Supreme Court’s abortion ruling raises stakes for election
NEW YORK (AP) — Supporters of abortion rights were elated, and foes of abortion dismayed, after the Supreme Court issued its first major abortion ruling since President Donald Trump took office. But the two sides agree on one consequence: The upcoming election is crucial. In a 5-4 decision Monday, the high court struck down a Louisiana law that could restrict access to abortion. It was viewed as a key test of the court’s stance following Trump’s appointments of two conservative justices. Anti-abortion leaders say there’s an urgent need to reelect Trump so he can appoint more conservative justices. Abortion rights activists say it’s crucial to defeat Trump and end Republican control of the Senate.
Split high court throws out Louisiana abortion clinic limit
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has reasserted a commitment to abortion rights over fierce opposition from dissenting conservative justices in the first big abortion case of the Trump era. Sharply divided in a 5-4 vote, the justices struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining his four more liberal colleagues. The court rejected a state law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. It’s far from the last word in the decades-long fight over abortion. But it’s a surprising defeat for abortion opponents, who thought that a new conservative majority with two of President Donald Trump’s appointees would start chipping away at abortion access.
LOUISIANA SPECIAL SESSION
Louisiana lawmakers winding down coronavirus special session
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana lawmakers have reached the final hours of a coronavirus response special session that must end Tuesday. A unanimous House vote gave final passage to a bill using federal virus aid to provide $250 one-time “hazard pay” checks to thousands of front-line employees who stayed on their jobs in the early days of the outbreak. The Senate voted 33-2 to shield K-12 schools and colleges from most civil lawsuits from students and teachers who contract COVID-19. The bill requires additional votes before it can reach Gov. John Bel Edwards’ desk. Still outstanding is a final deal on the $34 billion state operating budget for the new financial year beginning Wednesday.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CONTACT TRACING
Tracking coronavirus cases proves difficult amid new surge
HOUSTON (AP) — Health departments around the U.S. that are using contact tracers to contain coronavirus outbreaks are scrambling to bolster their ranks amid a surge of cases and resistance to cooperation from those infected or exposed. With too few trained contact tracers to handle soaring caseloads, one hard-hit Arizona county is relying on National Guard members to pitch in. In Louisiana, people who have tested positive typically wait more than two days to respond to health officials — giving the disease crucial time to spread. Contact tracing tracks people who test positive and anyone they’ve come in contact with. It was challenging even when stay-at-home orders were in place, but it’s exponentially more difficult now.
Jefferson Parish to require face masks beginning Wednesday
GRETNA, La. (AP) — Jefferson Parish will require face masks inside businesses and public places starting Wednesday to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus. Officials announced the measure on Monday saying they’re reacting to a rising number of cases in the area, especially among younger people. Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng says no one will go to jail over the rule. But she says violations will carry fines of as much as $500. The new rule comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the parish has been climbing steadily. Jefferson had the most cases in the state as of Monday.
RACIAL INJUSTICE-CONFEDERATE FLAG
Confederate flag losing prominence 155 years after Civil War
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Confederate battle flag is losing its place of official prominence in the South 155 years after the end of the Civil War. Mississippi’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted Sunday to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag. Other states took action previously. NASCAR, meanwhile, has banned the rebel banner from its car races. The flag with the familiar X design is still visible along Southern highways and in some stores. It’s far from being banished in the region. But even flag supporters are surprised by the speed with which change is taking place amid a national debate over racial inequality.
Police reel in Louisiana man captured swimming in fish tank
BOSSIER CITY, La. (AP) — Police in Louisiana were able to reel in a man captured on video swimming through a fish tank at a sporting goods store. KSLA-TV reports that 26-year-old Kevin Wise said he plunged into the indoor aquarium at a Bass Pro Shop in Bossier City last week to follow through on a promise he made on social media. A video posted by an onlooker showed Wise swimming through the tank then running out of the store with wet clothes. Bossier City Police charged Wise with simple criminal damage to property on Friday after the company filed a complaint.
5 schools; $20M grant to design 3D printing materials; teach
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Five universities in Louisiana have a $20 million, five-year federal grant to design complex alloys and polymers for 3D printing and to build a sustainable research and education program in that area. The state Board of Regents says in a news release that the new Louisiana Material Design Alliance includes Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech, Tulane University, Southern University and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The board says new materials are needed to produce metal and plastic products with fewer defects and longer life.