U.S. Briefs: Illinois tests limits of gun ownership
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state’s ban on “assault weapons” last month
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The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state’s ban on “assault weapons” last month. Judge Diane P. Wood said the ban places a “reasonable limit” on the Second Amendment. “Even the most important personal freedoms have their limits,” she wrote. “The right enshrined in the Second Amendment is no different.” Illinois prohibited a list of semi-automatic weapons, including the AR-15 rifle, after a mass shooter killed seven and wounded dozens at a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park last year. The state Supreme Court narrowly affirmed the ban earlier this year. But the challengers in federal court contended the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen forbade governments from outlawing weapons that were in “common use.” Judge Wood disagreed, arguing it was “very troublesome to have a popularity contest decide a constitutional principle.” Challengers expect the case to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. —Addie Offereins
The family of a 17-year-old girl won a $261 million medical malpractice case against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital on Nov. 9. Maya Kowalski’s parents brought her to the hospital in 2016 for treatment of a rare neurological condition. Hospital personnel accused Kowalski’s parents of medical child abuse and barred them from seeing her for months—leading her mother to commit suicide in 2017. The Sarasota County jury found Johns Hopkins liable for a range of offenses, including false imprisonment, battery, and medical negligence. The following day, the family filed a criminal complaint against the hospital over allegations of sexual abuse against Kowalski that were revealed during the trial. —Elizabeth Russell
City officials in Jackson blame miscommunication for their failure to notify the family of a missing man that had died. Dexter Wade’s remains were exhumed Nov. 13, months after an off-duty police officer struck and killed the 37-year-old as he walked across Interstate 55 on March 5. An investigator from the Hinds County coroner’s office didn’t find any ID other than a prescription bottle with Dexter’s name on it. Matched fingerprints confirmed Dexter’s identity five days later. His mother, Bettersten Wade, reported him missing the next week, but seven months passed before she learned her son had been buried in a pauper’s field. The family hired civil rights and personal injury attorney Ben Crump to represent them. —Kim Henderson
Ahead of Thanksgiving, poultry farms are reporting a rise in bird flu cases as wild birds migrate overhead, leaving infected droppings below. Despite improved sanitizing efforts throughout the industry, a Wright County egg farm had to slaughter nearly a million chickens in early November. Minnesota farms also killed about 250,000 turkeys this fall to prevent further spread of the highly contagious virus. Neighboring South Dakota destroyed at least 26,000 turkeys. Iowa, the nation’s largest egg producer, killed more than 16 million. Last year, the industry eliminated nearly 58 million poultry, spurring higher egg, chicken, and turkey prices. Experts say 2023’s outbreak is lower than last year’s as farmers guard flocks more closely. Scientists first identified U.S. birds with the avian virus in 2015. It can be passed to animals eating infected fowl, but rarely to humans. Sick farm birds are slaughtered before reaching the food supply, and properly cooking poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit kills any virus. —Sharon Dierberger
Pro-life legislators pledged to defend laws protecting unborn babies the day after voters approved a measure adding a right to abortion to the state constitution. Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives later said in a statement they would consider preventing state courts from interpreting the ballot measure. Pro-life groups fear the measure will jeopardize pro-life laws, including the state’s existing parental consent requirement and partial-birth abortion ban. But the Republican lawmakers said the Ohio Legislature would hold public hearings and consider advice from legal experts before modifying existing laws. Meanwhile, pro-abortion legislators introduced the Reproductive Care Act, a bill that would discard the state’s heartbeat bill and a restriction on abortion after 22 weeks. It would eliminate existing safety requirements for abortion facilities, but not repeal the parental consent law. —Leah Savas
The Democratic mayor of Bridgeport won reelection on Nov. 7, but now he has to face a primary election redo. The odd sequence of events came after a court on Nov. 1 tossed out the results of a September primary on the basis of suspected absentee-ballot fraud. Incumbent Mayor Joe Ganim won that primary over challenger John Gomes. But a judge ordered a do-over after viewing surveillance footage of individuals stuffing ballots into drop boxes in violation of state law. “The volume of ballots so mishandled is such that it calls the result of the primary election into serious doubt and leaves the court unable to determine the legitimate result of the primary,” Superior Court Judge William Clark wrote in his ruling. It was too late to change the general election, so Ganim appeared on the ballot as the Democratic nominee and won. The rerun of the primary will be held in December or early 2024. Depending on the outcome, voters may be called back to the ballot box for a second general election, too. —Emma Freire
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