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President Donald Trump’s legal team suffered yet another defeat in court Friday as a federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected the campaign’s latest effort to challenge the state’s election results.

Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court despite the judges’ assessment that the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” 3rd Circuit Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote for the three-judge panel, all appointed by Republican presidents.

The case had been argued last week in a lower court by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who insisted during five hours of oral arguments that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, another Republican, had said the campaign’s error-filled complaint, “like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together” and denied Giuliani the right to amend it for a second time.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called any revisions “futile.” Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith and Judge Michael Chagares were on the panel with Bibas, a former University of Pennsylvania law professor. Trump’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, sat on the court for 20 years, retiring in 2019.

“Voters, not lawyers, choose the president. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections,” Bibas said in the opinion, which also denied the campaign’s request to stop the state from certifying its results, a demand he called “breathtaking.”

In fact, Pennsylvania officials had announced Tuesday that they had certified their vote count for President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Trump by more than 80,000 votes in the state. Nationally, Biden and running mate Kamala Harris garnered nearly 80 million votes, a record in U.S. presidential elections.


The Supreme Court seemed likely Tuesday to leave in place the bulk of the Affordable Care Act, including key protections for pre-existing health conditions and subsidized insurance premiums that affect tens of millions of Americans. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, among the conservative justices, appeared in two hours of arguments to be unwilling to strike down the entire law — a long-held Republican goal that has repeatedly failed in Congress and the courts — even if they were to find the law’s now-toothless mandate for obtaining health insurance to be unconstitutional.

The court’s three liberal justices are almost certain to vote to uphold the law in its entirety and presumably would form a majority by joining a decision that cut away only the mandate, which now has no financial penalty attached to it. Congress zeroed out the penalty in 2017, but left the rest of the law untouched.

“Would Congress want the rest of the law to survive if the unconstitutional provision were severed? Here, Congress left the rest of the law intact,” Roberts said. “That seems to be a compelling answer to the question.” For his part, Kavanaugh said recent decisions by the court suggest “that the proper remedy would be to sever the mandate and leave the rest of the act in place.”

A week after the 2020 election, the justices heard arguments by telephone in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in the court’s third major case over the 10-year-old law, popularly known as “Obamacare.” Republican attorneys general in 18 states and the administration want the whole law to be struck down, which would threaten coverage for more than 23 million people.

California, leading a group of Democratic-controlled states, and the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives are urging the court to leave the law in place.

Kavanaugh is one of three justices appointed by President Donald Trump on a court that is more conservative than the ones that sustained the law in previous challenges in 2012 and 2015. The others are Neil Gorsuch and new Justice Coney Barrett, who joined the court late last month following her hurried nomination and confirmation to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The three Trump appointees have never ruled on the substance of the health care law. Barrett, though, has been critical of the court’s earlier major health care decisions sustaining the law, both written by Roberts.

The Supreme Court could have heard the case before the election, but set arguments for a week after. The timing could add a wrinkle to the case since President-elect Joe Biden strongly supports the health care law.

The case turns on a change made by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2017 that reduced the penalty for not having health insurance to zero. Without the penalty, the law’s mandate to have health insurance is unconstitutional, the GOP-led states argue.


The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested it could halt what has been a gradual move toward more leniency for children who are convicted of murder. In cases over more than a decade, the court has concluded that children should be treated differently from adults, in part because of their lack of maturity. But the court, which has become more conservative over the last few years, could decide not to go any further.

The justices on Tuesday were hearing a case about sentencing juveniles to life without parole. The court has previously said that should be rare, and the question before the justices has to do with what courts must do before deciding to impose a life without parole sentence on a juvenile. During arguments, which the justices heard by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic, Justice Samuel Alito suggested the court has gone too far. “What would you say to any members of this court who are concerned that we have now gotten light years away from the original meaning of the Eighth Amendment and who are reluctant to go any further on this travel into space?” Alito asked at one point, referencing the amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual” punishment.

Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Neil Gorsuch also indicated they take issue with the court’s most recent case about juvenile life sentences. The case the court was hearing Tuesday is the latest in a series of cases going back to 2005, when the court eliminated the death penalty for juveniles. Five years later, the court barred life-without-parole sentences for juveniles, except in cases where a juvenile has killed someone. Then, in 2012, the justices in a 5-4 decision said juveniles who kill can’t automatically be sentenced to life with no chance of parole. A related decision four years later said those sentences should be reserved “for all but the rarest of juvenile offenders, those whose crimes reflect permanent incorrigibility.”

The justices are now being asked whether a juvenile has to be found to be “permanently incorrigible,” incapable of being rehabilitated, before being sentenced to life without parole. But the court has changed significantly in recent years. More conservative justices have replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose votes were key to the 2012 decision.

The specific case before the justices involves Mississippi inmate Brett Jones, who was 15 and living with his grandparents when he fatally stabbed his grandfather. The two had a fight in the home’s kitchen after Bertis Jones found his grandson’s girlfriend in his grandson’s bedroom. Brett Jones, who was using a knife to make a sandwich before the fight, stabbed his grandfather first with that knife and then, when it broke, with a different knife. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Jones, who is now 31, says he is not “permanently incorrigible” and should therefore be eligible for parole. Mississippi says the Eighth Amendment doesn’t require that Jones be found to be permanently incorrigible to receive a life-without-parole sentence, just that Jones’ youth when he committed his crime be considered. The case is Jones v. Mississippi, 18-1259.



Kentucky’s attorney general acknowledged that he never recommended homicide charges against any of the police officers conducting the drug raid that led to Breonna Taylor’s death, and said he didn’t object to a public release of the grand jury’s deliberations.

Amid outrage over the jury’s decision last week to not charge any of the officers for Taylor’s fatal shooting, Attorney General Daniel Cameron said Monday that he also did not object to members of the panel speaking publicly about their experience.

“We have no concerns with grand jurors sharing their thoughts on our presentation because we are confident in the case we presented,” Cameron said in a written statement.

Cameron also revealed late Monday that the only charge he recommended to the grand jury was that of wanton endangerment. He had previously declined to say what charges he recommended.

The grand jury last week charged Officer Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing through Taylor’s apartment into an adjacent unit with people inside. No one in the adjacent unit was injured. Hankison, who was fired from the force for his actions during the raid, pleaded not guilty on Monday.

None of the officers was indicted in the killing of Taylor, who was shot five times after they knocked down her door to serve a narcotics warrant on March 13. In a TV interview Tuesday evening, Cameron also indicated that he had recommended no charges against the other officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove.

Speaking to WDRB-TV in Louisville, he remarked of the grand jury, “They’re an independent body. If they wanted to make an assessment about different charges, they could have done that. But our recommendation was that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in their acts and their conduct.”

At a news conference last week, Cameron said Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in firing their weapons because Taylor’s boyfriend had fired at them first. Mattingly was struck by a bullet in the leg. There was no conclusive evidence that any of Hankison’s bullets hit Taylor, Cameron said.


If Congress confirms President Donald Trump's nominee to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court would become more conservative, and also perhaps more ready to tackle certain hot-button issues like abortion and guns. Chief Justice John Roberts would also likely become less able to steer the outcome in divisive cases.

Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18 at 87, was the leader of the liberal wing of the court, which had been split 5-4 between conservatives and liberals. Roberts had, on occasion, sided with the liberals. But if Trump fills Ginsburg's seat, there will be six conservative justices, three of them appointed by him.

Here are several big issues that are poised to come before the justices where a more solidly conservative majority could make a difference.  A week after the presidential election, the court will hear arguments in bid by the Trump administration and Republican-led states to overturn the Obama-era health care law. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, coverage for more than 20 million people is at stake, along with the law’s ban on insurance discrimination against Americans with pre-existing medical conditions.

A more conservative court might be seen as more sympathetic to striking down the Affordable Care Act, but the court might still choose not to. The justices have less drastic options. For example, the court could invalidate “Obamacare’s” now toothless requirement that most Americans carry health insurance, and leave in place core provisions such as subsidized health insurance, Medicaid expansion and protection for people with medical problems.


The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday rejected as unconstitutional former Gov. Bill Walker’s proposal to use bonding to pay Alaska’s oil and gas tax credit obligations. The court, in a written ruling, said the plan, which was approved by the Legislature in 2018, is “unconstitutional in its entirety.”

The bill passed by lawmakers approved the creation of a state corporation that would be empowered to sell up to $1 billion in bonds to pay off remaining tax credit obligations. The Legislature previously voted to end the tax credit program geared toward small producers and developers, saying that the program had become unaffordable.

The state constitution limits the power to incur state debt. But a 2018 legal opinion by then-Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said the proposed bonds would not be considered state debt subject to the constitutional restraints because they would be “subject-to-appropriation” bonds and contingent upon annual legislative appropriation decisions.

Superior Court Judge Jude Pate dismissed the lawsuit brought by resident Eric Forrer, who had challenged the bonding plan. Forrer appealed.

The Alaska Supreme Court, in its decision, said subject-to-appropriation bonds are “contrary to the plain text of the Alaska Constitution and the framers' intent.”

“If the State intends to utilize financing schemes similar to HB 331 in the future, it must first seek approval from the people — if not through a bond referendum then through a constitutional amendment,” the opinion states. HB 331 refers to the bonding bill.

Joe Geldhof, an attorney for Forrer, said “the real winner here" is Alaska's constitution and the citizens of the state who won't incur “needless debt based on a scheme.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy's office, in a statement, said the departments of Revenue and Law are reviewing the decision to understand its impacts.



Anyone entering a Illinois courthouse should be wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus, according to an Illinois Supreme Court order.

The state’s highest court issued an order Thursday including face masks in its rules governing who is admitted into courthouses “in the interests of the health and safety of all court users, staff, and judicial officers during these extraordinary circumstances.”

The order also says people with flu-like symptoms, those directed to quarantine by a medical professional or people who have close contact with someone subject to a quarantine should not enter courthouses.

State health officials on Sunday reported nearly 1,992 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths.

Overall, the state has reported 233,355 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 8,019 relaed deaths.

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