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With the in-state news so universally dreadful this week, a body is forced to look elsewhere to find some shreds of hope.

Here’s at least one non-NC item that might even portend something good for our state: Today, President Obama appointed an excellent lawyer named Jane Kelley to the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. As you may or may not already know, the Eighth Circuit is headquartered in Kansas City and covers seven Midwestern states: Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Here’s another fact about the Eighth Circuit: In the history of that court, there have been 57 justices. Of that number, 56 have been men. We’re not making this up. 

The President’s selection of Kelly will make it two out of 58 — still awful, but, hey, 3.4% is better than 1.8%. It’s a start, anyway.

And what is the implication for North Carolina, you ask? Read More

In a ruling that may push the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider earlier gun rights decisions, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago held yesterday that the Second Amendment right “to keep and bear arms” includes a right to carry a fully-loaded and ready-to-use gun in public.

Writing for the 2-1 majority in Moore v. Madigan, Judge Richard Posner acknowledged that the Supreme Court had not yet extended the right to carry beyond the home but said that the Illinois law in question – which strictly limited that right – was inconsistent with the history of the amendment and did not reflect the reality that people were more likely to need a gun for self-defense when in public.

The court gave the Illinois legislature 180 days to come up with a licensing scheme that would impose “reasonable limitations” on publicly carrying a gun consistent with the Second Amendment.

The Seventh Circuit’s decision may conflict with a Second Circuit decision just weeks earlier which recognized a strictly-limited public right to carry. In Kachalsky v. County of Westchester, the court upheld New York’s requirement that anyone seeking a license without restrictions – a full carry permit – must show “a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.” Read More

In addition to reading Sharon McCloskey’s excellent summary, you can read all 42 pages of the Motion for Recusal of Justice Paul Newby in the legislative redistricting case by clicking here.  

It’s a pretty remarkable and damning story when all the dots get connected.

There are also 42 exhibits in a huge file that we’ll try to make available as soon as possible.

An op-ed by John Levi, chair of the Board of Directors of the national Legal Services Corporation, is highlighted in today’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer.  In it, Levi makes plain just how dire the situation has become for the nation’s legal aid community as it struggles to cope with the combination of funding cuts and the crushing demand that has resulted from the country’s rising poverty.

As he notes: Read More

Here is the kind of thing that was being referenced when we reported recently that the North Carolina General Assembly was starting to resemble the U.S. Congress.

According to this report, opponents of President Obama are so set on blocking consideration of any judicial appointees during the fourth year of his term that they’re even filibustering a judge with overwhelming conservative support!   

As you might recall, leaders of the General Assembly have stymied several of the Governor’s appointments to the state Board of Education (and other important state panels) in a similar and wholly political fashion.