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The U.S. Census Bureau for now must stop following a plan that would have it winding down operations in order to finish the 2020 census at the end of September, according to a federal judge's order.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, issued a temporary restraining order late Saturday against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, which oversees the agency. The order stops the Census Bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17.

The once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident helps determine how $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed and how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment.

The temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.

Because of the pandemic, the Census Bureau pushed back ending the count from the end of July to the end of October and asked Congress to extend the deadline for turning in the apportionment numbers from December, as required by law, into next spring. When the Republican-controlled Senate failed to take up the request, the bureau was forced to create a revised schedule that had the census ending in September, according to the statistical agency.

The lawsuit contends the Census Bureau changed the schedule to accommodate a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude people in the country illegally from the numbers used in redrawing congressional districts. The revised plan would have the Census Bureau handing in the apportionment numbers at the end of December, under the control of the Trump administration, no matter who wins the election in November.

More than a half dozen other lawsuits have been filed in tandem across the country, challenging Trump’s memorandum as unconstitutional and an attempt to limit the power of Latinos and immigrants of color during apportionment.

“The court rightfully recognized the Trump administration’s attempted short-circuiting of our nation’s census as an imminent threat to the completion of a fair and accurate process,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the groups that brought the San Jose lawsuit.


Britney Spears on Tuesday asked a court to keep her father from reasserting the broad control over her life and career that he has had for most of the past 12 years.

In documents filed by her court-appointed lawyer that give a rare public airing to the wishes of the 38-year-old pop superstar, she asked that her father not return to the role of conservator of her person, which gave him power over her major life decisions from 2008 until 2019, when he temporarily stepped aside, citing health problems.

“Britney is strongly opposed to James return as conservator of her person,” the document says.

James Spears has kept his separate role as conservator over his daughter’s finances. For the first 11 years of the conservatorship, he served as co-conservator with attorney Andrew M. Wallet, who resigned from the role early last year.

That briefly left James Spears with sole power over Britney Spears’ life, money and career, a situation she says she very much wants to avoid repeating.

An email seeking comment from James Spears’ attorney was not immediately returned.

Spears says she wants Jodi Montgomery, who has been serving as conservator of her person temporarily, to do so permanently, but she says that doesn’t mean she is waiving her right to seek an end to the entire arrangement.

The documents also reveal that Britney Spears has no plans to perform again anytime soon. She last performed live in October 2018, and early in 2019, canceled a planned Las Vegas residency.

The filing gave a rare glimpse at Britney Spears’ own wishes in the conservatorship that has had vast power over her for over a decade. She has almost never spoken publicly about the matter, and court hearings and documents in the case are cloaked in secrecy, though last year she addressed the court at her request, suggesting she was seeking changes.

In the papers, Britney Spears praises the conservatorship and its work overall, saying it “rescued her from a collapse, exploitation by predatory individuals and financial ruin” and that it made her “able to regain her position as a world class entertainer.”

The document was filed a day before a status hearing on the conservatorship, expected to be closed to the media and public.

Britney Spears’ attorney said that he expects James Spears will aggressively contest being marginalized, and said that Britney Spears has suggested they retain a lawyer with expertise in complex financial court fights.

The conservatorship, known in some states as a guardianship, gave James Spears power over his daughter’s career choices and much of her personal life, including her relationship with her teenage sons. Spears’ ex-husband Kevin Federline has custody of the boys, but she has frequent visits with them.


Amber Heard has accused ex-husband Johnny Depp of abusing her both physically and verbally while he was allegedly bingeing on drink and drugs, claiming that at various times during their tempestuous relationship she feared for her life.

On the first day of her testimony Monday at Britain’s High Court in London, Heard also denied accusations she was a heavy drug-taker and drinker as well as a controlling and abusive person. The court is examining Depp’s libel suit against The Sun newspaper over an April 2018 article that labelled him a “wife beater” for allegedly abusing Heard.

Chronicling a series of incidents over their deteriorating relationship, that allegedly included Depp throwing a magnum of champagne and a phone at her, Heard insisted any action she took in response was purely in self-defense.

“When I felt my life was threatened, I tried to defend myself and that started to happen years into the relationship, years into the violence," she told the court. "Before that, I didn’t even try to defend myself, I just checked out.”

Depp's lawyer Eleanor Laws played a recording of an argument between the pair in which Depp accuses Heard of throwing pots and other items at him the night before. Heard said she had hit — but not punched — Depp and that she had only thrown things “to escape him."

Heard said the argument, like so many others, had stemmed from Depp passing out once again in the bathroom after another binge.



The coronavirus pandemic is forcing big changes at the tradition-bound Supreme Court. The justices will hear arguments this month by telephone for the first time since Alexander Graham Bell patented his invention in 1876.

Audio of the arguments will be broadcast live by the news media, another first. This will be just the second time that the justices will meet outside the court since the Supreme Court building opened in 1935. (The discovery of anthrax in a court mailroom in 2001 forced a temporary relocation to another federal courthouse less than a mile away.)

The first argument is Monday, and the court will hear a total of 10 cases over six days. Among the cases to be argued: President Donald Trump’s bid to keep certain financial records private and whether presidential electors are required to cast their Electoral College ballots for the candidate who won their state.



A would-be candidate for a seat on Georgia's highest court on Wednesday asked the state's lower appeals court to step in after a judge this week said the governor had the right to fill the position even though a judge who's resigning won't leave until November.

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell, whose six-year term ends in December, told Gov. Brian Kemp last month that he planned to resign but would remain on the bench until Nov. 18. Kemp's office then told Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger that the Republican governor intended to fill the seat by appointment, and Raffensperger canceled the scheduled May 19 election for the position.

John Barrow, a former Democratic congressman from Athens, and former Republican state lawmaker Beth Beskin of Atlanta had both planned to challenge Blackwell. They filed separate lawsuits in Fulton County Superior Court saying the election had been illegally canceled and asking a judge to order Raffensperger to put it back on the calendar and allow candidates to qualify.

Judge Emily Richardson on Monday ruled that according to the Georgia Constitution and state law, Blackwell's seat became vacant Feb. 26, when Kemp signed a letter accepting the justice's resignation. Raffensperger was no longer required to hold an election for the seat once the governor signaled his intent to appoint someone to fill it, she wrote.

Even though the effective date of Blackwell’s resignation is after the May election, it is still within his current term, which ends Dec. 31, meaning Kemp has the authority under the state Constitution to fill the vacancy by appointment, Richardson wrote.

Barrow on Wednesday filed an emergency request with the Georgia Court of Appeals, arguing that Richardson was wrong and asking the court to take up the case. Beskin's lawyer, Cary Ichter, said in an email that they intend to do the same on Thursday.


A federal appeals court has ruled that a legal fight over a lost dog could continue in Mississippi, even after the dog's owner has died.

The dispute is over a German shepherd named Max who jumped out a window and escaped from his owner's Hattiesburg home in 2015. Max got loose when people were providing medical help to his owner, Charles Holt, who had fallen and could not get up.

Holt was more than 90 years old at the time. He was hospitalized after the fall. Max was captured weeks after he escaped, and he was impounded in an animal shelter. More weeks passed before Holt was notified that his dog was in the shelter, according to court papers. When Holt tried to reclaim his dog, the shelter refused, based on orders from the city.

A city court judge ordered the shelter to keep Max because the dog allegedly posed a threat to the people taking care of Holt. A county court judge later agreed with that decision.

Holt then filed a federal lawsuit saying the city had deprived him of his property, Max, without due process. A district court judge threw out his claim, and Holt appealed.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that although Holt has died, questions about his property claim survive. The appeals court sent it back to a district court for the possibility of further consideration.



The Colorado baker whose refusal to design a wedding cake for a gay couple led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling and made him a conservative hero now has a book deal.

Jack Phillips' memoir, currently untitled, will be released this summer by Salem Books Publishing. Salem Books is a Christian evangelical imprint of Regnery Publishing that announced the book Thursday and is calling it “a firsthand account of his experience on the front lines" of a cultural battle between religious and secular forces.

Phillips, who runs the Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, became known nationally in 2012 after he cited religious objections in declining the request of two men who wanted a cake celebrating their marriage. The couple filed a complaint with the state's civil rights commission, which ruled that Phillips should not have refused service.

The baker appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 2018 voted 7-2 that the commission violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment. The court did not rule on the larger issue of whether businesses can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gays and lesbians.


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