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Abortion has always been a controversial topic, and much of the pro-life/pro-choice debate has taken place in public forums like marches, demonstrations, and other protests. And some pro-life advocates have taken their message straight to medical clinics and facilities, much to the chagrin of women's health care providers.

In response, some states, counties, and municipalities have passed "buffer zone" or "bubble zone" ordinances, prohibiting protests and leafletting near clinics that provide abortion services. One such law in Chicago survived a legal challenge this week, but it is unclear how long the law will stand.

San Francisco's Warning Labels on Soda Blocked

An en banc ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of beverage companies seeking to get an injunction on the ordinance passed in 2015 by the City and County of San Francisco (CCSF), requiring 20 percent of a soda label to show a black-box warning that reads: "WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco."

Though the eleven member panel disagreed on exactly why they favored imposing the injunction, they all agreed that the three member panel of the Court of Appeals was incorrect in denying the injunction, since they believed it was entirely possible that the soda companies may ultimately win the case in overturning the ordinance, and therefore compelling them to follow the law would place an undue burden and irreparable harm on them. Now the case will be sent back to the district court to be decided on its merits.

Iowa Strikes Down Fetal Heartbeat Law

The abortion battle is heating up, especially given the composite of the current United States Supreme Court. Most states are looking to retain as many rights as possible at the state level, and the Iowa courts are no exception.

Judge Michael Huppert of Polk County, Iowa, ruled that according to a 2018 Iowa Supreme Court decision, the states Fetal Heartbeat law violates the Iowa Constitution, which makes a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy a fundamental right. By relying on the Iowa Constitution and the Iowa Supreme Court precedent, Huppert should be able to keep this case out of the United States Supreme Court. But it could just be a matter of time before the right case hits the right court, and the real battle begins.

Federal Judge Blocks Employers From Opting Out of Birth Control Coverage

At the eleventh hour, one judge in Philadelphia blocked employers from opting out of providing birth control coverage to employees.

The Trump Administration, specifically the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor and Treasury, issued new federal laws in October 2018, allowing business and nonprofits to opt out of offering birth control through their employee's health insurance plans. That rule, set to go into effect on January 14, 2019, was brought to a grinding halt, courtesy of U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone in Philadelphia.

Iowa's 'Ag-Gag' Law Struck Down

Ag-gag laws are intended to muzzle the voices of undercover journalists and animal rights activist looking to expose certain unethical practices in the agricultural community. Often, these journalists and activists use false pretenses in order to gain their employment, and then go rogue once inside the organization. The Iowa government wanted to criminalize this conduct, but the plaintiffs, and ultimately the judge, felt what was being criminalized was the speech, not the conduct, and therefore declared Iowa's ag-gag law unconstitutional.

Politicians Can't Block Voters on Facebook, Court Rules

Politicians give up some personal rights as elected officials, and one of those is blocking haters. Though blocking those that challenge your viewpoints on Facebook is tempting and acceptable by the general public, that's not the case for politicians, according to one court. Another key take-away from this decision: a social media page can be considered a public forum. Facebook, you've come a long way, baby!

Google's Face Scanning on Android Photos Doesn't Violate Privacy

Facial recognition software is all the rage these days, from unlocking your iPhone to unlocking doors at your place of business to allowing you access to theme parks with your season pass. As creepy as biometrics often seems to the general public, it is not a violation of privacy. Google won a major biometrics lawsuit in Illinois federal court this week, based on a challenge under Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. Facebook still faces a similar legal challenge, but Google is off the legal hook.

New Yorkers Need Permits to Carry Guns in Public, Judge Rules

New York may be ready to legalize nunchucks, but not carrying guns in public. A district court judge upheld New York's current concealed-carry law, New York State Penal Law Section 400.00 (2)(f), which requires petitioners to show "proper cause" for the need to carry a loaded firearm outside the home.

Though plaintiffs claimed this amounted to a de facto ban on almost all public carry licenses, since such few requests were granted, the judge disagreed, stating this law in no way violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and subsequently dismissed the case.

Not every appeal to the Supreme Court gets heard. In fact, you need four of the nine Justices to agree to grant what is known as certiorari before a case can move forward to arguments. And because the Court doesn't normally elaborate on the reasons for declining to hear appeals, such decisions are ripe for interpretation.

Take the recent refusal to hear appeals from two lower court decisions regarding Planned Parenthood. Those lower courts ruled that Medicaid recipients can sue states that strip funding for the nonprofit or remove it from their lists of qualified service providers. The Court voted 6-3 to leave those decisions in place, leading to speculation as to why a supposedly conservative court declined to take on an abortion-related appeal.

The Second Amendment protects "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." But it has little to say about the ammunition for those arms. Given that just about every gun that existed at the time the Constitution was written fired a single shot at a time, it's likely that the framers didn't envision large capacity magazines feeding dozens or hundreds of rounds of ammunition into a single firearm, much less protecting the right to those magazines.

But that's not quite why the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld New Jersey's ban on magazines housing more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Instead, the court cited the recent rise in active and mass shooting incidents, and the common theme that many of those mass shooters take advantage of large capacity magazines (or LCMs), leading to a "significant increase in the frequency and lethality of these incidents."