CourtSide: Civil Rights Archives
CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

Recently in Civil Rights Category

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.

SCOTUS Upholds Same Sex Marriage

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.

The Majority

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.

Michael Brown's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson and the former officer that shot and killed the teen in August 2014. The civil lawsuit, asking for $75,000 in compensation as well as punitive damages was filed in St. Louis County on Thursday.

The full text of the complaint is below, and there are a few aspects of the suit that are worth highlighting:

Both Indiana and now Arkansas are the center of a nationwide debate about Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs). Critics of the recently passed legislation say the laws will allow businesses to refuse service to gay, lesbian, and transgender customers under the protection of religious freedom.

Indiana's Gov. Mike Pence signed that state's RFRA into law last week, and the Arkansas State House passed their own version yesterday. With all of the controversy surrounding the laws, let's take a look at the actual text of each, and see how they compare to each other, and federal religious freedom legislation.

Ellen Pao Loses Gender Discrimination Suit on 3 of 4 Counts

The verdict is in on the Ellen Pao discrimination case. Sort of. Earlier this afternoon, a San Francisco jury returned verdicts in favor of defendant Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers on three of four counts.

On the fourth count, the jury failed to reach the required nine votes out of 12, but the judge sent them back to deliberate further.

The Wikimedia Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the government agency's mass data collection violated the Constitution.

Wikipedia's parent company is heading a lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), among others, and contends the online encyclopedia was specifically targeted for surveillance.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).