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Oklahoma prosecutors allege abuse before boy's disappearance
Legal Business | 2016/04/11 22:54
An Oklahoma couple arrested in the 2006 disappearance of their 9-year-old nephew had beaten the boy until he lay motionless on a couch and then threatened the boy's brother into repeating a rehearsed story to authorities, prosecutors allege in an affidavit filed Tuesday.

Rex and Rebecca Clark were serving as foster parents to the brothers when Colton Clark disappeared in April 2006. In the affidavit filed by prosecutors, Colton Clark's older brother detailed abuse he said the couple inflicted on the siblings, saying they used broomsticks and extension cords to beat the boys and at times used a red-and-white cattle prod to deliver an electric shock to the boys' genitals. The brother told investigators that around the time Colton disappeared, his aunt and uncle had beaten Colton so badly that the older brother wasn't sure whether his younger brother was breathing.

Rex and Rebecca Clark have not been formally charged in Colton's disappearance, but arrest warrants for the couple filed last week allege first-degree murder, child abuse, child neglect and conspiracy to commit a felony. The prosecutor's office has said Colton is presumed dead, and investigators have been searching the Clarks' property hoping to find his remains. Sheriff's Investigator David Hanson wouldn't say Tuesday whether anything pertinent to the case had been discovered.

The couple appeared in court Tuesday before the affidavit was filed, and Judge George Butner ordered them to return to court next week. Defense lawyer Robert Butler said after the hearing he didn't object to the state holding the pair at this stage.


RNC launches campaign to oppose Obama's Supreme Court pick
Legal Business | 2016/03/12 00:46
The Republican Party is launching a campaign to try to derail President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, teaming up with a conservative opposition research group to target vulnerable Democrats and impugn whomever Obama picks.

A task force housed within the Republican National Committee will orchestrate attack ads, petitions and media outreach to bolster a strategy that Senate Republicans adopted as soon as Justice Antonin Scalia died last month: refusing to consider an Obama nominee out of hopes that the next president will be a Republican.

The RNC will contract with America Rising Squared, an outside group targeting Democrats that's run by a longtime aide to GOP Sen. John McCain. GOP chairman Reince Priebus said it would be the most comprehensive judicial response effort in the party's history.

Priebus said the RNC would "make sure Democrats have to answer to the American people for why they don't want voters to have a say in this process."

Obama is expected to announce his pick as early as this week, touching off a heated election-year battle as Obama and Democrats try to pressure Republicans into relenting and allowing hearings and a vote. Advocacy groups on both sides are primed to unleash an onslaught of activity aimed at rallying public support, and a number of former top Obama advisers have been drafted to run the Democratic effort.

RNC officials said that in addition to scouring the nominee's history for anything that can be used against him or her, the party will also work to portray Democrats as hypocritical, dredging up comments that Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats made in previous years suggesting presidents shouldn't ram through nominees to the high court in the midst of an election.



Reid pounds GOP united against Obama Supreme Court choice
Legal Business | 2016/02/22 00:44
Conservative and liberal groups are only beginning their battle over the Supreme Court vacancy, with a smattering of television ads and behind-the-scenes research serving as warning shots in what's sure to be an expensive fight that will color November's elections.

Activity will only ramp up once President Barack Obama names someone to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia ? a nomination Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other Republicans promise the chamber will never consider. Many expect Obama to announce his pick next week.

With the court's 4-4 balance between liberal and conservative justices in play, both parties and their allies are reaching out to rally their memberships, solicit contributions and savage the opposition.

The conservative Judicial Crisis Network has run TV spots backing GOP senators in seven states and digital ads targeting Democrats in four others, while its leader wrote an article criticizing one potential nominee for a case she handled as a public defender a decade ago. On its website, the legislative arm of the National Rifle Association links readers to an article titled "Justice Barack Obama?" suggesting that scenario should Democrat Hillary Clinton become president.

The Senate Majority PAC, backing Democrats, has launched a New Hampshire TV ad accusing GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte, in a competitive re-election race, of "ignoring the Constitution, not doing her job." And Citizens United, dedicated to overturning the Supreme Court decision that unleashed unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions, has aired commercials pressing Ayotte and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., to consider a nominee. A group of 21 Democratic attorneys general penned a letter warning Senate leaders not to "undermine the rule of law." MoveOn.org and other progressive groups plan rallies outside senators' home-state offices on a March 21 "National Day of Action."

"A Supreme Court nomination is the No. 1 top priority for almost any conservative group," said Carrie Severino, the Crisis Network's policy director, a sentiment shared by liberals, too. "Almost every issue ultimately finds its way to the Supreme Court."



Supreme Court puts Obama's climate change plan on hold
Legal Business | 2016/02/10 16:14
A divided Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to halt enforcement of President Barack Obama's sweeping plan to address climate change until after legal challenges are resolved.

The surprising move is a blow to the administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents that call the regulations "an unprecedented power grab." By temporarily freezing the rule the high court's order signals that opponents have made a strong argument against the plan. A federal appeals court last month refused to put it on hold.

The court's four liberal justices said they would have denied the request. The plan aims to stave off the worst predicted impacts of climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by about one-third by 2030. Appellate arguments are set to begin June 2. The compliance period starts in 2022, but states must submit their plans to the Environmental Protection Administration by September or seek an extension.

Many states opposing the plan depend on economic activity tied to such fossil fuels as coal, oil and gas. They argued that power plants will have to spend billions of dollars to begin complying with a rule that may end up being overturned.

Implementation of the rules is considered essential to the United States meeting emissions-reduction targets in a global climate agreement signed in Paris last month. The Obama administration and environmental groups also say the plan will spur new clean-energy jobs.



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