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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.



A Greek court on Wednesday postponed the retrial of seven suspects on murder charges over the 2017 fatal beating of a Texan tourist on an island resort to allow a lawyer newly hired by the victim's family to familiarize himself with the case.

The court in the western port town of Patras postponed the case until Jan. 13.

Six of the men -- five Serbian nationals and a British man of Serbian origin -- had been convicted by a first instance court last year and sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison, but four have since been released. The seventh defendant, a Greek barman, had been acquitted. A public prosecutor had ordered the retrial of all seven, deeming the sentences too lenient.

Bakari Henderson, a 22-year-old from Austin, died in July 2017 after being beaten in the street following an argument in a bar in the Laganas resort area of Zakynthos island.





President Donald Trump got a reprieve in a former “Apprentice” contestant’s lawsuit over his response to her sexual assault allegations, when appeals judges gave him permission to appeal to New York’s highest court and put proceedings on hold in the meantime.

Trump’s lawyers have been trying to get Summer Zervos’ defamation suit delayed through his presidency or dismissed altogether.

Courts so far have said no, but Trump’s attorneys can now try to persuade the top-level state Court of Appeals to hear the case. Tuesday’s ruling also holds off other pretrial action until the high court decides. Trump had been due to undergo sworn pretrial questioning by Jan. 31, under an agreement the two sides reached last fall.

Trump’s lawyers said they were pleased with the ruling.

“We believe that the Court of Appeals will agree that the U.S. Constitution bars state court actions while the president is in office,” Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP said in a statement.



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