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Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate won a partial victory Friday in his quest to preserve the state’s new voter ID law, including new restrictions on absentee ballots.   

Under an order issued Friday by the Iowa Supreme Court, early voting for the November election will be allowed for 29 days before Election Day, as dictated by the new law.  

Critics of the law had hoped to prevent the state from shortening the time and instead keep the old limit of 40 days.     

Joyce Russell/IPR

Attorneys for Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate were at the Iowa Supreme Court today, arguing for reinstatement of parts of Iowa’s new Voter ID law.     

Requiring an ID at the polls doesn’t take effect until next year, but new rules for absentee ballots went into effect this year.

Last month, a district court judge issued a temporary injunction halting those parts of the law.   The Secretary of State wants the injunction lifted so the new absentee ballot rules can be in effect for the November election.

Rafael Radkowski/flickr

Iowa State University has settled two lawsuits filed by an African-American woman who was fired from her position as head of the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX coordinator.

The suits involved the university’s handling of a case of sexual assault.

One suit filed in U.S. District Court in Des Moines and another in federal court in Iowa’s southern district claim Robinette Kelley was prevented from enforcing civils rights regulations on campus under Iowa’s Civil Rights Statute and under the federal government’s Title IX. 

Douglas Palmer/Flickr

A recent ruling in a Stand Your Ground case in Eastern Iowa won’t resolve larger questions about the statute, according to one Iowa law professor.

Iowa Public Radio

A former justice is warning a lack of diversity on Iowa’s Supreme Court could undermine its legitimacy. With an upcoming vacancy on the bench, state officials could have a chance to consider the issue. The judicial nominating commission began interviewing applicants Monday.

Joyce Russell/IPR

Petitioners challenging Iowa’s voter ID law were in Polk County District court Friday, urging a district judge to temporarily halt enforcement of parts of the law. 

Ames resident Taylor Blair and the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa are suing Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate over the law.

The requirements in the law to show identification at the polls don’t go into effect until next year.  But on Friday, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued for a temporary injunction to stop the parts of the law that are already in effect dealing with absentee ballots.   

Geoff Livingston/flickr

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is asking the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to make court proceedings more open to the public, this time in the form of audio from oral arguments.

Grassley has long advocated for cameras to be allowed in federal courts, as they are in many state courts across the country.      

Now, along with ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy,  Grassley has written a letter to Chief Justice John Roberts,  arguing that audio from oral arguments should be immediately available, instead of released at the end of the week.

John Pemble/IPR file photo

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says the U.S.  Senate Judiciary Committee that he chairs is beefing up staff to help evaluate President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.        

And Grassley says if past confirmation schedules are a guide, the new justice could be on the bench to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy by the opening of the court’s next term on the first Monday in October.   

President Trump will announce his choice on Monday.     

Scott Davidson/Flickr

A new drunk driving law has gone into effect in Iowa. Backers hope it will keep more impaired drivers off of state roadways.  It will require more convicted drunk drivers to install devices on their cars to lock the ignition if they’ve been drinking.  

John Pemble/IPR

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says diversity alone will not be enough to win an upcoming vacancy on the state’s Supreme Court. Justice Bruce Zager is retiring on September 3, 2018 and Reynolds is slated to name his replacement. It could be an opportunity to diversify a judiciary overwhelmingly made up of white men.

Douglas Palmer/Flickr

The question of how to apply Iowa’s 'Stand Your Ground' law is once again before a judge, this time in Iowa's 6th Judicial District. The case involving a shooting outside of a Cedar Rapids bar could be another opportunity for a judge to weigh in on the 2017 measure.

ACLU of Iowa

A Polk County District Court judge this week ordered the Iowa Department of Human Services to cover the costs of sex reassignment surgery for two transgender women.  

The ACLU of Iowa says it’s the first court ruling recognizing the rights of transgender Iowans under the Iowa Constitution and the Iowa Civil Rights Act.    

In his ruling Chief District Judge Arthur Gamble ordered DHS to approve Medicaid coverage for what’s known as gender-affirming surgery for Carol Ann Beal of northwest Iowa and EerieAnna Good of the Quad Cities.   

Douglas Palmer via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/diacritical/4628043944/

An Iowa non-profit organization is trying to pay for the release of all 32 individuals detained in an immigration raid in Mount Pleasant. By getting them out of detention centers, organizers behind the Eastern Iowa Community Bond Project say those arrested will have a much better chance of presenting their case in court.

CTF83/Wikimedia Commons

The Iowa Supreme Court has considered several questions recently, including: When do hugs between a student and a school employee add up to illegal sexual contact? Also, if a neglected property becomes an eyesore, can the city take it without paying the owner a dime?

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with legal expert Todd Pettys about the stories behind several Iowa Supreme Court cases. Pettys also shares his thoughts on whether Iowa’s new fetal heartbeat law will be struck down.

Pettys is the H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation at the University of Iowa College of Law.

Cases discussed this hour include:

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and Jill Meadows v. Kimberly K. Reynolds ex rel. State of Iowa and Iowa Board of Medicine

More information: https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/supreme-court/supreme-court-oral-argument-schedule/case/17-1579

Kate Payne/IPR

Family members of those detained in an immigration raid in Mt. Pleasant this week are still reeling, after federal law enforcement officials arrested 32 workers at a concrete factory Wednesday morning.

Now their families are trying to navigate the legal system, hire lawyers and figure out how to pay the bills. Fifteen year old Oscar Lopez’s stepfather was among those detained.

“I think of him as the hardest working man there is,” Lopez said. “He just really… he just tried to get a roof over our head, food to us, everything. Give us the best life there could be.”

U.S. Supreme Court Cases Pending and Decided

Apr 19, 2018
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode
Andrew Bardwell

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with legal analysts Todd Pettys, H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation and law professor at the University of Iowa, and Tony Gaughan, Professor of Law and Drake University Law School about prominent cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Along with some other courts news, here are some of the cases they discuss:

Benisek v. Lamone and Gill v Whitford  – Both are gerrymandering cases.

Kate Payne

Eastern Iowa officials are encouraging people to report any hate-related incidents. In the past few months Iowa City has seen white power fliers handed out in a neighborhood and anti-Semitic graffiti on the University of Iowa campus. Now local law enforcement and community leaders are asking for residents' help to identify and prevent potential hate crimes.

Ken Lund / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

President Trump is rapidly reshaping the judiciary. On this River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with guests about how Republicans are systematically filling vacancies in the federal court system with young, conservative judges.

Joining the conversation is former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa Kevin Techau and Todd Pettys of the University of Iowa College of Law. 

Bill Badzo/flickr

There was another court ruling today against public employees over a new state law limiting their bargaining rights in the workplace.

Polk County District Judge Arthur Gamble today threw out a lawsuit filed by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees.

The new law treats public safety employees differently than other public workers.

AFSCME claimed that was a violation of the constitution’s equal protection clause.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady Thursday issued an order for Iowa courts to follow, banning the routine use of restraints on juveniles during court proceedings.       

Advocates for juvenile offenders, including Drake University’s Middleton Center for Children’s Rights and the ACLU, recommended the change.

They note that in some Iowa counties, juveniles routinely appear before judges in handcuffs and shackles.  

supreme court
John Pemble/IPR file photo

People convicted of sex crimes are still required to register as sex offenders in Iowa even if they’re appealing their convictions, according to today's ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court.

The case centers on the appeal of Brian James Maxwell, who was hired as a youth coordinator for two churches in the Winterset area in March 2014. That month he inappropriately touched a 16-year-old girl who he met through this job.

MitchellShapiroPhotography / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode

Can a cake baker refuse to make a cake based on a religious objection to the event it is celebrating? A case relating to that concept will be in front of the U.S. Supreme Court this term. 

In this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined for legal analysis by Todd Pettys, H. Blair and Joan V. White Chair in Civil Litigation and University of Iowa Professor of Law, and also Mark Kende, Professor of Law at Drake University, James Madison Chair in Constitutional Law, and Director of the Drake Constitutional Law Center.

Here are the cases we review:

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

A former Iowa DCI agent, who was fired after reporting speeding by then-Governor Branstad’s security detail, would not be getting his day in court soon under a motion filed this week in Polk County District Court.  

The motion filed by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says former agent Larry Hedlund’s case should be put on hold until Branstad completes his assignment as U.S. Ambassador to China.  

U.S. Court for the Southern District of Iowa

The federal government is starting over in its search for a site to build a federal courthouse in Des Moines. 

The U.S. General Services Administration had selected a vacant lot on the west bank of the Des Moines River downtown for the $137 million project. It’s where the old YMCA once sat.

City leaders opposed the decision, saying they preferred a commercial development for the spot, one that would generate tax revenue.

ACLU of Iowa

The ACLU of Iowa is filing a lawsuit to challenge the Iowa Department of Human Services’ ban on Medicaid coverage for transition-related medical care for transgender Iowans. The civil rights group says the ban is based on outdated assumptions about the nature of transgender health care.

The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of two clients – EerieAnna Good of the Quad Cities and Carol Ann Beal of northwest Iowa. Beal says she began taking hormone therapy when she was 14 and has lived as a woman since. She says she joined the suit because someone needed to be a trailblazer.

Jasper County Sheriff's Department photo

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday evening in a case that looks at how far a person’s right to privacy extends during a warrantless search by law enforcement.

In October 2015, Bion Ingram was driving a car that wasn’t his. When he was pulled over by a Jasper County Sheriff’s deputy, the deputy noticed the registration did not correspond to the car’s license plate.

Jon Pemble/IPR file

Iowa’s attorney general is joining 15 other states that are suing President Trump, in an attempt to preserve an Obama-era policy that protects nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from being deported.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created under an executive order. It allows undocumented immigrants without criminal records to live and work in the US for a two-year renewable period. 

ACLU of Iowa

The ACLU of Iowa has filed what is believed to be the first transgender rights lawsuit in Iowa since the state amended the Iowa Civil Rights Act in 2007 to include gender identity protections.

Jesse Vroegh, a transgender nurse, worked at Iowa’s Department of Corrections for seven years. After he publicly transitioned to male, Vroegh says he was barred from using the men’s bathroom and locker room, and denied medical coverage for surgery.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

Along Interstate 80 in Iowa, near the Illinois border, is The World’s Largest Truck Stop – at least that’s what it claims. It has parking for 900 big rigs, there are restaurants, showers, even a dentist. Driver Roosevelt Phillips is here from Pittsburgh. He says truck stops like this one are a community.

“We talk about everything. I mean, y’know, I’m an adult so I’m talking to another truck driver, so we talk about whatever comes up,” Phillips says.

They talk about everything from politics to the news of the day – and the strange activity they see on the road.

Clay Masters / Iowa Public Radio

A group of community members from Des Moines is asking Iowa’s U.S. senators to let a woman in Iowa arrested by Immigration Customs and Enforcement officials be reunited with her 4-month-old son.  

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