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Supreme Court Poised to Rebuff Environmental Challenge to Pipeline Crossing Appalachian Trail


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The Supreme Court on Monday seemed unwilling to block a planned natural gas pipeline that will run from West Virginia under the Appalachian Trail to the Eastern Seaboard.

The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal agency did not have the authority to issue a special-use permit for pipeline construction under the Appalachian Trail. The government and energy companies responsible for the project warn that the ruling effectively turns the trail into a barrier that walls off the East Coast from resource-rich lands in the interior of the country.

"There is no basis in any federal statute to conclude that Congress intended to convert the Appalachian Trail into a 2,200-mile barrier separating critical natural resources from the Eastern Seaboard," the energy companies told the justices in legal briefs.

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Supreme Court to Decide If Faith-Based Foster Care Must Work With Gay Couples

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide whether the city of Philadelphia may lawfully exclude Catholic Social Services (CSS) from its foster care program because the agency does not place children with same-sex couples due to its religious beliefs.

The case presents sweeping questions of religious liberty and nondiscrimination. Aside from the dispute specific to Philadelphia, the plaintiffs are asking the justices to overturn the 1990 case Employment Division v. Smith, which held that religious believers cannot claim exemptions from laws that apply to everyone in a neutral way. That move would have far-reaching implications.:snip:

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