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Israel's Supreme Court, widely seen as a guardian of the country's founding democratic principles, is facing fierce pressure from political hard-liners who are challenging what they see as the court's overreach and liberal slant.

The stepped-up rhetoric and attempts to shackle the court are testing Israel's fragile democracy at a time when members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nationalist government have led an onslaught of attacks against the country's liberal institutions, stirring up populist sentiment and deepening a rift with the country's moderates.

The court's critics want it to tone down what they see as its overt activism and demand a rethink of the institution's role in society. But some observers see the campaign against the court as crossing a line.

"The attacks, the incitement is very worrying," said Dalia Dorner, a former Supreme Court judge. "Without an independent court there is no democracy."

In Israel, a country with a robust press and rowdy politics, criticism of the court isn't unusual, but its opponents rarely seek to curb its authority. It also comes as Netanyahu's hawkish coalition government, dominated by religious and nationalist parties, has escalated criticism of many of Israel's liberal bastions in the arts, media and civil society and pledged or carried out legislative action against them.



A late-night party at a vacant home in Washington with strippers and the scent of marijuana. Don't forget the hostess — partygoers said she was called Peaches.

Justices heard arguments Wednesday, and some of them brought up their own party experiences in discussing the case.

At issue are arrests that police made at the party years ago. When responding to neighbors' complaints, they found the home had been turned into something resembling a strip club, with scantily clad women wearing cash-stuffed garter belts.

Partygoers told conflicting stories about what was going on. In the end, police arrested 21 people for trespassing.




The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled Alabama can proceed with the execution of a man convicted of killing his estranged wife and father-in-law in 1993.

Jeffery Lynn Borden is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday at a south Alabama prison. A divided court overturned a stay issued by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled this month that a judge had prematurely dismissed Borden’s challenge to the humanness of the state’s lethal injection procedure.

Three justices— Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen Breyer, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor — indicated they would keep the execution on hold.

Borden, 56, was convicted of killing his wife, Cheryl Borden, and her father, Roland Harris, during a Christmas Eve gathering in Jefferson County in 1993. The state attorney general’s office wrote that trial testimony showed Borden, who was separated from his wife, brought their three children to the gathering at Harris’ house after a weeklong visit, and then shot her in the back of the head as she was helping to move the children’s belongings. He then shot Harris.

The 11th Circuit on Friday temporarily blocked the execution after ruling a judge had prematurely dismissed inmates’ lawsuits that argued the use of the sedative midazolam at the start of the procedure would not reliably render them unconscious before subsequent drugs stop their lungs and heart.



The European Court of Justice has been asked to consider whether Facebook's Dublin-based subsidiary can legally transfer users' personal data to its U.S. parent, after Ireland's top court said Tuesday that there are "well-founded concerns" the practice violates European law.

In a case brought after former U.S. defense contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent of electronic surveillance by American security agencies, the Irish court found that Facebook's transfers may compromise the data of European citizens.

The case has far-reaching implications for social media companies and others who move large amounts of data via the internet. Facebook's European subsidiary regularly does so.

Ireland's data commissioner had already issued a preliminary decision that such transfers may be illegal because agreements between Facebook and its Irish subsidiary don't adequately protect the privacy of European citizens. The Irish High Court is referring the case to the European Court of Justice because the data sharing agreements had been approved by the European Union's executive Commission.

Ireland's data commissioner "has raised well-founded concerns that there is an absence of an effective remedy in U.S. law . for an EU citizen whose data are transferred to the U.S. where they may be at risk of being accessed and processed by U.S. state agencies for national security purposes in a manner incompatible" with the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Irish High Court said Tuesday.

Austrian privacy campaigner Maximillian Schrems, who has a Facebook account, had challenged this practice through the Irish courts because of concerns that his data was being illegally accessed by U.S security agencies.



The Supreme Court won't take up a challenge to a Michigan law that allows the state to temporarily take away local officials' authority during financial crises and appoint an emergency manager.

The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear the case. Voters and elected officials were challenging a state law that says that to rescue financially stressed cities and school districts the state can reassign the governing powers of local officials to a state-appointed emergency manager. An emergency manager was in place during the water crisis in Flint.

Those bringing the lawsuit said emergency managers have been appointed in a high number of areas with large African-American populations but not in similar areas with majority white populations.

Lower courts said lawsuit was brought under a federal law that didn't apply.


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