Morning headlines: Athens GOP congressman fights subpoena in election interference probe
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice is fighting a subpoena seeking to have him testify before a special grand jury that is investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 general election in Georgia.
In a court filing, Hice's lawyer said that the subpoena orders the Georgia Republican congressman to appear before the special grand jury in Atlanta on Tuesday. That filing requests that the matter be heard in federal court rather than in a state superior court.
Hice, who represents part of Athens and surrounding counties, was one of several GOP lawmakers who attended a December 2020 meeting at the White House in which Trump allies discussed various ways to overturn Joe Biden’s electoral win.
Hice, who has been a prominent supporter of provably false allegations that the 2020 election was "stolen," failed in a bid to unseat incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in May's Republican primary.
Voting rights groups challenge food and water provision in Georgia election law
Voting rights groups asked a judge on Monday to block a provision of a new Georgia law that is not necessarily the most consequential, but one that has certainly attracted the most outrage: a ban on handing out food and water to voters waiting in line.
The ban is just one piece of a 98-page bill containing dozens of changes to state voting law, including shortening the time to request a mail ballot, rolling back the pandemic-driven expansion of ballot drop boxes and reducing early voting before runoff elections.
The groups argued that banning them from giving out food and water to voters standing in sometimes long lines illegally infringes on the groups' free speech rights. They assert that the provision should be blocked immediately, even before any broader case challenging other areas of the law goes to trial.
Lawyers for the state described the provision as a “bright line” drawn to prevent concerns over the possibility of illegal campaigning or vote-buying.
U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee didn’t immediately rule on the request for a preliminary injunction.
Georgia's highest court swears in new chief justice
Georgia’s highest court has a new chief justice. Michael Boggs, who had been the court’s presiding justice, was sworn in Monday as chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.
Boggs replaces David Nahmias, who announced in February that he was stepping down from the court.
Georgia chief justices are chosen by their colleagues to serve a single four-year term leading the state’s judicial branch. The chief justice speaks for the high court and the rest of the state’s judiciary and presides over oral arguments and deliberation meetings.
The chief justice also chairs the Georgia Judicial Council, which makes policy for the judicial branch. Georgia Supreme Court justices run for six-year terms and can be reelected.
A Waycross native, Boggs earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science and Psychology from Georgia Southern College and his law degree from Mercer University School of Law. Before his 2016 appointment to the state supreme court, he served as a judge in the Waycross Judicial Circuit.
Gas prices fall as demand declines
Gas prices have been retreating across the country as demand for gasoline at the pump declines with people fueling up less even at the height of the traditional summer driving season.
The price of crude oil has also dropped. The average price of a gallon of gas in the greater Athens area is $4.11, 13 cents a gallon lower than this time last week, and 36 cents a gallon lower than a month ago.
The South as a whole continues to have the lowest gas prices in the nation, while California continues to lead the nation with the highest gas prices now at $5.90 a gallon.