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Pence Breaks Tie in Unprecedented Confirmation Vote

It's been a nail-biter for judicial nominees since the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing.

Sure, Kavanaugh survived the surreal proceedings. But not every judicial nominee is making it in the stormy political climate.

In the latest showdown, Jonathan Kobes cleared confirmation by one vote. Vice President Mike Pence cast the unprecedented tiebreaker.

Missouri Must Change Voter Registration System

A federal judge ordered Missouri to roll back its voter registration system because it violates the law.

In League of Women Voters of Missouri v. Ashcroft, Judge Brian Wimes said the current system could leave some voters with out-of-date registrations. That violates the National Voter Registration Act.

The decision will be effective immediately to avoid problems in the November elections. The judge said it was an extreme measure, but right for the time.

Court Says Campaign Finance Law Violates Free Speech of Political Action Committees

Political action committees have a constitutional right to receive contributions from each other, a federal appeals court said.

In Free and Fair Election Fund v. Missouri Ethics Commission, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said Missouri violated that right. The state's constitution banned inter-committee contributions, but the appeals court said they have a right to do it under the First Amendment.

The appeals panel said the state may restrict campaign financing to prevent "corruption or the appearance of corruption," but the Missouri law did nothing like that.

Lawsuit Asks, 'What Is Meat'?

They don't make hamburgers like they used to, and that's the beef in a new lawsuit.

In Turtle Island Foods v. Richardson, a meat-substitute company is suing over a Missouri law that prohibits advertising "meat" products unless they come from livestock or poultry. The statute carries penalties up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The company makes plant-based substitutes for meat from soy, wheat, vegetable protein and other ingredients. For the cattle industry, however, it's like the Wendy's lady said: "Where's the beef?"

Another Pipeline Hits a Legal Snag in Federal Court

It's been a bad couple of weeks for two American pipelines.

Federal judges shut down part of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and another judge stalled the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipelines are not connected, but the court decisions have a common thread.

As all the judges said, everybody needs to slow down so we don't harm the environment.

First Fentanyl Execution in the U.S.

Carey Dean Moore died by lethal injection. It took about 20 minutes for the drugs to do their work.

Moore was executed for murdering two men in five days. It took almost 40 years for the legal system to do its part.

In Nebraska, everything about the death penalty changed during that time. The last thing that mattered legally in Moore's case was one of the drugs injected into him.

Appeals Court Affirms Convictions Against Minnesota Terrorists

Minnesota is erroneously known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

It has 12,000, but that's not important right now. What is important is a federal appeals court decision involving three convicted terrorists in Minnesota.

The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed decades-long sentences in the nation's largest probe of terrorist recruitment. But why Minnesota?

Attorneys General Urge Circuit Court Not to Expand Title VII

The states have aligned in the battle over LGBT employment rights in the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Attorneys general from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Nebraska, and South Dakota have cast their opinions against a man who claims he lost a job because he is gay. Half of those states are in the Eighth Circuit's boundaries.

Meanwhile, eighteen other states have filed on behalf of the plaintiff in Horton v. Midwest Geriatric Management, LLC. The appeals court will decide his fate, but will also push the pendulum forward or backward for LGBT rights in America.

Sad news broke last week that federal appeals court judge, Diana Murphy, passed away. She was reportedly not in good health, and was at home last Wednesday when it happened.

Judge Murphy, who was 84 years-old, will be remembered as a legal pioneer. When she was appointed in 1994, she was the first woman justice to sit on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and was still on the bench until her passing, just on senior status. She had planned to fully retire this coming July.

TD Ameritrade Securities Cases Get Kicked Back

A "bung," in the English vernacular, is a payment made to someone to do something dishonest.

Like "kickback," it has its origins in football. Some speculate it started with cheating in exchange for "snuff, moustache wax and several pints of pale ale."

Some two hundred years later, a kickback and a bung seem wrong by any definition. In any case, the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals said three kickback cases based on state laws certainly don't belong in federal court.