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Afternoon Briefs: SCOTUS justices get early COVID-19 vaccines; DOJ sues Walmart

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COVID-19 vaccine

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Supreme Court justices receiving early coronavirus vaccines

U.S. Supreme Court justices are eligible for early coronavirus vaccines and could be receiving them this week. Other judges “are settling in for a wait,” according to BuzzFeed News. An advisory committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has included “legal” workers in a group recommended for vaccination after frontline essential workers and people older than age 75. States will make their own determinations, however. Some federal judges are writing letters asking state officials to include the courts in their vaccine plans. (BuzzFeed News via How Appealing)

DOJ sues Walmart for alleged role in opioid epidemic

The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday sued Walmart for allegedly filling suspicious prescriptions for opioids that contributed to the opioid crisis. The department is seeking civil penalties that could total billions of dollars. Walmart said in a statement that the DOJ should focus on bad doctors writing the prescriptions, rather than the pharmacies that fill them. The DOJ lawsuit “is riddled with factual inaccuracies and cherry-picked documents taken out of context,” the company said. (The New York Times, the Washington Post, Department of Justice press release)

9th Circuit rules ‘mashup’ violates copyright of Dr. Seuss publisher

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco has ruled that an illustrated book’s “mashup” of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek violates the copyright of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. The book is called Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go. The appeals court said the comic book was not fair use. (Courthouse News Service, Law360, Thomson Reuters’ Westlaw Today, the Hollywood Reporter, the 9th Circuit’s Dec. 18 opinion via How Appealing)

In op-ed, ex-DOJ lawyer says she regrets work for Trump

Former Department of Justice lawyer Erica Newland thought that her work in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel could make President Donald Trump’s executive actions less destructive by narrowing them. Newland was among the lawyers who tailored executive actions to make them lawful, thwarting the harmful impact. But their work also made the actions more palatable to the courts. Looking back at her work in a New York Times op-ed, Newland said it would have been better if responsible lawyers left the department and demanded that their peers refuse to do Trump’s work. If only second-rate lawyers were willing to work at the DOJ, their work wouldn’t hold up in court, she concluded. (The New York Times via How Appealing)

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