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Supreme Court upholds use of controversial execution drug

This Oct. 9, 2014, file photo shows the gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. On Monday, June 29, 2015, The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma saying that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
This Oct. 9, 2014, file photo shows the gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. On Monday, June 29, 2015, The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma saying that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

The justices voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The court challenge has prompted Oklahoma to approve nitrogen gas as an alternative death penalty method if lethal injections aren’t possible, either because of a court ruling or a drug shortage.

In a separate dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer said the time has come for the court to debate whether the death penalty itself is constitutional. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Breyer’s opinion.

 

Justices rule against EPA power plant mercury limits

The justices split 5-4 along ideological lines to rule that the Environmental Protection Agency did not properly take costs into account when it first decided to regulate the toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired plants.

The EPA did factor in costs at a later stage when it wrote standards that are expected to reduce the toxic emissions by 90 percent. But the court said that was too late. More than 70 percent of power plants already have installed controls to comply with the rules, said Vicki Patton, an attorney at the advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund.

The EPA said it is reviewing the court’s decision and will determine any appropriate next steps once a review is completed.

 

Justices uphold Arizona’s system for redistricting

New interns run with a decision across the plaza of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday June 29, 2015. On Monday, the court upheld Arizona congressional districts drawn by an independent commission and rejected a constitutional challenge from Republican lawmakers and upheld the use of a controversial drug in lethal injection executions Monday, as two dissenting justices said for the first time that they think it's "highly likely" that the death penalty itself is unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
New interns run with a decision across the plaza of the Supreme Court in Washington, Monday June 29, 2015. On Monday, the court upheld Arizona congressional districts drawn by an independent commission and rejected a constitutional challenge from Republican lawmakers and upheld the use of a controversial drug in lethal injection executions Monday, as two dissenting justices said for the first time that they think it’s “highly likely” that the death penalty itself is unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The justices voted 5-4 to reject a constitutional challenge from Arizona’s Republican lawmakers. States are required to re-draw maps for congressional and state legislative districts to account for population changes after the once-a-decade census.

Independent commissions “may be the only meaningful check” left to states that want to foster more competitive elections, the Obama administration said.

 

Supreme Court upholds key tool for fighting housing bias

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2014 file photo, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is seen in Austin, Texas. The Supreme Court handed a major victory to the Obama administration and civil rights groups on Thursday when it upheld a key tool used for more than four decades to fight housing discrimination. The justices ruled 5-4 that federal housing laws prohibit seemingly neutral practices that harm minorities, even without proof of intentional discrimination. The case involved an appeal from Texas officials accused of accused of violating the Fair Housing Act by awarding federal tax credits in a way that kept low-income housing out of white neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
FILE – In this Aug. 30, 2014 file photo, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs is seen in Austin, Texas. The Supreme Court handed a major victory to the Obama administration and civil rights groups on Thursday when it upheld a key tool used for more than four decades to fight housing discrimination. The justices ruled 5-4 that federal housing laws prohibit seemingly neutral practices that harm minorities, even without proof of intentional discrimination. The case involved an appeal from Texas officials accused of accused of violating the Fair Housing Act by awarding federal tax credits in a way that kept low-income housing out of white neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The justices ruled 5-4 that federal housing laws prohibit seemingly neutral practices that harm minorities, even without proof of intentional discrimination.

The ruling is a win for housing advocates who argued that the 1968 Fair Housing Act allows challenges to race-neutral policies that have a negative impact on minority groups. The Justice Department has used disparate impact lawsuits to win more than $500 million in legal settlements from companies accused of bias against black and Hispanic customers.

 

The Latest: Hospital stocks rise in response to court ruling

FILE - In this March 4, 2015 file photo, demonstrators chant during health care rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court could wipe away health insurance for millions of Americans when it resolves the latest high court fight over President Barack Obama's health overhaul. But would the court take away a benefit from so many people, and should the justices even consider the consequences? (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
In this March 4, 2015 file photo, demonstrators chant during health care rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington. The Supreme Court could wipe away health insurance for millions of Americans when it resolves the latest high court fight over President Barack Obama’s health overhaul. But would the court take away a benefit from so many people, and should the justices even consider the consequences? (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Investors in hospital stocks are rejoicing now that the Supreme Court has eliminated the prospect of a sudden influx of uninsured patients seeking care. Investors were worried that many patients would drop coverage if they no longer had the help. Uninsured patients can leave hospitals stuck with bills that never get paid in full or at all.

Republican leaders seem to have their heels dug in against the health law despite a Supreme Court decision keeping it intact. President Barack Obama may believe the law is “here to stay.” But House Speaker John Boehner vows, “The struggle will continue.”

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