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A Trump administration immigration policy that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases wind through U.S. courts was blocked and then reinstated by a court in the matter of hours, creating chaos at border crossings, courtrooms and legal offices.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals put the policy on hold midday Friday, delivering a setback to a policy that has become one of President Donald Trump’s signature efforts to restrict immigration.

But by the end of the day, the court allowed the program to go back into effect after the Justice Department argued that its suspension will prompt migrants to overrun the border and endanger national security. The White House argued that the suspension of the policy would overwhelm the nation’s immigration system, damage relations with the government of Mexico and increase the risk of outbreak from the new coronavirus.

Customs and Border Protection closed one border crossing leading into El Paso after the initial decision. Government attorneys said immigration lawyers had begun demanding that asylum seekers be allowed in the United States, with one insisting that 1,000 people be allowed to enter at one location.

The program was instituted last year and has sent about 60,000 asylum seekers back to Mexico. Immigration lawyers and advocates say the program is a humanitarian disaster, subjecting migrants to violence, kidnapping and extortion in dangerous Mexican border cities. Hundreds more have been living in squalid encampments just across the border.


A state representative from eastern Kentucky says he is running for the state’s Supreme Court.

News outlets report that state Rep. Chris Harris, a Democrat who represents District 93, said in a statement that he plans to run for a seat in the 7th District of the Supreme Court of Kentucky.

Harris has served in Kentucky’s House of Representatives since 2015. He previously served as a Pike County magistrate and president of the Kentucky Association of Counties.

Harris also has had a private law practice for nearly 25 years. The 7th District covers 22 counties in eastern Kentucky.


Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has been remembered as a "brilliant man" with a "deep devotion to the rule of law" during a ceremony at the court where he served for nearly 35 years.

Stevens died last week in Florida at age 99 after suffering a stroke, and his body is in repose in the court's Great Hall.

At a ceremony Monday morning, Justice Elena Kagan called Stevens modest and humble. Kagan replaced Stevens on the court when he retired in 2010.

Six of Stevens' former colleagues were at the court to pay their respects. Besides Kagan, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor attended the ceremony along with retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Stevens will be buried Tuesday in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.


A British court ruled Thursday that the U.K. government acted unlawfully in selling weapons to Saudi Arabia that were used in the Yemen war, though it did not order a halt to the exports.

The Court of Appeal ruled in favor of anti-weapons campaigners, who argued that the sales should not have been allowed because there was a clear risk the weapons might be used in violation of international humanitarian law.

The British government plans to appeal the ruling, but while the case is ongoing, Trade Secretary Liam Fox said no new licenses for arms sales to Saudi Arabia would be granted.

Campaign Against Arms Trade argued that British bombs and fighter jets are fueling violence in Yemen, where a Saudi-led war against Iran-backed rebels has raged since 2015. The Gulf kingdom faces wide international criticism for indiscriminate airstrikes that have struck markets, hospitals and other civilian targets.

Three judges said the British government's decision-making "was wrong in law in one significant respect" — that they had "made no attempt" to find out whether the Saudi-led coalition had breached international law.


The Senate majority leader says if there’s a vacancy on the Supreme Court during next year’s election cycle, the Republican-controlled Senate would likely confirm a nominee selected by President Donald Trump.

In an appearance Tuesday in Paducah, Kentucky, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told a questioner that if a Supreme Court justice died next year, creating a vacancy on the nine-member court, “Oh, we’d fill it.”

McConnell’s comments appeared to mark a reversal from his stance three years ago, during President Barack Obama’s final year in office, when he orchestrated a blockade of Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. McConnell blocked hearings for Garland, a federal appeals court judge, saying that the choice should be left to voters in an election year.

McConnell’s change of heart drew attacks from Democrats still smarting from his success in cementing the high court’s conservative majority. The vacancy created by Scalia’s death was filled by conservative Neil Gorsuch while swing vote Anthony Kennedy, who retired, was replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh after an acrimonious brawl last year.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said McConnell was a “hypocrite” and tweeted that his colleague “lives for GOP judges because he knows the GOP agenda is so radical & unpopular they can only achieve it in courts.”


Spain is bracing for the nation's most sensitive trial in four decades of democracy this week, with a dozen Catalan separatists facing charges including rebellion over a failed secession bid in 2017.

The proceedings, which begin Tuesday, will be broadcast live on television and all eyes will be focused on the impartiality of the Spanish Supreme Court.

Catalonia's separatists have attacked the court's credibility in the run-up to the trial, saying it is a puppet of the Spanish government and any ruling will be a political one that has been decided in advance.

"In reality, it's democracy itself that will go on trial," Oriol Junqueras, one of the accused, wrote from jail in reply to questions sent by The Associated Press. "We are before a trial which, through a partial investigation full of falsities and irregularities, criminalizes a political option and an ideology."

But Supreme Court president Carlos Lesmes dismisses that notion, saying the trial is the most important since Spain's transition to democracy in 1977 after the death of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco.

"This is a trial following the highest standards set by the European Union," Lesmes recently told a group of journalists.



North Carolina's highest court will weigh in on whether money paid by the world's largest pork producer for environmental restoration projects should go to public schools instead.

The state Supreme Court announced Friday it would hear appeals in a lawsuit involving a 2000 agreement between Smithfield Foods and then-Attorney General Mike Easley. Smithfield has paid $2 million annually for 25 years. Easley's successors enforce the agreement and distribute funds.

A conservative activist and later the New Hanover County school board sued, contending Smithfield's payments are civil penalties for past environmental violations, so the state constitution requires they go to schools.

A trial judge dismissed the lawsuit, but the Court of Appeals resurrected it last September. Current Attorney General Josh Stein and other parties asked the justices to step in.

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