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North Carolina's Supreme Court on Monday again blocked a state law approved by Republicans that strips the new Democratic governor of powers to oversee elections.

A lower appeals court briefly let the law to take effect last week, allowing a revamped state elections board to meet for the first time Friday. It's one of the changes passed in late December that shift power over running elections away from Gov. Roy Cooper.

"We are pleased the Supreme Court has put the injunction back in place until the judges can hear and decide the full case" early next month, Cooper spokeswoman Noelle Talley wrote in an email.

The law ends the practice of allowing the governor's political party to hold majorities on all state and county elections boards. Instead of Democrats holding sway over running elections and resolving voting disputes, elections board positions would be evenly divided between major-party partisans.

Republicans would control elections during even-numbered years, when big races for president, legislature or other major statewide offices are held. The measure also merges the state ethics and elections boards into one.

Lawyers representing state House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, did not respond to emails seeking comment after the Supreme Court's decision.

Cooper, Moore and Berger are also fighting in court over another new law aiming to restrict the Democrat's ability to alter the state's recent conservative direction.

A panel of three state trial court judges is considering whether to continue blocking a law requiring Senate confirmation of Cooper's Cabinet secretaries.

The law requiring Senate consent to Cooper's top appointees came during a surprise special session barely a week after Republican incumbent Pat McCrory conceded to Cooper in their close gubernatorial race.


Greece's Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an extradition request for eight Turkish servicemen who fled their country by helicopter after a coup attempt.

Presiding judge Giorgos Sakkas, reading out the decision, said the servicemen were unlikely to face a fair trial if returned to Turkey.

The eight officers fought extradition in a six-month legal battle, arguing that they face mistreatment in prison if returned.

Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis earlier this week had said he would respect the court decision and not make use of executive powers in the extradition case.

Lower courts issued mixed decisions on the return of the officers in a series of separate hearings.

The extradition case has further complicated ties between neighbors and NATO allies Greece and Turkey, which remain at odds over war-divided Cyprus and boundaries in the Aegean Sea.

Hours ahead of Thursday's decision, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Muftuoglu said he expected the servicemen to be returned.

"Our greatest expectation is for the coup plotters to be delivered to the Turkish judicial (authorities). We shall be following the results of this case," he said. "These coup plotters should not go unpunished."



Pennsylvania's highest court is reviewing the conviction of a Pittsburgh man for making threats against police in a rap song after he was charged with drug offenses.

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would take up an appeal by Jamal Knox, who argues his song, which was briefly posted online, is protected by the right to free speech. Knox wants the court to set aside his convictions for witness intimidation and making terroristic threats.

"Just because a police officer arrests you, doesn't mean you are stripped of any free speech ability to say, 'Wait a minute, that officer did me wrong, and here's why I think so,'" Knox's lawyer Patrick K. Nightingale said Tuesday.

The Allegheny County district attorney's office, which declined comment for this story, told Superior Court last year the song "was not mere political hyperbole but, rather, the sort of 'true threat' that is not protected by the First Amendment."

The case began with an April 2012 traffic stop in the city's East Liberty section, when Knox, now 22, drove away after telling an officer he did not have a valid driver's license. Following a chase in which he hit a parked car and a fence, police found 15 bags of heroin and $1,500 on Knox and a stolen, loaded gun in the vehicle.

Seven months later, an officer came across the video online, performed by Knox under the name "Mayhem Mal" of the "Ghetto Superstar Committee" with co-defendant Rashee Beasley — and accompanied by photos of them both. Knox and Beasley posted another video in which they said they wrote the song.



A decision on a proposed high-voltage power transmission line that would run through several Illinois counties is now heading to the state Supreme Court after an energy company decided to appeal a ruling against construction.

The high court agreed last week to review an appellate court's decision on the Rock Island Clean Line, a 500-mile electric project transmitting wind energy from Iowa turbines. The appellate court reversed a 2014 decision from the state Commerce Commission, which approved construction of the line.

Evidence presented by Rock Island in the case suggests the project would reduce electricity costs by hundreds of millions of dollars. The construction of the project would also create construction jobs.

Rock Island also would pay each county through which the transmission line passes $7,000 per year for each mile for 20 years.

The company has faced four years of legal opposition by the Illinois Landowners Alliance, the Illinois Farm Bureau and ComEd. The groups argue that the project doesn't meet Illinois Public Utilities Act requirements.


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