- - Sunday, October 17, 2010

SUPREME COURT

Alito likely to skip next State of Union

Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. plans to boycott the next State of the Union address.

He doesn’t use that word, but says it in so many words. Justice Alito was among the justices who followed tradition and came to hear President Obama’s first such speech earlier this year.

At one point Mr. Obama pointedly criticized a Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance, saying it could lead to foreign money affecting U.S. elections. Justice Alito shook his head in disagreement and mouthed the words “not true.” The so-called Citizens United ruling was based on Americans’ First Amendment rights, and the part of campaign-finance law that bars foreign contributions did not come up at any point in the litigation.

DELAWARE

O’Donnell says GOP not helping her

Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell of Delaware is calling out the Republican establishment in Washington for not helping her underdog campaign.

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that aired Sunday, the “tea party” favorite said she has asked the National Republican Senatorial Committee for help but that the group is standing on the sidelines even though her Democratic rival, Chris Coons, is getting a boost from his party.

A spokesman for the Republican committee, Brian Walsh, has noted that the group gave Ms. O’Donnell the maximum direct contribution of $42,000 and is working with her campaign.

JUSTICE

Abramoff associate faces second trial

Prosecutors are retrying an associate of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, although an earlier jury couldn’t agree he broke the law, a key witness won’t be back and a recent Supreme Court decision could make such corruption cases harder to prove.

The retrial of Kevin Ring is the last unresolved case that prosecutors have against members of the team assembled by Abramoff, who was convicted of corruption charges along with a congressman and a dozen other government officials his group tried to influence.

Mr. Ring, the only Abramoff team member to try to beat the charges in court, has told friends the fight has cost him more than $2.5 million in legal bills as he prepares for a second trial, scheduled to begin Monday.

The first jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision on eight counts accusing Mr. Ring of providing expensive gifts to federal officials in return for favors for Abramoff clients, Mr. Ring’s attorney, Andrew Wise, said jurors told him afterward that the closest they came to convicting Mr. Ring was eight out of 12 votes on some counts.

CALIFORNIA

Holder will ignore positive pot vote

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the federal government will enforce its marijuana laws in California even if the state’s voters approve a ballot measure to legalize the drug.

Mr. Holder said the Justice Department strongly opposes California’s Proposition 19 and remains firmly committed to enforcing the federal Controlled Substances Act in all states. He made the comments in a letter to former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, dated last Wednesday.

“We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law,” Mr. Holder wrote.

He also said that legalizing recreational marijuana in California would be a “significant impediment” to the government’s joint efforts with state and local law enforcement to target drug traffickers, who often distribute marijuana alongside cocaine and other drugs. Mr. Holder said approval of the ballot measure would “significantly undermine” efforts to keep California communities safe.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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