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A federal appeals court has dismissed a judge’s ruling that threw out Gov. Tom Wolf’s sweeping COVID-19 restrictions, saying the issue is now moot because statewide mitigation measures have expired and Pennsylvania voters have since constrained a governor’s emergency powers.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that since Wolf’s stay-at-home order, limits on crowd size and business closures are no longer in effect, there is “consequently no relief that this court can grant.”

The Philadelphia-based appeals court also noted that Pennsylvania voters in May approved amendments to the state constitution that give lawmakers much more power over disaster declarations.

The appeals court’s order instructed U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV to vacate his nearly year-old ruling that Wolf’s pandemic restrictions were overreaching and arbitrary and violated citizens’ constitutional rights. The appeals court had previously put the ruling on hold while the Wolf administration appealed.

Stickman, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, had sided with plaintiffs that included hair salons, drive-in movie theaters, a farmer’s market vendor, a horse trainer and several Republican officeholders in their lawsuit against Wolf, a Democrat, and his health secretary.

Writing separately, 3rd Circuit Judge Kent Jordan said that while he agreed with the majority that the case is legally moot, he noted the Wolf administration has said the constitutional amendments do not affect a state health secretary’s disease-prevention authority to issue mask-wearing and stay-at-home orders or shut down schools and nonessential businesses.

At the same time, Wolf administration officials have said they have no intention of restoring such statewide mitigation measures, even as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus has led to sharply rising infections and hospitalizations.


State workplace safety officials plan to fine the Los Angeles County Superior Court system more than $25,000 for alleged violations involving the COVID-19 pandemic.

The system shut down all but the most essential services in early 2020 but resumed many in-person proceedings in the final months of the year. About 16 interpreters were exposed to COVID-19 and one died in January 2021, followed by two other court employees that month and another interpreter in February.

The California Division of Occupational Health and Safety, known as Cal/OSHA, found three violations, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

One alleged that the court failed to immediately notify Cal/OSHA that an employee was seriously ill and hospitalized with COVID-19 in early January.

Cal/OSHA also alleged the court failed to implement an effective illness and injury prevention program and correct unhealthy practices, including a lack of COVID-19 prevention training to interpreters.

The third violation alleged a failure to ensure physical distancing in the interpreters’ lounge.

Ann E. Donlan, the court’s communications director, disputed the alleged violations.

“The court will be appealing these alleged violations because we do not believe Cal/OSHA has complete information,” Donlan said in a statement.


The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled against an inmate who sued after money was withdrawn from his prison account to pay for the medical bills of a correctional officer he injured 30 years ago.

Aaron Isby’s complaint last year against the Indiana Department of Correction argued the agency didn’t have the constitutional authority to impose a restitution sanction without obtaining a civil judgment against him. A Miami County judge dismissed the case, citing an Indiana Supreme Court ruling IDOC’s actions weren’t subject to judicial review.

The appeals court, in a filing last month, upheld the dismissal.

“We are bound to follow the authority of the Indiana Supreme Court,” the appeals court noted.

Isby, in custody at Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill, was first sentenced in 1988 for robbery, according to IDOC records. Court documents say that while in custody at another facility, Isby stabbed a guard in an altercation in 1990.



With the Affordable Care Act now secure in the framework of the nation’s health care programs, Democrats are eager to leap above and beyond.

They want to expand insurance coverage for working-age people and their families, add new benefits to Medicare for older people and reduce prescription drug costs for patients and taxpayers.

But health care is expensive, there’s concern about deficits and with Democrats holding only bare majorities in Congress, a winnowing down of expectations seems likely later this year.

For now, Democrats are savoring Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upholding “Obamacare” for the third time in a decade. The latest challenge to the law had been seen as a stretch by many legal experts, but a 7-2 vote from the conservative court was unexpected.

“I think Democrats once again know they have a moment in time, and they want to make the most of it,” said Kathleen Sebelius, health secretary under President Barack Obama during the passage and implementation of the health law. “I think people are fired up and ready to go.”

There is no shortage of proposals. Some, such as authorizing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, could potentially save hundreds of billions of dollars, depending on how they are structured. But coverage and benefit expansions could cost an equal or even much greater amount.

Complex budget procedures that Democrats plan to use to pass President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda by a simple majority vote in the Senate may also limit the types of proposals that can be considered.


Jed Leiber was an adult before he learned that his family was once part-owner of a collection of centuries-old religious artworks now said to be worth at least $250 million.

Over a steak dinner at a New York City restaurant in the 1990s he had asked his mother about his grandfather, a prominent art dealer who fled Germany after Adolf Hitler came to power. “What was grandpa most proud of in his business?” he asked.

“He was very, very proud to have acquired the Guelph Treasure, and then was forced to sell it to the Nazis,” she told him. That conversation set Leiber, of West Hollywood, California, on a decadeslong mission to reclaim some 40 pieces of the Guelph Treasure on display in a Berlin museum. It’s a pursuit that has now landed him at the Supreme Court, in a case to be argued Monday.

For centuries, the collection, called the Welfenschatz in German, was owned by German royalty. It includes elaborate containers used to store Christian relics; small, intricate altars and ornate crosses. Many are silver or gold and decorated with gems.

In 2015, Leiber’s quest for the collection led to a lawsuit against Germany and the the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. The state-run foundation owns the collection and runs Berlin’s Museum of Decorative Arts, where the collection is housed. Germany and the foundation asked the trial-level court to dismiss the suit, but the court declined. An appeals court also kept the suit alive.

Now, the Supreme Court, which has been hearing arguments by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic, will weigh in. A separate case involving Hungarian Holocaust victims is being heard the same day.

At this point, the Guelph Treasure case is not about whether Leiber’s grandfather and the two other Frankfurt art dealer firms that joined to purchase the collection in 1929 were forced to sell it, a claim Germany and the foundation dispute. It’s just about whether Leiber and two other heirs of those dealers, New Mexico resident Alan Philipp and London resident Gerald Stiebel, can continue seeking the objects’ return in U.S. courts.

In a statement, Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, argued that the suit should be dismissed. The foundation and Germany have the Trump administration’s support.


A federal judge issued a scathing order Saturday dismissing the Trump campaign’s futile effort to block the certification of votes in Pennsylvania, shooting down claims of widespread irregularities with mail-in ballots.

The case was always a long shot to stop President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, but it was President Donald Trump’s best hope to affect the election results through the courts, mostly because of the number of electoral votes, 20, at stake in Pennsylvania. His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, stepped into a courtroom for the first time in decades to argue the case this past week.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann wrote in his order that Trump had asked the court to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters.

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann wrote, so much that the court would have no option but to stop the certification even though it would impact so many people. “That has not happened.”

Even if he’d won the Pennsylvania case, Trump would have needed to win other lawsuits in other states where he’d also asked to delay certification. The campaign peppered battlegrounds states with litigation in the days after the election alleging widespread election fraud without proof, but the majority of those cases have already been dismissed.

The president has taken his effort to subvert the results of the 2020 election beyond the courtroom in recent days, straight to local lawmakers. Some Trump allies have expressed hope that state lawmakers could intervene in selecting Republican electors.

With that in mind Trump invited Michigan legislators to the White House on Friday, hoping that an Oval Office meeting would persuade them to set aside the popular vote favoring Biden by more than 154,000. But the lawmakers issued a statement after the meeting that they would follow the law and “normal process” on electors. Trump was said to be considering extending a similar invitation to lawmakers from Pennsylvania.

Time is running out for Trump and his campaign, as states certify their results one after another showing that Biden won the requisite 270 Electoral College votes to take office.

Brann ruled that Pennsylvania officials can certify election results that currently show Biden winning the state by more than 80,000 votes. He said the Trump campaign presented “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations ... unsupported by evidence.”

“In the United States of America, this cannot justify the disenfranchisement of a single voter, let alone all the voters of its sixth most populated state,” the opinion said. “Our people, laws, and institutions demand more.”

Trump tweeted after the ruling that he couldn’t understand why Biden was forming a Cabinet when the president’s investigators had found “hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes,” a baseless claim for which Trump has supplied no evidence.


The US Senate is gearing up for a rare weekend session as Republicans race to put Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court and cement a conservative majority before election day despite Democratic efforts to stall President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Democrats used time-consuming procedural hurdles to delay the start of Friday’s Senate session until midday, but the party has no realistic chance of stopping Ms Barrett’s advance in the Republican-controlled chamber. Ms Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, is expected to be confirmed on Monday and quickly join the court.

“It’s hard to think of any nominee we’ve had in the past who is any better than this one,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told Fox News late on Thursday.

Ms Barrett, 48, presented herself in public evidence before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a neutral arbiter of cases on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and presidential power, issues soon confronting the court.

At one point she suggested: “It’s not the law of Amy.”  But Ms Barrett’s past writings against abortion and a ruling on the Obama-era health care law show a deeply conservative thinker.

Mr Trump said this week he is hopeful the Supreme Court will undo the health law when the justices take up a challenge on November 10, the week after the election. The fast-track confirmation process is like none other in US history so close to a presidential election.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Friday that the Republican push to seat Ms Barrett was “the most partisan, hypocritical, least legitimate process in the history of the nation”. “We’re not going to have business as usual,” Mr Schumer said as he forced one procedural vote after another.

At the start of Mr Trump’s presidency, Mr McConnell engineered a Senate rules change to allow confirmation by a majority of the 100 senators, rather than the 60-vote threshold traditionally needed to advance high court nominees over objections.

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