Oregon is launching a new abortion hotline offering free legal advice to callers, moving to further defend abortion access after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer and eliminated federal protections for the procedure.
The state’s Department of Justice announced the initiative Monday. It is modeled on similar hotlines launched by the attorneys general of New York and Delaware, as states where abortion remains legal have seen an increase in the number of patients traveling from areas where the procedure has been banned or restricted.
“The Hotline will fill an important need in our state for callers to understand the status of our reproductive health laws, including issues related to abortion access,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a news release. “This is especially important because we share a border with Idaho, which has a near-total abortion ban.”
Abortion remains legal at all stages of pregnancy in Oregon, which has worked with California and Washington to promote the West Coast as a safe haven for the procedure.
People can call the anonymous hotline from any state for free legal advice and receive a call back from a lawyer within 48 hours.
New Mexico’s Supreme Court is considering whether state legislators should have a greater say in the spending more than $1 billion in federal pandemic aid.
Arguments in the case were scheduled for Wednesday morning at the five-seat high court. A bipartisan list of state senators is challenging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as she asserts authority over federal pandemic aid approved by President Joe Biden in March.
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat running for reelection in 2022, has used the relief funds to replenish the state unemployment insurance trust, underwrite millions of dollars in sweepstakes prizes for people who got vaccinated, prop up agriculture wages amid a shortage of chile pickers and provide incentives for the unemployed to return to work. Decisions still are pending on more than $1 billion in federal relief for New Mexico.
In a written court briefings, Lujan Grisham said a state Supreme Court decision nearly 50 years ago upheld the governor’s discretion over federal funding at universities and should hold true broadly regarding federal pandemic relief funds.
Republican Senate minority leader Gregory Baca of Belen and Democratic Sen. Jacob Candelaria of Albuquerque initiated efforts to challenge the governor’s spending authority.
Supportive legal briefs have been filed by state Treasurer Tim Eichenberg and four long-serving Democratic senators. Critics of the governor have said she has overstepped her constitutional authority, blocking the Legislature’s representation of diverse views on how to spend the pandemic relief money.
Mississippi judges have the power to delay trials, limit the number of spectators in courtrooms or take other steps to try to slow the spread of COVID-19, the leader of the state Supreme Court says in an emergency order.
Chief Justice Michael Randolph issued the order Thursday in response to the rapid spread of illness caused by highly contagious delta variant of the virus.
Mississippi has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the nation, and the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said Friday that 97% of new cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi are among people who are unvaccinated.
Randolph’s order said judges may postpone jury trials that are scheduled through Sept. 10. In addition to limiting the number of spectators in courtrooms, judges may require people to wear masks and maintain distance between each other. The order encouraged courts to use teleconferencing and videoconferencing, when possible.
Plea hearings in felony cases must still take place in person, but defendants and others in the courtrooms should wear masks and maintain social distancing.
“Any in-person proceedings shall be limited to attorneys, parties, witnesses, security officers, members of the press and other necessary persons, as determined by the trial judge,” Randolph wrote.
The Supreme Court is making it harder for noncitizens who are authorized to live permanently in the United States to argue they should be allowed to stay in the country if they've committed crimes.
The decision Thursday split the court 5-4 along ideological lines. The decision came in the case of Andre Barton, a Jamaican national and green card holder. In 1996, when he was a teenager, he was present when a friend fired a gun at the home of Barton's ex-girlfriend in Georgia. And in 2007 and 2008, he was convicted of drug possession in the state.
His crimes made him eligible to be deported, and the government sought to remove him from the country in 2016. Barton argued he should be eligible to stay. Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted in his opinion for the court's conservatives that it was important that Barton's 1996 crime took place in the first seven years he was admitted to the country.
Kavanaugh wrote that “when a lawful permanent resident has amassed a criminal record of this kind,” immigration law makes them ineligible to ask to be allowed to stay in the country.