News Roundup

I’m back in the office after a day playing in the snow with my family working from home. I am sure that Chief Justice Mark Martin has been at least equally hard at work, preparing for his upcoming State of the Judiciary address before a joint session of the General Assembly. According to this News and Observer story, the address will be the first of its kind since 2001, is likely to take place on March 4, and is expected to focus on funding for the courts.

In other news:

Humanist inmate sues prison system. Under the Dome reports here that a convicted murderer, together with the American Humanist Association, has sued the North Carolina prison system. The suit concerns “over what [the plaintiffs contend] is state prison officials’ refusal to allow atheists or humanists to hold study groups like religious inmates do.”

United States Attorney General nominee moves out of committee. Greensboro native, federal prosecutor, and Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch moved out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 12-8 vote of support yesterday. WRAL notes here that Sen. Thom Tillis sits on the committee and voted against Ms. Lynch, concerned that she would support a “the costly and frivolous lawsuit against the state of North Carolina to overturn a common-sense and constitutionally sound voter ID law.”

Magistrates’ role in marriages before the General Assembly. We’ve discussed aspects of same-sex marriage on this blog before, here and here, and the story continues to evolve. As WRAL notes here, the North Carolina Senate has approved a measure that would allow individual magistrates to opt out of performing marriages altogether based on religious concerns. The bill contains provisions intended to ensure that any couple legally eligible to marry is able to do so in any county. The House will take the bill up next.

Radio show on Stingrays. I was one of two guests on a recent Bloomberg Law radio broadcast regarding Stingrays, the cell-site simulators used by law enforcement to track criminal suspects. Sure, you could read my blog post about Stingrays here, but if you think hearing many of the same ideas in my best radio voice is more appealing, I believe you can get the audio here.

Is Justice Thomas the nation’s most influential thinker about race? Yes, argues Juan Williams in this Wall Street Journal opinion piece. An excerpt: “Justice Thomas . . . is reshaping the law and government policy on race by virtue of the power of his opinions from the bench. Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the Supreme Court, stood up as a voice insisting on rights for black people. Justice Thomas, the second black man on the court, takes a different tack. He stands up for individual rights as a sure blanket of legal protection for everyone, including minorities.” Worth a gander.

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