Georgian wants Congress to decry prosecution of abortions

Lawyer Blog Post 2022/05/12 09:22   Bookmark and Share
A Georgia representative is proposing that Congress condemn attempts to criminally prosecute people who perform abortions, have abortions or experience miscarriages.

Rep. Nikema Willams, an Atlanta Democrat who formerly lobbied for Planned Parenthood in the southeast, is introducing her resolution Thursday, and has already collected 115 co-sponsors, all Democrats, her spokesman said.

The resolution also supports keeping contraceptives and abortion pills available, and using puberty blockers, hormones and other procedures when medically necessary to treat transgender people.

“Someone you know, someone in your family, or someone you love currently relies on or will need these services,” the congresswoman said in a statement.

The move comes after a Democratic effort in the U.S. Senate to enshrine abortion access into federal law fell far short of breaking a filibuster on Wednesday. Williams’ effort and the Senate debate follow a leaked draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion suggesting that justices will overturn the 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision that created a nationwide right to abortion, leaving states to decide such questions.

The resolution would not have the force of law, but would help Democrats highlight what they see as Republican overreach. Some women have already been prosecuted for fetal harm due to alcohol and drug use during pregnancy. Louisiana lawmakers, despite opposition from anti-abortion groups who say it goes too far, are debating a bill that would make women who get abortions subject to prosecution for murder. And several states recently banned certain medical treatments for transgender youth.
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California Democratic supremacy tested by crime, inflation

Legal Interview 2022/05/09 09:22   Bookmark and Share
Democrats in many parts of the country are facing a potentially grim political year, but in California no one is talking about the liberal stronghold changing direction.

California’s largely irrelevant Republican Party could field only little-known candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, and the GOP appears to have only isolated chances for upsets even under what should be favorable conditions for the party.

Mail ballots are already going out for the June 7 primary election that will set the stage for November runoffs. The election is taking place within a cauldron of dicey political issues: the possible repeal of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, widespread frustration with a homelessness crisis and with residents suffering pocketbook stress from galloping inflation and soaring home costs — the state’s median price hit a record $849,080 in March.

President Joe Biden’s popularity has sagged — even among some of his fellow Democrats — and the party in the White House typically loses congressional seats in midterm elections. California Democrats showed up in historic numbers in 2020 to defeat then-President Donald Trump in landslide, but turnout next month is expected to tumble with little drama at the top of the ticket: Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, both Democrats, face only token opposition.

But none of that adds up to a threat to the state’s Democratic supremacy. Republicans haven’t won a statewide election in California since 2006, and Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1 statewide. Democrats are expected to maintain their supermajorities in the Legislature.
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Tennessee, South Carolina extend health care for new moms

Legal Business 2022/05/06 12:17   Bookmark and Share
Tennessee and South Carolina are joining five other states in extending health care coverage to women with low-to-modest incomes for a full year after childbirth, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced on Friday.

The expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program comes as the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn women’s constitutional right to abortion. That could make the coverage more urgently needed than ever if more women, especially older women or those in poorer health, end up carrying pregnancies to term. In Tennessee, a trigger law would outlaw abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade were overturned. South Carolina has a law banning abortions after six weeks.

States are currently required to provide 60 days of coverage after childbirth, but medical experts say women can die from pregnancy-related conditions up to a year after giving birth and that most pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. Maternal mortality is particularly serious for Black women, whose pregnancy-related death rate is three times that of white women.

Asked about the effect of an abortion ban on Tennessee women at a Thursday news conference, Republican Gov. Bill Lee, who opposes abortion, pointed to the extension.

“It’s important that we recognize that women in crisis need support and assistance through this process. For example, that’s why we’ve expanded our postpartum coverage for women in TennCare,” Lee said.

TennCare is Tennessee’s version of Medicaid, the federal-state program covering about one in five Americans, from many newborns, to low-income adults and frail nursing home residents. The program pays for about four out of every 10 births in the United States.

About 700 U.S. women die annually because of pregnancy-related problems, a little over half after the woman has given birth, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 12% of maternal deaths occur 43 to 365 days after delivery.

The expanded coverage is made possible by a provision in the COVID-19 relief bill that will expire after five years unless Congress reapproves it or makes it permanent.
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Supreme Court rules against Boston in Christian flag case

Lawyer Blog Post 2022/05/02 14:33   Bookmark and Share
A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that Boston violated the free speech rights of a conservative activist when it refused his request to fly a Christian flag on a flagpole outside City Hall.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that the city discriminated against the activist, Harold Shurtleff, because of his “religious viewpoint,” even though it had routinely approved applications for the use of one of the three flagpoles outside City Hall that fly the U.S., Massachusetts and Boston flags.

Occasionally, the city takes down its own pennant and temporarily hoists another flag.

Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution wanted to fly a white banner with a red cross on a blue background in the upper left corner, called the Christian flag, to mark Constitution Day, Sept. 17, in 2017.

The city had approved 284 consecutive applications to fly flags, usually those of other nations, before it rejected Shurtleff’s because it was a Christian flag. The city said he could fly a different banner, but Shurtleff refused, and lower courts upheld the city’s decision.

But the high court said the lower courts and the city were wrong. The case hinged on whether the flag-flying is an act of the government, in which case Boston can do whatever it wants, or private parties like Shurtleff, Breyer wrote.

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Groups sue over conditions in S. Carolina’s juvenile lockups

Legal Insight 2022/04/27 17:14   Bookmark and Share
Several civil rights groups are suing South Carolina over conditions at its juvenile lockups, alleging that children in state custody are subject to violence and isolation while deprived of educational or rehabilitative programs.

The lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday comes less than two weeks after officials at the state Department of Juvenile Justice agreed to make changes at its main detention center following a federal investigation that found the state was violating the civil rights of youths housed there.

But that agreement doesn’t go far enough because it only addresses issues at the Broad River Road Complex in Columbia, the groups said in their complaint, arguing that the Department of Juvenile Justice also needs to fix conditions at four other facilities across the state.

The American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, the NAACP Office of General Counsel and two law firms filed the lawsuit on behalf of the state’s NAACP conference, the criminal justice reform organization Justice 360, and Disability Rights South Carolina.

Echoing findings by federal and state investigators in recent years, the complaint describes routine youth-on-youth violence and violence by staff against the youths that agency employees often ignore or enable. Children who commit minor infractions are also placed in isolation, spending up to 23 hours a day in small cells without natural light.

One officer told a 16-year-old who was assaulted by three other children earlier this year to stay away from facility cameras so he would not be seen bleeding, the complaint alleges. Another child was beaten and choked by five members of the agency’s police force while handcuffed and shackled over accusations of robbing staff; he was then hogtied and blocked from filing a grievance, according to the complaint.

A lack of staff means children are often detained past the legal limit of 45 days at evaluation centers across the state, the groups said. At the main pre-trial detention center in Columbia, some youths sleep in plastic makeshift “boat beds” because of a lack of bed space. Youths live in unsanitary conditions, with human waste on the floors and cockroaches in the food, the complaint states.

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Arizona judge nixes suit that wants Trump backers off ballot

Legal Business 2022/04/23 14:09   Bookmark and Share
A judge in Phoenix has dismissed lawsuits seeking to disqualify three Republican lawmakers from this year’s ballot because they participated in or helped organize the Jan. 6, 2021, rally in Washington that led to an unprecedented attack on Congress.

The decision from Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury made public Friday means Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs and state Rep. Mark Finchem remain on the primary ballot barring a reversal by the state Supreme Court. Gosar and Biggs are seeking reelection and Finchem is running for Secretary of State, Arizona’s chief election officer.

The lawsuits filed on behalf of a handful of Arizona voters alleged that Gosar, Biggs and Finchem can’t hold office because they participated in an insurrection. They cited a section of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. constitution enacted after the Civil War.

None of the lawmakers are accused of participating in the actual attack on Congress that was intended to stop certification of President Joe Biden’s win.

Coury agreed with the lawmakers’ attorneys who said Congress created no enforcement mechanism for the 14th Amendment, barring a criminal conviction. He noted that Congress proposed such a law in the wake of the attack on Congress but it is not been enacted.
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