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The future of abortion rights in Kentucky reaches a defining moment Tuesday when the state’s highest court hears arguments over a sweeping abortion ban put in place by the Republican-led legislature.

The case before Kentucky’s Supreme Court is the first legal test since voters in Kentucky and three other states signaled their support for abortion rights in last week’s midterm election. Kentuckians rejected a ballot measure that would have denied abortion rights in the state’s Constitution.

“Its defeat –- at the least –- keeps alive the plaintiffs’ claim that the Kentucky Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose,” University of Louisville law professor Samuel Marcosson said ahead of the court hearing. “The outcome doesn’t establish that there is such a right; that remains a question for the court depending on their view of the scope of the Kentucky constitutional right to privacy.”

The Kentucky justices will review a challenge to the state’s trigger law that banned nearly all abortions, taking effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June by the U.S. Supreme Court. Approved in 2019, the law carved out narrow exceptions to save a pregnant woman’s life or to prevent disabling injury. There are no exceptions for rape or incest victims.


Abortion rights supporters secured another win Thursday as voters in Montana rejected a ballot measure that would have forced medical workers to intercede in the rare case of a baby born after an attempted abortion.

The result caps a string of ballot defeats, months after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade galvanized abortion-rights voters.

Michigan, California and Vermont voted to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions, and Kentucky voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment in a tally that echoed a similar August vote in Kansas.

Abortion rights groups said the outcomes show that voters across the political spectrum support access to abortion, even after a dozen Republican-governed states legislatures adopted near-total bans in the wake of the Roe decision. Anti-abortion groups, on the other hand, say they were outspent in the state races and point out anti-abortion candidate victories.

Like voters nationwide, only about 1 in 10 voters in California, Michigan, Montana Kentucky or Vermont said abortion should generally be illegal in all cases, according to AP VoteCast.

The Montana ballot measure would have raised the prospect of criminal charges carrying up to 20 years in prison for health-care providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life” of an infant born alive, including in the rare case of a birth after an abortion.

Doctors and other opponents argued the law could keep parents of babies born with incurable diseases from spending peaceful moments with their infants if doctors were forced to attempt treatment.


A judge on Monday blocked a rural Arizona county’s plan to conduct a full hand-count of ballots from the current election — a measure requested by Republican officials who expressed unfounded concerns that vote-counting machines are untrustworthy.

The ruling from Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey F. McGinley came after a full-day hearing on Friday during which opponents presented their case and called witnesses. An appeal of the judge’s decision is likely. Election Day is Tuesday.

McGinley said the county board of supervisors overstepped its legal authority by ordering the county recorder to count all the ballots cast in the election that concludes on Tuesday rather than the small sample required by state law.

The opponents who sued to stop the proposed hand-count — a group called the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans — argued that state law only allows a small hand-count of early ballots to ensure the counting machines are accurate. Group members argued that a last-minute change would create chaos and potentially delay certification of the election results. Cochise County Elections Director Lisa Marra also opposed the plan for the expanded count and testified about how it could delay results and imperil ballot security.

The lawsuit only challenged a full hand-count of an estimated 30,000 early ballots, but the ruling went further by blocking hand-counts of both the early ballots and those cast on Election Day.

McGinley wrote that state election laws lay out a detailed procedure for randomly choosing which Election Day ballots are chosen for the standard hand-count.

“This entire process would be rendered superfluous if the court were to construe (that section) to initially select 100% of the precinct ballots as its starting point,” the judge wrote. “Because the statute does not permit elections officials to begin the precinct hand-count by counting all ballots cast, the Board’s requirement that elections officials do so here is unlawful.”

The process for early ballots has different rules, but specifically says it must stop once that small sample matches the machine count. That tally starts with 2% of the precincts or 5,000 ballots, whichever is less.


Facebook parent company Meta has been ordered to pay $10.5 million in legal fees to Washington state atop a nearly $25 million fine for repeated and intentional violations of campaign finance disclosure laws.

King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North issued the legal-fee order Friday, two days after he hit the social media giant with what is believed to be the largest campaign finance fine in U.S. history, The Seattle Times reported.

North ordered the company to pay by wire transfer, check or money order within 30 days. The money is to go to the state Public Disclosure Commission, which enforces campaign finance laws.

North imposed the maximum fine allowed for more than 800 violations of Washington’s Fair Campaign Practices Act, passed by voters in 1972 and later strengthened by the Legislature. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that the maximum was appropriate considering his office previously sued Facebook in 2018 for violating the same law.

Meta, based in Menlo Park, California, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, the newspaper reported.

The company previously said it was assessing its options with respect to the ruling.

Washington’s transparency law requires ad sellers such as Meta to keep and make public the names and addresses of those who buy political ads, the target of such ads, how the ads were paid for and the total number of views of each ad. Ad sellers must provide the information to anyone who requests it. Television stations and newspapers have complied with the law for decades.

But Meta has repeatedly objected to the requirements, arguing unsuccessfully in court that the law is unconstitutional because it “unduly burdens political speech” and is “virtually impossible to fully comply with.” While Facebook does keep an archive of political ads that run on the platform, the archive does not disclose all the information required under Washington’s law.

In 2018, following Ferguson’s first lawsuit, Facebook agreed to pay $238,000 and committed to transparency in campaign finance and political advertising. It subsequently said it would stop selling political ads in the state rather than comply with the requirements.

Nevertheless, the company continued selling political ads, and Ferguson sued again in 2020.

Meta, one of the world’s wealthiest companies, reported quarterly earnings Wednesday of $4.4 billion, or $1.64 per share, on revenue of nearly $28 billion, in the three month period that ended Sept. 30.


A Wisconsin appeals court is refusing to block a lower court’s ruling banning the practice known as ballot spoiling, which allows voters who already submitted an absentee ballot to void it and vote again.

The 2nd District Court of Appeals decided Thursday against hearing an appeal of a Waukesha County circuit court judge’s ruling this month in favor of a conservative group founded by prominent Republicans. The bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday afternoon to react to the ruling, which comes less than two weeks before the Nov. 8 election.

Wisconsin voters have been submitting absentee ballots by mail for weeks and in person since Monday. As of Friday, more than 490,000 ballots had been cast either by mail or in person, according to the elections commission.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are both on the ballot in tight races. Johnson’s race could determine which party has majority control of the Senate and the next governor will be in position to either enact or reject bills passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature heading into the 2024 presidential election.

The appeals court on Oct. 10 agreed to put the lower court’s ruling on hold while it decided whether to hear the appeal from the elections commission, the Democratic National Committee and Rise, Inc., a group that works to get college students to vote.


A legal loophole in Idaho that allows parents of teens to nullify child custody agreements by arranging child marriages will remain in effect, under a ruling from the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

In a split decision, the high court declined to decide whether Idaho’s child marriage law — which allows 16- and 17-year-olds to marry if one parent agrees to the union — is unconstitutional. Instead, the justices said that once a child is emancipated by marriage, the family court loses jurisdiction over custody matters.

The case arose from a custody battle between a Boise woman and her ex-husband, who planned to move to Florida and wanted to take their 16-year-old daughter along. The ex-husband was accused of setting up a “sham marriage” between his daughter and another teen as a way to end the custody fight.

It’s not a rare scenario — all but seven states allow minors below the age of 18 to marry, according to Unchained At Last, an organization that opposes child marriage. Nevada, Idaho, Arkansas and Kentucky have the highest rates of child marriage per capita, according to the organization. Although minors are generally considered legally emancipated once they are married, they generally still have limited legal rights and so may be unable to file for divorce or seek a protective order.

Erin Carver and William Hornish divorced in 2012, and only their youngest was still living at home last year when both sides began disputing the custody arrangements.

Carver said she learned Hornish was planning a “sham marriage” for the teen to end the custody battle, and asked the family court magistrate to stop the marriage plans. Several days later, the magistrate judge agreed, but it was too late. The teen had already married.

The high court heard arguments in March, and Carver’s attorney contended that the child marriage law is unconstitutional because it allows one parent to terminate another parent’s rights without due process. Hornish’s attorney, Geoffrey Goss, countered that his client had acted legally and followed state law.

In Tuesday’s ruling, a majority of the Supreme Court justices said that because the marriage had occurred before an initial ruling was made, the family court lost jurisdiction. Once a child is married, they are emancipated and no longer subject to child custody arrangements, the high court said.


A top Indiana lawyer on Friday questioned the validity of a lawsuit brought by a group of residents who argue that the state’s abortion ban violates their religious freedoms.

A judge heard arguments Friday for about an hour in an Indianapolis courtroom, spurred by claims from five anonymous residents — who hold Jewish, Muslim and spiritual faiths — and the group Hoosier Jews for Choice. They argue the ban — which is currently blocked due to a separate lawsuit — violates their religious rights regarding when they believe abortion is acceptable.

The lawsuit says the ban violates the Jewish teaching that “a fetus attains the status of a living person only at birth” and that “Jewish law stresses the necessity of protecting the life and physical and mental health of the mother prior to birth.” It also cites theological teachings allowing abortion in at least some circumstances by Islamic, Episcopal, Unitarian Universalist and pagan faiths.

“The state simply cannot decree what is religious and what is secular,” Ken Falk, the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana’s legal director, said Friday.

Filed in Marion County court, the religious freedom lawsuit is the second of two challenges against the ban filed by the ACLU. It cites a state law that then-Gov. Mike Pence signed in 2015 to prohibit any laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow their religious beliefs. Critics have decried the Republican-backed measure as a thinly disguised attempt to permit discrimination against gay people.

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