[JURIST] US President Barack Obama's campaign staff [campaign website] and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) [advocacy website] on Friday urged [response, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] to reject Ohio's request for an emergency stay of an injunction against the state's new early voting regulation. The new regulation [HB 194] would end early voting for everyone except overseas military members three days before election day. The state enacted the bill in July as the most recent amendment to its election process. Obama's campaign and the DNC challenged the law as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] because of its alleged impact on certain groups of voters. Ohio filed an emergency appeal [JURIST report] to the Supreme Court earlier this week after the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] that the early voting polls should remain open until election day. In its response, the Obama campaign argued that this is an "unprecedented" law that "allow[s] local election boards to open their polling places to some qualified voters over the last three days prior to Election Day, while precluding those boards from permitting other voters to access those same polling places during the same period." It also urged the Supreme Court to deny certiorari because it alleged Ohio's request "does not meet this Court's criteria for granting a stay" as it would only be considering a "fact-bound [contention] that may have no effect on other cases."
Voting laws have been a controversial issue and the subject of much litigation throughout this election year. Earlier this week the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a preliminary injunction against an Ohio state election law adopted in 2006 that discards provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. A federal court on Wednesday upheld a South Carolina voter ID law, but ruled that the state could not enforce the law until 2013 [JURIST report] because of the short time left to implement it without discriminatory effects. A similar ruling was issued in Pennsylvania earlier this month. A judge for the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state's voter identification law from taking effect [JURIST report] for the upcoming presidential election, but allowed it to be implemented in future elections. Last month a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that Florida does not have to provide 96 hours of early voting after the state's governor signed an amendment decreasing the time required.
[JURIST] A UN official on Thursday released a report indicating that the government of Iran is torturing human rights activists and threatening the activists' families with rape or death. In a report to the UN General Assembly [official website] UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed declared that human rights activists in Iran are being subjected to beatings [Reuters report], mock hangings, sleep deprivation and threats that their family members will be killed or raped. Protests in Iran have become more frequent recently due to the nation's currency decreasing in value allegedly because of sanctions and mismanagement. In the report, Shaheed also noted that Iran has cracked down on freedom of the press [International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran report] by detaining and constantly watching journalists. This report was the third issued by Shaheed on the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran.
Iran's human rights record has come under international scrutiny recently. On Friday the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] urged Iran [JURIST report] to halt all executions because the government has failed to provide the accused with fair trials and due process of law. In June three UN Special Rapporteurs condemned [JURIST report] Iran for executing four members of the Ahwazi Arab minority without providing them fair trials. The three UN Special Rapporteurs further stated that there is no transparency to Iranian court proceedings and that the death penalty should be reserved for only the most serious of crimes. In November the UN Human Rights Committee [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] about the protection of individuals' rights in Iran, including the frequency of the use of the death penalty. In January 2011, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran claimed that Iran is on an "execution binge" [JURIST report], killing one prisoner every eight hours. In January 2010 Amnesty International [advocacy website] condemned [JURIST report] Iran for executing 11 individuals on charges of mohareb, or being enemies of God, after appearing in televised show trials for their roles in post-election protests in 2009 .
[JURIST] The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals [official website] ruled Friday that an Alabama law [Alabama Const. Amdt. 774] defining marriage as between one man and one woman bars a woman from adopting her female partner's child. The case concerned a woman, Cari Searcy, who married her partner, Kimberly McKeand in California in 2008. The appeals court held [AP report] unanimously that even though the couple was legally married in California, Alabama's marriage law prohibits Searcy from adopting McKeand's child. Searcy and McKeand, who have been together for 14 years, both consider themselves the parents of McKeand's six-year-old biological son Khaya. It is unclear if the couple plans to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Alabama [official website].
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