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Four Oklahoma tribes are asking a federal court to void gambling compacts between the state of Oklahoma and two other tribes — agreements that the Oklahoma State Supreme Court recently invalidated.

The Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Citizen Potawatomie Nations filed a lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., asking for a declaration that the U.S. Department of Interior violated federal law by allowing the agreements Gov. Kevin Stitt signed with the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouira Tribe to take effect.

“While the Oklahoma Supreme Court has declared those agreements invalid under Oklahoma law, their validity under Federal law must also be addressed to avoid damage to the integrity of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act,” attorneys for the tribes said in a statement. “The Tribes filed this suit to protect IGRA’s established framework and the Tribal operations conducted under it.”

Officials with the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the governor’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment Saturday. The lawsuit was first reported by The Oklahoman.

The chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, Matthew Morgan, said the group supports the tribes’ efforts.

“As we have stated from the beginning, Governor Stitt never had the legal authority to enter into these gaming agreements,” Morgan said in a statement. “It is sad that Governor Stitt has placed the tribal governments in this position.”

Oklahoma’s high court ruled July 21 that Stitt overstepped his authority. The deals would have allowed the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouira Tribe to offer wagering on sporting events and house-banked card and table games.

Republican state Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat and Republican House Speaker Charles McCall filed that lawsuit and are also seeking to invalidate compacts that the Republican governor signed with the Kialegee Tribal Town and Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. Attorneys for the governor filed a brief in state court this past week arguing that their compacts are valid because they do not include sports betting or house-banked games.

The lawsuit “is the latest in a series of efforts by legislators to wrest away the executive authority of the governor to negotiate and enter into compacts with Indian Tribes and improperly vest such powers solely to the legislative in the legislative branch,” according to the brief filed Tuesday.

Treat and McCall allege Stitt ignored state law requiring gambling compacts be approved by the Legislature.

On July 28, a federal judge ruled that Oklahoma’s gambling compacts with the Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickaw nations signed 15 years ago automatically renewed on Jan. 1. Stitt had argued that the compacts had expired.


A federal appeals court on Friday lifted a judge's ruling that has blocked four Arkansas abortion restrictions from taking effect, including a ban on a common second trimester procedure and a fetal remains law that opponents say would effectively require a partner’s consent before a woman could get an abortion.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the 2017 preliminary injunction issued against the restrictions. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights had challenged the measures, suing on behalf of Dr. Frederick Hopkins, a Little Rock abortion provider.

The appeals panel said the case needs to be reconsidered in light of a recent decision on abortion by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The laws U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker blocked include a ban on a procedure known as dilation and evacuation, which abortion rights supporters say it is the safest and most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions. The state calls it barbaric and “dismemberment abortion,” saying it can have emotional consequences for the women who undergo it.

Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge praised the appeals court's ruling.

“Arkansas has taken a strong stance to protect the unborn from inhumane treatment,” Rutledge said in a statement. “As Arkansas’s chief legal officer, I have always advocated for the lives of unborn children and will continue to defend our state’s legal right to protect the unborn."

The 2017 decision also blocked new restrictions on the disposal of fetal tissue collected during abortions. The plaintiffs argued that it could also block access by requiring notification of a third party, such as the woman’s parents or her sexual partner, to determine what happens to the fetal remains.

The other restrictions included one that bans abortions based solely on the fetus’ sex and another that requires physicians performing abortions for patients under 14 to take certain steps to preserve embryonic or fetal tissue and notify police where the minor resides.


A federal appeals court in Washington on Friday revived House Democrats' lawsuit to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to appear before a congressional committee, but left other legal issues unresolved with time growing short in the current Congress.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit voted 7-2 in ruling that the House Judiciary Committee can make its claims in court, reversing the judgment of a three-judge panel that would have ended the court fight.

The matter now returns to the panel for consideration of other legal issues. The current House of Representatives session ends on Jan. 3. That time crunch means “the chances that the Committee hears McGahn’s testimony anytime soon are vanishingly slim," dissenting Judge Thomas Griffith wrote. Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson also dissented.

The Judiciary Committee first subpoenaed McGahn in April 2019 as it examined potential obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump during special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Trump directed McGahn not to appear and the Democratic-led panel filed a federal lawsuit to force McGahn to testify.

A trial judge ruled in November that the president’s close advisers do not have the absolute immunity from testifying to Congress that the administration claimed. Griffith and Henderson formed the majority when the appellate panel said in February that the Constitution forbids federal courts from refereeing this kind of dispute between the other two branches of government.

On Friday, the full court said the panel reached the wrong decision. Lawmakers can ask the courts “for judicial enforcement of congressional subpoenas when necessary," Judge Judith Rogers wrote. Congress needs detailed information about the executive branch for both oversight and impeachment, she wrote.

House lawmakers had sought McGahn’s testimony because he was a vital witness for Mueller, whose report detailed the president’s outrage over the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump’s efforts to curtail it.

In interviews with Mueller’s team, McGahn described being called at home by the president on the night of June 17, 2017, and being directed to call the Justice Department and say Mueller had conflicts of interest and should be removed. McGahn declined the command, deciding he would resign rather than carry it out, the report said.


The day after Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union posted a message to him on its website: “See you in court.”

As president, Trump hasn’t personally squared off against the ACLU from the witness stand, but the broader warning has been borne out. As of this week, the ACLU has filed nearly 400 lawsuits and other legal actions against the Trump administration, some meeting with setbacks but many resulting in important victories.

Among other successes for the ACLU, it prevailed in a U.S. Supreme Court case blocking the administration from placing a citizenship question on the 2020 census. It also spearheaded legal efforts that curtailed the policy of separating many migrant children from their parents.

“The assault on civil liberties and civil rights is greater under this administration than any other in modern history,” said the ACLU’s president, Anthony Romero. “It’s meant we’ve been living with a three-alarm fire in every part of our house.”

Since the day Trump took office, the ACLU — according to a breakdown it provided to The Associated Press — has filed 237 lawsuits against the administration and about 160 other legal actions, including Freedom of Information Act requests, ethics complaints and administrative complaints.

Of the lawsuits, 174 have dealt with immigrant rights, targeting the family separation policy, detention and deportation practices and the administration’s repeated attempts to make it harder to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The other lawsuits address an array of issues high on the ACLU’s agenda: voting rights, LGBT rights, racial justice and others. In one long-running case, the ACLU succeeded in blocking the administration’s policy of barring young immigrant women in government custody from getting abortions.

“Donald Trump has provided a full employment program for ACLU lawyers on all of our issues,” Romero said.

By comparison, the ACLU says it filed 13 lawsuits and other legal actions against President George W. Bush’s administration in his first term, mostly alleging encroachments on civil liberties related to counter-terrorism policies.


The New Mexico Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously upheld the governor’s authority to fine businesses up to $5,000 a day for violating state emergency health orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The court heard arguments from a group of business owners who claimed the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham overstepped its authority in imposing fines higher than $100 citations.

The five-member court ruled without dissent against the business owners who sued. Chief Justice Michael Vigil said the “Legislature has clearly given the governor that authority.”

The court did not make a decision on another claim that the restrictions in response to the pandemic may require government compensation for businesses.

Carter Harrison, an attorney for several business owners, contended that the health order violations could be sanctioned with fines of up to $100 and up to six months in jail.

But Matthew Garcia, a lawyer for the administration, said Lujan Grisham has the authority to impose steep fines.

“What we’re trying to get here is immediate compliance because the only tool we currently have to stem the transmission of COVID-19 is social distancing,” Garcia told the justices.

State officials have issued the $5,000 daily fines to 16 businesses amid a backlash against the public health orders affecting restaurants and other establishments.

State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce condemned the court’s decision and promised to make it an issue in November elections as two appointed Democratic justices defend their seats.

Justice Shannon Bacon is confronting Republican Ned Fuller, a deputy district attorney in San Juan County, while Justice David Thomson is running against Republican former prosecutor Kerry Morris of Albuquerque.

Lujan Grisham was an early adopter of hard-line stay-at-home orders and business restrictions that still prohibit indoor restaurant service, require face masks in public, ban public gatherings of more than four people and suspend classroom attendance at public schools.

Major steps toward reopening the economy have been delayed until at least the end of August amid a July surge in cases in New Mexico and the neighboring states of Arizona and Texas.


A court in the West African nation of Cape Verde has approved the extradition to the United States of a Colombian businessman wanted on suspicion of money laundering on behalf of Venezuela's socialist government, his lawyers said Tuesday.

The court made the decision to extradite Alex Saab on Friday, but his legal team said in a statement it was informed about the decision only on Monday. They said they would appeal.

Saab was arrested in June when his private jet stopped to refuel in the former Portuguese colony on the way to Iran.
Saab was waiting for the court to schedule a hearing at which he could argue against extradition, according to the statement sent by the legal team, which is led by former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon.

The legal team described the extradition order as “alarming” and accused Cape Verdean authorities of denying him his legal rights. The defense lawyers plan to appeal to Cape Verde’s Supreme Court and, if necessary, the Constitutional Court, the statement said.

U.S. officials trying to reignite their campaign to oust Maduro believe Saab holds many secrets about how Venezuelan president, his family and top aides allegedly siphoned off millions of dollars in government contracts at a time of widespread hunger in the oil-rich nation.

Venezuela’s government had protested the arrest of Saab, 48, who it said was on a “humanitarian mission” to buy food and medical supplies. Saab came onto the radar of U.S. authorities a few years ago after amassing a large number of contracts with Maduro’s government.

Federal prosecutors in Miami indicted him and a business partner last year on money laundering charges connected to an alleged bribery scheme that pocketed more than $350 million from a low-income housing project for the Venezuelan government that was never built.


A British woman accused of stabbing her husband to death at their Malaysian resort home entered court Monday for the start of a murder trial that could end with her sentenced to be hanged.

Wearing a mask and handcuffed, Samantha Jones, 51, was escorted by police into the courthouse in Alor Setar in the northern state of Kedah.

She was charged after police found a blood-stained kitchen knife in the couple’s home where John William Jones was found dead on Oct. 18, 2018.

Police have said Jones confessed she stabbed her husband in the chest during a heated argument.

The couple moved to the tropical Langkawi island 11 years ago under Malaysia My Second Home program, which gives foreigners long-staying visas.

A conviction for murder carries a mandatory death sentence by hanging.


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