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The Supreme Court says United States federal courts should consider statements from foreign governments about their own laws but do not have to consider them as binding.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for a unanimous court that federal courts should give "respectful consideration" to what foreign governments say. But she wrote that federal courts don't have to treat what they say as conclusive.

Ginsburg said the appropriate weight given to a government's statement in each case will depend on the circumstances, including the clarity, thoroughness and support for what a government says.

The Thursday ruling came in a case that involves two U.S.-based purchasers of vitamin C, one in Texas and the other in New Jersey, and vitamin C exporters in China.


A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has cleared the way for states to take a tougher approach to maintaining their voter rolls, but will they?

Ohio plans to resume its process for removing inactive voters after it was affirmed in Monday's 5-4 ruling. It takes a particularly aggressive approach that appears to be an outlier among states.

Few appear eager to follow. "Our law has been on the books. It hasn't changed, and it isn't changing," said Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Bryan Dean.

At issue is when a state begins the process to notify and ultimately remove people from the rolls after a period of non-voting. In most states with similar laws, that process begins after voters miss two or more federal elections.

In Ohio, under the current Republican secretary of state, it starts if voters sit out just one election. They are removed from the rolls if they miss three federal elections over six years and fail to return an address-confirmation card.

Oklahoma is among the states that send confirmation notices to voters who have failed to cast ballots in two elections. As in most other states, voters who fail to respond are made inactive or taken off the rolls altogether if they don't cast a ballot in subsequent elections.

Opponents of the laws say their intent is to purge people from the rolls, particularly minorities and the poor who tend to vote Democratic. Supporters say voters are given plenty of chances to keep their active status and that the rules adhere to federal law requiring states to maintain accurate voter rolls.

Democrats and voting rights groups have expressed concern that other states will be emboldened by the ruling and adopt more aggressive tactics to kick voters off the rolls. In addition to Oklahoma, Georgia, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have laws similar to Ohio's.


The eldest son of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will go through Alaska's therapeutic court system in a criminal case accusing him of assaulting his father last year at the family home.

State District Judge David Wallace on Tuesday approved Track Palin's request to formally transfer his case to Veterans Court, which gives eligible veterans the option of enrolling in mental health treatment programs instead of a traditional sentence.

The judge also barred the media from using cameras or other recording devices during that proceeding after Track Palin's attorney filed a motion seeking to prohibit or limit media access. Wallace said he will formally rule on the matter later.

The motion to limit media access was filed Friday by Track Palin's attorney, Patrick Bergt, in an effort to ensure the case does not become a distraction to other veterans in the system.

Veterans Court program rules say veterans opt in by agreeing to plead guilty or not guilty to at least one charge.

Bergt declined to say if his client is making such a plea to get into the program, adding he can't comment on specifics of the case.


A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the convictions of three top staffers on Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign who were found guilty of arranging for money to be funneled through a vendor to an influential Iowa state senator who dropped his support for another Republican candidate in favor of Paul.

Campaign chairman Jesse Benton, campaign manager John Tate and deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari were convicted in 2016 of causing false records to be filed, causing false campaign expenditure reports, engaging in a false statements scheme and conspiring to commit the offenses. Kesari was sentenced to three months in prison while the other two got probation. They have completed their sentences but are seeking to clear the felony convictions from their records.

The three argued that they broke no laws when they paid a video production company, which passed on $73,000 to then-Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, who withdrew his support from Michele Bachmann and backed Paul six days before the 2012 Iowa caucuses. Sorenson also was convicted in the scheme and sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was released in April.


Gov. Mark Dayton appointed longtime Democratic state Rep. Paul Thissen to the Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday, the latest in a long line of partisans to join the state's highest court.

Thissen is an attorney and Minneapolis lawmaker who has served eight terms in the House — including one as House Speaker and two as its Minority Leader — and had eyes on the governor's office until he suspended his campaign in February. He'll resign from his House seat on Friday and join the court soon after.

He replaces Justice David Stras, who was nominated by Donald Trump to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and recently confirmed. Thissen's addition means Dayton has picked five of the seven members on the state's highest court, and while the court has not been openly partisan, it's a mark that will long outlast the Democratic governor's tenure ending early next year.

The other two members were appointed by former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

"Judicial appointments are one of, if not the most, important appointments I make," Dayton said, noting he had emphasized increasing the diversity throughout state courts during his time in office.

Thissen was one of four finalists on the shortlist to replace Stras that also included Lucinda Jesson, Dayton's former commissioner at the Department of Human Services who he appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in 2016. Minnesota Tax Court Chief Judge Bradford Delapena and District Court Judge Jeffrey Bryan were also in the running.

Dayton and others said Thissen's blend of legal work and political experience made him the perfect choice for the Supreme Court.

"Under the intense pressures of end of session deal-making, he always stood firm on his own principled convictions and to the high standards of proper Minnesota governance," Dayton said.

Neither Dayton nor his predecessors have shied away from party allies when filling seats on the state's highest court. Dayton appointed longtime Democratic attorney David Lillheaug to the court in 2013. Lillehaug helped Dayton during his 2010 recount victory and also worked on former Sen. Al Franken's 2008 recount and other Democratic elections. Pawlenty named both his campaign attorney Christopher Dietzen and Minnesota Republican Party attorney Barry Anderson to the Supreme Court.


Thousands of fired-up Michigan Democrats endorsed Dana Nessel on Sunday in a hotly contested race for state attorney general, backing the former prosecutor-turned-civil rights lawyer to wrest back control of an office the party last held 16 years ago.

If elected in November, Nessel — who helped mount a successful legal challenge to the state's same-sex marriage ban — would be Michigan's first openly gay statewide officeholder. She defeated Pat Miles, the former U.S. attorney for western Michigan in the Obama administration, in a fight that drew a record number of delegates to Detroit.

"I want to bring empathy back to the office of Michigan attorney general," Nessel said after her victory inside a packed convention hall in the Cobo Center, where she became the rare candidate to win a convention fight despite not being supported by the influential United Auto Workers union and Michigan AFL-CIO, which had backed Miles. "With the help of not just Democrats in the state but independents and yes, even Republicans, I think we can do that and I look forward to being able to try."

The 48-year-old Nessel, who was a Wayne County assistant prosecutor for 11 years, co-owns a small Detroit law firm that among other things focuses on criminal defense, family law and adoptions for same-sex couples. Barring a surprise, she will be officially nominated at Democrats' next convention in August and face a Republican nominee — either state House Speaker Tom Leonard or state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker — in the November election. GOP Attorney General Bill Schuette cannot run again due to term limits and is instead vying for governor.

Nessel's win sets the stage for a female-dominated Democratic statewide ticket if favorite Gretchen Whitmer wins the gubernatorial primary election in August. Democrats, who flooded the convention despite icy, rainy weather, also endorsed Jocelyn Benson for secretary of state in an uncontested race, and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is running for re-election to a fourth term.



Over two days of questioning in Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg chief revealed that he didn’t know key details of a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission that requires Facebook to protect user privacy.

With congressional hearings over and no immediate momentum behind calls for regulation, the biggest hammer still hanging over Facebook in the U.S. is a fresh FTC investigation . The probe follows revelations that pro-Trump data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica acquired data from the profiles of millions of Facebook users. Facebook also faces inquiries in Europe.

The 2011 agreement bound Facebook to a 20-year privacy commitment , and any violations of that pact could cost Facebook a ton of money, even by its flush-with-cash standards. If Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress is any indication, the company might have something to worry about.

Zuckerberg repeatedly assured lawmakers Tuesday and Wednesday that he believed Facebook is in compliance with that 2011 agreement. But he also flubbed simple factual questions about the consent decree.

“Congresswoman, I don’t remember if we had a financial penalty,” Zuckerberg said under questioning by Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette on Wednesday.

“You’re the CEO of the company, you entered into a consent decree and you don’t remember if you had a financial penalty?” she asked. She then pointed out that the FTC doesn’t have the authority to issue fines for first-time violations.

In response to questioning by Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, Zuckerberg acknowledged: “I’m not familiar with all of the things the FTC said.”

Zuckerberg also faced several questions from lawmakers about how long it takes for Facebook to delete user data from its systems. He didn’t know.

The 2011 consent decree capped years of Facebook privacy mishaps, many of which revolved around its early attempts to follow users and their friends around the web. Any violations of the 2011 agreement could subject Facebook to fines of $41,484 per violation per user per day. To put that in context, Facebook could theoretically owe $8 billion for one single day of a violation affecting all of its American users.

The current FTC investigation will look at whether Facebook engaged in “unfair acts” that cause “substantial injury” to consumers.

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