Why two votes beats three on North Dakota Supreme Court; curb on medication abortions is upheld

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By: Debra Cassens Weiss

The North Dakota Supreme Court upheld a law curbing medication abortions in the state on Tuesday, though three of the five justices said the law violates the U.S. Constitution.

Because of a state constitutional requirement, the votes of at least four supreme court justices are needed to strike down a state law, report the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and the Associated Press. “The effect of the separate opinions in this case is that [the law] is not declared unconstitutional by a sufficient majority,” the opinion said. Continue reading

How One Female Lawyer Confronted A Sexist Judge Who Refused To Honor Her Maternity Leave

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By: Caitlin White

On the list of things that qualify as good excuses, it seems like maternity leave is an air-tight reason, right? Wrong! A judge in Atlanta denied Stacy Ehrisman-Mickle’s request to postpone a hearing due to the fact that she had a baby only four weeks earlier. In response to her request, Judge J. Dan Pelletier Sr. wrote, “No good cause. Hearing date set prior to counsel accepting representation.”  Continue reading

Latest fallout in AG’s ‘porngate’ probe: State supreme court judge sent or received over 200 emails

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By: Martha Neil

A justice on Pennsylvania’s top court sent or received more than 200 sexually explicit emails between 2008 and 2012, a probe by the state attorney general’s office has revealed.

The investigation, which showed that Justice Seamus McCaffery was the only state supreme court judge to send or receive such email, was requested by Chief Justice Ronald Castille after AG Kathleen Kane last month publicly identified eight men in her office who sent or received explicit email during the same time period, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Continue reading

Attorney general fights disposal of Ebola victim’s incinerated belongings in Louisiana

By:Abbt Ohlheiser

The incinerated belongings of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan are bound for a Louisiana hazardous waste landfill — unless the state’s attorney general, Buddy Caldwell, has his way.

Caldwell’s office said in an e-mailed statement that it would seek a restraining order to prevent those belongings from crossing into Louisiana from Texas, where they were destroyed.

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines saying that “Ebola-associated waste that has been appropriately inactivated or incinerated is no longer infectious,” Caldwell said in the statement that “there are too many unknowns at this point” for the ashes of Duncan’s belongings to cross into his state. Continue reading

When are wellness programs too punitive? EEOC says two companies crossed the line

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By: Debra Cassens Weiss

Employee wellness programs that encourage healthy lifestyles are all the rage, but some companies may be violating federal law with onerous penalties for workers who don’t participate, according to two lawsuits filed this year by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The most recent suit was filed last week against Wisconsin-based plastics manufacturer Flambeau Inc., report the Wall Street Journal(sub. req.), the Associated Press and an EEOC press release. The suits claim violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which generally bars required medical exams and disability-related inquiries by employers, according to the Wall Street Journal. Continue reading

Eric Holder won’t be held in contempt over ‘Fast and Furious’ documents, rules judge

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By: Vitor Li

Eric Holder got some good news and some bad news as he wraps up his six-year tenure as U.S. Attorney General.

On Monday, a federal judge refused to hold him in contempt of court for failing to turn over documents to House Republicans investigating Operation Fast and Furious, reports the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia denied the contempt order issued by House Republicans.

Holder had missed an Oct. 1 deadline imposed by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee for certain “non-deliberative” documents while a motion he had filed on Sept. 2 for a stay was still pending. This prompted committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to move, the next day, that Holder be found in contempt. Continue reading

California judge upholds law requiring larger cages for egg-producing chickens

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By: Lorelei Laird

A Sacramento, California, federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging that state’s requirements for egg production, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky and Iowa had sued California over rules setting a minimum size for cages used in the production of all eggs sold in the state. If it’s not appealed, the ruling means that the larger-cage requirements will go into effect as scheduled on Jan. 1. Continue reading