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Thursday, Jul 24th

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NYC to provide free legal aid, IDs to undocumented immigrants

NYC MayorAs Congress remains gridlocked by the partisan wrangling over the issue of illegal immigration, New York City this week approved two separate plans that advocates say could signal a sea change in the ways cities handle undocumented workers and their families.

On Wednesday, the New York City Council earmarked $4.9 million of the city budget to give legal assistance to foreign-born New York residents facing deportation. This makes New York the first city in the US to provide lawyers for low-income immigrants detained by federal authorities. The city will provide such aid both for undocumented immigrants and for those with legal residency.

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Supreme Court Rebukes Obama on Right of Appointment

Obama rebuked by SCThe Supreme Court issued a unanimous rebuke to President Obama on Thursday, saying he had overreached in issuing recess appointments during brief breaks in the Senate’s work.

Mr. Obama violated the Constitution in 2012, the justices said, by appointing officials to the National Labor Relations Board during a break in the Senate’s work when the chamber was convening every three days in short pro forma sessions in which no business was conducted. Those breaks were too short, Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in a majority opinion joined by the court’s four other more liberal members.

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Federal judge upholds Colorado gun restrictions

gun controlA federal judge upheld Colorado gun restrictions that were enacted in response to 2012 mass shootings, saying Thursday that limiting the size of ammunition magazines and expanding background checks on firearm purchases are constitutional acts.

But gun-rights advocates who sued the state to overturn the laws called the ruling only the first round and said they planned to appeal.

In a 50-page decision, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger said both laws don't infringe on individuals' right to bear arms. The judge further said that limiting magazine sizes doesn't obstruct individuals' ability to protect themselves, and that the expansion of background checks to include firearms sold online and between private parties "is no more severe" than the requirements already in place for commercial sales before the new law.

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DNA evidence prompts Florida Supreme Court to overturn death sentence

Floria death penalty case overturnedNearly 30 years after Paul C. Hildwin was convicted of strangling a Hernando County woman, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday overturned both his conviction and death sentence, saying that new DNA evidence “completely discredits” the case used by the state.

A divided court ruled 5-2 that Hildwin should be given a new trial.

The new evidence instead points to the person that Hildwin said had done the crime all along — the victim’s boyfriend who was sentenced in 1998 to 20 years for attempted sexual battery of a child.

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Battle over same-sex marriages in St. Louis headed to court

St. Louis challenges same sex marriage banMiranda Duschack and Karen Davis were first married in a 2012 spiritual ceremony where they jumped over a broom, an African wedding tradition also used today by some same-sex couples to signify vows that aren’t legally sanctioned.

On Wednesday the couple, who together run an urban farm in south St. Louis, stepped into history on the burgundy carpet of Mayor Francis Slay’s ornate City Hall office by exchanging vows, and were given an official marriage certificate in a ceremony officiated by Municipal Judge Joseph Murphy.

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Supreme Court Narrows President's Recess Appointment Power

Supreme Court membersThe US Supreme Court today limited a president's power to make recess appointments when the White House and the Senate are controlled by opposite parties, scaling back a presidential authority as old as the republic.

The case arose from a political dispute between President Obama and Senate Republicans, who claimed he had no authority to put three people on the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012 when the Senate was out of town.

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Supreme Court voids 35-foot abortion clinic buffer

Abortion protesters barriersThe Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a 35-foot protest-free zone outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts.

The justices were unanimous in ruling that extending a buffer zone 35 feet from clinic entrances violates the First Amendment rights of protesters.  Chief Justice John Roberts said authorities have less intrusive ways to deal with problems outside the clinics.

While the court was unanimous in the outcome, Roberts joined with the four liberal justices to strike down the buffer zone on narrow grounds. In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Roberts' opinion for carrying forward "this court's practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents."

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