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A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Democratic Gov. John Carney over Delaware’s requirement for political balance on its courts.

Friday’s ruling is the latest in a long-running legal battle over a “major-party” provision in Delaware’s constitution under which judicial appointments to the state’s three highest courts are split between Republicans and Democrats.

The Supreme Court, Court of Chancery and Superior Court are subject to a separate “bare majority” provision that also applies to Family Court and the Court of Common Pleas. That provision says no more than a bare majority of judges on those courts can be affiliated with a single political party.

The result of the major-party provision is that any person not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic Party is unable serve on the Supreme Court, Superior Court or Court of Chancery.

Wilmington lawyer James Adams, a former Democrat who is now an unaffiliated voter, claims that the provision violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by barring him from being considered for a judgeship on the Superior Court, a position for which he has twice applied and been rejected.

Judge Maryellen Noreika ruled Friday that Adams had legal standing to challenge the major-party provision and denied the governor’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.


Prosecutors investigating whether Donald Trump committed crimes as he sought to overturn his 2020 election defeat in Georgia are running into increasing resistance as they seek to call witnesses to testify before a special grand jury.

The latest illustration of that came Wednesday, when lawyers for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp filed a motion to quash a subpoena for his testimony, accusing the office of Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, a Democrat, of pursuing his testimony for “improper political purposes.” Willis rejected that characterization, describing it as dishonest.

Kemp is just one of several witnesses who have pushed back against Willis’ attempt to compel their testimony in a case investigating potential criminal interference in an election. Late Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham formally appealed a judge’s order requiring him to testify before the special grand jury on Aug. 23. And John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who aided Trump’s efforts to undo the 2020 election results, has also pushed back against his subpoena, with a judge in New Mexico on Wednesday rejecting his request and ordering him to travel to Atlanta to testify before the special grand jury.

The witnesses’ reluctance to testify in the case reflects the high stakes of the investigation, which is just one of a long list of serious legal threats that Trump is facing that have intensified in recent weeks. It also demonstrates the power that Trump continues to wield over the Republican Party as he prepares for an expected 2024 presidential campaign.


A federal judge sentenced a San Diego man to 18 years in prison Friday for piloting a small vessel overloaded with 32 migrants that smashed apart in powerful surf off San Diego’s coast last year, killing three people.

U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino called it “the most egregious case I’ve ever had in my courtroom in over 15 years in the Southern District of California” before sentencing 40-year-old Antonio Hurtado.

Prosecutors say Hurtado was high on drugs when he drove the migrants into rough, stormy seas in the dark on May 2021. As 5-to-8-foot (1.5-2.4-meter) waves pounded the vessel, he jumped overboard and swam to shore, abandoning the passengers he had told to hide in the cabin and under deck. The boat capsized and broke apart as they were hurled into the treacherous early morning waters. Hurtado’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

More than two dozen people were injured, including a 15-year-old Mexican boy and a 15-year-old Mexican girl. The 32 migrants — all but one from Mexico — had agreed to pay between $15,000 and $18,000 to be smuggled into the United States.


A judge is considering whether Georgia officials should once again be prohibited from enforcing the state’s restrictive abortion law while a legal challenge against it is pending.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney heard arguments Monday from lawyers for the state and for doctors and advocacy groups who filed a lawsuit challenging the law. He said he needed to think about the issues but that he would issue a ruling soon.

“I understand that this is something that needs immediate attention and I will give it that,” McBurney said at the end of the hearing.

The hearing focused on whether the judge has the power to block the law temporarily while the litigation plays out and whether the law was invalid from the start because it violated the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court precedent when it was enacted.

Georgia’s law was passed by state lawmakers and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 but it had been blocked from taking effect. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the state to begin enforcing it last month, just over three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had protected the right to an abortion for nearly 50 years.

The law bans most abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” is present. Cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound in cells within an embryo that will eventually become the heart as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. That means most abortions in Georgia are effectively banned at a point before many women know they are pregnant.

The law includes exceptions for rape and incest, as long as a police report is filed, and allows for later abortions when the mother’s life is at risk or a serious medical condition renders a fetus unviable.


The abortion landscape has changed but the votes didn’t when New Hampshire Republicans rejected family planning contracts Wednesday for the fourth time in less than a year.

The Executive Council — which approves nominations and state contracts — voted 4-1 to deny funding to the Equality Health Center, Lovering Health Center and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The contracts, which were supported by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, would have funded cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, contraception and other routine health care services for more than 16,000 low-income women.

The outcome was the same when the council voted in September, December and January. Wednesday was the first vote since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to abortion.

“On the national landscape ... we know that women’s services as a whole are under assault. There is considerable discussion in Washington about limiting access to contraception, which is really what brings us to this discussion today,” said the council’s lone Democrat, Cinde Warmington.

“These services are more critical than ever in our state,” she said.

Republican councilors previously had raised concerns that public money would pay for abortions and continued to vote no even after audit reports confirmed that funds were not commingled.


A day after a state judge blocked enforcement of Louisiana’s abortion ban, state officials asked the same judge to suspend his own ruling while they pursue an appeal.

Lawyers for state Attorney General Jeff Landry and health secretary Courtney Phillips filed the request Friday in Baton Rouge. They want Judge Donald Johnson to suspend his ruling and allow enforcement of a ban that was put into state law in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling reversing abortion rights.

The Friday morning filing indicates the state plans to take the case to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge.

Johnson’s Thursday ruling, a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement, came in a lawsuit filed by a north Louisiana abortion clinic and members of the Medical Students for Choice organization, who argue that the law’s provisions are contradictory and unconstitutionally vague. The ruling, which followed an earlier temporary enforcement block, meant clinics in Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans could provide abortions while the lawsuit continues.

Landry has predicted that the case will wind up at the Louisiana Supreme Court.


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan directed the state police Tuesday to suspend the state’s “good and substantial reason” standard for permits to carry handguns after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar New York law last month.

Hogan said the New York law pertaining to handguns “is virtually indistinguishable from Maryland law.” As a result, Hogan said he was directing the Maryland State Police to immediately suspend use of the standard when reviewing applications for wear and carry permits.

“It would be unconstitutional to continue enforcing this provision in state law,” said Hogan, a Republican. “There is no impact on other permitting requirements and protocols.”

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson said the General Assembly will pass legislation in its next session “that adheres to the new precedent set by this Supreme Court while ensuring reasonable restrictions to keep our families and communities safe.”

“Now more than ever in history, we must pass laws protecting all Marylanders from potential gun violence,” Ferguson, a Baltimore Democrat, said in a statement after the governor’s announcement. “The lethality of the weapons available for purchase has never been greater, and our laws must accurately reflect their danger.”

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones also said lawmakers will pass “meaningful and reasonable limitations to ensure the safety of our families and children.”

“Between now and January the Maryland House of Delegates will look at every option to curb the proliferation of guns on the street,” Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, wrote on Twitter.

Mark Pennak, president of gun-rights group Maryland Shall Issue, welcomed the governor’s order.

“For the first time in decades, ordinary responsible, law-abiding citizens in Maryland will have their Second Amendment right for self-defense outside the home respected,” Pennak said in a statement.

Under Maryland law, a gun owner has had to show a “good or substantial reason” to carry a concealed gun. That could include showing a person’s life is in danger from threats or that they work in a job that could put them in contact with people who are dangerous.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, has said the Maryland law is similar to New York’s but they take different approaches. He has said the Supreme Court’s ruling last month is being examined to determine its impact on the state.

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