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States brief ~ NC wraps up country's last undecided race from 2004 election

[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's states brief, North Carolina lawmakers have selected Democrat June Atkinson as the State Superintendent of Public Schools [official website], resolving the country's last undecided statewide election from 2004. After Atkinson beat Bill Fletcher in the 2004 election, the state Supreme Court ruled [text] that at least 11,000 ballots cast outside of voters' home precincts were unlawful. The North Carolina Constitution [text] directs contested statewide elections to be finalized "by joint ballot of both houses of the General Assembly [official website] in a manner prescribed by law" and Democrats pushed through a bill this year that took the case out of the courts and established the process leading to today's result. Atkinson was selected by a 93-21 vote. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • A lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania's Governor against the federal government, aimed at preventing the federal government from moving Air National Guard [website] Facilities, had its first official hearing in federal court. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has sued the Pentagon [Governor's press release], arguing that governors must have a say in the closing or movement of bases because the Guard is under their control for peacetime domestic purposes. Illinois has also filed suit and Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell [Governor's press release] is deciding whether to sue. District Court Judge John Padova has promised to rule before September 8. Scripps Howard News Service has more.

  • An Indiana businessman has been ordered [PDF text] to pay $100,000 for violating the state's do-not-call list, and state Attorney General Steve Carter has called the fine [AG's press release] a major victory for state consumers. Under state law [PDF text], most telemarketers who call phone numbers on the do-not-call list face civil penalties of $10,000 for the first offense and $25,000 for each subsequent offense. This was the first do-not-call case to end up in court as the attorney general's office previously reached out-of-court settlements in 157 cases for approximately $438,000 in fines. Indiana's The Indianapolis Star has local coverage.

  • The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] has granted an expedited appeal of a federal court ruling last month that struck down Washington state's "Top Two" primary system. Under that system, which was approved by voter initiative [Washington Office of Financial Management overview] last year, the top two vote-getters for each office advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. A district court judge determined the state could not allow voters to skip back and forth among parties nor could it allow candidates to identify themselves with a party on the ballot without that party's approval. The lawsuit was filed by the state Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties. AP has more.

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