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Appeals court rejects request to postpone voter ID decision - 2016/07/28

An appeals court has quickly decided it won't delay enforcement of its ruling striking down North Carolina's photo identification requirement and other election restrictions, including reducing early in-person voting by seven days. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the stay Thursday, one day after state leaders' attorneys requested that last week's ruling be set aside as they prepare to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case. A 4th Circuit panel had determined a 2013 law Republicans approved amounted to intentional discrimination of black voters. Thursday's order says the harm to disenfranchised voters outweighs granting a delay. Last week's injunction means no voter ID mandate and 17 days of early voting with same-day registration. The state has other options to seek a delay.

Appeals court rejects request to postpone voter ID decision - 2016/07/22

An appeals court has quickly decided it won't delay enforcement of its ruling striking down North Carolina's photo identification requirement and other election restrictions, including reducing early in-person voting by seven days. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the stay Thursday, one day after state leaders' attorneys requested that last week's ruling be set aside as they prepare to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case. A 4th Circuit panel had determined a 2013 law Republicans approved amounted to intentional discrimination of black voters. Thursday's order says the harm to disenfranchised voters outweighs granting a delay. Last week's injunction means no voter ID mandate and 17 days of early voting with same-day registration. The state has other options to seek a delay.

Raytheon suit gets class-action status - 2016/05/28

A federal judge agreed to allow more than 1,000 property owners in St. Petersburg, Fla., to sue Raytheon Co., the world's largest missile maker, as a group over claims it caused pollution that lowered their property values. The residents accuse Waltham, Mass.-based Raytheon of polluting the soil and groundwater around its St. Petersburg facility. The class-action certification means the owners don't have to sue individually, making it easier and cheaper for them to pursue the litigation. "The unique facts of this mass tort case make certification appropriate at this juncture," US District Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington in Tampa, Fla., wrote after a three-day hearing. In March 2008, the owners' lawyers said the case was worth $400 million. They later dropped parts of the case, including a request that Raytheon be made to pay for medical monitoring of residents. The suit was originally filed in Florida state court in April 2008. Raytheon moved it to federal court the next month. The case concerns about 1,300 residential and commercial properties in St. Petersburg, said Brian Barr, a lawyer for the owners at Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Echsner & Proctor PA in Pensacola, Fla. Barr said he didn't know the amount of the potential damages. They are "significantly less"' than the original $400 million estimate, he said.

Bahrain court more than doubles opposition leader's sentence - 2016/05/27

A Bahraini appeals court on Monday more than doubled the prison term for the country's top Shiite opposition figure in a ruling that his political bloc blasted as "unacceptable and provocative." Sheikh Ali Salman now faces nine years behind bars, up from an earlier four, following his conviction last year on charges that included incitement and insulting the Interior Ministry. Salman is the secretary-general of Al-Wefaq, the country's largest Shiite political group. He was a key figure in Bahrain's 2011 Arab Spring-inspired uprising, which was dominated by the island nation's Shiite majority and sought greater political rights from the Sunni monarchy. Authorities crushed the initial uprising in a matter of weeks with help from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Localized protests continue in Shiite communities, with young activists frequently clashing with police. Occasional small bomb attacks have killed police officers in the country, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Court upholds $3M judgment against Gerber Products Co. - 2016/05/17

A sharply divided Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday said a baby food manufacturer must pay more than $3 million to workers for the time they spent dressing and undressing into uniforms and protective gear. In a 4-3 ruling, the high court upheld a lower court's ruling that Gerber Products Co. should have compensated more than 800 workers at its Fort Smith facility for the time they spent changing into uniforms, donning protective gear such as ear plugs and washing their hands, as well as undressing after their shifts ended. Justices sided with the workers who said Arkansas' Minimum Wage Act required the company to compensate for the activities despite an agreement with the union. "We hold that the donning and doffing activities constitute compensable work under the AMWA, despite the custom and practice under the collective-bargaining agreement," Justice Karen Baker wrote in the majority opinion. The ruling drew sharp objections from three justices, who said in a dissenting opinion that because of the decision "the floodgates will open to litigation at the enormous cost to businesses in Arkansas." "In addition, the majority undermines the collective-bargaining process and destroys any confidence employers and employees have in the enforceability of their agreements," Justice Rhonda Wood wrote. Gerber had argued the workers' union had agreed to not be paid for the time in a contract that also included larger wage increases for the employees. The company said in a statement it was disappointed with the ruling and was evaluating its options.

US appeals court revisits Texas voter ID law - 2016/05/12

A federal appeals court is set to take a second look at a strict Texas voter ID law that was found to be unconstitutional last year. Texas' law requires residents to show one of seven forms of approved identification. The state and other supporters say it prevents fraud. Opponents, including the U.S. Justice Department, say it discriminates by requiring forms of ID that are more difficult to obtain for low-income, African-American and Latino voters. Arguments before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are set for Tuesday morning. The full court agreed to rehear the issue after a three-judge panel ruled last year that the law violates the Voting Rights Act. Lawyers for Texas argue that the state makes free IDs easy to obtain, that any inconveniences or costs involved in getting one do not substantially burden the right to vote, and that the Justice Department and other plaintiffs have failed to prove that the law has resulted in denying anyone the right to vote. Opponents counter in briefs that trial testimony indicated various bureaucratic and economic burdens associated with the law for instance, the difficulty in finding and purchasing a proper birth certificate to obtain an ID. A brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union cites testimony in other voter ID states indicating numerous difficulties faced by people, including burdensome travel and expenses to get required documentation to obtain IDs.