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The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a Minnesota law that barred voters in the state from wearing a wide range of political hats, T-shirts and pins to the polls.

Minnesota had defended its law as a reasonable restriction that keeps order at polling places and prevents voter intimidation. But the justices ruled 7-2 that the state's law is too broad, violating the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that "if a State wishes to set its polling places apart as areas free of partisan discord, it must employ a more discernible approach than the one Minnesota has offered here."

Most states have laws restricting what voters can wear when they cast ballots, but Minnesota's law was one of the broadest. It barred voters from casting a ballot while wearing clothing with the name of a candidate or political party. Also not allowed: clothing that references an issue on the ballot or promotes a group with recognizable political views. A National Rifle Association T-shirt or shirt with the text of the Second Amendment wouldn't be allowed, for example, according to the lawyer who argued the case for the state.

Roberts noted that Minnesota, like other states, had sought to balance a voter's ability to "engage in political discourse" with the ability to "exercise his civic duty in a setting removed from the clamor and din of electioneering."

"While that choice is generally worthy of our respect, Minnesota has not supported its good intentions with a law capable of reasoned application," he wrote.

It is unclear exactly how many states the ruling could affect beyond Minnesota. Both Minnesota and the group challenging the state's law had said there are about 10 states with laws like Minnesota's, though they disagreed significantly on which ones, agreeing only on Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Vermont.

The case before the Supreme Court dates back to 2010 and involves a dispute that began over tea party T-shirts and buttons with the words "Please I.D. Me," a reference to legislation then under discussion in Minnesota that would have required residents to show photo identification to vote. The legislation ultimately didn't become law.

Pointing to the state's statute, Minnesota officials said before the election that neither the tea party T-shirts nor those buttons would be permitted at the polls. In response, a group of voters and organizations sued.


Gov. John Hickenlooper has named Carlos Samour to the Colorado Supreme Court, filling a vacancy left by Chief Justice Nancy Rice's imminent retirement.

Samour, a judge in the 18th Judicial District in Arapahoe County, is best known for presiding over the Aurora theater shooting trial in 2015.

Samour was raised in El Salvador, where his father was also a judge. Hickenlooper said his family fled the country when Samour was 13 because his father feared retaliation for finding a military official guilty.

"His father was ousted from his judicial position and his home was riddled by bullets because his father chose to faithfully apply the laws of that country," said Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Samour was chosen from three nominees after Rice in March announced her plans to retire at the end of June. She will have served more than four years as chief justice, nearly 20 years on the court and about 31 years total as a judge in Colorado.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday plans to announce his choice to fill a vacancy on the Colorado Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, a judicial nominating commission gave the governor three judges to choose from, after Chief Justice Nancy Rice announced her retirement.

The nominees are Maria Berkenkotter, the former chief judge of the 20th Judicial District in Boulder County; Karen Brody, a judge in the 2nd Judicial District in Denver County; and Carlos Samour, a judge in the 18th Judicial District in Arapahoe County.



A court has dismissed charges against Barclays relating to its emergency fundraising from Qatar at the height of the financial crisis.

The Serious Fraud Office had accused Barclays over a 2008 deal to give to Qatar Holding LLC a $3 billion loan that was then used to invest in the bank, saving it from a government bailout.

Prosecutors had also accused Barclays' operating unit with unlawful financial assistance "for the purpose of directly or indirectly acquiring shares in Barclays Plc."

Southwark Crown Court in London dismissed all of the charges on Monday. However, Barclays warned in a statement to the markets that the fraud office is likely to seek to reinstate the charges. Individuals still face charges, as Monday's dismissal only refers to Barclays as a corporate entity.


A legal battle between France and Equatorial Guinea over the corruption prosecution of the African nation's vice president is back before the International Court of Justice, months after a Paris court convicted the vice president.

French lawyers said Monday that the Hague-based world court, the highest judicial U.N. organ, has no jurisdiction to rule in a 2016 case filed by Equatorial Guinea, which argues that Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue has immunity from prosecution because he's vice president.

The court in 2016 refused to order a halt to the Paris case against Obiang Mangue and he was subsequently convicted and handed a suspended three-year prison sentence for embezzling millions in public money, which he spent on cars, designer clothes, art and high-end real estate. Obiang Mangue and French prosecutors have appealed.



Liberia's supreme court has cleared the way for the presidential runoff election to go forward, saying there was not enough evidence to support allegations of fraud.

The second-round vote between soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai had been put on hold after the Liberty Party alleged first-round voting irregularities.

But the court said Thursday those violations were not sufficient to overturn the vote's outcome. No date has been set for the runoff vote. The National Elections Commission has been ordered to clean up its voter roll.

The Liberty Party's candidate was not among the top two finishers in the first round held Oct. 10.

Voters are choosing a replacement for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female leader and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.


Ohio says it's resuming executions in January with a three-drug protocol similar to one it used for several years.

The concept is one adopted for decades by many states: the first drug sedates inmates, the second paralyzes them, and the third stops their hearts.

The key difference comes with the first drug the state plans to use, midazolam (mih-DAY'-zoh-lam), which has been challenged in court as unreliable.

The state argues that a planned dose of 500 milligrams will ensure that inmates are properly sedated.

Defense attorneys say it's unclear what a much bigger dose would achieve.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.




The Supreme Court has passed up an early chance to review a contested North Carolina election law that opponents say limits the ability of African-Americans to cast ballots.

The high court intervened in October to order that the law remain in effect for the fall elections after a lower court ruling blocking part of the law.

But the justices on Monday wiped away their earlier order by rejecting the state's appeal of that lower court ruling. The federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia had blocked a part of the law that eliminated same-day registration during early voting in North Carolina.

A trial is set for July in the lawsuit filed by civil rights groups, and the issue of voting restrictions could return to the Supreme Court before the 2016 elections.

North Carolina is among several Republican-led states that have passed election laws imposing photo identification requirements and reducing the number of days set aside for early voting, among other provisions. Officials have said the measures are needed to prevent voter fraud. But critics have called the laws thinly veiled efforts to make it harder for Democratic-leaning minorities to vote.


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