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A top Kansas government attorney argued Monday that congressional redistricting is naturally political and that the Kansas Supreme Court shouldn’t try to decide when partisanship goes too far, only to be chastised by one of the justices for making a “boys will be boys” argument.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in the state’s appeal of a lower court ruling that represented the first time that a Kansas court declared that partisan gerrymandering violates the state constitution. The lower court ruling struck down a Republican congressional redistricting law that would make it harder for the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation to win reelection this year. The GOP-controlled Legislature enacted it over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto.

Federal judges — not the Kansas courts — have typically reviewed congressional boundaries, but the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 2019 that complaints about partisan gerrymandering are political issues and not for the federal courts to resolve.

Kansas Solicitor General Brant Laue argued that Kansas’ top court should take the same position. The Kansas Constitution mentions only legislative redistricting and does not contain any specific provisions prohibiting gerrymandering.

“Congressional redistricting is political by design,” Laue said. “The Legislature, and not the state judiciary, is designed and equipped to make the political determinations that cannot be avoided.”

The Supreme Court did not say when it would rule, though both sides are hoping it will be within days. Also, the Legislature is set to reconvene next week for a day or two of work if the justices reject the new congressional map or new boundaries for legislative districts that the court also reviewed Monday. The Kansas secretary of state’s office on Monday delayed the filing deadline for congressional and legislative candidates to June 10 from June 1.

During Monday’s hearing, the seven-member court wrestled with how to determine when improper political gerrymandering has occurred. Justice Caleb Stegall questioned whether the term can be clearly defined.


Israel’s Supreme Court rejected four petitions on Sunday that sought to derail controversial plans to build a cable car to Jerusalem’s Old City, paving the way for the project to progress.

Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem, environmentalists, urban planners, archaeologists and a small community from the Jewish Karaite sect had all lodged protests with the court in recent years. They said the project would harm the holy city’s historic character, desecrate a Karaite cemetery, and impact the lives and businesses of local residents.

The proposed cable car is being advanced by Israel’s Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality as a transportation solution to the city’s traffic-snarled streets and poor accessibility to the ancient walled Old City. Critics have pointed out that a cable car is not a suitable transit solution and the massive steel towers supporting the cables will mar the historic landscape.

The route would start near the “First Station,” a renovated old railway station that’s now a popular pedestrian mall, and span the biblical Valley of Hinnom to Mount Zion and terminate at the Dung Gate, the entrance to the Old City closest to the Western Wall, 2 kilometers away.

It is further complicated by the fact that it will be constructed in east Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing in the 1967 Mideast war, but which the Palestinians seek as capital of a future state. Most of the international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over east Jerusalem.

In its decision, the court said any decision to relieve congestion around the Old City “even if it was decided not to do anything, would harm someone one way or another. There is no ‘perfect’ solution.”

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion wrote on Facebook that the cable car would get underway following the court ruling.


Abortion rights supporters demonstrating at hundreds of marches and rallies Saturday expressed their outrage that the Supreme Court appears prepared to scrap the constitutional right to abortion that has endured for nearly a half-century and their fear about what that could mean for women’s reproductive choices.

Incensed after a leaked draft opinion suggested the court’s conservative majority would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, activists spoke of the need to mobilize quickly because Republican-led states are poised to enact tighter restrictions.

In the nation’s capital, thousands gathered in drizzly weather at the Washington Monument to listen to fiery speeches before marching to the Supreme Court, which was surrounded by two layers of security fences.

The mood was one of anger and defiance, three days after the Senate failed to muster enough votes to codify Roe v. Wade.

“I can’t believe that at my age, I’m still having to protest over this,” said Samantha Rivers, a 64-year-old federal government employee who is preparing for a state-by-state battle over abortion rights.

Caitlin Loehr, 34, of Washington, wore a black T-shirt with an image of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “dissent” collar on it and a necklace that spelled out “vote.”

“I think that women should have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and their lives. And I don’t think banning abortion will stop abortion. It just makes it unsafe and can cost a woman her life,” Loehr said.

A half-dozen anti-abortion demonstrators sent out a countering message, with Jonathan Darnel shouting into a microphone, “Abortion is not health care, folks, because pregnancy is not an illness.”

From Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, and Nashville, Tennessee, to Lubbock, Texas, tens of thousands participated in events, where chants of “Bans off our bodies!” and “My body, my choice!” rang out. The gatherings were largely peaceful, but in some cities there were tense confrontations between people on opposing sides of the issue.

Polls show that most Americans want to preserve access to abortion — at least in the earlier stages of pregnancy — but the Supreme Court appeared to be poised to let the states have the final say. If that happens, roughly half of states, mostly in the South and Midwest, are expected to quickly ban abortion.


An accountant who worked for the consultant at the center of the college admissions bribery case has avoided prison for his role in the sweeping scheme.

U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani on Friday sentenced Steven Masera, 72, to time already served, ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine and remain on three years’ supervised release.

Masera pleaded guilty in 2019 to a charge of racketeering conspiracy in Boston federal court. Masera, of Folsom, California, was an accountant for Rick Singer, the mastermind of the bribery scheme that involved rigged test scores and bogus athletic credentials.

Prosecutors say Masera created fake donation receipt letters and bogus invoices that allowed the wealthy parents who paid bribes to write their payments off as donations or business expenses.

Prosecutors argued that Masera is less culpable than the parents and coaches involved in the scheme, noting that he was working at Singer’s direction and “stood to gain nothing beyond his hourly compensation.”

An email seeking comment was sent Friday to lawyers for Masera. His attorneys wrote in court documents that he is “ashamed that he would agree to be involved in such conduct, but is nevertheless handling the situation with grace.”

Singer pleaded guilty to a slew of charges and has yet to be sentenced. Others convicted in the case have received sentences ranging from probation to 15 months behind bars.


A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld a judge’s ruling overturning a federal agency’s approval of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc.’s plan for a new open-pit copper mine in southeastern Arizona.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of a permit for the Rosemont Mine project in a valley on the eastern flank of the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson went beyond what is allowed under a federal mining law.

The appellate court cited the planned use of Coronado National Forest land for long-term storage of waste rock, not actual mining, and the lack of valuable minerals on that property.

Hudbay Minerals officials said in a statement Thursday they were reviewing the ruling and would continue to pursue alternative plans for mining part of the Rosemont copper deposit on nearby private lands.

A coalition of environmental and tribal groups challenging the mining hailed the appellate court’s decision, the latest in a series of legal obstacles to the project.

“This momentous decision makes it clear that Hudbay’s plan to destroy the beautiful Rosemont Valley is not only a terrible idea, it’s illegal,” said Allison Melton, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Hudbay has another mine project in the works on the western flank of the Santa Ritas.


California taxpayers would help pay for abortions for women who can’t afford them under a new spending proposal Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday to prepare for a potential surge of people from other states seeking reproductive care if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

California already pays for some abortions through its Medicaid program, the taxpayer-funded health insurance plan for the poor and the disabled.

But some women don’t qualify for Medicaid and don’t have private health insurance. When that happens, clinics will sometimes perform abortions for free, known as “uncompensated care.” Wednesday, Newsom said he wants the state to give $40 million worth of grants to clinics to help offset those costs.

An abortion can cost between a few hundred dollars and a few thousand dollars in California, depending on how far along the pregnancy is and what kind of insurance a patient has.

“California will not stand idly by as extremists roll back our basic constitutional rights; we’re going to fight like hell, making sure that all women – not just those in California – know that this state continues to recognize and protect their fundamental rights,” Newsom said in a news release.

While the grants could potentially pay for abortions for women from other states, the money would not pay for those women to travel or stay in California.

A bill in the Democratic-controlled state Legislature would set up a fund to help pay for the logistics of getting an abortion in California, including things such as travel, lodging and child care. The California Legislative Women’s Caucus has asked Newsom for $20 million to put into that fund. But Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday did not include that money.


Proponents in Maine of a stalled $1 billion energy corridor that sought to bringing Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid asked the state’s high court to breathe new life into the project Tuesday.

Attorneys for developers argued that a referendum in which voters rejected the project had the effect of retroactively overturning developers’ vested rights — and violating the constitutional separation of powers.

“The credibility of the state of Maine is at stake in this case,” said John Aromando, attorney for the New England Clean Energy Connect.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court was asked to weigh in on two separate lawsuits involving the high-profile project.

Developers are seeking to declare the November referendum unconstitutional. Another lawsuit focuses on a lease allowing transmission lines to cross a short segment of state land.

Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill, noting the packed courtroom, acknowledged that there’s a high level of interest in the case. She said a written decision will be issued “as soon as we can.”

Obviously we are addressing only the legal issues — not the propriety or wisdom of the project,” she said.

Funded by Massachusetts ratepayers, the New England Clean Energy Connect would supply up to 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower. That’s enough electricity for 1 million homes.

Critics contend the environmental benefits are overstated, and that the project would destroy woodlands in western Maine.

Supporters say bold projects are necessary to battle climate change and that the electricity, although earmarked for Massachusetts ratepayers, would help an entire region that’s heavily reliant on natural gas, which can cause spikes in energy costs in the winter.

Most of the proposed 145-mile (233-kilometer) power transmission line would be built along existing corridors, but a new 53-mile (85-kilometer) section is needed to reach the Canadian border.

Central Maine Power’s parent company and Hydro Quebec teamed up on the project, and workers were already clearing trees and setting poles when the governor asked for work to be suspended after Mainers voiced their disapproval. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection later suspended its permit but that decision can be reversed depending on the outcome before the state’s Supreme Court.

The utilities contend the referendum was unconstitutional because it retroactively put the brakes on a project that was properly permitted by the Maine Land Use Planning Commission, Maine Public Utilities Commission and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in addition to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

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