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Monday, March 22, 2004

Federal courts brief ~ SC anti-abortion license plates unconstitutional
Matthew at 9:50 PM ET

In Monday's federal courts roundup, the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that South Carolina's anti-abortion license plates violate the Constitution because they give anti-abortion advocates a forum to express their views without giving abortion rights supporters a similar forum. The court held that the state engaged in viewpoint discrimination by limiting access to specialty plates to those groups that agree with its pro-life position. AP has the full story. Read the opinion here [PDF].... Judge Nora M. Manella of the US District Court for the Central District of California has ruled that evidence of use of marijuana for medicinal purposes may be introduced as a defense in a criminal drug trial. The decision comes three months after the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal act outlawing the drug may not apply to people with a doctor's recommendation in states that allow medical marijuana use. AP has the full story. See last December's opinion from Raich v. Ashcroft [PDF].... Judge James Ellison of the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma has ruled that survivors of a 1921 race riot in Tulsa cannot sue for reparations in court because the statute of limitations expired 80 years ago. About 150 survivors and 300 descendants of victims argued that the statute of limitations should not apply because they did not obtain information necessary to bring suit until a report was issued in 2001. AP has the full story.... AP reports that a suspicious package at the federal appeals courthouse in Atlanta necessitated a call to the Atlanta police bomb squad. Police blocked off the street behind the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and evacuated part of the vicinity. A powdery material found in the package was later deemed not to be dangerous.... The US Supreme Court Monday heard arguments in the case of Tennard v. Dretke, a Texas death penalty case in which jurors were told they could not take the defendant's IQ of 67 into account as a special circumstance for leniency. Some justices expressed concern about the fairness of the Texas appeals system for capital cases. AP has the full report.... The US Supreme Court also heard arguments today in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, Humboldt County, et al. The case raises the question of whether police can require a person to identify themselves without probable cause. Hiibel refused 11 police requests for his name during a domestic dispute investigation, and was arrested for violating a Nevada law that requires people to identify themselves if requested to do so by police. Knight Ridder has the full story.

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