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•  National News - Legal News


Abortion rights supporters secured another win Thursday as voters in Montana rejected a ballot measure that would have forced medical workers to intercede in the rare case of a baby born after an attempted abortion.

The result caps a string of ballot defeats, months after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade galvanized abortion-rights voters.

Michigan, California and Vermont voted to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions, and Kentucky voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment in a tally that echoed a similar August vote in Kansas.

Abortion rights groups said the outcomes show that voters across the political spectrum support access to abortion, even after a dozen Republican-governed states legislatures adopted near-total bans in the wake of the Roe decision. Anti-abortion groups, on the other hand, say they were outspent in the state races and point out anti-abortion candidate victories.

Like voters nationwide, only about 1 in 10 voters in California, Michigan, Montana Kentucky or Vermont said abortion should generally be illegal in all cases, according to AP VoteCast.

The Montana ballot measure would have raised the prospect of criminal charges carrying up to 20 years in prison for health-care providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life” of an infant born alive, including in the rare case of a birth after an abortion.

Doctors and other opponents argued the law could keep parents of babies born with incurable diseases from spending peaceful moments with their infants if doctors were forced to attempt treatment.



New Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson has issued her first Supreme Court opinion, a short dissent Monday in support of a death row inmate from Ohio.

Jackson wrote that she would have thrown out lower court rulings in the case of inmate Davel Chinn, whose lawyers argued that the state suppressed evidence that might have altered the outcome of his trial.

Jackson, in a two-page opinion, wrote that she would have ordered a new look at Chinn’s case “because his life is on the line and given the substantial likelihood that the suppressed records would have changed the outcome at trial.”

The evidence at issue indicated that a key witness against Chinn has an intellectual disability that might have affected his memory and ability to testify accurately, she wrote.

Prosecutors are required to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense. In this case, lower courts determined that the outcome would not have been affected if the witness’ records had been provided to Chinn’s lawyers.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only other member of the court to join Jackson’s opinion. The two justices also were allies in dissent Monday in Sotomayor’s opinion that there was serious prosecutorial misconduct in the trial of a Louisiana man who was convicted of sex trafficking.

Jackson joined the high court on June 30, following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, her onetime boss.

The court has yet to decide any of the cases argued in October or the first few days of this month. Jackson almost certainly will be writing a majority opinion in one of those cases.



Lawmakers in the border state of Tamaulipas voted Wednesday night to legalize same-sex marriages, becoming the last of Mexico’s 32 states to authorize such unions.

The measure to amend the state’s Civil Code passed with 23 votes in favor, 12 against and two abstentions, setting off cheers of “Yes, we can!” from supporters of the change.

The session took place as groups both for and against the measure chanted and shouted from the balcony, and legislators eventually moved to another room to finish their debate and vote.

The president of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, Arturo Zaldívar, welcomed the vote. “The whole country shines with a huge rainbow. Live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love,” he said on Twitter.

A day earlier, lawmakers in the southern state of Guerrero approved similar legislation allowing same-sex marriages.

In 2015, the Supreme Court declared state laws preventing same-sex marriage unconstitutional, but some states took several years to adopt laws conforming with the ruling.



The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal seeking to give people born in American Samoa U.S. citizenship.

In leaving in place an appeals court decision, the court also passed up an invitation to overturn a series of decisions dating back to 1901 known as the Insular Cases, replete with racist and anti-foreign rhetoric. Justice Neil Gorsuch had called for the cases to be overturned in April.

But the justices refused to take up an appeal from people born in American Samoa, and living in Utah, who argued that a federal law declaring that they are “nationals, but not citizens, of the United States at birth” is unconstitutional.

A trial judge in Utah ruled in their favor, but the federal appeals court in Denver said Congress, not courts, should decide the citizenship issue. The appeals court also noted that American Samoa’s elected leaders opposed the lawsuit for fear that it might disrupt their cultural traditions.

American Samoa is the only unincorporated territory of the United States where the inhabitants are not American citizens at birth.

Instead, those born in the cluster of islands some 2,600 miles (4,184 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii are granted “U.S. national” status, meaning they can’t vote for U.S. president, run for office outside American Samoa or apply for certain jobs. The only federal election they can cast a vote in is the race for American Samoa’s nonvoting U.S. House seat.

The Insular Cases, which arose following the Spanish-American War, dealt with the administration of overseas territories.

In their conclusion that residents of territories had some, but not all, rights under the Constitution, justices wrote in stark racial and xenophobic terms. Citizenship could not be automatically given to “those absolutely unfit to receive it,” one justice wrote.

That history prompted Gorsuch to comment in a case involving benefits denied to people who live in Puerto Rico, decided in April. He wrote that the Insular Cases were wrongly decided because they deprived residents of U.S. territories of some constitutional rights.



Sport’s highest court has been asked to judge a case that aims to remove Ecuador from the World Cup by no later than Nov. 10 — just 10 days before the team should face host Qatar in the opening game.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it registered appeals by the Chilean and Peruvian soccer federations against a FIFA ruling this month that Ecuador defender Byron Castillo was in fact eligible to play in the eight qualifying games he was selected for.

CAS gave no timetable for appointing judges and organizing a hearing, though said both parties appealing asked for a final award by Nov. 10.

Chile officials claim to have documents proving Castillo is actually Colombian and that Ecuador should forfeit all eight games he played in as 3-0 losses.

That legal argument was dismissed by FIFA’s disciplinary committee in June and upheld by FIFA appeal judges two weeks ago.

Ecuador placed fourth in the South American qualifying group in March and claimed a direct World Cup entry. Days later it was drawn into Group A with Qatar – playing the host on Nov. 20 in Doha -- Netherlands and Senegal.

If the qualifying games were forfeited, the revised points totals would lift Chile to fourth from seventh.

Peru placed fifth and has asked CAS to get Ecuador’s entry as the next highest placed South American team. Peru already lost an intercontinental playoff to Australia in June.



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