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Court Rejects Attack on Anti-Abortion Law

Tennesseans voted abortion rights out of the state constitution, and that settles it, a federal appeals court said.

Fifty-three percent of the voters approved the constitutional amendment, but opponents sued for a recount. The U.S Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to reject the lawsuit in George v. Hargett.

"Although the subject of abortion rights will continue to be controversial in Tennessee and across our nation, it is time for uncertainty surrounding the people's 2014 approval and ratification of Amendment 1 to be put to rest," Judge David McKeague wrote.

6th Circuit: Detroit's Dog Ordinance Bites

Some 50,000 stray dogs roam -- sometimes in packs -- the streets and abandoned homes of Detroit.

That's how the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals describes the "dog problem" in Motor City. So how bad is it?

It's so bad the city passed an ordinance authorizing police to enter private property and seize animals without a warrant. That's bad, too, the appeals court said in Hardrick v. City of Detroit.

Judge Sam Benningfield, of White County, Tennessee, made national headlines this spring, again over the summer, and is doing it one more time this fall. For the most part, it's all related to the same idea he had that was so wild it violated the Constitution.

Benningfield, back in May, issued an order that gave inmates 30 days credit in exchange for undergoing a birth control procedure. For male inmates, it involved a vasectomy, for female inmates, it involved a placement of the Nexplannon device, a birth control device that is implanted in the arm and lasts for three years. Not surprisingly, after his order was announced, an outcry and investigation ensued. As a result of that investigation, Benningfield received a public reprimand from the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct.

Justice Joan Larsen Confirmed to Sixth Circuit

Justice Joan Larsen will join the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, becoming the second woman confirmed to a federal appeals court by the Senate this week.

Larsen also becomes the ninth woman on the Sixth Circuit, bringing her perspective to a court where men outnumber women two to one. The female jurist is hardly defined by gender, but her appointment represents clear differences in the judiciary.

In addition to more women, President Trump has appointed more judges in a shorter period of time than the last two presidents. New judges are coming on strong.

Prominent federal court and federal appellate court Justice Damon Jerome Keith, now 95 years old, is celebrating his 50th year of judging, and doesn't show any signs of getting off the bench.

Judge Keith started his judicial career in 1967 when President Lyndon Johnson appointed him to the federal Eastern District Court in Michigan. A decade later President Jimmy Carter nominated Judge Keith for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has remained for the last 40 years.

Kentucky Judge Strikes Down Abortion Ultrasound Law

Judge David Hale is not a man of few words, especially on the issues of abortion and free speech.

In a 30-page ruling, the federal judge struck down a Kentucky law that would require doctors to take an ultrasound of the fetus and describe it to a patient before performing an abortion.

He said the law, HB 2, violates doctors' First Amendment rights and "appears to inflict psychological harm on abortion patients."

Court Splits on Government-Led Prayer

For a prayerful people, there sure is a lot of bickering about prayer in government chambers these days -- and in the courts of appeal in particular.

In Bormuth v. County of Jackson, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals split over the issue of county commissioners leading prayer to open their meetings. Nine justices approved; six didn't.

"[A]lthough the prayers offered before the board generally espouse the Christian faith, this does not make the practice incompatible with the Establishment Clause," Judge Richard Allen Griffin wrote for the majority. "Quite the opposite, the content of the prayers at issue here falls within the religious idiom accept by our Founders."

Court Rejects Senator's Suit Against Foreign Taxes

It's one thing when a U.S. Senator can't get a bill passed; it's another when he can't get past standing to sue in court.

But that's what happened to Senator Rand Paul on his way to the Capitol, where he introduced a bill to repeal the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. In Crawford v. United States Department of the Treasury, Paul argued that the Act gave the IRS too much power to collect account information from citizens living abroad.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument, saying Paul and other plaintiffs had no standing because the government had not enforced the Act against them.

LGBT Rights Groups Adamantly Oppose Judicial Nominees

If attorneys John Bush and Damien Schiff were running for office, they might have been well-suited to serve in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Bush has made politically polarizing comments about issues such same sex-marriage, abortion, and women's rights. Schiff has publicly disparaged gays and even said states should be allowed to criminalize consensual sodomy.

But Bush and Schiff are in the running for judicial appointments. President Trump likes them for the federal courts; LGBT rights groups, not so much.

Same-Sex Couple Back to Court Against Kim Davis for Denied License

A federal appeals court revived a high-profile civil case against a county clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue a marriage license to a gay couple.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal sent the case back to a trial judge, who had dismissed the complaint as moot after a state law removed clerks as signors on marriage certificates. Kim Davis, a Kentucky court clerk, had refused to issue a license to plaintiffs David Ermold and David Moore in 2015.

Davis refused on religious grounds, even after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, choosing instead to spend five days in jail for contempt.