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A federal lawsuit filed over five years ago challenging North Carolina's new photo voter identification mandate is now set to go to trial in the spring, with an outcome that could possibly affect what people must do to cast ballots this fall.

The U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem announced on Monday that Judge Loretta Biggs will convene the nonjury trial starting May 6 over the law, which was implemented just last fall.

While the state's photo ID requirement remains in place for the March 5 primary elections, a spring or summer ruling after the trial by Biggs to strike down the law could threaten its use in the November general election in the nation's ninth-largest state. North Carolina will have races for governor, attorney general and many other statewide races on the fall ballots. Courts, however, can be cautious about changing voting rules close to an election to avoid confusion.

The May date is about three months later than the date that lawyers for the state NAACP and several local chapters had requested several months ago. They sued over the 2018 law claiming it is marred by racial bias.

Attorneys for Republican legislative leaders defending the law had told Biggs in writing that the trial schedule sought by the NAACP groups was deficient. They also said it allowed no opportunity for the judge to dismiss the case on arguments before going to a formal trial.

Biggs held a hearing in November about the trial date and whether the State Board of Elections should be required to provide more public records to the plaintiffs about how voter ID has been implemented since last year. In a separate order Monday, Biggs sent the plaintiff’s request to a magistrate judge to recommend a decision to her. That recommendation can be challenged.

After a state Supreme Court ruling last April upholding the 2018 law as legal, the photo ID mandate was carried out in mostly municipal elections in September, October and November.

The trial date order doesn't estimate how long the trial will last. But it sets aside three weeks after the trial for the sides to file more papers.

The federal lawsuit alleges that the ID law violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating disproportionately against Black and Latino voters to comply with the requirement. Republican lawmakers disagree and say the law builds public confidence in elections. They also point in part to a broader array of exceptions for people lacking an ID to still cast ballots when compared to an earlier voter ID law.

Previous trial dates for 2021 and 2022 were postponed. Biggs delayed one start date while the U.S. Supreme Court weighed her earlier refusal to allow GOP lawmakers to intervene in the case and defend the law in court. The U.S. justices sided with the legislative leaders in June 2022.

Biggs lifted her stay on action in the case last summer a few months after the state Supreme Court determined the mandate comported with state constitution.

In late 2019, Biggs issued a preliminary injunction blocking the 2018 voter ID law, saying it was tainted by racial bias largely because a previous voter ID law approved by legislators in 2013 had been struck down on similar grounds. The 2013 law was implemented briefly in 2016.


The United Nations’ top court on Wednesday rejected large parts of a case filed by Ukraine alleging that Russia bankrolled separatist rebels in the country’s east a decade ago and has discriminated against Crimea’s multiethnic community since its annexation of the peninsula.

The International Court of Justice ruled Moscow violated articles of two treaties — one on terrorism financing and another on eradicating racial discrimination — but it rejected far more of Kyiv’s claims under the treaties.

It rejected Ukraine’s request for Moscow to pay reparations for attacks in eastern Ukraine blamed on pro-Russia Ukrainian rebels, including the July 17, 2014, downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that killed all 298 passengers and crew.

Russia has denied any involvement in the downing of the jetliner. A Dutch domestic court convicted two Russians and a pro-Moscow Ukrainian in November 2022 for their roles in the attack and sentenced them in their absence to life imprisonment. The Netherlands and Ukraine also have sued Russia at the European Court of Human Rights over MH17.

In another rebuke for Moscow, the world court ruled that Russia had violated one of the court’s orders by launching its full-scale invasion in Ukraine nearly two years ago.

The leader of Ukraine’s legal team, Anton Korynevych, called the ruling “a really important day because this is a judgment which says that the Russian Federation violated international law, in particular both conventions under which we made our application.”

The legally binding final ruling was the first of two expected decisions from the International Court of Justice linked to the decade-long conflict between Russia and Ukraine that exploded into all-out war almost two years ago.

At hearings last year, a lawyer for Ukraine, David Zionts, said the pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine “attacked civilians as part of a campaign of intimidation and terror. Russian money and weapons fueled this campaign.”


Former President Donald Trump’s bid to win back the White House is now threatened by two sentences added to the U.S. Constitution 155 years ago.

The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday barred Trump from the state’s ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits anyone who swore an oath to support the Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection” against it from holding office. It’s the first time in history the provision has been used to prohibit someone from running for the presidency, and the U..S. Supreme Court is likely to have the final say over whether the ruling will stand.

If it does — which many legal experts say is a longshot — it’s the end of Trump’s campaign because a Supreme Court decision would apply not just in Colorado, but to all states. It also could open a new world of political combat, as politicians in the future fish for judicial rulings to disqualify their rivals under the same provision.

Some conservatives have even considered using it against Vice President Kamala Harris, who raised bail money for those jailed during the violence following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. They said that also should be considered an “insurrection” against the Constitution.

So far, very little in the real world. Aware that the case was very likely going to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 4-3 Colorado Supreme Court majority stayed their own order until Jan. 4 — the day before the state’s primary ballots are due at the printer — or until the Supreme Court rules.

Technically, the ruling applies only to Colorado, and secretaries of state elsewhere are issuing statements saying Trump remains on the ballot in their state’s primary or caucus.But it could embolden other states to knock Trump off the ballot. Activists have asked state election officials to do so unilaterally, but none have. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed, but all failed until Colorado.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on the meaning of Section 3. The justices can take the case as quickly as they like once Trump’s campaign files its appeal, which is not expected this week. The high court then could rule in a variety of ways — from upholding the ruling to striking it down to dodging the central questions on legal technicalities. But many experts warn that it would be risky to leave such a vital constitutional question unanswered.

“It is imperative for the political stability of the U.S. to get a definitive judicial resolution of these questions as soon as possible,” Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote shortly after the ruling. “Voters need to know if the candidate they are supporting for president is eligible.”


Donald Trump’s lawyers were thwarted Thursday in their longshot bid to immediately end the New York civil fraud trial that threatens the former president’s real estate empire.

Judge Arthur Engoron didn’t rule on the request, but indicated the trial will go on as scheduled Monday with Donald Trump Jr. returning to the stand as the first defense witness.

Trump’s lawyers had asked Engoron to cut the trial short and issue a verdict clearing Trump, his company and top executives including Trump Jr. of wrongdoing.

They made the request halfway through the trial of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, arguing the state had failed to prove its case. James alleges Trump and other defendants duped banks, insurers and others by inflating his wealth on financial statements.

Engoron said the defense’s arguments seeking what’s known as a directed verdict were “taken under advisement.” He did not address them further when he returned to court Thursday afternoon to rule on another matter.

In that ruling, Engoron gave Trump’s lawyers a victory, allowing them to call several expert witnesses in an attempt to refute testimony that Trump’s financial statements afforded him better loan terms, insurance premiums and were a factor in dealmaking.

The judge, who’s had a history of ruling against Trump, has signaled interest in seeing the trial through to its conclusion, asking defense lawyers for witness schedules and pegging closing arguments close to Christmas.


Jack Mogannam, manager of Sam’s Cable Car Lounge in downtown San Francisco, relishes the days when his bar stayed open past midnight every night, welcoming crowds that jostled on the streets, bar hopped, window browsed or just took in the night air.

He’s had to drastically curtail those hours because of diminished foot traffic, and business is down 30%. A sign outside the lounge pleads: “We need your support!”

“I’d stand outside my bar at 10 p.m. and look, it would be like a party on the street,” Mogannam said. “Now you see, like, six people on the street up and down the block. It’s a ghost town.”

After a three-year exile, the pandemic now fading from view, the expected crowds and electric ambience of downtown have not returned.

Empty storefronts dot the streets. Large “going out of business” signs hang in windows. Uniqlo, Nordstrom Rack and Anthropologie are gone. Last month, the owner of Westfield San Francisco Centre, a fixture for more than 20 years, said it was handing the mall back to its lender, citing declining sales and foot traffic. The owner of two towering hotels, including a Hilton, did the same.

Shampoo, toothpaste and other toiletries are locked up at downtown pharmacies. And armed robbers recently hit a Gucci store in broad daylight.

San Francisco has become the prime example of what downtowns shouldn’t look like: vacant, crime-ridden and in various stages of decay. But in truth, it’s just one of many cities across the U.S. whose downtowns are reckoning with a post-pandemic wake-up call: diversify or die.

As the pandemic bore down in early 2020, it drove people out of city centers and boosted shopping and dining in residential neighborhoods and nearby suburbs as workers stayed closer to home. Those habits seem poised to stay.

No longer the purview of office workers, downtowns must become around-the-clock destinations for people to congregate, said Richard Florida, a specialist in city planning at the University of Toronto.


The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Gov. Kim Reynolds that seeks to require her office to respond to public record requests.

The court in a unanimous decision rejected Reynolds’ argument that her office wasn’t obligated to respond in a timely matter to record requests and that she could avoid the state’s open records law by simply ignoring the requests. The Supreme Court ordered that the case be returned to the district court where it would be decided on its merits.

“The governor’s office wanted a rule that it and its agencies can ignore public records requests without any consequences,” said Thomas Story, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, which represented three media organizations. “Instead, the Iowa Supreme Court has ruled that nobody is above the law.”

In a statement, Reynolds blamed any delays on a busy staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic and said her office now is responding to records requests.

“While we disagree that this lawsuit should continue, my office has eliminated the backlog of open records requests and is committed to upholding our responsibility to respond to any new requests in a timely manner,” Reynolds said in a statement.

The case stems from a 2021 lawsuit filed by the three media organizations and their reporters who claimed the governor had violated Iowa’s open records law by ignoring requests for government records. The reporters had emailed the governor’s office with eight different open-record requests between April 2020 and April 2021 and renewed each request at least once but didn’t receive any response until filing a lawsuit in December 2021.


The Wisconsin Supreme Court has revoked a law license from a former Milwaukee County juvenile court judge who had pleaded guilty to federal charges of transmitting child pornography.

The state Supreme Court ruled Friday that the seriousness of Brett Blomme’s misconduct while a judge merited the revocation of his law license, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Blomme’s license was already suspended, but he had filed a “petition for the consensual revocation” of his license.

Blomme is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to two federal counts of distributing child pornography in September.

According to a criminal complaint, the state Department of Justice began investigating Blomme in February after receiving a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that he had uploaded child pornography through the Kik messaging application 27 times in October and November 2020.

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