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The U.S. Supreme Court won't review an Obama-era action that put land around the Grand Canyon off-limits to new mining claims, ending the legal battle as environmentalists keep a close eye on actions by the Trump administration that they fear could lead to more access for the mining industry.

The Obama administration put about 1,562 square miles (4,045 square kilometers) outside the boundaries of the national park off-limits to new hard rock mining claims until 2032. The 20-year ban was meant to slow a flurry of mining claims over concern that the Colorado River — a major water source serving 30 million people — could become contaminated and to allow for scientific studies.

The mining industry asked the Supreme Court in March to review the ban, saying it was based on an unconstitutional provision of federal law. The high court on Monday declined the request, leaving the ban in place.

"Clearly, we're disappointed," said Ashley Burke, a spokeswoman for the National Mining Association. "There continues to be great risk to our domestic supply chain thanks to unwarranted withdrawals like this."

Burke said the association will continue advocating for land access. The American Exploration and Mining Association also challenged the ban. Environmentalists hailed the court's decision but are worried the ban could be undone administratively.


The city of Chicago and a surfing organization have told a judge that a proposed federal settlement over U.S. Steel's repeated chemical spills into Lake Michigan is inadequate.

The Chicago Law Department and the Surfrider Foundation urged the federal judge Thursday to impose tougher penalties on the steelmaker for last year's hexavalent chromium discharges from its Midwest Plant in Portage, Indiana, into the region's primary source of drinking water, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The nearly $900,000 in fines and penalties proposed by the federal government fall short when compared with the ecological damage caused by the carcinogenic discharges, according to court documents filed by the city of Chicago and the nonprofit foundation. The settlement also requires the steelmaker to test for hexavalent chromium daily, create a preventative maintenance program and upgrade all pollution monitoring.

"The government's inadequate oversight ... demonstrates the need for Surfrider to remain vigilant," said Mark Templeton, the group's attorney.

The University of Chicago's Abrams Environmental Law Clinic discovered last year that the manufacturing and finishing plant had violated chromium limits in its federal water pollution permit at least four times since 2013. The plant's chromium discharges are limited to 30 pounds a day, while hexavalent chromium is limited to about half a pound a day.


Judges in Austria say a lower court's authorization for police to raid the offices of the country's domestic intelligence agency was illegal.

The regional court in Vienna said Tuesday that the search of the BVT spy agency on Feb. 28 wasn't justified because the necessary information could have been obtained if police had simply asked for it. It also ruled that the search of three BVT employees' homes wasn't warranted, though a fourth was.

The raid, which was part of a probe into alleged misconduct by BVT staff, sparked a political storm earlier this year.

Opposition parties accused the government of attempting to purge political enemies. The Vienna court ruling didn't rule on whether evidence seized in the raid should be destroyed.


Fox News' Shannon Bream said the network had to move a planned live broadcast indoors after she and her crew felt threatened by demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday following President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

People shouted obscenities at Bream and her crew, crowded around and touched crew members as they prepared to air Fox's 11 p.m. Eastern hour from the location two hours after the nomination, she said.

"I've been in the middle of many protesters and signs and chanting and we all do our jobs," Bream said Tuesday. "But last night had a different feel to it."

Bream said Fox felt specifically targeted, although she said other reporters had a difficult time with the crowd. Disturbed by the scene, Fox executives made the decision to move to a nearby studio. Bream had been at the court for several hours, doing live reports during several programs.

The incident on an emotional political night exposed Fox News to a threatening atmosphere frequently faced by reporters at other news organizations at Trump rallies. CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta recently described how an elderly woman swore at him and tried to get him to leave one of Trump's recent rallies.

Bream, who has covered the Supreme Court for 11 years, said that often during demonstrations security separates demonstrators from the press with barricades, but they weren't on duty Monday night. She recalled only one other similar situation, but that happened during daylight hours.


The Supreme Court is leaving in place a court decision dismissing a lawsuit filed against the Chicago Cubs by the owners of rooftop clubs adjacent to Wrigley Field.

Skybox on Sheffield and Lakeview Baseball Club sued the Cubs in 2015, arguing in part that a right-field video board the team was adding would block their views of the ballpark and violate terms of a 2004 revenue-sharing agreement.

A federal judge dismissed the case. Judge Virginia Kendall said the board was allowed because the agreement allowed "any expansion of Wrigley Field approved by governmental authorities."

A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in September upheld the decision to dismiss the case. The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case, leaving the lower court decisions in place.


The California Supreme Court will decide whether Facebook and other social media companies must turn over user content to criminal defendants.

The justices are expected to rule Thursday in a case that has pitted some of Silicon Valley's biggest companies against public defenders.

At issue are requests by a defendant accused in a San Francisco slaying who wants videos and other content posted to Facebook and Instagram by the victim and a witness. The defendant, Lee Sullivan, and a co-defendant, Derrick Hunter, also sought information from Twitter.

Prosecutors charged the two men with murder in an alleged gang-related drive-by-shooting in 2013. Sullivan said the witness was his former girlfriend, and her social media posts would show she was jealous and angry because Sullivan was involved with other women.

The defendants say their constitutional right to a fair trial entitles them to the social media records to prepare their case. Attorneys for the companies say a federal privacy law prevents the release of user content, and the defendants have other ways to get the material.

They could ask the witness for her social media content and get the victim's information from prosecutors, who obtained a search warrant for his Facebook and Instagram accounts and are required to turn over any exculpatory evidence to the defense, the company's attorneys, Eric Miller and James Snell, wrote in a brief to the California Supreme Court.

Sullivan's attorneys have said they could not locate the witness to serve her with a subpoena. Both defendants also say access only to records that support the prosecution's theory of the case does not allow them to mount a complete defense, according to a 2015 appeals court ruling.

That ruling sided with the social media companies and rejected Sullivan and Hunter's requests for information. "Criminal defendants are looking for a one-stop-shop, a fast lane to get the materials that social media sites might have," said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law.

A decision by the California Supreme Court that overturns the appeals court ruling and sides with the defendants "could substantially change companies' practices," Goldman said.

Google in a brief filed in the case warned that loosening the rules around releasing information would undermine users' confidence in the privacy of their communications and "greatly increase" its burden from requests to disclose user information.

San Francisco's public defender's office countered in its own brief that prosecutors are increasingly offering social media records as evidence and "defendants have a parallel need for these records to defend against charges."


The Supreme Court says employers can prohibit their workers from banding together to dispute their pay and conditions in the workplace, an important victory for business interests.

The justices ruled 5-4 Monday, with the court's conservative members in the majority, that businesses can force employees to individually use arbitration, not the courts, to resolve disputes.

The outcome does not affect people represented by labor unions, but an estimated 25 million employees work under contracts that prohibit collective action by employees who want to raise claims about some aspect of their employment.

The result could prompt a new round of lawsuits aimed at limiting class or collective action to raise allegations of racial discrimination.

The Trump administration backed the businesses, reversing the position the Obama administration took in favor of employees.

The court's task was to reconcile federal laws that seemed to point in different directions. On the one hand, New Deal labor laws explicitly gave workers the right to band together. On the other, the older Federal Arbitration Act encourages the use of arbitration, instead of the courts.

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