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A little over a year removed from an impeachment scandal that included pricey renovations of court offices, the West Virginia Supreme Court’s lineup is about to finish its own complete makeover, barring a last-second filing.

There are far fewer names for the three races in May than there were for two spots up for grabs in a November 2018 special election. What the races lack in numbers, they make up with cash.

Missing from the list of nine candidates is Justice Margaret Workman, whose 12-year term also ends this year. Saturday was the deadline for candidates to have their papers postmarked. Three seats are up for grabs on May 12.

Workman did not file precandidacy papers for re-election. She did not respond to a request for comment last week.

If the 72-year-old Workman retires, it would mark the last piece in a court turnover over the past four years. Three justices joined the five-member court in 2018. Beth Walker, who was elected in 2016, is the court’s senior member. The last time all five justices were replaced occurred over a four-year span in the late 1990s

Judicial elections in West Virginia became nonpartisan in 2016. In 2018, the court’s impeachment scandal stirred political attacks and some Democrats argued the court’s shakeup was a power grab by Republicans. Regardless of what Workman decides, career Republicans would retain control of the Supreme Court.

While 20 candidates filed for two open seats in the 2018 special election, this year’s races prompted just nine candidates for three races.



Bangladesh’s High Court has asked authorities to shut down 231 factories surrounding the highly polluted main river in the nation’s capital, lawyers and activists said Tuesday.

Manzil Murshid, who filed a petition with the court seeking its intervention, said the factories are mainly small dyeing, tanning and rubber plants operating without approval from the Department of Environment. Such factories often are able to operate with the backing of influential politicians or by bribing government officials.

The court’s decision Monday on the factories near the River Buriganga was hailed by environment activists despite some previous court orders that were not carried out by government authorities, Murshid said.

Murshid represents Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, a domestic advocacy group.

He said the decision came after the environment department submitted a report on 231 factories that operate illegally and contribute highly to the pollution. The court also asked the officials to prepare “a complete list of illegal factories or factories without effluent treatment plants” operating in and around Dhaka within three months.

“This is a good decision. The court has asked the authorities to disconnect water, electricity and other utility services for factories that are polluting the Buriganga,” he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Amatul Karim, who represented the Department of Environment in the case, said the court’s order came after a thorough examination of the history of the factories, the level of pollution of the river and overall damage to the environment.



The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to consider a fast-track review of a lawsuit that threatens the Obama-era health care law, making it highly unlikely that the justices would decide the case before the 2020 election.

The court denied a request by 20 mainly Democratic states and the Democratic-led House of Representatives to decide quickly on a lower-court ruling that declared part of the statute unconstitutional and cast a cloud over the rest.

Defenders of the Affordable Care Act argued that the issues raised by the case are too important to let the litigation drag on for months or years in lower courts, and that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans erred when it struck down the health law's now toothless requirement that Americans have health insurance.

The justices did not comment on their order. They will consider the appeal on their normal timetable and could decide in the coming months whether to take up the case.



A court in eastern Germany indicated Tuesday that it will likely reject a Jewish man’s bid to force the removal of an ugly remnant of centuries of anti-Semitism from a church where Martin Luther once preached.

The Naumburg court's senate said, at a hearing, that “it will maybe reject the appeal,” court spokesman Henning Haberland told reporters.

“The senate could not follow the plaintiff's opinion that the defamatory sculpture can be seen as an expression of disregard in its current presentation,” Haberland said.

The verdict will be announced on February 4.

The so-called “Judensau,” or “Jew pig,” sculpture on the Town Church in Wittenberg dates back to around 1300. It is perhaps the best-known of more than 20 such anti-Semitic relics from the Middle Ages that still adorn churches across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

Located 4 meters (13 feet) above the ground on a corner of the church, it depicts Jews suckling on the teats of a sow, while a rabbi lifts the animal’s tail. In 1570, after the Protestant Reformation, an inscription referring to an anti-Jewish tract by Luther was added.

Judaism considers pigs impure and no one disputes that the sculpture is deliberately offensive. But there is strong disagreement about what to do with the relief.



Crews could start building a private border wall in South Texas within the coming days following a federal judge’s ruling Thursday that lifted a restraining order against the project.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane’s order was the second federal ruling in two days in favor of border barriers. On Wednesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a lower court’s stay that had prevented President Donald Trump’s administration from diverting $3.6 billion from military construction projects to fund 175 miles (280 kilometers) of border wall.

While the White House on Thursday celebrated the appeals court’s ruling, saying it rightfully lifted an “illegitimate nationwide injunction,” Crane’s ruling actually went against the U.S. government’s position.

Fisher Industries, a North Dakota-based construction firm, wants to install 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) of steel posts about 35 feet (10 meters) from the U.S. bank of the Rio Grande, the river that forms the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. The company’s president, Tommy Fisher, wants to spend $40 million on the private border wall ? originally promoted by a pro-Trump online fundraising group ? to prove that his company can build barriers more effectively.


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