The Court is still missing a replacement for conservative justice Antonin Scalia, but voted 5-3 that the Texas restrictions were unconstitutional. You can read the majority opinion, along with two dissenting opinions, below:
Recently in Civil Rights Category
In a victory for affirmative action advocates, the Supreme Court upheld the University of Texas's admissions criteria that takes an applicant's race into account. The case was brought by a white female applicant, Abigail Fisher, who was denied admission to the university in 2008 and claimed that the school's holistic "Personal Achievement Index" (which considered race as a factor in admissions) violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
The Court disagreed, saying schools are permitted "considerable deference" when seeking diversity in their student body. You can see the full opinion below.
Mere hours after North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory doubled down on the state's discriminatory bathroom access law, the U.S Department of Justice fired back, filing its own lawsuit to enjoin the state from enforcing the law.
The DOJ's Civil Rights Division had already warned McCrory that it saw the law, which prohibits people from using bathrooms with gender designations other than those on their birth certificates, as a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and would sue to enjoin its enforcement. Now the two sides will battle it out in federal court, and it's pretty clear which side will win.
North Carolina's transgender bathroom law -- the one barring people from using bathrooms with gender designations different from those on their birth certificates -- is patently discriminatory. About a week after it passed, the state's own attorney general said he wouldn't defend the law in court, and last week the U.S. Department of Justice warned the governor that the law violates the Civil Rights Act.
But Governor Pat McCrory and Frank Perry, head of North Carolina's Department of Public Safety (DPS), doubled down on the law, and filed a lawsuit against the DOJ, accusing the federal government of "baseless and blatant overreach." (One wonders whether the irony of that charge was lost on the governor or simply ignored.) Hours later, the DOJ filed its own lawsuit, saying the state and DPS "are discriminating against transgender individuals in violation of federal law." The only question now is how long it will take a court to side in the DOJ's favor.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution this week declaring pornography a "public health hazard" and calling for more "education, prevention, research, and policy change ... to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the people of our state and nation." The non-binding resolution is a laundry list of harms allegedly created by the production and consumption of pornography, all of which have led to a "public health crisis."
But if the Utah resolution doesn't ban pornography, or even earmark state funds to combat it, what does it actually do? You can check it out below:
The legal relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico has always been a little complicated. And perhaps nowhere has that status been more on display than the issue of same-sex marriage.
On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico ruled that the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that found same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry does not apply to the island commonwealth. You can see the judge's reasoning in the full opinion below:
The U.S. Department of Justice has sued Ferguson, Missouri, claiming the city "engages in an ongoing pattern or practice of conduct, including discrimination, that deprives persons of rights, privileges and immunities secured and protected by the United States Constitution and federal law." The lawsuit is the result of Ferguson trying to back out of an agreement between the city and the DOJ to implement suggested reforms to correct unconstitutional practices on the part of the city's police force and municipal court system.
"The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe," said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. "They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer."
How much is a trip to the toilet worth? What about a coffee run or a smoke break? To one penny-pinching Pennsylvania publishing company, it could be a not-so-cool $1.75M or more. According to a judge's order, American Future Systems Inc. (doing business as Progressive Business Publications) will have to compensate some 6,000 employees it forced to clock out before going to the bathroom or taking other short breaks.
A full list of Progressive's transgressions, and the court's response, are found in the memorandum below:
In what may be a landmark transgender rights case, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has intervened on behalf of a transgender man suing his former employer for discrimination.
Tristan Broussard is alleging that Mississippi-based First Tower Loan LLC wanted him to sign a document acknowledging that his "preference to act and dress as a male, despite having been born a female" violated the company's policies, and fired him when he refused. His lawsuit against the company is included below, and he has now acquired a powerful ally in the EEOC.
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States changed the way Americans view marriage. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the 14th Amendment requires states to permit same sex marriages within their boundaries, and recognize the marriages of same sex citizens from other states.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority of the justices (himself, and Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Beyer) and began his opinion by noting how ancient and honored marriage is in our culture. It is also, Justice Kennedy noted, an institution of both continuity and of change. Therefore, with our modern understanding of family and civil rights, the conclusion must be reached that the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment require all states to recognize same sex marriage.