State legislatures trying to curtail abortions have suffered a 0-for-8 losing streak after court challenges to their new laws this year.
The laws, all but one signed by Republican governors, drew on ideas from a playbook created by an anti-abortion group. Democrats plan to use the attempted curbs to boost 2014 congressional fundraising and increase voter support, calling the laws part of a “War on Women.”
Women hold up signs during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 11, 2013. Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Four states’ statutes attacked the core of the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings that a woman has a right to the procedure before a fetus is viable. Efforts to bar abortions after six, 12 and 20 weeks of pregnancy were halted in North Dakota, Arkansas and Idaho. An appeals court struck down Arizona’s 20-week ban. Laws imposing restrictions on doctors were blocked in North Dakota and two other states.
Trying to ban abortions before a fetus can live outside the mother’s womb “flies in the face” of U.S. Supreme Court rulings, said Paul B. Linton, a lawyer with the Chicago-based Thomas More Society whose group, an opponent of abortion, isn’t involved in defending early-pregnancy curbs.
A nationwide manhunt is under way for an antigovernment fugitive who shot at an Idaho State Police officer over the weekend before kidnapping a woman and taking her from Idaho to Montana.
Mitchell Lee Walck, who served prison time in Montana for assaulting a police officer, released the 62-year-old kidnap victim unharmed 580 miles away in Glendive, Mont., after taking her at gunpoint from her home in Rathdrum, Idaho, on Saturday.
Walck, 57, is believed to be driving the woman’s stolen 2005 silver Subaru Forester station wagon, with Idaho license plate K230050, perhaps heading toward his home state of Pennsylvania, authorities told Hatewatch.
The FBI has joined the hunt for the fugitive, believed armed with a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol and two rifles and ammunition he stole from the kidnap victim’s North Idaho home.
The suspect broke into the woman’s home on Saturday, attempting to hide after firing a 9 mm pistol at close range at an ISP trooper who stopped a stolen truck in nearby Spirit Lake, Idaho, Friday evening. The officer, who was wearing a vest, was not hit, said Capt. Greg McLean of the Post Falls, Idaho, Police Department.
A briefcase found in the stolen truck contained “various antigovernment writings” with references to federal sieges at Waco and Ruby Ridge and “a series of questions for the FBI,” McLean said.
While some of the suspect’s writings and scribbled rants have the hallmarks of the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement and he doesn’t have a driver’s license, nothing was found that specifically showed Walck has declared himself a sovereign citizen, McLean said. Sovereign citizens generally believe they are immune from many taxes and laws, including those requiring driver’s licenses and vehicle registration.
UPDATE: REWARD OFFERED - FBI
When Wade Michael Page strode into a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and began to kill, it was the culmination of more than a decade in the neo-Nazi movement. The best evidence suggests that Page came to his racist beliefs while serving at a North Carolina Army base that was then a hotbed of white supremacist activity — beliefs that were further honed by years on the white power music scene.
The Southern Poverty Law Center today released the latest issue of its investigative magazine Intelligence Report, and its cover story analyzes the background and ideological development of Page, who murdered six people and wounded four others last August before putting a bullet in his own head. An accompanying sidebar details the modern history of right-wing extremism in the American military, and a related editorial traces the growth of political violence aimed at Muslims.
‘Wade saw the military as a transformational time in his life,’ one expert who was also a personal acquaintance of Wade told the Intelligence Report. ‘He always said, ‘If you don’t go in the military a racist, you’re sure to leave as one.”
In 1947, the last wolf in Oregon was shot and killed for a bounty fee of $5 in the wilderness near Crater Lake.
Now, after more than 50 years of absence, the animals are staging a comeback. They have established themselves in the eastern quarters of the state and are subsisting on local elk and deer herds-and, as might be expected, the occasional cow and sheep. Also quite predictably, the return to Oregon of one of the world’s most maligned and persecuted predators has Oregonians passionately polarized on the matter, with many people fully in support and others adamantly opposed to the animals’ reappearance. Livestock ranchers have led the campaign to stop the return, which is occurring naturally-although only as a result of the 1995 reintroduction of Canadian gray wolves to the Yellowstone National Park region, in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Those animals have thrived and flourished, and experts expect that the same could happen in Oregon.
The first wolf to return to Oregon in modern times entered the state from Idaho in 1999. The animal, known as B-45F to researchers, was trapped and sent home to Idaho by wildlife officials, however. Subsequently, two other wolves were hit and killed by cars in Oregon, and one was shot by a poacher, according to Sean Stevens, executive director of the wildlife and natural space advocacy group Oregon Wild, who recently spoke with me by telephone. But in 2007, an animal wearing a remote tracking collar and named B-300 by researchers, who had tranquilized and handled it in Idaho, entered Oregon. Here, it put down roots, and in the summer of 2009, officials with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the presence of three adult wolves and three pups in Wallowa County-the first wolf pack in Oregon in about six decades.
Thunderstorms and lightning threatened fire officials’ plans to contain a large blaze in central Washington state as hundreds of Washington and California residents returned home to find out whether their homes were spared.
In Idaho, authorities on Saturday issued a mandatory evacuation order for some 350 homes in the area around Featherville due to thick smoke. That town and the community of Pine, both recreation getaways in the mountains 105 miles northeast of Boise, remained in the path of a 130-square-mile wildfire that has been burning for two weeks.
Idaho is one of the states that participated in the program. McAllister says if people got jobs right away, they were free to take the money as a bonus and spend it how they wanted. McAllister says he thought the prospect of getting a bonus would encourage people to look for work more aggressively. Instead, he says, they mostly used the money for what are called supportive services.
People use the money to pay for things that made it possible for them to hold down jobs. It went to pay for day care or new work clothes or car repairs. McAllister says people didn’t really need encouragement to look for work.
“I think we misjudged the population we were dealing with,” he says. “They had difficulty even getting to a job. They had to solve that before they could get the bonus. We got the cart before the horse is one way to put it.”
The program was never extended after it ended. An independent report issued a few years later concluded the program wasn’t a big success. Now, Romney has talked about reviving the program if he’s elected, though he hasn’t provided many details about what he would do differently.
The Romney campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute says if personal re-employment accounts are to work, the government has to be realistic about the cost. He says $3,000 simply isn’t enough to retrain most laid-off workers.
When Pocatello police got a tip that Jennie Linn McCormack had ended her pregnancy by taking an abortion drug obtained over the Internet, they showed up at her apartment one cold January day in 2011 and demanded an explanation.
McCormack eventually took them out to her back porch, where the remains of her fetus were on the barbecue, wrapped up in a plastic bag and a cardboard box.
“My baby is in the box,” McCormack said. Officers uncovered the frozen remains of a 5-month-old fetus and erected crime scene tape around the porch before taking her to the police station and charging her with a felony.
The civil suit that followed, scheduled to be heard by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 9, asks the courts to reject as unconstitutional the law in Idaho — a state with only two abortion clinics — that makes it illegal to obtain abortion pills from out-of-state doctors over the Internet.
The case also marks the most significant constitutional legal challenge so far to so-called “fetal pain” statutes, adopted by Idaho and at least five other states. Such laws significantly shorten the window of time in which a woman can legally abort a fetus — in the case of Idaho, to 19 weeks.
McCormack, living in a conservative, heavily Mormon region of southeast Idaho, now finds herself in the middle of an uncomfortable dilemma for both sides of the abortion debate.
Antiabortion groups have usually been uneasy about the idea of arresting women who violate abortion laws, preferring to go after the doctors they see as the guiltier parties.
Abortion-rights groups, meanwhile, want to challenge increasingly restrictive abortion laws, but for them, McCormack is far from the ideal plaintiff — she aborted a fetus at home at close to 20 weeks. And her case, if it winds its way upward, would face a U.S. Supreme Court that seems little inclined to shore up Roe vs. Wade.
A white supremacist who ran a long-shot campaign for sheriff in Idaho was trailing far behind his incumbent opponent late on Tuesday, according to early returns in the three-way race for the Republican nomination.
Shaun Winkler, an avowed Ku Klux Klan member and convicted batterer, had received only 40 votes in northern Idaho’s Bonner County, versus 1,072 votes for incumbent Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, with 10 of 33 precincts reporting.
Tim Fry, a police officer, had 353 votes.
Winkler, 33, attracted national attention for a campaign that culminated earlier this month with a cross burning on his northern Idaho property near Priest River and a pledge to crack down on sexual predators and illegal drugs.
Winkler’s supremacist sentiments, in which he has derided Jews and African-Americans, have sparked outrage in the Idaho Panhandle, where local leaders and human rights activists have struggled to shake off decades-old stereotypes of the area where the late Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler sought to establish a “white homeland.” Winkler was one of Butler’s trusted aides.
The arrest warrant issued for Ortega is for carrying a dangerous weapon — a felony — according to police.
The man has ties to Idaho, but is believed to still be in the Washington area, police said.
In addition to naming Ortega, police released his picture and described him as a Hispanic male, 5 feet, 11 inches tall, weighing about 160 pounds with brown eyes and black hair;. He also has several tattoos, including one with three dots on his right hand and another reading “Israel” on the left side of his neck.
A Secret Service official who asked not to be identified reported that gunshots rang out Friday night as two cars sped on the National Mall.
Agents stationed nearby on 16th Street heard the shots, then saw the cars heading west on Constitution Avenue, the official said.
At least one witness saw that someone had “jumped out of the vehicle and ran,” but no one was captured, the official said.
After the shooting report, the U.S. Park Police said it recovered a vehicle that had crashed near the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge.
A semiautomatic rifle was recovered from the vehicle, U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said Saturday night.
Investigators think the man may be linked to that vehicle, Schlosser said. He declined to say whether shell casings were found from the reported shooting.
Edgar J. Steele, a self-described white separatist and “attorney for the politically incorrect,” was sentenced Wednesday to 50 years in federal prison for plotting the pipe bomb murder of his wife.
“This was a very serious offense,” U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill said in sentencing the 66-year-old attorney who once represented the Aryan Nations and its founder Richard Butler.
Congress mandated a minimum of 40 years in prison for the type of crimes Steele was convicted of in May, the judge told a packed courtroom in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Steele told the court it was a mistake that he didn’t act as his own lawyer or testify in his own defense on the advice of his retained attorney.
The sentence came after Steele spent 75 minutes in an angry, rambling oratory - likely his last courtroom appearance - where he maintained his innocence. He claimed was targeted by corrupt federal agents, the Anti-Defamation League or the Russian Mafia.
“I have been held incommunicado by this government,” Steele told the judge. “I am a political prisoner being persecuted for my views.”
“The Constitution has been thrown out in my case, and you facilitated it judge - you!” Steele said, pointing at Winmill.
“There is no justice today for the politically incorrect,” Steele said in his continuing diatribe. “We are a government of elitist, self-righteous, ruthless men.”
“Why me?” Steele asked, suggesting he was “singled out” for prosecution in a conspiracy involving the federal government and the Anti-Defamation League. “We ought to turn the running of the government over to them (the ADL). Oh, I forgot. We already did.”