Court rejects anti-abortion pastor's appeal on noise

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from a pastor who challenged a state law's noise limit that was used to restrict his anti-abortion protest outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Portland, Maine.

The justices offered no comment Monday in rejecting the appeal from the Rev. Andrew March, who sued after he said Portland police officers repeatedly told him to lower his voice while he was protesting outside the clinic in Maine's largest city.

The legal case focused on part of the Maine Civil Rights Act that applies to noise outside health facilities. A federal judge temporarily blocked its enforcement, but the federal appeals court in Boston reversed that ruling.

A Planned Parenthood of Northern New England official said the appeals court made it clear that people have the right to health care without the interruption of protesters.

"Once our patients walk through the doors of our health center they are entitled to care without harassment and intimidation shouted from the street below," said Nicole Clegg, the organization's vice president of public policy.

The case started with a lawsuit by the state attorney general that accused a member of March's Cell 53 church of yelling so loudly about the murdering of babies in October 2015 that his voice could be heard in the counseling and examination rooms on the second floor.

March, whose Lewiston church declined comment on Monday, contended the law "targets pro-life advocates" in violation of the Constitution.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled that the law was not an unconstitutional restriction of free speech because it didn't focus solely on abortion protests and could be used against any group of demonstrators.

Justices again refuse to hear Blagojevich appeal

CHICAGO (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will not hear an appeal by imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich of his corruption convictions, the second time in two years it has declined to take up his case.

The nation's highest court offered no explanation for its decision, letting stand the Chicago Democrat's convictions. They included seeking to trade an appointment to the Senate seat Barack Obama vacated to become president for campaign cash.

Blagojevich, 61, began serving his 14-year prison sentence in 2012. His scheduled release date is 2024.

His wife, Patti Blagojevich, said in a written statement that she and her two children "could not be more disappointed in the decision."

"From the beginning we've had faith in the system and have felt the court would bring Rod back to us," she said. "Now, with the judiciary no longer an option, we'll have to put our faith elsewhere and find another way."

She didn't mention President Donald Trump. But one option could be asking him to commute Blagojevich's sentence or pardon him. Blagojevich was on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" reality television show in 2010.

Blagojevich's lawyers argued the Supreme Court should take up Blagojevich's case to clarify what they argued are blurry lines between what constitutes legal and illegal political fundraising.

Blagojevich attorney Len Goodman said Monday his client's punishment was disproportional.

"Rod Blagojevich never sought a bribe or a kickback; he never took a penny from his campaign fund; he never promised anything to any donor in exchange for a campaign donation," he said in a written statement. "Yet he is serving one of the longest prison sentences ever handed down to an elected official."

Texas man on death row loses at Supreme Court

HOUSTON (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review an appeal from a Northeast Texas man on death row for strangling his girlfriend 18 years ago.

The high court decision, without comment, upholds a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling last year rejecting arguments that 46-year-old Daniel Acker was innocent of the March 2000 slaying of 32-year-old Marquetta George of Sulphur Springs. Attorneys also contended Acker's trial court erroneously excluded evidence of his innocence, that appeals he previously lost were based on false evidence and that he had poor legal help in earlier appeals.

Prosecutors said Acker killed George and dumped her body on a Hopkins County road. Trial attorneys said she jumped from Acker's truck and then was hit.

Acker doesn't yet have an execution date.

Published: Wed, Apr 18, 2018