Pluribus AM: A busy day for federal judges

Good morning, it’s Friday, September 1, 2023. How’d that happen? In today’s edition, a busy day for federal judges in Texas; judge halts Arkansas social media law; Hawaii investigating fire response:

Top Stories

SOCIAL MEDIA: A federal district court judge on Thursday granted a preliminary injunction blocking a new Arkansas law that would have required kids to obtain parental permission to open a social media account. The law was set to take effect today, but Judge Timothy Brooks said social media companies that sued over First Amendment issues were likely to prevail at trial. (Pluribus News)

LGBTQ RIGHTS: The Texas Supreme Court will allow a law banning gender-affirming care for minors take effect today, overruling a state district court judge who had put the law on hold. A full hearing on the case will continue in the coming months. (Associated Press) A federal judge in Kansas has ruled birth certificates must reflect someone’s sex at birth under a new state law approved this year over Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) objections. (KSNT)

MORE: A federal judge in Texas has issued a temporary restraining order blocking a new law that would have criminalized sexually-oriented performances in front of children, effectively banning drag shows. Legal challenges to similar laws have resulted in injunctions in Florida, Montana and Tennessee. (Texas Tribune) The Alaska Board of Education approved a new regulation banning transgender girls from participating in high school sports. (Anchorage Daily News)

ABORTION: Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) says his office can prosecute people who help women travel out of state to obtain an abortion. In a legal filing this week, Marshall said his office could bring conspiracy charges against those who help women obtain abortions in other states. (

EDUCATION: Another federal judge in Texas has blocked a new state law meant to keep sexually explicit material off school library shelves. The law, which was set to take effect today, would have required school library vendors to rate books and materials for appropriateness before selling them to schools. (Texas Tribune)

NATURAL DISASTERS: Hawaii Attorney General Anne Lopez has selected a nonprofit research group to investigate the state’s performance during the Aug. 8 wildfires on Maui that killed at least 115 people. The investigation is expected to take a full year. (Honolulu Star-Advertiser)

LABOR: Oregon legislative staffers have reached a tentative labor deal with the legislature, two years after they first voted to unionize. The deal would make them the first state legislative workers in the nation to sign a collective bargaining agreement with lawmakers. (Oregon Public Broadcasting)

In Politics & Business

GEORGIA: Gov. Brian Kemp (R) rejected calls from fellow Republicans to convene a special session to target Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis over her prosecution of former president Donald Trump. In a press conference Thursday, Kemp called efforts to sanction Willis a direct interference with the proceedings of a coequal branch of government. (Associated Press)

“The bottom line is that in the state of Georgia, as long as I’m governor, we’re going to follow the law and the Constitution, regardless of who it helps or harms politically.”

LOUISIANA: Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) will not participate in the first gubernatorial debate on Sept. 7 because one of the event’s organizers is the Urban League of Louisiana. Landry, who leads in the polls, says he will participate in a Sept. 15 debate sponsored by Nexstar. (Baton Rouge Advocate)

INDIANA: State Republicans have selected longtime political strategist Anne Hathaway as their next party chair, the first woman to hold the job. Hathaway is close with Gov. Eric Holcomb (R), who recommended her for the job. (Indianapolis Star)

CRIME BLOTTER: Former New Hampshire state Sen. Andy Sanborn (R) has been accused of using a Covid relief loan to purchase luxury cars. The state lottery commission is now moving to ban him from operating his Concord casino. (Associated Press) Alabama state Rep. David Cole (R) has resigned his seat after being charged with voting in a place where he was not authorized earlier this week. Cole allegedly lives in a different district than the one he represented. ( Ohio state Rep. Bob Young (R) has been stripped of his committee chairmanship after his second arrest in less than two months in an ongoing domestic violence case. (Associated Press)

By The Numbers

6,300: The number of New Yorkers who died from an overdose in 2022, the highest number ever recorded and up from 5,800 in 2021. That’s about one person every 90 minutes. (State of Politics)

22.7: The amount of rain, in inches, measured at the Barre/Montpelier Airport in central Vermont this year, the most rain recorded in 75 years. (VT Digger)

459%: The increase in heat deaths in Maricopa County, Ariz., between 2013 and 2022. That doesn’t account for deaths this year, when July became the hottest month the region ever recorded. (Arizona Republic)

Off The Wall

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s (D) cat has gone missing. Afton, an orange tabby, has been gone since Saturday. It’s not the first time the cat has absconded — it went missing for a week in 2018 before Walz’s daughter found it in a neighbor’s garage. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Come home, Afton!

South Dakota’s ACLU is asking the state Department of Motor Vehicles to apply vanity plate rules more consistently. The DMV has rejected plates that read HLDMYBR and BEERMOM, while approving BEERRUN and BEERMAN. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting)

The Publisher’s Clearing House’s “Prize Patrol” showed up in Albertville, Ala., this week to deliver a $1 million check to winner Edwin Walker. But Walker wasn’t home — he was on a lunch break. So the Prize Patrol waited around to deliver a nice surprise when Walker got back. A spokesperson for the Prize Patrol said about four in ten winners aren’t home when they knock. (

Quote of the Day

“I’m alone, most of the time. Eventually, I do have to climb down and be with people.”

Anne Domenech, an artisan gilder who will spend the next few weeks applying gold leaf to the Iowa Capitol dome during a re-gilding process. The Iowa capitol must be re-gilded every 30 years or so. (Des Moines Register)