Some interesting rulings from courts around the country came down on Monday addressing issues that may well land at the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.

Gun control:  A federal appeals court in New York largely upheld gun control laws passed in New York and Connecticut after the 2012 Newton shootings, finding that there was a substantial relationship between bans on the possession of semi-automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines and the states’ compelling interests in controlling crime.

Writing for the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,  Judge Jose A. Cabranes said:

“When used, these weapons tend to result in more numerous wounds, more serious wounds, and more victims. These weapons are disproportionately used in crime, and particularly in criminal mass shootings. They are also disproportionately used to kill law enforcement officers.”

Read the full opinion here.

Defunding Planned Parenthood: While lawmakers in Texas cut state Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, a federal district court judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked lawmakers there from doing the same, finding that Planned Parenthood could likely succeed on its claims that the cuts targeted medical services provided to thousands of low-income women and had little to do with the competence of the group’s clinics there.

Calling out the cuts as politically-motivated,  U.S. District Judge John deGravelles wrote:

The uncontradicted evidence in the record at this time is that PPGC does not perform abortions in Louisiana, is not involved in the sale of fetal tissue and none of the conduct in question occurred at the PPGC’s two Louisiana facilities. Based on the record before it, it appears likely that Plaintiff will be able to prove that the attempted termination against it are motived and driven, at least in large part, by reasons unrelated to its competence and unique to it.

Read that decision here, and more on the case from Mother Jones here.

Campaign finance:  The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a decision out of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requiring the group Montanans for Community Development to disclose its donors and spending while it attempts to have state laws that prevent outside groups from coordinating with candidates overturned.

The SCOTUS order is here.


Larry PittmanRep. Larry Pittman is obviously not a powerful lawmaker or someone who will ever be taken very seriously — even in the strange, far right environment of the 2015 North Carolina House of Representatives.  That said, the Cabarrus County lawmaker needs to be called out loudly and repeatedly for his outrageous statement on the House floor last night that, as reported by,

“the nonprofit would ‘give out contraceptives that don’t work’ in order to increase the number of abortions done.”

Although Mr. Pittman describes himself on his campaign website as a “minister of the gospel,” he is someone best known for promoting the spread of guns and an especially virulent version of the far right social agenda. And while he is entitled to his opinions — however twisted they may be — he should not be entitled to tell malicious lies about good people who have dedicated themselves (often at great personal sacrifice) to saving the lives and health of millions of women. The representative needs to apologize for the one he told last night.

Those interested in reminding Rep. Pittman of his duty not to tell such monstrous untruths will find his official contact information by clicking here.


Planned ParenthoodAs the General Assembly gives approval today to legislation based in part on phony-baloney allegations against Planned Parenthood, advocates for women’s health and  reproductive freedom will rally at the General Assembly tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. as part of the national “I stand with Planned Parenthood” movement.

This is from local organizers:

“Here’s what’s going on in North Carolina.

Just last week, NC lawmakers attacked sex education although it’s proven to be effective – teen pregnancy rates are steadily dropping.

Our students need more than that and to let our legislators know, we are holding a People’s Assembly, complete with a sex-ed teach in on Tuesday, September 29.

We’re thinking, if they don’t support sex education, we’ll bring it to them!

Let’s show our legislators that our students deserve to learn what’s healthy.

So wear Pink, come to the legislative building and show our lawmakers that we are not backing down!”

Click here to RSVP and get for more information.

State Rep. Paul Stam

State Rep. Paul Stam

As noted in the post below, one of the myriad last minute additions to the state budget (i.e. the 400-plus page behemoth set to become law tomorrow) that was not present in either the House or Senate versions of the budget is a section added by anti-abortion crusaders to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.

This is a clear violation of House Rules. House Rule 44(b) specifically forbids the addition of such new, out-of-whole-cloth provisions unless the House refers the matter to a standing committee for review — something that is clearly not going to happen today.

What makes this all the more outrageous is that Rep. Stam — the man repeatedly identified in the News & Observer editorial cited below as the driving force behind the Planned Parenthood amendment — has a long history of raising hell on the House floor about… you guessed it…the addition of last minute provisions like this in violation of Rule 44.

In 2009, for instance, Stam took to the House floor (click here at go to 1:42 in the audio) to castigate the budget conference report for making tax changes not included in previous versions of the budget bill. He called the addition of the new provision a “blatant, flagrant and obvious violation of Rule 44(b).”

Stam’s only conceivable excuse in all this is that the current version of Rule 44(b) only applies to the addition of provisions dealing with “significant matters.” Perhaps in the twisted worldview of a person with a demonstrated, career-long indifference to women’s health, the act of harming thousands of women by making it much harder for Planned Parenthood to provide them with essential health care is not a “significant matter.” And given the low to which politics in the General Assembly have sunk in recent years, he’ll no doubt get away with it.

In the real world of words and laws that mean something, however, Stam’s position on this matter can only be described as blatant, flagrant and obvious hypocrisy.


Among the myriad new laws and budget items that appeared out of nowhere in the massive new state budget proposal this week is yet another dishonest and destructive attack on Planned Parenthood and the women’s health care the group provides. The lead editorial in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer tells the story:

“So, with a sneaky provision in the state budget, right-wing ideologues preoccupied with social issues such as Rep. Skip Stam of Apex have barred state funds for new or renewed contracts with groups that provide family planning or pregnancy prevention. That is, if those groups also provide abortions.

It’s true Planned Parenthood isn’t mentioned, but that’s what this bit of mischief is about. Two pregnancy-prevention programs dealing with teens would be affected, in Fayetteville and Wilmington. Planned Parenthood officials believe the loss of funding, about $135,000, will ultimately mean more teen pregnancies.

This action is outrageous on several counts. First, of course, it’s a bunch of heavy-handed legislators such as Stam interfering with women trying to deal with health issues. Second, as a budget provision it slipped into the final document without attention or debate. That is an abuse of the legislative process. It’s the use of the budget to attack an organization that does valuable work for women’s health care. Abortions represent only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services.

Stam and his mates are inflicting their ideological beliefs without regard to the many people don’t agree with them. And they’re doing it despite the fact that the health of young women could be affected.”

In short, it’s another par-for-the-course step from the ideologues on Jones Street. Read the entire editorial by clicking here.