Associated Press: “Advocates of ending Arkansas’ ban on same-sex marriage took their case before a Pulaski County Circuit Court judge Thursday, who said at the end of the hearing that he expected to issue a ruling within two weeks.”
Arkansas News: “McDaniel said in the filing in U.S. District Court in Little Rock that his office will appeal the ruling to the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis on behalf of members of the Arkansas State Medical Board who were named as defendants in the lawsuit that led to the ruling.”
Arkansas News: “The superintendent of the Sheridan School District on Tuesday defended the decision of school officials to ban publication in Sheridan High School’s yearbook of a profile of a gay student that would have included his coming-out story. . . . The Human Rights Campaign has sent letters to Gov. Mike Beebe and state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell asking them to get involved and see that the Ellis’ profile is published.”
Clarke Forsythe at National Review: “This case has significance for those evaluating the wisdom of pursuing similar twelve-week limits or whether an approach that focuses on a mother-child strategy, limiting abortion later in pregnancy based on both the impact of abortion on women’s health and the pain felt by the unborn, should be considered instead.”
Associated Press: “A federal judge Friday struck down Arkansas’ attempt to ban most abortions beginning 12 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, saying viability, not a heartbeat, remains the key factor in determining whether abortions should be allowed.” | How Appealing has a link to the ruling.
Religion Clause: “The U.S. Supreme Court today granted certiorari in Holt v. Hobbs, (Docket No. 13-6827, cert. granted 3/3/2014). It also granted petitioner’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis.”
TribTown (AP): “Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s office on Friday filed court papers arguing that sexual orientation is not a cause for equal protection and that the plaintiffs aren’t being treated differently because of their gender.”
Merced Sun-Star: “Arkansas legislators didn’t raise any objections Friday to a set of rules enforcing a state law approved last year banning most abortion 20 months into a woman’s pregnancy.”
AP: “Opponents who have chipped away at abortion with state-level restrictions are facing a dilemma in some of the places where they have been most successful: Do they continue with that approach or seek more dramatic policies that risk court rulings that could undo previous gains?”
Arkansas Matters: “A foundation advocating the separation of church and state says a cross on the grounds of the Searcy Police Department should be removed.”
Democrat Tribune: With the complaint from FFRF, EPC school district had no choice but to stop the prayer. EPC school board members did decide to replace the prayer over loudspeaker with a moment of silence.
The Weekly Standard: The Obamacare event took place at the University of Central Arkansas last weekend. It was hosted by a group called the Living Affected Corporation, which apparently has received a grant from the federal government to educate the public about Obamacare.
UALRPublicRadio: The Arkansas Supreme Court has reversed a judge’s decision barring a man’s same-sex partner from staying overnight when his son visits. | ACLU press release | Opinion: Moix v. Moix, 2013 Ark. 478
Arkansas Online: Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane said in court papers filed Thursday that a lawsuit filed by three gay couples in July mimics one filed by 11 couples in state court.
LifeNews: Abortion in Arkansas is following a downward trend, based on numbers obtained from the Arkansas Department of Health’s office of Vital Records/Statistics. What’s more, 2012 was the lowest year for abortions in Arkansas since 1977.
FFRF: The Freedom From Religion Foundation is working to stop a coach-organized religious service at an Arkansas high school, after the school’s football coach invited everyone to the “Bryant Hornet Football Team Worship” at a church.
AP: The fate of Democratic incumbents in GOP-trending Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, the ability of the 71-year-old GOP leader to hold his Kentucky seat and the eventual outcome of a Georgia primary will help decide . . .
The Hill: GOP hopes for winning back the Senate rest on Arkansas, where Rep. Tom Cotton (R) is running to unseat Sen. Mark Pryor, widely seen as the most vulnerable Democrat running in 2014.
One News Now: The University of Central Arkansas did a quick about face on its speech code after an academic watchdog group pointed out it was unconstitutional.
NewsObserver: The case was reassigned to Judge Kristine Baker.
Wikipedia: Judge Kristine Baker
Arkansas Times: The state’s covenant marriage statute, which requires premarital counseling and makes it somewhat harder for couples to divorce, was popularized in 2005 by Gov. Mike Huckabee and his wife, Janet, whose Baptist vows apparently didn’t suffice.
AP: A federal judge granted a request Friday to temporarily block enforcement of a new Arkansas law that bans most abortions 12 weeks into a pregnancy. | Edwards v. Beck, No. 4:13-cv-00224-SWW (E.D. Ark.)
Liberty Counsel: Today the State of Arkansas defended the Human Heartbeat Protection Act against an ACLU motion for a preliminary injunction. Liberty Counsel is seeking to intervene on behalf of a crisis pregnancy center and also filed an amicus brief on behalf of the law.
Bloomberg: U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright in Little Rock in a ruling yesterday denied a request by the state’s attorney general to dismiss the lawsuit. The judge said the two doctors have standing to sue even though the law hasn’t gone into effect and they have sufficiently alleged the law infringes women’s constitutional rights.
Christian Post: Debate over prayer in school made headlines again, this time in the Riverside School District in Lake City, Ark. Its school board voted on Monday to cancel its sixth grade ceremony rather than to allow prayer to be a part of the ceremony.
THV (AP): Opponents of Arkansas’ law banning most abortions 12 weeks into a pregnancy say a group that wants to help defend the restriction shouldn’t participate in a hearing next week.
Liberty Counsel filed a motion and a brief in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas seeking to intervene on behalf of a Concepts of Life crisis pregnancy center to defend against a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Fox 19: The Riverside School district has decided not to have a 6th grade graduation this year after a parent protested against prayer during the ceremony.
AP: Arkansas’ plan to use federal money to buy private insurance for low-income residents won final approval from state lawmakers Wednesday, endorsing a model that several other states are eyeing as a possible alternative to expanding Medicaid.
ABC (AP): The new law bans most abortions from the 12th week of pregnancy onward. The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday says that ban is unconstitutional and seeks to block the law from taking effect this summer. | Complaint Edwards v. Beck (E.D. Ark., Apr. 16, 2013)
Reuters: Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, has not said whether he would sign the bill. But the Arkansas legislature last month overrode his veto of two previous bills placing new restrictions on abortions, including one to ban most abortions from being performed after the 12th week of pregnancy.
5 News Online: I am opposed to gay marriage,” he said in an e-mail. “In the interview with KFSM done on April 5, I also discussed whether gay couples should receive benefits if they work for the federal government. On the benefits issue, I said to ‘put me down in the undecided category.
AP: Rival legal teams, well-financed and highly motivated, are girding for court battles over the coming months on laws enacted in Arkansas and North Dakota that would impose the nation’s toughest bans on abortion.
NPR audio: In North Dakota, voters will decide next year whether to approve a constitutional amendment saying life begins at conception. A number of other bills in that state await the governor’s signature including one that prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat is present at about six weeks. In Arkansas, a ban at 12 weeks passed earlier this month. Abortion opponents hope to get one of those laws before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Economist: “The new paradigm of the pro-life movement”, explained Dan Becker, president of Georgia Right-to-Life, “is all about introducing tension into the law…We have different courts ruling in different ways, which is a surefire way to challenge Roe.”
Politico: Abortion rights groups are gearing up for a legal fight against Arkansas’s new law banning abortions after 12 weeks, the most restrictive early abortion ban in the nation.
David Crary at Bay News 9 (AP): “Anti-abortion groups divided over legal tactics”
LifeNews: The Republican House voted 56-33 on Wednesday to override after the state Senate voted yesterday to do the same thing. The bill arrived on Beebe’s desk after clearing the Senate, 26-8, and the House, 68-20.
Washington Post: The Arkansas legislature has the votes to override a governor’s veto, and become the first state to ban abortions after as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy.
LifeNews: The Arkansas state Senate has voted to override Gov. Mike Beebe’s veto of legislation that would ban abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy if a fetal heartbeat can be detected via ultrasound.
AP: The legislation would ban the procedure at 12 weeks if a fetal heartbeat is detected using an abdominal ultrasound. The Democratic governor’s veto come less than a week after the state enacted a 20-week ban.
AP: The law took effect immediately after the Republican-led Senate voted 19-14 on Thursday to override the Democratic governor’s veto.
Arkansas Matters: The Arkansas House has voted to override Governor Mike Beebe’s Tuesday veto of the 20-week abortion ban bill.
Major Push To Get Christians To Voting Booth: 12 states ID’d as key to restoring Judeo-Christian heritage
World Net Daily: They’re targeting 12 key states: Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Alaska, Arkansas, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and West Virginia. The strategy was profiled Monday by David Brody of CBN News. Brody said the groups – led by the American Renewal Project – are planning briefings for evangelical pastors, voter-registration drives and other events in an attempt “to restore American to its Judeo-Christian heritage.”
TodaysTHV.com: The Arkansas Legislature on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill banning most abortions at 20 weeks into a pregnancy.
LifeNews: After the state House voted for the same bill earlier this month, the state Senate voted today to ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the science showing unborn children feel pain at that point.
Religion Clause Blog: The Conway, Arkansas Log Cabin Democrat reports that yesterday the Conway school board approved a policy that will allow youth ministers back on school campuses, after their lunch hour visits with students were temporarily suspended in reaction to a complaint by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
San Francisco Chronicle (AP): Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe said Thursday he’ll sign into law legislation prohibiting insurers from covering most abortions in an exchange created under the federal health care law, as lawmakers advanced a separate measure banning the procedure 12 weeks into a pregnancy.
LifeNews: The Arkansas state House on Monday voted to approve a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the science showing unborn children feel pain at that point.
TodaysHV.com: Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe says his office’s preliminary research suggests a proposal to ban most abortions in the state is unconstitutional but isn’t ready to say whether he opposes the legislation.
LifeNews: The Arkansas Senate voted today for a bill that would ban virtually all abortions in the state. The measure would ban abortions at the point when a unborn child’s heart starts to beat.
TodaysTHV.com: An Arkansas Senate panel has advanced legislation that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected, a move that would ban the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
Newsmax: Murry said the district has hired Liberty Institute, a law firm that handles religious liberty cases, to help with the complaint and to investigation the issues regarding equal access for visitors to the school.
Arkansas Matters: A new state bill would allow Arkansas public schools to add a curriculum to study the Bible. The bill has been shot down before, but many residents hope it passes this time.
Arkansas Times: The Arkansas affiliate of the ACLU has announced its opposition to a proposed $300,000 contract between the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock and the Union Rescue Mission to operate the city’s day center for the homeless, soon to open in a building acquired from Union Rescue on Confederate Boulevard. The ACLU said taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to pay a staff that will be hired in a way that discriminates on the basis of religion.
Ed News: Prospective teachers in three southern states paid stand-ins to take their licensing exams, according to a federal investigation that uncovered 15 years of mass fraud in the public school licensing system.
TodaysTHV.com: Arkansans for Equality is working on a 2014 measure that would repeal the 2004 Arkansas amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality hopes to legalize gay marriage in 2016.
The Commercial Appeal: Abortion opponents in Arkansas see an opportunity to enact new restrictions, including a ban on the use of telemedicine to make the abortion pill available, with Republicans controlling both sides of the Legislature in next year’s session.
The Courier: The X-Mart Adult Superstore in Clarksville can challenge the validity and constitutionality of that city’s ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday. | 40 Retail Corporation v. City of Clarkville
TNR.com: But the contest in question is anything but. While Republicans have slowly gained control of state legislative bodies across the South, only one Southern state has maintained a legislature fully controlled by the once-dominant Democrats. In November, however, the Arkansas Republican Party—after decades of haplessness—may well take control of the General Assembly. The tight race explains why Koch bothers money is flowing into a measly local legislative election.
CBSNews: A campaign funded by a Hot Springs horse track asked the Arkansas Supreme Court on Tuesday to block a proposed ballot measure that would give a professional poker player the exclusive right to operate casinos in the state.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging the Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock, Ark., to discontinue a church discount next season.
AP: In a split decision, the high court sided with 10 death row inmates who argued that, under Arkansas’ constitution, only the Legislature can set execution policy.
Fox News: A federal judge on Friday struck down an Arkansas school choice law, saying race couldn’t be the only factor considered in deciding whether students could transfer between districts. | Arkansas Times: The state Board of Education was defendant in this case, along with Magnet Cove. Here’s the 32-page ruling.
Washington Post: And a recent independent poll showed Obama running just seven points ahead of Wolfe in the southern Arkansas 4th district, which covers one-quarter of the state.
MySanAntonio.com: A judge ruled that a Fayetteville woman’s lawsuit can proceed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, in which she claims the diocese knew or should have known about a sexual relationship she was lured into by a priest.
Arkansas Human Services issues proposed rules barring use of tax money to teach religion | The Republic (AP)
The Republic (AP): Harris said he forwarded the proposed rules to his attorney, Joel Oster of the Alliance Defense Fund, and will decide how to proceed after consulting with him.