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Niger’s highest court lifted the immunity of the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, nearly a year after he was overthrown by mutinous soldiers, his lawyer said Friday, opening the door for the military junta to prosecute him for alleged high treason.

Bazoum and his family have been under house arrest since a military coup that overthrew his rule last summer. The junta authorities said they planned to prosecute him for “high treason” and for undermining national security, and earlier this year initiated legal proceedings to lift his immunity in a newly created State Court, which became the country’s highest judicial authority.

Before Bazoum was forcibly removed from power, Niger was the West’s last major security partner in the Sahel, the vast region south of the Sahara Desert that has become a hot spot for violent extremism.

But the military junta ordered the withdrawal of Western troops from the country and turned to the Russian mercenary group Wagner for security assistance. U.S. forces are poised to leave by the middle of September, the Pentagon said earlier this month.

The proceedings before the State Court have been marred by serious irregularities, including violations of Bazoum’s rights to present evidence in his defense, to communicate with his legal counsel, and to be heard before an independent court, according to Human Rights Watch, a leading rights group.

Bazoum’s lawyer, Reed Brody, criticized the ruling as a “mockery” of the rule of law in Niger. “We never even got to speak to our client,” Brody said. “This is a travesty of justice.”

Bazoum’s lawyers have been unable to communicate with him since last October and have had restricted access to case material, according to HRW.

Late last year, the highest court of West African regional bloc ECOWAS ruled that Bazoum and his family were arbitrarily detained and called for him to be restored to office.


The Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously preserved access to a medication that was used in nearly two-thirds of all abortions in the U.S. last year, in the court’s first abortion decision since conservative justices overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago.

The nine justices ruled that abortion opponents lacked the legal right to sue over the federal Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the medication, mifepristone, and the FDA’s subsequent actions to ease access to it. The case had threatened to restrict access to mifepristone across the country, including in states where abortion remains legal.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was part of the majority to overturn Roe, wrote for the court on Thursday that “federal courts are the wrong forum for addressing the plaintiffs’ concerns about FDA’s actions.”

The decision could lessen the intensity of the abortion issue in the November elections, with Democrats already energized and voting against restrictions on reproductive rights. But the high court is separately considering another abortion case, about whether a federal law on emergency treatment at hospitals overrides state abortion bans in rare emergency cases in which a pregnant patient’s health is at serious risk.

More than 6 million people have used mifepristone since 2000. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone and primes the uterus to respond to the contraction-causing effect of a second drug, misoprostol. The two-drug regimen has been used to end a pregnancy through 10 weeks gestation.

Health care providers have said that if mifepristone is no longer available or is too hard to obtain, they would switch to using only misoprostol, which is somewhat less effective in ending pregnancies.

President Joe Biden’s administration and drug manufacturers had warned that siding with abortion opponents in this case could undermine the FDA’s drug approval process beyond the abortion context by inviting judges to second-guess the agency’s scientific judgments. The Democratic administration and New York-based Danco Laboratories, which makes mifepristone, argued that the drug is among the safest the FDA has ever approved.

The decision “safeguards access to a drug that has decades of safe and effective use,” Danco spokeswoman Abigail Long said in a statement.

The plaintiffs in the mifepristone case, anti-abortion doctors and their organizations, argued in court papers that the FDA’s decisions in 2016 and 2021 to relax restrictions on getting the drug were unreasonable and “jeopardize women’s health across the nation.”

Kavanaugh acknowledged what he described as the opponents’ “sincere legal, moral, ideological, and policy objections to elective abortion and to FDA’s relaxed regulation of mifepristone.”

Federal laws already protect doctors from having to perform abortions, or give any other treatment that goes against their beliefs, Kavanaugh wrote. “The plaintiffs have not identified any instances where a doctor was required, notwithstanding conscience objections, to perform an abortion or to provide other abortion-related treatment that violated the doctor’s conscience since mifepristone’s 2000 approval,” he wrote.

In the end, Kavanaugh wrote, the anti-abortion doctors went to the wrong forum and should instead direct their energies to persuading lawmakers and regulators to make changes.

Those comments pointed to the stakes of the 2024 election and the possibility that an FDA commissioner appointed by Republican Donald Trump, if he wins the White House, could consider tightening access to mifepristone.

The mifepristone case began five months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Abortion opponents initially won a sweeping ruling nearly a year ago from U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump nominee in Texas, which would have revoked the drug’s approval entirely. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals left intact the FDA’s initial approval of mifepristone. But it would reverse changes regulators made in 2016 and 2021 that eased some conditions for administering the drug.

The Supreme Court put the appeals court’s modified ruling on hold, then agreed to hear the case, though Justices Samuel Alito, the author of the decision overturning Roe, and Clarence Thomas would have allowed some restrictions to take effect while the case proceeded. But they, too, joined the court’s opinion Thursday.


The Supreme Court is headed into its final few weeks with nearly half of the cases heard this year still undecided, including ones that could reshape the law on everything from guns to abortion to social media. The justices are also still weighing whether former President Donald Trump is immune from criminal prosecution in the election interference case against him, more than a month after hearing arguments.

The court heard 61 cases this term, and 29 remain unresolved, with some decisions expected Thursday and Friday.

Here’s a look at some of the major undecided cases:

Presidential immunity

Donald Trump is arguing that former presidents are immune from prosecution for official acts they took in office and that the indictment he faces on charges of election interference must be dismissed.

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that former presidents can’t be sued in civil cases for what they did in office, but it has never weighed in on criminal immunity. The timing of the decision may be as important as the outcome. Trump’s trial in Washington, D.C., may not take place before the November election, even if the court rules he is not immune.

A former Pennsylvania police officer is challenging the validity of obstruction charges brought against hundreds of people who took part in the violent assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump faces the same charge of obstructing an official proceeding.

The issue is whether a law meant to discourage tampering with documents sought in investigations can be used against the Capitol rioters.

Abortion pill

Abortion opponents are trying to make it harder for pregnant women to obtain medication abortions. They want the Supreme Court to roll back changes made by the FDA that have made it easier to obtain mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in nearly two-thirds of abortions in the United States last year. Those include eliminating the need for in-person visits and allowing the drug to be mailed.

Most Republican-led states have severely restricted or banned abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. The high court’s decision in this case will affect abortion even in states where it remains legal.
Emergency abortion

There’s a second abortion case on the docket this year: whether doctors can provide that medical procedure in emergencies in states that banned abortion after the court overturned Roe v. Wade.

In a case out of Idaho, the Biden administration says abortions must be allowed in emergencies where a woman’s health is at serious risk.

The state argues that its strict abortion ban does allow abortions to save a woman’s life, and doesn’t need to expand exceptions for health risks.

Guns

The justices are weighing whether to uphold a federal law that seeks to protect domestic violence victims by keeping guns away from the people alleged to have abused them. An appeals court struck down a law that prohibits people under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms. That court found that the law violated the 2nd Amendment right to “keep and bear arms” following the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling that expanded gun rights and changed how courts are supposed to evaluate gun restrictions.

Homelessness

The most significant Supreme Court case in decades on homelessness centers on whether people can be banned from sleeping outdoors when shelter space is lacking.

A San Francisco-based appeals court decision said that amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Leaders from California and across the West say that the ruling makes it harder for them to regulate homeless encampments encroaching on sidewalks and other public places.

Advocates say it would criminalize homelessness just as rising costs have pushed the number of people without a permanent place to live to record levels.
Bump stocks

The Trump administration banned bump stocks, a gun accessory that allows rapid fire like a machine gun, after they were used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The ban is being challenged by a Texas gun shop owner who says the Justice Department was wrong to reverse course and declare them illegal machine guns after the 2017 Las Vegas massacre. The Biden administration argues banning them after the shooting that left 60 people dead was the right call.

Chevron

The justices could overturn a 40-year-old decision that has been cited thousands of times in federal court cases and used to uphold regulations on the environment, public health, workplace safety and consumer protections. The decision colloquially known as Chevron calls on judges to defer to federal regulators when the words of a statute are not crystal clear. The decision has long been targeted by conservative and business interests who say Chevron robs judges of their authority and gives too much power to regulators.

Air pollution

Republican-led, energy-producing states and the steel industry want the court to put the Environmental Protection Agency’s air pollution-fighting “good neighbor” plan on hold while legal challenges continue. The plan aims to protect downwind states that receive unwanted air pollution from other states.

SEC

Another important regulatory case could strip the SEC of a major tool in fighting securities fraud and have far-reaching effects on other regulatory agencies. The court is being asked to rule that people facing civil fraud complaints have the right to a jury trial in federal court.


Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is heard questioning whether compromise between the left and right is possible in a conversation posted on social media. The conservative justice is also heard agreeing with a woman who says the United States should return “to a place of godliness.”

The audio was posted Monday on X by liberal filmmaker Lauren Windsor. She said it was recorded at the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner last week.

“One side or the other is going to win,” Alito said. “There can be a way of working, a way of living together peacefully, but it’s difficult, you know, because there are differences on fundamental things that really can’t be compromised.”

Windsor then told Alito: “I think that the solution really is like winning the moral argument. Like, people in this country who believe in God have got to keep fighting for that, to return our country to a place of godliness.”

“I agree with you,” Alito responded.

Windsor also spoke with Chief Justice John Roberts, who rejected a similar argument. When Windsor suggested the court should lead the nation on a “Christian” path, Roberts responded, “I don’t know if that’s true.”

The court declined to comment on the recordings. Alito has rejected calls to step aside from Supreme Court cases involving former President Donald Trump and Jan. 6 defendants after stories emerged about controversial flags that flew above his homes.

In letters to members of Congress, Alito said his wife, Martha-Ann, was responsible for flying both an upside-down flag over their home in 2021 and an “Appeal to Heaven” flag at their New Jersey beach house last year. Both flags were like those carried by rioters who violently stormed the Capitol in January 2021 while echoing Trump’s false claims of election fraud.

Martha-Ann Alito spoke to Windsor about her flags on another recording made at the dinner, according to an additional edited recording the filmmaker posted online. She said she wanted to fly a religious flag because “I have to look across the lagoon at the Pride flag for the next month,” an apparent reference to celebratory LGBTQ+ displays during Pride month in June.


Donald Trump’s lawyers are asking a New York judge to lift the gag order that barred the former president from commenting about witnesses, jurors and others tied to the criminal case that led to his conviction for falsifying records to cover up a potential sex scandal.

In a letter Tuesday, Trump lawyers Todd Blanche and Emil Bove asked Judge Juan M. Merchan to end the gag order, arguing there is nothing to justify “continued restrictions on the First Amendment rights of President Trump” now that the trial is over.

Among other reasons, the lawyers said Trump is entitled to “unrestrained campaign advocacy” in light of President Joe Biden’s public comments about the verdict last Friday, and continued public criticism of him by his ex-lawyer Michael Cohen and porn actor Stormy Daniels, both key prosecution witnesses.

Trump’s lawyers also contend the gag order must go away so he’s free to fully address the case and his conviction with the first presidential debate scheduled for June 27.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment.

Merchan issued Trump’s gag order on March 26, a few weeks before the start of the trial, after prosecutors raised concerns about the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s propensity to attack people involved in his cases.

Merchan later expanded it to prohibit comments about his own family after Trump made social media posts attacking the judge’s daughter, a Democratic political consultant. Comments about Merchan and District Attorney Alvin Bragg are allowed, but the gag order bars statements about court staff and members of Bragg’s prosecution team.

Trump was convicted Thursday of 34 counts of falsifying business records arising from what prosecutors said was an attempt to cover up a hush money payment to Daniels just before the 2016 election. She claims she had a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier, which he denies. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 11.

Prosecutors had said they wanted the gag order to “protect the integrity of this criminal proceeding and avoid prejudice to the jury.” In the order, Merchan noted prosecutors had sought the restrictions “for the duration of the trial.” He did not specify when they would be lifted.

Blanche told the Associated Press last Friday that it was his understanding the gag order would expire when the trial ended and that he would seek clarity from Merchan, which he did on Tuesday.


A suspect who was being held in a California jail on charges connected to a 2022 mass shooting in the state capital died in his cell Saturday, according to police and his attorney.

The 29-year-old male inmate died while in custody at the Sacramento County Main Jail around 2:15 a.m., the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted on social media.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported public defender Norman Dawson identified the man as Smiley Martin, his client who was awaiting trial on three felony charges stemming from an April 3, 2022, shooting in Sacramento that killed six people and wounded 12 others, including two of the alleged shooters.

Jail deputies were conducting a cell check and found an unresponsive inmate. The deputies and then fire department personnel attempted life-saving procedures but he was pronounced dead, the sheriff’s office said.

The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office will determine the cause of death and release the man’s name after notification of his next of kin, according to the sheriff’s office, which said it will investigate.

Martin was “fighting to defend his innocence in the preliminary hearing process” at the time of his death, Dawson said in a written statement. More than 100 shots were fired in rapid-fire succession in a downtown entertainment area near the state Capitol building during the shooting around 2 a.m.

Two groups of men connected to gangs began shooting as bars and clubs emptied out at closing time, sending hundreds of people desperately trying to reach safety. At least five gunmen were involved, police said.

Martin, who was 27 at the time, was arrested while hospitalized with gunshot wounds. He was charged with murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession and transport of a machine gun.

Authorities also arrested his brother, Dandrae Martin, 26 at the time, as a “related suspect” on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and being a convict carrying a loaded gun. He suffered minor wounds.


Hunter Biden’s daughter Naomi testified Friday in his federal gun trial about visiting her father while he was at a California rehab center, telling jurors that he seemed to be improving in the weeks before he bought the revolver in 2018.

“I hadn’t seen my dad in a long time, and I knew he was in a rehab facility there. He reached out,” she told jurors softly, explaining that they met at a coffee shop, along with his “sober coach.” As she was dismissed from the stand, she paused to hug her dad before leaving the courtroom.

The defense began calling witnesses shortly after federal prosecutors wrapped up their case. Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell started by calling another gun store clerk who was there when the gun was purchased, raising questions about what he saw as inconsistencies on the form.

He also questioned the owner of the shop who allowed the sale to go through using Hunter’s passport, though it did not include an address as required. Then he called Hunter’s daughter. In October 2018, the month Hunter Biden bought the gun, Naomi traveled from Washington to New York in her father’s truck to move her boyfriend’s belongings. Hunter drove Joe Biden’s Cadillac to New York later that month to retrieve his truck, leaving the Cadillac with Naomi. She told jurors she didn’t see any drug paraphernalia or evidence of drug use.

When court broke for lunch, and as Hunter Biden prepared to leave, he motioned to the first row that was full of his family members, including first lady Jill Biden, who traveled back from France for the proceedings. The first lady took Hunter’s hand and held it until they got to the door.

Jurors were sent home for the afternoon after the defense had no more witnesses, and Lowell said he was weighing who else to call, though previously he said the president’s brother James would take the stand, and he was in court. The trial will resume Monday.

The week’s proceedings have been largely dedicated to highlighting the seriousness of Hunter Biden’s drug problem through highly personal testimony, all in an effort by prosecutors to prove that the president’s son lied on a mandatory gun-purchase form when he said he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Jurors heard earlier in the week from Hunter Biden’s ex-wife and a former girlfriend who testified about his habitual crack use and their failed efforts to help him get clean. They saw images of the president’s son bare-chested and disheveled in a filthy room, and half-naked holding crack pipes. And they watched video of his crack cocaine weighed on a scale.

Prosecutors say the evidence is necessary to prove that Hunter, 54, was in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun and therefore lied when he checked “no” on the form that asked whether he was “an unlawful user of, or addicted to” drugs.

Lowell has argued Hunter did not think of himself as an “addict” when he bought the gun and did not intend to deceive anyone.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden worked to walk the line between president and father, telling ABC in an interview that he would accept the jury’s verdict and ruling out a pardon for his son. Earlier this week, he issued a statement saying: “I am the President, but I am also a Dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today.”

Biden is in France this week for D-Day anniversary events. Jill Biden, who attended court most of the week, will return to France for a state dinner. Hunter Biden has been charged with three felonies: lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on the application by saying he was not a drug user and illegally having the gun for 11 days.

He has pleaded not guilty. He had hoped to resolve the gun case and another separate tax case in California with a plea deal last year, the result of a yearslong investigation into his business dealings. The deal had him pleading guilty to lower-level charges that would have avoided the spectacle of a trial so close to the 2024 election. It fell apart after Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was appointed by Donald Trump, questioned unusual aspects of the proposed agreement, and the lawyers couldn’t resolve them.

Hunter Biden said he got charged because the Justice Department bowed to pressure from Republicans who argued the Democratic president’s son was getting special treatment, and who have escalated their attacks on the criminal justice system since Donald Trump’s recent conviction in New York City in a hush money case.

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