Nightly Brief

Top CNS stories for today including House Republicans flip-flopping on a plan to gut an independent ethics unit in the face of public backlash that including a critical tweet from the party’s president-elect; a Texas judge blocks an Obama administration rule prohibiting physicians from balking at abortions or gender-reassignment surgeries on religious grounds; the 10th Circuit rules the SEC illegally appoints administration law judges, and more.

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1.) House Republicans Pivot on Gutting Ethics Unit

Chastened by public backlash, and a carefully worded tweet from the president-elect, House Republicans withdrew a plan they adopted in secret Monday night to gut an ethics unit that investigates corruption.

2.) Texas Judge Blocks Obamacare Rule on Sex-Related Surgeries

Citing the Hobby Lobby ruling, a Texas federal judge on Saturday blocked a rule change by the Obama administration that would prohibit physicians from citing religious concerns to refuse to perform abortions or gender-reassignment surgeries.

3.) Church Gunman, Facing Death, Competent to Represent Self

A federal judge ruled Monday ruled that Dylann Roof, convicted of killing non people inside a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, is competent to represent himself at the penalty phase of his murder trial, which is set to begin Wednesday.

4.) SEC Illegally Appoints Admin Law Judges

The Securities and Exchange Commission illegally appoints administrative law judges in violation of the Appointments Clause to render decisions and impose penalties, the 10th Circuit ruled Tuesday.

5.) First Circuit Revives Boston Drug-Test Case

The First Circuit ruled the Boston Police Department did not implement urinalysis as an alternative to hair-follicle drug testing to reduce the disparately higher likelihood for false positives among black employees.

6.)  Arpaio’s Officers Must Face Claims in Death of Gulf War Veteran

The Ninth Circuit ruled Friday that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s detention officers must face excessive-force claims in the death of a mentally ill Army veteran.

7.) Ford Cancels Plan to Build New Mexican Plant

Ford Motor Co. is canceling plans to build a new $1.6 billion factory in Mexico, and will invest at least some of the savings in new electric and autonomous vehicles to be built in the U.S

8.) Judge Slams NJ Town for Anti-Muslim Bias

A federal judge slammed a New Jersey township on New Year’s Eve for changing its parking rules to block construction of a mosque by an Islamic group.