NORTH CAROLINA

Abortion law ruled unconstitutional

A federal appeals court Monday ruled that a North Carolina abortion law requiring doctors to perform ultrasounds and describe sonogram images to women is unconstitutional because it violates free-speech rights.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., struck down a 2011 law passed by a GOP-dominated Legislature. A provision in the Women's Right to Know Act requires doctors to display sonogram images of fetuses and describe them to women.

"Transforming the physician into the mouthpiece of the state undermines the trust that is necessary for facilitating healthy doctor-patient relationships and, through them, successful treatment outcomes," the three-judge panel wrote.

The decision upheld a ruling in January by U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles, who said the law was too broadly written and a violation of free speech. - L.A. Times

NEW YORK

Grimm to skip trial?

Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.) plans to plead guilty to a federal tax-evasion charge rather than go to trial, people familiar with plea negotiations said Monday. A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn, where he is expected to enter the plea in a case stemming from an investigation of his campaign financing. The two people who spoke weren't authorized and requested anonymity. They said Grimm would plead guilty to one count of aiding in the filing of a false tax return. - AP
WASHINGTON

Immigration lawsuit

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell on Monday appeared skeptical of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's lawsuit seeking to halt President Obama's plan to spare nearly five million people from deportation. In the first courtroom battle over the plan, she questioned whether he had legal standing, suggesting the topic is better left for Congress and the administration. Howell said she would issue a ruling soon. - AP