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A bitter and expensive fight for an Arkansas Supreme Court seat that drew more than $1 million in outside spending and a flurry of attack ads will drag on for another six months, with an incumbent justice heading into a runoff in November against an attorney backed by an out-of-state Republican group.

Justice Courtney Goodson and David Sterling, the chief counsel for the state Department of Human Services, advanced to a runoff in the November election for the state's highest court in Tuesday's non-partisan judicial election. The two were the top candidates in a three-person race for Goodson's seat, with Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Hixson finishing third.

Goodson had faced a barrage of attack ads and mailers from the Judicial Crisis Network, a Washington group that had targeted her during her unsuccessful bid for chief justice two years ago. The group, which doesn't disclose its donors, spent more than $935,000 on TV ads bashing Goodson and Hixson, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which tracks judicial campaign spending.

"Today was a huge victory for honest people who are fed up with the lies dark money is spreading about me," Goodson told The Associated Press Tuesday night.

The ads led to a court fight over whether they should be broadcast and Goodson said she planned to continue that legal battle. Days before the primary, a state judge ordered Little Rock area TV stations to stop airing one ad, while another judge said the spot could resume running in northwest Arkansas. Goodson has filed a similar lawsuit aimed at halting the lawsuits in the Fort Smith area. Some media and free speech advocates have opposed Goodson's lawsuits, saying judges should not decide what is broadcast during elections.

The ad that sparked the court fight criticizes Goodson over gifts received from donors and a pay raise the court requested last year. An Associated Press Fact Check of the ad found that some of its claims are misleading. The Judicial Crisis Network continued its criticism of Goodson Wednesday.

"The citizens of Arkansas want and deserve integrity on the state's Supreme Court - Justice Goodson can't run from her record of pay increases, favoritism and residing in a swamp of conflicts of interest," Carrie Severino, the group's chief counsel and policy director, said in a statement.


The Supreme Court on Monday gave its go-ahead for states to allow gambling on sports across the nation, striking down a federal law that barred betting on football, basketball, baseball and other sports in most states.

The justices voted 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 law that forbade state-authorized sports gambling with some exceptions. It made Nevada the only state where a person could wager on the results of a single game.

Many states have hoped their cut of legalized sports gambling could help solve budget problems. Stock prices for casino operators and equipment makers surged after the ruling was announced.

The ruling, in a case from New Jersey, creates an opening to bring an activity out of the shadows that many Americans already see as a mainstream hobby. The American Gaming Association estimates that Americans illegally wager about $150 billion on sports each year, and one research firm estimated before the ruling that if the Supreme Court were to strike down the law 32 states would likely offer sports betting within five years.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court, "The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented. Ginsburg wrote for the three that when a portion of a law violates the Constitution, the court "ordinarily engages in a salvage rather than a demolition operation," preserving what it can. She said that instead of using a "scalpel to trim the statute" her colleagues used "an axe" to cut the remainder down. Breyer agreed with the majority of the court that part of the law must be struck down but said that should not have doomed the rest of the law.

Concerned that questions will be raised at some point that betting could affect teams' performance and the outcome of games, all four major U.S. professional sports leagues, the NCAA and the federal government had urged the court to uphold the federal law. In court, the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball had argued that New Jersey's gambling expansion would hurt the integrity of their games. Outside court, however, leaders of all but the NFL have shown varying degrees of openness to legalized sports gambling.



After nearly two decades of problems, Monty Python star Terry Gilliam's long-awaited film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next week after all.

A last-minute effort to block the film failed Wednesday, as a Paris court ruled in favor of the Cannes festival and rejected a lawsuit by Portuguese producer Paulo Branco.
Branco, who initially worked with Gilliam on the film, claims he also has rights to the movie. Gilliam contests Branco's claims.

The film will close the festival May 19, after years of production problems, funding issues and legal woes. Starring Adam Driver and Stellan Skarsgard, it is loosely based on the classic novel by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes.

"For more than twenty years this film was almost buried by various obstacles and many have said on various occasions that there was a curse on this movie. Well today this curse is broken thanks to the Justice," said Gilliam's lawyer Benjamin Sarfaty, calling it a "great relief" for the ailing director.

The lawyer would not comment on reports that the 77-year-old Gilliam recently suffered a minor stroke, but said, "He will do his best to attend the screening. He is getting ready for it."

Gilliam commented on Twitter Wednesday: "After days of rest and prayers to the gods I am restored and well again. So is The Man Who Killed Don Quixote!  We are legally victorious! We will go to the ball, dressed as the closing film at Festival de Cannes!"
Cannes, too, welcomed the court decision. "Let's make this victory a great party," the festival said in a statement.


The Arkansas Supreme Court's decision to allow the state to enforce its voter ID law in this month's primary while justices consider whether the measure is unconstitutional sets up a test over Republican lawmakers' efforts to reinstate a law struck down four years ago. More importantly, it will show how much the state's highest court has changed since 2014.

Justices last week put a hold on Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray's decision to block the law's enforcement, meaning voters will have to show photo identification before they cast a ballot in the May 22 primary. Early voting for the primary begins Monday. Republican advocates of the law said the Supreme Court's decision to put the law on hold will avoid creating confusion.

"The stay issued this afternoon provides needed clarity for Arkansas voters and election officials," Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement shortly after the high court's ruling.

The 6-1 order from the court — only Chief Justice Dan Kemp would have denied the request to halt Gray's ruling — didn't elaborate on the reason for the stay. Both sides are set to begin filing briefs in the appeal of Gray's ruling in June, likely ensuring the legal fight will last throughout the summer.

"We are disappointed for the voters in Arkansas that the Arkansas Secretary of State and the Attorney General continue to want to enforce an unconstitutional Voter ID law," Jeff Priebe, an attorney for the Little Rock voter who challenged the measure, said after the ruling.

The decision creates a scenario similar to 2014, when a Pulaski County judge struck down Arkansas' previous voter ID law but put the ruling on hold and allowed it to be enforced in the primary that year.

The state Supreme Court ultimately came down against the 2013 voter ID law, striking it down weeks before the general election in 2014. Opponents of the law were able to point to nearly 1,000 votes in the primary that year that weren't counted because of the photo ID requirement.

The latest law is aimed at addressing a secondary reason some justices raised while striking down the previous voter ID law. The court unanimously struck down Arkansas' law, with four of the court's seven justices saying it violated the state's constitution by adding a qualification to vote. But three of the justices cited a different reason, saying the law didn't garner the two-thirds vote needed in both chambers of the Legislature to change voter registration requirements.


Arkansas' highest court on Wednesday said the state can enforce a voter ID law in the May 22 primary election despite a judge declaring the measure unconstitutional.

By a vote of 6-1 the Supreme Court put on hold a Pulaski County judge's decision blocking the law's enforcement. Early voting for the primary begins Monday. The state Supreme Court did not elaborate on its reasons for the decision in its one-page order.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Alice Gray last week ruled the law was an unconstitutional effort to reinstate a 2013 voter ID law. That 2013 measure was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 2014.

The high court's ruling puts Gray's decision on hold while justices consider the state's appeal of her decision against the voter ID measure. Both sides are set to begin filing briefs in the appeal next month.

"We are disappointed for the voters in Arkansas that the Arkansas Secretary of State and the Attorney General continue to want to enforce an unconstitutional Voter ID law," Jeff Priebe, an attorney for the Little Rock voter who challenged the measure, said in an email. "We look forward to presenting the whole case to the Arkansas Supreme Court."

The revived voter ID law requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. Unlike the previous measure, the new law allows voters to cast provisional ballots if they sign a sworn statement confirming their identities.



The Supreme Court appeared divided Tuesday over Texas' appeal to preserve congressional and legislative districts that a lower court struck down as racially discriminatory.

The justices heard arguments in the latest round of court action over Texas electoral districts that began in 2011.

At issue are two congressional districts and statehouse districts in four counties, and what the challengers say are efforts by Texas Republicans who control the state government to restrain the political influence of a growing Hispanic and African-American population.

The liberal justices seemed favorable to minority voters and civil rights groups that sued over the districts. The court's conservatives appeared to lean toward the state, which also has the support of the Trump administration. Justice Anthony Kennedy said nothing to indicate where his potentially decisive vote would fall.

The justices last year kept the challenged districts in place, even after the lower court ruling. Texas held primary elections in those districts in March.

Max Renea, Hicks, a lawyer for the plaintiffs told the justices Tuesday that even if his side wins at the high court, it is unlikely that new districts would be used before the 2020 elections, the last voting cycle before the next census.

The case is the third major dispute this term that is focused on redistricting, the drawing of electoral maps following the once-a-decade census. The high court's other cases, from Maryland and Wisconsin, focus on the drawing of political districts for partisan advantage.

The Texas situation is unusual. Based on the 2010 census, Texas was awarded four new congressional districts, attributable mainly to the influx of Hispanics.

After the state's original electoral maps were found to be probably unconstitutional, a three-judge federal court produced interim districting plans that were used in the 2012 elections.

In 2013, Republicans rushed to permanently adopt those maps to use for the rest of the decade.

But opponents criticized the adopted maps as a quick fix that didn't purge all districts of the impermissible use of race.

In 2017, the same judges who approved the interim maps in 2012 agreed with the challengers that the maps were the product of intentional discrimination.


Massachusetts' highest court will decide the fate of a judge who admitted to having an affair with a clinical social worker that included sexual encounters at the courthouse.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct is asking for Judge Thomas Estes to be suspended indefinitely without pay to give lawmakers time to decide whether to remove him from the bench for his relationship with Tammy Cagle, who worked in the special drug court where Estes sat before she was reassigned last year.

If the Supreme Judicial Court agrees, it will be the first time in three decades it has taken such action against a judge for misconduct. The case comes amid the #MeToo movement that sparked a national reckoning over sexual misconduct in the workplace.

"This case couldn't come at a worse time for Judge Estes," said Martin Healy, chief legal counsel of the Massachusetts Bar Association.

The Supreme Judicial Court will consider Estes' case Tuesday. Cagle has accused Estes, who's married and has two teenage sons, of pressuring her into performing oral sex on him in his chambers and her home. Then after she tried to end the relationship, she asserts he treated her coldly and pushed her out of the drug court.


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