Civil Rights Law Decisions: Decided

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Good news for teachers in the Golden State: the California Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal challenging teacher tenure and other job protections for educators. This means seniority rules and due process protections for teachers will remain in place, after a trial court judge threw them out in 2014.

This case is just one flashpoint in the current push-and-pull of traditional teacher protections and unionization and a platform of education reform that aims to re-make schools in the image of private businesses. Here's a closer look at the court's ruling.

Spark Networks Settles: Dating Sites to Recognize LGBT Users

Love is blind. It does not discriminate. The same now applies to Christian Mingle and other targeted dating sites owned by Spark Networks, according to an approved settlement in a California court case seeking accommodation for LGBT singles.

The lawsuit was brought by two gay men on behalf of a class of plaintiffs and alleged successfully that the Spark Networks dating websites violate state law by not allowing certain preferences to be expressed in a profile or in site searches. According to the terms of the settlement, this will change within two years, CBC News reports.

Feds Issue Guidance to Schools on Treatment of Transgender Students

The Department of Education last week issued guidance to public schools on protecting the civil rights of transgender students. For schools, this is about more than just making students feel safe. Their federal funding depends on compliance with the law.

The new guidance is intended to make it clear to public school educators that transgender students cannot be discriminated against and that schools don't decide gender identity. In other words, public schools must respect the gender self-identification of students, and that applies to bathroom use too.

Cleveland will pay Tamir Rice's family $6 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit after Rice was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014. It represents the city's largest settlement in a police-related lawsuit, but the city admitted no wrongdoing in the 12-year-old's shooting, which occurred while he was playing with a toy gun in a park.

The settlement is on par with other police misconduct claims nationwide, and was a long time coming for the Rice family.

Ever since Wisconsin passed a law requiring residents to present a valid photo ID at the polls in order to vote, the state has been a lightning rod in the debate about voter fraud laws. Preceding the 2014 elections, amidst a flurry of litigation, the Supreme Court stepped in and ruled that Wisconsin could not enforce its ID requirement.

Last week, with a presidential election looming in the fall, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals waded back into the voter ID law morass, ruling that Wisconsin residents who have difficulty getting photo IDs may be able to vote without them.

Unanimous Supreme Court Rejects Texas Voter Challenge

The Supreme Court today unanimously rejected a challenge to Texas legislative districting, upholding the constitutionality of a law that counts total population as opposed to eligible voters for purposes of district creation. The plaintiffs in Evenwel v. Abbot argued that a Texas law was unconstitutional because it violates the "one-person one-vote" principle.

The court disagreed, holding, "As constitutional history, precedent, and practice demonstrate, a State or locality may draw its legislative districts based on total population." In other words, one person who does not and cannot vote can still be a person who counts for districting purposes.

Los Angeles Okays $30M Gang Injunction Enforcement Lawsuit Settlement

Los Angeles City Council officials this week unanimously agreed to settle a class action lawsuit stemming from enforcement of anti-gang injunctions that restricting the movements and associations of innocent city residents. At the center of the deal is a $30 million dollar settlement that will fund job training for gang members, among other projects.

The deal is seen as a positive compromise by both sides, according to the Los Angeles Times, funding initiatives for positive change without risking putting money in the hands of gang members. But the settlement has not yet been approved by a judge, so the class action isn't over quite yet.

Greyhound Settles ADA Lawsuit

Greyhound Lines will pay at least $375,000 and implement nationwide reforms as part of a settlement agreement with the United States Department of Justice. The DOJ sued Greyhound alleging a systematic failure to provide equal access to transportation for passengers with disabilities.

The full value of the settlement won't be known until all the potential passengers who suffered disability discrimination have been identified.

Back in 2012, the Supreme Court held that mandatory life sentences for juveniles without the possibility for parole are unconstitutional. The question at the time, and one that has been posed to state courts ever since, was whether that ruling applied to inmates already serving life sentences for juvenile convictions.

And now we know the answer. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided that its ruling in Miller v. Alabama is retroactive, and those that were previously sentenced to mandatory life terms as juveniles must be eligible for parole. Let's take a look at the Court's ruling.

Jinia Armstrong Lopez was worried that her brother Ronald Armstrong might be a danger to himself. Armstrong had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, was off his medication, and was poking holes in his leg "to let the air out." She tried to have him admitted into a hospital, but when he fled, a doctor drafted involuntary commitment papers and the police were dispatched to make sure he didn't hurt himself.

The officers succeeded, but not in the way anyone imagined. Armstrong never had the opportunity to do himself harm because mere minutes after the commitment papers were finalized, Armstrong was declared dead after officers Tased him five times and forcefully restrained him.