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The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear President Donald Trump’s pleas to keep his tax, bank and financial records private, a major confrontation between the president and Congress that also could affect the 2020 presidential campaign.

Arguments will take place in late March, and the justices are poised to issue decisions in June as Trump is campaigning for a second term. Rulings against the president could result in the quick release of personal financial information that Trump has sought strenuously to keep private. The court also will decide whether the Manhattan district attorney can obtain eight years of Trump’s tax returns as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

The subpoenas are separate from the ongoing impeachment proceedings against Trump, headed for a vote in the full House next week. Indeed, it’s almost certain the court won’t hear the cases until after a Senate trial over whether to remove Trump has ended.

Trump sued to prevent banks and accounting firms from complying with subpoenas for his records from three committees of the House of Representatives and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.

In three separate cases, he has so far lost at every step, but the records have not been turned over pending a final court ruling. Now it will be up to a court that includes two Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, to decide in a case with significant implications reagrding a president’s power to refuse a formal request from Congress.



The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal Wednesday by an Arizona death row inmate who is seeking a new sentencing trial, arguing the horrific physical abuse that he suffered as a child wasn't fully considered when he was first sentenced.

The appeal of James Erin McKinney could affect as many as 15 of Arizona's 104 death row inmates. Attorneys say the Arizona courts used an unconstitutional test in examining the mitigating factors considered during the sentencing trials of the inmates.

The Supreme Court has ruled both that juries, not judges, must impose death sentences, and that mitigating factors, including childhood deprivations, must be factored into sentencing decisions.

McKinney's attorneys say the Arizona Supreme Court erred last year in upholding his sentences after a federal appellate decision concluded that the state court used an unconstitutional test in examining the mitigating factors considered during his sentencing.

Prosecutors said McKinney shouldn't get a sentencing retrial, arguing his case was considered officially closed years before the 2002 Supreme Court decision that required death penalty decisions to be made by jurors, not judges.

Attorneys say the decision in McKinney's case could affect other Arizona death row inmates who could challenge the test used in evaluating the mitigating factors considered during sentencing. But it's unclear whether the ruling would affect death penalty cases from other states.

Jordon Steiker, a law professor at the University of Texas who filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting McKinney's position, said he doesn't think the McKinney decision will have much of an effect on cases outside of Arizona.



The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state must count thousands of signatures that were submitted in favor of holding a referendum on a new law expanding the procedures optometrists can perform.

In a 4-3 ruling, justices said election officials incorrectly applied new ballot measure restrictions when they refused to review the signatures submitted by referendum supporters.

The new law allows optometrists to perform several procedures that previously only ophthalmologists could perform, including injections around the eye, the removal of lesions from the eyelids and certain laser eye surgeries. The law's supporters say optometrists are already trained to perform the procedures but were being forced to refer patients elsewhere. It has drawn heavy opposition from ophthalmologists who say the change puts patients at risk.

The secretary of state's office in August said most of the signatures submitted for the referendum weren't counted since canvassers didn't file required paperwork. But the court ruled that the requirement wasn't in effect at the time the signatures were gathered.





A transgender student’s fight over school bathrooms comes before a federal appeals court Thursday, setting the stage for a groundbreaking ruling.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will hear arguments about whether a Florida school district should be ordered to allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Drew Adams, who has since graduated from Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, won a lower court ruling last year ordering the St. Johns County school district to allow him to use the boys’ restroom. The district has appealed, arguing that although it will permit transgender students to use single-occupancy, gender-neutral restrooms, it shouldn’t be forced to let students use the restroom of the gender they identify with.

The 11th Circuit could become the first federal appeals court to issue a binding ruling on the issue, which has arisen in several states. The ruling would cover schools in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and could carry the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 4th Circuit had ruled in favor of a Virginia student, but the Supreme Court sent the case back down for further consideration. That’s because the U.S. Department of Education, under President Donald Trump, withdrew guidance that said federal law called for treating transgender students equally, including allowing them to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.



The International Criminal Court opened a three-day hearing Wednesday at which prosecutors and victims aim to overturn a decision scrapping a proposed investigation into alleged crimes in Afghanistan’s brutal conflict.

Fergal Gaynor, a lawyer representing 82 Afghan victims, called it “a historic day for accountability in Afghanistan.”

In April, judges rejected a request by the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed by the Taliban, Afghan security forces and American military and intelligence agencies.

In the ruling, which was condemned by victims and rights groups, the judges said that an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice" because it would likely fail due to lack of cooperation.

The decision came a month after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo banned visas for ICC staff seeking to investigate allegations of war crimes and other abuses by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

“Whether the two events are in fact related is unknown, but for many ? victims as well as commentators ? the timing appeared more than coincidental,” said lawyer Katherine Gallagher, who was representing two men being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

The United States is not a member of the global court and refuses to cooperate with it, seeing the institution as a threat to U.S. sovereignty and arguing American courts are capable of dealing with allegations of abuse by U.S. nationals.


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