Senator Bob Packwood (R-Ore.) announced on Friday that he now does want the Senate ethics committee to conduct public hearings on charges against him of sexual misconduct. Packwood had earlier requested, and the Senate voted 52-48 to allow, closed hearings -- since then, however, two new allegations of sexual misconduct have surfaced. There is speculation that Packwood's sudden announcement seeking public hearings was aimed at forestalling another Senate vote, one that might reverse the earlier decision. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), who led the campaign for public hearings, said in an interview that Packwood might also use the hearings to badger his accusers, out of a belief that "The only way he can get a light sentence is to impugn the witnesses." Boxer added, "Senator Packwood’s request...may seem surprising on the surface, but this was really his only choice given the rising tide of public opinion."
11/20/2014 Federal Appeals Court Rejects Priests for Life Challenge to Birth Control Coverage Rule - In a victory for women's health, a unanimous panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Friday rejected a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) contraceptive coverage benefit brought by Priests for Life, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington and other religiously affiliated non-profit organizations.
Judge Nina Pillard, a former law professor who was nominated to the DC Circuit by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in December, wrote the opinion for the Court, which found that the ACA birth control benefit did not substantially burden or violate non-profits' religious freedom.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance companies must cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives - including the pill, IUDs, and emergency contraception - without requiring co-pays or cost-sharing. . . .