The Rev. John P. Harrington blesses the casket during the funeral of Luis Alvarez, a former New York City police detective and advocate for first responders who was diagnosed with cancer after working at Ground Zero in Manhattan. (Richard Drew/Pool/Reuters)
Court orders freeze on Defense funds for wall

An appeals court panel on Wednesday upheld a freeze on Pentagon funds to build a border wall with Mexico, casting doubt on President Trump’s ability to make good on a signature campaign promise before the 2020 election.

A divided three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco agreed with a lower-court ruling that prevented the government from tapping Defense Department counter-drug money to build high-priority sections of wall in Arizona, California and New Mexico.

The decision is a setback for Trump’s ambitious plans. He ended a 35-day government shutdown in February after Congress gave him far less funding than he wanted. He then declared a national emergency that the White House said would free billions of dollars from the Pentagon.

A freeze imposed by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. of Oakland, Calif., in May prevented work on two Pentagon-funded wall contracts — one spanning 46 miles in New Mexico and another covering five miles in Yuma, Ariz.

While the order applied only to those first-in-line projects, Gilliam made clear that he thought the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued on behalf of the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, was likely to prevail in its argument that Trump ignored Congress’s wishes by diverting Defense Department money.

—Associated Press

Abortion rules placed on hold by court

Trump administration rules that impose additional hurdles for low-income women seeking abortions are on hold once again.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco on Wednesday vacated a unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel and said a slate of 11 judges will reconsider lawsuits brought by more than 20 states and several civil rights and health organizations challenging the rules.

The rules ban taxpayer-funded clinics from making abortion referrals and prohibit clinics that receive federal money from sharing office space with abortion providers.

Critics say the rules would force many clinics to find new locations, undergo expensive remodeling or shut down.

The Justice Department has said its position “is supported by long-standing Supreme Court precedent, and we are confident we will ultimately prevail on appeal.”

Federal judges in Washington state, Oregon and California blocked the rules from taking effect.

—Associated Press

Navy SEAL sentenced for posing with corpse

A Navy SEAL who was acquitted of killing a wounded Islamic State captive but convicted of posing with the corpse was sentenced by a military jury Wednesday to a reduction in rank and four months of confinement.

A judge, however, credited Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher with enough time already spent in custody to ensure he won’t be locked up.

The sentence will not go into effect until it is approved by the commanding officer overseeing the court-martial.

The jury reduced Gallagher’s rank by one grade to petty officer 1st class and ordered his monthly pay cut by $2,697 for four months.

The judge then modified the sentence, capping the pay cut at two months and giving Gallagher 60 days’ credit for being held in overly harsh conditions before being tried and being deprived of treatment for a traumatic brain injury. Gallagher also got credit for 201 days of pretrial confinement.

Gallagher told the jury he was fully responsible for his actions on the day he took photos with the body of the 17-year-old militant. One image shows him clutching the hair of the corpse with one hand and holding a knife in another.

— Associated Press