News Roundup

Afternoon Briefs: Trump order limits social media protections; Texas court curbs mail-in ballots

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Trump order seeks to curtail legal protections for social media

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that seeks to reinterpret the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from liability for publishing third-party content. Trump signed the order after Twitter labeled two of his tweets as “potentially misleading.” A draft of the order says the act’s protections depend on technology companies operating in good faith, and social media has not done that. The order could push the Federal Trade Commission to consider action against websites that restrict speech. (The Washington Post, CNN, the New York Times)

Texas top court limits mail-in voting

Lack of immunity to the novel coronavirus is not a physical disability that allows voters to vote by mail, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. Texas is among a handful of states that require voters younger than 65 to have a reason for mail-in voting. (The Houston Chronicle, the Austin American-Statesman, the Texas Supreme Court decision)

Suit says judge steered defendants to contributors’ ankle-monitor company

A lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that Judge Paul Bonin of New Orleans steered criminal defendants to an electronic monitoring company owned by two men who made more than $9,000 in contributions and loans to Bonin’s past two reelection campaigns. The suit, filed by the Institute for Justice on behalf of two New Orleans residents, alleges a due process violation. The allegations stem from a report by Court Watch NOLA. (The Lafayette Daily Advertiser, WWLTV, the Institute for Justice, the lawsuit)

Tulsi Gabbard drops defamation suit against Hillary Clinton

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, has dropped a defamation suit against Hillary Clinton over comments about an unnamed Democratic presidential primary candidate being a “Russian asset.” Gabbard had contended that Clinton was referring to her, and the comment was a lie. In a court filing, Gabbard’s lawyers said the post-COVID-19 world requires Gabbard to focus on other priorities, including defeating President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Gabbard has since dropped out of the race and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. (CNN)

Democratic report criticizes dark money ‘court capture machine’

A report by Senate Democrats highlights conservatives’ influence on the federal courts and vows to develop legislative solutions to address anonymous spending that has supported conservative policies and judges. The dark money funds think tanks and other groups that help pick right-wing judicial nominees, wage media campaigns for their nomination, and tee up cases for the judges to decide, the report says. A summary deems the process to be a “court capture machine.” (The National Law Journal, the report, a report summary)

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