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The Supreme Court will consider allowing the Trump administration to enforce rules that allow more employers to deny insurance coverage for contraceptives to women.

The justices agreed Friday to yet another case stemming from President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, this time about cost-free birth control. The court probably will hear arguments in April.

The high court will review an appeals court ruling that blocked the Trump administration rules because it did not follow proper procedures. The new policy on contraception, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, would allow more categories of employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious objections.

The policy also would allow some employers, though not publicly traded companies, to raise moral objections to covering contraceptives.

Employers also would be able to cover some birth control methods, and not others. Some employers have objected to covering modern, long-acting implantable contraceptives, such as IUDs, which are more expensive and considered highly effective in preventing pregnancies.

The share of female employees paying their own money for birth control pills has plunged to under 4 percent, from 21 percent, since contraception became a covered preventive health benefit under the Obama-era health law, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Even though the Trump rules remain blocked, a ruling by a federal judge in Texas in June already allows most people who object to covering contraception to avoid doing so.

The issue in all the cases is the method originally adopted by the Obama administration to allow religiously affiliated organizations to opt out of paying for contraception while making sure that women under their plans would not be left with the bill.

Some groups complained that the opt-out process violated their religious beliefs and wanted to be relieved of even signaling their religious objection.

The Trump administration issued new rules in 2018. New Jersey and Pennsylvania challenged them in federal court, and the appeals court in Philadelphia decided the rules should be blocked nationwide. The states said the administration rules would result in fewer women receiving cost-free birth control through employer health plans and said states would have to spend more money in their programs that provide contraceptives to women who want them.

The justices said they will hear the administration’s appeal together with one filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Roman Catholic nuns. The Little Sisters have argued that the Trump rules would protect them from having to provide some birth control, although Obama administration lawyers had argued that they probably were exempt from the rules.


The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seems prepared to allow the Trump administration to end a program that allows some immigrants to work legally in the United States and protects them from deportation.

There did not appear to be any support among the five conservatives in extended arguments for blocking the administration’s decision to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It currently protects 660,000 immigrants who came to the United States as children and are here illegally.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh were among the justices who indicated that the administration has provided sufficient reason for wanting to do away with the program. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito raised questions about whether courts should even be reviewing the executive branch’s discretionary decisions.

The high court’s decision is expected by June, at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign.

The program was begun under President Barack Obama. The Trump administration announced in September 2017 that it would end DACA protections, but lower federal courts have stepped in to keep the program alive.


Sacramento Kings first-year coach Luke Walton says he is focused on his team and not worried about a lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault.

Walton spoke publicly Friday at Kings media day for the first time since a former sportscaster filed a civil suit against him in April accusing him of the assault.

"I'm here to do my job and focus on the Kings," Walton said. "The rest will take care of itself."

Walton was hired by the Kings in April, soon after being fired following three seasons as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was sued shortly after being hired by Kelli Tennant, a former host on Spectrum SportsNet LA, who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in 2014 when he was an assistant with the Golden State Warriors and harassing her after that during his tenure with the Lakers.

The Kings and the NBA investigated the charges but took no action against Walton when "investigators determined that there was not a sufficient basis to support the allegations." Tennant did not participate in the investigation.

Walton still faces a civil suit but has said in a court filing that the allegations aren't backed up in facts. He said the suit is not a distraction to his job.

"My focus is on the Kings and what we're doing to get this group to the next level," he said.

Walton is trying to get the Kings back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the longest current postseason drought in the NBA. He takes over a young team featuring emerging stars like De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III.

The Kings hold their first practice Saturday before leaving next week for a trip to India, where they will play two exhibition games. That puts more emphasis on the early days of practice.



California's Supreme Court is expanding 40-year-old rules for telling suspects when they've been arrested by a bad cop.

The justices ruled unanimously Monday that police agencies' obligation to make sure suspects get a fair trial outweighs the privacy rights of officers who have a history of bad behavior.

They rejected a lower court ruling that blocked the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department from giving prosecutors the names of deputies who previously took bribes, tampered with evidence, lied, or used excessive force.

Prosecutors are required to share that background with defendants, who can then use it to argue that they were framed or otherwise harmed by rogue officers.

The justices also noted that a new law requiring more public disclosure of police misconduct means some police records are no longer confidential.


The Supreme Court will consider reviving a Montana program that gives tax credits to people who donate to private-school scholarships. The state’s highest court had struck down the program because it violated the Montana constitution’s ban on state aid to religious organizations.

The justices say Friday that they will review the state court ruling, which Montana parents are challenging as a violation of their religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that the program giving tax credits of up to $150 for donations to organizations that give scholarships to private-school students amounts to indirect aid to schools controlled by churches.

The Republican-led Legislature passed the law in 2015 as an alternative to a school voucher program designed to give students who want to attend private schools the means to do so. Most private schools in Montana have religious affiliations, and more than 90 percent of the private schools that have signed up with scholarship organizations under the program are religious.

The state court ruling invalidated the entire program, for religious and secular schools alike. In urging the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, Montana said it can’t be compelled to offer a scholarship program for private education. The state told the justices that the Montana court decision did not single out students at religious schools because the state court ruling struck down the entire program.

Montana is one of 18 states that offer scholarship tax-credit programs, according to EdChoice, an organization that promotes school-choice programs. Tax credits are one of several ways states have created programs to boost private schools or defray their tuition costs, with others including vouchers, individual tax credits or deductions and education savings accounts.



Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal said Thursday the government cannot deny spousal employment benefits to same-sex couples, in a ruling hailed as a major step forward for same-sex equality in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The court overturned an earlier judgment, saying unanimously that denying same-sex couples access to spousal benefits is unlawful.

“It follows therefore that the ‘prevailing views of the community on marriage’ ... even if this can confidently be gauged in the first place, are simply not relevant to a consideration of the justification exercise,” the ruling said.

Although same-sex marriage is not recognized in Hong Kong, the judgment appears to move the territory further in that direction. Last year, the Court of Final Appeal ruled that the same-sex partner of a British expatriate married abroad was entitled to the same visa treatment as a heterosexual partner under immigration law.

Angus Leung, a senior immigration officer who brought the case on behalf of himself and his partner, Scott Adams, said the ruling was the culmination of a stressful four-year process.

“We understand that it is just a small step for the equality in Hong Kong,” Leung told reporters as he and Adams held hands outside the courthouse. “We think that as a small citizen, we shouldn’t be going through such a process to fight for such a basic family right.”

Leung urged the government to rectify discriminatory policies and legislation so that other couples wouldn’t have to undergo the same legal process.

Man-kei Tam, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, called Thursday’s judgment a “huge step forward for equality” that brings Hong Kong “more in line with its international obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of people with different sexual orientations.”

Tam also called on the government to review its laws, policies and practices to end all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status, saying, “No one should experience discrimination because of who they are or who they love.”

It isn’t clear what effect the ruling might have on private businesses and organizations, although some already offer benefits to same-sex partners as they compete for top talent in finance, marketing and other fields for which Hong Kong is famous. In another sign of acceptance, the city of 7.4 million people is also preparing to host the 2022 Gay Games.


Kenya's High Court has chosen to uphold colonial-era laws that criminalize gay sex, dashing the hopes of activists who believed the judges would overturn sections of the penal code as unconstitutional and inspire a sea change across the continent.

Three judges said Friday that the laws in question did not target the LGBTQ community. They were not convinced that people's basic rights had been violated, they said.

"We are not persuaded by the petitioners that the offenses against them are overboard," one of the judges said, according local media.

The case stems from to a petition filed in 2016 by activist Eric Gitari, with the support of organizations serving LGBTQ Kenyans. They argued that two sections of Kenya's penal code violated people's rights: Article 162 penalizes "carnal knowledge ... against the order of nature" with up to 14 years in prison, and Article 165 castigates "indecent practices between males" with the possibility of five years' imprisonment.

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