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President Donald Trump has tapped one of his own White House attorneys for a judgeship on one of the most important federal appeals courts, opening the door for confirmation hearing questions about the legal controversies that dominated the first seven months of Trump's presidency.

Gregory Katsas was nominated Thursday to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Katsas, the deputy White House counsel, was a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush. A biography on the White House's website says he has argued more than 75 appeals, including the constitutional challenge to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court.

He would replace the libertarian-leaning Judge Janice Rogers Brown, who retired this summer. The court is influential, in part because of its role in adjudicating many of the orders and laws put forth by the administration. It is sometimes called America's second highest court because it can be a stepping stone to the Supreme Court just a few blocks away.

Katsas, once a law clerk to Justice Thomas, has served in high-ranking Justice Department roles, including as head of the civil division that has responsibility for defending the administration's policies against court challenges. He is part of the steady stream of Jones Day law firm partners who have flowed into the Trump administration, including White House counsel Don McGahn.

So many Jones Day attorneys work in the White House that the counsel's office issued a blanket ethics waiver for them so that they can maintain contact with their former colleagues without running afoul of ethics provisions. The firm's lawyers continue to represent members of the Trump campaign outside the White House.



U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will speak at the University of Alabama law school next month.

Sotomayor will participate in a discussion with dean Mark Brandon and U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton III on Sept. 12. Brandon says in a statement the school is honored to have her.

Former President Barack Obama appointed Sotomayor to the court in 2009. The New York native served on federal district and circuit courts before that.

Alabama isn’t an Ivy League university, but it has had a lot of success in luring Supreme Court justices to speak at its law school. Eleven justices have spoken in Tuscaloosa since a lecture series began in 1996.



A federal appeals court says a gay couple's lawsuit seeking damages from a Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue them a marriage license can proceed. The ruling revives an issue that pulled the state into the center of a national debate over same-sex marriages following a historic Supreme Court ruling.

David Ermold and David Moore tried to get a marriage license in Rowan County, Kentucky, in June 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional. But Kim Davis, the county clerk, refused to issue them a license because she said it violated her religious beliefs.

Ermold and Moore sued, along with several other couples. Davis lost, and spent five days in jail for refusing to follow a court order. The dispute thrust the embattled clerk into the national limelight and prompted same-sex marriage opponents across the country to rally behind her. A Republican congressman from Ohio gave her a ticket to former President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. And she met with Pope Francis in Washington, although that encounter quickly sent the Vatican scrambling to distance itself from the controversy.

Davis has since changed her party affiliation to Republican, saying the Democratic Party had abandoned her. Ermold and Moore want Davis to pay damages for the emotional distress caused by her refusal to issue them a license. Ermold and Moore were not the first couple to be denied a license. But they filmed their rejection and uploaded it to YouTube, which has been viewed more than 1.8 million times.

Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based law firm specializing in religious-liberty issues, has represented Davis throughout the case. The firm also represents former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who ordered state probate judges to continue to enforce that state's ban on same-sex marriage despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Moore was removed from his post because of his order. He is now running for U.S. Senate.


Indiana's next state Supreme Court justice will complete the remaking of the bench, as all five justices will be white and will have been appointed since 2010 by Republican governors.

The state's Judicial Nominating Commission on Wednesday chose three finalists to succeed Justice Robert Rucker, who is retiring May 12. Once the names of the finalists — Judges Vicki Carmichael, Christopher Goff and Matthew Kincaid — are sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb, he'll have 60 days in which to choose one to succeed Rucker.

Here is some background on the finalists, Rucker and the court.

VICKI CARMICHAEL:

Carmichael, 54, has been a Clark Circuit Court judge in the Ohio River county just north of Louisville, Kentucky, since 2007. She would be the high court's third female justice ever, including its current chief justice, Loretta Rush. Carmichael, who's married and has an adult daughter in college, was a city court judge in Jeffersonville for six years before becoming a county judge. Unlike the other two finalists, who are Republicans, Carmichael is a Democrat. She previously was in private practice and served as a public defender. She's a graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.

CHRISTOPHER GOFF:

Goff, who turns 45 on Tuesday, has served as a Wabash Superior Court judge since 2005. In his application for the high court seat, he wrote that the courts in Wabash County, located in northeastern Indiana, are among the state's busiest based on the number of cases assigned to each judge. Goff, who is married and has two daughters, previously worked in private practice. He's a graduate of the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.

MATTHEW KINCAID:

Kincaid, 46, has been a Boone Superior Court judge in the county just northwest of Indianapolis since 2003. Like the other finalists, before becoming a judge he was a lawyer in a private practice. This is Kincaid's second time as a finalist for the state Supreme Court. The Judicial Nominating Commission also selected him last year as one of three finalists to succeed Justice Brent Dickson. Then-Gov. Mike Pence chose Indianapolis attorney Geoffrey Slaughter for that vacancy. Kincaid, who is married with three children, is a graduate of the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.

DEPARTING JUSTICE:

Rucker, 70, announced in January that he would retire this spring, five years before reaching the court's mandatory retirement age. His last day on the bench is May 12. Rucker was named to the bench in 1999 by Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon, becoming only its second black justice ever. His departure will leave the court with only white justices, and all three finalists for his vacancy are white. Rucker is the court's only remaining Democratic appointee.

INDIANA'S REVAMPED COURT:

When Rucker's replacement is named, all five members of the state's highest court will have been appointed by Republican governors. Indiana University law professor Joel Schumm said that's the first time that's happened since Indiana voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1970 creating a commission to pick finalists for the governor to choose from. He said he doesn't think the change will be particularly significant because Indiana justices have a long tradition of not being politically ideological in their rulings. The governor's pick will join Rush, Justice Steven David, Justice Mark Massa and Justice Geoffrey Slaughter on the court. Given the ages of the justices, Schumm says they could be together on the court for about 15 years.



Somewhere between the Republican caricature of the next justice of the Supreme Court as a folksy family guy and the Democrats' demonization of him as a cold-hearted automaton, stands Neil Gorsuch.

Largely unknown six months ago, Gorsuch has seen his life story, personality and professional career explored in excruciating detail since he was nominated by President Donald Trump 10 weeks ago.

The portrait that emerges is more nuanced than the extremes drawn by his supporters and critics.

Gorsuch is widely regarded as a warm and collegial family man, boss and jurist, loyal to his employees and kind to those of differing viewpoints. He also has been shown to be a judge who takes such a "rigidly neutral" approach to the law that it can lead to dispassionate rulings with sometimes brutal results.

Four times during his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch invoked a "breakfast table" analogy, telling senators that good judges set aside what they have to eat — and their personal views — before they leave the house in the morning to apply the law and nothing else to the facts of the cases at hand. It was all part of Gorsuch's artful effort to reveal as little as possible of his own opinions.



The Law Office of W. Marshall Sanders provides comprehensive legal advice and support to nonprofit organizations, and charitable giving and general estate planning services to individuals. The firms’s nonprofit clients include charitable, educational, health, and religious organizations; trade associations; social clubs; and family and independent foundations throughout the United States and abroad. It also represents individual and corporate fiduciaries in the administration of trusts and estates, and assists individuals with the development of estate and charitable giving plans.


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Government employees in California cannot keep the public from seeing their work-related emails and texts sent on personal devices and through private accounts, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday, closing a loophole that justices said could have allowed the "most sensitive and potentially damning" communications to be shielded.

With the ruling, California joins a growing list of states that treat public business done through private accounts as public records.

"This ruling is a model for giving government transparency laws meaning in the digital age," said Matthew Cagle, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, which filed a brief in the case.

The ruling came in a lawsuit against the city of San Jose. City Attorney Richard Doyle said he was not surprised by the decision and did not plan to challenge it. But he said it raised practical challenges for cities and counties.

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