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1. COURTS

Judge opens door for Obama by taking senior status

The chief judge of the federal appeals court that hears challenges to a number of key environmental regulations has announced he will take senior status early next year. The decision by Chief Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to step back in February gives President Obama another opportunity to shape a court that is often known as the nation's second highest after the Supreme Court because of the importance of the cases it hears.

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