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The Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced the nomination of a 38-year-old judge and ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to serve on a federal appeals court, despite Democrats’ objections that he’s inexperienced and biased against the Obama health care law.

The panel's 12-10, party-line vote Thursday sets the stage for Justin Walker’s likely confirmation in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Walker, a protege of both McConnell and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, told senators last month that he will have an open mind on the Affordable Care Act, adding that he was writing as an academic and commentator when he criticized as “indefensible” a Supreme Court ruling upholding the law.

Walker, who was confirmed as a federal judge last fall, declined a request by Senate Democrats to recuse himself on matters related to the health care law if he’s confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court is widely considered the second-most powerful in the nation and frequently serves as a launching pad for a seat on the Supreme Court. Four current justices, including Kavanaugh, served on the D.C. circuit.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, called Walker's nomination a travesty and an affront to other, more qualified conservative judges.



Reyna Montoya’s hands get sweaty and her throat feels like it’s closing just talking about the anxiety of every Monday this spring.

The immigrant rights activist who's shielded from deportation and allowed to legally work in the U.S. under an Obama-era program sets a 6 a.m. alarm so she’s alert when the latest Supreme Court decision may be posted online about an hour later.

Montoya, like 650,000 others enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, is waiting for the justices to release their decision on President Donald Trump’s attempt to end the protections. The high court heard arguments last fall and typically releases rulings on Mondays in the spring. But it's unclear exactly when an answer will come because the court sometimes issues decisions on other days as work wraps up for the summer.

“My gut hurts," said Montoya, 29, who is originally from Mexico but has grown up in the Phoenix area. “It’s this constant level of anxiety.”

Montoya’s advocacy group, Aliento, provides arts and healing workshops for other DACA recipients who struggle with not knowing their fate. She openly talks about going to therapy to quell her anxiety. The toll of the unknown — of who will take care of her financial assets, her mortgage — weighs heavy.

“When you actually pause and think about all the things you need to think about, it’s very daunting,” said Montoya, who sometimes feels guilty because others also have children to worry about.

Under intense pressure from young activists, then-President Barack Obama announced DACA in 2012. Commonly known as “Dreamers" after the failed legislation that would have provided a path to citizenship, these immigrants have been in the U.S. since they were children. Recipients went through extensive background screening to get two-year work permits and protection from deportation.


It’s the time of the year when Supreme Court justices can get testy. They might have to find a new way to show it. The court’s most fought-over decisions in its most consequential cases often come in June, with dueling majority and dissenting opinions.

But when a justice is truly steamed to be on a decision’s losing side, the strongest form of protest is reading a summary of the dissent aloud in court. Dissenting justices exercise what a pair of scholars call the “nuclear option” just a handful of times a year, but when they do, they signal that behind the scenes, there’s frustration and even anger.

The coronavirus pandemic has kept the justices from their courtroom since March and forced them to change their ways in many respects. Now, in their season of weighty decisions, instead of the drama that can accompany the announcement of a majority decision and its biting dissent, the court’s opinions are being posted online without an opportunity for the justices to be heard.

University of Maryland, Baltimore County political science professor William Blake, who co-authored the article calling oral dissents the nuclear option, says a June without them would be a “missed opportunity.” They are “a chance to see the justices as exhibiting emotions,” not just the logic of their opinions, he said.

The act of reading can also be a signal to Congress. In a 2007 dissent Ginsburg read from the bench, she called on lawmakers to overturn her colleagues’ decision in a case about equal pay for women. Congress did, passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Ginsburg’s oral dissent underscored her belief that urgent action was needed, even if it wasn’t the only reason lawmakers acted.

University of Minnesota professor Timothy Johnson, who has written about oral dissents, says justices also reach the public through them. “If you can have a vociferous enough dissent from the bench you’re going to get the nightly news to talk about it,” he said.




The Ohio Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments Wednesday in a case filed by news media groups seeking school records about the man who gunned down nine people in Dayton last August.

The media groups, including The Associated Press, argue the student records could provide information on whether authorities properly handled early warning signs from slain gunman Connor Betts.

The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Local Schools district argues Betts’ records are protected by state and federal privacy laws. Ohio GOP Attorney General Dave Yost will argue they should be released.

Betts was killed by police 32 seconds after he opened fire Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton’s crowded Oregon District entertainment area. Armed with an AR-15-style gun with an extended ammunition magazine, Betts killed nine, including his sister, and injured dozens more.

The Supreme Court took the case after an appeals court ruled in favor of the district and its denial of access to Betts’ high school files.



The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case seeking to purge about 129,000 voter registrations from the rolls ahead of the November presidential election after previously deadlocking on whether to get involved.

Democrats oppose the voter purge, arguing it is intended to make it more difficult for their voters to cast ballots. Conservatives who brought the lawsuit argue that the integrity of the vote is at stake, saying that when records indicate voters may have moved, their registrations should be deactivated.

The case is closely watched in battleground Wisconsin, a state President Donald Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. Winning Wisconsin is a key part of the strategy for both Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

he voter purge case was brought on behalf of three voters by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative law firm. It won in Ozaukee County, with a judge ordering in January that the purge take place immediately. The Supreme Court deadlocked then when asked to immediately take the case. In February, a state appeals court reversed the lower court’s ruling, stopped the purge and dismissed the case.

That set up the latest request made in March for the Supreme Court to hear the case, which it agreed to do on Monday. It is likely to hear arguments this summer or early fall and could issue a ruling before the November election.


The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the oversight board established by Congress to help Puerto Rico out of a devastating financial crisis that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak, recent earthquakes and damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017. The justices reversed a lower court ruling that threatened to throw the island's recovery efforts into chaos.

In a unanimous holding, the court will allow the oversight board's work to pull the island out of the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history to proceed. At one point, Puerto Rico faced more than $100 billion in debt and unfunded pension obligations.

The case stemmed from a constitutional challenge to the oversight board's composition led by hedge funds that invested in Puerto Rican bonds. A lower court ruled last year that board members were appointed in violation of the Constitution because they were not confirmed by the Senate.

The president selects the board's seven voting members. They and one other non-voting member chosen by Puerto Rico's governor approve budgets and fiscal plans drawn up by the island's government. The board also handles bankruptcy-like cases that allow the island to restructure its debts.


A court in Milan has ordered the appointment of a judicial administrator to oversee Uber Italy for one year after determining the company’s food delivery service exploited workers, according to Italian news reports.

The decision on Friday came amid an ongoing investigation into Uber’s activities in Italy.

Italian news agency ANSA quoted the court saying that Uber’s treatment of delivery workers was similar to the “caporalato” system used by organized crime groups to pay desperate migrants a pittance to do farm or construction work off the books.

In a statement carried by ANSA, Uber said it condemned “every form of capolarato” and complies with Italian laws. Uber said it would “continue working to be a true, long-term partner in Italy.”

Uber has faced opposition before in Italy. The company is only allowed to offer its higher-end Uber Black service after Italy’s taxi lobby protested the ride-sharing service in 2017.

The Italian General Confederation of Labor vowed to stand by the food delivery riders and said the issue of inadequate pay showed “we are in the presence of a digital caporalato.”

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