Gerrymandering case draws support in dozens of briefs at Supreme Court

Gerrymandering case draws support in dozens of briefs at Supreme Court

A redistricting plan approved in 1812 by Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry led a cartoonist to draw a Boston area district in the shape of a salamander, and gave birth to the term "gerrymandering."

Gerrymandering showdown at high court
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon begin sifting through dozens of friend-of-the-court briefs that urge the high tribunal to take definitive action against gerrymandering; that is, the drawing of legislative and congressional district boundaries to benefit a political party’s candidates. The Brennan Center for Justice submitted its own brief and tallied the count of supporters named in other briefs: 77 current and former members of Congress, 65 current and former state legislators, 15 historians, 20 social and political scientists, and 20 “good government” and civil rights advocacy groups. The case, Gill v. Whitford, challenges a redistricting plan that gave Wisconsin Republicans an overwhelming advantage in statehouse elections.

Report exposes unconstitutional “ag-gag” laws
The Center for Constitutional Rights released a report that traces the development of “ag-gag laws” and identifies eight states (Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and North Carolina) that use them to suppress investigative journalists from collecting information and reporting about conditions in animal agriculture. The report concludes the laws are unconstitutional, citing a 2015 federal court ruling that struck down Idaho’s law as a violation of the First Amendment.

One-in-eight American households were “food insecure” in 2016
A report from the USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates that 12.3% of U.S. households—roughly one in eight—were “food insecure” in 2016, meaning the household had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for family members due to financial hardship. The ERS study further found that 4.9% of the 15.6 million “food insecure” households had “very low food security,” meaning food was reduced for some family members and normal eating patterns were disrupted.

The Hunt for Red October: Fact or fiction?
How accurate was Tom Clancy’s novel, The Hunt for Red October, which followed the voyage of a magnet-powered Soviet submarine through a labyrinthine path along the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean? A trove of Central Intelligence Agency documents that examine the Soviet Navy during the Cold War, a collection of 82 documents covering three decades from the 1960s to the 1980s, has been posted for public examination on the CIA’s website.

Sports radio personality nabbed in Ponzi scheme
Craig Carton, the co-host of a popular radio sports program in New York City, was arrested by FBI agents and charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of bilking investors in a Ponzi scheme. The SEC said Carton, who co-hosts the Boomer & Carton program with former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason, sold investments in a company that he claimed acquired tickets to Adele concerts that could be resold for large profits. A co-conspirator, Joseph Meli, faces similar Ponzi scheme charges relating to bogus sales of Hamilton tickets.

Stroke death prevention has slowed
After four decades of steady declines in the number of deaths attributed to strokes, the decline has stalled in three out of four states throughout the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. A report said the stall is not limited to the so-called “stroke belt,” referring to states with high numbers of residents with high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. CDC said nearly 800,000 persons have a stroke each year and more than 140,000 die, even though about 80% of strokes are preventable.

Gun store owner sentenced for illegal sales
Bradley Ries, 51, owner of the Sure Shot Gun Shop in Clinton, Iowa, was given a one-year federal prison sentence for knowingly selling a firearm to a felon, and evading a mandatory background check prior to the sale. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives claimed Ries supplied background check information for a different buyer of a different firearm when a BATF agent asked to examine documents associated with the illegal sale.

July trade deficit was a rerun of previous month
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that the U.S. exported $194.4 billion worth of goods and services in July, and imported $238.8 billion worth of goods and services, resulting in a trade deficit of $43.7 billion for the month. The July figures were virtually the same in June when there was a $42.7 billion trade deficit. The largest contributors to the deficit were: China ($83.6 billion), European Union ($23.7 billion), Mexico ($18.5 billion), and Germany ($16.9 billion).

Drug maker fined for ignoring FDA protocol
Danish drug manufacturer Novo Nordisk Inc. will pay $58.65 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations that the company disregarded a Food and Drug Administration-mandated label for Victoza, a type II diabetes medication, the Department of Justice said. According to the DOJ, the company’s sales representatives downplayed the drug’s risk for a rare form of cancer by telling physicians that the label was erroneous, irrelevant or unimportant.

Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.

The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Wednesday, September 6

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