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A federal judge has ordered energy company Enbridge Inc. and an American Indian tribe to come up with an emergency plan to prevent potential spills from an aging oil pipeline running across the tribe’s reservation.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge in federal court in 2019 to force the company to remove a section of the Line 5 pipeline that runs across the tribe’s reservation in northern Wisconsin, arguing the nearly 70-year-old line poses an unreasonable risk to health and safety. The company agreed and plans to build a $450 million pipeline that would run 41 miles (66 kilometers) around the reservation.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported that U.S. District Judge William Conley said in an order issued Monday that risk of a significant rupture exists and the resulting spill could cause “catastrophic” impacts to the Bad River watershed. He allowed the pipeline to continue operating but ordered the tribe and the company to develop a plan to prevent possible spills.

He told the company and tribe to meet and talk about installing emergency shutoff valves and developing a protocol for shutting down and purging the line by Dec. 17. They must submit proposals by Dec. 24.

Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner said in a statement that the company looks forward to meeting with the tribe. Bad River tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr. didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Sierra Club Wisconsin Director Elizabeth Ward said she’s glad that Conley recognized the tribe’s concerns about a potential spill but she’s disappointed the judge didn’t shut down the line.

Conley has said a shutdown would have significant effects on regional economies. Line 5 carries up to 23 million gallons (about 87 million liters) of oil and natural gas liquids daily and stretches 645 miles (about 1,040 kilometers) from Superior through northern Wisconsin and Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.


The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said his panel is reviewing “serious allegations” in a report that a former anti-abortion leader knew in advance the outcome of a 2014 Supreme Court case involving health care coverage of contraception.

The report Saturday in The New York Times followed the stunning leak earlier this year of a draft opinion in the case in which the high court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending constitutional protections for abortion. That decision was written by Justice Samuel Alito, who is also the author of the majority opinion in the 2014 case at the center of the new report.

In the Times story, Rev. Rob Schenck said he learned the outcome of the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores case weeks before the decision was made public. In a 5-4 decision, Alito wrote that some companies with religious objections can avoid the contraceptives requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care legislation.

Schenck, who previously headed the group Faith and Action, has said in other recent stories in Politico and Rolling Stone that he was part of a concerted effort to forge social and ministry relationships with conservative justices.

In the Times story, Schenck said the information about the Hobby Lobby decision came from Gail Wright, a donor to his organization who was part of the outreach effort to the justices and who had dined with Alito and his wife. Wright herself denied obtaining or sharing any information in an interview with the Times.

The New York Times also published a letter Schenck said he wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in July alerting him to the alleged breach years ago. Schenck wrote that he thought the information might be relevant as part of a probe into the leak of the abortion decision.



The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal from an Arizona prisoner who faces execution on Wednesday in the 1980 killings of two people, clearing the way for the state’s third execution since it started carrying out the death penalty in May after a nearly eight-year hiatus.

Murray Hooper, 76, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at the state prison in Florence for his murder convictions in the killings of William “Pat” Redmond and his mother-in-law, Helen Phelps, at Redmond’s home in Phoenix. Redmond’s wife, Marilyn, also was shot in the head during the attack but survived and testified against Hooper at his trial.

Hooper’s lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to review his claim that that authorities had until recently withheld that Marilyn Redmond had failed to identify him in a photo lineup. The high court made no comment in rejecting his appeal.

Authorities say the killings were carried out at the behest of a man who wanted to take over Redmond’s printing business.

The courts rebuffed attempts by Hooper’s lawyers to postpone the execution and order fingerprint and DNA testing on evidence from the killings.

His lawyers said Hooper is innocent, that no physical evidence ties him to the killings and that testing could lead to identifying those responsible. They say Hooper was convicted before computerized fingerprint systems and DNA testing were available in criminal cases.


A mailer to voters across Kansas suggests removing state Supreme Court justices in Tuesday’s election would protect access to abortion, when abortion rights advocates want to keep them on the bench.

The mailer’s return address says it is from VMCF Inc., of Lenexa, a Kansas City suburb. For a brief time in October, that was the legal name of a charitable foundation run by a prominent Republican direct mail firm’s owner, state records show.

One side says “Kansans pushed back” against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in late June to overturn Roe v. Wade. Voters in August decisively rejected a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution. The mailer includes the logo of the pro-amendment side with a red “X” through it.

The mailer’s opposite side urges no votes Tuesday on retaining state Supreme Court justices. Six of the seven justices are on the ballot for yes-or-no votes on whether they stay on the bench another six years.

Abortion rights groups want to retain the justices, and Kansans for Life, the state’s most influential anti-abortion group, wants to oust five of the six. The court in 2019 ruled that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the Kansas Constitution, spurring GOP legislators to push the proposed anti-abortion amendment.


A rural Nevada county can start hand-counting mail-in ballots two weeks before Election Day, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday, but it won’t be allowed to livestream the tallying and must make other changes to its plans.

The ruling came in response to an emergency petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which challenged several aspects of Nye County’s plan to start hand-counting votes next week.

The ACLU said in its lawsuit that the plan risked leaking early voting results. It also said rules on touch screens to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act were too vague and restrictive, and that the county violated state law with its “stringent signature verification” for voter ID.

Located between Las Vegas and Reno, rural Nye County was one of the first jurisdictions nationwide to act on election conspiracies related to mistrust in voting machines.

Alongside the primary machine tabulation process, Interim County Clerk Mark Kampf’s plans to publicly hand-count all paper ballots. The hand-count was first proposed to county commissioners by Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant in response to false claims about Dominion voting machines.


A federal judge told Alabama to stop being vague and give a firm answer by Thursday evening on if the prison system is ready to use the untested execution method of nitrogen hypoxia at an execution next week.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker, Jr. gave the state the deadline to file an affidavit, or declaration, on whether the state could try to execute inmate Alan Miller by nitrogen hypoxia on Sept. 22 if the use of lethal injection is blocked. The order came after the state dangled the possibility during a Monday court hearing of being ready to become the first state to attempt an execution with nitrogen hypoxia.

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed execution method in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, thereby depriving him or her of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. It’s authorized as an execution method in three states — Alabama, Oklahoma and Mississippi — but has never been used.

The state provided “vague and imprecise statements regarding the readiness and intent to move forward with an execution on September 22, 2022, by nitrogen hypoxia,” Huffaker said.

The judge asked the state Monday whether it was ready to use the method at Miller’s execution. A state attorney replied that it was “very likely” it could use nitrogen hypoxia next week, but said the state prison commissioner has the final decision.

“On or before September 15, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. CDT, the defendants shall file an affidavit or declaration of Commissioner John Q. Hamm, Attorney General Steve Marshall, or other appropriate official with personal knowledge, definitively setting forth whether or not the Defendants can execute the Plaintiff by nitrogen hypoxia on September 22, 2022,” the judge wrote in a Tuesday order.

Miller is seeking to block his scheduled execution by lethal injection, claiming prison staff lost paperwork he returned in 2018 choosing nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method.

Miller testified Monday that he is scared of needles so he signed a form selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method. He said he left the form in his cell door tray for an prison officer to pick up. The state said there is no evidence to corroborate his claim.


A Michigan elections board on Wednesday rejected an abortion rights initiative after its two Republican board members voted against putting the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

The two Democrats on the Board of State Canvassers voted in favor, but getting the measure on the ballot required at least three votes of the four-member board. The Reproductive Freedom for All campaign, which gathered signatures to get the measure on the ballot, is expected to appeal to the Democratic-leaning Michigan Supreme Court in the coming days and expressed confidence it would prevail.

The board’s administrative and clerical work on elections was once carried out in obscurity, but it drew national attention in 2020 when Donald Trump pressured Republican members not to certify Joe Biden’s electoral win in the state. Its partisan split was evident on another issue Wednesday, when it deadlocked 2-2 on a measure to expand voting, with Democrats for it and Republicans against.

The proposed constitutional amendment aims to negate a 91-year-old state law that would ban abortion in all instances except to save the life of the mother. The meeting drew hundreds of people, who packed the hearing room and overflow rooms for a chance to comment. Abortion opponents also protested outside.

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