Top Morning Stories 1/20/2012
Gun Rights Shot Down by Lubbock Judge
Yesterday, a Lubbock federal judge dismissed the National Rifle Association's attempt to overturn a Texas law preventing 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying concealed handguns.
U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings ruled that it's in the public's best interest for state legislation to prevent those under the age of 21 to have a concealed handgun license. According to KCBD-TV in Lubbock:
The NRA sued the state back in 2009, saying the law is discriminatory and a violation of Second Amendment rights. At the same time, the NRA sued federal agencies, saying restrictions on the purchase of guns by those under the age of 21 were also discriminatory. The lawsuit against federal agencies was thrown out in late September and that case is currently on appeal. There is no word yet on whether the NRA will also appeal this latest ruling.
Two student government groups at UT were among those who argued that Texans age 21 and below should not be licensed to carry handguns.
Pre-Abortion Sonograms Appeal Back in Court
A law requiring doctors to show sonogram images to women seeking abortions is back in federal court in Austin today.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks will hear oral arguments in a challenge to the law by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights at 2pm. In August, Sparks ruled that the law violated the First Amendment right of a doctor's free speech. But last week, a U.S. Appeals Court in New Orleans ruled the state could enforce the law while it's being challenged.
Hiring at Mental Health Hospitals Requires State Oversight
After reports that some psychiatrists at mental health hospitals have documented histories of sexual misconduct, the Department of State Health Services has taken over hiring authority of doctors at all of its 10 facilities.
From the Austin American-Statesman:
Starting this week, the agency's state hospital section director — an Austin-based administrator who oversees all the hospitals — must review and approve psychiatrists before they are hired. The hospital staff would still conduct interviews and select a candidate, but final approval would no longer be in the hands of hospital superintendents. The hospital superintendents have also been directed to review the files of all currently employed psychiatrists for "abnormalities, inconsistencies with job applications, actions by Texas or other state medical boards, or confirmations of abuse, neglect or exploitation," according to a Jan. 18 memo written by Mike Maples , assistant commissioner for mental health and substance abuse services. Any irregularities must be reported to the section director by Feb. 1, Maples wrote.
The change comes after a December report in the American-Statesman revealing that the state knowingly hired three hospital psychiatrists with histories of sexual misconduct.