A federal judge delivered an order yesterday demanding the removal of a 2.5-ton monument to the Ten Commandments on display in the rotunda of Alabama's Supreme Court. US District Court Judge Myron Thompson, backed by a federal appeals court ruling affirming his decision, gave Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore until Aug. 20 to remove the statue. Thompson delivered the order to the associate justices on the state Supreme Court as well as Gov. Bob Riley and Attorney General William Pryor.
Moore has fought for the Ten Commandments monument ever since he had it installed in the rotunda in the middle of the night in 2001. "Judge Thompson is going ballistic and overreaching his authority," Tom Parker, a spokesman for Moore, told the Associated Press. Suggesting that Moore may disregard his order, Thompson told the Boston Globe that "at this time" he did not foresee "an opportunity for any physical confrontation between federal and state officials or between federal officials and anyone else" to enforce the order.
Alabama Attorney General William Pryor has openly supported the placement of the Ten Commandments monument, seeing no violation of the Constitution's separation of church and state. His nomination by President Bush to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is currently being blocked by a Democratic filibuster in the Senate because of Pryor's far-right, extremist views on religion, women's rights, lesbian and gay rights, and reproductive rights.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .