a victory for privacy in the digital age. Police collection of cellphone tower information has become an important tool in criminal investigations.

The outcome marks a big change in how police can obtain phone records. Authorities can go to the phone company and obtain information about the numbers dialed from a home telephone without presenting a warrant. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, joined by the court’s four liberals. Roberts said the court’s decision is limited to cellphone tracking information and does not affect other business records, including those held by banks.

He also wrote that police still can respond to an emergency and obtain records without a warrant. Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented. Kennedy wrote that the court’s “new and uncharted course will inhibit law enforcement” and “keep defendants and judges guessing for years to come.”

The court ruled in the case of Timothy Carpenter, who was sentenced to 116 years in prison for his role in a string of robberies of Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in Michigan and Ohio. Cell tower records that investigators got without a warrant bolstered the case against Carpenter. Investigators obtained the cell tower records with a court order that requires a lower standard than the “probable cause” needed to obtain a warrant. “Probable cause” requires strong evidence that a person has committed a crime.

The judge at Carpenter’s trial refused to suppress the records, finding no warrant was needed, and a federal appeals court agreed. The Trump administration said the lower court decisions should be upheld. The American Civil Liberties Union, representing Carpenter, said a warrant would provide protection against unjustified government snooping. The administration relied in part on a 1979 Supreme Court decision that treated phone records differently than the conversation in a phone call, for which a warrant generally is required.

In a case involving a single home telephone, the court said then that people had no expectation of privacy in the records of calls made and kept by the phone company. That case came to the court before the digital age, and the law on which prosecutors relied to obtain an order for Carpenter’s records dates from 1986, when few people had cellphones. The Supreme Court in recent years has acknowledged technology’s effects on privacy. In 2014, the court held unanimously that police must generally get a warrant to search the cellphones of people they arrest. Other items people carry with them may be looked at without a warrant, after an arrest.


The Supreme Court on Thursday wiped away a $300,000 fine and other sanctions against a financial adviser known for his "Buckets of Money" retirement strategy. The court said the administrative law judge who ruled against Raymond Lucia of California was not properly appointed to his job by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But the justices declined to address a larger issue raised by the Trump administration, which wanted the court to rule that the president has broad authority to fire certain officials.

The 6-3 decision could affect 150 administrative law judges in 25 federal agencies, Mark Perry, Lucia's lawyer, told the Supreme Court when the case was argued in April.

The SEC already has changed the way it appoints its judges by requiring a vote by commissioners, instead of relying on staff members.

Justice Elena Kagan said in her opinion for the court that Lucia must have a new hearing before a different judge or the commission itself.

The SEC charged Lucia in 2012 with violating federal law and SEC rules, saying he used misleading slides in a free presentation to potential clients. One of the SEC's five administrative law judges conducted a days-long hearing and ultimately found against Lucia, fining him and his company $300,000 and barring him from working as an investment adviser.

Lucia had promoted a retirement strategy he called "Buckets of Money," as a radio show host, author and seminar leader. His strategy was that in retirement investors should first sell safer investments, giving riskier investments time to grow.

The Trump administration reversed the position taken by the Obama administration to argue that the judges are not mere employees, but officers of the United States with significant decision-making authority.




The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow it to largely implement a policy of withholding public safety grants from "sanctuary cities" that refuse to cooperate with President Donald Trump's immigration enforcement policies.

The Trump administration filed a brief Monday asking Justice Elena Kagan to limit a lower court ruling against the administration to Chicago, which sued. A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the government in April, keeping in place a lower court's nationwide ruling preventing the Trump administration from implementing its grant requirements.

The administration wants the ruling narrowed to Chicago as the case proceeds before the entire appeals court and possibly to the Supreme Court. Nationwide rulings by individual federal judges have been a recurring frustration for the administration.



The Supreme Court will consider whether the purchasers of iPhone apps can sue Apple over allegations it has an illegal monopoly on the sale of the apps.

The court said Monday that it will take a case from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which ruled in January that the purchasers of iPhone apps could sue Apple. Their lawsuit says that when a customer buys an app the price includes a 30 percent markup that goes to Apple.

Apple had argued that it did not sell apps, but instead acted as an intermediary used by the app developers. Apple won initially in a lower court which dismissed the lawsuit.

In Wisconsin, the Democrats prevailed after a trial in which the court ruled that partisan redistricting could go too far and indeed, did in Wisconsin, where Republicans hold a huge edge in the legislature even though the state otherwise is closely divided between Democrats and Republicans.

The Supreme Court said that the plaintiffs in Wisconsin had failed to prove that they have the right to sue on a statewide basis, rather than challenge individual districts.

The Democrats will have a chance to prove their case district by district.

Waiting in the wings is a case from North Carolina that seemingly addresses some of the high court's concerns. The lawsuit filed by North Carolina Democrats has plaintiffs in each of the state's 13 congressional districts. Like Wisconsin, North Carolina is generally closely divided in politics, but Republicans hold a 10-3 edge in congressional seats.

The majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts in the Wisconsin case cast doubt on the broadest theory about the redistricting issue known as partisan gerrymandering.

Roberts wrote that the Supreme Court's role "is to vindicate the individual rights of the people appearing before it," not generalized partisan preferences.



The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that the state's practice for determining if someone is intellectually disabled and not eligible to receive the death penalty is "unconstitutional."

News outlets report that the court on Thursday deemed Kentucky's use of an IQ test to determine if defendants have the mental competence to be sentenced to death outdated. Trial courts required defendants show an IQ of 70 or below before a hearing to determine intellectual disability.

The court's opinion came in the case of a man convicted of murdering a Muhlenberg County girl 20 years ago. Robert Keith Woodall was sentenced to death after pleading guilty in the killing of 16-year-old Sarah Hansen.

Woodall's attorneys, assistant public advocates Mike O'Hara and Dennis Burke, say the court's decision to abandon Kentucky's statute is modern and appropriate.



Spain's Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court's conviction of the husband of Princess Cristina for fraud and tax evasion, though it acquitted him of forgery and reduced his prison sentence by five months.

The court ruled on an appeal that Inaki Urdangarin, King Felipe VI's brother-in-law, was also guilty of misuse of public funds, abuse of power and influence peddling and should serve a sentence of five years and 10 months.

The lower court, in Palma de Mallorca, convicted Urdangarin in a 2016 trial that captivated Spain as Princess Cristina testified in court. It was the first time a member of Spain's royal family was put on trial since the monarchy was restored in 1975.

The case centered on accusations that Urdangarin embezzled about 6 million euros ($7 million) in public funds. The court found that Urdangarin and his business partner Diego Torres exploited the duke's "privileged status" to obtain public contracts related to sports events.

The Supreme Court also upheld the verdict that Princess Cristina benefitted from her husband's crimes. She was ordered to pay a fine of 136,950 euros ($161,500).

Sources at the Zarzuela royal palace commented after the ruling that the monarchy has "total respect for judicial independence," the Europa Press news agency reported.

The lower court will now rule on when Urdangarin must enter prison to serve his sentence, though he can still appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Princess Cristina and her husband were stripped of their titles of the Duke and Duchess of Palma after the initial court verdict. The couple moved from Barcelona to Geneva with their four children when the first allegations of wrongdoing emerged in 2012.

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