Roundups Law and Policy

Gavel Drop: Maine’s Top Court Considers State Abortion Funding

Imani Gandy & Jessica Mason Pieklo

The ACLU is suing to ensure the state's Medicaid-like program can pay for abortions.

Welcome to Gavel Drop, our roundup of legal news, headlines, and head-shaking moments in the courts.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court—the highest court in the state—is poised to decide whether the state’s Medicaid program should cover abortions. The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits most abortion funding at the federal level, allows states to use their own funding, and that’s what the ACLU wants Maine to do.

Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota is in a trademark battle with the Minnesota-based Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in federal court. The foundation—a nonprofit that supports services for children, families, and seniors—says that Planned Parenthood has been using its “here for good” trademark without permission. Planned Parenthood says it is “bewildered by Wilder’s actions.”

Nebraska Supreme Court Judge Max Kelch resigned rather than face an ethics investigation about alleged sexual comments he made toward women throughout his career.

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals approved a $25 million dollar settlement in a lawsuit filed against Trump University. Students claimed Donald Trump and his “university” promised to teach them the “secrets of success” in the real estate industry. But then—surprise!—he didn’t.

Chief Judge James Fleetwood of the Sedgwick County District Court in Topeka, Kansas, told lawmakers it is embarrassing that the court had to start a food pantry for workers who don’t make enough money to feed themselves or their children. Starting pay for a clerk there is only slightly more than the wages at Wal-Mart. The pantry provides cans of tuna, peanut butter, mac and cheese, and bread.

The Ohio Supreme Court upheld an order barring Capital Care of Toledo, the city’s only abortion-providing facility, from performing surgical abortions because the clinic was unable to secure a transfer agreement with a local hospital. The Ohio Department of Health issued regulations requiring transfer agreements while also barring public hospitals from providing them. You can read a summary of the case in our legislative tracker.

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked part of a decision requiring North Carolina to redraw some of its legislative maps. The lower court had ruled that several districts were the result of illegal racial gerrymandering.

A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by Marsha Wetzel, a 70-year-old lesbian who says the staff of Glen Saint Andrew Living Community near Chicago did nothing to stop residents from abusing her because she is gay. She was spit on, hit, and one resident injured Wetzel by ramming her scooter with a walker.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is installing “religious liberty czars” in every U.S. attorney’s office. Each office will have a staff member whose job it is to monitor litigation and inform higher-ups when “religious freedom” is at issue in a lawsuit.

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