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Court Allows Challenge to Legal Aid System in N.Y.

Court Allows Challenge to Legal Aid System in N.Y.There are enough signs that New York’s system of providing public defenders is failing the state’s poor people that a broad class-action suit challenging the system can move ahead, the state’s highest court ruled Thursday, setting the stage for a sweeping battle in the courts and perhaps the Legislature.

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Arizona police chief criticizes immigration law

Arizona police chief Jack Harris criticizes immigration lawThe police chief of Arizona's largest city said on Friday the state's controversial new crackdown on illegal immigrants would likely create more problems than it solved for local law enforcement.

The remarks by Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris came as U.S. Senate Democrats vowed to push ahead with their uphill bid to pass legislation this year overhauling the nation's immigration laws, saying the furor in Arizona has given them a lift despite a lack of support from Republicans.

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Gun owners' votes more important than national security

NRA vote outweighs national security concernsTop officials in the Obama administration have called the cartels, and the extreme violence tearing apart Mexican cities on the U.S. border, threats to U.S. national security. Joining 30 other countries in the Western Hemisphere in an anti-arms smuggling accord would therefore seem a perfectly sane and logical thing to do. But logic often ends where American gun ownership begins.

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Supreme Court case: Do gay rights foes have right to privacy?

The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C. where a gay rights and privacy case will be heardThe Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday in a Washington state case in which religious conservatives fear retaliation from gay rights groups if the names of the 138,000 people who signed ballot petitions to overturn a same-sex domestic partnership law are released.

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Obama orders hospitals to grant same-sex couples visitation rights

Obama orders hospitals to grant same-sex couples visitation rightsPresident Obama on Thursday signed a memorandum requiring hospitals to allow gays and lesbians to have non-family visitors and to grant their partners medical power of attorney.

The president ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation. The memo is scheduled to be made public Friday morning, according to an administration official and another source familiar with the White House decision.

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Nebraska to limit abortions because of fetal pain

Gov. Dave Heineman of NebraskaNebraska lawmakers on Tuesday passed a groundbreaking bill banning abortions at 20 weeks based on assertions that fetuses feel pain then. Gov. Dave Heineman planned to sign it into law in the afternoon.

If upheld by the courts, the bill could change the foundation of abortion laws nationwide. Current restrictions in Nebraska and elsewhere are based on a fetus's ability to survive outside the womb, or viability.

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Ethics Complaint Alleges New Politicized Probe Involving Siegelman Prosecutor

Gov. Bob Riley (R-AL) and U.S. Attorney Leura CanaryA U.S. attorney in Alabama whose close ties to local Republicans were at the heart of previous high-profile charges of politicized justice is drawing scrutiny again. Last week, the U.S. Justice Department received a formal complaint alleging that an investigation being run in part by U.S. attorney Leura Canary was intended to influence the vote on an upcoming bill in the statehouse, and asking that Canary be removed from the probe because of her "close political ties" to Governor Bob Riley.

This isn't the first time that Canary's ties to Riley and Alabama Republicans have generated controversy. Numerous observers have charged that the prosecution by Canary's office of former governor Don Siegelman, who in 2006 was convicted on corruption charges, was politically motivated. Canary's husband, Bill Canary, a top Alabama GOP political consultant and associate of Karl Rove, ran Riley's 2002 gubernatorial campaign against Siegelman, a Democrat.

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